Jayson’s Pancake House – the Biggest Breakfast in New Jersey?

A destination like Long Beach Island has many breakfast options, all with cute names like “Gertrude’s Pankake Haus” and “Uncle Stevie’s Roadside Grill.” So many choices can be confusing, there is always the feeling that you are missing out on the sweetest cinnamon rolls, the freshest eggs, and the cutest knickknacks on the windowsills.

While on the quaint island for a wedding, the groom told us to check out Jayson’s Pancake House, saying that it served some of the most delicious pancakes in town. He swore on it so much that he came there to eat. On his wedding day.

If the man trusts this place to fortify him on the most important day of his life, the least I could do was trust him.

The restaurant is extremely quaint – a totally predictable beachside eatery with checkered curtains, sweet servers who often work at 2 different restaurants in town during the summer, and steaming cups of coffee brought round as soon as your tucchus hits the seat.

Eggs with Scrapple and Toast

2 eggs, cooked until the whites are firm and the yolks are thick but still runny. 2 pieces of wheat toast, served with mound of creamy whipped butter, melting into rivulets on the crusty bread. Scrapple, crunchy without and creamy within – onions and pork prevalent, blending well with the sweet maple syrup served alongside. Perhaps the most memorable component of this dish are the homefries – almost like Greek fries, they are thick cut and very crisp, with fluffy, buttery innards. Barely salted, they are purely potatoey, somewhere between chips and fries, and totally delicious when dipped int he egg yolk and some hot sauce.

Silver Platter Breakfast

This has most of the same food that I had (as well as some very fluffy, light, none too sweet pancakes), but in gargantuan portions. Enough to feed an entire army. Enough to feed an entire nation. Enough to feed a groom and a best man.

Maybe this meal was just great because we were celebrating the wedding of two great people. Maybe we were made hungry by the sea air. But I don’t think that’s all that it was. I think that the food here is really great, honest food, served by kind servers at very reasonable prices. Bring cash and bring your appetite.

And if you finish that silver platter breakfst…bravo to you!

West Side Market, Cleveland

As if you didn’t have enough reasons to visit Cleveland by now, here is one more:
 West Side Market – the oldest publicly owned market in Cleveland. AKA: A farmer’s market the likes of which I have rarely seen. And filled with items I have rarely seen…
 Smokies. Everywhere, there were lots and lots of these gourmet Slim Jims. They were spicy, slightly chewy, salty, and addictive.
 Bratwurst sandwiches. At 7 AM. With sauerkraut. The amount of joy I feel at that is indescribable.
 Didn’t eat this…but I have to say that I love that it is a thing. 
 The Greenhouse Tavern does a roasted pig’s head…I will never forgive my sister for not letting us order it.
 These were some of the best olives I have ever had – meaty, soft, salty, with sharp and spicy cheese inside. Rita’s has some amazing olives – be sure to try the wasabi blue cheese stuffed olives, too.
 Everywhere, there was incredible bread. 
This pepperoni-Asiago loaf was especially delicious – like a stromboli made with sourdough bread. 
 Locally raised pork already stuffed with fresh cornbread stuffing.
 Every kind of pirogi on the face of the planet. Cheese, potato, sauerkraut, even apricot…
which tasted like a very thick blintz!
 You can buy any part of the animal you so desire…
or you can go vegetarian for the day.
Of course, if you go vegetarian, you might as well do it with these sauerkraut balls – crisply fried balls of sauerkraut and cheese.
In conclusion, Cleveland is really a town for food and people who love it. The town’s motto seems to be this:
And that’s kind of my motto, too.

Pura Vida – Purely Cool in Cleveland

I took a roadtrip to Cleveland recently for a wedding. Never having been to the Midwest, I was expecting cornfields, shopping malls, and nice people.
I had no idea that the food would be exceptional.
Pura Vidais a sophisticated restaurant in the heart of Cleveland. It is the brainchild of Brandt Evans, a native of Ohio, who uses Ohio-produced ingredients in inventive ways.

The decor is modern and a little bit club-like, with sexy music, colored lights, and a hip vibe. This would be a great spot for girls night out.


Nachos with Smoked Duck Confit, Wisconsin Cheddar Queso, Pickled Chili, and Scallions
These were so delicious. Crispy corn chips topped with sweet, barely smoky duck confit. It was so delicate in flavor that it tasted almost like pork. The cheese was sharp, the chilies were spicy and tangy, and the fresh scallions provided respite from the heaviness of the rest of the dish. It was a perfect bite.
Well, luckily there were enough chips to make it a perfect 3 bites.

Lamb Sliders with Taleggio and Fig Jam

So THIS is what lamb is supposed to taste like! Not the lean, mild meat I have so often had. This burger was robust, grassy, and incredibly moist. It was crispy on the outside and so juicy within that it required two napkins. The fig jam, which would have been overly sweet with the anemic lamb I have been eating my whole life, tamed the strong, earthy flavor of the lamb and contrasted with the funky taleggio. On a soft bun, it was fantastic.

Crispy Pig Ears with Smoked Blue Cheese and Sriracha Buffalo Sauce

These pig’s ears were among the best I have ever had. Thin slices of chips were crispy but not hard, softened a bit by the spicy, garlicky Sriracha buffalo sauce. The sauce had that unmistakably vinegary tang of sriracha, but was much richer and rounder, probably by the addition of butter. The blue cheese was mild on the funk, but high on the smoke, giving the delicate pig ears a bacon-y taste. The blue cheese with the acidic sauce was really a winner, and I ended up using bread to sop up the remaining sauce long after the ears were devoured. The ears were crispy in some parts and chewy in others, with no fat or gristle. If you like bacon, you will really like pig’s ears.This was a great meal for an AMAZINGLY reasonable price. Food this caliber would be at least 3 times as much in NYC. And who would think I could find this food in Cleveland?! It was sophisticated and delicious, and the atmosphere was great. If you visit Cleveland, you must hit up Pura Vida.

Max’s Oyster Bar’s Phenomenal Crab Melt Sandwich

While visiting a college friend in Connecticut, I had the chance to eat lunch there. Now, I have dined in Connecticut before, and I have eaten well! But that was during the summer. Not a whole lot of places to eat outside with a lobster roll in hand when it’s sub 30 F, you know?
That is why we chose to dine at Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford.

The interior is upscale but not intimidating – the sort of place you would expect to find well clad suburban moms and young business executives doing a quick lunch.

Baked Oysters with Caramelized Onions, Brioche, Tasso Ham, and Gruyere Cheese

These are oysters Rockefeller for people who think they don’t like oysters. Lightly grilled, which brought out the smoky flavors that complimented the peppery tasso ham. The Gruyere was applied with a heavy hand, its nutty richness soaking up the fresh, salty juices of the oysters. Soft, thick breadcrumbs completed the  dish. This was a hell of a starter. It was rich, but not at all heavy. The oysters worked so well because they weren’t overtly oceanic – just a bright, briny note in the background. Usually I like the oysters to take center stage, but here they sang clearly in the chorus.

Clam Chowder

Traditional in the best sense of the word. Great New England clam chowder needs no improvements, no accompaniments to jazz it up or reinvent it. It needs a buttery base, a creamy mouthfeel, tender potatoes, pleasantly chewy clams, and smoky bacon. Don’t give me any red bell peppers or mango coulis. Gimme a soup so think you could stand a spoon up in it, and that’s my man. This soup wasn’t QUITE thick enough, but the clean clam flavor and perfect seasoning won me over. This is highly recommended.

San Francisco Style Crab Melt with Blue Crab, Dill Aioli, Jack Cheese, and Sourdough Bread
If this sandwich doesn’t scream “hedonism,” then I don’t know what does. Sweet, juicy crab blended with creamy mayonnaise and fresh dill. It was blanketed in a melty, tangy layer of jack cheese that stretched when I pulled the toasty, buttery halves of the sandwich apart. The crab was warmed through just slightly, so it retained the mild taste of cold crab but absorbed some of the bread’s butter and became aromatic and sweet. Though I don’t tend to love crab and cheese, this achieved the impossible – it highlighted the flavor of the crab and the texture of the cheese so each complimented the other without any competition.

Max Oyster Bar is a great place to grab a Connecticut lunch, and by that I mean fresh, seafood oriented, and reasonably priced. By NYC standards, it was practically cheap. The service was great, the portions were huge, and they really have a way with fish and cheese. This restaurant single handedly convinced me that Connecticut isn’t just a summer destination.

Les Crayeres Tasting Menu

Our journey in the Champagne region ended with a night in an incredibly beautiful hotel called Les Crayeres, which just happened to have a Michelin Starred restaurant on its premises.

Le Parc is the gastronomic restaurant at Les Crayeres (there is also the more casual Le Jardin), and after a short nap to relieve us of our tipsiness, Family Fritos and Foie Gras was ready to indulge in a world-class tasting menu. 

Champagne cart before we even entered the restaurant…OKAY! 
There was nothing trendy or cool about this restaurant. It was straight out of The Man in the Iron Mask, with heavy wooden accents, intricate tapestries and …
quite a few crystal chandeliers. You should probably wear a tie here, fellas. 
Our server recommended a champagne made locally, in a small vineyard. I told him that I preferred a pinot noir champagne (more fruity and sweet), and my dad liked blanc de blancs the most (more acidic, tart champagnes). As such, our server chose a champagne made with a mix of grapes, and the resulting taste was yeasty and deep but also smelled faintly of berries. It wasn’t at all floral or sour, just very faintly tart, like blueberries can be. 
It was not served in traditional champagne flutes, but these large ballooned glasses, to allow the champagne to breathe. Part of that was due to the champagnes unique flavor, which really developed as we drank it. One of my favorites…
…which I will always be able to remember, thanks to the excellently educated and totally delightful staff thoughtfully “floating” the label of the bottle and laminating it for me. 
Amuse Bouche
These small bites set the tone for the rest of the meal, and were delicious. There was a crisp, tempura fried shrimp that snapped with the scent of the ocean in my mouth. There were Parmesan crisps sandwiching a tomato and basil puree so deep and fruity it was astounding. There was a pepper and egg mousse that was biting atop a crisp pastry crust and there was a goat cheese wafer, grassy and funky in my mouth. It was an auspicious start to the meal. 
My sister and I went through 3 pats of butter during this meal. That is 1.5 pats of butter per person. It is absolutely the best butter I have ever had. I could say that it was creamy, that it was rich, that it was sweet, which it was. but the truth is…mostly, it was buttery. So brightly and vibrantly buttery. I didn’t eat it plain, but I wanted to. 
Bread Selection
Sundried Tomato, Baguette and Seeded breads were all home baked. The tomato bread was soft and studded with salty, moist pieces of sundried tomato. The seeded bread was hearty and texturally pleasing. 
And the baguette was the best baguette that I have ever had, in or out of France. The crust was the perfect combination of crunchy and gently chewy, and the insides balanced sour and sweet with fluffy but not cottony innards. Spread with the soft, sweet butter, I could have made a meal out of bread and butter alone. 
That, though, would have been a huge crime. 
Anglerfish Tagliatelle with Pea Soup 
This was…not my favorite dish. The tagliatelle had an offputtingly fishy aroma and when i put it in my mouth…yep, there it was. A very fishy taste invaded my mouth, and the tagliatelle were bouncy, like rubber. The pea soup surrounding it was wonderfully verdant and pure, like a burst of spring, but I could not get past that tagliatelle. I ate a lot of bread during this course.
Chicken Oysters with Creamed Chanterelles
The most supremely delicious chicken I can imagine. The oyster comes from the underside of the thigh of the chicken, and it is the most tender, robust morsel of the entire chicken. Each chicken only has two oysters, so there were 4 chickens used per dish. 4 whole chickens used for just 4 pieces of meat per dish! The chanterelles used in the dish were tiny but positively bursting with woodsy, earthy, flavor. The cream used to cooked the mushrooms became concentrated and added sweetness to the hearty dish. Shavings of Parma ham over the top added saltiness. Each bite was more meaty and complex than the last, and this was a dish to remember.  
Brittany Lobster with Artichokes and Celery
Artichokes are notoriously difficult to pair with other foods. They are earthy, citrusy, meaty and also difficult to prepare. I have never had artichokes with lobster, but the paring is nothing short of inspired. This lobster was one of the most buttery I have ever had = so rich, I could not even finish my own portion. It was tender but not soft – there was still a bit of a snap, a bite that was pleasant next to the tiny cubes of herbal celery and the meaty, slightly tart artichokes.
Haddock with Smoked Haddock Mouse, Potatoes and Creamy Potato Broth
Haddock is a very mild white fish that worked well in this preparation. The mousse was lightly smoked, which gave the haddock a heartier, earthier taste than it tends to have. The fillets of haddock were flaky and tender, contrasting with the creamy potatoes that still retained a bit of bite. The broth, buttery and mild, toned down the smokiness and potential fishiness of the haddock and mousse, much the way that clam chowder makes calms delicious to people who are funny about shellfish. A delicate and well balanced dish. 
Chicken and Foie Gras Napoleon with Chicken Liver and Homemade Macaroni
This chef is incredibly adept at chicken – it is surely his specialty. First, that amazing chanterelle and chicken ouster dish and then this. White meat chicken, incredibly moist and tender but not mushy, alternating with rich, deeply flavored foie gras. The chef was wise to use white meat chicken here, letting all the fat and minerality come from the foie gras. 
The small toast capped with the chicken liver had the best of both worlds – the intense iron of the liver and the familiar taste of chicken. It was cooked perfectly, with a sticky-sweet caramelized outside, dotted with salt, surrounding the rich orb of liver. The macaroni was toothsome next to the soft chicken napoleon, and the whole dish left me licking my fingers and – almost! – my plate.
Have you ever eaten a cheese that is over 2 years old? Me either. Let me just tell you…if that cheese is Gruyere, the older it gets the more complex it gets. Slightly sweet, nutty and smooth tasting, but also tangy and with an undeniably piquant taste. It was not salty or grainy at all – it had an incredibly smooth texture paired with subtle, developing flavors. Paired with sweet apricots and plump dates, this cheese was absolutely sensational. Really a cheese for people who appreciate the more subtle, under the radar flavors of cheese.
Apricot Tart, Mint Macaron, Fruit Tartlette
By this point, my palate was getting a little fatigued (and, let’s face it…I had drunk my weight in champagne), but I do know that the apricot pastry was deliciously bright and sweet, with a crumbly buttery pastry, and the macaron was repulsive. Like eating mouthwash. 
Strawberry and Chantilly Dessert
Once again…palate fatigue. The dessert tasted creamy and tart, but I couldn’t handle more than a few bites. Jammy, with a panna cotta interior and a tuile on top.
I did, however, eat three of the sweetest, juiciest, freshest wild strawberries on the face of the planet. These actually tasted like Little Red Riding Hood had picked them – that magical, that perfect, that impossible. 
Don’t worry, I rallied enough to take a homemade chocolate, filled with creamy, slightly bitter ganache. It was the perfect end to an excellent meal.
After the worrisome first dish of the fishy tagliatelle, this meal was everything I had hoped it would be. No molecular gastronomy or startling presentations, this was all about classic food cooked perfectly. I have NEVER had chicken cooked so superbly. For the price, this is an incredible value and  a magical way to end a day in the Champagne region.

Bistrot le 7 – Lunch in Champagne

For the first time in the several times we have been to Paris, the Fritos and Foie Gras family ventured outside of Paris to the Champagne region. The overnight trip was incredibly easy to make, the scenery was beautiful and the selection of champagne was incredible and varied.

But more on that later.

Now it’s time to see where we ate for lunch:
Located inside the Hotel Les Berceaux, Bistrot Le 7 is the more casual offshoot of the restaurant’s Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant.
  Same chef, more casual food and atmosphere. 
And a humongous selection of champagnes by the glass, mostly made by local producers so small that the bottles don’t get exported to Paris, much less to NYC. 
 Rillettes and Radishes
These pork rillettes were the perfect way to start the meal. Shreds of pork blended with herbs, spices and a healthy amount of fat to create a soft (but not mushy) spread that was incredibly hearty and satisfying. The radishes provided a sharp counterpoint to the lush taste and mouth feel of the pork. 
 Spread on a hunk of seeded bread, soft on the inside and with a tender, biteable crust, it created a heck of a sandwich. 
 Beef Carpaccio with Pecorino Romano
No, I had not yet had enough raw beef. Different than tartare, the carpaccio had a much more delicate flavor. Because of the see through slices into which it was shaved, the beef basically melted on my tongue, leaving behind only the gentle taste of beef. There was nothing robust or coarse about this – it was all elegance and subtlety – almost the memory of a great steak instead of the heavy feeling of eating the steak itself. This was served with a lightly garlicky, extremely basil heavy pesto, bringing freshness to the dish. The peppered slices of Pecorino were another worthy component to the carpaccio. It was far more mild and less salty than pecorino tends to be – more soft, less tangy. It was an outstanding carpaccio.
 Mixed Seafood Salad
This was incredibly simple, and an example of how fresh ingredients make for the best meals. There was salmon, seared to a crispy crunch with a soft and velvety interior. There was local whitefish, mild and flaky, absorbing the sweet and spicy Asian style marinade around the edge of the plate. The scallops were huge and perfectly cooked, rich pieces of shellfish that had the richness of lobster but the texture of butter. The salad greens were fresh and snappy, the dressing was light and piquant and the slightly Asian marinade totally complimented the seafood. 
Quail Stewed in Cream and Foie Gras
I didn’t try the quail, but I did try the foie gras. Seared foie is so much different than cold foie. A crispy crust surrounded a positively liquid center, full of luscious, meaty, irony tastes. It was exceptional. I would get this dish for the foie gras alone. 
Bistrot le 7 is a wonderful lunch stop. If you are, as we were, far too buzzed for 1 pm, you will need this simple food to sop up the alcohol. And if you aren’t buzzed…what are you doing in Champagne? Though, truth be told, this would be delicious even sober.

I think. 

Diane Keaton’s Favorite Bistro – Le Grand Colbert

One night in Paris, when we were hungry early (by Parisian standards, 7:30 PM is INSANELY early to dine) and wanted somewhere with a huge menu full of French comfort food, we stumbled across Le Grand Colbert.
 That’s kind of like saying that we stumbled across the Plaza Hotel or Disneyland. We were just wandering around, but really, Le Grand Colbert is an incredibly well known Parisian brasserie. Some say it has the best roast chicken in Paris. 
 And by “some people”, I mean Diane Keaton’s character in Something’s Got to Give. Clearly, my sister was impressed. 
 The room, which you will recognize if you have seen the movie, is done in the grand old brasserie style, with mosaic-tiled floors, wooden chairs and white tablecloths.
 Rose Champagne
This is worth mentioning because it comes in a carafe. Like house wine. A CARAFE of champagne. This has revolutionized the way that I think about champagne. 
As in…I think I want even more of it. 
 French Onion Soup
This was the best French Onion Soup of the trip, hands down. It was so robust and complex – we could taste the round, vivid beef in the broth, so vibrant that it was almost funky. It was sort of electric tasting, in the way that really great blue cheese has a life of its own. The onions provided a counterpart that was so sweet and soft that it became jammy next to the pepper of the soup and the gentle tang of the sherry. 
The cheese was nutty, crusty and bubbling away atop of slices of sourdough bread that became soft when soaked in the soup. 
 Foie Gras de Canard
Of course, I love goose foie more, but this was an excellent duck foie. Creamy texture, mild taste that was not too gamy, just rich and fatty. The cool squares of gelee on the side paired with the plump, wine saturated raisins completed this dish. 
 Fines de Claire
Large, briny oysters, tasting more of the sea than of cream. Positively fresh, smelling faintly of seaweed and the ocean, they burst in my mouth with salt and brine. 
A side of tart mignonette sauce brought the oysters another piquant dimension. 
Steak Tartare Epice
This steak tartare was good but not great. The meat was ground too finely and was a bit mushy. The flavor of the meat was also obscured by the spices in the meat. It was all salt, sour and heat, with too many strong capers and onions hiding the natural flavor of the beef. It wasn’t bad, not by a long stretch of the imagination, it just wasn’t as incredible as the beef tartare at Chez Andre
 Roast Chicken.
This dish was almost as great as I had hoped it would be. It was never going to ACTUALLY be the greatest roasted chicken on earth because, obviously, I make that. But this was dam close. Tender and juicy within, under a browned and crispy skin. The most notable thing about the chicken was the gravy. It was thick but not heavy or greasy, and was filled with the comforting taste of chicken, the bite of black pepper and the woodsy taste of thyme. The thyme was the kicker here. It was used in such abundance, and without any other competing herbs. It gave the dish such a straightforward and earthy vibe that it was reminiscent of eating outside – that sensual and startling. Definitely going to start using more thyme in my own roast chicken. 
The fries weren’t great, but they did the job. Especially soaked in some of that outstanding gravy.

Le Grand Colbert was a solid restaurant. Absolutely worthwhile for a lunch, though I can’t say for sure that I would come here for dinner again. The service was a little spotty and pretentious and the entrees were not as good as they should be. But for a quick lunch of  French onion soup and oysters, I can’t think of a more delightful spot. 

Maitre Pierre – A Piece of Italy in Paris

After a few days of eating foie and escargot…and then some more foie…I needed a little break. 
Not from fat, just from fat alone. I needed some carbs and a few raw vegetables in the mix. 
And maybe some tomatoes. 
That’s when we hit up Ristorante Maitre Pierre. Never heard of it, just walked in off the street because the menu looked great. 
 When we arrived right before noon, we were the only people in the room. By 12:20, they were turning people away, due to reservations and a flood of walk ins. We had unknowingly stumbled upon a goldmine!
 I love these plain breadsticks in the wrapper. Crunchy, floury and not much more, but I love the texture. 
If we didn’t know where we were, I would have sworn I was in a French restaurant. This baguette, with excellent hole structure and a stiff crust, was French through and through. No complaints, as the French have the bread market cornered.
Tomatoes, Arugula and Mozzarella
A new take on a caprese salad, with peppery, tender rocket replacing herbal basil. This was a strong choice, because the tomatoes, firm and juicy, supplied the brightness needed for the dish. And the mozzarella…oh the mozzarella. 
The mozzarella provided sweetness. It provided the fresh and clean taste of milk, the richness of cream and a slight tang reminiscent of sourdough bread. It was more like burrata than mozzarella, with bits of creamy cheese fairly melting on to the plate as its skin broke with the tines of my fork. It was outstanding. 
A bit of balsamic vinegar and fruity olive oil were ll necessary to make this a world class appetizer.
You might wonder what this is. It is a full leg of Pata Negra, othewise known as Iberico Ham. The most fatty, soft, delicate tasting ham in the world. It makes prosciutto look like bologna.
Sliced uber thin, these slices of ham are so fatty that they actually start to melt on the plate before you put it in your mouth. The taste is gently salty, deep and even a little funky. These do come from wild pigs, after all – it tastes similar to wild boar, but more delicate and less hearty, and that fat…
well the fat is just sublime. 
You could order the pasta sampler for lunch, with a sweet marinara sauce over penne, a creamy Alfredo sauce over rich ricotta-filled ravioli and al dente fettuccine served with beef and veal bolognese sauce. It is tasty. 
But if you want a truly breathtaking meal, you will order…
A thick layer of mozzarella cheese, stretchy in some parts and crispy at the edges, covered noodles cooked just al dente – still with a bit of bite. There was a slow cooked bolognese sauce – robust with beef, grassy with veal, a little sweet with pork, and deep with wine, sauteed vegetables and bright tomatoes. The bechamel was a thing of beauty – subtle, delicate and complimentary to the bolognese sauce instead of overpowering with richness. This lasagna was complex and layered. There were so many different components that somehow combined into a cohesive, almost ethereal taste. You might think it was heavy, but it wasn’t. It was positively light, which had to be a tribute to the chef.
Foie is great. Foie is AWESOME. But, sometimes, you want a little break. You know, for some fatty pork. And Chez Maitre Pierre is the place to take it. A bit pricey, but the food is excellent and so is the service. For Italian food in Paris, you just can’t get any better.
And now…back to the foie!

Fauchon – Foodie Fantasia

Paris isn’t just about eating. It’s also about shopping…
For food. 
 Fauchon is the foodie equivalent of Neiman  Marcus or Henri Bendel. High end, artisinal products that cost a fortune and are a once in awhile indulgence. 
 The macaron counter is a mile long. 
 Where else can you get chocolate pound cake topped with edible gold for breakfast? For BREAKFAST, I tell you!
 Let’s not ignore the gourmet eclairs with fillings like foie gras and the Mona Lisa etched on the top.
 Would you like some pate? Choose from goose, duck, pork, chicken, and any combination thereof.
You could, of course, prefer pork, rabbit, pheasant or any other number of types of rillettes.
When in doubt, why don’t you just get this whole foie gras with a gigantic black truffle. Just like what you find in your local supermarket, right?
And cheese and crackers just won’t cut it for parties here. 
If you decide to try a few treats…
 Snail Pastry
Don’t ask me what the real name of this is, just look for the brown, coiled pastry. As it breaks into croissant-like shards in your hand, notice the crunchy, sugary glaze, the warm cinnamon and the buttery layers of dough on the inside. Like a cinnamon croissant on crispy steroids. 
 Sundried Tomato, Olive and Parmesan Baguette.
Thick, crunchy crust. Slightly sweeter insides than a regular baguette, which worked well with the juicy tomatoes, salty olives and tangy Parmesan cheese. So full flavored and densely packed with the top of the line add ins. These were incredibly sweet tomatoes and plump olives. Throw some lettuce on here and it’s a full on vegetarian sandwich. 
 Pastry that Begins with a K
Get this crown-shaped dessert with a Germanic sounding name. Crunchy sugar flaked of in sheets, surrounding soft, fluffy pastry dough that was similar to challah, but with the faint alcoholic tang of rum. Nothing like a little rum for breakfast.
 Or, if you prefer, an impossibly light and flaky croissant, or a citrus-scented madeleine stuffed with sweetened condensed milk. 
 You might also prefer a chocolate croissant, with thick strips of dark, slightly bitter chocolate running through the buttery bread. 
 Green Salad with Herbs, Pine Nuts and Mustard Vinaigrette. 
Where in America can you pick up a premade salad that looks like this? Fresh greens, fragrant dill, sweet chervil, pungent chives, crunchy pine nuts and a sweet-tangy mustard vinaigrette.
 What’s more, you can even pick it up for breakfast.
 Or you could try a baguette sandwich. This one, made with cured ham, lightly salty but not at all smokey, paired with nutty Gruyere cheese and a thin schmear of sweet butter. Butter on a ham sandwich is genius. It tempers the saltiness, saves the bread from betting soggy and ads…well, it adds butteriness. 
No butter was necessary on this foie gras, arugula and raspberry jam sandwich. 
Bread, foie, vegetable, fruit. 
That’s a whole meal.
Sit at the high window-side counter and enjoy your bevvy of goodies. Fauchon is a beautiful, delicious stop on your trip – an occasional treat worth the splurge. 
Just like Paris, in general. 

Royal Madeleine Bistro – Steak Frites near the Paris Opera House

The opera area of Paris is one of the many hearts of the city. The beautiful opera house, crowned with gilded angels, is a hub of shopping and eating. Restaurants abound, but that does not mean that they are all delicious. On the contrary, many of them are tourist traps – places that serve spaghetti bolognese alongside gyros alongside martinis. A touristy lunch is okay every now and then, but let’s not make a practice of it, shall we?
Of course, if you know to turn down a tiny street called Rue du Chevalier Saint-George, you will arrive at one of the best bistros in Paris.
The Royal Madeleine is a small bistro done in the traditional French manner. Dark wood, white tablecloths, small bar and the knowledge that you will order several courses and spend a good three hours there, eating and gossiping with your friends and family.
 Rose Champagne
Rose is my favorite champagne. It always has some pinot noir or pinot meuneir grapes in there, rounding out the crisp acidity of the chardonnay grapes. It is slightly sweet, but not overly sugary at all. And it is best ordered in multiples of two – meaning, you shouldn’t have just one glass. Go for 2 or 4.
 Poppyseed Breadsticks
Crispy, buttery, flaky sticks coated in nutty, slightly bitter poppyseeds. Perfect to bring out the fruity, minerally notes of the champagne. 
Peasant bread. Tangy, pliant, wheaty, with a crisp crust.
 Amuse Bouche – Celery Root Soup
This was a perfect amuse bouche – it was a tiny shot of something creamy, rich, and hearty. The soup, tasting like a cross between celery and a baked potato, would have been far too heavy for a full sized course. As an amuse, it was decadent and whet my appetite. It left me wanting more. 
That’s what she said.
 Foie Gras d’Oie and de Canard with Raisin Chutney. 
This dish paired goose foie gras(left)with duck foie gras(right). It really showed the differences between the livers. The duck foie gras was a bit stronger in taste – more minerally and gamy. It also had less fat and more of a meaty texture. The goose foie was far fattier and smoother, with a more mild taste and the consistency of room temperature butter. 
 I preferred the goose foie gras, especially when pairing it with the sweet and tart chutney to cut through the unctuousness of the liver. 
 Charcuterie Plate with Adouillette, Salami and Rillettes.
All the items here were housemade, except for the sweet butter, the tart cornichons and the cocktail onions that burst with brine upon contact with my teeth. 
Andouillette -my first time having these intestine sausages, and likely my last time. Overpoweringly smokey with a slightly acrid taste. I could hardly taste any meat, it was more like inhaling a mouth of cigarette smoke.
Salami – peppery, porky, fragrant with what might have been juniper berries. It was far less salty or garlicky than the Italian salami I have had, and went well with the nose-searing mustard that went alongside the dish.
The rillettes – pork cooked in its own fat until it becomes tender, the consistency of pulled pork – came topped with the traditional fat cap. Some people throw away the fat cap, but it is infused with sweet porkiness that goes so well with the savory spices and meatiness of the pork meat underneath…yeah, I spread it on my bread instead of butter. 
I love pork fat. 
 Artichokes with Vinaigrette
Artichokes must be in season in France this time of year, because we found them on almost every menu we saw. I LOVE artichokes but rarely make them because they are so annoying to clean. After eating these, I realized that I will have to get over that. These were the best part of the artichokes, the crowns. Meaty, tender but not soft, with a naturally salty taste. It was filling and satisfying in the way that portobello mushrooms are – almost a meat substitute. Paired with the sharp vinaigrette, it was an example of artichokes at their finest.
 Steak Frites with Bearnaise. 
The best frites I had in Paris. Fresh, hand cut, with a thick golden crust that hid steaming, fluffy interiors. The fries were done in beef fat, that much was clear. They had a deep, round taste that only comes from cooking potatoes in animal fat. The bearnaise, one of my favorite sauces, was thick enough to coat a spoon and filled with sharp, licorice-y tarragon. And the steak…
See how blurry this picture is? That is because I was involved in a love affair at the time it was taken. A love affair with this steak. Cooked a perfect medium rare, with a thin, salty crust that surrounded a soft but not mushy center, incredibly tender and filled with pure beefy flavor. This was a perfect steak, and an exemplary example of what beef should be – wild tasting, robust and utterly satisfying.
This whole meal was utterly satisfying. As far as French prices go, it was comparable with other upscale bistros – meaning, the prices are sky high for Americans, but reasonable for Paris. The service was enthusiastic, sweet and exactly what you want out of a special meal. We were not rushed or ignored, and were treated to some of the best food we had in Paris.