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Postcard from Paris

(article, Marissa Lippert)

Almost as important as eating well, taking breaks from work and spending time with friends are key ways we take care of ourselves.

I recently traveled to London and Paris for vacation and to do a bit of social and culinary research at the same time. I came back refreshed, renewed, and very, very well fed. I couldn't have envisioned a better getaway than lots of great food shared with good friends. 

There were multiple high points on the trip, but the pinnacle for me was surely the Marché Bastille (the Bastille Market) in Paris. It's the most extensive, expansive, jaw-dropping greenmarket I've ever encountered. Über-fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, cheese, meats, breads, and pastries abounded for what seemed like miles. 

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Shopping at the Bastille Market."] 

Having rented an apartment in the Marais district, my friends and I decided to take advantage of the food and cook dinner at home one night — a full menu of gorgeous sautéed prawns and fresh ravioli with a gremolata sauce of sorts (garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon), beet and blood orange salad, mâche with the freshest French goat cheese and strawberries, and of course fresh baguettes, some olives, and fromage (my French vocab goes about as far as cheese). Certainly it was a feast, but the flavor and quality of the food was unbelievable. 

What amazed me, and always impresses me whenever I travel to France, is the care, love, and pride people put into the food there, from the tiniest macaroon cookie to the most perfect produce. Oh, yeah, we definitely indulged on cheese, bread, wine, and of course chocolate, but as I've said before, the quality of the food should trump the amount of food consumed. The French really are on to something. (Of course, I'm not the only one who's [/columns/deborah/beguilingfrenchvegetables noticed]).

Here are a few other food-and-drink highlights from the trip, in case you're traveling to Paris or London in the near future.

h3. Paris

Itinéraires: Mentioned a few months back in the New York Times, this restaurant is incredible. My friends and I agreed that it was possibly one of the best dining experiences we've ever had. The menu changes with the season. I'd recommend making a reservation in advance, as tables book up fast. 

Le 404: I'd stumbled on this Moroccan restaurant doing research online, and I'm very glad I did. The décor was trés cool, as was the music that accompanied our meal. The tagines and lamb meatballs were fantastic. 

Experimental Cocktail Club: Killer cocktails, albeit in a super-small space.

h3. London

Ottolenghi: Having read about this chainlet of prepared food shops in Gourmet_ magazine, I was lucky enough to spot one while walking around the Notting Hill neighborhood. The dishes and pastries were ridiculously eye-catching, colorful, and inventive with an Israeli-Middle Eastern twist.

Sketch: A tea house with a Clockwork Orange/Alice in Wonderland theme.
Bumpkin: This gastropub served up hearty country fare balanced out by a few lighter dishes. (London's not exactly known for light fare; I had an unpleasant experience ordering shrimp "cocktail" only to be served up a pile of teeny shrimp doused in mayo.)  

Don't worry; we evened out all that eating with hours of walking, shopping, and sightseeing over the course of a week. All in all, it was a fun, rejuvenating, and delicious vacation.

p(bio). Marissa Lippert is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in New York City.

reference-image, l