As autumn approaches I have my eye on Paris. October is my favorite time of year in the city I love, particularly when it comes to seasonal food. Of course, in my opinion, the food in Paris is wonderful throughout the year but some of my favorites are available during the time when the leaves are turning colors, the air is getting brisker (and Parisians are getting grumpier!) and the layers are being added (by the way, here is my guide on how to pack for Paris in the fall!). Here are my 5 favorite fantastic fall foods that I enjoy in France and at home.
Chestnut soup/Soupe de marron:
I love soup. Mr. Misadventures makes a big pot of some kind of vegetable nearly every Sunday. But my favorites always seem to be the traditional autumn harvest foods like squash. I never tasted chestnut soup until I moved to France and had it in restaurants in Paris my first autumn. It is wonderfully nutty and creamy and versatile too. You can throw in extra pieces of the chestnut as a topper, porcini mushrooms, croutons, or prosciutto, as well as a little dab of cream. It is rich and yummy and really healthy.
When you can’t travel to Paris or France for the fall, my friend A HedgeHog in the Kitchen (who lives in the 9th Arrondissement in Paris and has shared her favorite local picks) has a great recipe for French Chestnut soup.
It is limitless what you can do with mushrooms! But I love when Fall comes around and you start to see morilles (morels) appear on menus. I personally like them in pasta with a light cream sauce, but Mr. Misadventures makes a wonderful chicken dish with morilles and walnut wine. In addition, I think that the French make the best omelets in the world and there is nothing better or simpler than a mushroom omelet with fine herbs. I am not a big pizza fan, but I love a minimalist pizza (thin crust, sauce, light cheese) and tons of mushrooms piled on, yum!
Want to recreate these dishes at home? It’s possible. Morels are grown in the U.S. mainly in Tennessee, but also Michigan, Wisconsin, and Vermont so you can find them in grocery stores in the fall. Try making tagliatelle with morels, an easy French recipe from Chez Bonne Femme. Or make the classic chicken with morels from French Mum Cooking.
In the same family, but not in the same price range, the truffle is something spectacular to behold. If you want to experience a real treat, head over to the Maison de la Truffle in Paris (there are 2 locations) where you can purchase a sampling in their store or eat in their restaurant. The three classic ways to eat truffles are in an omelet, shaved over pasta or french fries, (or if you are lucky enough to be invited into someone’s home in the Périgord, you may have it simply sliced on to a slice of baguette!) but there are also people doing very creative things with this little tuber!
On my personal bucket list is to visit and stay in one of those hotels in the South of France and have an entire meal of truffle dishes served to me from beginning to end (we ended up doing that in Tuscany and ), but until then, there are plenty of great places to eat truffles in the Fall in Paris!
This one is a little more difficult to reproduce at home. Many restaurants import truffles from France, you can buy products in Paris and bring them home to enjoy later or you can partake of truffles harvested in the US, like in Oregon. You need one thing, a slicer like a cheese slicer or mandoline.
Gibiers (la Chasse)/Venison, etc:
Sorry, I don’t know the English equivalent of this type of food. It is venison, wild boar, those kinds of Fall hunting meats. These are not so easy to get in the U.S. depending on where you live but are plentiful in Paris and France. In fact, you can get these types of meats year-round at restaurants like A la Biche au Bois near the Gare de Lyon train station. I ate there many years ago and still think about that place. David Lebovitz wrote a post about it that I still check it out from time to time! It is difficult to explain the taste, to me, it tastes, well, like meat, but crisper, more natural.
You can get game meat in certain regions of the U.S. we don’t usually make it at home, but rather go out to restaurants that specialize in this type of meat.
Spaetzle (or Spätzle):
The traditional side dish served with gibiers is spaetzle and I love it! It is an egg noodle that is chopped into small pieces and boiled in water. It can be prepared very badly, but when it is good, it is very, very good! I have yet to see this dish in the U.S. (doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist) and I definitely crave it from time to time. The best I ever had was in Switzerland, but I have had some excellent servings in Paris as well. It is the perfect delicate accompaniment to hearty Fall meats.
Although spaetzle’s origin is German, it is loved in France and there are many French (Alsatian) recipes including this one from my friend Mardi of Eat Live Travel Write who made Dorie Greenspan’s version of herb spaetzle.
Those are my favorite French Fall foods to eat in Paris. What are yours? Do you make any of these dishes at home? What are your favorites from abroad?
And if you are heading to Paris anytime soon, consider purchasing a Paris Pass before you go, it will save you money on many Paris attractions, leaving you more money for French dinners!
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