Our story begins with three Americans in Paris. The mix of b-school boys is more an invading army than intellectual expats like Gershwin or F. Scott Fitzgerald. The best of us speaks the lingua franca(1) as well as Bradd Pitt spoke I-talian in Inglorious Basterds. We settle into a cozy Airbnb in the 6th arrondissement’s (2) historic St. Germain des Pres. We have four days to explore bromantic Paris before hitting the road for a tour of Normandy and the Loire Valley (see itineraries). Paris is a sprawling cultural mecca of superb architecture, art, music, and food (3). The city became the economic, cultural, and political capital of France in the 12th century. It has carried that torch through monarchies, empires, and five republics (4).
After a few bottles of vin (5), we saunter out to explore the city of light. Very close and across the Seine are the Jardin des Tuileres and the Lourve. The area is absolutely gorgeous during the day but quieter in the evening. We head down the Rue de Rivoli and stop by 38 Riv, a small basement Jazz bar. Soft saxophone notes bounce off the exposed stone walls in a room that looks like a medieval cellar. The three stools at the bar are perfect for an aperitif to stimulate the appetite.
The trip planning was fairly laissez faire (6), so Stefan hit up a friend for a dining suggestion. Our new destination, Le Fumoir, is back near home. Le Fumoir which means “smoking room” is the perfect place for a finally crafted cocktail and a nibble. The inauspicious entry way opens into a chic and classy formal dining room. We fortunately snagged a table in the elegantly book lined library. The dark wood definitely paired well with the pseudo-intellectual conversation.
The waiter is very friendly and suffers through our ineptitude with the language. I start with a great gin based drink similar to a Clover Club (7). Dani, Stefan, and I snag a bit of each other’s drinks & starters.
Here are the recommendations:
· The salmon (8) app is delicious! The fish is fresh, full bodied, and succulent. It is served with peas and dill which give the dish a refined earthy feel. The herb mayonnaise base and lemon juice mesh well.
· The oysters are fantastic. Not sure about genus (9), but these large bois are juicy, slightly salty, and come topped with pecorino cheese.
· My main recommendation is the fresh squid & scallops in a butter and squid ink reduction. The scallops are small, but packed with flavor. The pan seared, caramelized morsels have the perfect texture. The slight citrus notes and the subtle bitterness of the crunchy Chinese bring the dish together.
All in all a solid choice and better bang for your buck than the one Michelin star restaurant we tried (Atelier Rodier ).
- 1. La lingua franca is a term for the default trade language, which globally is English. Historically French was a major trade language.
- 2. There are 20 administrative districts in Paris
- 3. Food
- 4. The current French government is the fifth republic since the storming of the Bastille. The city currently hosts 18% of the French population.
- 5. The Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) wine classification system may seem complex at first glance, but becomes easier once you recognize the quality levels and varietals associated with different geographies.
- 6. It rubbed off from my fellowship at a libertarian think-tank
- 7. Gin, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Syrup, and an egg white. Been favoring gin based cocktails, shout out to my local gins (Myer Farm Distillers and Greenhook Ginsmiths).
- 8. Try to avoid farm raised salmon because it tends to have higher mercury levels (and a bland taste)! The reason salmon is pink is due to carotenoid pigments in the crustaceans they eat. Farm raised salmon looks the same because fisheries dye the food pellets. I recommend wild caught Alaskan Salmon. There are five kinds with distinct flavors (king, sockeye, coho, pink, and chum). It’s pretty affordable to order a big batch during the Salmon run and store in your freezer.
- 9. Here is guide to some common US oysters.
- 10. Good tasting menu but pricey.