Culinary arts & food service management student Apoorva Prakash ’17 spent 6 weeks at École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse in Paris this summer.
Here she takes us on a food-filled walk through some of her favorite Parisian neighborhoods.
When your friends decide to whisk away to London for a weekend, it’s time for a fully self-dedicated summer weekend in the intimate city of Paris!
With only 2 weeks left of the 11 weeks of hopping around Europe, I was keen to finish strong. I started to scribble down a quick list on my daily planner while glancing ideas from a book called “Delicious Days in Paris,” which takes readers on a walking journey circulating around the best macarons, tea and baguettes in the area.
Additionally, the 250 pages of script and photographs around the city of lights also revolves around the culture and the history of the area by giving information on the unique stores, churches, galleries whether you are in the heart of the city or in a quaint area like Normandy, France! In a span of couple of hours, I would set foot in the observed, eaten and experienced the finest. I already knew my Saturday was off to an energizing start.
I was always told “Old is gold” but never really understood the value of the statement until I started travelling and venturing around. I happened to be in Stockholm, Sweden a month ago and I somehow kept venturing back to an area called Gamla Stan in the old part of the city. Rain or sun I had a better chance at interacting with the Swedes and also taste some local products as Swedish Fika. Hence this Saturday my first stop was “Le Marais,” the Jewish Quarter of Paris and my favorite district.
The Marais district was built with pride as it contains the right infusion of art, food, fashion, history and glamour. As I enter from the main street from the Saint-Paul Métro in to the cozy lanes of the lower Marais district I spot vintage stores, niche boutiques, classy furniture stores and an evolving hipster location. After a couple of minutes of strolling around on the main street, I made my way in to Pain De Sucre (14 Rue Rambuteau) at noon for a hand-crafted quick coffee and some pastries.
There were macarons and marshmallows lined up by the large window in pale glass jars. With unique flavors such as pistachio olive oil, rose and blueberry granola, they caught the sight of every passers sight and smell senses. Then I glanced at the pastries, a true work of art. Delicately put together by master team of bakers, each one was calling out to me: “Pick me, pick me!”
After I put in some deep thought I selected a mini berry delight. There were in small rounds for €7 each approximately for 5 small but scrumptious bites. One must recall it’s all about freshest of fruits and very few are at par at executing pastries alongside the French. Soft on the inside, an evenly baked shell and bright colors on the outside, I relished every moment along with my café creme. As I stepped out, I popped a couple of dark chocolate macarons in my goodie bag.
Next, I headed to a kitchen market called Kitchen Bazaar (4 Rue de Bretagne) in the continuous search for a “Paderno,” a long T-shaped wooden handle for spreading crépes.
Traditionally, crépes are a Parisian street food — look for sidewalk carts or small, specialty shop fronts dedicated to crépes. Crepes are cooked by ladling the batter onto a circular griddle; the paderno is then used to create a uniform thickness. (For evenness, thinness and crisp exteriors only a crépe master can get all of these 3 at one go!) Whether you own a traditional crépe pan or not, every culinary lover that leaves Paris should make this an additional to their knife kit — you never know when you are going to need it!
As I continued to hunt for more things to catch my eye, I found myself wandering to my next spot on the book Café Charlot, to grab another coffee on the same street with the hope of sitting on the green courtyard the author had mentioned and not shying from the sun.
On a whim, I decided to skip the quiet afternoon lazing around and wandered to the food market across the street. It was bustling with activity as vendors tried to make sales, various smells and kitchen equipment. Children tried hard to find little gaps in the mob and run for une glace (ice cream) in French while I hunted down a crépe.
It’s usually easy to spot one as there is a long line and the crépe stand is usually not visible. I scan the menu for something exciting and new to eat. I ended up with a savory crépe filled with mushrooms, fresh spinach leaves, goat cheese and sprinkled with herbes de Provence. Savory crépes are called galettes and the base is made out of buckwheat flour. The end product is more crisp and thicker in texture. What’s not to love, right?
After another memorable street food meal in the heart of the city, I pushed myself through the long queues and hurdles of the metro all the way home to Citi Universitaire.
Dimanche Tranquille (Leisurely Sunday)
After spending a couple of weeks in Paris, it takes time for many to adjust through the ins and outs of the city. Personally the best way to immerse oneself in to a big city which is filled with museums, architecture, espresso hubs and constant shopping tourists is to use the metro and on foot. Usually the train takes you to the entrance of a destination and as you walk one starts to explore more than one thought they would.
No matter where I am in the world, Sundays have always been lazy. More than doing nothing productive it’s all about personal time and it has been an enriching process to continue in Europe.
With that thought in mind, I grabbed a crépe for breakfast right outside the Citi Universitaire and caught the metro to one of the most happening tourist areas in July. Locals in Paris thrive on sun, so fake beaches become an integral part of the city during the summer along the Seine.
People of all ages gather around various bars, cafes and boats around the river to soak some vitamin D. I sipped my mojito on a beach chair and made notes on my recipes for the next day. I was waiting on a friend who was visiting me from England and we planned to catch small snippets of the Tour de France right in front of us. We sat down and chatted for a bit and started walking by the river, even for a fake beach it was pretty quiet. Friends gathered around in circles and were playing cards while some tourist came down and took some pictures with their children.
After 20 minutes we made it one of the streets that was shut off and guarded efficiently by the Paris police team. It was quiet as the roads were cleared for the cyclist to perform their best and as I got closer to the track the crowd was getting wild. After passing multiple security checkpoints we made it to one of the many viewing points in the city. People were quickly hurdling around the ropes cheering in French while I squeezed myself to the front.
As I was taking photos, cars were zooming through the track and following the many cyclists who were completing extreme close proximity. Within a span of couple of minutes, they would pass by me again and it was hard to spot who was leading. Finally I made my way out of the crowd and into the open air.
As the sun started to set, I walked by the river within close proximity to the Eiffel Tower back to the train station. With a 45 minute journey ahead of me at the peak hour of 8pm, I engaged myself in to deep thoughts of my next adventure!
- Le Marais (3rd arrondissement)
Kitchen Bazaar, 4 Rue de Bretagne
Pain De Sucre, 14 Rue Rambuteau
Café Charlot, 38 Rue de Bretagne
- Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, 17 Boulevard Jourdan (14th arr.)
- Flow Paris, 4 Port des Invalides (7th arr.)