Thursday, February 11, 2010

St Michel: Paris Part II :) :)

In my last post on Champs-Elysee, I missed out one crucial detail. At one end (the end opposite Arc de Triumphe) of this avenue is a guy in a mobile cart who serves the most heavenly chocolate crepes. While roadside crepe vendors are a dime a dozen in Paris, this is the only one (that I know of and I tried loads when I was there) who makes the chocolate crepe with actual chocolate and not Nutella. The crepes were light and fluffy and the chocolate inside yummy :)

Since we are on the topic of food, I'm gonna write about my favourite place to eat in the world.(so far). If you're in Paris and want to eat, head over to St Michel (special thanks to Vikas for introducing us to this food mecca). This place is teeming with food from all over the world - Turkish, Mexican, Greek, Egyptian, Indian - you name it and this place has got it. All these restaurants are crammed into two or three lanes filled with people at all odd hours of the day (I should know, I was here so much!). Each restaurant has a pimp outside who tries to lure all passers-by into eating here. We tried an array of places here and while not all were good, it was definitely interesting and worth the experience. We went into a Turkish place that served awesome khous khous and escargot. It also had a shady room downstairs where a group of murky characters were playing an intense, exotic dice game. (I had dreams of witnessing a knife fight but it was not to be) One greedy night, we pigged out on fondue. The French sure know their cheese (I'm still, unsuccesfully might I add, trying to lose the weight I gained from fondue night) I also tasted some questionable Greek food in one of the restaurants but it was fun.

There is an exclusively vegetarian falafel place at the end of the lane. The bread was soft and nice, and while the vegetables are not always fresh, it tastes OK. The place is called Maoz and they have a branch in Amsterdam too. There's quite a bit of vegetarian food. Even if there is nothing on the menu, ask the chef and invariably he will dish up something for you (they are infnitely amused by the concept though). Right next to the falafel place is the most heavenly Greek sweet shop. The shopkeeper is a portly old Grandpa who distinctly reminded me of Santa Claus. I strongly recommend the bakklava here which is a sweet, gooey pastry filled with honey and nuts (momentary pause to remember and drool over the memory). Stroll into St Michel at any time of the day and you're sure to find a healthy mix of locals and tourists having exotic meals. Oh! and did I mention there is free wine at all these places :)

This place is a foodie heaven and if you love food, I insist that you swing by this place when you are in Paris. Not everything I ate there was good but it was a truly exciting experience. The meals here are expensive though (by the penny pinching, broke standards of Indian students at least). Be prepared to shell out at least 10-13 euros a meal.

Of course, all this is relevant only if you're not traveling with my Mum. My mum's version of eating out involves finding the Little India in the city and ordering from the array of vegetarian (primarily South Indian) dishes. Imagine the excitement! But if you do have someone like this in your party, head over to passage Brandy where you can find dosas. The metro station is Metro Chateau d'Eau or Strausbourg St. Dennis. Paris is also filled with Tamils who are exceedingly friendly. So if you have a bad dosa craving (though why you would is beyond me), it shouldn't be too difficult to wangle an invitation to their houses.

P.S. - If you are in Paris and look Tamil (like I do) be prepared for a lot of Tam bonding. I was assaulted by friendly Tams all over Paris. And I'm not exaggerating. I had long conversations in Tamil at the metro stations, bus station, an Italian restaurant, various tourist places, knick knack shops and at the airport security. I was at one point caught in the middle of a bizarre Italian-French-Tamil-English conversation. On the bright side, I got great discounts and breezed through security :) (In all fairness, this is not an affliction of Tams alone. I had a forty minute conversation in Punjabi at the airport. Now those of you who know me, know that my knowledge of Punjabi extends to the line 'vadde log, vaddi vaddi batein' . Needless to say, I'm still trying to figure out what that woman was saying).


cataclasma said...

Enjoyed the post. :) You should write about places more often - more of your personality shows through in your posts then!

Mind Curry said...

from new shanti sagar to paris? are you going places or wot? :) was fun reading through.

Shruti said...

@Asma and MC: Thanks. Though right now I dont seem to be going anywhere, just writing about fond memories

mercy said...

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Unknown said...

Eating food in Paris makes us complete.Specially Crepe.So yummy and tasty.Your article helped me in some of my projects for which i say thank you to you for this wonderful blog.

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