The 12 Best Things I Ate in France
By Emma Gerber
This year over spring break 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to go to France through the HB Global Scholars program. The trip itself was amazing – we saw so many amazing places, immersed ourselves in french culture and language, and learned so much about french history. I enjoyed the entire trip, but a huge highlight for me was all of the amazing food we ate. In France, food is very integral in the culture and as such was very integral to our trip. I made sure to record everything I ate on the trip, and after much deliberation I have made a list of the 12 best things I ate on the 2019 France Trip, in order from amazing to perhaps the best thing I have ever had. The list was originally supposed to be the top 10 things, but I just couldn’t narrow it down. I also think it is important to note that at least the top 5 things on the list could easily tie for possibly the best things I’ve ever eaten. So without further ado…
12. Galettes – Egg and Cheese and Tomato and Mozzarella
On our very first day in France, we were given money and set free in Paris for two hours to find lunch. A small group of us found an adorable cafe that wasn’t too crowded, and there we had our first real meal in France. This is where I had my first galette, which is basically just a savory buckwheat crepe. It was deliciously savory and delicate, with a perfect sunny side up egg in the middle. Much later in the trip, during our short stay in a city called Vannes, we happened upon a very stylish and cute crepe restaurant where I had my second galette, with cherry tomatoes and little balls of mozzarella on top. I liked this one even better – the lightness of the cherry tomatoes mixed so perfectly with the creamy cheese and the salty galette. Overall, both of the galettes I had on the trip were amazing, and I want to learn how to make them at home.
11. Omelette and Salad
On our last day in France, which we spent in Paris, a group of us went to lunch at a very nice cafe called Cafe Louise. There I had this beautiful fluffy omelette with cheese, herbs, and ham. It had been my goal to try a french omelette for a while on the trip and I don’t think I could have chosen a better place. It was so rich and perfectly cheesy, balanced by a light salad of arugula and tomatoes in a very classic french vinaigrette. It was an amazing lunch, and I was happy that it was one of the last meals I had on the trip.
10. Spinach Tart with Goat Cheese
Near the end of our trip we spent a day exploring the Broceliande Forest, the setting for a lot of the arthurian legends. We stopped for lunch in a very small area with old brick buildings, where there was a small sandwich shop. Even though we filled three of the four picnic tables inside the shop, the people there were very excited to have us. We were also excited when we walked in to see that they were playing the Cleveland Cavaliers game on the TV, which was such a coincidence and reminded us all of home. There I had a nice spinach tart with golden coins of goat cheese placed beautifully on top. I was a little unsure because of just how dense it was in spinach, but I loved the crust of the tart and the cheese was the perfect addition. The whole thing seemed to melt in my mouth and was very enjoyable.
9. Salad with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, and Walnuts
Some days we did not have time to explore and sit down for lunch, especially when we were travelling, so our guide Fiorella would go to the grocery store and pick up things for us to eat on the go. On one of these days, when we were travelling from St. Malo to Rennes, I had a prepackaged salad with goat cheese, tomatoes, and walnuts, dressed with a classic french vinaigrette. I was surprised how good it was because it was packaged, but the creamy cheese was complimented perfectly by the vinaigrette and the tomatoes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
8. (French) Onion Soup
I had onion soup Twice in France – once at a small cafe in the middle of Paris, and another time at a pizza shop in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris. Both times it absolutely hit the spot – there is something so nice about the richness of the warm and smooth broth with some nice cheese and bread floating right on top.
7. Tart with Mushrooms and Asparagus
On another travel day, travelling from Paris to St. Malo, we ate lunch on the train, which had a nice food car on the train. After some indecision I decided to go for the mushroom and asparagus tart, even though I don’t always love mushrooms. Despite the fact that it was literally heated up on a train, it was so good and really hit the spot. Again I really loved the crust of the tart, and the mix of cheese, egg, mushroom and tied in perfectly.
6. Chocolate Moelleux
In Rennes, a university city that we visited closer to the end of the trip, we all went to dinner at a very nice restaurant called Le Cafe Noir. There we had the budget for desserts, which were all amazing. I had a chocolate moelleux, which was a rich chocolate cake that was very similar to a chocolate lava cake. It was really great – the chocolate was so rich and it was paired with a very nice scoop of ice cream and a little drizzle of a raspberry sauce. It all went so well together, and it was definitely a strong favorite on this trip.
5. Pain des Enfants Perdus with Pear Sorbet
The last night we were in France we had dinner as a group at a restaurant called Les Enfants Perdus. I really really enjoyed eating there – it was very trendy and the food was great. For dessert I got the Pain des Enfants Perdus, which was like a french toast but very thick and nicely caramelized. It came with a tiny container of Pear Sorbet that could be spread like butter over the top of the bread. It was absolutely delicious and so unlike what I normally have at home, so I was very glad that it was one of the last things I ate in France.
In St. Malo, where we spent a lot of our time on the trip, there was a really amazing part of town called the Intra-Muros, which was the historical walled in part of the city. The area inside was a great area to walk around with lots of shops and restaurants so that is where we had lunch often when we were in St. Malo. On one of our first days there we found a nice cafe on the side of a small green space in the middle of the city, where we decided to sit outside. It was really pretty outside, with some nice sun and two rows of trees that filled the space and provided some dappled shade. At the cafe I had a croque madame, which is like the classic croque monsieur with a sandwich of ham and cheese with the cheese melted on the top, but with a sunny side up egg right on top. This Croque Madame was amazing – perfectly toasted fresh bread, nice melted cheese, and that creamy egg on top. I really enjoyed it, and I think the whole experience was really enhanced by the nice outside atmosphere.
3. Salted Caramel Ice Cream Galette
In Rennes, at the same Crepe restaurant mentioned for the galettes above, I had an amazing sweet and salty desert. The base was a Galette, so it was savory, and it was topped with salted caramel sauce and salted caramel ice cream, alsong with a huge pile of whipped cream. It was absolutely amazing – I’ve always loved sweet and salty, and so it was right up my alley. The salty galette was the perfect base for all of the sweet toppings. My favorite part was all of the melted ice cream and whipped cream left over at the end, which I ate with the help of my friends Sophie and Caroline (who LOVE whipped cream, a lot more than I do – they also said it was amazing).
On our last day in Paris we stopped by a bakery near the Louvre and picked up some pastries to eat in the gardens right outside of the Louvre. We all got treat, and many of us in the group were instantly drawn to the Macaronade. It looked like a large macaron, but with raspberries inside and a pistachio cream in the middle. It was absolutely amazing and I would eat one of these every day if I could. The freshness of the raspberry really balanced out the cream and made for a delightful eating experience, especially while sitting at the edge of a fountain in a beautiful garden in Paris.
Finally, my absolute favorite food on the trip were these beignets, which we got in the Intra-Muros. There was a shop on one of the main streets with a big pink awning that sold crepes, paninis, fries, waffles, and beignets, The beignets were these large fluffy donuts that were warm and coated in sugar. The first one that I had I split with Caroline – it had nutella in it, which was also deliciously warm and so good in the beignet. The second one I had was raspberry, and it was also amazing. We usually got the beignets and then strolled around with them for a little while, which was great. There is something about standing on the street and eating a deliciously warm beignet that just can not be replicated. Since that section of the trip we all joked about how much we wanted beignets, and that still stands now that I’m home.
Even though I am very happy to be home and back to meals with my family, I really enjoyed everything I ate in France and would eat all of it again in a heartbeat. While the food itself was awesome, I think it was especially great because of the experiences and people it is tied to in my memories. I really enjoyed sitting by a table with all of our group sharing a meal and I know like the rest of my memories in France i will cherish that experience forever.