A Private Lunch in Paris
As Robert and I walked up to her flat in the 16th, our jaws dropped when we looked out her window. It was a classic Parisian interior courtyard view but all of the creeping ivy had turned a brilliant red, for it was October in Paris. Having a private lunch in Paris at someone’s vrai home in a lovely Haussmannian building is truly something special, even for me who has been a part time resident for over 15 years. As you probably know, French women aren’t that easy to get to know. I’ve had the pleasure more than most because I work with many of them in the tourism industry but this lunch is an experience that anyone can have.
Chez Valerie are the words you need to remember to enjoy a private lunch in a Parisian home during your stay. Started just this year, Valerie who speaks perfect English, wanted to share her home, meet friends from around the world and feed them. She used to live in London so I guess she was used to an international scene. Valerie also does market tours before-hand in her neighborhood market of Passy. She and an American friend, Démétria are doing this business together – one dining room is in the chic family oriented 16th (Chez Valerie) and the other will be in the hipster area of the Canal St. Martin. These are early days for the business as they are still sorting out their precise offerings.
We were lucky enough to dine with both women and reveled in their generous offerings, a very large meal with delicious wine. It’s a lunch that could suffice as your one meal of the day because it is made up of four family style courses with seconds available.
Valerie is about my age or a bit younger and has three charming daughters who were actually home from school during the lunch but we didn’t hear a peep out of them until we were about to leave. I really liked the combination of one French lady and one American, it made things very relaxed and intimate. They don’t do this for groups, it is meant to be booked just for you and your party.
We began with “rustic” appetizers (which I’d call fancy appetizers) salmon rillettes, olive tapenade and foie gras on toast with a kir. We chatted in Valerie’s salon (living room) where they told me about their idea for these tours and lunches. They were both clearly quite passionate about the idea.
Soon enough we retired to the dining room, which is adjacent to the newly remodeled modern open kitchen. The view out the window was absolutely stunning as I mentioned. We started with a homemade quiche made by our American friend. It was a traditional quiche Lorraine made with lardon (bacon) and cheese.
The crust was perfect and the inside still a bit soft, exactly how I like it. The two ladies don’t aim to wow you with culinary perfection, rather they both enjoy cooking, and are very good home cooks who want to share classic French recipes with you.
I couldn’t stop myself and had another serving of the quiche, which I regretted later, not because it wasn’t tasty but because I was almost too full to enjoy my dessert. Robert (my hubby’s) eyes widened when he saw the tender pork loin that Valerie carried to the table. It was served with green beans and pumpkin purée and a savory pork au jus . I find pork tenderloin to be one of the most difficult dishes to get right because it often turns out dry. This pork had just enough fat and was cooked so perfectly that the salty, sweet (prunes) and moist flavors still make my mouth water when I think about it.
Madame was controlled with her wine, but the expat joined us as we poured out the entire bottle during lunch. Reminder; this was just mid-day and thanks to the wine there was not a lot of productivity later on that afternoon Chez Belau.
Word to the wise, don’t finish the bottle of wine if you can help it. Of course a cheese plate arrived and then we ended with a homemade apple tart and coffee. At the price of only 50 euros per person for lunch and the market tour, this is a unique experience with true value that you won’t find elsewhere in Paris.
Her tours are also offered by our partner,Localers