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Food

The Kosher Traveler: Parisian Delights

The pleasure of effectively navigating the idiosyncratic topography of the City of Lights is only eclipsed by discovering the perfect meal in a city known for its gastronomy. Fortunately for the kosher traveler, this is no challenge at all.

In November 2010, UNESCO added French gastronomy to its list of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage,” making France the first nation to be honored for its arts of the table. The term haute cuisine (French for “high cooking”), coined in the nineteenth century, signifies elaborate preparations and presentations of small and numerous courses. French dishes liberally employ herbs and creamy ingredients. Most localities hold open air street markets nearly every day, where they sell locally grown fresh produce such as fennel and truffle, as well as cheese, wine, poultry and cured meats.

France hosts Europe’s largest Jewish community, approximately 600,000 in total, 375,000 of whom live in Paris. Jewish life and culture thrive in the city, so travelers may keep kosher effortlessly. The only difficulty lies in deciding where to dine. Although first-class kosher establishments serve excellent and varied cuisine such as Indian, Italian or Thai, the kosher traveler with limited time to eat should seek the best uniquely-French cuisine.

Best Breakfast: Korcarz

Embrace the rich, café-based, French morning meal at Korcarz. This brightly lit classic pâtisserie (pastry shop) in the heart of the trendy Marais district sells fresh croissants, warm pain au chocolat (literally meaning chocolate bread), apple and nut turnovers, complex baklava, creamy éclairs and nearly every other kind of pastry one could desire. Submit to the iconic brioche parisienne, an enriched French bread topped with a thin spread of caramel cream and dusted with coarse sugar crystals. This sweet treat demands pairing with the espressos served at the small bar. Secure a seat on one of the few well-worn barstools to savor your meal and mingle with the melting pot of Jews in Paris.
29 Rue Des Rosiers 75004 Paris [Arrondissement 04]. Tél.: 01 42 77 39 47

Best Lunch: Winpy

All along the rues of Paris, crêpe vendors cook delicate pancake-like batter on griddles and generously fill them with Nutella and banana or strawberries and cream, topped with white sugar dusts. Sweet crêpes also grace the menu at the casual, sit down café Winpy, but in-the-know customers travel to Arrondissement 11 for the savory fare. The menu reads like an all-girls class roll. “Yael” is a crisp and warm buckwheat crêpe with salmon, spinach and cream, “Shirel” is tomato, mozzarella and basil, and “Rebecca” is a bold combination of goat cheese and honey. Order a few crêpes to share to sample as many as possible. Accompanied by a bottle of sparkling apple cider, or a mug of hot chocolate, this meal completely satisfies.
215 Boulevard Voltaire 75011 Paris [Arrondissement 11]. Tél.: 01 43 56 67 13

Best Dinner: Le Petit Télégraph

Dinner in France evokes images of ultramodern or antique ambience. Experience suggests however, that good design does not necessarily guarantee a good meal, even in Paris. The recently-opened, Le Petit Télégraph is the “younger brother” of the famous, now-closed, Le Télégraph. Although its dining area resembles a small modern corporate cafeteria, the food is consistently excellent. Indulge in the foie gras (fattened duck or goose liver), served in a variety of ways, but best enjoyed on toasted slices of bread. The steak tartare is excellently seasoned and topped with a raw egg, as all good steak tartare should be. For a more conservative meal, albeit no less tasty, order the classic steak-frites (steak and fries), which is as French as falafel is Israeli. Buy a bottle of kosher red, appreciate the pleasant service, and splurge on clothes with the money saved at dinner.
3, rue des Forges, 75002 Paris [Arrondissement 02]. Telephone: 01.42.36.40.83

Best Dessert:

Clichéd as it sounds, all Paris sojourns must include macaroons, a delicacy that is often misinterpreted in the U.S.. This airy and chewy sweet confection has a base of almond paste, egg whites and sugar, but is a far cry from the macaroons commonly eaten on Passover. La Délicieuse Voltaire (across the street from Winpy) carries a colorful array of handmade macaroons, including: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, lemon and pistachio. To balance the sweet and the dry, pair the macaroons with a bottle of kosher Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne (available in store). La Délicieuse also carries Rosé, but stick with the regular, as it is a quality bottle at half the price.
234 Boulevard Voltaire, 75011 Paris [Arrondissement 11]. Tel: 0140242626

Best Edible Gift: Damyel

Long ago, the French employed chocolate to mask bitter medicines. Today, many believe that chocolate itself has medicinal qualities. In France, chocolate making has been refined into art, and fine chocolatiers are ubiquitous in the city. Damyel, a chocolatier highly regarded among kosher locals, creates in-house all kinds of parve high grade solid chocolate bars, ganaches (chocolates with rich, creamy centers) and many other specialties including nougat, macaroons and dragées (pastel-colored sugar-shell-coated whole almonds). These unique sweets in elegant packaging will perfectly complement a Shabbat dinner anywhere in the world.
Multiple locations: 35 rue Richer, 75009 Paris [Arrondissement 09]. Tel: 0142461944; 93 avenue de villiers, 75017 Paris [Arrondissement 17]. Tel: 0140548407; 149 rue Manin, 75019 Paris [Arrondissement 19]. Tel: 0142390308; 246 boulevard Voltaire, 75011 Paris [Arrondissement 11]. Tel: 0143567920

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