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I finally had a chance to sort through all 1800 pics (!) to share our French gastronomic experience. These won’t mean much to anyone here looking for Lehigh Valley restaurant reviews, but who doesn’t love looking at photos of great food?!

Our first meal – a French breakfast and an “English” breakfast. The omelet made it “English.” We’re big breakfast people so we had to get used to the limited selection. You quickly learn to love a toasted baguette with a slathering of butter and jam.

Our first dinner. The steak haché (chopped steak) with a fried egg is a very common menu item. And the first of many plates of pommes frites.

The day trip to Champagne is highly recommended.

Two ever-present elements – sandwiches made for walkin’ around and Orangina.

Gotta love the veggies steamed and served in the mason jar.

A disappointing dessert – fromage blanc with honey. It was more acidic and clumpy than expected. And my strawberry milkshake was really runny and really expensive.

Lunch at The Louvre. My wife didn’t capture the cool little prawns or the slab of gelatinized seafood on the far side of the plate.

My beef bourguignon was amazing but it looks like crap in this pic – literally.

A visit to the Mouffetard market to assemble a picnic meal.

Does including the feathered head make this bird more appetizing?

Stumbled upon a nice Italian restaurant near the Trocadero across the river from the Eiffel Tower. A pile of seafood – my wife’s favorite. And a disassembled lasagna with smoked salmon for me. Fantastic.

A delicious banana and Nutella crêpe and a perfect waffle.

I’d seen this “flan natur” at a few patisseries and finally got one on a walk around Montmartre where we had another picnic outside Picasso’s studio.


One of our favorite meals just off the Champs-Élysées. The French cook steak much more rare than Americans are used to, and our waiter asked me if I wanted it “medium” – our “rare.” I surprised him by requesting it “bleu” – the descriptor for super-rare that i’ve been waiting to use for 15 years. I’d guess they cooked it maybe 30 seconds on each side. I loved it.

A common dessert option is the “tarte du jour.” Today’s was pear – simple and perfect.

Another banana and Nutella crêpe. Not as good as the first.

I had my eye on these enormous meringues near our hotel. This one was raspberry. Not as good as hoped.

We finally made our way over to Berthillon and waited in a looong line to get my hands on some rhubarb sorbet. Then they ran out of it when we were 10 feet from the counter.

We ended up with hazelnut, chocolate-orange, pear and almond. Don’t you love these double cones?!

Duck confit and frites in disc form. So great.

A kinda OK backdrop for our last picnic. A selection of Italian meats and cheeses plus a rhubarb-raspberry tart.

A return to Berthillon in search of rhubarb. Also coconut, nougat and dark chocolate.

For our final dinner, we tried to find a brasserie with the 3 French dishes we’d not tried all week – then we ordered all of them! Steak tartare, escargot and onion soup. Seems like a weird combo but it all worked together somehow.

In general, we found the food to be rather simple and straightforward. Flavors were fresh and clean without a lot of seasoning. We visited only moderately priced bistros, choosing not to splurge on any of the pricier restaurants where you’d likely find a greater level of complexity in their haute cuisine. Not surprisingly, due to the simple prep, the bistro food often arrived within 4-6 minutes after ordering. Impressive. The one downside was the amount of smoking in the outdoor cafés (and everywhere else for that matter). If you want to people-watch and absorb some Paris atmosphere be prepared to absorb a bit of secondhand smoke as well. You get used to it after about a week. Then it’s time to fly home. sigh

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Stopped by Diner 248 out on rt. 248 (duh) in Palmer last week. We were on our way to look at dishwashers at Sears cuz our old workhorse just crapped out on us and we needed a place for a quick bite. Diner 248 used to be the mediocre Jack Creek Steakhouse. We ate there once and there was nothing remarkable about the menu or décor, yet the place always looked packed on weekends. Not sure why they went out of business.

From what we remembered, the layout was pretty much unchanged. Apart from the dessert case just inside the door, there’s very little about the place that seems very diner-ish. There’s a large barroom on one side of the building and a fairly standard large dining room on the other side. The table spacing, lighting and lack of noise stands in contrast to the more hectic, informal vibe that we find so appealing in diners. The menu did have the range of options we love about places like Key City diner on rt. 22 in P-burg. (How can a kitchen offer 100 options including gyros, eggplant parm, roasted chicken and 6 kinds of soup? And prepare them equally well? Mindboggling.) Diner 248’s menu wasn’t quite that extensive but there was enough to fit any mood. One thing we noted was that they didn’t serve breakfast all day – so no late night short stacks with a side of sausage i guess. Bummer.

The liquor license was definitely a plus though. My wife ordered a Dark ‘n Stormy (they shoulda made it with Gosling’s) and I got a Sam Adams Belgian ale. We were in a bit of a hurry so we went straight to entrées. I went with the pork chops and filling smothered in cranberry chutney. I subbed a bowl of French onion soup for the side salad. My wife got the crab cakes and a salad. Overall, the food was good, the portions and prices were fine, but they could use a bit of plating finesse. Hell, most diners will at least throw down a sprig of parsley.

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  • bakery-style butter cookies + the new book is here!
    Today my second cookbook, five years in the making, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites, at last leaves my noisy, messy kitchen and, perhaps, makes its way into yours. I am, as ever, a nervous wreck. I hope you love it. I hope you find a new favorite recipe (or 5) in it. I hope you make the granola biscotti and have them on hand […]

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