Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Paris and Rome Bests

Hi friends! It took a while but here is the promised Europe vacation recap post.  Instead of giving a day to day report of what we did I'm sharing some of my favorites from the trip.  Enjoy!

P.S.  I don't know how to type the accent mark above the e or a in words like cafe, so if you know how to do that will you please tell me? 

Favorite City
Paris.  Paris and Rome were both incredible, but Ben and I both preferred our time in Paris to our time in Rome.  Even though both cities are obviously touristy Rome seemed to be more touristy than Paris, at least in the areas that we spent time in.  We definitely got hassled more by guys trying to sell random crap in Rome than we did in Paris.  I was also more comfortable in Paris since I know French and I know the city somewhat well.

Favorite Meal
Mine: Fallafel from L'As du Fallafel.  I had read a lot about this fallafel stand in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood in the Marais area of Paris so we went there Saturday night for dinner.  Unfortunately, they were closed, so we ate at the fallafel stand across the street.  It was awesome.  So we went back Wednesday to eat at the famous restaurant and we were not disappointed.  Soft pita bread, crispy fallafel patties, spicy and creamy sauces, fresh cabbage and cucumber, plus a side of scorching hot french fries (frites) with mayonnaise.  Mmmm my mouth is watering now.  This is street food so you order it and find a bench or curb to sit on or a wall to lean on where you can eat this overflowing sandwich of goodness.  It was also the cheapest meal we had on vacation at only 5,50 Euro.   I could have eaten there every day.  I had to borrow this picture form The New York Times because I did not have a free/clean hand to grab my camera at the time.

Photo by Richard Harbus for the New York Times via Paris: L'As du Fallafel
Ben's: Escargot and Bouef Bourgingnon at L'Entrecote in Les Halles.  For our last night in Paris we wanted a traditional French meal, and Ben really wanted to try authentic boeuf bourguignon.  We picked out a place online but in typical European fashion, it was closed.  So we wandered around until we found a suitable substitute.  I am so glad we stumbled upon L'Entrecote.  The prices were wonderful (16 Euro for a three course meal), the staff was friendly, and the clientele was primarily French (that's how you know you're at a good restaurant).  For our appetizers I ordered the french onion soup (delish!) and I convinced Ben to order the escargot.  He loved them! They came in the shells and since neither of us had eaten snails before I had to ask the manager how to use the tools to get the suckers out of their shells.  They were cooked in a pesto sauce and according to Ben they were delicious (I couldn't get up the courage to try them).  For our main courses I had roast chicken, which was good, and Ben had the boeuf bourguignon, which he devoured.  For dessert I think we had creme brulee and a warm chocolate cake.  Very successful last meal.  

Best coffee
Cappuccino at Sant’Eustachio Il Caff√©Absolutely delicious.  We really enjoyed the cappuccino all over Rome but theirs was just a little better.  In Italy it's customary (and cheaper) to drink your coffee at the counter.  Unfortunately I didn't get a picture, but here's one from another famous coffee shop, Tazza D'Oro.

Best macarons 
Laduree.  The original and the most famous macaron patisserie was the best.  Their macarons are light and airy and come in so many amazing flavors.  My favorites were the cassis and salted caramel.  Expensive but worth it. 

Best Crepe
Chevre, nuts, and honey crepe from Crepes a Gogo. This wins hands down for my favorite savory crepe in Paris.  We had this traditional buckwheat dinner crepe at a restaurant near the Pantheon.  We had the perfect view from our table, our server was very friendly, and of course the food was delicious.  We also shared a banana and nutella crepe for dessert and it was heavenly.

Best gelato flavor 
Caramel at Venchi.  True Italian gelato is absolutely incredible.  We did our due diligence researching different gelaterias in Rome but eating gelato at least once every day.  My favorite was the caramel flavor the server chose for me at Venchi, near the Spanish Steps, on our first night in Rome.  There were so many different flavors to choose from and I wanted something new so I asked the server to pick out the best two flavors.  She chose their marscapone and roasted fig and their caramel, which also had some kind of cookie in it.  Delicious! It was so good that I'm even sharing this dorky picture Ben snapped of me trying to quickly eat my gelato before it melted all over me.   

Most famous cafe visited 
Les Deux Magots. Les Deux Magots was one of the most loved cafes of the early 1900's literati, including Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, and John-Paul Sartre.  Its prices reflect its fame, so instead of eating a meal there we ordered a bottle of wine and enjoyed it while sitting outside and people watching.  It was lovely.  

A close second was Cafe des Deux Moulins in Montmartre.  This is the restaurant where the title character worked in the wonderful French movie Amelie.  We went inside and ordered a couple drinks so we could check out the place.  It's just as cute as it looks in the movie!

Favorite site 
The Eiffel Tower at night.  I was giddy every time we saw the Eiffel Tower but it was absolutely breathtaking lit up at night.  We took the Metro to the Trocadero at about 11 p.m. one night where we had the perfect viewing spot for the light show.  Every hour on the hour for about five minutes the Eiffel Tower comes alive with sparkling lights.  It's magical!

Best public transportation 
Paris Metro.  The subway in Paris is awesome.  They have stops all over the city and trains leave every 4-7 minutes from each station.  It was really easy to navigate the city this way.  Plus the outside of the stations are so pretty!

Best church 
St Peter's Basilica. This was a hard category to choose a favorite in because we saw so many beautiful churches in both cities, but I would say St. Peter's in Rome is the most awe-inspiring and breathtaking.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Best Pasta 
Cacio e Pepe.  Cacio e Pepe pasta is a simple but delicious combination of pasta, cheese (I think it's usually pecorino), and ground black pepper.  It was so good that we went back to this same restaurant another night, after we had already eaten pizza, just so we could both order another plate of this awesome pasta. 

Oddest but most fun dining experience
Dinner at Refuge des Fondus.  This was definitely a tourist spot but it's such a unique place that it's worth checking out. The restaurant is tiny, so tiny that they push the tables together on both sides of the restaurant and you literally have to step over the table to get to your seat.  The meal consists of an apertif, cold appetizers like salami, cheese, and olives, your choice of beef or cheese fondue, and wine...served in baby bottles.  I read that this was to get around a tax that France charges on wine served in glasses.  The meal was a little pricey at 21 Euro each, but it was a memorable experience. 

Best Museum 
Musee D'Orsay.  The Louvre is nice and all, but it is massive and super crowded.  I much prefer the Musee D'Orsay.  It's best known for it's amazing collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings from artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, and many others.  Even if you aren't a big art fan it's worth checking out just to see the building itself.  The museum is housed in an old train station on the left bank of the Seine that is just gorgeous.  I would also highly suggest going to the Rodin museum and L'Orangerie, both in Paris. 

Best cocktail 
Kir.  I drank this traditional French apertif, or before dinner drink, at about 75% of the restaurants we visited in Paris.  It's a combination of cassis, which is a black currant liquer, and white wine.  I absolutely love it, and since cassis is nearly impossible to find in the states I brought a bottle of it home so I can drink kir any time I want!

Best wine 
Any and all house wine in Italy.  We ordered red or white house wine at every dinner restaurant in Rome and it was delicious every time.  It was generally super cheap too.  We paid as little as 6 Euro for a liter of wine which is unheard of in the United States.  

1 comment:

  1. SUPER awesome post, Emmie. So glad to hear you had a great time! Your post is making me crave Europe even more now!!