Baguettes and Jambon Sandwiches in Paris

I know. I’ve been terrible. I’ve had a crazy month filled with lots of work, lots of studying, and lots of writing (clearly not about food). Somewhere in the midst of all that, I was able to squeeze in a one week trip to Paris with LAW. But now I’m back, and determined to get back on schedule. I’ve been in the city for over a week now and the one thing I miss from Paris the most is their baguettes. We had a full baguette for breakfast every morning, along with a croissant and a pain au chocolat. Every. Single. Morning. I learned that not every boulangerie has amazing pastries. You have to go to the ones that are packed in the morning and where the bread is constantly coming out of the oven. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a crusty, warm, springy baguette… I distinctly remember my first great baguette in Paris. We were walking along next to the Montparnasse cemetery and I took a bite out of a piping hot baguette we had just gotten off of Rue Daguerre.The crust made that amazing crackle sound every bite I took. Delicious.

In addition to baguettes, we had a lot of sandwiches.
    The classic French bistro sandwich, Jambon Beurre orJambon Fromage, is simply a baguette of some sort with thin slivers of meat and either cheese or butter. I didn’t know beurre meant butter initially (I should’ve because it was attached to every pastry name) and thought I was eating cheese when I was actually eating butter because the butter is always so thickly sliced and is more white in color than I am used to. As much as that does not sound appealing, trust me, it is. The butter is creamy and surprisingly light with a soft mozzarella cheese-like texture. We had these as snacks throughout the day. All of the boulangeries carried them and so the bread is always fresh.

LAW made a good point that the reason why we love these sandwiches so much is their bread to meat ratio. More bread is always better in my opinion (reason why I kind of like Subway… don’t hate). The meat-heavy sandwiches in the US are just too packed with fillings. I usually like a slice or two of meat and a thin layer of cheese, whereas at a deli in NYC, they’ll give you ten slices of meat and five slices of cheese. I love the Parisian sandwiches for the blandness of the baguette paired with just a little creaminess from the butter/cheese and a tinge of smoky saltiness from the jambon. The meats and cheeses in Paris might also just be of higher quality and have more intense flavors so they can afford to just use minimal amounts. So one of our last days there, we looked up some of the best places for these sandwiches and found Le Petit Vendome located right by Place Vendome (8 rue Capucines).

The menu wasn’t translated so we had to infer what the sandwiches were based on the little French we had learned at this point. This up here was an amazing cured jambon sandwich with creamy goat cheese with black pepper. Not only was there nothing wrong with this sandwich, everything about it was right. Bread was amazing. Sandwich was made fresh (unlike at most boulangeries where everything is pre-made) so cheese didn’t make the bread soggy. The meat was smokier than most meats we had and really complemented the goat cheese, which was creamier and less sharp than most that I’ve had.

I’m still not too sure what I had pictured here because the type of meat fell into the unknown-French-word category. What I do know is that it was damn good. The meat was almost like a porchetta but with herbs added. It was thicker and fattier than the smoked jambon and had only a thin layer of cheese with it. Because there was less cheese, the focus was of course the meat, which happened to be very porky. I prefer the smoked jambon purely because I am not a huge meat person and the ratio of bread to meat in this one was slightly off for me. But I can assure you that anyone who loves pork would definitely love this.

    We loved the breads, meats, and cheeses so much we even got some for our hotel room. We also picked up these amazing jars (glass jars too) of pudding made by Nestle. The pudding was so incredibly creamy and had a nice, smooth, non-gelatinous texture (which bad pudding in the US often has). We had these as late night snacks while we planned our adventures for the next day.

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