Family Food: Savoury Rosemary-Parmesan Mini Madeleines

Family Food: Savoury Rosemary Madeleines

This is one of those recipes that I reckon works for both papa and toddler. I’m constantly trying to find snacks for T (and CH) that aren’t packed with sugar. These savoury madeleines from Patricia Wells—inspired by Anne-Sophie Pic of the century-old Maison Pic in Valence, no less—fit the bill. They are an easy-to-make treat that T can’t get enough of.

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Julia Child’s braised goose with chestnut and sausage stuffing

On Christmas Eve last year, as we were picking up a prime rib at Huber’s for the lunch we were hosting the following day, I espied a goose in the poultry section. For some inexplicable reason, I decided that I had to have it and that at some point between Christmas and New Year’s, I would prepare a menu with goose as its centerpiece. Mind you, up to that point, I’d never cooked goose. I didn’t even have a recipe in mind. CH looked at me as if I was insane and must have put it down to jetlag. Nonetheless, accommodating as he usually is when it comes to matters of the belly, he made no objection as I hauled the just-under-5kilogram bird into our shopping basket.

Cooking the goose turned out to be an enterprise of epic proportions, but it was a delightful indulgence spread over a number of days which was well worth the effort. It is by no means a dish to be prepared on a whim (despite the fact that I acquired said bird on a whim). You need to have the luxury of time–especially if you plan on serving other dishes with it. I’d liken the process to reading War and Peace. Fortunately, I actually take great pleasure in wading through epic novels. (Keep Reading)

The Layover

1am: Stuck in line. Standing in the Air France customer service queue in Terminal 2F in Charles de Gaulle airport. The line’s not moving at all. Stuck on the runway in Italy for hours trying to get here and now I’m stuck in line. At first, I thought everything was going to be fine. The pilot had originally announced that Air France would try and get all of us onto our connecting flights. But when I asked a steward a little while later if our flight would be held for us, he gave me one of those “you-silly-little-man” looks that the French are so good at and said, “Mais non, you will have to spend the night in Paris.” S and I are with two other friends, B and V, who had also attended the wedding in Venice and whom are also trying to get home. Unlike us, they have to be at work on the following day. Thankfully, we’d closed our office until the new year.

2am: We’re all finally checking into the Ibis hotel at Charles de Gaulle Terminal 3. Took us forever to find the damned place. The Air France customer service guy said it was easy. Just go out the doors and take the CDGVAL, he said. I think he was just trying to get rid of us. Once through the doors, we spend the next twenty-five minutes looking for signs for the damned shuttle. While waiting for it, one of our friends said, “Hey, there’s also a Sheraton and a Hyatt Regency here. Why didn’t they put us up there?” My very tired wife S said it best, “Because the Ibis is cheap.” (Keep reading)

The Complete Robuchon

There are some cookbooks that you know, after just one use, that are going to be a keepers. And constant kitchen companions. You know what I mean. These are the books that, no matter how large your collection becomes, you keep going back to. Because they are dependable and inspiring and comforting all at the same time. The recipes always work and the results are always scrumptiously satisfying. These are books that almost always also cover all the bases, meaning that whether you’re looking for a blueprint for a quick and simple one dish meal or planning a multi-course extravaganza with which to wow your friends’ socks off, you’ll always be able to find something in their pages.

Some of these books might surprise you. I know that when I look back and try to pinpoint the oldest keeper in my collection (based on date of acquisition not publication), it’s The Harry’s Bar Cookbook. My very first cookbook, that I still own, was Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook. And while it was a fabulous book for a then vegetarian Sophomore in university, it has probably been at least half a decade since I have wanted to cook anything from it. The Harry’s Bar Cookbook was my second cookbook, purchased in 1993. It’s a book I still use, as recently as this past weekend. Of course, what is a keeper to me may not be to you. The books I love most might seem trite and uninspiring to you. And I might find your favourites to be interesting but not works that I’d ever think about saving from a burning building. (Keep reading)

Sunday roast and chocolate cake

Whenever a friend who we know is a pretty darned good cook calls us and invites us over for a meal, we’re usually pretty excited. When that friend is more than just “good” — when she’s taught cooking classes in Europe, comes from a family of restaurateurs, and most recently worked on Anne Willan’s The Country Cooking of France — we get ridiculously giddy.

Our good friend V moved back to Singapore a couple of years ago. Since then, she’s been thrilling us and over-feeding us with a slew of delicious meals and dishes. (Sadly though, ever since she’s come back to the Lion City, she’s been a tad delinquent on updating her blog, A Life in Food.) Last week, V called us and said a couple of magic words, specifically, “Easter lunch” and “roast leg of lamb”. Well, that’s all I needed to hear. Nothing could have kept me from that meal.

The lunch was everything I knew it would be. V pulled out all the stops. She whipped up a sloppy, sumptuous gratin dauphinois; a perfectly roasted leg of lamb with salsa verde; baked her own ham; prepared a humongous bowl of peas; mixed up a super-yummy vegetable and feta orzo salad; and put together a mean cheese plate. To follow all this, she served a lemon tart and a sinfully rich and gooey chocolate-raspberry cake.

The meal was fabulous. I pigged out on the lamb, ham and potatoes. When it came time to serve the cakes, everyone crowded around the table, eagerly jostling for a piece of the “gateau cocoframboise”. (Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera with me, so the pictures that accompany this post were taken with my Nokia e61i.) The great food, good wine, and cool company made this past Easter’s feast one of the best I’ve ever enjoyed.

I’ve asked V to do me a favour and share two of her recipes. I’m running them below, as written by her. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I enjoyed eating the resulting dishes.

Easter Recipes by V

Roast leg of lamb with salsa verde
Serves 8 normal people (or 4 greedy ones!)

Lamb is a fairly traditional Easter meal, but I like it with an Italian twist. The Salsa Verde really adds a lot of flavour as both a marinade and a sauce and is extremely versatile. I sometimes add mustard, chopped cornichons and/or other herbs (fresh coriander or basil are good ones). And any leftovers can be used for poached or grilled fish or chicken. You can keep it in a jar in the fridge for a week or more.

Salsa verde
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 handfuls of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
6 green onions, finely chopped
1 handful of fresh mint, chopped
1/3 cup salted capers, soaked in cold water 30 minutes, chopped
3 or 4 fillets of anchovies, chopped
1 teaspoon salt

1 2kg boneless leg of lamb, butterflied, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Stir the salsa verde ingredients in large bowl. Taste and see if you want to add any more of anything; like most things in cooking, it’s all very personal. Place lamb on a tray, smooth-side down. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, then garlic. Massage 1/4 cup salsa verde into lamb (lucky lamb!). Roll up the lamb. Using kitchen string, tie the lamb every 2-inches in order to hold it together. Bear in mind this can be a slippery process and prepare to get a bit messy. Ideally you have a kitchen slave on hand to cut you bits of string. Or you could be super organised and have all the string you need cut beforehand. I have/am neither so messy it is.

Preheat oven to 220°C/450°F. Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes then lower the oven temp to 170°C/350°F and add about an inch of water to make sure the lamb doesn’t burn (this also makes yummy pan juices). Continue cooking until thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb registers 60°C/120°F for medium-rare, another 45 minutes or so.

Serve to happy friends.

Gâteau CocoFramboise (based on a Nigella recipe)

This cake is a fine example of a marriage made in heaven; chocolate and raspberries. The texture is what I would call a bit sludgy, in the best possible sense. Don’t worry that the batter seems too runny, the oven will sort it out and that’s what gives the cake its lovely gooeyness. And please, please, please use the best chocolate you can get your hands on. In my kitchen, that means Valrhona.

40g cocoa powder
200g self-raising flour
250g butter, cut into small pieces
100g dark muscovado sugar
100g golden caster sugar
300g dark chocolate, chopped
350g of water mixed with 2 teaspoons of instant expresso
2 eggs, at room temperature
350g frozen raspberries, well thawed

To serve
2 punnets of fresh raspberries
crème fraîche, quantity at your discretion

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Lightly butter a 9in/24cm cake pan (I use a silicone one). Combine the cocoa and flour in a bowl, whisk vigourously to remove any lumps and set to one side. In a pan over low heat, mix the next 5 ingredients (butter through expresso) together until smooth. Add this mixture to the cocoa and flour, mixing well. Then add the eggs, again mixing well. Pour half of the batter into the cake pan, then cover with the frozen thawed raspberries. Add the remaining batter and put into the oven for about 30-40 minutes, turning the cake around half way through. The best way to tell if this cake is cooked is to look at the top. If it is cracked and a bit firm, she’s good to go. Don’t try the normal skewer test with this one as the desirably sludgy factor will yield a very dirty skewer. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack for about half an hour.

Turn the cake out carefully onto a platter and dust with icing sugar. Best to eat this whilst warm and gooey with the fresh raspberries and crème fraîche dolloped on generously. Long live sludge!

Fave recipes: Lentils a la Balthazar

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I remember when Keith McNally opened Balthazar. It was the Spring of 1997. And even though I was no longer living in New York, word of this ultra-hip, retro-chic, uber-trendy and neo-traditional French bistro reached me in Hong Kong. The NY press went wild over SoHo’s hottest new restaurant, dedicating several column inches to cover its opening. Several friends also emailed me, telling me about it while also very slyly asking if, perhaps, I had or knew anyone who had Balthazar’s secret reservation phone number. You see, when this very sexy bistro first opened, they had an interesting reservations policy. Basically, as far as the public knew, they didn’t have one. Which meant, given the typical New York frenzy among punters to be among the first to try any new restaurant, you could end up waiting from around 1-2 hours for a table. Fortunately, the bar was long and the drinks good, so waiting for your table also meant getting sloshed while also chatting up fellow patrons. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Now, here’s the kicker. Balthazar did indeed take reservations. But you had to have their very special reservation number, which was only given out to a handful of very carefully selected and cool people, and which most of these people guarded preciously. Armed with this number, you could call, get a table and then walk in without so much as a glance at the throngs of black-clad wannabes elbowing for space at the bar. (Of course, there was an amusing story in which one magazine Editor, who was given the number, decided to print it, which both caused a flood of calls and a forced change of the number… but that’s not my story to tell.)

Fortunately, thanks to some of my parents’ friends who were pretty well-known patrons (i.e. big-spenders) in the NY food scene, I did, in fact, have the phone number. But there was no way I was going to email it to friends unless I was going to be dining with them. Knowing them, they’d pass it around to anyone and everyone they knew. Fortunately, I had made plans to be back in the Big Apple that year and arranged with my buds–some of whom had sucked it up and waited in line for a table–to gather for a feast at Balthazar.

The restaurant blew me away (and still does). While not entirely authentic, it has cool, fantastical retro-French stylings akin to sets in Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge. It was glam, kitsch, sexy, retro, ultra-stylish, loud, crazy, mad, intimate and comforting all at the same time. And the food was good. Very good in fact. After just one meal (with lots and lots of wine), I was a fan. And I’ve tried, on every trip back to New York since, to grab at least one meal there or at its sister restaurant Pastis.

(On a random side note, when a good buddy of mine, who was helping to run the Raffles Hotel here in Singapore, asked me what the hotel should do with its Bar & Billiards Room, I told him immediately, “You should open an ultra-chic bistro just like Balthazar.” Sadly, he didn’t take my advice and opened a pretty blah buffet restaurant instead. But recently, I’ve heard rumours that the management is now considering converting the space into a bistro. If that’s true, I hope they go the Balthazar route and don’t opt for something cheesy and touristy.)

S and I both, in addition to loving the restaurant, also love The Balthazar Cookbook. It’s both a nifty souvenir of one of my favourite restaurants and also filled with good recipes for classic dishes. While we cook from the book frequently, the one item we make the most is a simple lentils side dish, which in the cookbook is prepared to go with a mustard-crusted salmon. We serve it with the salmon dish, of course, but we also serve it with a dozen other things, from roast chicken to lamb chops. It is a great, easy to make side has become something of a constant on our table. We hope you like it as much as we do.

Lentils
Adapted from The Balthazar Cookbook
Serves 4 to 6

1 cup lentils du Puy
2 slices of bacon, finely diced
4 sprigs of thyme
½ medium onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 cup chicken stock

Make sure that you prepare all the diced and minced items before you start cooking the lentils. You will need to cook them as the lentils simmer. We find that if we try to prep the ingredients while the lentils simmer, we tend to end up with overcooked lentils and undercooked vegetables. Feel free to ignore this tip if you move with the swiftness of Superman in the kitchen.

Rinse the lentils and place them in a medium saucepan. Cover the lentils with 4 cups of water. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over a medium flame. Place the bacon and thyme in the hot pan and cook until some of the fat has rendered from the bacon (about 2 minutes). Next, add the onion, garlic and salt, and cook until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the butter, carrot, celery, white pepper and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain the lentils and return them to the saucepan you cooked them in. Add the bacon-vegetable mixture and simmer gently for 7 to 10 minutes, until the lentils are very tender. We often simmer the dish for a shorter period of time (about 5 minutes) and leave it to stand until we need to serve it. Just before serving, we simply heat the lentils. By slightly undercooking them earlier on, we avoid ending up with mushy lentils when we reheat the dish before serving it.

Gunther’s: grown-up food in a grown-up space

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New restaurants open all the time in a city as busy and buzzing as Singapore. Which means some open with greater fanfare than others. Some open quietly, with nary a whisper of publicity or media interest. Others open with a bang. And when a new restaurant is opened by a chef whose last efforts helped his former establishment get ranked among the world’s top 100 restaurants, everyone notices. The food writers for the two (main) papers of record here raced to see who could be the first to write about Gunther’s, dining not just during its first month of operations but on its very first night. The country’s Prime Minister has already taken his family to dine there, giving the restaurant an unofficial First Family stamp of approval.

Gunther’s, a joint collaboration from the talented and charming carrot-topped Belgian chef Gunther Hubrechsen and the very well-established Garibaldi Group of Restaurants, opened in Singapore on 1 August. After just one week of operations, this sleek 50-seater is fast on its way to establishing itself as one of the best and chicest French restaurants in town. Hubrechsen, as every foodie in the region already knows, was most recently in charge of the kitchens at Les Amis, which last year was ranked by Restaurant Magazine‘s annual survey as the world’s 83rd best restaurant. Before coming to Singapore, he spent 5 years working at Alain Passard’s famed L’Arpege, reaching the rank of sous-chef before his departure.

Hubrechsen’s food is light and subtle. It’s food that demonstrates restraint, maturity and a focus on the purity of good ingredients. It’s not the kind of food that leaves you feeling overstuffed and ready for bed; it teases, tantalizes and leaves you just a little hungry (and energetic enough) for other, equally satisfying and seductive nocturnal activities.

S and I have had the pleasure of dining twice at Gunther’s since it opened. We had lunch there last Sunday and dined with friends just a few days ago. While some have commented that the interiors are a tad too somber and plain for them, S and I really like the dark, urban and minimalist interiors. It’s a nice grown-up environment for very grown-up meals, which is always good to have. After all, not all restaurants have to be fun and bright and cheery. We also need nice, sleek spaces for business meals and romantic tete-a-tetes.

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Gunther’s currently offers, in addition to the a la carte menus, a set lunch at S$38 and a set tasting (dinner) menu at S$128. The latter is extremely good value (given both the high level of service here and the quality of the food). At present, the tasting menu consists of Gunther’s cold angel hair pasta with oscietra caviar; seared foie gras with crushed candied almonds; grilled Scottish bamboo clams; a choice of a cod dish or a braised veal cheek; and a lovely apple tart, served with vanilla ice cream. The angel hair pasta with caviar and the bamboo clams are stunners. Both are beautifully prepared dishes bursting with natural flavours. On our last visit, S had the cod, which is plated in a rich creamy sauce and which I sneaked a taste of. It was very good, tasting like what I can only describe as ultra-high end comfort food. One of Gunther’s specialties is his cote de boeuf, which while excellent is quite expensive (at S$110 a portion). His lobster Provencal is lovely; succulent, tender lobster is served with a rice pilaf that has been inspired by local chicken rice and is cooked with both French and Asian herbs. A dish that I really enjoyed is the grilled mushrooms, served with a sunny side up egg and just a touch of ham. It’s the kind of breakfast food that I could have anytime of the day and works very well as a starter on Gunther’s menu. The apple tart, which is the chef’s signature dessert, is light but full of flavour. Our friends swooned over it. S also enjoyed the restaurant’s cheese plate, which offers 4 small slices of excellent French farm cheeses.

Gunther’s is a nice addition to the local dining scene. It’s a fantastic place for that romantic dinner you’ve been promising your loved one but still haven’t gotten around to arranging. It’s also good for a lavish group dinner — the restaurant has two private rooms that can seat up to 12 persons each.

I have no doubt that Gunther’s, whose phones are, from what I’m told, already ringing off the hook, will soon become one of the must-eat-in restaurants for travelling gourmets who stop off on these shores. And as for how it will rank among the world’s top 100, well, from what I know, the jury for next year’s survey is just only now being regrouped. Hopefully, enough of the panelists will find time to stop in and sample Hubrechsen’s food before casting their next votes.

Gunther’s
36 Purvis Street, #01-03, Singapore 188613
Telephone 6338 8955
Email: restaurant@gunthers.com.sg
www.gunthers.com.sg

Gunther’s is open daily for Lunch and Dinner, from noon to 2.30pm.and from 6.30 to 10.30 pm. The set lunch menu offers the choice between 3 appetizers, three main courses, plus dessert, coffee or tea is prized at $ 38. A 6 course Tasting menu runs $128; also available is the “Carte Blanche” menu, in which Gunther makes whatever he wants for you. Price depends on the produce and ingredients used.

Opening hours:
Lunch: 12-2.30 pm
Dinner: 6.30-10.30 pm

Sadly, all the photos I took turned out awful (tough lighting to shoot in), hence I have asked the restaurant to let me use some of their images in this post.

Blanquette de veau à l’ancienne

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There are some dishes that are made to impress — miniature towers of painstakingly cooked and elaborately presented food that look as delicate and complex as they can sometimes taste. You’ll find such dishes in many fancy restaurants, the ones with managers who like to make you wait for your table, designer chairs that cost more than the ones you have at home, and lighting so dark you feel like asking for a flashlight to see your food. Sometimes, the food is worth it. On a few occasions, it can be outstanding. Too often though, in attempts to wow you and out-finesse the competition, young and eager chefs send out over-worked Frankensteins that scare you more than surprise and satiate you.

Then there are other dishes that are made to simply satisfy. Most often, they’re pretty simple dishes. No fancy, exotic, unpronounceable ingredients. No fancy gravity-defying plating. Just good, uncomplicated, comforting and beautiful flavours. Most of these dishes aren’t too pretty, but they usually taste amazing. And I’d easily take a heaping bowl of chicken curry, a soft and succulent oxtail stew or a rich and tender chicken à la king over a duo of truffled somethingorother and whatintheworldisthat served with a jus of overexpensive stuff and a reduction of ican’tpronouncethat. Of course, I didn’t always think this way. I openly admit that like many foodies I know, I went through the requisite pretentious food stage, during which I (mistakenly) believed that the best food was fancy fusion fare with as many ingredients from as many parts of the world as possible. Thankfully, that phase is long since gone and today, I’m a big believer in the simple beauty of comfort food.

One of the most well-known and best-loved comfort foods is blanquette de veau. This rich, creamy, French veal stew is certainly one of my all-time favourite dishes and something I seek out when eating out. During our recent trip to Paris, my wife S and I had the pleasure of eating at a lovely bistro in the 16th called Le Petit Retro not just once, but twice. On both occasions, I had their blanquette de veau. The first time, it was amazing. The sauce was delicious, tangy, thick and full of flavour. The veal chunks were gorgeously tender and the basmati that the blanquette was served with was buttery, fluffy, nutty and aromatic. The second time, however, while the sauce and the rice were still excellent, the veal pieces were just a little tough, but still tasty enough to impress us.

To make blanquette de veau, you poach chunks of veal belly, breast, or shoulder (or if you can’t get either of these cuts, you can use what butchers often call “stewing cuts”) in stock or water. You then sauté mushrooms and onions, which are added to the veal in a rich, creamy sauce made with both creme fraiche and cream. This is a truly satisfying dish, the kind of thing that, when served with buttered rice, hits the spot on a rainy day or a chilly night. We like to make a huge pot of it and freeze single serve portions. That way, whenever I have a craving for this yummy dish, it’s just a few microwaved minutes away. (S, of course, advocates reheating it on the stove and not in a microwave.)

 

 

Eating Paris: a 6 day itinerary

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Paris is still one of my favourite cities in the world and a place I hope to return to over and over again. I first fell in love with the City of Lights when I was an intern there back in 1989. I’ve returned several times over the past 18 years and each time, I fall in love with Paris all over again. If you have never gone, you must. And if you go, don’t, DON’T try to do everything all in one trip. The Louvre will always be there. So will the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Take your time to enjoy the city. The last thing you want to do is spend all your time rushing back and forth across the city trying to see all of its famous places. After all, you can always go back. For those of you interested in a fun 6 day itinerary — and one that noticeably revolves not around the city’s famous tourist sites, but around great food and a spot of shopping — we’ve created the below. Of course, you don’t need to follow it if you don’t want to. Just pick the places that sound interesting to you and create your own schedule.

Day 1 (arriving on a Monday afternoon)
After the ordeal of deplaning and getting your bags in CDG, you’ll need some rest. Make your way to the charming little one-bedroom apartment you’ve rented in the 16th, which at 650E for a week is a bargain. Scout out the neighborhood. Le Table de Robuchon is up the street in one direction and in the other, you will discover Bechu, a great cafe/bakery that won the grand prize for best baguette in Paris in 2004. Unwind a bit, grab a snack if you’re peckish and relax. For dinner, head over to Le Petit Retro (5 Rue Mesnil, 16th, Phone: 01 44 05 06 05). This charming, old-world and affordable bistro is a five minute walk. It’s postcard perfect and the food is very good too.

Day 2
Have a simple breakfast at Bechu. “Deux cafes and un sandwich jambon de pays, beurre et cornichons, s’il vous plait.” That should keep you and your partner going for a while. In front of Bechu, there is a newsstand where you can pick up your International Herald Tribune and, more importantly, a Paris by neighborhood map — this pocket sized book with an alphabetical index of streets will be your best friend for the next few days. Mid to late morning, get dressed in your smartest and chicest outfit and take a stroll down Champs-Elysee and Avenue Georges V, stopping in the shops in between these two smart streets. Around 12ish, wander over to Taillevant (15 Rue Lamennais, 8th, Phone: 01 44 95 15 01) for lunch (you will have smartly made reservations several weeks in advance). While this gastronomic institution may have lost a (Michelin) star in the past year, it is still the poshest place to have lunch in Paris. Splurge on a great white Burgandy and take the wonderful and affordable (70 Euro) set lunch menu. After your meal, head back to your apartment for a quick change of clothes (i.e. lose the jacket and tie). Head down to the St Germain de Pres area and wander around this touristy yet still pretty neighborhood. Have a coffee at Cafe de Flore (172 Bld Saint-Germain, 6th, Phone: 01 45 48 55 26), partly so you can say you’ve done it. Don’t miss a lovely little art gallery called triode (28, Rue Jacob, 6th). Ask the affable owner if he still has any limoges cups by Argentinian artist Ruth Gurvich. These modestly priced porcelain pieces make perfect gifts for friends who appreciate pretty things. Also make time to wander down Rue Bonaparte to visit Pierre Herme (72 Rue Bonaparte, 6th, Phone: 01 43 54 47 77), whose seasonally flavored macarons are hands-down the best in Paris. For dinner, hail a taxi and head down Boulevard St Germain to L’Atlas (12, Boulevard St Germain, 5th, Phone: 01 46 33 86 98). This Moroccan restaurant might have a slightly cheesy interior, but its cous-cous dishes and its tagines are delicious. After dinner, take another taxi (call 01 41 27 66 99 for an English speaking dispatcher) back home.

Day 3
paris_foie.jpg After your morning coffee, take a walk down Rue de Longchamp, which is lined with yummy food shops, to Place D’Iena. There, you’ll see a market (only there on Wednesday and Friday mornings) that runs down the middle of Ave President Wilson. Walk through it, stopping to sample various goodies. At the end of the market, head over to the Alma-Marceau metro stop and take the train to Saint Paul (you will have to change trains once). From Saint Paul, walk up Rue de Turenne and check out L’Argenterie de Turenne (19, Rue de Turenne, 3rd). This awesome shop sells stunning silverware and silver pieces, both old and new. Some pieces are even sold by the weight. They have a fantastic range and if you or your partner is really into cutlery, coffee and tea sets, etc, make sure to set aside a good 45 minutes to an hour for this shop. Walk up from here, through the very sexy Marais area, to Rue de Vertbois and have lunch at L’Ami Louis (32 Rue du Vertbois, 3rd, Phone: 01 48 87 77 48); this you will also have had to book in advance. Definitely split one order (only one because the portions here will kill you) of the foie gras (pictured) and either a roast chicken or a leg of milk-fed veal. After your ridiculously good but heavy (and also astronomically expensive) lunch, take a metro to Palais Royal and do some credit card damage on Rue St Honore. Stop for a mid-afternoon snack, if you still have any room in your belly, at Jean-Paul Hevin (231, Rue St Honore, 1st, Phone: 01 55 35 35 96). We recommend sampling three of his famous chocolate-based macarons. Rue St Honore turns into Rue du Faubourg St Honore. At the intersection of Rue Boissy D’Anglas, you’ll find every fashionista’s fantasy shop, the Paris flagship of Hermes. Steer your loved one to the right (and away from the entrance of Hermes) down Rue Boissy D’Anglas and into the very small but well-appointed Forge de Laguiole (29, Rue Boissy D’Anglas, 8th, Phone: 01 40 06 09 75) store. Pick up a set of the incredibly chic Eric Raffy steak knives; guaranteed to make all of your friends green with envy at your next dinner party. After an afternoon of shopping, head down Rue D’Alger and into the Renaissance Hotel Place Vendome (4, Rue du Mont Thabor, 1st, Phone: 1 40 20 20 00). Have a perfectly-made Bellini or Kir Royale at the Chinese Bar, followed by dinner at Alain Dutournier’s Modern restaurant Pinxo (Phone: 01 40 20 72 00), where the food is served in small tasting portions.

Day 4
After a nice brekkie at Bechu (can you tell we LOVED this place?), take a metro to the Sevres-Babylone stop. Here you’ll find Le Bon Marche (24, Rue de Sevres, 7th, Phone: 01 44 39 80 00) and Le Grand Epicerie (38, Rue de Sevres, 7th, Phone: 01 44 39 81 00). Spend your morning at this awesome department store and Paris’ trendiest supermarket. When you start to feel peckish, walk 10-15 minutes and grab one of the few tables in the super-cute Huitrerie Regis (3, Rue de Montfaucon, 6th, Phone: 01 44 41 10 07), around the corner from the Marche St Germain.

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This tiny restaurant specializes in oysters. We recommend ordering a dozen of the fin de claire specials number 3 and a glass of Sancerre. The side plates of saucisson and crevettes also look awesome. End your meal with a coffee but no dessert because now you will walk around the corner and into the very austere and cool Pierre Marcolini boutique (89 Rue de Seine, 6th, Phone: 01 44 07 39 07). Buy some of his exquisite chocolates and a little individual tub of his caramel beurre sel ice cream to eat as you walk. You won’t walk far though. Just down and across the road is Gerald Mulot (76 Rue de Seine, 6th, Phone: 01 43 26 85 77), whose old-fashioned pastries are de rigeur in the City of Lights. Head back over to Rue des Grands-Augustins and into Mariage Freres (13, Rue des Grands-Augustins, 6th, Phone: 01 40 51 82 50), possibly the greatest tea shop on earth. If you are still peckish, have a cup of tea and a pastry. Paris_mariagefreres.jpgAfter stocking up on beautiful teas, tea cups and tea pots, hail a taxi and head over to the Musee D’Orsay for a few hours of culture. After filling up on this collection of fantastic 19th Century and early 20th Century artworks, take a metro or a taxi down (quite a way down) to the Place D’Italie area (the 13th) and head to one of Paris’ hottest gastrobistros, L’Avant Gout (26, Rue Bobillot, 13th, Phone: 01 53 80 24 00). If you’re early, check out the restaurant’s new wine store, located just across the street. This unpretentious and always busy little bistro is helmed by Chef Chistophe Beaufront, an ex-Guy Savoy protege. For your main course, definitely order the pork pot au feu. While it might not exactly be what you’d expect from a pot au feu, it is amazingly delicious. After dinner, take a cab up to the Hotel Costes (239 Rue St. Honore, Paris, 1st, Phone: 01 42 44 50 50) (it’s on your way!) and have a drink at this still ultra-trendy boutique hotel. You might have to be a little forceful to score a great table — the staff tend to be a little full of themselves — but there’s no better place for a cool digestif.

Day 5
Start mid to early morning and head down to E Dehilleren (18-20, rue Coquillière, 1st, Phone: 01 42 36 53 13). It’s Paris’ most famous kitchen supply store where you can stock up on everything from madeleine pans to copper pots. Once finished, walk to the Etienne Marcel metro station and head over to St Placide. From there, it’s just a five minute walk to Sadaharu Aoki (35, Rue Vaugirard, 6th, Tel: 01 45 44 48 90). Grab one of the few seats and have an exquisitely-made pastry. Then walk up Boulevard Raspail, stopping at Un Jour Un Sac (27, Boulevard Raspail, 7th) to purchase the coolest tote bag — you assemble it yourself, choosing the straps and the bag separately — that you’ll ever own. Head up to Rue Montalembert for lunch at the first and still best branch of L’Atelier de Robuchon (5, Rue de Montalembert, 7th, Phone: 01 42 22 97 91). Pull whatever strings you have to get a reservation or else you may end up in line, being told to come back in an hour. After an awesome and very filling lunch, head east down Rue Grenelle, stopping at Christian Louboutin (8, rue de Grenelle, 7th, Phone: 01 42 22 33 07) and Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums (37 rue de Grenelle, 7th, Phone: 01 42 22 77 22) to buy your loved one some sexy stilettos and a unique scent respectively; while the cost might be high, trust me, she’ll reward you later for your generosity! Head west now and visit the Rue Jean-Nicot outlet of Bellota-Bellota (18 rue Jean Nicot, 7th, Phone: 01 53 59 96 96) where you can buy some of the best Spanish ham (jamon iberico) on earth; these are the same guys that supply Robuchon. They vacuum pack so you can truck as much of this delicacy home as you can carry. If it is your first time in Paris, walk west a few minutes and see the Eiffel Tower, just so you can tell friends you’ve seen it. Then wander down to Avenue de la Motte-Picquet and dine at Le Florimond (19, Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 7th, Phone: 01 45 55 40 38), one of the city’s best casual bistros, where the food is great and the service (amazingly) is fantastic.

Day 6
Pack. If you need a new suitcase because you’ve bought so much stuff, head over to Printemps (64, Bld Haussman, 9th, Phone: 01 42 82 57 87) or Galeries Lafayette (40 Bld Haussman, 8th, Phone: 01 42 82 34 56), Paris’ two most famous department stores located just behind the Opera. Printemps stocks some very cool collapsible bags from French brand Sequioa. If you are not in need of excess baggage, head over to Lafayette Gourmet and spend an hour or so ogling all the pretty things in this huge homeware and kitchen supply store. Walk down Rue De La Paix and then over to the Place du Marche St Honore. Spend an hour wandering around this open-air market before ducking into Le Point Bar (40, Place du Marche St Honore, 1st, Phone: 01 42 61 76 28) for lunch. This tiny contemporary bistro serves inventive and affordable food. After lunch, head back, call your taxi and fly off, satisfied with your perfect Paris vacation.