travel : fauchon
It is so pink, I feel like we are having lunch inside a flamingo. Fun!
Where else in the world could a gourmet store be hot pink and still be taken seriously? In Paris, of course! To be a gourmet food store in Paris – well, you know it’s got to be above and beyond, who cares what colour it is (but done very tastefully, c’est chic). In fact, most food lovers who come to Paris would consider Place de la Madeleine, a pilgrimage. Apart from the notable church from which the square derives its name, this is the HQ for juggernaut gourmet shops. Maison de la Truffe (truffles), Mariage Freres (tea), Laduree (macarons), Maille (mustard!) and Hediard (gourmet food), amongst others, are based here. From truffles to caviar to foie gras, it’s all here – at a price, of course. No wonder window shopping in French – ‘lèche-vitrine’ - is literally ‘window licking’!
Fauchon has two stores on the square. One store is more for, um, groceries – if you can call tins of caviar, fresh foie gras and champagne… groceries? And the other, sells sweets, confectionary, teas and coffees. The stores are a fantasyland to walk through and the chocolates are divine. Cans of madeleines make popular souvenirs and the variety of chocolates are astonishing.
Madeleines to take home. Or eat right there and then.
The Fauchon dining room is upstairs and is stocked with Parisians (my goodness, French ladies have the best clothes don’t they?) and curious tourists. We order the prix fixe which is the meal of the day – this includes an entree, main and glass of house wine.
One thing I love about dining in Europe are the house wines. Seriously cheap (this time included with the meal) and seriously decent, it’s refreshing to order the house wine and know your palate is in safe hands (unlike in Perth where ‘unreliable’ would be an understatement to describe house wines). The usual red and white house wines are sometimes joined by rosé, sparkling and gewürztraminer varieties, all available by the glass, jugs or litres.
Anyway, I digress.
Our waiter checks for any preferences (none, we eat everything) and our entree arrives – pea and ham soup which I suspect has been done à la fauchon. Sorry I was so hungry at this point I didn’t take a photo… Served in a glass not much larger than a shot, the pea soup appeared to be deconstructed. Erected in the center of the lurid green soup was a baton of tempura ham. It looked primordial and set in the pink disco dining room, it felt surreal. But one taste and it was indeed a great reproduction of the british classic. The pea soup was smooth and sweet with the baton of ham being the savoury finish. The entree was tiny (french sized!) leaving us to wonder if we would be satisfied with the main course.
Service is efficient and the waiter whisked our entrees away. This place makes good people watching – french ladies with their husbands (perhaps an extra curricular boyfriend hmm?), japanese tourists debating about food and the highly strung maître d, keeping her temper under control as she puppeteers her gaggle of waiters. Our tummies rumble and thank goodness, main is served! And the main is large-ish (by french standards!).
The menu was certainly british inspired – a pan fried fillet of bass with a topping of crispy potato straws – sounds like fish and chips. But it is the most beautiful fish and chips I have ever seen. Stylish and perfect. The fish is crispy skinned and perfectly cooked – thoroughly opaque and moist, sitting atop wilted snow peas. The chlorophyll taste of wilted snow peas and the smooth flakiness of the fish made for delicate flavour, rounded off with basil oil and red wine reducation. The dish was all about the texture – the yielding of the fish plus the crunchiness of the potato straws/chips. This is a dish I’d like to try at home one day.
The mains were so deceptively sized, we forego the spectacular platter of desserts on offer and save ourselves for a patisserie dessert later on (Gerard Moulet we love you!). There is so much to see and do in Paris and for a foodie like me, a whole day can be spent in Place de la Madeleine. We stand on our rested but sore feet and after window shopping on the ground floor once again, head off into the crowds of Galeries Lafayette. Oui, this is Paris.
Fauchon, 24-26 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris France
T: (33) 1 70 39 38 00
9am – 11pm
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