Tuesdays With Dorie

First I came up with the title for this post, since I thought it would be a fun jeu de mots. But then I realized I had to figure out what the heck I was going write about. So I put on my long-neglected thinking cap, scrolled through the email addresses of my last few remaining friends, and scanned my agenda, desperately searching for inspiration.
Then it hit me.

And then I thought, “Hey, what don’t I give Dorie Greenspan a call?”

Dorie Greenspan

Thankfully Madame Greenspan agreed to go along on this ruse with me so I could get this post up and running. But there was also the promise of something buttery and sweet, rubber-clad fish boys, just-roasted coffee, prowling through my favorite Arab épicerie with floor-to-ceiling dried fruits and nuts, and finishing it up with verrines at a trendy restaurant. How could she refuse?

And refuse she did not.
So off we went.

Our first stop last Tuesday was blé sucré, en route to the Marche d’Aligre.


Although Dorie’s worked extensively with fabled pastry chef Pierre Hermé, when I raved about the madeleines here, Dorie was just as excited to go as I was to return and I had to hold her back from sprinting into the bakery and grabbing all the good stuff before I could. Luckily she was a bit tuckered from hefting her Vélib’ bike, but showed remarkable vigor when faced with a spiffy bakery filled with delectable pastries.

And like the seasoned pro that she is, she stocked up on financiers, a seeded baguette, as did I, and something else I can’t remember since she quickly stashed it away. That girl is a pro and knows how to work a bakery counter doing the quick scan then honing in on her targets. A tip: Should you ever go, try to get there before Dorie since it’s not likely there’s going to be anything left afterwards except for a few crumbs.

Cafe Aouba

I decided that since Dorie is so gosh-darned famous, I should really try to impress her and would let her in on my secret, most absolute-favorite-spot in all of Paree: Café Aouba, where she snapped my photo (I was happier than I look..I think it’s because my shirt’s a wee bit too snug…more on that later…)

Sitting on the edge of the market, Café Aouba is always crowded. Not because there’s so many people in there or the coffee is so fabulous. But because in the middle of the place is a jumbo coffee roaster going full steam ahead, roasting and cooling their beans. Although I don’t come for the coffee, I can’t think of a better place to stand in all of Paris than at their formica counter which looks out over the market. It’s the best place I know of to soak up the lively atmosphere of the Arabic end of the market and watch Paris go by.

And it gives me the chance to watch the guy that always tries to stick a piece or two of yucky fruit in the bottom of the bag, who once when I caught his young son doing it to me, told them both now that wasn’t a very good lesson to teach his child now, was it?

After that, it never happened to me again there. But from this vantage point, I can see the ploy continues. If it happens to you in Paris, folks, feel free to stick your hand in the bag after they pass it over and give ‘em back the moldy peach festering in the bottom. The look on their face is priceless, even though they might yell at you. But it’s worth it; trust me. Don’t be scared. Really.

But whenever I stand here, I thank goodness I live in Paris. (And now feel comfortable enough to hand back produce.) Except now Dorie knows about my favorite spot, and you do too, perhaps I’ll be needing reservations in the future to stand there. And curiously, it also happens to be steps from—the fish boys! Who are notoriously camera shy…sorry Matt and Kevin.

And that’s exactly where we went next so we could see those boys in action. I won’t bore you with lurid details, but the fellows were extra-charming that day, perhaps because their vacation was coming up.

Or maybe it was because they were anticipating a certain American, who shall remain nameless for now, donning a blue rubber apron and a matching pair of boots and coming to work with them in the fall.

(Whoa…what’d he say?!…)

My Produce Man

Speaking of crushes…em…I mean…vendors that I shared with Dorie, we went to see Salim, my most-excellent produce man in the covered Beauveau market. J’adore.

He’s le mec I go to when I’m looking for the best selection of heirloom tomatoes, the newest of the nouvelle potatoes and the sweetest fruits and crunchiest vegetables en ville. And although I thought it was too soon in the season, he split a fresh black Mission fig in half and fed it to us.

In spite of my skepticism (no wonder I’m out of friends to call) it was honey-sweet and delectable. That’ll teach me about doubting the word of a kindly gent like Salim. And curiously, Fabrice Le Bourdat the chef/owner of blé sucré was there too, so we had a chat with him as well. He was such a nice guy, no wonder his pastries were so extraordinary. Salaam!

Raspberries

Salim, Salaam, Salim.
What is this, an homage to Salim? Where’s Dorie?

Ok, one last nod of appreciation to le mec before we move on. Salim had the largest, plumpest, and deepest Burgundy-colored raspberries that I’ve seen in a long time and here they are in close-up, my kitten. They were so magnificent-looking that I had a dream about them that night and had to return the next day for a basket after I went for my first-ever attempt at running, which is a whole ‘nother blog entry in itself, one which I doubt that Dorie wants to participate in.

fyi: Due to a tightness in my shirts, I’m on a petit régime after my June gorge-fest, aka my book tour in the US, and usually trying to ‘walk it off’, as I usually do around Paris. Except I realized that everywhere I like to walk to is because there’s a good bakery or chocolate shop there, so it’s not particularly helping much with the plan. Nor did the 3.5 gallon gift tin of the most outstanding caramel and cheese corn on the planet help, which was a gift from a friend at Garretts that I finally pried opened.

Well, I can’t be rude and not eat it, can I?
And I’m certainly not going to give any away.
That’s not polite either.

Dorie at marche d'Aligre

Speaking of whole-grains, and I do believe caramel corn counts there folks, we also stopped by to visit José at La Graineterie du Marché (8, Place d’Aligre), which readers of my ice cream book (page 64), might recognize as my source for all things deeply-fragrant. José has everything one could want…and want we did! We left lugging bottles of nut oil, French candies made of acacia, and Dorie couldn’t resist adding a few colorful tins of sardines to her bag as well which contained a find from the flea market just outside which I promised not to reveal in case the recipient reads this blog.

Mirabelles-First of the Season

After stopping at Le Baron Rouge (1, rue Théophile-Roussel) for a pre-lunch glass of wine (and people ask me why I live in France?), we fumbled our way over to La Gazzetta, one of the newish bobo restaurants in the neighborhood.

Lunch started, of course, with the obligatory verrine with some sort of cold green soup that we both couldn’t figure out what was in it, as well as some cold pizza-like thing with a stale crust. The first courses, evidently, weren’t exceptional but we both loved our tender-braised roasted pork, although if you’re going to serve turnips, either purée them with butter, or caramelize them. I love turnips, but sliced and boiled, they ain’t all that interesting, folks. Still, it was a nice place to while away the afternoon after all that shopping and that old adage was true: the company was more important than the food. Kinda like the setting is more important than the coffee.

'Project Cassatta' at La Gazzetta

Speaking of kinda interesting, we ended with La Gazzetta’s signature dessert: Project Cassatta (sic), a de-constructed version of the classic Sicilian dessert with chocolate, ricotta, sponge cake, and candied fruit. I’m fine with taking liberties with classics but in my opinion, if you’re going to break something down, you’d better be able to re-build it in back up in some way that makes it better.

(Got that Mr. Bush?)

Big thanks to Dorie for agreeing to come along with me on this trip so that I could find a way to use her name in the title of this post. Now I just have to get her to come along with me the following Tuesday. Except she’s heading back to New York and I’m going to be lost next time without her.

Somehow Tuesdays With Salim doesn’t have the same ring to it. So if there’s any Lauries or Rorys or Toris out there that want to go to the market with me next Tuesday, let me know.

28 comments

  • David, I had the BEST, BEST time with you and those madeleines were pretty swell too. It would make me so happy to be your Tuesday-market steady – I hope you’ll save a place for me in your sched for when I get back, but I know it might be hard: my guess is that your dance card will fill up quickly with lots of other people whose names end in “ie”. (There are oodles of us around.)

  • Yowsas, what a fabulous day and I think your shirt looks just fine. Wearing it a bit snug says “Look at me, I’ve got moxie” (or something like that) and in Paris, that just might get you a few extra free figs.. By the way, I think Tuesdays with Meesh sounds pretty darn good too.

  • Oo oo! *jumps up and down* My name is Jurie, that works. Too bad I can’t be in Paris next Tuesday. But I will check out some of those places next time I am there. I miss decent French food.

  • Now I know where exactly I shall stalk you once I get there.

  • For those of us that would like to be in Paris and can’t this was a wonderful post. I feel like I’ve just spent the day with you and Dorie.

  • Another few stops to add to my trip to Paris in September! Excellent :)

  • I guess I’m just going to have to visit them myself at this point, no?

    And Salim.

    And….

    And….

  • Since this is a globalized world we live in, I suggest, humbly, “Tuesdays with Flavia”…

    :)

  • Oh how fun. I just love your blog!

  • except for the massive envy it generates,this is a fabulous post (and obviously, the envy comes from the fabulousness). Throughout the year, I keep a list of things I want to get to next spring in Paris, and I’m regularly cutting-and-pasting items from your posts (e.g. le Nimrod, where I recognized you leading a group of lucky foodies). Definitely going to visit the Cafe Aouba next May. Thanks

  • You’re right about the coffee. Aligre is my local, and on my first trip there, I brought some Italian roast home for the mornings. Not a patch on, well, the good Italian stuff. And I never knew Jose’s name–thanks! I always called him (not to his face) the hippy bird guy. By the way, he has amazing ras al hanout with rose petals. If I’m at the market next Tuesday, I’ll be the one looking sad that Jose, my fish guy, etc. etc. are all en vacance.

  • You crack me up. My favorite line of this post was “I’m fine with taking liberties with classics but in my opinion, if you’re going to break something down, you’d better be able to re-build it in back up in some way that makes it better…(Got that Mr. Bush?)” Way to sneak politics into food! I must say though that that dessert looks more artistic than it sounds delicious. I don’t know that I would like the flavors of that, did you like it?

  • David, my list of places to visit just grows and grows. Thank you. Coincidentally, my name also ends in ie and I would be ever so happy to be added to your dance card with all your other ie’s any Tuesday you’d like.

  • Next time I’m in Paris, if I let you call me “Jessie,” which I almost never like, I’d love to join you on a Tuesday outing. :-)

  • I’d be ok with Tuesdays with Salim…

    David, aside from YOUR opinion that your shirt was too tight, I thought the photo of you drinking coffee was quite good – you look sophisticated and intellectual!

    Vive la good photo!

  • ok…. my name is technically laura (from hk), but i can change it to laurie on tuesdays! I am so jealous. And PLEASE put me on your phone list! We already have reservations for thurs at La Gazzetta but the whole verrine thing is soooo tired. hmmm i hope good food can overcome the fad??

  • hmm, just re-read your review, and probably no. but i have good company!

  • Michelie, Cenkie, Mattie, Jurie, Barbarie, Jessie (sorry about that), Flavie, Ms. Sarie, Terrie, Dorie, Hillarie, Kami(e), Sharie, Alicefoodie, and Materfamilie: Sounds like we need to come with an “…ie” day and all go to the market en masse…except I don’t think there’d be room for all of us at Café Aouba!

    Lola: Well, I would go with an open mind.

    The reason I don’t really ‘review’ restaurants here on the blog is because 1) I know how hard restaurant work is and I want to assume everyone’s trying their best, 2) My taste and opinion may not be yours, and 3) After a couple of glasses of wine, the last thing I want to think about is remembering and writing-up exactly what I just ate.

    And I don’t mind verrines (much….), but if someone’s going to serve them, at least they should put something tasty inside.

  • This was such a cute post – it looks like you two had a blast!

  • Deconstructed cassata made me laugh. I love it.

  • Thanks for letting me cyber-tag along with you on such a lovely day. I think this is my new favorite post.

  • This is OT but I have a question for you concerning chocolate. My mom bought me a chocolate bar on a recent trip that she took. I looked at the label which was all in french and then took a bite. That’s when I had the face-palm realization that the label had mentioned something about 100% cacao. I like dark chocolate but that’s a bit too dark.

    So now I am wondering what do I do with it? I want to bake something yummy and chocolatey with about 3.3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    delphine

  • I didn’t understand the whole moldy fruit in the bottom of the coffee bag thing. What is that about?

  • I have the urge to be a stickler here and point out that since your title “Tuesdays with Dorie” IS a play on Mitch Albom’s gazillion-seller “Tuesdays with Morrie,” only Laurie comes close to qualifying (aurally) for a place at the formica counter. Obviously, I’m just envious.

  • Delphine: I sent you a link to a great recipe of mine for brownies over at Too Many Chefs, enjoy!

    junglegirl: In most boxes of fruit and vegetables, there’s usually a few icky pieces which they need to get rid of. If you’re not paying attention, or they detect from your accent you’re not a local, you’ll get home, stick your hand in the bag, and encounter a rather unpleasant surprised. (Another trick it to keep a thumb on the scale…another reason to shop at the same vendors over and over.)

    It’s buyer beware around here! ; )

  • “You crack me up. My favorite line of this post was “I’m fine with taking liberties with classics but in my opinion, if you’re going to break something down, you’d better be able to re-build it in back up in some way that makes it better…(Got that Mr. Bush?)” Way to sneak politics into food!

    Posted by Hillary at July 31, 2007 12:05 PM

    ———————-Hmmm… posted by Hillary?? I wonder if it is—nah. David, I think you should leave the politics out of the food talk.

  • How about “My day with Roger?” (the French Rhozhay to rhyme with day). You can write a column using my name any time – of course you have to take me along with you on a Paris adventure. And fly me there. You’ve stolen my heart, you romantic pastry-loving fool. Please leave Dorie and play with me instead! Love your blog.

    Roger in Chengdu, China

  • Or how about a day with Adi ?? you can add an e at the end if you wish – will still sound the same. I’m a wannabe baker and photo enthusiaste and a francophile foodie at heart – you do have to admire the french they got chutzpa down to a T !! you don’t get treated like that in Borough Market ( London) that’s for sure , feel like i’m missing out on all the fun.