Tag Archive | "Paris"

Restaurant Passerini, Paris | The Best New Italian Restaurant in Europe

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Chef Giovanni Passerini. Credit Restaurant Passerini

Chef Giovanni Passerini. Credit Restaurant Passerini

By Alexander Lobrano

Restaurant Passerini, which occupies a spare but handsomely renovated former cafe in the 12th Arrondissement of Paris near the Marche d’Aligre, one of my very favorite Paris markets, is not only the best new Italian restaurant in Paris but Europe. Now that’s a tall statement, Alec, you might think, but I know it’s true. Giovanni Passerini, the Rome born former chef of Rino, the delightful little bistro in the rue Trousseau where he first won his name and which is now closed, is so solidly talented that he would be a rising star in Italy if he still lived there. And though it’s not my subject here, Paris is on the brink of becoming a city that ranks on par with Rome and Milan as an ultimate destination for outstanding Italian cooking.

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aleclobranohungryfe4e99_2 2Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants(Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and is a Contributing Editor at Saveur Magazine. His latest book, Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website,www.alexanderlobrano.com (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

 

 

World’s Most Iconic Hotel, The Ritz Paris, Reopens

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The Suite Vendome at The Ritz, Paris

The Suite Vendome at The Ritz, Paris

By Larry Olmsted

The world is full of iconic hotels, from London’s Savoy to Venice’s Cipriani to Hong Kong’s Peninsula, but it is fair to say that the Ritz Paris is the most iconic of them all. It was the first namesake launch by the most revered main in hospitality history, Cesar Ritz, “The King of Hoteliers and the Hoteliers of Kings,” in partnership with one of the most famous culinary figures ever, Auguste Escoffier.

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Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Letter from Paris: Les Arlots

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Les Arlots. Photo by Alexander Lobrano.

Les Arlots. Photo by Alexander Lobrano.

By Aexander Lobrano

So there are two things you need to know right away about Les Arlots, an excellent new bistro near the Gare du Nord in Paris. The first is that this tiny place is going to become very popular, so if you want to go, please pause now, pick-up the phone and make a reservation. And the second is that despite its diminutive size, it signals a major change in the gastronomic landscape of Paris.

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aleclobranohungryfe4e99_2Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and is a Contributing Editor at Saveur Magazine. His latest book, Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website,www.alexanderlobrano.com  (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

Letter from Paris: Kult, Casual Dining in Saint-Germain-des-Pres

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Kult, casual dining in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Photo copyright Alexander Lobrano

By Alexander Lobrano

Inspite of its dopey name, Kult, the stylish but easygoing restaurant in the just-opened hotel Le Saint, is a welcome new option for good casual dining in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Surprisingly, the restaurant offer in this storied Left Bank neighborhood, the most loved district of Paris for upmarket visitors to the city, is relatively meager. To wit, if you want a good French meal within a five-to-ten-minute walk of the Cafe Deux Magots or the Cafe de Flore, your best choices are pretty much Fish La Boissonnerie, Semilla, Le 21 and, a little bit further afield, the excellent Cafe Trama on the rue du Cherche Midi.

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alecAlexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is a Contributing Editor at Saveur  and writes a weekly column on restaurants in French for the weekend magazine of Les Echos, France’s largest business newspaper. Lobrano is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website,www.alexanderlobrano.com (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

Letter from Paris: Papillon

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Photo copyright Pierre Monetta.

Christophe Saintagne in front of Papillon. Photo copyright Pierre Monetta.

 

By Alexander Lobrano

Papillon, chef Christophe Saintagne’s new bistro in the 17th Arrondissement, brings a bracing shot of hipster energy to a very bourgeois part of Paris. From its cobalt-blue facade to its friendly suspender-wearing waiters and market-driven Nordic inflected modern bistro menu, this relaxed, happy place with a decor of oak tables, parquet floors, and suspended lamps looks like a restaurant you could as easily find in Santa Monica or Sydney as western Paris. And that is a mostly good thing, since this Gaullist redoubt is long overdue for a good social, political and gastronomic shakeup.

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aleclobranohungryfe4e99_2Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is a Contributing Editor at Saveur  and writes a weekly column on restaurants in French for the weekend magazine of Les Echos, France’s largest business newspaper. Lobrano is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website,www.alexanderlobrano.com (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

The Grand Train Stations of Paris

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Text and photographs by Deborah Loeb Bohren

 

The six grand train stations of Paris represent the best of design and architecture of their time boasting exquisite ironwork, intricate masonry, paintings and murals, and a myriad of clocks inside and out. Each station was designed to make the best possible first impression on travelers to Paris and all of the stations serve different regions, their names often offering clues.
Paris’ oldest train station, Gare Saint-Lazare was inaugurated in 1837.  Gare de L’Est opened in 1849 and hosted the original Orient Express on its premier journey to Istanbul in 1883. Gare du Nord is the largest station in Paris and its modern neoclassical architecture is decorated with 23 statues each representing the cities served, including Paris. Completely rebuilt to accommodate the influx of  travelers visiting the World Exposition of 1900, the Gare de Lyon has been home to the iconic (and ornate) Le Train Bleu restaurant for 115 years.Gare d’Austerlitz, originally know as the Gare d’Orleans, was renamed for the location of one of Napoleon’s most famous battles and its facades and roofs have earned it recognition as a historical monument. The glass, steel and concrete Gare Montparnesse traces it’s roots to 1840 but was rebuilt in the middle of the last century and exemplifies 1960s modernism.

Step inside of these stations and, if you look carefully, you can still feel the air of anticipation and be transported to an era when train travel represented a grand adventure and endless possibilities rather than the hassle of a daily commute.

Deborah Loeb Bohren is a fine art and travel photographer. Photography has been Deb’s passion since her father put a camera in her hand when she was only five years old. Today she combines that passion with her love of travel, using her camera to capture the intersection and interplay of light, line and color to create visual stories from the flea markets of Paris to the dunes of Morocco and from Machu Picchu to Havana and beyond. She lives in New York.

Deborah Loeb Bohren is a fine art and travel photographer. Photography has been Deb’s passion since her father put a camera in her hand when she was only five years old. Today she combines that passion with her love of travel, using her camera to capture the intersection and interplay of light, line and color to create visual stories from the flea markets of Paris to the dunes of Morocco and from Machu Picchu to Havana and beyond. She lives in New York.

Letter from Paris: La Rotonde

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La Rotonde. Photo credit Alexander Lobrano.

La Rotonde. Photo credit Alexander Lobrano.

By Alexander Lobrano

Like most Paris brasseries, La Rotonde was founded long before people started going to restaurants for revelations. No, in those days, people went to restaurants to eat, and they pretty much knew what the menu would look like even before they stepped through the door.

When it opened on the boulevard Montparnasse in 1911, the Left Bank neighborhood was just beginning to attract artists like Picasso and Chagall and it was a busy commercial thoroughfare leading to a one of the city’s main train station.

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alecAlexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is a Contributing Editor at Saveur  and writes a weekly column on restaurants in French for the weekend magazine of Les Echos, France’s largest business newspaper. Lobrano is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website,www.alexanderlobrano.com (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

Letter from Paris: Alec Lobrano’s Ten Favorite Meals of 2015

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Rouget with green apple peashoot spelt at Le Crouzil in Brittany. Photo by Alexander Lobrano.

Rouget with green apple peashoot spelt at Le Crouzil in Brittany. Photo by Alexander Lobrano.

 

Celeste in London

Celeste in London. Photo by Alexander Lobrano.

By Alexander Lobrano

On the eve of a new year, please receive this post as an expression of my gratitude for the huge privilege of good health, lots of travel to slack my insatiable curiosity and discover so many wonderful new chefs, kitchens, and foods, and also the pleasure of writing for so many superb publications. Among ever so many good ones–and believe me, I count my blessings, these were my ten favorite meals in 2015.

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alecAlexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is a Contributing Editor at Saveur  and writes a weekly column on restaurants in French for the weekend magazine of Les Echos, France’s largest business newspaper. Lobrano is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website,www.alexanderlobrano.com (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

Five Myths about Terrorism & Travel Insurance

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Photo: David Goldman, AP)

Photo: David Goldman, AP)

by Everett Potter

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali, not to mention the warnings for major cities around the world, have put many travelers on edge. For those of us who’ve already bought and paid for a trip, or are planning to travel in the near future, travel insurance might seem like a good idea. But what can it really do for you in these circumstances? Here are five myths about travel insurance and terrorism.

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Letter from Paris: Le Bon Saint Pourçain

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Le Bon Saint Pourcain. Credit  Alexander Lobrano.

Le Bon Saint Pourçain. Credit Alexander Lobrano.

By Alexander Lobrano

In Paris, the assiduously institutionalized exultation of the city’s past poses the same sort of risk as the sugar water in a bee trap. Like many people who live here, however, I forget how easy it is to succumb to the easy nectar of memory and to gloat over the beauty of a place that has pretty much shunned modernity, or at least inside of Le Peripherique, or the beltway that separates the city from the suburbs it ignores.

"Provence 1970." by Luke Barr. Credit  Alexander Lobrano.

“Provence 1970.” by Luke Barr. Credit Alexander Lobrano.

So as luck would have it, just before going to dinner at the new version of Le Bon Saint Pourçain, a Saint-Germain-des-Prés bistro I’ve known for years, I’d just read Luke Barr’s fascinating and beautifully written book Provence 1970, which puts the relationships of many legendary American and British food writers under a magnifying glass as they interact during a series of cross-hatching visits to Provence. What especially intrigued me in these pages was that two of my heroes, M.F.K. Fisher and Julia Child, were both so wary of becoming trapped by the past. Both women saw that France was changing, in ways both good and bad, and so they sought in their own ways to re-situate themselves in their relationship to Gaul, not loving it less but perhaps not needing it as much as they once had. And both women also felt a powerful eagerness live in the present and discover new things, which struck a chord with me, because so many people, myself included a lot of the time, don’t want Paris to change.

But the city will change, and it does, and often that’s a good thing, especially in the kitchen. And for all of the dozens of very happy meals I’ve had at Le Bon Saint Pourçain through the years, the best dish here was always off-menu, since it was the ineffably charming and rather clubby conviviality of the place. And the food? Depending on who was in the kitchen, it was usually just fine, if rarely better than that, or the type of cuisine ménagère (home cooking)  your French maiden aunt might have served you, where the pleasure was derived more from her good intentions than her skills in the kitchen. To be sure, I always liked the leeks in a vinaigrette sauce and the boeuf aux olives (braised beef with green olives), and sometimes there was a good fruit tart to be had as well.

Inside Saint Pourcain. Credit Alexander Lobrano

Inside Saint Pourçain. Credit Alexander Lobrano

But the best of being here was the banter of François, the beetle-browed owner, and the fun of seeing who else would be there of a given evening, maybe Leslie Caron or Catherine Deneuve or a politician or writer or two, because this was always anur Saint-Germain-des-Prés kind of place. Happily, David Lanher, the shrewd restaurateur who took this place over, understood all of that, so it was no surprise that he hired a former waiter from the Cafe de Flore to run the dining room, and no one in the dining room did more than bat a complicit eye lash or five the other night when François-Marie Banier came through the door with two friends (and if you don’t know who he is, you can read more about this man, who would have been a wonderful character in a Guy de Maupassant short story, here). I also wouldn’t be surprised if Monsieur Lanher had been behind some last minute accessorizing in the dining room as well, see above.

When the waiter came to prop the chalkboard menu up on a chair next to our table, I was extremely curious to see if his next move wouldn’t be to pour us both a welcome glass of white Saint Pourçain wine, since this was one of the hospitality fixtures that distinguished this restaurant for years. Reading my mind, Bruno answered my question. “I don’t think so,” he said, so we had a rather skimpy pour of Petit Chablis instead, and a trip wire went off. As moneyed and worldly as the regulars at Le Bon Saint Pourçain have always been, they’ve also always been a particularly pennywise crowd who are most expediently seduced by generosity.

Eggs and leeks at Saint Pourcain. Credit  Alexander Lobrano.

Eggs and leeks at Saint Pourçain. Credit Alexander Lobrano.

So this one little tradition might wisely have been perpetuated, and wines served by the glass should be poured generously. If the menu had very little to do with what had previously been served in this dining room, there was a wink or two at the past, particularly in terms of the marinated leeks in a silky camel-brown Satay like peanut sauce with a coddled egg that I had as my first course. Though it was rather murky looking on a matte black plate, this dish was unexpectedly satisfying–the peanuts actually flattered the vegetable, and everyone loves the drama of slitting open a coddled egg. Bruno’s foie gras with pickled mushrooms was lush, pleasantly salt and peppered, and generously served to boot.

Mychine de porc at Saint Pourcain. Credit  Alexander Lobrano.

Echine de porc at Saint Pourçain. Credit Alexander Lobrano.

And on a summer night, the discreetly refreshed look of the dining room, with its globe lamps, patches of exposed brick and curtain-less windows (they’d formerly been dressed with the sort of thick lace you might once have seen on your grandmother’s dresser) was appealing in its Gallic simplicity. Our main courses registered as excellent modern French bistro cooking from the moment they arrived at the table, too. Myechine de porc (pork shoulder butt) was cooked pink, which is just how I like it in spite of the fact that my mother used to reduce nice pork standing rib roasts to near cinders in the belief that pork had to be nearly incinerated to be safe to eat, and this rosy meat road a bed of sautéed mushrooms and greens lapped with a nicely jus de viande that I’d guess was veal based. Perfectly braised, with a crispy skin, and an identical garnish, Bruno’s free-range chicken was similarly satisfying modern French comfort food, too. And because this was Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where everyone knows the carnal catechism that you should never eat anything starchy or farinaceous in the evening, because it leads, quel horreur, to weight gain, there wasn’t a grain of rice, a potato or a noodle to be found within a block of our table.

Three ladies at Saint Pourcain. Credit  Alexander Lobrano.

Three ladies at Saint Pourçain. Credit Alexander Lobrano.

As it got later, the early-bird Americans on the terrace left and more and more old regulars arrived in the snug little dining room, eye balling the changes with guarded curiosity, as if still hoping for the best. Since we were at the end of our meal, like the three elegant ladies next to us, we’d spent an evening watching people attempting to diagnose and decide about the change, and every newcomer caused us to exchange fleeting complicit glances. But what consistently brought us to the edge of mirth was the frustration of the regulars at the stingy pours of the wines by the glass–we’d glance at each other, exchange pursed lipped smiles and half nods, and savor this recurring moment, since the few people who still drink in Saint-Germain-des-Prés–so many have lost their toys–are very serious about it.

Cheese plate at Saint-Pourcain. Credit  Alexander Lobrano.

Cheese plate at Saint Pourçain. Credit Alexander Lobrano.

A good cheese plate and a pleasant modern riff on a baba au rhum (sponge cake with whipped cream and lashings of rum) ended this pleasant if pricey meal, and the grand finale occurred a few minutes later when we were walking to our car and saw Catherine Deneuve peck someone on the cheek before hoping out of his car and immediately lighting a cigarette. Noticing Bruno and me standing there rubber necking, she grinned and said, “Ca va, les garçons?” (How’s it going, boys?), which was a rather wonderful conclusion to our Left Bank outing. So the only things that are missing at David Lanher’s reboot of this venerable bistro are the welcome pour of wine, and, I’m afraid, the young eager eyes that would be intrigued by this profoundly Parisian institution but which are very rarely found in gentrified and vaguely geriatric Saint-Germain-des-Prés anymore.

10 rue Servadoni, 6th Arrondissement, Paris, Tel. (33) 01-42-01-78-24. Metro: Saint Sulpice or Mabillon. Open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday. Closed on Sunday and Monday. Average a la carte 65 Euros.

Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and is a Contributing Editor at Saveur Magazine. His latest book, Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website, www.alexanderlobrano.com  (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He has written about food and travel for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. He is the author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants (Random House), which was published in a second edition in 2014, and is a Contributing Editor at Saveur Magazine. His latest book, Hungry for France, was published by Rizzoli in April 2014. Visit his website, www.alexanderlobrano.com (Photo by Steven Rothfeld)

 

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