Meet our newest contributor, Jill Gray. Ad girl by day, foodie by night, Jill is a Chicago transplant living in Paris who believes there’s no better way to understand a person, a city, a country, a culture than through its food. Armed with a cultural anthropology degree and a big appetite, Jill takes on Paris and the world.
Hi. I’m Jill. Before January 2011, the extent of my knowledge of France started with french fries and ended with french kissing. But when the job offer of a lifetime came my way – to move from Chicago to Paris, work on the Champs-Elysees, and travel the world – there was no turning back. So here I am, 9 months later, with 180,000 Air France miles and 180 baguettes under my belt, absolutely in love with the City of Love. Throughout my time in Paris and my travels abroad, I time and time again see how food is the entry ticket into people’s hearts and minds.
And today was no different.
Back in January, I was taken on my first day of my new job for lunch at a renowned place called Les Gourmets des Ternes, where Alain Ducasse eats steak frites, and where I was greeted by closed curtains, a sign that read “Full”, and a maître d’ that clearly found me lacking the stature of such a place, despite my reservation. Twenty minutes later and still waiting in the cold, I left for the neighboring Thai place in a huff.
But today, nine months later and accompanied by my boss on his last day of work before moving to New York, we were heartily welcomed and I was privileged to see the side of Paris that can’t help but make your heart melt.
Next up: the steak extra de filet, a magically thin cut of rare beef, covered in a pat of butter and a peppercorn cream sauce that has you begging for mercy after one bite.
I should mention the most notable course of all, and that’s called Jef, the proprietor of this magical place that is straight out of a Woody Allen movie. He greeted me with a knuckle in his teeth, and proceeded to tell me about the menu as he ran his knuckle from his mouth down his chest to what he clearly was referencing as “dessert.” I blushed and said “Merci,” and two hours and two bottles of wine later, he led me to the bathroom to show me his celebrity photo collection. Somewhere between Sharon Stone and Jack Nicholson, his tongue was suddenly in my mouth, my eyes widened, and I thought, “Only in Paris.” A city where food and romance are so intertwined, a girl ends up with a french kiss for dessert.
And then there was the real dessert. The Baba Rhum. A sponge cake that comes with a bottle of rum, a bottle of sugar syrup, a pitcher of crème fraiche, and bowl of raspberry sauce.
Les Gourmet des Ternes, you had me at Bonjour.
Les Gourmet des Ternes
87 Boulevard Courcelles
75008 Paris, France
01 42 27 43 04