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The Food Lover's Guide to Paris

The Food Lover's Guide to Paris

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by Patricia Wells

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The book that cracks the code, from the incomparable Patricia Wells. An acclaimed authority on French cuisine, Ms. Wells has spent more than 30 years in Paris, many as former restaurant critic for The International Herald Tribune. Now her revered Food Lover’s Guide to Paris is back in a completely revised, brand-new edition.

In 457


The book that cracks the code, from the incomparable Patricia Wells. An acclaimed authority on French cuisine, Ms. Wells has spent more than 30 years in Paris, many as former restaurant critic for The International Herald Tribune. Now her revered Food Lover’s Guide to Paris is back in a completely revised, brand-new edition.

In 457 entries—345 new to this edition, plus 112 revisited and reviewed classics—The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris offers an elegantly written go-to guide to the very best restaurants, cafés, wine bars, and bistros in Paris, as well as where to find the flakiest croissants, earthiest charcuteries, sublimest cheese, most ethereal macarons, and impeccable outdoor markets. The genius of the book is Ms. Wells’s meritocratic spirit. Whether you’re looking for a before-you-die Michelin three-star experience (Guy Savoy, perhaps, or Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée) or wanting to sample the new bistronomy (Bistrot Paul Bert, Le Comptoir du Relais) or craving something simple and perfect (L’As du Fallafel, or Breizh Café for crêpes), Patricia Wells tells you exactly where to go and why you should go there. You no longer have to rely on the iffy “reviews” of Yelp or Trip Advisor.

Included are 40 recipes from some of her favorite chefs and purveyors and, of course, all the practical information: addresses, websites, email, hours, closest métro stop, specialties, and more.

Editorial Reviews

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

Product Details

Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
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5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

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 is, how to get there, what you'll find when you arrive, and what it will cost. I intentionally did not rate restaurants, for I find personal restaurant ratings clumsy, arbitrary, Dan generally unreliable. Besides, they make a burdensome science out of what should, essentially, be joyful discovery.

No doubt, some places you will love less than I. Some you will love more. I hope this book will stimulate every reader to explore, look around, and ask questions, and will help everyone to understand just a bit more clearly the history, daily customs, and rich texture of Paris, the great gastronomic capital of the world.

Excerpted from The Food Lover's Guide to Paris: Fourth Edition. Copyright (c) 1999. Reprinted with permission by Workman Publishing.

Meet the Author

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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The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had bought the original version many years ago. With this new version the book is really nice-looking. Lots of entries and photos. However, many of her dining recommendations do not rate too well on a popular travel website. It seems that maybe the proprietors and staff know that because it is she who is dining there they make a tremendous effort to have the dishes prepared quite well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello! * She smiled *