Tried every clichéd Parisian experience in the book already? Sick and tired of ordering chocolat chauds and café crèmes and un verre de vin rouge? But at the same time don't want to be the one ordering green smoothies, chai lattes or a Coke in Paris?
Here are my top three Parisian-esque drinks you have to try out on your next trip to Paris. Classic French drinks at heart, with a little twist for those looking for une petite aventure...!
(By the way, just letting you know I found and paid for all of these drinks on my own, this isn't an ad of any sort and I don't get anything in return, it's just how I blog).
1. Blue cheese espresso
Yes you heard it right. STINKY SALTY BLUE CHEESE, with your ESPRESSO. It even comes out on a slate and a little fork! Your freshly made espresso will come served with a teeny side dish of crumbly punchy blue cheese (as you can see they aren't stingy on the cheese serving!)
Not for the faint hearted nor espresso worshipers.
When I first saw this on the menu my eyes lit up. I don't even normally have espressos as more than often my stomach pays for the caffeine hit afterwards. But this time I couldn't resist. Whenever was I going to be able to have a chance to try this weird ass concoction again in my life? Carpe diem Nhan! a voice whispered in my head (obviously my greedy FOMO brain talking over my stomach).
So what do you do with it? You break off a piece of crumbly, pungent blue cheese with your tiny fork then gently dip it into the espresso. You close your eyes, hesitate, then just put it into your mouth without blinking (because obviously, your eyes are already closed). You're then pleasantly surprised as it doesn't actually taste as bad as it sounds. You savour the fusion of creamy pungent salty cheese with the bitterness of the espresso and wash it down with a little chaser sip of espresso. Believe me, you'll curiously want to go back for more. It's a texture-based experience as much as a flavour-based one.
My Love for Paris tip? Be careful with the blue cheese floaties that will want to congregate in your espresso and pay attention to timing. Hot espresso with blue cheese is better than cold espresso with blue cheese. Just sayin'.
Where to get this drink?
3ter rue Marcadet 75018 Paris
Nearest metro: Marx Dormoy or Marcadet Poissonniers
(other places to check out in this area: rue Ordener with the ever changing street art graffiti wall, Grand Train and a little Cambodian restaurant tucked away towards Marx Dormoy way that I was taken to by my friend's Chinese Cambodian French uncle that I'll blog about another day).
2. Oyster hot chocolate
For those who aren't into seafood, to be honest I don't know how you'll respond to this one. For anyone who is like me who will actually go out of their way to choose the most bizarre looking thing on the menu, go for it! (and while you're at it, hit me up because I'm always looking for people who won't start getting nervous when I order a blue cheese espresso, or an oyster hot chocolate).
Now unlike the previous experience which was salty vs bitter, this concoction is salty-marine-like vs sweet. Just warning you in advance because it does play around with the mental FOMO stakes a bit. Even if you never have the chance to have an oyster hot chocolate again in your life, would you even want it..? For me, the voice inside my head was whispering louder this time "it doesn't matter, try it anyway, just for the hell of it". To which I replied: "ohhh ALRIGHT THEN!".
What did it taste like? A bit of an ambush really. Your mouth is in this constant state of wary, hesitant confusion. You take an initial hesitant sip because unlike the previous blue cheese espresso, you were able to visually register the piece of blue cheese surrounded in a little pool of espresso. I mean it was you after all who physically dipped it in there. But this time, the hot chocolate comes all prepared beforehand, oyster flavours already in place. You have no idea of how much there will be, how intense it will be, what form it will be in, liquid, pieces, chunks? If I were in an Asian restaurant, would I find a whole oyster in there..?
It's actually a little exciting, for me anyway. So you'll press your lips to the edge of the cup and tilt, ever so gently. "Ooh, it's not too bad" you'll say to yourself, "wow the oyster taste is so discreet, I can hardly taste it, all I can taste is the smooth yet not too thick and not too sweet hot chocolate". Then before you know it, BANG! The salty oyster taste ambushes your taste buds and your eyes will dart from side to side, your brain is trying to understand what's happening in your mouth.
You'll go in for another sip because your mouth feels confused and wants to get to the bottom of this. But you won't go in with as much gung ho as the blue cheese espresso second sip because once again, theoretically, this sip could have very different concentrations of oyster flavour. Your brain will hesitate, it'll feel like a déjavu but that voice in your head will win. Each time.
Where do you get this drink?
231 rue Saint Honoré 75001 Paris
Nearest metro: Concorde or Tuilieries
(the fancy side of Paris - be prepared for fancy prices too)
3. Coffee champagne
My third recommendation is the easiest one to try. It's a very pleasant experience and relatively sane in terms of choice. It also has a lovely side effect.
You see, Parisians love having 'apéros' - this kind of happy hour/after work drinks thing, except it doesn't have to be after work, it can be any day really. It normally starts around 6pm or so in the evening and lasts a couple of hours before they go to dinner. It consists of light drinks and nibbles and fits in well with the late dinner schedules of Europeans.
The problem for me, being Asian Australian is that firstly, I'm genetically Asian, which means my alcohol tolerance isn't fantastic but I can blame the genetic coding of my alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme expression for this. So basically, I feel the effects of alcohol faster than everyone else (I also have to wear foundation when I know there will be drinks involved that day). Secondly, in Australia, we have dinner at around 7pm unlike Europeans (you'll find some restaurants don't open until 7:30pm). So 'apéros' usually translate to me drinking on an empty stomach, going crazy on the nibbles because I'm starving by then and also feeling tired and sleepy from the alcohol by the time we get around to dinner.
So, this coffee champagne concoction is perfect. The champagne is light and bubbly and the coffee provides me with a gentle caffeine kick to keep me awake to get me towards the 9pm dinner time slot.
Created and made in house, you are served with a wine glass of champagne instead of your standard flute. A coffee infused ice cube is dropped into your glass before being served and as the ice cube melts, the fine bubbles dance away in your glass. Every refreshing sip is actually.. 'delightful' (and I rarely ever use the word 'delightful').
It's like a light, bubbly, chilled soirée being held in your mouth. Like a secret art exhibition opening but you and your close friends have snuck away up onto the rooftop with the artist for five minutes so they could show you something cool.
Where do you get this drink?
51 rue du Temple 75004 Paris
Nearest metro: Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville