Since this is the first post on my blog, I'd like to start by clarifying a few things. I have never had a blog prior to this one, nor have I really ever followed one. Because of this, I'm not really sure what I'm doing, or how to go about writing it! I hope that at least a few people will find it interesting enough to keep reading. But if they don't, it doesn't really matter, because mostly this blog is for me. It's a means by which I can write about the food or the meals that I will enjoy over the year, and hence, a means of remembering them. Because if you think about it, at one lunch a day, 7 lunches a week, and 365 lunches for the year, I'm definitely not going to recall every single meal! On top of that, there's the interesting dinners, and amazing pastries for breakfast, which (whilst not fulfilling the criteria of lunch) will inevitably deserve a mention.
I should also point out that I have been living in Paris for 3 weeks now. The idea for the blog was actually a spur of the moment decision. I was reading an article about the 'Sex at Oxbridge' blogger, and realized that as much as sex is her passion, food is mine - why not blog about it?! So I will have to backtrack a little, and tell you about the last 3 weeks. After that, I intend to keep the blog up-to-date.
Another warning before I start - Disaster seems to follow me! I can only expect that this pattern will continue on the other side of the world, and at the very least, it should make for interesting reading along the way!
O.k... So let's go back 3 weeks.
My departure from Sydney was eventful (I told you!) to say the very least. One of the plane's engines blew up, we were forced to land, where we waited for another 5 hours! Here's the link if you're interested!
I am told that Paris is the world's most visited tourist destination. About 80 million people a year, to be precise. I'll make an educated assumption. Once these 80 odd million people have checked in and dumped their suitcases, there's one thing that comes to their minds... "Where are we going to eat?"
Can you blame them? They are, after all, in Paris. The capital of France. The epicenter of the gastronomical world!
It was certainly the first thing that came to my mind! Sarah, an Australian friend from school who is at uni here, suggested that we meet in the 9th arrondissement and walk up to the Sacre Coeur. Whilst it was a lovely idea, unless there was going to be something to eat, I didn't want a bar of it! She assured me that I wasn't going to be disappointed... And I wasn't.
Rue de Matyrs is an incredible street for foodies. The closest metro station is Notre Dame de Lorette (line 12). The street runs straight up to the Sacre Coeur basilica. But if you actually intend upon going to the Sacre Coeur, choose another street, because you'll probably never get there via this one. There are simply too many amazing specialty food shops. Sarah and I walked up one side, and down the other. Cheese shops, wine shops, meat shops (I don't think that 'butcher' is an adequate translation of these chacuteries, since they sell foie gras, cured meats, and so much more), boulangeries, a surprising number of Greek delicatessens, a salmon specialty shop, chocolateries, green grocers, and then of course, a multitude of restaurants. The street is always busy, and the hustle and bustle of people, cars, trucks making deliveries, and shop owners out on the street, gives the street a real 'market vibe.'
Remembering, of course, that I was quite hungry by this stage, I bought a chocolate from Jeff de Bruges to tide me over. In terms of chocolateries, this one isn't really anything special! It's a chain, so they're all over Paris. And it's not too expensive, but the actual chocolates are fairly ordinary. We then went to one of the Greek delicatessens. A funny choice for the first meal in Paris, I know, but most of the food is ready-to-eat, and looks so delicious!
There's 4 or 5 of these Greek delicatessens on Rue de Matyrs, and the food looks to be much the same in all of them. So we picked one, and walked in. To the left of the shop was a shelf packed with about 10 ceramic pots, each filled with different varieties of marinated olives. On the same side, there was another shelf with plates of nuts. Some smoked, some salty, some sweet, some natural, some mixed. Above the nuts and olives was another shelf with several varieties of ouzo. On the right was a large cabinet, with bowls of every type of Greek specialty imaginable, filled to the brim. Moussaka, dolmades, fetta stuffed peppers, meatballs, eggplant balls, sardines, whitebait, taramasalata, tzatziki, aubergine dip, olive tapenade, 5 different types of baklava, marinated sweet figs, dates, and the list goes on.
I get the impression that most people buy the food to take away, but there are 4 plastic table and chairs set up at the back of the shop, with the option to eat there, which is exactly what I did. I had a plate with some tabouli, fennel green olives, big white beans marinated in a tomato sauce and a dollop of tzatziki. Everything was so flavorsome, if a little on the salty side. That said, I love salty food, so that wasn't a problem. It was 5 euro, and whilst the serving was very small, the quality of the food was so good, that 5 euro was a bargain!
That night we went to the Buddah Bar, a very well-known underground bar and restaurant, not far from the Tuileries gardens. Most people recognise the name from the Buddah Bar CDs which are sold all over the world. My honest opinion? You'd be better off enjoying the music and a bottle of red on a picnic rug by the Seine, rather than at the actual bar.
A big group of Sarah's friends were going, so we decided to join them. The bar can best be described as a wrap around balcony which looks down on the restaurant below. It's very moody, with dimmed lighting, chilled out music, and an enormous Buddah looming over the room. By Parisian standards the bar/restaurant is absolutely huge! It is also, by Parisian standards, excessively expensive! The cheapest glass of red wine was 10 euro.
The group was fairly international - a couple of French girls, an Italian guy, a Canadian girl, a handful of Dutch people, and us. The expensive glass of house red never actually arrived (which I was secretly thrilled about, one glass of 10 euro wine versus two 5 euro meals at the Greek Deli was really no competition!)
I did learn a lesson on this night, which will stay with for the rest of the year. Whilst I was in the process of telling the waiter not worry about the overpriced glass of wine that had never arrived, I overheard the 2 French girls in the corner talking about me. They were giggling and looking at my shoes. They were saying that I was too dressed-up, and commenting on the height of my heels. To be honest, I don't think I was overdressed at all - heels, jeans, a nice top and a jacket hardly constitutes ball-worthy attire. As for the lesson? When in Paris, better to be under-dressed than over-dressed! A shocking reality, and one which I am still struggling to come to terms with. Paris is just as much the epicenter of the fashion world, as the gastronomical world, and yet this is apparently not exercised on a daily basis.
And so there it is - the first day of my year in Paris. A Greek lunch, an amazing food street, and a visit to Buddah Bar.
Until next time...