Paris

Luxury Afternoon Tea in Paris + Exclusive Guidebook (A Giveaway)

Vegan Tea-Time at the Shangri-La

The Shangri-La is a chic hotel in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, a short walk from the Palais de Tokyo and the lovely Président Wilson greenmarket.

For some reason, it’s not the most talked-about of luxury hotels in Paris, yet I’ve been invited a couple of times to eat at their gastronomic restaurant, L’Abeille, and also at their more casual restaurant, La Bauhinia, and I’ve been sincerely impressed with the quality of the cuisine and the outstanding service.

The hotel team is also quite inventive with the events and special offers they create, and they recently issued an exclusive guidebook, highlighting 10 Parisian Walks for you to explore the city’s most charming neighborhoods and discover hidden gems. It’s a slim little book that you can slip right into your pocket as you go on your self-guided tour of Romantic Paris, Historic Paris, Kid-Friendly Paris, and seven more themed itineraries.

Chic Tea and Promenade

This guidebook is normally reserved for customers of the hotel, but! I was so enthusiastic about it I wanted to make it available to you, and asked if we could put together a giveaway. They said yes, and this is how I’m able to offer this generous prize to you.

If you win, you will be invited with the person of your choice to enjoy the Shangri-La’s Vegan Afternoon Tea under the bright glass ceiling of La Bauhinia. You’ll indulge in the amazing pâtisseries and mini-sandwiches created by talented pastry chef Michael Bartocetti, and leave with your very own copy of the Paris Promenade guidebook — in English or in French, as you prefer. (This is a 120€ value.)

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

To enter, please fill in the form below before Wednesday, May 4, midnight Paris time. I will draw a name randomly (if you’re curious this is the service I use), and announce the winner here the next day. Please note that you will have a year to benefit from this offer (or have a friend use it on your behalf). Good luck to you!

We got a winner!

The winner of this giveaway is Nancy W. (email: nw******an@gmail.com). Congratulations, Nancy! You should have received an email from me with instructions. Please contact me if you haven’t. And thank you to all the other participants for your enthusiasm!

Photo credit: Roméo Balancourt (guidebook photo) and Bernhard Winkelmann (tea time photos).

My 6 Favorite Croissants in Paris

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

I am very, very passionate about croissants; I think it’s about as close to perfection as a single baked good can get.

I love the contrast of textures between the crunchy tips, the thinly crisp outer shell, and the moist, tender insides. I love how the combined flavors of butter and flour are fundamentally enhanced by a properly conducted fermentation. I love a warm croissant fresh out of the oven, but I love one that’s been sitting for an hour or two even more. And in truth, I like a day-old, chewy croissant as well. (Unless I decide to turn it into an almond croissant.)

I find that the croissant is an excellent product to judge a baker by, as there is truly nowhere to hide: a croissant reveals the quality of your ingredients and your skill level in the most transparent manner. It is such a simple preparation in theory, yet one that is radically shaped by the hand that makes it.

I recently contributed an article about the best croissants in Paris to the spring 2016 issue of Bake from Scratch, an American magazine devoted to (you guessed it) baking. This particular issue is all about France, and my piece involved research and interviews, a lot of cycling around the city, and a lot of tasting.

I boiled it all down to (my personal selection of) the best croissants in Paris, which I’m delighted to share with you today. As you’ll see in the pictures below, each of these croissants has a distinctive personality, but all can be trusted to deliver the most delicious whoosh of flaky butteriness in an irresistibly golden, brittle package.

If you’re ever in Paris, here’s where I recommend you get your croissant fix:

French Food Cheat Sheet

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Raw Chocolate in Paris: A Virtual Tour of the Rrraw Chocolate Factory

Rrraw chocolate truffles

To get you in the mood for Easter, here’s a special chocolate gift for you: I’m taking you on a virtual tour of a raw, bean-to-bar chocolate factory!

Rrraw is a small French company that makes high-quality, delicious stone-ground chocolate that is also raw, vegan, and organic. I have been in touch with the super friendly owner, Frédéric Marr, for years, and I finally had the chance to visit the workshop a few weeks ago. So I took lots of pictures to share with you!

Their range of raw chocolates includes square vegan truffles and chocolate bars in various flavors, such as coconut, cashew, seven spices, hemp seed, pollen, aguaymanto… I am also quite taken with their chocolate-covered cacao beans, crunchy and brittle in their smooth coating.

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Chapon Invites You to Taste of Paris! (A Giveaway)

Taste of Paris: Chapon want to invite you!

Will you be in Paris sometime between February 12 and 14? Because that’s when Taste of Paris 2016 will be held, inside the amazing exhibition hall of the Grand Palais. This festival aims to showcase the best of French gastronomy, with demos and tastings allowing you to discover some of the most exciting chefs and producers in the country.

French bean-to-bar* chocolatier Chapon will be there with his chocolate mousse bar (what’s not to like?) and has offered to give away two tickets for one session from Friday Feb 12 to Sunday Feb 14, at the time and date of your choosing (subject to availability).

The lucky winner will also be able to pick up a little goodie bag containing the newest Chapon products, to be retrieved from the Bar à Mousse.

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Paris Butcher Shop How-To: 6 Tips to Buy Meat Like The French

Viande&Chef

The Paris butcher shop is among the most pivotal institutions of any neighborhood’s market street. This is where the savvy shopper goes for the highest-quality meat, freshest prepared foods, and best advice.

Whether it’s a traditional, mom-and-pop boucherie or one of the more sophisticated ones that have opened in recent years (see my top 5 below), the Paris butcher shop does require a little bit of gumption, as you simultaneously try to figure out what’s what, one-up the garçon boucher‘s playful banter, and ignore the little old lady pushing her shopping trolley and sniffly dog up against your ankles.

But I wouldn’t dream of trading this for the anonymous styrofoam trays of the supermarket: I’d rather eat less meat less often, but go for the good stuff with the artisan touch and the traceability.

On that subject, I am thrilled to announce there’s a new sustainable butcher in town. Benjamin Darnaud, a young French chef I’ve been friends with for years, has just opened Viande & Chef in Paris’ 10 arrondissement. He buys whole animals from a select few artisanal farmers, and his talented team comes up with innovative ways to use every last part, rather than supply a disproportionate amount of the more prized cuts. This nose-to-tail approach means they may not have the exact cut you’re looking for that particular day, but they’ll make it up to you tenfold with delicious and quirky stuff. (We thank them for allowing us to take pictures in the shop; photo credit: Anne Elder.)

Without further ado, here are my 6 tips to win at boucherie.

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