La vie est belle…

Travels | 26/10/2011 | By


Some scenes from a Paris trip Toby and I took over the summer-  a game of pétanque and breakfast on the terrace at a friends’ flat (Reminds me of my grand plans to make croissants from scratch one day.  I’m researching as we speak and I suppose now that I’ve put it in print, I’ll be held to it.  Watch this space).

After a particularly gruelling day being tourists, we collapsed at the Paris mosque’s café, sitting in the shade of the courtyard, sipping mint tea and munching a few baklava.
We did eat very well in Paris.  BUT, I have to say something controversial now.  Something very controversial.  So I shall preface it with a disclaimer: I was in Paris as a tourist and therefore thus inevitably didn’t know where to eat, although we did get some tips from friends and so on and so forth… I guess what I’m saying is that I’m no expert on the Parisian food-scene.  But I do feel you eat better in London.  There.  I said it.  I just get the impression that the Parisians have been resting on their laurels a little bit.  Got too cocky, think they have it made and don’t have to put in any effort any longer.   And all the while across the channel in London you can eat excellent food from absolutely anywhere in the world, and I mean anywhere, for under a tenner.  I really believe you can.  I had the most extraordinary Columbian brunch in Brixton the other week.  For a fiver.  I’ve had Ethiopian injera, Brazilian xinxim, Cuban croquetas, German currwurst (thanks herman ze german), Norwegian buns, Korean katsu, Antipodean flat whites.  I mean, you name it, you can get it in London. In fact, I will gladly take on any challenge to find a culture-specific dish in London.  I’m sure I could find it, eat it and enjoy it.

But that’s not really the point.  The point is, people come to Paris in part to enjoy the food.   And it can be great.  The markets and supermarkets make me green with envy.  When I was younger I was lucky enough to eat at the la Tour d’Argent and it was one of the most memorable meals of my life.   But in my experience dining at your average Parisian brasserie or local restaurant is very traditional, predictable and it can be, frankly, lazy.  I really do feel you can eat better in London for your pennies. 

Cue angry discourse and many examples of horrible dining experiences in Leicester Square (well, what do you expect?)  and soggy Yorkshire puds drowning in gravy.  

I shall instead leave you with a nice picture of something I have never seen on a menu in London.- Le Café Gourmand.  Which sounds like it might just be a coffee with a bit of cream or something just a little bit naughty.  Instead, it is a plate of mini puddings, a little bit of everything on the dessert menu and totally indulgent.  Wonderful.  

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