Food

The Author Of “The New Paris” Tells Us Where The French Go To Feel At Home In The Big Apple

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Lindsey Tramuta just wanted to get home. It was the last day of the writer’s book tour for her recent bestseller, The New Paris, which makes the case for the City of Lights as a hotbed of contemporary influence and inspiration. Tramuta had cut the tour short, and for good reason: France’s presidential election fell the day after her return, and it would be her first as a French citizen.

A Philadelphia native, Tramuta has lived in Paris for the last decade and now holds dual citizenship between the two countries. She returned to the United States last fall to vote in our own election, and she recalls her feeling of heartbreak “not that Hillary lost, per se, but that I had misjudged the values and morals of many of my fellow Americans.” As she considers France’s state of affairs and the alarming rise of populism, she sees clear parallels between the country in which she was born and the country she now calls home. “The book is my priority,” she says, “but I can’t not be there for this monumental election. I’ve gone through the trauma of the U.S. election, and now this one. My stress levels can’t handle it, and I’m looking forward to [the election] simply to know where things are going.”

Fortunately for Tramuta, Emmanuel Macron was declared the president-elect of France, winning by an overwhelming margin. Post-election, Tramuta is experiencing renewed relief and hope, calling Macron a “champion for the growth of the creative class,” with his advocacy for start-ups and innovation in a country that has historically been risk-averse and resistant to change. “This is precisely the kind of culture the country needs to be nurturing to move forward,” she says.

Tramuta’s own urge to share the stories behind the rise of Paris’s creative class came from observing a sea of change she says was impossible to ignore. “The food scene was obviously the most visible area of change,” she says, noting the fleet of neo-bistros that docked in her neighborhood of the eleventh arrondissement, ranging from a Korean barbecue spot to burgers with an international spin. Not only were the menus un-French, the dining experiences also fell short on tradition, with interiors trending toward clean modern lines instead of the comfortably familiar bistros culture of French yesteryear.

“What really did it was a series of conversations with people who said they were sick of doing what they were trained in school to do, and that they were going to go off and pursue a passion,” says Tramuta, citing a local cheesemonger who left an unfulfilling career in finance as an example. “I couldn’t not dig deeper to understand what was motivating some of this change.” And The New Paris does just that, examining the people and places fueling the current Parisian culture, from the ascent of a vibrant cocktail scene to the dining movement nicknamed “bistronomy.”

As for our fair city, Tramuta sees similarities with Paris. “It’s a place that can be so inspiring and full of history and immaculate, and then you turn a corner and it smells like urine,” she says pointedly. “It’s the imperfection that I appreciate, as they’re places with such character, and that’s what I like.”

Lindsey Tramuta’s French Finds in NYC

Arcade Bakery
“For baguettes and rustic breads, I would come here. I find their selection really sharp — they’re doing few things, but doing them really well.”
220 Church Street

Aux Merveilleux de Fred
“This is a very small shop in the West Village that sells phenomenal cream-filled meringues.”
37 Eighth Avenue

Compagnie des vins Surnaturels
“A wine bar in Nolita opened by the Experimental Cocktail Club, which is French-owned and has locations in Paris and London.”
249 Centre Street

Dominique Ansel Bakery
“I come here for his croissants or the kouign-amann, a Breton pastry [made with brown sugar], which is phenomenal.”
189 Spring Street

La Maison du Chocolat
“For chocolate, I would go straight [there]. They make the most spectacular ganache, and they do a lot of beautiful seasonal flavors. The creative director, Nicolas Cloiseau, is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, which is the highest and most prestigious honor given to the best craftsmen of France. At his level, you don’t want to just do the same-old all the time. He pushes the boundaries to discover new pairings and flavor associations that might be less expected with chocolate.”
Various locations throughout New York City

Ladurée
“The new creative director is starting to overhaul some of their macarons. I used to find them too hard and crunchy. I’ve found them to be far more enjoyable in recent months — I like a mix of slight crunch on the shell, then for the ganache to be quite soft, so it’s a double-texture kind of experience when you bite into it.”
398 West Broadway

Le Coucou
“[Chef Daniel Rose] is playing up meat dishes you’re not likely to see in the U.S., like veal tongue with caviar and crème fraîche, squab, or veal head. He’s perfecting some of these heavy Gallic classics and doing them in a lighter way. I had the black bass in a red wine sauce, which makes you think, ‘Fish and red wine sauce?’ But it was absolutely beautiful.”
138 Lafayette Street

Mace
“Nico de Soto, who splits his time between New York and Paris, is one of the most well-known French mixologists, and he opened Mace; he also co-owns a bar in Paris. The cocktail scene in Paris came so much later — it’s only seven or eight years old. Nico is big on trying to use unusual flavors and ingredients. It’s not the kind of place where you’re going to get a classic anything. You’re going to put your trust in his and his team’s hands and be surprised.”
649 East 9th Street

Mah-Ze-Dahr
“I went ballistic when I went, as it’s the closest American bakery I’ve found that does high-quality French desserts. [Chef] Umber Ahmad does amazing choux (cream puffs), fruit tartlets, and sablee cookies (French shortbread). The French have lightened the sugar count in most of their pastries, and it’s more French-level sweetness than American.”
28 Greenwich Avenue

Maman
“I like this spot for a more casual canteen. It’s French-owned, and the food is very fresh, lots of big salads and lovely quiches.”
211 West Broadway

The Ten Bells
“This is a wine bar with mostly organic wines, which are having a big moment in Paris right now. The small-scale feel of the place, with the small plates and laid-back intimate space, reminds me of Parisian wine bars.”
247 Broome Street

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