Thursday, June 6

Honeymoon: Paris & Venice

I’ve taken a long break from writing to get married and go on my honeymoon to Paris and Venice. It’s been extremely difficult to adjust to “normal” life post-wedding and I’m just beginning to process the fairy tale three weeks I’ve shared with my husband, family, and friends. Words can’t begin to convey the deep emotions, love, and joy, I felt on our wedding day, May 18th. This is a re-cap of our honeymoon to Europe. These are some of our most memorable meals and moments on our two week trip to the most romantic cities in the world, but they only begin to scratch the surface of our once-in-a-lifetime trip.

We stayed at Le Grand Paris Hotel across from the Opera House in the 9th arrondissement but managed to make it to most areas of the city. My favorite neighborhood was the St. Germain area, which we visited several times during the week.
  • L'Avant Comptoir - Extremely tiny wine bar with outstanding small plates and daily specials. They don't take any reservations and there are no seats so we waited outside for fifteen minutes before they opened to get the best spot at the bar. Everything we had was mind-blowing, but some of our favorites were the ham and cheese croquettes, the whole shrimp, and the pork belly (especially when eaten with their free crusty bread and spicy mustard). This was our favorite meal of the trip and we can't stop talking about it.
  • Verjus Wine Bar - Their sit-down restaurant is one of the hottest reservations in town, but their no-reservations wine bar is also excellent. It's owned by an American couple and the staff is super friendly. We met a friend here for dinner and had some great wine and split a bunch of plates. Our favorite was the fried chicken (we ended up getting three orders).
  • Pascade - This was one of the most unique experiences of the trip. We came here for lunch and split two pascades, which are similar to a dutch baby or light pancake that's stuffed with a bunch of sweet or savory ingredients. We had one filled with duck, foie gras, duck egg, and greens and one with mango, banana mousse, and ice cream.
  • Pramil - We made reservations for this meal well in advance and treated it as one of our fancier meals of the trip. It has a Michelin star but the prices are extremely reasonable for their three-course offering. Everything was very rich and indulgent, including the foie gras with smoked eel, the white asparagus soup with foie gras ice cream, and the scallops with morels and potatoes.
  • La Fontaine de Mars - This is a cute, typical French brasserie that serves classic dishes in a very Parisian setting. It's a great spot for Americans looking for old-school French dishes, which seem to be disappearing off of most menus. Our favorites were the eggs baked with red wine and bacon, the duck confit, and the isle flotant ("floating island") dessert.
  • Rue Mouffetard - I had been dying to go to an authentic Parisian open market and this was a dream come true. The street is lined with farmers selling fresh produce, fish markets, bakeries, and all types of street food. We split a roast chicken and potatoes that we ate of a bag with our hands and it was one of the best food moments of the trip.

We had the best time staying at Hotel Ai Reali, a beautiful new hotel conveniently located between the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square. My husband lived in Venice for five months in college and was able to take me to all of his favorite spots around the city.
  • Pizza Al Volo - This was my husband's favorite pizza place when he lived here and we ate here nearly everyday of our trip. It's nothing fancy, but the pizza is excellent and locals are always stopping by to get a slice to go or to eat in Campo Santa Margherita. I tried a bunch of flavors, but my husband swears by the tuna and onion pizza (sounds odd, but definitely give it a try).
  • Mille Vini - Great wine shop down the street from the Rialto bridge. The owner was extremely knowledgeable and friendly and treated us to some generous glasses of free wine, homemade salami, and olive oil tastings. We took a bunch of products home with us, including a local red wine, limoncello, and a few bottles of olive oil.
  • Al Covo - Beautiful atmosphere, impeccable service, and delicious food made this one of our favorite meals of the trip. We both got the three-course option, which we felt was a great deal considering the quality. All of our dishes were outstanding, but some of our favorites were the clams and white beans, the monkfish, the vanilla panna cotta, and the buffalo ricotta cheesecake.
  • Da Fiore - This is the most elegant restaurant in Venice and the service and atmosphere was truly exceptional. It's a splurge to dine here, but the risotto with shrimp, zucchini, and squash blossoms was the best rice dish I've ever had. The John Dory with grapefruit sauce was also a favorite.
  • Alle Corone - This restaurant is located in our hotel but is turning into one of the best restaurants in the city. Prices were very reasonable, portions were large, and the service was extremely accommodating (they even gave us complimentary glasses of limoncello to end the meal). They offer a good mix of traditional Venetian dishes and classic fine dining. We especially enjoyed the sardines in sweet and sour sauce, the steak, and the rack of lamb.
  • Ostaria Boccadoro - We stopped here on a whim after noticing several locals dining out front and  it turned into one of our favorite meals of the trip. The restaurant is family owned and the food was all spectacular. The linguine and clams were the best we've ever had.