What started as an introduction to language class in Middle School burgeoned into a lifelong obsession with the French, their language and a thirst for a European dream. L.A. is just a stop-over.
En route, I'm submerging myself in authentic French flavor. This is why I've ended up at Monsieur Marcel. This tiny grocery store sits within the historic Farmer's Market, adjacent to their associated restaurant with the same name. Mr. Marcel offers familiar stock to any French expat, such as wine, cheese, cutlery, napkins, champagne, chocolates, baguettes and the ultimate, popular French cookie, the Macaron (in their traditional assorted colors). The restaurant has a charming candlelit wooden bar and has arranged it's seating 'dehours' (outside), underneath a canopy. It's a romantic, isolated spot among the bustle of the other vendors located within the Farmer's Market precinct. I recommend the Fondue (the best I've ever had).
There is also Cafe Flore. A favorite of mine off of Robertson Boulevard, a high-end shopping district. It looks humble but their prices, cozy atmosphere (although admittedly corny thanks to water paintings and gold frames on the walls), great food (for both presentation - artistic, colorful and befitting much higher prices - and taste), perfect portions and French waiters are worth a visit. If you're in Denver, Colorado, try Le Central.
L.A. is full of French restaurants that are very romantic but prices are high and you don't get what you're paying for. Spiritland Bistro is a quaint restaurant in Santa Barbara. On their menu is the lavender honey Creme Brulee. This twist on the classic dessert is noted in many reviews, but once it was in front of me disappointment set in. The usual crunchy blazed sugar crust was soft, the cream inside was marginal. I wanted my ten bucks back. There are a hundred French gourmet options in L.A., not all of them genuine but rather American interpretations of the authentic product. So we're back to Mr. Marcel and his Macarons.
Below are some of my most recent purchases. Bought primarily for their whimsy and color - a quality I find prevalent in French products, fashion, television and movies. It's fun to indulge.
The display case at Monsieur Marcel