Super Barquette: a Parisian food festival dedicated to the most forward thinking, delicious-seeking street food restaurants and vendors the whole city over. A spring Saturday deserved nothing less than a swift metro ride to this food festival on the Wanderlust terrace in the 13th arrondissement: to feast alongside the city’s hippest, most beautiful twenty-somethings. There’s just a je ne sais quoi about eating quality cuisine in high-waisted fashion-forward pants and a scarf amongst other like-minded, scarf-wearing individuals, non?
This street food festival took place from April 11-13th, and hopefully it will be an annual event! I arrived to the festival and waited—first and foremost—in line for the craft beer representation: a Microbrasserie entitled “Distrikt.” So strange, really, to see artisan beer swooping into Parisian territory, and yet each day the Super Barquette festival featured a different craft brewery. France’s traditional age-old culture rests with their 1664s and their Heinekens—light and tasteless beer. A mortifying selection for anyone searching for a good pint. (The wine selection in Paris, of course, cannot be beat. No earnest alcohol-scoffing, here.) Understanding I was American, the man selling beer yelled “Choose Craft!” raucously over the crowd. It’s clear there’s a loud, Parisian voice opting for the porters and the ambers.
A slight shift to the left pushed my brown beer and I into the Mmmozza line: Mmmozza being a sort of delicatessen in the Marais. The Mmmozza members were boasting large baskets simply filled to the brim with mozzarella cheese, artichokes, dried peppers, and tiny pieces of bread. 5€ for the whole basket of magic. Regrets filled me as the line dragged on for some forty-five minutes and my brown beer disappeared. Should have opted for two beers. I know better: Street Food Festivals are in my blood—I am an American, after all.
But I soon curled up with a glass of red wine—natural wine from La Buvette—and my Mmmozza meal in a sea of twenty-something’s. A DJ calibrated a beat in the background, something to overcast the lulling roar of some thousand French women and men discussing food and culture and beer and wine. The Wanderlust terrace overlooks the Seine—but in a different sort of Paris than I’m used to. It’s a bit more modern, lacking those classic crème and window-shutter facades that grace the wide city in the center.
Close to the water sat a grand smoker: restaurant My Food Montreuil was blowing delicious smells across the city. They were smoking pig belly and salmon with a whole passel of colorful vegetables. The line was long but my Mmmozza and wine strengthened my stay. A meat-smoker in Paris, I never thought I’d see the day. My Food Montreuil exists on the outskirts of the city—perhaps a city unaccustomed to the textured flavor of smoked food. The happy young diners on the terrace may push for future city-wide smoking, however. And the complaints will not come from me.
Filling up on my mozzarella and my smoked salmon, I searched around me for other represented restaurants. A man dressed in a sloppy shark suit passed out Fish and Chips from “The Sunken Chip” toward the front; artisan coffee makers from Café Lomi (my personal neighborhood café!) poured lattes and impressed with foam rosettes on top. Various kebobs from Grillé were bobbing around on sticks in the crowd, as well. France—of the omelette, the paté, and the salade—has never seen so much cuisine diversity in one place.
My final line dwelling had dessert in mind: I waited for Grom—a gelato place from the Saint-Germain-des-Pres that features natural ingredients and in-house creations. A quick research after this heavenly treat tells me they also produce homemade whipped cream—not to be missed. Duly noted. This brief gelato exchange at Super Barquette may have created an gelato monster in me. I pounced on my strawberry gelato in the sun, acknowledging the beauty of the thriving Wanderlust terrace and the flowing river. My boyfriend and I threw our tired, line-weary bodies on a bench next to the Seine, alternating gelato spoonfuls.
Other days at Super Barquette allowed for even more delicious options. My favorite taqueria and margarita place—Candelaria of the Marais—boasted up delicious drinks on Friday night while Cantine California served up tacos. Sunday brought brunch food such as Eggs and Beacon from Super BBQ, cocktails from Lockwood, and Rachel’s Cakes designed cheesecake. Telescope café shot out espresso drinks for the masses.
The cool, forward-thinking vibe of Super Barquette allows the understanding that there is a growing young stronghold in Parisian culture: that all the old that exists here can coincide with the new. Another generation of cuisine and drink experts can simply add to the magic of Paris. And the residents of Paris—always searching for quality—will welcome the exciting new tastes and textures.
Allison Krupp is a Midwestern-born traveler who ran away to Paris when the snowstorms swooped in. These days find her exploring Paris’ arrondissements, speaking poor French to people she hopes appreciate the sentiment, searching for the best bottle of wine and discovering all the mystery of this historical city she now calls home.