Did I mention in my last blog that my first week-end in Paris was the Easter long week-end? An amazing time, indeed, to be in Paris - home to some of the world's finest chocolatiers and location of some of the world's most magnificent churches. Whether you are religious or not, you can't deny that Easter is the single most prominent time of the year to indulge in the taste of chocolate and the sounds of church bells...generally in the company of friends and loved ones.
So there I was, my first week-end in Paris, alone. The two friends that I do have here, away on week-end trips. Loved ones, back home in Australia. I have since learned to embrace my own company, to even enjoy it. But on that Friday afternoon, as I waved good-bye to Sarah, I was definitely feeling more 'desperate and dateless' than excited by the prospect of spending the whole week-end alone!.
Sure as eggs (pun unintended) that week-end turned out to be the best week-end that I have had, thus far, in Paris! By Saturday morning I was no longer 'desperate and dateless' and by Saturday afternoon I had made a very important gastronomical discovery.
It was on this very week-end that I discovered the best ice-cream in Paris. In many ways this post is ground-breaking because the best ice-cream in Paris is often thought to come from the world-renowned glacier Berthillon. And don't get me wrong, the ice-creams from Berthillon are very nice, but they're definitely not the best.
Before I let you in on where the best ice-cream comes from, I will first tell you the story as to how I wound up eating some of this 'heaven in a cone!'
I was crossing the Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris. It was Easter Saturday. Buskers lined the bridge, playing everything from the accordion to the saxophone. The sun was shining, but everyone, myself included, was still rugged up in their winter coats. Spring had apparently started, but the temperature would have had you believing otherwise.
As I reached the St Germain end of the bridge, a sleek black sedan pulled up beside me, and put down the window. The man inside was saying something, but I couldn't understand a word. In the middle of this busy bridge he put on his hazard lights, stopping all traffic flow from behind. He got out and started to approach me. Unsure of what to do, I slowly started walking in the other direction. He then started calling "ay ay mademoiselle, s'il vous plaît, attendez!"
How could I not stop? Especially since he had just run the risk of inuring a very large parking fine, in order to speak to me. The conversation was brief, but long enough for me to learn his name (Marco), his nationality (Italian) and his phone number. He called me an hour later to see what I was doing for lunch. Normally I would have thought this was far too keen, but beggars can't really be choosers. With no other friends, and definitely no other arrangements, I agreed to meet him for lunch.
We went to a small Japanese restaurant in St Germain. I can't recall the name, but the restaurant wasn't really anything to write home about, and so the name isn't all that important. There were many awkward silences during lunch. Most likely because neither of our first languages is French, and so we both had strong accents and a restricted vocabulary.
For what the lunch lacked, the dessert more than compensated for. After our sushi, Marco and I walked along the busy Rue de Buci and turned into Rue de Seine. He took me to a place called Grom. We waited in a queue of about 6 or 7 people, and when we reached the counter I realized that all of the ice-cream flavours were in separate aluminium vats. What's more, each vat was sealed with a shiny, almost sterile-looking, lid. This immediately eliminated the fun routine of letting your eyes taste each flavour before making the crucial decision of which flavours will 'make the cut.'
I chose three of my all-time favorites - hazelnut (noisette), coconut (noix de coco) and coffee (café). I have to say, I have never seen ice-cream be scooped in such a professional manner in all my life. At Grom they seem to take the scooping process very seriously, it's fascinating to watch. Apparently they use the scoop to repetitively beat the ball of ice-cream, and this heats it, and makes it even creamier than it was initially. The serving sizes are descent and the cones are made of waffle, as opposed to the cheap, foamy alternative that some ice-cream shops use. As for the ice-cream itself, it is SO creamy and the flavours are SO true to what they are meant to be. It was honestly one of the best ice-creams I have ever had in my life!
Unfortunately Marco didn't last. But I will be eternally grateful to him for having introduced me to Grom. I make sure I visit Grom at least once a week now. I have tried 7 flavours, but I will keep on the task until I have tried each and every one of them!
If you want to go there, the address is 81 Rue de Seine. The closest metro station is Odeon.
Until next time...