Where to Eat in Paris Wednesday, May 29 2013 


Where to Eat in Paris

This time of year I am often asked where to eat in Paris, France. Folks are going on vacation and are curious for my suggestions on where to eat and what to do.

This is by no means a definitive list, but a list of places we have really enjoyed the past few years.

I try to search out restaurants off the beaten path and I love trying cuisine other than French. Crazy, I know. Paris is a major metropolitan city with a population representative of that, and also has well-established enclaves made of citizens of former French colonies. Give some of those foods a try. And, the neat part about eating “foreign” food in Paris is that it’s cheap — which allows for balancing things out with extravagant, expensive splurges at Michelin-starred restaurants such as L’Arpege, Le Meurice, Benoit, or Pre Catalan.


Paris Cookware Shop

You can’t eat there, but let’s start with shopping for cookware. Dehillerin will be crazy crowded, the purchasing system is strange, and the salesmen are typically gruffly French, but it’s been open since 1820 and the best cookware store in Paris. It’s located in the area of Les Halles that used to be where the main food markets were from 1183 until the market center was demolished in the early 70s. (It only makes sense that there are cookware specialty stores near the markets. Chefs would go into town and buy both food and equipment.) When I was an apprentice working in Paris I would save my money for weeks and weeks to afford one copper pot. Now, life has changed a bit, and I can afford to buy more than one pot — but I’ve maintained my tradition — and restraint!

18 et 20, rue Coquillière
75001 Paris

In regards to food shopping, there are more places than you can possibly imagine. However, make sure you also pop into Maille, Hediard, and Fauchon for goodies to bring home — as well as your provisions for your charming picnique at the Tuileries.


The seafood at L’Ecume St. Honore is beyond phenomenal. It’s an actual fish market and Parisians can buy seafood to take home and prepare, but they also have a few tables, as well. It’s kind of pricey, but well worth it. I have seen and tasted unusual seafood there that I’ve never seen before or since. The owner and workers are a friendly bunch. (You’d be friendly, too if you had a packed restaurant selling at those prices.) The food is fresh, fresh, fresh and just amazing. The first time I was there, I saw super chef Alain Ducasse standing in line like a mere mortal! Then, and I am not making this up, the next year I saw him there again! Maybe he thinks I am stalking him.

L’Ecume Saint Honore
6 Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré
75001 Paris, France


Le Cuisine Traditionelle

We enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Bistro Paul Bert with Anne Willan — at Dorie Greenspan’s suggestion. Major double whammy with the French cuisine experts.

Bistrot Paul Bert
18 rue Paul Bert
75011 Paris, France

More old-school French. It’s not quite as fabulous as it was, but Ma Bourgogne is still really good. They waiters can be a seriously grumpy, but the Frisee au Lardons is pretty much worth it. It’s at the Place des Vosges, with lovely shops and galleries. Make sure to check out the Dammann Freres Tea Shop just up the block – tea merchants since 1692. It’s exquisite.

Ma Bourgogne
19, place des Vosges
75004 Paris, France

Willi’s Wine Bar has been around a long while. The food is solid and the best thing is that the whole experience is easy. Even though most Parisians speak English, sometimes it can just be tiring trying to navigate a menu and a dining experience in rusty French. Willi’s solves all that for you.

Willi’s Wine Bar
13 rue des Petits-Champs
75001 Paris, France

We adore this old-school restaurant that features rustic food from the Auvergne. The aligote potatoes are absolutely out-of-this-world. The Chocolat Mousse needs its own fan club. Great service and seriously awesome food.

L’Ambassade d’Auvergne
22 Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare
75003 Paris, France


Les Exotiques….

Morocco is a former French colony and there are some amazing Moroccan restaurants and cafes throughout Paris. Zerda not the easiest place to find, but well worth the search. The photo above doesn’t do it justice, as the hand-rolled couscous was light as air and positively microscopic. Paired with tender, rich, and delicious lamb, it was a feast of flavor. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. Go.

Café Zerda
15 rue René Boulanger
75010 Paris, France

The Vietnamese food in Paris is beyond stellar. At Le Bambou you will be jam-packed at a table with strangers. The restaurant is very loud and French spoken with a Vietnamese accent is nearly impossible to understand. Lastly, it’s a trek to this part of town, but it’s all well worth that first satisfying bite. Give it a try.

Le Bambou
70, rue Baudricourt
75013 Paris, France


Sapporo ramen house was our very 1st stop when we last arrived in Paris! It was cold and snowing and the warm, comforting ramen absolutely hit the spot after our overnight flight.

276 Rue Saint-Honore
75001 Paris, France

Supposedly there are over 40K restaurants in Paris so I could go on and on, but I think this will give you a taste of some fun places to try. I love doing the research and seeing what other chefs and food writers have to say!

Other folks to check out for suggestions include Betty Rosbottom, David Lebovitz, Cowgirl Chef (no, that’s not a typo), Dorie Greenspan, and Patricia Wells (she has a Food Lover’s Guide to Paris Food App). You can also take a peek at Bon App’s list, the NY Times, or LeFooding.com for more advice.

I hope if you travel to Paris this summer, you will enjoy my suggestions. Let me know what you discover and I’ll add it to my list!

Bon Appétit Y’all!

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Copyright © 2013 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

Photo credits – Virginia Willis

Paris Cookbook Fair: Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce Saturday, Feb 23 2013 


Paris Cookbook Fair 2013

Bonjour! Sending out a quick post from the Paris Cookbook Fair, Festival du Livre Culinaire from Le Carosel du Louvre. There are so many amazing, beautiful books from all over the world – France, the UK, South America, Israel, New Zealand — all over! I was thrilled to be asked to do a cooking demonstration. Of course, I knew I wanted to share my style of cooking, a blend of French and Southern — but with an extra special nod towards my Southern roots. So, I put it out on Twitter to ask folks what I should make…..

chicken 1 copy

Fried Chicken at the Louvre?

You will laugh at the reply from the Twitterverse!

chicken tweet copy

So, I didn’t. The last thing I want is an international incident over Fried Chicken. Although I am convinced that if the Mona Lisa could taste my fried chicken she’d have a full blown grin instead of her quirky little smile.

Southern Living saw the conversation and decided they had to write about it on their Daily South blog — “No, Virginia, You Can’t Fry in the Louvre.” Funny, right!?

Instead, I chose to make Pulled Pork Tenderloin with Georgia BBQ Sauce paired with Heirloom Stoneground Grits and Greens topped with Cole Slaw in a Mustard Vinaigrette. I actually brought My Southern Pantry® grits from home. I’m delighted to say that everyone loved it. It was a real blast.

I’m off to go see some beautiful food photography from the award-winning, international photographer Nancy Bundt. She’s absolutely phenomenal. I love her work. Later tonight, two people very important to me, Lisa Ekus and Anne Willan are receiving Gourmand Awards. More soon!

Bon Appétit Y’all!




Pulled Pork Tenderloin with Georgia Barbecue Sauce
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 small very finely chopped onion
2 1/2 cups ketchup
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cupDijon mustard
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and simmer until soft and melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until flavors have smoothed and mellowed, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, to prepare the pork, trim off the fat and silver skin: insert the tip of a sharp boning knife just under the silver skin about 1/2 inch from the edge of the meat where the silver skin begins. Keep the knife closer to the membrane than the meat, and pulling up slightly with the knife, slide the knife along the length of the meat to remove a strip of the membrane. Repeat until no silver skin remains. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

To sear the pork, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sear the tenderloin until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and place lengthwise on the prepared baking sheet. Top with about 1 cup of the barbecue sauce and roll to fully coat. Fold the foil over the top of the meat and pinch the ends of the foil to seal well. Bake until very tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer the pork to a large bowl. Discard the cooking juices remaining in the foil. Using 2 forks, shred the pork tenderloin into strips. Add barbecue sauce to taste, about 1 cup. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve on the split buns with the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce on the side.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Copyright © 2013 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.


Bon Appétit, Y’all in Paris! Fried Chicken, Grits & Greens, and Biscuits Friday, Mar 4 2011 

Bon Appétit, Y'all!

I’m in Paris at the Paris Cookbook Fair — and, that would be Paris, France, not Paris, Texas! It’s been crazy. I’ve been interviewed by Japanese television and there are so many different cultures represented I feel like I am at some sort of culinary United Nations.

Yesterday I did a demonstration in the International Kitchen — and I got all sorts of Southern on everyone. I prepared Fried Chicken topped with Country Ham, Grits and Greens, and finished things off with Buttermilk Biscuits!

It’s been so amazing. I am thrilled to be here. First thing yesterday morning I went to purchase my ingredients. I was practically skipping. Then, I went into the kitchen and got to work.There were some students from Le Cordon Bleu helping me. Made me smile to think about what those young students may have ahead of them. I remember how excited I was to be in France cooking for the first time. And, you know what, I was just that happy all over again.

Cooking up some Grits

Kale and collards are no where to be found, so I used arugula for the greens. Seemed to make sense and they tasted great. Silly me forgot My Southern Pantry cornmeal and grits, but the jambon de montaigne was pretty close to Allen Benton’s unsmoked country ham!

Patty Cake, Patty cake

The ingredients are a little different. I didn’t tote any White Lily over and I used a fermented milk instead of the delicious buttermilk from Johnston Family Farm.

Poulet Frite avec Jambon Montaigne (Fried Chicken topped with Country Ham)

The truth of the matter is that simple country cooking is pretty much simple country cooking all over the world. We served samples and the response was great. I was floating on cloud 9!

Happy Chef Grrl

I wasn’t the only one happy yesterday. The awards were last night. Congratulations to Denise Vivaldo, Dorie Greenspan, and all the other winners!

Here are the recipes from my demo. I’m posting pictures all week so follow me on Facebook, too!

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Fried Chicken Breasts with Country Ham
Serves 4 to 6

4 to 6 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
16 to 24 tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish
8 to 12 paper-thin slices country ham, prosciutto, or Serrano ham (about 6 to 8 ounces total)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more if needed
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock or low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
Coarse salt

To prepare the cutlets, place a chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to slightly over 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Place 4 fresh sage leaves on each cutlet; top with 1 or 2 slices of ham and press lightly to adhere. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate to set, at least 10 minutes.

Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with pepper (no salt is necessary because of the salty ham). To cook the cutlets, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 2 pieces at a time, dredge both sides of the chicken in flour, then shake off the excess flour—the chicken should be lightly dusted. Without crowding, add 2 pieces of chicken to the skillet, ham side down first, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a warm platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more oil if necessary.

To make the sauce, pour off any excess oil from the skillet. Return the skillet to the heat. Add the wine and Marsala and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Add the stock and increase the heat to high. Cook until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, and serve.

Grits & Greens
Serves 4 to 6

You could simply stir the raw arugula into the greens, but it is more flavorful to take just a few moments and saute the greens with the garlic.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, grated
2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup stone-ground or coarse-ground grits
Tangle of Winter Greens (see below)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until transparent, about 2 minutes.
Add the milk, water, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the grits, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the grits are creamy and thick, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in the cooked Tangle of Greens, butter, cheese, parsley, and chives. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Tangle of Winter Greens
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 medium cloves garlic, mashed into a paste (see sidebar)
1 16 ounce box arugula
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and greens; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the greens are bright green and slightly wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes about 20 biscuits

2 cups  White Lily or other Southern all-purpose flour , or cake flour (not self-rising), more for rolling out
1 tablespoon  baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons  (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
3/4 to 1 cup  buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 500°F. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk, and gently mix until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, using the heel of your hand to compress and push the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself. Give the dough a small turn and repeat 8 or so times. (It’s not yeast bread; you want to just barely activate the gluten, not overwork it.) Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/2 inch thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 1 1/2-inch round cutter dipped in flour; press the cutter straight down without twisting so the biscuits will rise evenly when baked.

Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool just slightly. Serve warm.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

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