Inspired by the title of this blog (en anglais: 'Let them eat cake'), this is the fabulous cake that Ayoub and Parandis brought to the "au revoir" party we had at our place before leaving Paris. We thought it was the perfect image to start this blog entry that tells all about the food we've enjoyed in Paris. Plus, since everyone actually did get to eat cake, it seemed parfait!
The French take great pride in their cuisine and it is definitely a huge part of their joie de vivre. It may seem daunting to consider a vegan diet in this beef bourguinon, fromage-loving country, however, we think that you will be surprised by not only the traditional French dishes that Marc has enjoyed during our stay, but also the vegan ones that we were lucky enough to find along the way.
One grande difference between French food and what we enjoy back in the states is 'le pain'! Here is our favorite boulangerie in Paris where we get our daily baguette. There are no low carb diets here in France where people eat bread with every meal!
Petit-dej on the go! Marc is holding a typical breakfast item, pain au chocolat. You may also recognize the cup he is holding… Starbucks anyone? On this particular morning, there wasn't time to stop for a French café and after biking to the Musée d'Orsay, this grand café shows how bumpy cobble stone streets can be!
Although we do cook at home often, we have been able to eat out a couple of times a week which helped us to experience a bit of the café culture, as well as taste some amazing cuisine. Like the French, we often ate out at lunch instead of dinner, since it is more economical and is more traditional to eat your largest meal mid-day.
At first glance this omelette may look like breakfast, but it is actually a meal accompanied by salad and bread. Although the French like to eat rich foods, most dishes are accompanied by a fresh salad, giving them the balance that keeps their diet healthy. Mel embraced this balance in her own way by ordering crudités (raw vegetable salad) for her main dish and an assiette de frites on the side. Très délicieux!
Another favorite lunch item is a 'croque', or snack, that is made from layering bread, ham and cheese, sometimes with an egg on top. You can see that even Mel's simple lettuce and tomato salad looks fabulous – no iceberg lettuce in sight! And of course, some rosé to accompany this meal on the sunny terrasse.
Here are a couple of salads at one of the favorite restaurants we found, Chez Papa. Yes, that ham and egg bowl IS a salad… the French can make anything into a rich meal.
Marc can hardly wait to dig into this dish at another one of our favorite spots, Salle à Manger. Full of fabulous veggies, and in most cases meat and cheese as well, these salads are a generous enough portion to be a complete meal.
Much to our surprise and delight, there are several vegetarian restaurants in Paris. Thanks to a book Mel was given by her brother and sister-in-law (thanks Mark & Sue!), we had an invaluable resource to find vegetarian restaurants and organic food stores. Eating at these veggie restaurants was a nice change from typical French restaurant fare.
Fantastique falafel! We were happy to discover that there are large Lebanese and Israeli populations in Paris. Falafel sandwiches were a staple for Mel since the typical baguette sanwiches and panninis are never vegan. Hopefully you can see how delicious one of these it, but if you haven't tried one and find yourself in Paris, go to the Marais and check out L'As du Falafel – c'est incroyable!
Marc was also able to find some unique sandwiches. This galette is a collection of meat, cheese and veggies wrapped in a crêpe salé. Definitely a neighborhood favorite since the line to get one is always out the door.
Another of Marc's favorites is this grec frites, made by wrapping spiced lamb in a pita. Who can argue with frites in a sandwhich?!
In addition to discovering vegetarian dining options, we also found that there are many health-conscious Parisians. For this special group, there is a chain of bio (organic) grocery stores all over town that offer a variety of bio, vegetarian and vegan products. Mel was able to find tofu, veggie butter and even a vegan version of Nutella!
That leaves us right back where we started… with dessert! Where else on earth do you find some of the thinnest people eating the most delectable desserts? Marc did his best to sample several and we’ve got a couple great ones to share. Pâtisserie anyone?
Named for a street near our apartment, this petit gateau of chocolately goodness was called 'Les Goblins'. Rich and savory, this treat was worth every calorie!
A thousand layers of goodness? Bien sûr! This 'Mille Feuilles' is countless layers of thin pastry dough with creme woven within, proving that the creation of such treats truly is an art form.
Much to our surprise, and Mel's delight, we stumbled upon a shop selling vegan gelato! Similar to ice cream, gelato is an Italian treat that comes in many flavors, but is never Mel-friendly… until now! In many ways we've tried to enjoy Paris like this simple dessert — savoring each bite, being thankful that we had the chance to experience it and hoping that its memory will be enough until the next time we are lucky enough to cross paths…