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Monday, 24 November 2014


Paris Food I have received so much positive feedback from my trip report series "From Paris to the Riviera"... That series was by far the most popular/visited blog entry to date. First off I would like to thank everyone for the kind words and encouragements of this infant blog... Since the publication of this trip report series one of the most common follow up question was regarding my culinary experience throughout France (hence this blog entry… Sorry it took so long but in my defense we just had a baby)

French foods are world famous not only for its excellence but also in its diversity. Before we began on our journey through France my wife and I had vastly different intentions (my wife has a more conservative/picky palette whereas I am more adventurous)... All my wife wanted was France's legendary baked goods VS my constant pursuit of the weird-and-wonderfuls. 

So without further ados... I present "From Paris to the Riviera: Food Edition" filled with random thoughts and background stories. 

P.S. I am not affiliated, nor paid by any restaurants/products mentioned in this blog


Chicken Gizzard Salad Local Bar Les Cocottes Eiffel Tower Picnic Dessert
Paris... this buzzing metropolitan is the culinary capital of France (to be honest Paris is probably the culinary capital of the world!) where one could find every faucet of the best French cuisine in one city.  Similar to Starbucks and pharmacies in North America, restaurants of all varieties litter all over town in an astonishing density - and they are all packed!  Since we only spent a total of 8 days in Paris I will not pretend to be an expert in Parisian food... instead I will only share our experiences on here (and hopefully some helpful tips).  Tripadvisor ratings played a great influence on which eateries we visited... and we had mixed feelings regarding some of its recommendations.


All restaurants are required to display its menu at the door... check them out before you commit.

You pay for what you get... do not expect the world if the meal only cost 10 euros in a busy location.

If you really want to visit a particular restaurant, call ahead days/weeks in advance to make a reservation... we didn't and I still have regrets.

Try your French! I think you do get better service if you try speaking French... and that is perfectly understandable... I would be miffed too if someone came into my work and started speaking Punjabi to me in Canada.

Tipping is not expected in France... but a few euros tip for a fantastic meal/service is greatly appreciated.

Sometimes an outdoor picnic with simple deli sandwiches and cheap wines are enjoyable too... especially around a grassy area near the Eiffel Tower.

Boulangerie vs Patisserie: Boulangerie specializes in breads while patisserie specializes in pastries.  Buy your baked goods at early morning or around the end of a work day (~3-5 PM) because baked goods taste heavenly when freshly baked.

Try a "Pain au chocolat": these chocolate filled square croissants were heavenly!

Try going to a local pub/bar.  Not only will you get to experience happy hour like the locals they often serve delicious meals as well! Caution: French people love to smoke...


Les Cocottes de Christian Constant
135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France

Beef Les Cocottes de Christian Constant
Our expectations of this restaurant was high due to its popularity on TripAdvisor, and various Paris "foodie blogs".  We actually arrived too early as restaurants in Paris usually open around 6:30-7PM for dinner service.  (We ended up buying a cold beer and an ice cream cone from the supermarket and chilled around the Eiffel Tower for an hour)

This moderately priced bistro (our bill came to be ~80 euros: 1 appetizer, 2 mains, a glass of wine, and 1 dessert) was manned with friendly/ knowledgeable staffs.  From its name "Les Cocottes" this casual chic establishment specialized in French cuisine served/cooked in mini cast iron pots.

Overall the culinary experience at "Les Cocottes" was good.  We enjoyed our experience and as a matter of fact it was a fine introduction to French cuisine... Our foods were delicious with great presentation, however we did not think Les Cocottes de Christian Constant should be considered as a "must go" since there are so many fine restaurants around town.  If you happen to be around the area, Les Cocottes wouldn't be a bad option.

4, rue de l'Exposition, 75007 Paris, France

Pottoka Pottoka
We stumbled upon this inconspicuous restaurant coming off the train from a long (but fun) excursion to the Palace of Versailles.  We were tired and we were in no mood to venture out to a top-ranked TripAdvisor eatery... but before we settled for a typical tourist trap I powered on my phone and found Pottoka - the best ranked restaurant within a 5 minute radius.

Little did we know Pottoka would be the place where we lose our molecular-gastronomy virginity!  The interior decoration of this small unassuming bistro reminded me of high-end Japanese restaurants: simple yet elegant.

The food that came out of Pottoka's kitchen however was FAR from simple.  Wild combinations and presentations filled the menu of this unique establishment.  Combinations that sounded so bizarre... until it touched my palette.  I was taken on a culinary experience where I found new wonderful flavors with every bite... and simply put Pottoka was the tastiest meal during our 3 week trip through France.  My wife on the other hand (being a conservative picky eater) barely touched her plate and we had to buy a deli sandwich from a corner store afterwards... If not for my wife's experience Pottoka would've been THE culinary highlight of the trip.


Arles Market Arles Market hot food Provence Eggplant sandwich Foie Gras Salad
We only spent 2.5 days in Provence (Avignon + Arles) so my opinion regarding Provencal food is superficial at best.  Geographically regions that define Provence are plentiful with various produces, herbs, olives... and vineyards are ubiquitous throughout Provence... so it is no surprise that Provencal foods are rich in herbs, garlic, and various produces found around the area.


Go visit markets on market days.  Fresh local produce are plentiful for cheap, and most markets have hot foods for purchase as well.

When visiting Provence, slow down and smell the roses (or lavender in this case).  Budget 2 hours for lunch and 3 hours for dinner... you will thank me later :P


La Fourchette
17 rue Racine, 84000 Avignon, France
La Fourchette Yumminess La Fourchette escargo

Throughout our trip I shamelessly massacred the beautiful French language with my broken Grade 8 French laced with heavy English accent even though my wife could speak French fluently.  We arrived at the doors of La Fourchette ("The Fork") which was minutes away from Palace of the Popes, and of course the restaurant was packed with patrons.

Like at home I approached the hostess with a smile and "comment ca va?" (How are you)... we chatted for a brief period until I exhausted my French.  The elderly hostess asked us a question and my wife cleverly stepped in because I simply had no idea what she was asking.  We had no reservations and unfortunately the restaurant was booked up for the night.  Per my wife because I was so pleasant and cute the nice lady commanded the wait staff to open up a table for us. (she must be the mother of the owner)

Most diners at the restaurants were dressed in business causal attires and I was definitely under-dressed.  This large restaurant was classically decorated with ample of wood furnishings.  Once seated it was obvious why this restaurant ranked so high on TripAdvisor: The professionalism of its wait staff, its tastefully decorated quiet atmosphere, and of course... its food.

The exceptional quality of local ingredients  matched with La Fourchette's skilled chef(s), resulted in culinary masterpieces that bombarded our taste buds with rich Provencal flavors.  From simple salads to Provencal specialties like Daube (red wine based stew), every dish had a rich and unique flavor profile... yet amazingly these dishes didn't feel rich on the stomach.

By the time we left the restaurant 3 hours later, we left with a large grin on our faces filled with satisfaction.  It was one of the few times in my life where I tipped because I actually wanted to... it was one of the most romantic and memorable dining experiences of my life.


Moule et frites Mussels Seaside Meal
Being so close to the Italian border, cuisines around the Riviera are very much influenced by Italy.  Pastas, pizzas, gelatos could be found everywhere and they all tasted delicious.

Similar to Paris, restaurants are plentiful throughout the French Riviera and it is extremely easy to end up dining in a tourist trap.  There were many occasions where we knowingly dined at a tourist traps because 1) we loved the location, or 2) we were simply too tired to care.  I love mussels and fries personally (Moule et frites) and I had pleasant experiences in most establishments.


La Route du Miam
1 rue Moliere, Nice, France
La Route du Miam La Route du Miam

By the time we finished settling into our apartment in Nice it was past supper time (~8 PM).  I fired up the TripAdvisor app and the #2 (at the time) rated restaurant in Nice was within walking distance!

This petite eatery has a very inconspicuous exterior since its store front could easily be mistaken for a boutique.  Once inside we were welcomed by an extremely friendly hostess named Marie… and by sheer luck we were able to take advantage of a no-show reservation.  Considering the fact that there were only 4 tables, we were SUPER LUCKY!  The interior of La Route du Miam was simple: A one man kitchen at the back, and 4 tables (enough for maybe 12-15 diners) up front.  I felt like I was visiting someone’s home instead of a restaurant and such unique atmosphere set the tone for the rest of our evening.

Like many good restaurants the menu was limited to a few items and Marie did a fantastic job guiding us through the menu.  We watched Marie’s husband Jean-Michel cook up a storm in the kitchen, and the food that came out was MEMORABLE.  As I write this blog entry I can still taste that duck dish as if I visited yesterday!!!  Jean-Michel’s food was homey, rustic, and simply delicious.  Please be warned that foie gras was ubiquitous throughout the menu... hence the deliciousness.  The generous portion wasn’t plated with presentation in mind, but similar to the restaurant’s exterior and d├ęcor… Jean-Michel’s food spoke for itself without the need for meticulous presentation and an artistically-crafted atmosphere.

We had a bottle of wine and 2 mains… our bill came out to 100 euros which wasn’t cheap but we left with a huge grin on our faces (I should note that this is a cash-only establishment because we foolishly didn’t bring enough cash with us… Marie was so friendly she simply let us walk back to our apartment to grab cash without any collateral!!!).  When we planned to visit France we had the stereotypical exquisite French dining in mind, little did we know one of our most enjoyable meal would be at a hole-in-a-wall type establishment!

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