Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vacation food bites - London & Paris

Hi all – had an amazing vacation in London & Paris and here are some food tidbits

Pret a Manger – my favourite chain of fast-food restaurants! Not fast-food in the sense of hamburgers & fries, but fresh sandwiches, salads, pastries & wraps. Since the continental breakfast at my London hotel was terrible, I had Pret every morning! Love it! They are everywhere in London – about as many as there are Starbucks in Toronto. There are now several in New York and Chicago. Definitely think they should open in Canada!

Hix – first night went to dinner with a friend at “Hix” in Soho, near Picaddilly Circus. Hix is one of Mark Hix’s many restaurants in London and was also voted best new restaurant 2010 by “Time Out” travel magazine. It was good - we had the prix fix which included smoked salmon on a toast and pan-fried pickerel.

Cider – that night we went out to bar for some stand-up comedy and I found my new favourite drink – cider! Cider is an alcoholic drink made from apples – available in sparkling or still. I prefer the sparkling kind (even though it gives me little cider hiccups)

Tea – we had tea at Brown’s Hotel, voted one the Tea Guild’s one of London’s top teas! Started off with a tower of finger sandwiches, scones and little desserts (and tea of course). Finished tea with some chocolate and white cake. It’s a great tradition that we should have here in Canada – nothing like a little afternoon pick-me up. Finger sandwiches and tons of little desserts is more filling than you would think - or maybe it was the clotted cream – that filled me up until dinner!

Harrods – in the basement level of the “store that sells everything” are the incredible food halls. The food variety is incredible – fresh fruit (a $16 pomegranate), baked goods (a £4000 cake), fresh seafood and teas, coffees and candies. This is also a great place to pick up some souvenirs (there are some very affordable ones, don’t worry!)

Fish & chips – I had to have fish & chips – we went to a pub near the British Museum for the classic UK dish (along with a pint of cider). My friend who lives in London said that it was not the best fish & chips he’s had, but I thought it was pretty good!

Leon de Bruxelles – this is a chain in Paris with very tasty mussels and fries. I went to the one on Champs Elysees. Prix fixed seems to be a big thing in Europe and I got the white wine mussels & fries and finished the meal off with crème brulee! Excellent – you must try!

Gelato wars – apparently there is a rivalry between two gelato/ice-cream chains – Amorino (from Italy) and the Berthillon (from France). Of course I had to try both.
- Amorino – from the Lafayette store (go to the 6th floor for some delicious gelato & beautiful views of Paris. I got strawberry, mango & vanilla
- Berthillon – after dinner went to Champs Elysees, got two types of sorbet – cassis (black current) and passionfruit.
And the winner is... Amorino (Berthillon a close second)! I loved the clean, fresh flavours a little better, but it was difficult to pick a winner.

Fauchon – this store is at the Madeleine subway stop and is foodie heaven! There are two stores – one with pastries & bread and caviar. The 2nd store is just across the street and a must visit (and a great place for souvenirs). This store carries wines, teas, coffees, cookies & chocolates – it’s such a beautiful store and amazing merchandise!

Cafe de la Paix – across from the Paris Opera (Palais Garnier), the inside of this restaurant is just beautiful! They have some of the best millefeuille ever – flaky with a rich creamy filling (for €14 it must be!). I was too full from lunch to eat the dessert so I took it to go and carried it for half a day around Paris before wolfing it all down in my hotel room. Delicious and super rich – must try!

Cafe de Flore – in St Germaine de Pres, this cafe has be great view of the bustling street St Germaine. I ordered a cheese sampler plate for €20 and thought I would get literally a “sample”. I ended up getting 3 humongous pieces of cheese. I barely good through ½ of it! The cheese in France is a little more pungent, brie is a little sharper but I really enjoyed the blue.

Relais de entrecote – this restaurant only
serves two things – steak and fries! Some of the best I’ve had. When you get there they only ask you two things – what would you like to drink and how would you like your steak done. They then bring you two servings of steak & fries. Be prepared for a wait – but worth it!

Macarons – these are a little treat, made mostly of egg whites & almonds and comes in a variety of flavours such as raspberry and chocolate. I tried several while I was in Europe and thought they were a little overrated (gasp!). However, they are some of the cutest little desserts I’ve ever seen!!

McCafe – anyone who knows me well knows that I love Mcdonald’s (yes, it’s true, a foodie with a thing for McDonald’s). They have amazing McDonald’s in Europe – the one that I visited in Europe had McCafe – with lattes, pastries & macarons – amazing!

Three and a half days in each city was certainly not enough to experience everything – I will definitely be back for more foodie adventures.
Bon appetit!

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