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'Le Brunch' in Paris


When lawmakers on the floor of the Assemblée nationale (French version of the U.S. Congress) in Paris want to kill a bill or proposal, all they have to do is throw out the word 'anglo-saxon' and the legislation is dead in the water. Fortunately, not everything American or British in France these days meets the same fate. In fact, there are many 'anglo-saxonismes' that have become le dernier cri (the latest and greatest).

For the past several years, 'le brunch' has been très chic in Paris. You can find it in all sorts of flavors including asiatique, scandinave, cajun, italien et cubain (Asian, Scandinavian, Cajun, Italian and Cuban). My current favorite, however, is the French-styled brunch at Mariage Frères tea salon and tea shop in the sixth arrondissement.*

I recently spent a leisurely Sunday here with a group of good friends. The salon de thé is on the second floor and features colonial décor with an Asian flair. While I am tempted by the menu offerings that change according to the seasons, I can never pass up le brunch classique which consists of oeufs brouillés au sel Matcha, saumon fumé, crevettes, brioche toastée avec gelées de thé, choix de pâtisserie et thé (scrambled eggs with Matcha tea sea salt, smoked salmon, shrimp, brioche toast with tea-flavored jellies, choice of pastry from the dessert cart and tea).

Even though the dessert cart is overflowing with tempting treats, I always default to the delectable tarte tatin (upside down apple tart) that is served with crème fraîche tinted slightly green with Matcha tea.

And then there's the tea.

Mariage Frères has been in the tea business since the 1850's and offers a wide variety of teas from all over the world. A couple of years ago, I was ordering le classique (classic brunch), and the smiling, young waiter-he's now been promoted to maître d'-asked me what type of tea I wanted to go with it. I was at a loss to choose from the more than 500 selections available, even with the tea guide "L'Art français du thé" "The French Art of Tea") that is brought to your table along with the food menu.

And then, voilà. I realized I could depend on him to choose the tea just like choosing wine with a sommelier. I told him I wanted an interesting green tea that was more floral. Immediately, he advised a new offering called "thé vert en Provence." Well, talk about serendipity. Provence is one of my heavens on earth so his tea recommendation was just parfait (perfect).

After brunch, I like to browse the tea shop below--there is even a small tea museum in the cellar. So I can take a bit of France home with me, I stock up on 200 grams (metrics--this is Europe after all) of the thé vert en Provence. And plan my next brunch moment in Paris.

* Mariage frères has three Paris locations. The Left Bank address is at 13, rue des Grands Augustins in the sixth arrondissement.


French Take-Out ~ La France à emporter™

You can buy loose teas, tea bags, tea-flavored jellies, teapots and all sorts of tea-related items in the Mariage Frères shops in Paris. They travel well and are a great way to bring Paris home. If you need a French tea fix in the U.S., Mariage Frères teas and tea books are available at The Cultured Cup in Dallas, Texas. They will ship anywhere in the U.S. You can contact them at 1-888-VIP-TEAS or online at www.theculturedcup.com.

Cultured Cup


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