Everything (well, almost) is closed in Paris on Christmas day, so we decided to go to the only part of the city that was open – St Paul, or it’s Jewish quarter (because obviously the Jewish people don’t celebrate Noel ^^)
I can’t say this enough – Paris without the hordes of summer tourists is the true Paris, and how wonderful it was to almost have it all to ourselves! St Paul is distinctly different from the rest of the city – full of pre-Revolution buildings and wonderfully medieval, crooked, cobbled streets.
There is a distinct sense of proud history and strong character in the air, the feeling of old Old Paris. Jewish men and women in their stark black and white clothing walk alongside young hipsters with sideburns in cigarette pants – an American Apparel store on the same lane as a traditional Jewish bakery that has been there for more than a century. It is an area that is young and old, and terribly magnetic to any romance-seeking soul.
After a bracing walk in the cold, we were drawn to the pretty red, homey windows of Le Loir dans la Theiere – a little cafe with quirky Christmas decorations and cosy interiors that just beckoned to us out of the cold.
Little did we know we had just walked into a rather famous bakeshoppe that has left foodies raving about their luscious, no-holds barred home-made cakes and pastries !
The meaning behind its name is also rather serendipitous, inspired by my favourite muddle-headed storybook character – Alice in Wonderland. It’s named after the poor doormouse which gets repeatedly dipped into the tea pot at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
Christened by owners with such wicked and whimsical senses of humour, the furnishings were similarly eclectic – overstuffed, super comfortable sofas, mismatched chairs both low and high, walls plastered with posters, and cheeky grinning staff who insisted on speaking only in French to us.
We drooled at the heaving cake board, but had to have lunch first because they only allow patrons to have just tea and cake after 3 pm. Before that, their cakes come as desserts after a large, savoury lunch.
K and I took one look at the grey drizzly weather outside and a unanimous decision was made to while away most of our afternoon at Le Loir.
For lunch, I had their quiche of the day – spinach and hazelnuts with camembert cheese. It was really rich and cheesy – I couldn’t get over how they actually sliced lovely thick slivers of camembert and layered the top of the quiche with it – something like that in Singapore would set us back heftily. It was delicious – the melty, slightly pungent cheese melting into the gooey insides, the soft spinach lending some texture and the hazelnuts contributing a nice, satisfying and aromatic crunch.
K had the potato omelette, which was simple and very satisfying. The eggs were fluffy and done perfectly – the potatoes soft and sweet, tasting of high quality olive oil and a little hit of sea salt.
A very enjoyable home made lunch !
The highlight of the meal, of course, was the cakeboard.
Would you just look at that ! We so badly wanted a slice of everything – the luscious pies, the dense, moist carrot cake, the deep purple plum cakes!
But when we saw how epically huge each serving was, we sadly whittled down our choices and decided on one slice of their chocolate crumble tart.
One slice. One slice of heaven.
It was really really good. The home made prettily scalloped pie crust was buttery, crunchy with a hint of chocolate, the chocolate ganache/cream hybrid was dense, smooth, bittersweet cocoa, and the crumble was literally the icing on the cake – it was light, crunchy, slightly salty and absolutely to die for.
I nearly ate the whole slice by myself. K was sipping his tea meditatively and looked up, startled, to realise half the tart was gone and that his wife trying shamefacedly to hide her guilt behind her Kobo.
It’s a must go if you’re ever in Paris or at St Paul. I mean must. One of my greatest regrets post Winter was not going back to sample every delectable slice of cake they had on offer. Their unashamedly homey and rich carrot cake ranks right on top of my pastry related dreams.
After you’re done, be sure to explore the rest of the Jewish Quarter – like I said earlier, it’s a wholly different face of Paris and has so many secrets hidden away in its labyrinthe of lanes one cannot explore them all at one go. There are plenty of hidden doors, passage ways and gardens too – just like Through the Looking Glass (more Alice imagery)
The colours are bright, the Jewish shopfronts so old school and quaint, and the cafes and bars so full of life (It also happens to be the Gay Quarter)
And I know it’s oh-so-touristy, but please make a stop at L’as Du Falafel for some made-on-the-spot Middle Eastern goodness. I wouldn’t bother if the queue was really long, but it’s worth at least a 10 minute wait.
It’s soft warm pita filled with tangy purple cabbage, scrummy fried balls of falafel (mashed chickpeas), yoghurt, a peppery hot sauce, and onions. So bright on the tastebuds after all that heavy French food. K and I ate ours in the freezing cold, wincing every time the wind blew but refusing to pay extra to sit inside (because even the Falafel man told me – pretty girl, it’s too expensive to eat inside. only for stupid tourist)
And if all that traditional stuff has you longing for a bit of modern commercialised comfort, there’s always Starbucks and free wi-fi. We tried out their Winter limited edition drink – Chocolat Sale (Salted Caramel Cocoa) and it was really nice – but I’d still pick melty toffee nut lattes anytime! Duffy gives it his stamp of approval!
Le Loir Dans La Theiere
3 Rue des Rosiers 75004 Paris, France
L’as Du Falafel
34 Rue des Rosiers 75004 Paris, France
Hope you guys all had a great weekend !