PARIS TREAT Dec. 13:
A surprising glass of vin naturel
One of my favorite Paris wine bars is Le Garde Robe, a sweet little shoebox that specializes in small-batch vins naturels. These natural wines are made from organic grapes and contain no preservative or stabilizers. That last part changes the taste quite dramatically because the wine continues to evolve inside the bottle. A few producers (like Claude Courtois) have gained almost cult-like status because of the surprising and completely original character of their wines. Because they're too fragile to ship outside of France, take the opportunity to try some while you're here. By the glass, almost everything at Le Garde Robe is less than €5.
Le Garde Robe, 41 rue de l'Arbre Sec, 1st arrondissement, +011-33/1-49-26-90-60.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 12:
Fruitcake… the good kind
The neighborhood of Abbesses in Montmartre has been blessed with a number of amazing bakeries. Le Grenier à Pain, created by Michel Galloyer, is among the best. I like their endearingly rustic breads but come here primarily for dessert. This fruitcake appears during the cold months and has a sweet cookie crust layered with fresh seasonal fruit. Pick up an individual sized dessert for under €4.
Le Grenier à Pain, 38 rue des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement, +011-33/1-42-23-85-36.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 11:
Hot pizza by the cool Canal
As we wrote about in detail here, the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin are buzzing on warm evenings with pinknics - picnics that are centered around a stack of pizzas from the nearby Pink Flamingo. Order some pies from their shop and they'll deliver by bike to wherever you're sitting. Their "Dante" is deliciously simple—just fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzerella on a thin crust that's spiked with sel de Guerande (fancy sea salt). For €9.50 ($14) when delivered, it can feed two for a snack or one for a meal. Inexpensive wine and homemade beer can also be carried away to sip along the water.
Pink Flamingo, 67 rue Bichat, 10th arrondissement, +011-33/1-42-02-31-70.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 10:
A fried Iberian ham croquette
The metal counter at L'Avant Comptoir is currently my favorite place to belly up. A perfect cheap date here is built around at least one order of these croquettes, stuffed with ham from the celebrated producer Eric Ospital. Fried to order and costing only €3 ($4.40) for a stack of three, the little darlings are creamy without containing a single drop of cream or cheese. The taste is pure premium Iberian ham. This standing room only wine bar has a long list of small plates costing €3-6 ($4.40-8.80), with glasses of modestly-priced red, white, and bubbly.
L'Avant Comptoir, 3 carrefour de l'Odéon, 6th arrondissement, +011-33/1-44-27-07-97.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 9:
A crusty baguette
I first learned about Coquelicot, a sweet little bakery in Montmartre, from neighborhood resident Clotilde Dusoulier
Coquelicot, 24 rue des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement, 011-33/1-46-06-03-83
PARIS TREAT Dec. 8:
Crèpe from the Breizh Café
The rolled up pancake that you buy on the street, while good in a pinch, bears little resemblance to a real Breton crèpe. To learn what all the fuss is about, you must taste a real galette from the hand of Bertrand Larcher. This Brittany native uses traditional methods and the best possible ingredients. His version of the classic galette complète has golden, lacy edges and is filled with organic egg, ham, and raw milk Petit Savoyard cheese. At €6.80 ($10.30), it's the perfect lunch on a cold winter day.
Breizh Café, 109 rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-72-13-77
PARIS TREAT Dec. 7:
Divine chocolate eclairs
All éclairs are not created equal. One from the hand of Jacques Genin is a revelation. The choux pastry is his version is crisp, not soggy. The cream filling is a burst of intense chocolate flavor, not sugar. The glossy fondant the decorates the top is so shiny that you can almost see your own smile. You'll instantly taste why Genin is—(along with Patrick Roger; see below)—arguably the best chocolatier in the city. Grab one to go for €4.80 ($7.25), or take a seat in the salon and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee.
La Chocolaterie Jacques Genin, 133 rue de Turenne, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-45-77-29-01