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Your Private Paris Restaurant: La Tete Dans les Olives

Forest Collins

When a table is consistently booked out at least three months in advance, it probably doesn’t need any extra press. However, I’m so tickled by Tete dans les Olives that I can’t help but tell all.  After having made a reservation earlier this year I was left wondering if this elusive eating experience could really live up to the hype it’s received over the past year or so.  But, as soon as I arrived at the charming doorway, I knew I was in for a treat.

So, just what’s so special about this address?  By day, it’s a tiny epicerie whose owner, Cédric Casanova, works with small producers in Italy to stock his shelves with the best of artisanal products.  You’ll find pungent cheese, sundried tomatoes, an array of pasta, fragrant herbs, and plenty of other seasonal goodies.  But, as the name implies, the biggest draw is the olive oil.  Pristine silver vats of the stuff fill the shelves of his delightful shop, each baring the name of both the type of olive and the owner of the parcel of land where it was grown.  Word is that some of Paris’ best-known chefs pop in to sample and shop.  But the real fun starts when the store closes and a tiny table for five is set for receiving.

Kim Laidlaw Adrey

Arriving guests are welcomed into the minuscule space by the hospitable staff – for our visit, it was Marco.  While waiting for the rest of our party, this friendly Sicilian (who is also a student of philosophy) talked about the products, their origins and the concepts behind the store and its Table d’Hôte.  He uncapped one of the olive oil jugs to offer a whiff of the fragrant goodness inside and filled the tiny table with samples of olives, oil, tapenade, sundried tomatoes and bread.  We squeezed around the rustic table, backs nearly pressed against the overflowing shelves and started the meal while Marco popped open a bottle of champagne we had brought.  In fact, we had brought a variety of wines to match up with courses, as this is strictly a BYOB operation.

Kim Laidlaw Adrey

As we nearly licked the bowls of oil clean, a wooden board arrived on the table with the vegetable course: mushrooms filled with wild oregano, mint stuffed carrots topped with freshly grated cheese and juicy oranges topped with salty anchovies. The quality of the ingredients shines through in the final product as these relatively simply prepared bites pop with fresh flavor.  With no individual plates set out, we helped our selves with fingers and forks, which only added to the companionable aspect in these close quarters. Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 9 Comments »

Where To Fall in Love: A Phase-by-Phase Relationship Map of Paris

Nicolas Blain

I fell in love in Paris—such a cliché, I know. But luckily, the person I fell in love with has no tolerance for Parisian clichés, so I know this is the real deal. Could we have fallen in love in, let’s say, Detroit? Yes, it just wouldn’t have been quite so awesome.

Here’s how it went down, in case you’d like to consult my love map as you chart your own course.

Aux Folies & Café Charlot (Akuppa; Winter d’Adulescent)

Nice To Meet You: We actually met twice—first at a house party, and then a year later at one of my most-frequented bars, La Perle (made famous by John Galliano’s rant). Our next meet-ups were at Aux Folies and then at Chez Jeanette. It’s no coincidence that these are still my preferred Parisian watering holes.

First Date: Ours was on-the-fly. After a long day of wandering around Parc Monceau and the Musée Camondo, we drifted over to Café Constant, and finished the night at La Mer à Boire. Not a bad way to spend a day.

Parc Monceau (Christophe Alary)

Romantic Getaway: Early on, we took an impromptu road trip to Normandy. When we mistakenly drove three hours in the wrong direction without caring one bit, we knew we were really in love. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 4 Comments »

La Rotisserie: Dining for a Good Cause in Paris

It’s not often that good deeds and good eats collide. Think about it: when was the last time you went out to dinner in Paris and accomplished anything other than making yourself ridiculously happy? Come on people, this selfishness has got to stop!

Fortunately, La Rotisserie Sainte Marthe cooperative is here to help Parisians eat well and contribute to a worthy cause at the same time. Rue Sainte-Marthe, with its vibrant, colorful restaurants, is a cobblestone road that seems to have flown from Old San Juan and landed in the 10th arrondissement. La Rotisserie is the standout eatery on the block for its dedication to supporting charitable causes, be they hungry locals or global relief funds.

I visited La Rotisserie for dinner and was able to snag a seat before the rush. The food comes out in waves and the neighborhood regulars soon packed the house, arriving moments before the first plates hit the table. The restaurant has a summer camp feel: patrons pile onto wooden benches, squeezing into the limited space next to friend and stranger alike, pouring their drinks into green plastic cups while waiting to be served.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 4 Comments »

French Restaurant Etiquette: Dining in France Like a Local

TheCarol

Dining in a restaurant in France is pretty much the same as in the US, or is it? Looks can be deceiving. In fact, eating out in France is quite different from the typical North American restaurant experience.

I often relive with humor a French family vacation filled with my family showing up for dinner at 7 pm famished (an ungodly late hour for a family used to eating at 5 pm) to find restaurants not yet open or the employees dining before their shift. I also remember often being the last to leave even though we were the first to arrive as we could not figure out how to get the check and pay (despite putting on coats, stacking plates and brandishing credit cards).

Bonnaf

In France, as opposed to the US, you can’t just show up to a restaurant at any hour of the day or night expecting to be served. Meals occur at particular times; outside those given hours, you will be loathe to find anything except unappealing brasseries, shriveled sandwiches, and fast food. To spare you the hassle of some of my early experiences, here are a few tips on French restaurant etiquette:

Hours – French restaurants mostly follow the following schedule:

  • Breakfast is not often eaten out in France (a quick coffee and croissant at the local café will do)
  • Brunch is becoming more popular in Paris. Normal brunch hours are 11am-3pm.
  • Lunch is 12-2pm with most Frenchies showing up at 1 (some restaurants serve till 3).
  • Dinner is 8-10 pm. Some restaurants open at 7:30 and some serve until 11 pm or later. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 33 Comments »

Five Reasons to Love Le Bon Marché

 

Le Bon Marche – Roboppy

I first discovered Le Bon Marché in 1999. Or perhaps I should say Le Bon Marché discovered me.

I had recently moved to Paris from San Francisco with my fiance. We were planning our wedding at a chateau in Burgundy and I quickly realized that I needed clothes – lots and lots of new clothes. With family and friends flying thousands of miles to join us, I was determined to show off the new Parisian me.

Le Bon Marché; Food at La Grande Epicerie (Melancholy Rose)

At Le Bon Marché, I discovered my inner Parisienne and began a love affair with brands like Vanessa Bruno and Paul and Joe. The shoe salon…the bags…the lingerie! It was a dream-come-true for a bride-to-be.

And ten years later, it still is. We left Paris after three life- and wardrobe-changing years. Now we’re back – hopefully for good – with two kids in tow and a Left Bank apartment to furnish.  Paris life is certainly different now, but one thing hasn’t changed: there are still plenty of reasons to love Le Bon Marché. Here are my top 5:

Pastry from La Grande Epicerie (RC!)

1. La Grande Epicerie de Paris: Imagine 30,000 gourmet products from around the globe culled in one expansive, well-lit space: A patisserie case containing a rainbow of macarons, chocolate truffles and sugar dusted tartes aux fruits made on-site; Pique-nique perfect dishes waiting to be ferried to the banks of the Seine; That dream gift for a foodie back home, like foie gras or truffle salt from La Maison de la Truffe. Still have shopping or museum-hopping on the day’s agenda? They’ll even deliver to your flat (for a fee.) Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Shopping | 19 Comments »

Paris Fashion: Embracing the French Trench

We were blessed with 3 months of near-uninterrupted sunshine. Alas, the fickle Parisian weather dictators have decided that we should wait a little longer before our next late-night dinner en terrasse, never-ending picnic on the Canal Saint Martin or sunbathing on the Ile de la Cité. In honor of the return of the familiar grey sky and blustery days, fabulous writer and illustrator Badaude shares here some sketches of the ubiquitous fickle weather Parisian fashion must: Le Trench Coat. Don’t forget to pack yours! -Geneviève

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Written by Badaude for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 5 Comments »

Midnight in Paris: Indulging the Ex-Pat Fantasy with Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris, is about – what else? Midnight in Paris! Inspired by her recent run-in with the director himself, Tory reminisces about how living the romantic, literary dream also means taking stock of the realities of life in the city of lights… -Geneviève

Film still from Midnight in Paris

“I don’t deliberately make a film a year, but that seems to be what happens,” Woody Allen told me when I caught up with him at an event last December in New York. “Eventually I will stop working or keel over, but so far everything’s been going along fine.”

At the time, he had just wrapped Midnight in Paris, which headlined this year’s Cannes Film Festival in May (and is now in theaters in France and the United States). I had been anticipating this film ever since my friend caught a glimpse of the crew shooting on one of the quais last fall, and I was curious to see how Allen would interpret (or misinterpret) Paris.

Pierre Guy, Confucion

In short, Midnight in Paris follows Owen Wilson’s character, an earnest American novelist, as he is unexpectedly lured into a magical world, populated by the likes of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Dalí, Luis Buñuel, Man Ray, T. S. Eliot, and the list goes on. Late in the film, a spin through the Belle Epoque has Wilson rubbing shoulders with Gauguin, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Like many of Allen’s films, the whole thing was pretty far-fetched, but I must admit, it totally captivated me in the watching. More importantly, it made me laugh at myself—if only because it played with so many of the stereotypes that lure starry-eyed Americans (myself included) to Paris. Owen Wilson’s literary-inspired naïveté struck a serious chord with me. It’s no coincidence that when I first arrived, I named my blog A Moveable Beast in honor of the bohemian, writer-ly existence I planned to cultivate. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events | 16 Comments »

Paris Dining With the Locals: Mon Oncle le Vigneron

I’ll admit: when I first heard of the cave à manger concept, I was skeptical. “The restaurant is a wine store? That looks like someone’s kitchen? And you still need a reservation?” In a city filled with countless decadent, exquisite options, this sounded rather pedestrian and misguided, like a basketball player deciding to transfer his skills over to the golf course.

Call me what you will—ignorant, pessimist, hater—but I promise to be none of those any longer: Mon Oncle Le Vigneron has me sold on the trend, with this small, family-owned place as the current apex.

Tucked away in the 19th, MOLV only recently expanded to its current food-serving capacity. The owners made their name selling wine, but seem to have shifted gracefully into this new phase, turning their home/wine store into a home/restaurant. Bottles of wine and jars of honey line the walls, flowers jut out of a severed plastic water jug, silverware is pulled out of the cupboards, and a glass-partitioned kitchen allows you to peruse the cooking process from your seat. The tables are simple, and few: only two were set during my visit, and when attempts were made by unsuspecting passersby to grab a seat, they were sadly turned away—if you don’t reserve ahead of time, they won’t have enough food for you. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »

Italian Food Tastes Better in Italy: How to Cook Like an Italian Mamma

Steve Brenner and his wife Linda Martinez moved to Rome with the dream of opening an eco-friendly hotel and indulging in delicious Italian food. Here, Steve shares his tips for getting our attempts at Italian cuisine to taste a little more like what comes out of an Italian mamma’s kitchen…-Geneviève

Pasta Carbonara (no cream!) and garlic: two Italian staples (Ghirson; Sivandsivand)

Everyone agrees – Italian food tastes better in Italy. Part of this is due to the superiority of the ingredients when bought locally.  When you buy mozzarella in Naples or Gaeta olives in Gaeta or pecorino in Pienza, you are partaking in an experience that will not be the same even just an hour or two away.  In Australia or the US, or any other really big country where things are produced to last long distribution distances, even people who live near the source are eating something made to withstand days of transport.  A tomato in California or an orange in Florida tastes the same as they would in Montana.

Spaghetti Vongole; A typical Italian doorway (Erica Berman)

Yet there’s another reason Italian food tastes better in Italy  – it’s the cooking techniques that are not easy to adopt elsewhere. It’s not about precision and elaboration.  Instead, it’s about knowing what to leave out and how to combine a few simple, but seriously tasty, things for maximum flavor.

If you read non-Italian language cookbooks in an attempt to find these secrets, look out – you are being deceived.  Perhaps it’s a conspiracy by Italian grandmothers to keep the uniqueness of the Italian kitchen from being too accurately reproduced outside the boot, but the truth is (and I may be at risk with the food police for spilling this information) Italian recipes are not reproduced faithfully by English speaking writers.  Italians would almost never use 1 whole onion in a pasta sauce (and Italian onions are about 1/4 the size of an American one).  Two tablespoons of oil?  Ha!  I guffaw when I see a recipe that asks for 2 tablespoons of oil.   I go through about a liter of oil a week.

Orecchiete con Broccoli and Parmiggiano (Sarah Maternini; Anne@74)

An example of this can be found in a quick search for the Pugliese dish – orecchiette with broccoli.  A Google search of “orecchiette with broccoli recipe”  in English and a search of “ricetta orecchiette con broccoli” in Italian turn up two very different recipes – the English one calls for 2 tablespoons of oil and 4 cloves of garlic, while the Italian recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of oil and one glove of garlic.

I learned to cook in my early 20’s because I was living in Italy with no money. If I wanted to eat cheaply, I was going to have to fend for myself.  So I asked lots of questions and kept my eyes open and found that Italian cooks are very willing to share their “secrets”, because there aren’t many actual secrets. They make things the way they’ve always made them, true to tradition with subtle varieties based on location and availability.  When Italians ask their Mamma, who learned to make orecchiette from her Mamma, how much garlic or oil needed to make the dish, she would say, “poco e tanto”.  If I asked my mother, she’d email me the recipe. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 14 Comments »