Once I made up my mind that I would travel to Paris from London by train, I looked at a map and realized it would be silly to return to London to fly to Munich (where I’d be meeting Craig for the Munich Film Festival two days later); a far more sane idea would be to keep moving east, via train, stopping over somewhere along the way. When I put the question to Twitter, a follower (I forget who; sorry follower!) mentioned Strasbourg. Before I knew it, I was reading about one of the great world’s food cities–on the border of France and Germany–in the Alsace-Lorraine region where we get Riesling, Alsatian pizza (aka: tart flambée), and a dish Jeffrey Steingarten celebrates in one of his books called Choucroute Garnie. Needless to say, I booked a EuroRail ticket, booked a hotel (the Hotel Rohan, nice and reasonable), and after kissing Paris goodbye on a Friday morning, boarded the train to Strasbourg.
We’ll Always Have Paris: With Meals at Restaurant Miroir, Jacques Genin, Le 6 Paul Bert, Little Breizh, and Chez L’Ami Jean
I had a reason for not wanting to go to Paris, this trip, and it was both very stupid and very sweet. Namely, I love Paris so much, I didn’t want to go there again without Craig. Lest you forget, we’d gone together to the Edinburgh Film Festival, he left that Sunday for the Nantucket Film Festival, and I ducked down to London where I ate myself silly and saw lots of theater. I could’ve stayed there for the rest of the week, reconnecting with him in Munich (where I am now) for the Munich Film Festival, only our friends Mark and Diana were in Paris that same week and kept imploring me to come join them. “You’ve already been to Paris without Craig,” said Mark. “What’s the difference?” It was a powerful point. And so, before I knew it, I’d bought a one-way ticket for the Chunnel and figured I’d continue my way from Paris to Germany with a stop in Strasbourg, right on the border of France. When you see what I ate along the way, you’ll agree that this decision should’ve been a no-brainer right from the start.
A Jolly Jaunt Through London With Stops At The Maltby Street Market, Tayyabs, St. John, Ottolenghi, The River Cafe, and Quo Vadis
Hello from a train. I’m writing this as I make my way from London to Paris through the Chunnel; there’s no Wifi, so by the time I hit “publish,” I’ll be in my hotel, but you can still picture me on a train. Last night, after getting in from “The Pajama Game” (more on that in a bit) I spent over an hour editing pictures from my three days in London. I couldn’t believe my eyes; had I really done so much in such a short period of time? More importantly: had I really eaten so much?
It began with an off-the-cuff remark. Craig mentioned that his movie was going to play at the Edinburgh Film Festival and I said, “See if they’ll bring me out too.” I never expected that to actually happen but, somehow, some way, it did and before I knew it we were on a plane flying over the ocean. Edinburgh is a funny city for me because I’d actually been there once before, only I was too young to appreciate it. (I spent a summer at Oxford after my junior year at Emory and we did a two-day trip to Scotland.) My memories of Edinburgh were so foggy, in fact, that Craig hardly believed it happened. “Do you remember this from when you were here before?” he teased me as we made our way from the hotel lobby (after dropping off our suitcases) out into the city upon arrival. “Shut up,” I said. “Oooh look at that castle.”
It’s a very privileged problem to have, let’s acknowledge that out of the gate. Most people in this world who are worrying about food are worrying about how to get enough on to the table, not how to eat the very best the world has to offer while flitting about. Again, let me be the first to file this post under “Privileged People Problems” or “Problems That Are Not Very Serious In The Grand Scheme of Things.”
That said, I leave for Europe in one week and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” floating across my screen. “Oh you’re going to Paris, you should go to Pierre Hermé,” says one person. “Skip Pierre Hermé,” says another person. “You should go to Jacques Genin.” It’s almost like I’m studying for the S.A.T.s and pretty soon I’m going to be in a gray little room with my #2 pencil, guessing C when I don’t know the answer, instead of strolling carefree around Europe, letting the day unfold in ways that might take be surprise. This is what it’s like being a Type A food person planning a trip.
You all have been so helpful so far planning my European trip (I can’t believe we leave in two weeks!) and now I have a new challenge for you. My good friends Mark and Diana will be in Paris while I’m in London and I’ve decided to take that chummy old Chunnel to visit them for 24 hours before continuing on to meet Craig in Munich. This begs the question: WHAT TO DO IN PARIS FOR 24 HOURS? Or, more importantly, WHAT TO EAT IN PARIS FOR 24 HOURS? Don’t forget, I’ve been there once before, so this trip it would be nice to try some new things (though returning to Pierre Herme is definitely on my agenda). Also, looking for a dinner spot that’s super special but not insanely pricey (current thoughts: Restaurant Le Chateaubriand or Frenchie). Have at it, smart people! Merci beaucoup.
Wild news: Craig’s movie is screening at the Edinburgh Film Festival in three weeks, then he goes to the Nantucket film festival, and back to Europe for the Munich film festival. The best part? Edinburgh is flying me out too, so I can join him in Munich as long as I make my way back to Edinburgh to fly back. So here’s the plan: four days in Edinburgh, then when Craig goes to Nantucket, I’ll make my way to London where I’ll lay low for a week until it’s time to go to Munich. After that, we’ll tack on three days in Berlin because how can you go to Munich and not go to Berlin? (Also: I want to see a certain someone’s Berlin kitchen.) Now I need your advice. Where should we eat in Edinburgh? Where should I stay in London? Where should I eat there? (I feel like I have to go to the River Cafe; I’d also like to try St. John and a Heston Blumenthal spot, but that may be unrealistic $$-wise.) Where do we eat in Munich? And where do we stay in Berlin? Oh and where do we eat there too? Also, if there are any books you can recommend about any of these places (fiction or non-fiction) I’d love to load up for the flight. Thanks for all of your help and I’ll be sure to share the whole adventure with you here on the blog, as I always do. I’m pretty nice that way.
I Burst My Belt in San Francisco: Pixar, Foreign Cinema, Omnivore Books, Wise Sons, Knead, SPQR, State Bird Provisions, Bar Tartine, Zuni, Boulibar, Humphry Slocombe, Tosca and Sightglass Coffee
People often ask, when they read posts like these, “How did you not explode eating all of that food?” Normally I answer, “Oh, I only took small bites” or “I burned it all off by walking a lot.” But the truth is, I did explode after our week, last week, in San Francisco. My hands are typing this, but my face is across the room, and you don’t want to know where my lower half is. But let me tell you, friends, it was totally worth it. We ate like kings (and queens, as the case may be) from Wednesday to Sunday and now you get to eat like kings and queens too–well, with your eyes–as I take you back through it.