Maison Kayser - Paris, France

8 Rue Monge
75005 Paris, France
01 44 07 01 42

After riding the Parisian streets on the Velib bikes, we stopped by Eric Kayser's boulangerie to pick up some pastries.  It is quite different from the small mom-and-pop boulangeries with its polished counters and modern decor. But nevertheless, they had a wonderful display of fresh baguettes and pastries, and their notoriety for great pastries and breads drew us in. 

We ordered the pain au chocolat, multigrain bread and broiche au sucre.  The multigrain bread may sound too healthy but it was actually very good.  Had the right crisp and enough savory flavor to it.

We asked what was their most popular item, and the girl said these mini financiers, which consisted of pistachio, chocolate and vanilla. They were definitely very good, not too sweet, but buttery and light. Had a nutty taste, a slight crisp on the bottoms, but very moist overall.  Plus, they were so easy to pop in my mouth that I lost track of how many I ate.

I wish I were living and working in Paris so that I could just come here in the mornings or during my lunch break.  I want to try everything,  but don't think I have room in my stomach for them during my one visit.  Maybe next time!


La Régalade - Paris, France

123 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
Tel: 01 42 21 92 40
Open Lunch and Dinner, Monday-Friday

Bi-stron-o-my (noun)
   1. the trend of combining basic bistro decor with quality cuisine.
   2. a combination of the terms "bistro", which means casual, inexpensive dining, and "gastronomy" which   means the art or science of good eating.

Bistronomy has been taking over the dining since the 90s in Europe and the US. Young chefs cook in modest bistros but incorporate their talents in haute cuisine. So we were pretty excited to try La Régalade in Paris, the Saint-Honore location, which is right smack in the middle of Paris. Founded by Yves Camdeborde in 1992 with the original location in the 14th Arrondissement, it was passed on to Bruno Doucet.

At La Régalade, we ordered from the 33€ entree-plat-dessert menu.

We received our complimentary and generous slab of terrine maison / pate (which is about the size of a whole loaf of bread) served with a large jar of cornichons and fresh bread. You can eat all you want, but then they took it away before our entrees came, which I admit, I was disappointed, but I'm glad because I would have been too full to enjoy the rest of my meal.

saumon marine par nos soins, salade de concombre et gingembre confit aux oignons nouveaux
This was a great light dish.  I wanted to savor every bite.  This dish was perfect in every way.  The buttery flavor of the salmon went well with the crunchiness of the cucumbers.  All the different textures and flavors went well together.

foie gras de canard roti mais servi froid, vinaigrette d'un jus de viande et salade d'herbes melangees 
Whenever I see foie gras on the menu, I can't help but order it.  Texturally, the foie gras was smooth but it lacked that livery foie gras flavor that I was looking for. Not a bad dish, but just didn't taste how I wanted or expected it to taste.

filet de dorade grise de Bretagne roti a la plancha, persille de calamars, jus de volaille aux olives noires et fenouil confit
I wasn't too crazy about this dish as I was with the first course of salmon.  The fish was mild in flavor and the sauce was nice.

risotto du moment au parmesan, supreme de volaille jaune des Landes roti sur la peau tout doucement
When I ordered this dish, I thought it was going to be risotto with chicken. When the dish arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see that nestled in between the piece of chicken was foie gras.  The risotto was cooked perfectly and tasted wonderful. The chicken with the foie gras complemented this dish very nicely. Unlike the foie gras appetizer, the foie in this dish tasted much more foie gras like. I really enjoyed every aspect of this dish.

Fraicheur de rhubarbe et crémeux masarpone aux fraises, émietté de sable breton
 (rhubarb compote, creamy mascarpone, gariguette strawberries, crumbled Breton shortbread)
This dessert was pretty incredible.  Creamy, not too sweet, smooth and light. Tart in all the right places. The strawberry and rhubarb really complemented each other and the mascarpone really went nicely with the tartness of the strawberry and rhubarb.

petits pots de creme a la vanille, framboises, rafraichies au coulis
This was a pot of vanilla cream with strawberry and raspberry coulis. Another simple yet delicious dessert. The tartness of the berries really paired well with the vanilla cream. The addition of what Americans call Pocky and what French call Mikado weren't necessary but enjoyable.

riz cuit au lait et a la vanille comme le falsait ma grand-mere, caramel laitier
Vanilla rice pudding with caramel sauce. I looked up the rough translation of this via Google Translate and I guess the rice pudding is in the style of his grandmother. This dessert came out in a large container that could have fed at least 3 to 4 people. I'm assuming his grandmother liked to feed a lot of people. The rice pudding itself had real vanilla bean flecks. The texture was just right with the rice being not overly mushy but just right. Drizzle on a bit of the caramel sauce and you have a comforting dessert. Not a particularly exciting dessert with intriguing flavor combinations or textures but a very hearty dessert.

Complimentary Madeleines
At the end of the 3 course meal, we were given complimentary madeleines. As if the three courses for 33€ wasn't enough food. The madeleines were buttery and moist. I wished I would have taken these home for later.

At 33€ this in my opinion was the best meal that we had while in Paris. Complimentary almost all you can eat terrine at the beginning of the meal and the madeleines at the end of the meal in addition to the fantastic ingredients and well prepared appetizer, main courses, and desserts made this a wonderful meal. I would not hesitate to recommend this restaurant to any other visitors.


Pierre Hermé (Paris, France)

133 avenue des Champs-Elysées
75008 Paris
(Inside the Drugstore Publicis)

Ahhh.. back in the City of Love! Once we checked into our hotel and dropped off our luggage, first thing to check on our list was to visit Pierre Hermé on rue Bonaparte in the St. Germain des Prés area since it was close to our hotel. I've been waiting for years to try it and I was filled with gleeful anticipation. But, sadly, this is what we arrived to.

Closed for renovations. Several other people stopped by too and had the same disappointment.  We conferred with one another as to where the most convenient Pierre Hermé would be.  As for ourselves, we decided to trek to the "public drugstore" on the Champs-Elysées that sells Pierre Hermé macarons.  I guess it would be nice to see the Arc de Triomphe as well.  

Pierre Hermé had very interesting flavors compared with the traditional flavors at Ladurée. At Pierre Hermé, I had the Chocolat, Caramel au Beurre Sale, Huile d'Olive and Vanille, Citron, Fraise and Wasabi. 

Although the macarons at Pierre Hermé hit the mark for the right amount of sweetness and texture and its innovation, my heart still beats for the traditional flavors of macarons at Ladurée.  Sometimes, you can't mess with the simple things.


Café Arabe (Marrakech, Morocco)

184 Rue Mouassine
Marrakech, Morocco
Tel. 024 42 97 28

Looking for a bit of serenity from the hustle and bustle of the medina? Located within the medina is Cafe Arabe - a mix of both Italian and Moroccan cuisine. We didn't get a chance to eat any of the food at Cafe Arabe because we enjoyed the food at the Djemma el Fna so much, but we enjoyed the ambiance at the restaurant.

Walk through the main doors of the restaurant and you are greeted by a hostess, who will then walk you through the 3 levels of this restaurant.

Complimentary olives are given to all who want to sit and relax at this laid back oasis in the middle of the medina.

After having dinner at the Djemma el Fna, we had planned to lounge and relax at Cafe Arabe. After taking a look at the menu we decided to have some Moroccan whiskey (mint tea) and a honeydew smoothie.

Here is the view from the top floor of the Cafe Arabe. The restaurant designer did a fantastic job with the decor and layout of the restaurant. The top floor is a great place to lounge and relax while enjoying a few drinks.

One of the rooms on the second floor of the restaurant. Again, beautifully designed. Can't you just imagine belly dancers roaming the room?

Cafe Arabe is what you imagine much of Morocco to look like. What's ironic is that most of Morocco doesn't look like this but I like to hold onto these lasting impressions. Arriving in Marrakech a few days prior, we were unsure of how the next few days would be. Reflecting back on our trip with the scams and scares that we experienced, it was all worth it in the end.


Food Stalls at the Djemma el Fna (Marrakech)

Location: Djemma el Fna - Center of all the action.

At the Djemma el Fna, you'll get to witness the snake charmers, fortune-tellers, dancing monkeys, women wooing other women into getting henna tattoos, medicine men, games, and even a tooth doctor selling teeth (?) or providing consultation.  Besides all the crazy action, eating at the food stalls in the Djemma el Fna is a must to experience fully the Moroccan culture and taste.

But be prepared for those hardsellers who try to compete with one another to get you to eat at their stall: "Finger-licking good!!!" they shout. Like Medusa, these food hawkers will try to lure you in with their eye contact, but the intoxicating aroma of grilled meats and deliciousness is what eventually draws us in. Walk around to all the stalls and figure out what you like.  It may be overwhelming at first, but eat where the locals eat and follow their lead.

Glasses of mint leaves and huge sugar cubes waiting for the hot water for tea.

Snails anyone??? We couldn't muster up the courage to try these just yet.

Upon the recommendation of our Riad manager and the apparent long lines at Stall #14, we decided this was the our spot. We all sat very, very close to one another since they try to seat as many people as they can. Eating in the Djemma el Fna food stalls is not a place where the claustrophobic would feel comfortable. We enjoyed #14 so much that we ended up eating here two nights in a row.

Everything is made right before your eyes. They first flour the fish and calamari and then place them in the oil until they come out crispy, deep golden pieces of deliciousness.

Fried whole fish, chunks of fish flesh, calamari rings, and fresh fried french fries are the specialty of Food Stall #14.

Khobz (1DH) and Salsa (4DH)
As with all Moroccan restaurants, the traditional khobz is served with pretty much all meals. #14 also gave us a plate of crushed tomatoes and spices. Very similar to salsa, that is to be eaten with the fish and calamari.

French Fries (4DH)
The french fries or should I say Moroccan fries were delicious. The fries were made with 100% all natural potatoes that were cut, deep fried, and then salted.

Fried Fish (14DH)
At #14,  you have the choice of either small whole fried fish or chunks of pure fish. Not wanting to deal with bones and digging through the fish, we went with the fried fish chunks. With a squeeze of lemon and a bit of  salsa, these fried pieces of fish were absolutely delicious!! Perfectly cooked to a golden brown, the fish was still moist and not dried out.

Fried Calamari (25DH)
The calamari were equally as delicious as the fish. Like the fish, the calamari was perfectly cooked and texturally, was spot on. None of this rubber band, super chewy calamari at this stand.

Following the tried and true technique of eat where the locals eat,we ended up choosing #31 as our next culinary destination. #31 had smoke and flames that both visually and aromatically lured us in.

Stall #31 specializes in grilled meats. We saw that most people at this food stall were ordering these little merguez style sausages on the link. Guess what we did??

Each order of sausages comes with khobz and the salsa like sauce. The sausages had a nice smokey smell and flavor from the grill and were very well seasoned. Not sure what kind of meat these sausages were, could have been lamb. These little sausages had a nice snap to them because of the natural casings.

Here is a closeup shot of the sausages in all their glory. As you can see from the picture these were definitely not lean or fat free sausages. The locals would use their hands (the right hand, not the left) to use the khobz to sop up the fat and juices from the sausages. Do as the locals do.

#5 known for its Harira soup which is the traditional soup of Morocco. The soup is typically eaten year around but is especially eaten during dinner in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and also served after special occasions. (Thanks Wikipedia).

Harira (3.5DH)
Harira is typically made with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, and an assortment of herbs and spices. The Harira is slightly thickened with some type of flour. The soup is slightly hearty due to the beans and the thickness of the soup. The tomatoes and other spices give the soup a nice depth to it. My only complaint was that the soup was slightly underseasoned.  Luckily, the soup comes with a little bowl of salt.

One of our favorite experiences and treats was the extremely inexpensive and satisfying orange juice carts.   There were tons of carts serving refreshing, freshly squeezed OJ. Drinking the sweet juice was one of the most satisfying experiences because it was so hot in Marrakech. And for only 30 cents, who could beat that. And I must add that the guy serving us was overqualified (looks-wise). Anyway, after you're done drinking the great OJ, you set the glass back and can't help but breathe out a sigh of satisfaction and smile.  [Note: Not sure how thoroughly they clean the glasses, but it was worth it].

Eating at the food stalls was one of our favorite experiences on the trip. During the day, the Djemma el Fna is a wide open space, but at night this wide open space becomes the culinary and social epicenter of Marrakech. This is one experience that is not to be missed!