Illustration by Daniel Strongwater

At the end of the summer, we took a trip to the great state of California. We started in San Francisco and ventured down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles. We drove from SF to Big Sur to San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, to Los Angeles. We even drove north to Napa Valley. We drove approximately 500 miles. And, along the way, we ate and we drank as much as the California Republic had to offer in 9 days. We ate dry farmed tomatoes, figs off the trees, pig ears and chops, cuban and japanese food, sandwiches, tacos and croissants. We drank plenty of coffee and wine; Anchor California Lager, and some of the world’s greatest cocktails. We embarked on a culinary road trip. We hope you will join us for the ride.
 

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Washed Out–It All Feels Right
 

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I was fortunate to work in Paris during the months of June and July. Though my father is French and I was somewhat raised in France, saying that France is my homeland or first home always feels vague and a little false. I learned French grammar when I was twelve. I grew up eating rice syrup on toast instead of nutella. I still feel a strange combination of intense familiarity and detachment when in Paris. Paris is less sprawling than Melbourne (where I spent my childhood), and less cluttered and erratic than New York. Strangely, at first glance, it is indeed familiar, but as the days go by the city reveals unknown dimensions and layers to its temperament. Paris in the winter is a harsher place, the days are short and I feel mildly vampiric as I hurry along the cold streets seeking thick hot chocolates. In the summer, the city blooms and relaxes, it quietens and expands into long evenings of late sunsets.
 
I need to live in a neighborhood to become familiar with its stores, parks, restaurants, and the inhabitants of its streets. The neighborhoods I’ve lived in I can navigate with my eyes closed. But I am lazy, and it takes effort to push beyond my radius of comfort and venture into another neighborhood. I was living in the fifth arrondissement this year, a twenty-minute walk from Gare de Montparnasse where I can take a train to Rennes and visit my grandfather and cousins. I was steps away from the Luxembourg where I found constant excuses to cross through its beautiful alleyways or circle its high fences in the evenings when the streets are quiet and filled with the strong smell of plants and the chug of sprinklers. The same occurs with food, I have a list of regular favorites. I so contently eat baguette (tradition or banette) with salted butter, a slice of comté cheese and ham from the charcutier that by the end of my first week I often feel as if I’ve ingested an entire pig. There is the decadent falafel of rue des Rosiers that explodes with color and flavor upon your first bite, there is the tang of buckwheat in the galettes at Breizh Café, there is the richest, densest chocolate cake (I was told it carries ten eggs and a kilo of butter) at a small restaurant close to the Place des Vosges, there is the lemon cream al dente pasta of L’Altro, and so on. But this time, I looked for other places. I walked until my heels turned hard and heavy. By the time I sat down to eat I barely had the patience to wait for uneven French service. Though, miraculously, glasses of crisp white wine were happily delivered to the hungry patrons. These calmed our roaring bellies and by the time food arrived we were singing.
 

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——————————————————————————————Tuesday Dinner: Empire State South——————————————————————————————

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Ever since receiving Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South, a couple of months back as a gift, the thought of heading down to Georgia to experience one of his restaurants has been fresh in my mind. Luckily, one of my closest childhood friends, Matt Lipkins, is a musician whose band, The Shadowboxers is based in Atlanta, and Chef Acheson opened his newest restaurant, Empire State South downtown in that very city. Hugh Acheson is known for his modern approach to Southern Cuisine, using French and Italian culinary technique and applying it to the local ingredients and traditions. ESS is no different. We kicked it off with a rye based cocktail, a spiced up Sazerac, mixed with Aperol, orange bitters, antica and sugar, and an impeccable Charcuterie plate, possibly the best part of the meal. Five meats — bologna, terrine and a chicken liver pate in a small ball jar — accompanied by freshly baked bread, three homemade mustards and an assortment of pickled veggies. The waitress picked the rest, sending a plethora of small plates: Farm Egg w/ Crispy Rice & Bologna (pictured above), Prime Steak Tartare (pictured below), Crisp Pork Belly, Crisp Sweetbreads, Octopus & Pork Sausages, Foie Gras Ravioli, and a light Vegetable dish to cap it off. The food was paired with a gin cocktail w/ rosewater, and two Uinta Wylde Pale Ale’s, both fantastic for the heavy food we were ingesting. For dessert, we got a taste of the “Not Carrot Cake” made with Parsnip, instead of carrot, and two perfect double espressos to sober us up for the evening’s rehearsal. The Shadowboxers were gearing up to play a big show on the final day of my trip, and I was content be a spectator.
 
I must give a shout out to Jarrett Stieber, ESS’s brilliant butcher, whose hospitality and charcuterie plate were unprecedented. Thank you for showing us what Atlanta food is all about. Hotlanta, as it’s called may not be know for its food, but this was a spectacular start of two days saturated with innovative Southern cuisine.
 

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Déjeuner à Merci:
By Sanaë

 
We are in the Marais, but not in the narrow, lively streets where falafel restaurants and small boutiques attract Parisians and tourists alike. Instead, Merci is off the wide Boulevard Beaumarchais, on a fairly quiet and sober stretch of the street. But step inside Merci and you’re entering another world: there’s a used bookstore at the front with a café, and at the end of the cobblestone pathway you’ll enter the luminous store, designed as a loft. The ground floor boutique sells designer clothes, perfumes, jewelry and shoes. Upstairs you can find furniture and Muji-style materials — bedding sheets, tablecloths, and napkins — and a beautiful selection of Japanese notebooks. True, you’ll come across expensive waxed paper bags for sale, and sophisticated teapots for sixty euros, but there are also a few good finds, and I like to peruse the store for unusual gifts, such as portable, flexible vases, or notepads made of envelopes. The basement is my favorite place though, with the Merci Cantine, open for lunch from noon to 3pm. The restaurant looks onto a small green garden where Merci grows many of its herbs. There are wooden crates filled with vegetables and fruits. The menu is written in chalk on a blackboard. Most of the ingredients are organic.
 

 

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Enjoy the Serge while you read…

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Last nights in Paris are tough. There is something about the city’s energy, its history, its sights and smells that make it impossible to leave. To soften the blow, last nights in Paris are overtaken by the consumption of delicious and innovative French Food. Last year was Le Verre Volé, a restaurant in a wine store serving up gentrified provincial cuisine–for this occasion Sanaë and I finished a bottle of Vouvray together. This year it was Paris’ newest “bobo” bistro in the 10th Arrondissement, Inaki Aizpitarte’s Le Chateaubriand, a chef and his restaurant stacked with all the hype the world can offer. Maybe by oblivion or sheer naivete, I was unaware that Le Chateaubriand, was just ranked #15 in the WORLD on San Pelligrino’s list of top 50. Without preconceived notions of perfection, Le Chateaubriand’s 60€, mercurial prix fixe exceeded our expectations and awoke the magic that emanates from Paris’ cobblestone streets on last nights.
 
Yes, we were exhausted from a day of travel from the South; yes, it was a bit too hot inside despite the cool air outside; yes the wine arrived a bit too late, and yes the clientele was a bit over the top. But these were only blips in a two hour, 5 course meal filled with warm service, chilled watermelon soup and mint ice cream, funky whites and juicy reds, and proteins from the land and the sea.
 

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Soya: A Restaurant Review by Sarah Sahel
 
In a hidden street behind the canal Saint-Martin, signs indicate the imagined past lives of printing shops and ceramic manufacturers. Haussmanian façades contrast with balconies from the 1960s. A truck is parked in the middle of the road, delivering spare parts to the Germanic producer “Kurz.” It stands in the way of lost drivers who accidentally turned right on the rue de la Fontaine au Roi. Two boys chase one another on small bicycles, electing the street as their playground. The sky is heavy with dark clouds, and despite the early summer, rain is forecast for the afternoon. If the neighbourhood is lively, made of colourful bookshops and little cafés, the rue de la Pierre Levée (“street of the rising stone”, a rather unusual name for quite a common setting) remains calm with very few pedestrians. Yet, those who come here have been initiated into the pleasant world of Soya, an organic vegetarian restaurant hidden behind a black front and large picture windows.
 

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