Paris is the #1 Destination: Flying for Food
When we were “just tourists” in Paris, our goal was to have at least two great meals a day, planning every single one by scouring guide books and magazine articles for the best of what Paris had to offer. We did the same thing when we traveled to Italy and just about anywhere and everywhere we were visiting. When we were living in Knoxville and would jump in the car to travel nine hours and 600 miles to visit my family in New Orleans, we’d talk the whole way about where we were going to eat while we were there, not to waste a single meal on something less than great.
New Orleans is still my number one favorite dining destination — maybe that’s because I grew up there and have a certain affinity to the local cuisine, but I think it’s because New Orleans is a food mecca extraordinaire that, in my own humble opinion, even Paris can’t quite rival (obviously, as you will see as you read further, not everyone agrees with me). “Real” New Orleanians — those who have grown up with such delicacies as “Crawfish Etouffee” and “Oyster Po’boys” have a tendency to talk about their next upcoming meal while in the midst of the one they are having…for good reason.
Here in Nice, I find that one can eat as well if not better…and less expensively, I might add, than in Paris, too. There’s that Italian-plus-Mediterranean influence on the food mixed with an amazing array of fresh produce and seafood that is reminiscent of New Orleans style. Just this weekend, at “Le Galet,” a new restaurant on the beach just a stone’s throw from my apartment (Le Matisse), I had a huge steamed Globe artichoke with vinaigrette that was tender and delicious (you know how much I love artichokes, right?) and a whole grilled sea bream that was large enough for two, but of which I ate very morsel, as it was cooked perfectly with an olive oil salsa on the side. Yum.
This habit of “flying for food” is not so unusual, according to a recent survey by OpenTable. In their blog they claim that “66 percent of Americans select a travel destination based solely on its culinary offerings, while more than half (52 percent) have already traveled to the country of origin of their favorite cuisine.” In addition, nine out of 10 people are more adventuresome when dining out while on vacation than they might normally be when eating at home, and three-quarters tend to reserve their restaurant meals in advance of their arrival at their destination.
Their “dream foodie trip” is first and foremost to…guess where?…Paris! Why are we not surprised? Second is Florence, Italy. New Orleans is fourth on the list after Barcelona and New York follows New Orleans! Again, I am not surprised that New Orleans ranked up there not too distantly from Paris. (I actually dream about having certain meals from New Orleans.)
The blog goes on to curate a list of what they think are “must-try dishes” from around the globe. For four of the top five, here’s what OpenTable thinks:
Paris – Steak frites at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
Florence – Tagliatelle al Sugo at Trattoria Sabatino
New Orleans – Oyster Po’boy at Emeril’s
New York City – Porterhouse Steak at Keens Steakhouse
That’s certainly not what I think! In fact, I am SHOCKED that an all-you-can-eat not-that-great-cut-of-steak at a chain restaurant like Le Relais de l’Entrecôte is what OpenTable thinks is a must-try in Paris! We locals leave that one available for the tourists. You would much rather have a “Pavé au Poivre” at Chez Omar, I can assure you. I know I would.
I can’t speak for Florence, since it’s (believe it or not) not one of my favorite cities and prefer to visit many other Italian cities instead. It also seems that the author of their article (Caroline Potter) is a steak lover, since a Porterhouse steak at Keens Steakhouse in New York is also on their list along with Paris’ Steak frites at Le Relais de l’Entrecote…but let’s get down to what’s really worth a flight — a New Orleans Oyster Po’boy or what we locals call an “Oyster Loaf.”
I was at dinner last night with a New Orleanian friend living in Nice at one of my favorite restaurants in Nice — Le Bar des Oiseaux, the third Armand Crespo-owned restaurant in the Old Town. The moment I mentioned the OpenTable article to her and what they recommend as a must-try dish, I didn’t even have to say it. Immediately the words “Oyster Loaf” came out of her mouth and I roared! But we both agreed, Emeril’s is not where you need to go to get a good one, or even a great one. Several New Orleanians commented on this on the OpenTable blog — as “No New Orleanian will tell you to go to Emeril’s for a Po’boy.” There are too many other great local po’boys to be had for a whole lot less money. I am known to dream about the Oyster Po’boys at Bozo’s in Metairie not far from my mother’s house. Sadly they closed in 2014 not long after the owner, Chris ‘Bozo’ Vodanovich, died and I cried for weeks. I’d never have an Oyster Loaf from Bozo’s again — the kind we used to order up and then take with us on the plane or car-ride home. (See a video about him and his Oyster Loaves)
Is there a must-try dish in Nice? Probably a Salade Niçoise or Petits Farcis…and where would one get these? Well, I must admit it’s become a habit on Sundays to take a terrace table and order a demi-portion of each at Le Safari on the Cours Saleya. That’s about as Niçois as it gets and I highly recommend both at this iconic spot.
Today I’m headed back to Paris and I may run to Chez Omar for a good steak, but definitely not Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. Next time Caroline Potter is in Paris, she needs to try it, don’t you think?
Note: The survey was conducted online by more than 3,400 OpenTable diners aged 18 and older across the U.S. from April 14 through May 16, 2017. Caroline Potter is the Chief Dining Officer for OpenTable, Inc. She really needs to fly around more! Don’t you think?! Ha!
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
(at Le Galet, Nice)
P.S. Le Matisse is available for long and short stays to friends of Parler Paris and Parler Nice! See our Le Matisse page for more information.
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