We booked the Eating Europe Paris food tour, and boy, was it different. For one thing, it's now billed as Chef PJ's Montmartre Food Tour, and for another... well, I'll start by saying the 3 hour tour lasted ... 5 1/2 hours! Yes, the tour started at 11:00 (actually about 10 minutes later), and we broke up laughing and hugging at 4:30.
We were met by Chef PJ, who gave us a brief history of Montmatre and its relations with the city of Paris. Then we were off to the shops.
The first stop was at a small bakery where we had coffee and pain au chocolat. That was the last thing we had to eat or drink for about three hours. Not your typical food tour! Instead, at each stop, PJ talked about what was sold, where the proprietor sourced his or her goods, what made these products special, and what we should look for when shopping.
We visited 2 bakeries, a butcher's shop, a wine shop, and a cheese shop. Oh, and a chocolate shop, but that came later. Each of these shops was privately owned, and at least two of them were owned and operated by women. PJ did purchase about 6 loaves of bead and an assortment of cheeses at the shops.
He also threw in a couple of famous Montmartre landmarks, and kept us laughing with his stories of growing up in the neighborhood.
Finally, when several of us were seriously considering jumping ship so we could get something to eat, he opened the door to his own restaurant, Le Petit Moulin des Mauvais Garcons. Our places were already set, with escargot plates and utensils waiting.
We still weren't fed yet, though. We were given a quick lesson in wine tasting. He poured each of us 2 whites, for us to compare, describe, and rate. Then came the escargot, 6 each, which were among the best either Stan or I had ever had, and plenty of bread to sop up the juices.
Then came two more wines, red this time, followed by plates of delicious Boeuf Bourgognion, his own recipe, with at least three secret ingredients, one of which he refused to tell us.
Then came the cheese course, with four delicious and typical cheeses. The bread and cheeses were those he had purchased on the tour.
He then gathered us all up again, for the last stop, the chocolate shop, where everyone selected two different kinds of goodies.
There were several other surprises as well, but we're sworn to secrecy. "If you post what I gave you, everyone will expect it," he said, although I suspect this was just a well-rehearsed line.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience, well worth the €99 cost. My only grump was having been told to "come hungry," then having to wait hours for something to eat. I had skipped the pain au chocolat because of a food allergy; had I known there would be nothing else coming, I would have asked PJ to substitute something I could eat.
But it was a delightful day, with a small group (6 people; 8 had signed up but there we 2 no-shows), good food, a lot of good wine, and even more good tips about buying food and wine.