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Sunday
Jul262009

Pink-Nik - Not your classic Paris Picnic

Pink-Nik - Not your classic Paris picnicOne great spot for a picnic is near the Canal Saint Martin, a lesser known area of Paris that is actually a system of locks used for moving barges from the Seine to other parts of Paris and beyond.  It used to be a bit dodgy, but in the last decade has really gentrified with the price of apartments overlooking the water commanding a premium.

As much as I am a fan of the classic French picnic -- a loaf of bread, some cheese and a bottle of wine -- it lacks imagination.  It's also a bit complicated if you are just visiting since you need to find a store to buy a corkscrew and a knife to cut the cheese.  So I was delighted to hear about an enterprising young American in Paris who is offering a delicious alternative.

Pink Flamingo Pizza was founded by Jamie Young and Marie Ravel.  Jamie is from Boston and worked in restaurants from New York to Los Angeles. Marie is a French actress who according to their website found love (presumable with Jamie) and fell into the life of a running a restaurant while discovering a hidden passion within her for pizza.

And once you taste it, you'll be passionate, too.  Just as I am.  There are about a dozen or so choices along with beer and wine.  (Try the Pink Beer, a delicious Belgian beer full of flavor.)  Like most really good pizzerias, it's a bit of a dive but it's full of charm.  Besides, we were talking about how they have revolutionized the classic Paris picnic.

Here's the clever idea.  This location is about a block from the canal and there is ample space there for picnics.  So first you go to the restaurant, order at the counter and then tell them you want to have the pizza delivered.  They will give you a pink helium balloon and you make your way down to the canal to find a comfortable place with a view.

Recently I was there with a few friends.  Our picnic plans were dashed by a unexpected rainstorm so we ordered in.  The crust is classic Italian style, very thin and crispy.  I had a delicious eight-cheese combo with all sorts of stinky French specialties.  Y had the special of the night called "Brangelina" which was fresh fig, Chevre goats cheese and pistachio nuts.  D had "Le Che" with 24hr marinated Cuban pork and plantains.   R, who has an aversion to tomatoes, took "Ghandi" the surprisingly tasty combination of Sag Paneer (Indian spinach puree ), Baba Ganoush (middle eastern roasted eggplant with ground sesame tahini, lemon and garlic) and gooey melted mozzarella cheese.  They other choices I will try next time are the "Bjork" (Smoked Salmon, Lumpfish Caviar and creme fraiche) and "Basquiat" (Fresh figs, gorgonzola and cured ham from Auvergne).  For kids or the un-adventurous there is "Dante" a classic combo of fresh Roma tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh Basil.

So no matter whether you picnic or not, this is the best non-traditional pizza I have found in Paris.  One word of warning, service-wise it's a VERY casual place.  While they will bring you the pizzas piping hot, it's up to you to find utensils, condiments and napkins on your own. (They're next to the cash register.)  One fun nod to the very American way of eating pizza with your hands are the rolling pizza cutters that are mixed in with the silverware.  Of course, my Parisian friends insisted on eating pizza properly with a knife and fork. I jumped at the chance to have slices,  using the cutter and folding my slices in half to eat New York style.  Some habits die hard.

Besides the location in the Tenth Arrondissement, there is one next to a park attached to the Picasso Museum in the Third.  So if you happen to visit the museum, it's a good bet for lunch.  Especially if you are travelling with kids.  If you picnic be sure to stay in the public park next to the museum and not the museum garden itself where a pizza delivery may cause you some trouble with the guards.

Practical Info:

Pink Flamingo Pizza

Opening Hours:

Lunch Noon to 3:00pm Tue-Sat          Dinner 7:00pm to 11:30pm - Tue - Sun (Last orders at 11pm)

Near Canal Saint Martin - 67, rue Bichat 75010                   See on Google Maps

Near Picasso Museum -  105, rue Vielle de Temple 75003   See on Google Maps

www.pinkflamingopizza.com