About Time: You Went on a Secret Food Tour in ParisBy Alicia Grimshaw
In an age of TripAdvisor, blogs and mobile apps, restaurant reviews are readily available at your fingertips. While some throw up some hidden gems from time to time, restaurants on the main streets make a killing from hungry tourists who aren’t in the mood to tramp around for an hour hoping to find that underground brasserie they read about.
Down hidden back lanes, and unknown avenues lies authentic cuisine that showcases a real taste of the place, but apart from Google maps and user rating websites, how are you meant to find these secret culinary dens? Secret Food Tours are here to help, and we know all about it:
What: Secret Food Tours operate tours in London, Rome and Paris. We joined the Paris tour for a culinary feast of real Parisian food – we were promised a range of classic French nibbles and it certainly delivered. The tour takes place in the Montmartre District, this historic neighbourhood is home to the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, the Moulin Rouge and a wide variety of gourmet shops – an ideal setting to fully immerse yourself in Parisian way of life.
Expect: The tour begins with a meeting with your Parisian tour guide, PJ was our guide for the 3 hour tour, a montmantre native PJ throws in cleaver antidotes throughout the day and starts with a brief history lesson on Montmartre (battle of Paris, the revolutionary uprising of the Paris Commune and bohemian Montmartre – you get the gist). A sommelier and baker in his youth, PJ knows his stuff. Unlike other areas of France, accommodation in Paris is small and compact meaning kitchen space is limited. Local residents don’t have storage for their ‘weekly big shops’ and so, have to pop down to the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers daily. The tours aims to show you the best places to pick up cheese, meat and other sweet treats like a real Parisian.
Like any good food tour, an artisan chocolate shop is the first pit stop. Maison Georges Larnicol is famous for creating chocolate sculptures on a mass scale (look out for the chocolate version of the Notre Dame – incredible) and make their salted caramel on site. They also bake their own Kouigenettes, a small patsy similar to a croissant filled with various flavours. They’re buttery and delicious – the orange contrieau one is a must. There’s a chance to sample some chocolates, we recommend the white chocolate Ferrier Roche and the salted caramel egg.
Macarons shops in Paris are what cafes are in Britain – popular. Christophe Roussel is a pastry chef and chocolatier with outlets across the city. Knocking up chocolate treats and all other heavenly snacks, his macarons are made using the best ingredients and contain weird and wacky combinations. Behold flavours of passionfruit and tarragon, pineapple and vanilla, and passionfruit and lemongrass. The hazelnut is also cracking, too.
Without giving too much away, as this is a secret food tour – the day continues with a trip to the local cheesemaker, butchers, another chocolate shop and boulangerie. Here, a variety of different local cheeses, sausages, pork belly and miscellaneous meat is purchased for the final feast.
And, what’s a Parisian feast without wine? Breakfast. The last port of call is the wine shop, stocking some of the finest French tipples. During this part of the tour, your guide will give you a quick interlude of organic wines, where to buy the best red wines (it isn’t Bordeaux) and the best bubbles.
The tour finishes with a outdoor picnic with more meat, cheese and bread than you can manage. A banquet is an understatement. Here you’ll learn all about the origins of the different cheeses, along with tasting the freshly baked breads and meat selection. Picnic is complete with a checked tablecloth, so French.
No good meal ends savoury, so a quick stop at the local creperie tops of the gastronomic feast. We had a nutella and banana one and it did not disappoint.
The secret food tour is the perfect way to learn about the places where the locals dine and the places where even review sites haven’t reached. Food is one of the biggest ways to enjoy a new city and Secret Food Tours gives you all the hints and tip to dine like a true Parisian.
Where: Book here