The Food Lover's Guide to Paris

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The Food Lover's Classic Brought Completely Up to Date.

An inveterate explorer of all things culinary, Patricia Wells brings us the very best of Paris: not only unforgettable evenings in her foolproof selection of restaurants, bistros, and cafes, but the places to find the flakiest croissants, earthiest charcuteries, sublimest cheeses, most knowledgeable wine merchants, gleaming pots and pans, and the holy grail of breads, pain Poilane.


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The Food Lover's Classic Brought Completely Up to Date.

An inveterate explorer of all things culinary, Patricia Wells brings us the very best of Paris: not only unforgettable evenings in her foolproof selection of restaurants, bistros, and cafes, but the places to find the flakiest croissants, earthiest charcuteries, sublimest cheeses, most knowledgeable wine merchants, gleaming pots and pans, and the holy grail of breads, pain Poilane.

Whether the urge is a simple one, like satisfying a midafternoon sweet tooth on the rule de Buci (try Jean-Pierre Carton for its puckery tarte citron or deep, rich tarte au chocolat), or grander - deciding between hallowed Taillevent or the poetic, audacious Pierre Gagnaire - Ms. Well's guidance is infallible. She tells us what is new and wonderful (more than 50 restaurants and 100 specialty food shops have been added to this edition) and what is gloriously familiar and still to be treasured. She even manages to coax recipes from her favorite chefs - 50 are included in the book.

Revised and updated, covers more than 300 restaurants, bistros, patisseries, salons de the , and cafes.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
A Cooking Class with Patricia Wells
Patricia Wells has made her home in France for more than 25 years, and as the food critic for the International Herald Tribune and the author of cookbooks and traveler's guides, she has opened the door to the country's fabulous restaurants, markets, and specialty shops to countless food lovers from around the world. Wells is a friendly, elegant woman whose easygoing style helps to make the too-often intimidating topic of French food eminently approachable. She came to New York cooking school De Gustibus at Macy's to demonstrate favorite recipes, some gathered from the chefs of Paris and some born from her own Provençal farmhouse kitchen.

About Patricia Wells and The Food Lover's Guide to Paris
An intrepid culinary explorer and leading authority on French cuisine, Patricia Wells can be counted on to ferret out wonderful unknown gems and to offer the most thorough and reliable information on the famous gastronomic destinations. She's the author of several award-winning cookbooks that explore the cooking of France from haute cuisine to simple bistro food to home cooking Provençal style, but for anyone who longs to experience the food of France at its source, her two guide books, The Food Lover's Guide to France and The Food Lover's Guide to Paris, are indispensible.

Wells has just released the fully revised and updated fourth edition of The Food Lover's Guide to Paris, for which she revisited the more than 450 restaurants, bistros, cafés, markets, and specialty food shopslisted.She dropped those that had declined in quality since her last visit and added more than 100 wonderful new places. To her amazement, Wells testified, "prices were actually lower in many places than they were at the time of the last update in 1993." Still included — and more essential than ever — are the detailed French/English food glossary and the indices of restaurants organized by price range and by special features like outdoor seating or service on Sunday. Also unchanged is Wells's ability to bring the reader into the the heart of this food lover's paradise through her wonderful anecdotes, historical notes, and insider's advice. The book contains several dozen recipes, but look for more in a forthcoming book that Wells expects to publish next fall, a Paris cookbook that will offer what she calls "a modern history of Parisian cooking" with recipes that have been gathered at the markets, inspired by special dishes at food shops, learned in chef's kitchens, and collected over Wells's 25 years as a Parisian.

About the Menu
We started with a glass of lovely dry Taittinger Brut La Française champagne poured from celebratory magnums, accompanied by wonderfully aromatic almonds tossed with hot olive oil, sea salt, and thyme leaves that Wells first tasted at a café on the shores of the Mediterranean. The Provençal nibble typified what Wells considers one of the central tenets of good cooking: "What grows together goes together." Next came one of the freshest and most flavorful salads I can remember tasting, inspired by a spring special on the menu at the famous turn-of-the-century Paris bistro Benoit. Tender asparagus, snow peas, and thin haricots verts, each perfectly blanched and sliced on the diagonal into bite-size pieces, were tossed with tarragon and chives and a light coating of a simple vinaigrette made with walnut oil and lemon juice.

The salad's perfect balance between the character of the individual ingredients and the well-seasoned whole was achieved by following what Wells described as a very important part of French cooking, taking "the little extra steps that, put together, make a big difference." In this case, blanching the vegetables separately and icing them immediately, handling them delicately, and cutting them properly made for a slightly more labor-intensive but indescribably wonderful dish. A complex, slightly floral, rich Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc stood up particularly well to the salad's green, herby flavors.

After the salad we had a robust leg of lamb that had been marinated in a mix of coarse-grained mustard, ground hot red pepper, yogurt, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic, then seared to brown the outside and roasted to perfect pinkness, a Basque recipe from one of Wells's all-time favorite Paris bistros, Au Bascou. The rosy slices of lamb — expertly carved by Wells's husband, Walter, who demonstrated his technique for the class — were served alongside flavorful white beans cooked to tenderness with garlic cloves and sage leaves and flavored with coarse-grained mustard. A fruity, peppery, full-bodied Domaine de Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a wonderful accompaniment.

. We finished with a delicate and surprisingly simple raspberry, almond, and vanilla tart made with sheets of phyllo dough layered and baked with a buttery almond cream filling then topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Tips from Patricia Wells
Wells says that one of the most frequently asked questions in her cooking classes is about different types of salt. She's a firm believer in using good sea salt — "When you use ordinary salt, your food tastes salty. When you use good sea salt, it tastes seasoned" — but she recommends using the pricey fleur de sel, the "in" ingredient of the moment, only for last-minute seasoning. The delicate, pure, highly flavorful salt is hand collected and represents less than 1 percent of the sea salt gathered in the north of France, and its unique character lends a special accent to food.

Wells says taking special care with ingredients, something she learned about in the kitchen of legendary chef (and the subject of Wells's book Simply French) Joël Robuchon, really does make a big difference in the quality of the finished dish. This is especially true of green vegetables, and Wells's techniques for blanching illustrate how paying attention to each step can pay off. First, she recommends using water that is "so salty you can't stand to taste it" — it won't make the vegetables salty, it will make them taste seasoned, and it will help preserve their fresh colors. Next, never cover the pot as they are boiling — acids that can make the vegetables bitter will escape from an uncovered pot, and again the colors stay brighter. And always plunge the vegetables immediately into ice water as soon as they reach the perfect tenderness — this is easy to do if you use a pasta pot and transfer the vegetables right into the ice water in the built-in colander. And if you can afford the time, it helps to preserve the individual character of each vegetable to use fresh boiling water for each ingredient. If you decide to reuse the water, then be sure to blanch the mildest vegetables first and the most strongly flavored last.

For many people, the challenge in cooking is just getting started. Wells's advice: "Make a list of the ten things you most love to eat, and start with number one. Perfect that dish, and make it until you're satisfied that you've got it down, until your family says 'No, not again!' Then move on to number two. And then at the end of a year, or two years, or however long it takes, you'll be able to make your ten favorite things perfectly."

When you're entertaining, don't try and do five really great things. "People come to see you, and it's much nicer if you can be a guest at your own party," she says. So why not just do one or two really great things, and maybe buy a dessert and keep the rest simple? And don't feel compelled to try something new every time: "Have the confidence to become known for something," Wells says. It's wonderful when people look forward to a particular dish you're very comfortable making each time they come to your home.

—Kate Murphy Zeman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761114796
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Wells

Patricia Wells, for more than two decades the restaurant critic for The International Herald Tribune, is the author of the award-winning Bistro Cooking, as well as more than a dozen other books. She also runs a successful cooking school in both Paris and Provence, where she and her husband have lived for more than 30 years.

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Read an Excerpt

A Taste for Paris

From the moment I set foot in France one chilly, gray January morning in 1973, I knew that Paris was a city I would love the rest of my life. More than a quarter of a century later, after spending twenty of those years in this gentle city, each day I am moved by Paris's elegance and beauty, its coquettish appeal. The quality of life here is better than in any other place I know, and eating well has much to do with it.

This is the book I came to Paris to write. Equal only to my passion for food is my love for reporting. I have always thought that one of the most enjoyable aspects of journalism is that you get to know people on their own turf, and you get to poke around, asking the questions that any curious person wants answers to. In researching this book, I - along with various companions - walked just about every street in Paris in search of the gastronomic best the city has to offer, talking, chatting, interviewing, meeting with the city's men and women who are responsible for all things great and edible. We set out to find the crispiest baguette, the thickest cup of steaming hot chocolate; to spot the most romantic site for a warm morning croissant or a sun-kissed summer lunch; to track down the trustiest cheese or choclate shop; to uncover the happiest place to sip wine on a brisk winter's day. We quickly gave up counting the number of times we got lost or rained out as we checked off addresses and discovered back streets and sleepy neighborhoods. We toured the markets and tea salons, sparred with butchers, laughed with the owners of a favorite bistro, and shared the incomparable aroma of a great loaf of bread as it came crackling from the oven. We rose eagerly at dawn to catch a pastry chef as he pulled the first batch of steaming croissants from his wood-fired oven; climbed down rickety ladders into warm and cozy baking cellars to discuss the state of the French baguette with a skilled baker; shivered as we toured the aromatic, humid, spotless rooms stacked with aging Brie and camembert, Vacherin and Roquefort. Each day we lunched and dined, sometimes at modest neighborhood bistros, sometimes in fine restaurants. We gathered recipes from pastry chefs, cooks, bakers, and teashop owners, and tested, tested, tested until my apartment took on the same irresistible mixture of aromas as the food streets and shops of Paris. Throughout, it was an exhilarating labor of love, one from which I hope you will profit, the joy of which I hope you will share.

This is a personal guide, and whenever I had to decide whether to include or delete a shop, a restaurant, a market, I asked myself one question: Would I want to go back there again? If the answer was no, the address was tossed into the ever-growing reject file.

In choosing restaurants, I have tried to be comprehensive but selective. I have tried as best I know how to tell you exactly what I think you will want to know about a restaurant: why you should go, where it

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Table of Contents



Tea Salons

Wine Bars


Pastry Shops


Cheese Shops

Prepared Foods to Go

Chocolate Shops

Speciality Shops

Wine and Liquor Shops

Food and Wine Bookshops

Kitchen and Tableware Shops

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A Paris Recipe from Patricia Wells
Jean-Guy's Basque-Spiced Leg of Lamb
Six to eight servings
  • 1/2 cup (12.5 cl) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (80 g) coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground hot red pepper (such as Piment d'Espelette)
  • 1/4 cup (65 g) sheep's milk full-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

    • 2 legs of lamb, each about 1-3/4 pounds (around 800 grams) [or one larger leg of lamb, 4 to 5 pounds] bones and trimming reserved
    • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
    • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

    • 1. Combine all the marinade ingredients. Place the leg(s) of lamb in a roasting pan that will hold the meat snugly. With a pastry brush, brush the marinade over all sides of the leg(s) of lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for at least 8 hours.
      2. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
      3. In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil over high heat. Remove the leg(s) of lamb from the marinade, drain, and sear the lamb on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
      4. Return the lamb to the roasting pan with the marinade and any bones and reserved trimming.
      5. Place in the center of the oven and roast, allowing 10 to 12 minutes per pound (500 g) for medium rare, 15 minutes for medium. (Lamb is medium rare at an internal temperature of 140°F [60°C], medium to well done at 145 to 175°F [63 to 80°C].) Turn the lamb several times during roasting and baste occasionally.
      6. Remove from the oven and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the lamb to a platter, and place on an angle against the edge of an overturned plate. Cover loosely with foil. Turn off the oven and place the platter in the oven with the door open. Let rest a minimum of 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes. The lamb will continue to cook during this resting time.
      7. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Place the baking dish over moderate heat, scraping up any bits that cling to the bottom. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping and stirring until the liquid is almost caramelized. Do not let it burn. Spoon off and discard any excess fat. Add several tablespoons cold water to deglaze (hot water will cloud the sauce). Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
      8. While the sauce is cooking, carve the lamb and place on a warmed platter.
      9. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve and pour into a sauce boat. Serve immediately, with the lamb.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2003

    american express rules apply here:Don't leave home w/out it

    I have purchased all editions of this tome and find it indispensible when in Paris. I recently had to purchase a new 4th Edition as I lent my first copy to some friends who took it to Paris and used it so much I let them keep it.I don't plan on going to Paris for at least a year or more, but I do find it a wonderful read when cooking inspirations allude me.

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