About Secrets of Paris

American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

* Custom Travel Content 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Private Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

October 8-12
The theme for the 81st annual Fête des Vendanges, the grape harvest festival, is Montmartre Fête les Poètes. Events include a parade, grape stomping, the food & wine tasting village, cooking demos, live music, and tons of other fun stuff. Check out the entire program, the online boutique (get your commemorative bottles of wine!) and other info about the festival here.

October 12 
Stock up on fall reading material for a handful of euros and support the English-language SOS Helpline at their Autumn Book Sale today from noon-4pm at Orrick Law Offices (31 ave Pierre Ière de Serbie, 16th, M° Alma-Marceau). Paperbacks €1, hardcovers €2, all categories for adults and kids, as well as bake sale items. Those who want to donate books can drop them off during the sale.

October 16-17
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you an evening of Mendelssohn and Brahms exquisitely performed by a brilliant ensemble of young professional musicians. At the Institut FInlandais (Latin Quarter, 60 rue des Ecoles, 5th) from 8-11pm. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). The address will be mailed once confirmed; the performance on the 4th December is in the 17th; on the 5th December it's in the 1st. Register on the website; places limited. 

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

« The Naughty Paris Guide! | Main | Book Review: A Town Like Paris »
Thursday
Jan102008

Ringing in the Smoke-Free New Year with Absinthe and Parisian Punks

After drinking more than my weight in Champagne over the holidays (okay, that's not that hard), I decided to give up drinking for 2008. I was doing great until I was invited to an absinthe tasting last weekend at a local punk bar, Le Cantada II. How could I resist?

It was my first outing this year, and as I walked past the bars, cafés and restaurant of the Oberkampf district, I couldn't believe that it was actually true what I was seeing: all of the Parisians were smoking outside. Even though it's cold and raining, the terraces are packed full. I arrived at Cantada II (13 rue Moret, 11th), where goths, punks, and other mohawked misfits were also smoking outside the door. Inside the wonderfully smoke-free bar, I immediately spotted my group, looking slightly out of place among the regulars.

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Adrian, Daniel, Louisa, Olivier et moi

Among the gang are a few familiar faces, including pastry chef and cookbook writer David Lebovitz (on a much needed break from finishing his latest manuscript), "Mister Wine Tasting" Olivier Magny, restaurant reviewer and palace hotel concierge Adrian Moore, and Spring owner and chef Daniel Rose. Our hosts for the evening are food journalist Louisa Chu (you've probably seen her hosting food shows on American TV) and our absinthe expert (and maker) Peter Schaf.

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Absintheur Peter (and his wife behind the dripper).

Not only does Cantada II have the largest selection of absinthes in France (each one has its own unique taste), it also has all of the cool accessories, including the water dripper, slatted spoons and the right glassware. Peter brought a few bottle from his own collection for us to try, including a 100-year-old bottle made before the absinthe prohibition (the ban was lifted in France in 1992, FYI). As the glass was passed around, I asked "Anyone here have a cold?" But David pointed out that the 70% alcohol content would probably kill any germs anyway. Of course, he and Olivier were drinking wine, sheesh!

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David, looking particularly wicked with those glowing devil horns.

After our tasting (it doesn't take much!) a few people decided to try the bar's "Medieval cuisine". I thought I'd have a peek before ordering myself. Well, it smelled good....

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Ye olde grub (some sort of game stew).

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Tried without the flash to see if it looked better...

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"Get a close-up photo," says Olivier. Yeah...

I ate up the street at Nono instead. ;-)

 

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Reader Comments (6)

After eating that stew, I'm not surprised that people in the Middle Ages didn't live very long.
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
Um David, I REALLY hope you didn't actually eat that stew!!
January 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
Love this post. The shots of the food makes me glad I'm a quasi-vegetarian, and the one of David with horns is hilarious.
Did you really give up drinking? How could you, living in Paris?
I've taggged you! Check it out at http://vivelaslink.typepad.com/vive_la_slink/2008/01/tagged.html

Have a spicy Parisian day,
Cynthia
January 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia
I give up drinking every day, no problem. (Just not the WHOLE day, LOL!)
January 20, 2008 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
Heather, you are gorgeous
January 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteradrian
The stew was actually fine when it was hot - fairly tender chunks of venison, well seasoned with black pepper - but congealed rather unappealingly when cooled. Still better than most of the bar food in the world - hello, jalapeno poppers anyone? BTW why doesn't anyone warn me when they're about to take my picture and then post it on the internets? I was clearly in the middle of saying something of grave importance ya know. ;)

Heather, how's the alcohol abstinence going? Or was I your undoing for the year? :)
February 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLouisa

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