Paul Bakery and Pâtisserie Opens Its Sixth DC-Area Location at Metro Center

I’m always excited when a new Paul bakery opens in the District but I’m particularly excited about this one since it’s very close to my husband’s office. I’m expecting fresh baguettes (Paul’s breads are made daily from organic, locally sourced flour milled exclusively for Paul, without additives or preservatives) every other day from now on 😉

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Photo Credit: Jason Colston for PAUL USA

The new location at Metro Center (555 13th Street NW) is similar in design to the other 5 Paul locations around town, with bistro tables for 20 people outside (while the weather allows), and plush armchairs and tables for 30 inside. I’m sure it will quickly become a popular destination for office workers in the area!

Photo Credit: Jason Colston for PAUL USA

Photo Credit: Jason Colston for PAUL USA

The menu is also similar to that of all of the other Paul and I can’t wait for Paul to roll out its fall menu (I’m a big fan of the tarte citrouille and tarte pecan and cranberry!)

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Assortiment of mini-tarts and macarons (flavours: fig, strawberry chocolate, gianduja, lime, orange-speculoos, and creme brûlée)

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the seasonal macarons favours (of course) especially crème brûlée and fig. Do you ever eat at Paul Bakery? What’s your favourite item on their menu?


Longchamp Store Coming to CityCenterDC

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Chef Daniel Boulud is planning to open a DBGB restaurant at CityCenterDC comes another great (French) news for downtown D.C.: Longchamp is also planning to set up shop at CityCenterDC. Awesome news… well, perhaps not for my wallet. Which, actually, happens to be a Longchamp wallet.

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What I love about Longchamp is that it is still owned and managed by the Cassegrain family who founded it in Paris back in 1948. Oh, and I love their signature Pliage bags of course… but did you know Longchamp initially started as a leather goods’ company, selling leather-covered items for smokers then leather wallets and pouches? Now you do 😉 And I love that they are choosing to open in downtown D.C. as opposed to Georgetown or Chevy Chase where I would expect a retailer like Longchamp to open. It’s about time we become a shopping destination too!

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What you (and I) still don’t know though is when Longchamp will open its first Washington shop. Hopefully on time for fall… I could use a dark purple Pliage bag…

Nutella Pizza and More at Osteria Marzano

I ate a lot of good food over the past week. There was the banh mi at Bonmi and the tasty nibbles at Proof (including the amazing sticky toffee pudding cake) where I was volunteering during Jose Andres’ Dine-N-Dash fundraising event. I tried the Jersey Shore pizza with fried calamari at Graffiato for the first time and discovered Chef Sébastien Rondier’s new mediterranean inspired menu at Decanter. And of course all the July 4th weekend indulgences… Somewhere in there, I managed to make my way to newly opened Osteria Marzano at Metro Park VI building at 6361 Walker Lane in Alexandria. I must say, I’m glad I did! While I don’t seek out Italian food (or trips to Virginia), I definitely enjoy it when it’s good. And it was definitely good at OM! The 6,000 square feet, modern restaurant is owned by chef Carmine Marzano and his daughter Elena Pouchelon. I am a big fan of the wood oven pizzas at Famous Luigi on 19th street, which is also owned by the Marzano family, and Osteria Marzano’s features a number of great pizzas as well as antipasti, homemade pastas and traditional Italian main courses like ossobuco and veal scalloppine. In a “French-Girl-Gone-Wild” kinda moment, I ate my way through the tagliere di formaggi, a sample of different Italian cheeses. Le gasp right? They were actually really good, especially the fontina (I have a soft spot, literally, for soft cheese…) The juniper flavoured ham and wine cured dry salami were perfect pairings to the cheeses as we moved on to main courses.

Taglieri di formaggi with robiola due latti (soft cow and goat cheese), gorgonzola, fontina, pecorino toscano and parmesiano regianno served with homemade fig jam and Virginia honey.

Taglieri di formaggi with robiola due latti, gorgonzola, fontina, pecorino toscano and parmesiano regianno served with homemade fig jam and Virginia honey.

The charcuterie plate

The charcuterie plate

As far as pastas are concerned, the mezzalune di zucca, with a surprising sweet crunch added by the amaretto cookies was definitely my favourite though there are plenty I’d love to go back and try! Of course the dish I was the most eager to try was the Nutella pizza. That dish alone warrants a trip to VA! The crust is the same that is used for the savoury pizza but topped with a thin layer of hot chocolate-hazelnut sauce, whole pistachios and melted mini-marshmallows.

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Save room for dessert, the Nutella pizza is only one of the many desserts options! I really enjoyed the OM Sorbet, made of lemon sorbet in a hollowed Sicilian lemon and the bonet.

Apparently Nutella pizza is pretty common on pizzerias’ menu, though I had never seen one. I don’t know why all Italian restaurants don’t offer it. It’s a simple dish and who doesn’t love Nutella? Oh well, more reason to go check out Osteria Marzano I guess 😉

ps: Osteria Marzano is open Monday-Saturday. Monday through Friday they have a pretty amazing $10 lunch combo for those of you who may work in the area…


First Impressions ~ Le Diplomate

Apparently, I was not the only one who simply couldn’t wait to try Le Diplomate! The 260-seats brasserie just (soft) opened and it’s been swamped every night this week. And I know that because I’ve been there almost every night this week 😉

It’s no surprise. Ever since it was announced that Philadelphia restauranteur Stephen Starr would be taking over a former laundry mat building at the corner of 14th and Q, it became one of the District’s most anticipated openings. And I don’t care if Washingtonians were excited about it because of Stephen Starr’s fame and reputation, because of the location, or because they’re like me and always looking for good French food in the city… I’m just excited to hear the whole town buzzing over a French restaurant. Cocorico

Even though I’ve already been a few times, I’ll definitely be back at Le Diplomate soon. Actually, I have brunch reservations for this Sunday. I want to try their breakfast, lunch and brunch (especially the eggs boudin noir), as well as more items from the dinner menu. Maybe next week I’ll just show up at 9AM and won’t leave until they throw me out around closing time… or maybe not. In the meantime, here are some of the things I love about Le Diplomate so far, as well as some of the things I don’t love so much…

The space ~ There’s nothing not to love about the Le Diplomate‘s space. It’s brighter and more open than Bistrot du Coin, plus it’s got that great patio and I love love love the Ricard tables (though I don’t love the $10 price tag on a glass of a pastis as much…in France, it’s more like €2) I love the bistro style tables on 14th street, and can’t wait to sit there, a coffee in hand, reading Le Monde and munching on a croissant. And I adore the “blanchisserie de chemise” (that’s French for laundromat) green room. Basically, I love it all. Well, except…

…the women’s restroom ~ First of all, I love the little French details. The tiles on the floor are very similar to the ones at my parents’ Bastille apartment. The faucets are made in my hometown of Lille. I appreciate that. But I am not a fan of the very scantily clad ladies on the walls. If I wanted to see boobs, I have two of my own. The men’s restroom has pictures of half naked women, why can’t the women’s restroom have pictures of half naked men? That would seem fair to me… Maybe Le Diplomate could look to the restrooms at Estadio, just across the street, for inspiration. Now that’s a great ladies room!

The bread ~ We devoured the whole basket! C’est tout. Can I pick up a baguette to go on my way home? 

The food ~ So far everything I’ve had has been great: the moules frites (the mayonaise is so rich but so good!), the steak frites, the hand-chopped steak tartare (you can tell a lot about a restaurant by its raw meat), the lamb shank, the tête de cochon… I can’t wait to try the lavender duck breast, the grilled loup de mer (one of my fave fish!) or the bouillabaisse! I brought some French girlfriends with me so I could a) have a lovely evening with my copines of course b) get different opinions on some of the dishes we ordered. The only one we really weren’t impressed with was the escalope de veau and the foie gras parfait. To be fair, the foie gras parfait was actually a good dish, we just felt that it was mislabeled. Chicken liver mousse is not foie gras, so maybe give the dish a different name? 

Photo courtesy of Cecile Remington. Follow her on twitter at @petitefleur77

The dessert menu ~ At the end of a good meal, it takes an inspired dessert menu to make me want to order something more. I’m not sure Le Diplomate‘s current offerings are enough to tempt me quite yet.  The Napoleon seemed really interesting, but I can’t eat chocolate, so I’d rather order another cocktail. I have been following the pastry chef, Naomi Gallego, on twitter though, and I’m very encouraged by some of the pictures I’ve seen her post. And yes, I saw lots of macarons! 

The coffee ~ I first discovered La Colombe Torrefaction at their Tribeca coffee shop. Like Stephen Starr, La Colombe’s homebase is Philadelphia, though the owners (a Frenchman and an American) met in Seattle. I’m stoked to see their coffee make an appearance on a D.C. menu and I’m even more stoked that they’re opening an actual coffee shop in my neighbourhood.

The beer ~ Kronenbourg en tap? Yes, s’il vous plait! 

The cocktails ~ I love tennis and couldn’t resist ordering the Roland Garros (Beefeater, Bombier Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, lemon, lavender). It was good, but not as good as the Romarin (Absolut, rosemary, St. Germain and grapefruit). The Pamplemousse Pressé (sparkling wine, Combier, grapefruit and lemon) would make a great brunch alternative to a mimosa and was very refreshing on a hot spring evening. One of the waiters didn’t bring us water with our pastis, but pastis isn’t a common drink here and that’s precisely what soft openings are for 😉 

The service ~ I won’t judge Le Diplomate on service. Again, soft openings are there to sort out the kinks… besides, it’s a French restaurant, bad service would only make it more authentic!

Have you been to Le Diplomate yet? What are some of your early thoughts?

Who Needs Rankings when you have Paul?

Colonials, I have some good and some bad news for you. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard, George Washington University (which, full disclosure, is one of the main reason I’m in the US now… class of ’05… go buff and blue!) lost its U.S. News & World Report ranking earlier this week. Womp womp womp. But on the bright side, Paul Bakery is opening on campus, so you have at least something to celebrate!

The newest member of the Paul USA family at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW – Photo Credit: Larkin Goff for PAUL USA

When I was studying at this now unranked institution of higher learning, there wasn’t much around Foggy Bottom beside McFadden’s (already quite douchy btw) and the worst Friday’s in the country (still the worst I’m sure). The cost of my education, which was already very high back then, would probably have doubled had I had access to a Whole Foods Market, Sweetgreen, Circa and Trader Joes. On top of all these great additions to the neighbourhood, George Washington University students can now treat themselves to macarons, eclairs, tarte aux fruits rouges (my favourite… try it!) and crunchy sandwiches at the latest outpost of Paul Bakery. I don’t know if I’m thankful or jealous on that one 😉 

Get your tarte citrouille with a purchase tomorrow by being one of the first to drop by the new store at 2000 Penn 

GWU students (and Mexican Embassy, IMF, and World Bank staffers too…), on the other hand, should be thankful that Paul is opening its fourth bakery at The Shops at 2000 Penn this week. As part of the opening festivities (and upcoming Thanksgiving holiday) Paul is giving away 2000 tartelettes citrouilles (that’s a fancy French way of saying pumpkin tart) to the first 2000 people who drop by the new store and make a purchase this Monday, November 19th, 2012 (the store opens at 7AM). PS the tarte citrouille is only one of Paul’s seasonal offerings, there’s a tarte pecan-chocolate too, that I can’t eat sadly, and a pecan cranberries tarte too that I’m dying to try… hopefully when I visit my old stomping grounds around 8AM tomorrow… 

I need my macaron fix… tout de suite sweet ;-)

Don’t look to Jerome Colin to take a stand in cupcakes vs. macarons debate. Tout de Sweet, his new shop in Bethesda, features both bite size treats. Since my ears perk up every time macarons are mentioned, I just had to check out Tout de Sweet tout de suite and met up with Bethesda Foodie and One Vanilla Bean (you can read her review, and drool over pictures she took, right here) during their soft opening Saturday. If cupcakes take up a fair share of counter space inside the petite boutique, the outside belongs to macarons. Upon seeing the towers of mango, raspberry and chocolate macarons displayed in the window, I knew that Tout de Sweet and I would get along!

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Tout de Suite means “right away” or “right now” in French and the cute pun doesn’t stop at the door, with some of the sweet treats served inside also bearing clever names, like Moulin Rouge for the red velvet cupcake. Chef Colin, whose resume includes include stints abroad working at Alain Ducasse’s Michelin rated restaurants or locally at the Sofitel and Bourbon Steak, decided to open his own pastry shop to showcase classic european confections and contemporary American treats. In addition to cupcakes and macarons, Tout de Sweet serves muffins and croissants that can be picked up with tea or coffee to go for your morning commute and classic French cakes like a red fruit Charlotte (one of my favourite cakes EVER) or Fraisiers. All the pastries served are made on site by Jerome himself. His wife Sofia, who manages the shop, made sure we got to sample a little bit of everything, including a biscotti and the chocolate crunch, a rich layer of chocolate mousse served with a hazelnut crunch. Everything I tasted was excellent, and I loved loved loved the charlotte though I prefer when the cake with a red fruit mousse instead of the more typical vanilla cream filling.

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So the cakes are good, the atmosphere somewhat parisian… let’s move on to the important stuff: what did I think of the macarons? Well, I thought they were excellent. The perfect macaron in an expert combination of textures and flavours that many a baker has a hard time achieving consistently. Not Chef Colin. I tried the Mango and Raspberry macarons and both were lovely, though the buttercream fillings turned them into quite a messy eat, especially since they were a little more than a one bite treat! But hey, if you’re going to shell out $1.50 for a little taste of Paris in the middle of Bethesda, you might as well get two bites out of it, non?
Tout de Sweet is located at 7831 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, MD, just a few blocks away from the metro station.

Toh-mah-toh, toh-may-toh, tar-GET, tar-gé…

Remember how excited we all were when Target opened in Columbia Heights back in 2008? Well, it gets even better… The American discount retailer recently announced plans to accelerate its “PFresh” grocery offer from “super Targets” to smaller urban stores throughout the country. By the end of 2010, some 400 Target stores will be revamped to include the “PFresh” grocery section, which offers, you may have guessed it, fresh produce at low prices. And as of next Sunday that will include DC’s Columbia Heights store.

To celebrate the opening of the PFresh market on October 17th and generate a little buzz, the Minnesota-based retailer set up a hard to miss big vegetable truck right outside of the busy commuter hop that is Union Station.

During peak commuting hours, the truck was handing out grocery bags filled with all the fresh produce needed to make salsa (ie. onion, tomato, garlic). Throughout the day, a street team on 3-wheels bicycles was also handing out roma tomato seeds.

Fresh groceries? Urban location? Tomato seeds? Sounds like Tar-get is moving a little bit closer to its nickname of “Targé” and you won’t hear this Frenchie complain 😉 Next up on Target’s target? International domination! Well, sort of… Target is said to be looking at expanding to Puerto Rico (technically, not abroad) and Canada by 2015. Now, I can definitely picture a Targéin Montréal, eh…