Category Archives: Very good food

Is this the best burger in Paris? Part 4, Blend Hamburger

I'm sure I've said it before, but this one is IT. The best, hands down. Goodness, those are some good burgers.

There are two Blend Hamburger joints in Paris. I went to the cosy place in the second arrondissement just in time for the menu midi. Burger, fries, and soft drink for 15€ is pretty good for Paris. I had a signature burger – beef, balsamic caramelised onions, bacon, blue cheese, emmental, and baby spinach. It was amazing. Boy had the spring burger – a seasonal special. It had beef, mushrooms, emmental, and baby spinach. It was also tasty. The online menu shows a different seasonal special (salmon, and it sounds amazing), and so it is safe to imagine that the special changes fairly frequently. Fries are skin on. I hope that one day all of the fries in the world will be skin on. That would be my favourite.

Perfectly rare. The French are good at that.

Everything served, proclaims the menu, is homemade. Beef is 100% French, and minced on the premises. Delightful. As we left, we couldn't resist the cookies, and took a peanut butter, and a double chocolate for the road. They were perfectly melty, and chewy, and oh my goodness am I glad I couldn't resist. The cheesecakes looked good, too, but you can't eat cheesecake on the go.

If you go to the website, linked above, and read French, there's a pretty good blog there, too. I am particularly loving the post on cooking typography. It's quite something.

Well done, Blend Hamburger, well done.

 

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Back to Britain

I've been back in the UK for about 3 days now, and, while I'm missing Paris an awful lot, I'm also enjoying being back with my family, and trying to organise the Durham-based next year. There are some flipping amazing adventures to be had in that tiny city.

Today I discovered an incredible ice cream parlour in Northumberland. Wheelbirks is a dairy farm in the middle of the best countryside in, well, the country. They have the oldest, and the only pedigree Jersey herd in Northumberland, and those are some gorgeous cows. The parlour is in a converted barn, and it is stunning. All ice cream is made at the farm, from milk from the Jersey cows.

Adorable table names.

The menu is great – the ploughman's lunch is served with an impressive wodge of cheese, but I couldn't resist the ice cream. Flavours included apple & caramel, maple & pecan praline, peach & raspberry, wild cherry, and a delicious jersey cream. I had maple & pecan and jersey cream, and it was the biggest ice cream I've ever eaten. Incredible.

Boy had wild cherry with peach & raspberry.

Out of the back of the café is an orchard with a wee play area, lots of space for sitting in the sunshine, and some very happy looking chickens. There's also space to visit and coo over the calves from a small distance. A little shop in the parlour stocks local treats. My favourites were the woven baskets, and I couldn't resist some unperfumed honey and beeswax lip balm, made in Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is not very far away at all. Milk from the herd and pints of the delicious ice cream are also available to purchase and enjoy at home.

I love my satchel, and this Union Jack printed chesterfield.

I also love the pictures on the wall, from the early days of the farm (one is from 1936!)
My Father's cycle club were here today as their rest stop mid-ride. I've never seen so many bikes. It was a thing of beauty.

I am fairly certain that Wheelbirks is going to become my new go-to place for all of my ice cream cravings.

Just beautiful.

 

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Is this the best burger in Newcastle? Part two: The Fat Hippo

The second, maybe superior, burger in Newcastle was found at the Fat Hippo. Good name. The burger menu here was more extensive than ARLO, but the menu was almost entirely burgers. We had jalapeño poppers and something else (mustn’t have been as good) with bloody mary dipping sauce, and then “Stinky Pete” burgers. The waiter warned us they would come pink in the middle, which is as they should be, but it was odd that it was more of a notification than anything else.

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There were also onion rings (because, um, onion rings!), and more chunky home fries made with the skin on (thank you, potato deities).

I had a Blue Moon and boy had a Jeremiah Weed sour mash, which was so good that I had to order one for myself.

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Jeremiah Weed glasses make me want to drink out of a straw on my (nonexistent) porch. Good stuff.

And now, for the token cute animal picture…

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Roger! My sister’s no-longer-a-kitten. He’s a good’un.

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Here comes the sun…

And other cheesy blog post titles.

Summer arrived with all guns blazing in Paris in early April. Now she seems to be hiding. I managed to get a little bit of tanning time (in the Parc Monceau – oh how I love you), and plenty of iced coffee and reading in the sunshine time. Now I’m just waiting for her to come back.

My favourite summer spot so far, aside from the aforementioned Parc Monceau, is the Canal St-Martin. Sitting on the edge, dangling my legs over the water, with an excellent coffee (my favourite in that area, of course, is Ten Belles) and a book is perfect.IMG_1796

This is my happy place. And those are my happy trousers. They look like pyjamas.

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This is another of my new favourite places, the Jardin du Palais Royal. It’s hidden away in the very centre of Paris, and always has a couple of lovely garden seats available. You know the ones, people fight over them in the summer in the Tuileries, and the Jardin du Luxembourg. You can always get a seat behind the Palais Royal.

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The Tuileries look beautiful at this time of year. Even if you can’t get a seat. It’s a popular spot for a reason. Go for a quick walk, then settle with your book elsewhere, away from the crowds.

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And we come full circle (triangle?) back to the Canal St-Martin. It’s great, if you can fight your way to a spot to sit in. If the sun around midday gets too hot (wishful thinking?) go sit inside at ten belles. They sell great soup. I had a really good non-Cornish pasty once, as well. The other, very popular alternative, is to order Pink Flamingo pizza, and have them deliver it to you at your perfect picnic spot. Yeah.

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Hurry back, sunshine.

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Is this the best burger in Newcastle? Part one: ARLO

I think it probably is. As far as I can tell, the Newcastle food scene isn’t exactly brilliant. There were 2 pretty good burgers to be eaten there, though. And we ate them in very quick succession (2 nights in a row. It felt good.) The first was in a cute tiny place I found by googling “food+jesmond” since I figured Jesmond was the place for a food revolution, if one was happening. We walked in the rain for about half an hour to find it. It was well worth the walk and the hunger – I thought boy was going to pass out.

ARLO is well designed, and was packed out when we arrived, at about 12:30. The barista station had a huge pile of amazing tempting cakey goodies piled up on top of it, which I succumbed to once the burger had been eaten. Nobody asked how the burgers were to be cooked, so they weren’t as pink in the middle as I would have liked, but they came quickly, and with a pile of amazing home fries, skin on, as they should be.

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Couldn’t resist taking a bite before I remembered to take a picture…

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There was also a board of hummus, crudites, tzatziki, and pittas. I’m not sure how I feel about the serving-on-chopping-boards thing. Yes, it’s very photogenic, but it’s also getting a little old, don’tcha think?

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Fries and chutney. Yes.

Since we were in Newcastle, here is a token photo of my beautiful bunboy.

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He gets more handsome every single day.

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Is this the best burger in Paris? Part three: Coffee Parisien

Just to get it out there early on, I think Coffee Parisien might just be it. The best burger, hands down, in France, not just Paris. There are a few branches scattered across Paris, and one of them is a mere 25 minute walk from my house, imagine that! I'm not allowing the closeness to make me biased. I've been to a branch further away, too, in St Germain, and it was just as good, if not better, than my semi-local in the 16th.

On my first visit I opted for an Obamac burger, a true tribute to all that is great about America (as far as I can tell). Eating it almost destroyed me (who'd have thought a double burger would be that much extra food?) but I triumphed, and managed to enjoy every last bite.

The Obamac – ace

The second time, I went for a classic bacon cheeseburger, and it was excellent. Coleslaw is, again, weirdly sweet (it must be a French thing), and fries are incredible (skin on is the way to go. I dont know why anybody bothers peeling a potato, ever). I got my burger properly “French rare” this time, as I ordered it. I took boy, and he had a tuna burger, which was great, and a welcome alternative in a world were beef is king. He also managed to have a stack of banana pancakes for dessert, and I had a sundae (the single burger obviously wasn't enough that time – should have doubled up). In our defence, there's a high chance we forgot to eat lunch that day. I think…

Tuna burger, hash browns, and an uh-may-zing vegetable side.

Apologies for yellow-y blurry shots. My tummy was in control of the iPhone, and wanted pictures over quickly. And the light was bad.

Banana pancakes with chocolate sauce and maple syrup. Beautiful.

 

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Is this the best burger in Paris? Part two: Koff

Burger joint number two is the wonderful Koff, which hides out in Montmartre. Boy was visiting for two weeks, and we went on quite the burger binge. One Sunday lunchtime, we were starving and wandering around Montmartre, when I realised Koff was around the corner, and I still hadn't tried it out. Winner.

Unfortunately Koff hasn't got a website, so I can't check a menu for our choices. I had a bacon cheeseburger (I think), and boy had a blue cheese covered burger. We ordered both rare, and that's how they came. Anglophone rare, not French rare, but that's pink enough for me. I had the best fries of my life – why doesn't everyone leave the skins on the potatoes? It's so much better that way. Boy had a GIANT hash brown. It was also delightful, but I think the fries were better.

Both burgers were excellent, toppings were great, and buns held together just the way they're supposed to. We didn't go for any sides this time, just a diet coke for me and a Canadian ginger beer for boy. Good choices all round.

Not ordering sides meant we had room for dessert. We shared a banoffee pie. I think I actually ate most of it, but boy was nice enough to pretend we split it evenly. It was delicious. Unfortunately it wasn't very photogenic. Sorry.

Then it was time for tea and coffee and a lovely walk.

The End.

 

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