eat all the things: a stroll through Paris.

Walking through the neighborhoods of Paris, it’s easy to feel the cultural vibes. While patisseries known for their croissants and pan de chocolat dot every arrondissement, it’s apparent that Parisians should also be known for other plat du jours. Early in the morning, as you stroll over freshly rinsed cobblestones, the smell of butter permeates the air. While any pasty is better than no pastry, make sure you visit an artisan patisserie in order to taste a true Parisian tradition.


Most brasseries (that’s cafe to most of us) open at 11 am and close at 2.30 pm. All the local store owners also close for lunch, so in a sense, it is expected that you stop working and eat, breathe, and drink wine. A dying concept at home, but possibly the most gorgeous thing about this lifestyle. In addition, it seems brasseries and restaurants are run entirely by their owners. There may be a waitress or two, but most owners are also chefs, severs, and sommeliers. Wine lists have Chablis, Bordeaux, and Champagne. Leffe is the standard beer.


Almost every brasserie has French onion soup, smothered with Gruyere and croutons; one of my personal favorites.


While in Paris, take the time to find a brasserie with a terrine du jour. if you are a fan of country pate or rillette, than you’ll be in forced meat loaf heaven.


Also, you don’t want to forget about the steak tartare.


If you aren’t a fan of minced raw meats, I completely understand, even if I cannot fathom it. In general, brasseries also list steak frites as a menu item, and even in the less popular locations, will be an acceptable and reasonably priced lunch.


All Parisians drink coffee after every meal. And by coffee, I mean espresso. Most are paired with a single sugar cube, a feat not seen in America for some time.


Of course if you want a break from pates, steaks, and onion soups, there’s always a pizzeria in every neighborhood. We opted to share one for lunch, an especially yummy change with a fried egg atop mounds of bolognese.


Even more price sensitive, you can always opt for a Parma Panini on the go. I’ve seen women eating while walking down the sidewalk, men eating while riding motorcycles, and of course, we ate one on the banks of the Seine.


Make sure to stop at another patisserie for a fresh fruit tart.


After all this, you would think it impossible to eat anything else, but you can’t leave Paris without a late night snack of chocolate crepe. Warm and sugary and gooey, it’s the perfect ending to a night of Kirs, cocktails, and beers; like patisseries, they can be found almost anywhere.


Just like any country, urban life is very different than that spent in the quieter countryside. Stay tuned to see what amazing foods await us in Burgundy.

Bien manger. Sante.

the artistry of The Sandbar: a genius concept with a brilliant Chef

Tonight sommbaby and I had a date.  We veered through the drenching rain, made our way midtown, fighting probable uninsured Texas motorists, to pull into the Pearl Brewery and plop into The Sandbar Fish House & Market.  For those who haven’t read, heard, or who may have been out of touch with the gastronomic world, The Sandbar has consistently been recognized as San Antonio’s top restaurant as voted by critics and diners, and is the brainchild of Andrew Weissman, the culinary whiz kid of San Antonio’s former Le Reve.   There have been many instances when the sommelier and I have eaten here, even when I have brought my friends, my parents, and have recommended the experience to those I love; it all revolves around one concept: the beauty of the dish.

Over the past many years, even before The Sandbar relocated to the Pearl, there has been one consistent component to the restaurants success:  Executive Chef Chris Carlson.  One only has to hear of his specials to recognize the brilliance; I almost don’t even bother to look at the menu.  Having survived Charlie Trotters in Chicago, Le Reve, the original Sandbar, he is now second-hand to Andrew Weissman, and has taken the culinary scene in San Antonio to a new level.  Each plate is perfected with his artistic vision.

(Executive Chef Carlson, Serafin Cassarrubias, & Sous Chef Justin Richardson)

We started with a Hamachi sashimi with chef prepared soy, mirin, and yuzu infused caviar. Micro greens to garnish.  The process to make your own caviar is daunting, but a recent trend among culinary artists.  I won’t hesitate to say that the yuzu caviar was my favorite, the round pearls smooth on my tongue, leaving a salty, luscious essence.

The thing is, if it was only the food, it would be one thing.  But, Adam Spencer, sommelier, can also pair your meal with the most drinkable wines of the moment.  He started us off with a Domaine Chandon Etoile, a beautiful Rose sparkling, with a sunset color and a rich, semi-sweet finish.  With a mixture of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the glass was able to match all of our dishes, but paired especially well with the Hamachi.

Our next course, swordfish tataki with a black bean Asian sauce, was mild in flavor.  When married with the herb salad, however, the fresh greens provided a tang that lingered on the palate.  A beautiful combination, the dish paired well with the Nigl Gruner Veltliner, a very crisp and slightly fruit forward white wine.

With fresh fish, crustacean, and oysters flown in daily, Chef Chris Carlson has a plethora of ingredients in which to choose.  The close proximity to the Pearl Farmer’s Market doesn’t hurt either.  For our last course, sommbaby and I sipped on a creamy bouillabaisse broth, and enjoyed mussels, clams, fish, vegetables, and fish laid atop polenta.   Served alongside garlic toast, the bowl of goodness did not last long.  Sommbaby especially enjoyed the flaky fish and buttery flavors.

One entity that has consistently appeared on The Sandbar’s menu has been the key lime pie.  Fresh.  Creamy.  Delicious.  Perfect.  It’s a mainstay, and well worth the extra calories.

Weissman had it right when he opened The Sandbar.  There is no other restaurant in town with such high quality seafood.  He also had it right when he snagged Chef Carlson.  There is no other Executive Chef in San Antonio who has performed with such consistency and endurance.  Both Chefs have set the bar really high, and I look forward to continuing to enjoying every morsel yet to come.