**WORLD PREMIERE** The Paris Films: “J’Eat Paris” & “David Lebovitz in Paris”

It is with great honor and self-aggrandizement that I present to you two of the greatest films to hit the internet since Pamela Anderson uttered the words, “Tommy Lee, I do.”

Dragging a video camera through Paris takes work and effort, and here is the product of that work and effort. The first film–“J’Eat Paris”–stars John (on the right), his brother Chris, and myself as we eat our way across Paris.

The second film features the renowned David Lebovitz as he treats us to one of his much sought-after chocolate tours, but starting with a tour of his favorite Paris market. The man is a consummate professional.

David expressed concern over my choice of music, but I think I handled that issue nicely. These films, if not future Oscar winners, will certainly survive as my own special, personal souvenirs from a fantastic trip. Hope you enjoy them too.

Paris, The Rest of the Trip (Days 6, 7 & 8): Au Gourmand, Ze Kitchen Galerie, Delicabar, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Chez Paul. **PLUS: Special Appearances By: Clotilde AND David Lebovitz!**

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco; I left my heart in Paris. I also left my jeans in Paris. Seriously. They were my favorite pair. And right now they’re under the bed in room 204 of the Pavillon Pereire Arc de Triomphe Hotel. I suppose the saying is true: you can take the boy out of Paris, but you can’t take the boy’s jeans out of Paris. Now that bumper sticker totally makes sense.

Abrupt segue alert: French Toast!

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This is my favorite food picture I took the whole trip. It comes from “Au Gourmand” a restaurant I discovered from Patricia Wells’s website. She writes: “A Left Bank newcomer worth visiting is Au Gourmand, a tiny restaurant the size of a railroad car just across from the Luxembourg Gardens. Chef Christian Courgeau and partner Hervé de Libouton offer an unpretentious, carefully conceived little spot that’s run with care and attention….If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the pain perdue aux cerises, classic French toast paired with super sweet cherries and a dollop of pistachio ice cream.”

You can just look at that picture above and savor the simplicity and the wonder of those flavor pairings. And the color and presentation. This is what Paris is all about. And this was the first meal I ate after John left…

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Paris, Day Five: Secret Little Nooks [L’As Du Fallafel, Berthillon, La Muse Vin]

Like any major city, Paris has the face it shows to the world (the tower, the arc, Jacques Chirac) and then it has its own secret, private identity. For tourists breezing through, you hit the major spots–you ride that elevator and take pictures, you stroll down the Champs and buy “Paris Original” t-shirts. But for those lucky enough to stay a bit longer, you begin to discover secret little nooks most tourists don’t know about and in the process you add whole new shades to the Paris tapestry you’re weaving in your head. I’m grateful to my readers (five in all) who urged John and I to hit L’As du Fallafel at some point in our visit:

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For anyone planning to visit Paris in the future (and it seems like there are a few of you), add this to your “must do” list. There are a few reasons why. First of all, the falafel’s fantastic…

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Paris, Day Four: The Ins and Outs of Being a Tourist (Fauchon, Chez Flottes, Pierre Herme, Le Trois Freres)

I am a bad Parisian food blogger. Today’s Wednesday, Day 7, and I have to backtrack now to Day 4. But this is a good thing, I think. It means I’ve been so busy enjoying this beautiful city I fell behind. Or it means I’ve been kidnapped and replaced by a young Parisian upstart whose attempt to assume my identity will be thwarted by his inability to finish his sentences in English, monsieur. Mon dieu!

The scope of our Sunday eating was such that the alternative title for this post was: “From Decadence to Squalor” but that seemed too dramatic. Suffice it to say there was indeed some decadence and some squalor. Here’s a taste of decadence:

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That’s the colorful window at Pierre Herme where we enjoyed some of the best desserts we’ve ever eaten. But our day began a bit further away at the Arc de Triomphe….

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Paris, Day Three: Simply The Best [Petit Dejeuner, Poilâne, Barthelemy, Laduree, Chez Omar]

Saturday was the Day of Food. A video camera is my greatest tool for coercing innocent friends (John) and brothers of friends (Chris) into binge eating their way across a city. In this case the city was Paris. A list was made of all the most important places we needed to hit in our film—the Best Bread, the Best Cheese, the Best Macaroons–and a strategy was developed that would allow us to visit these places in succession without riding the Metro (John only had a few tickets left) and without destroying our feet. I am here to report that our mission was a success. The film will be edited next week for your enjoyment, but for now please sit back and soak in the many still pictures of the food we consumed. Hope you’re hungry like these people are hungry lining up for macaroons at Laduree.

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But Laduree is not where our story begins. We begin at the very beginning after the bump.

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Paris, Day Two: John Arrives [Lunch at Le Petit Plateau, Le Loup Blanc]

On Friday morning, John would arrive the same time I did on Thursday (he took the same flight). Because I napped for six hours Thursday afternoon, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Friday (around 6:30 am) and decided to go exploring before John got there after 10 (the flight landed at 7:30 so I figured it’d take him 2.5 hours to commute to the hotel). Since I hadn’t made friends with the Metro yet, I decided to purchase a three-day Metro pass (the orange “week” card could only be bought on Monday) and I rode the train to the Opera station because it seemed very central.

When I got up the stairs, this is what I saw:

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I think it’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. And in that morning glow, it was magical.

I walked around the area and it suddenly seemed very familiar…

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Paris, Day One (Part Two): The Eating Begins [Charles Traiteur, Boulangepicier, Le Clou]

Here I was, eager to share with you every moment of every experience I’ve experienced thus far on my Paris adventure and then Typepad goes nuts and won’t let me post for two days. Ah well: now’s the opportunity to scramble and catch up. John’s already asleep so I’ll keep my typing noise down and try to cram as much in here as I can without writing a mini-novel.

When you last left me, I had reached my hotel in the 17th arrondissement. John’s brother Chris (who arrived yesterday) joked that our hotel’s so far out of the way we’re practically in Normandy. He’s not even kidding. What’s frustrating is that part of the reason we chose this hotel from the options Virgin Vacations gave us is that the hotel has “Arc De Triomphe” in the title and so we figured, naturally, that the hotel was quite close to the Arc De Triomphe. Boy were we wrong. Here’s our hotel:

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The Arc De Triomphe? Oh it’s about 30 minutes away by foot. Not exactly in the hotel’s backyard. The hotel is about 10 minutes from the nearest metro station and once on the metro it’s not a problem getting anywhere we need to go. So in the end, this hotel is fine it’s just not ideal but when you’re paying as little as we did for this trip I guess we can’t complain. Plus we got hot water back last night and for that I am very grateful.

But you’re not here to read about hotels and hot water and Metro rides. You’re here to read about food. Are you curious about the very first thing I ate upon my first visit to Paris in seven years? Click ahead to find out.

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Paris, Day One: I Have Arrived

My battery has 40 minutes left on it (I haven’t bought a converter yet) and knowing my computer that really means 20 minutes, or less, so I will be fast and tell you all about my journey from my New York to here, gay Paree, where I am sitting on a tiny bed on the 2nd floor of a somewhat dingy hotel where there’s no hot water until tomorrow but it doesn’t matter because it was cheap and we’re in Paris but I would’ve liked to have showered after my flight. Instead, I soaked in the city and here’s the most iconic of images in my collection so far:

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There was a definite “click” moment when the magic of Paris washed over me and I began to realize how lucky I am to be here. It wasn’t, for certain, the flight over when I sat next to a Parisian woman with a Cindy Crawford birthmark piercing who HACKED the entire flight every 20 seconds a loud cough and, worse, she very often didn’t cover her mouth. I kept shooting her nasty looks (not for the coughing, but for the not covering her mouth) but they must’ve not been very threatening because she kept asking me the time. When the Duty Free cart came around, she bought a giant carton of cigarettes. Then she hacked some more.

I didn’t sleep on the plane like I was supposed to. I tried, I really did, but the hacking made it difficult so I finished a crossword puzzle and read the first 40 pages of Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” It made me excited to get here.

When my plane landed, throngs of people pushed out towards the customs line where you had to show your passport and a yellow piece of paper stating where you’re from and why you’re here. I took David Lebovitz’s advice and ordered a yellow van from a Yellow Van website to pick me. They required that you call them when you land, so I did, and then I got my suitcase and went outside and they weren’t there so I went back inside and called again and then they came. Before that I exchanged money behind a family from Alaska that took FOREVER to finish up their business. The mom was busy asking a thousand questions and the dad was trying to be cordial towards me but I was in a rush because the yellow van was coming. “It’s not me, it’s my yellow van,” I tried to explain.

I also want to mention that back in New York, when I hopped in a cab to JFK, the driver was a little old Chinese woman and she asked me if I wanted the meter or the flat $45 rate and I said “flat rate” and she proceeded to make a left turn onto 5th avenue where cars came at us completely head-on. She’d gone the wrong way down a one-way street and after she struggled to turn the car around I told her to pull over, that I’d forgotten something at my apartment “sorry” and I quickly hailed another cab. That was a story I couldn’t not tell.

But now there’s a ton of stuff to tell you about my day in Paris–I had a Clotilde-recommended lunch and a Time Out recommended dinner, but now there’s only 32 minutes left and I’m nervous if I don’t post this post the computer will turn black and you won’t get to read any of this.

Oh, the “click” moment. I forgot to finish that thought. So off the plane, I was grumpy and tired (though excited to be here) and after carrying my heavy computer-laden backpack and my giant suitcase to the curb and waiting for the yellow van, I climbed in and sunk into the seat exhausted. The ride from Charles de Gaulle into the city is a pretty ugly one, so I was feeling a bit unhappy (“maybe this isn’t what it’s cracked up to be”) but suddenly we entered the city proper and it all became beautiful. The buildings here, the sidewalks, the people, the posters for movies in French, the little old ladies carrying giant loaves of bread down the street, the cheese shops, the restaurants… It all “clicked” and suddenly I was feeling some serious Paris euphoria. I dropped my bags at the hotel and began my big Paris walk which you’ll find out about in the next post. Until then I bit you adieu!