Originally posted May 20, 2011.
Our recent two-week adventure to France and Switzerland comprised a number of parts, one of which was a fabulous six-day food and wine gourmet tour with Paris insider, acclaimed author, and former Chez Panisse pastry wizard, David Lebovitz (davidlebovitz.com). Only 10 folk were allowed to sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime tour de force, and I made certain that Debbie and I were first in line by prearranging money wiring instructions with our most excellent local Key West bank.
OK, so why David Lebovitz? If you are already one of the tens of thousands of gourmet food mavens who flood David’s site daily, you already know the answer. And if you are fortunate to have your own personal copy of David’s The Sweet Life In Paris, you really know what I mean. David has lived in Paris for about 20 years and knows all the folk who matter when it comes to fine hand-made French chocolate, gooey and not-so-gooey small-batch French and Swiss cheeses, Paris insider wine tastings, and, of course, David’s favorite neighborhood French bistros. Sweet Life is sprinkled with recipes as well as David’s amusing insights as an American adjusting to living with all the idiosyncrasies of Parisian life.
Paris is a huge, magnificent city, our favorite in the world by a long shot. And let me tell you, we did some walking. Don’t underestimate the importance of comfortable walking shoes, but, please, leave the white Reeboks at home. And guess what? The trains, subway, and busses, when running, run on time. Getting around the city on the subway or bus is easy for one and all, and traveling to Burgundy and Switzerland is a snap. David really kept us on the move, as he had planned many great encounters with all his food wizards. It was a breathtaking adventure.
Helping David coordinate our gastronomical adventures was Jeanette Hermann, an expat and travel writer. I was already familiar with Jeanette’s husband, Mort Rosenblum, from his best-in-class book Olives, The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit. Mort and Jeanette in fact grow olives in Provence when they are not in residence on their River Seine houseboat. Jeannette and Mort invited Debbie and me to tour their 130-year-old barge. Talk about a neat way to live, with straight-on views of both the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Mort, former editor of the International Herald Tribune and a noted war correspondent for the AP, joins Jeannette and David on the tours, and the couple adds tremendous energy and insight. Debbie and I look forward to renewing our new friendship with M&J when we return to Paris in September.
Also part of David’s fabulous French gourmet adventure was a select dinner with the gentleman whom former Gourmet mag editor Ruth Reichl explains has more intimate knowledge of what is going on in the Paris food world than anyone. Debbie and I felt that we already knew Alexander Lobrano (hungryforparis.com) through his Hungry For Paris, which really is the ultimate guide to the city’s 102 best restaurants. Alec’s folksy, humorous storytelling made us feel as though we had known him for many years. Hungry was our go-to restaurant guide last fall on our Burgundy biking trip and again on the front and back ends of our six-day April trip with David’s gang. Hungry has fast become one of my top-10 favorite books on any subject. I place Alec among a handful of writers I enjoy reading most, including James Beard, Julia Child, James Gleick, Whitney Balliett, and Stereophile’s Michael Fremer.
With a little of the flavor of our great trip in place and some super websites to hit and books to buy, you are now prepped for my part two on Paris, which I will post next week. Enjoy!
Debbie & Dick
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