Paris Getaway

Last week we exchanged our usual view for the one above.  We stayed in an apartment right around the corner from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  We went sightseeing and we shopped, but that was just to have something to do in between meals.  As always, the city lived up to its reputation for great food.  Just about everything was delicious, from the superlative bread (and amazing butter!) to the luscious slow cooked meats, and the incredible pastries and chocolate.

Pumpkin Soup with Foie Gras

For our first dinner, we ate at La Fontaine de Mars, a classic bistro, where the Obamas ate on their visit to Paris.  I started with pumpkin soup topped with sauteed foie gras.  The buttery meat juices added another dimension to the smooth creamy soup.  A rich stew of duck legs in red wine was the main course.  For dessert, I opted for an old favorite, Floating Island, poached meringue on a sweet creamy pool of vanilla sauce.

Crisp Pork Belly with Lentils

The next day we had dinner at a favorite bistro, La Regalade.  It is always crowded, but I it is one place I have to go when I am in Paris.  Their coarse country pate was as good as I remember it, and I loved the crackling crisp pork belly with lentils and celeriac puree that followed.   For dessert it was a perfect Grand Marnier Souffle.  On Sunday we explored the stands at the outdoor market on Avenue Woodrow Wilson.  The vegetables and fruits were hard to resist…

Avenue Woodrow Wilson Market

…and so was the seafood.  There were stands selling shrimp, scallops and many varieties of oysters.  These oursins, or sea urchins, were tempting.

Sea Urchins

If you think all butter tastes alike, I wish you could try this kind from the Normandy region that I tasted at  Drouant, a classic old restaurant that has recently been done over.  I liked the butter so much, I took it’s picture.   BTW, our lunch was excellent.  I started with 4 little vegetable appetizers, including a tiny cup of jerusalem artichoke soup and 3 fresh salads: beets, curried carrots, and fresh coco beans.  The main course was perfect roast chicken, thick cut French fries, and a green salad.

One day, we had an all-chocolate lunch at Jacques Genin, an elegant tea room and chocolate shop in the Marais District.  The mille feuille is a specialty and each one is filled to order so that the buttery puff  pastry layers stay crisp when sandwiched with the creamy filling.  We ordered one filled with chocolate caramel ganache along with a pot of hot dark chocolate as thick as melted ice cream to drink.  Was it too much chocolate?  Yes! And it was soooo good.

Chocolate Caramel Mille Feuille


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1 Charles Scicolone { 03.12.12 at 3:03 PM }

It was a great trip-Paris , the food and the wine could not have been beter

2 John F. Carafoli { 03.13.12 at 6:21 AM }

Love this post! It immediately brought me back to Paris. Please keep me informed of these kinds of adventures.
John Carafoli

3 Michele Scicolone { 03.13.12 at 7:09 AM }

Thanks, John. Next stop is Molise! I am looking forward to going there and sharing what I find.

4 Salvatore Fanara { 03.14.12 at 10:36 PM }

Looks like you had a fabulous time, thanks for sharing the experience! 😀

If you are hitting Molise next and you happen to be around “San Martino in Pensilis” I would advise to stop by at “Al Castello” in Piazza Vittoria see this link on google map that I grabbed for you… (street view)

The owners are two brothers Michele e Peppino and they run the place with passion together with their wives (can’t recall their names, sorry ;P). I remember going to their house “in campagna” (in the fields) with their father to help him bring over some food (Melanzane among other things) for the antipasto as they ran out of it earlier they they expected one night. That was when I could chat a bit with him and see first hand how genuine and passionate they are about the restaurant and their product. The whole family works at the restaurant and I still have impressed the image of one of the owner’s wife (I think Michele’s?) who was wearing her apron while dusting the table with flour making fresh pasta as previous batches were being cooked for the guests.

I had the luck to do this pleasant “old fashioned” experience (and a memory that will always cherish), almost 20 years ago in the mid ’90s, when I was working in welding and related metal work and I stayed at the pensione of the Castello for several weeks while working expanding an industrial plant during the summer period (that was really in another life now that I think about it, LOL).

I ate at “Al Castello” every day and never got tired of it. The food was always so delicious, all home made organic goodies done traditionally and with real love.

They have many different specialties from a perfect antipasto all’Italiana that includes the “Panpanella Molisana” (an oven-dried pancetta with herbs peperoncino) to delicious dishes such as Scamorza ai ferri (grilled whole fresh cheese scamorza, just to die for), Maccheroni alla Chitarra (fresh pasta) al ragù, a splendid Grigliata mista di carne.

And to end it all nicely, your sweet tooth could be fed “dolci” tasting various kind of typical desserts (according to availability). I don’t remember the exact variety of dessert they have at the Restaurant, but I remember while in San Martino in Pensilis I tried local specialties such as “mostarda d’uva” (country jam based made with local grapes) which can be had with cookies , or to accompany gelato or other dessert. Another one was the “Cauciuni” (or “big kicks” usually fried dough stuffed with a chickpea paste made mixing chocolate, orange zest, sugar, sweet wine and other ingredients), “Ostie farcite” (wafers filled with walnuts and almonds), peccellate (filled with cooked must or jam) and cippillati (oven-baked ravioli filled with sour cherry jam).

I wish you and Charles the best of times in Molise, so…

Buon viaggio e soprattutto buon appetito! 😀


5 Michele Scicolone { 03.15.12 at 6:29 AM }

What a great memory, Salvatore! Experiences like this one at Al Castello are what I love about travelling the backroads of Italy. I hope I can get there and if I do I will tell them you sent me. Thanks for sharing, Michele

6 Anthony Giglio { 04.02.12 at 8:14 AM }

My mouth is watering and my stomach growling as I read this, Michele. We took the kids to Paris last year at this time and worried that they’d be fussy eaters, but they couldn’t resist the roasted chicken at Le Comptoir and the crepes just about everywhere. We need to get back there! And we need to see you and Charles!

7 Michele Scicolone { 04.02.12 at 1:08 PM }

The White Wolf says those kids were bound to have good taste!

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    • Michele Scicolone