Just in case anyone thinks that learning French is difficult, my French workbook offers this simple explanation of how to easily construct a phrase.
Recently in Paris category
Paris has some of the most amazing pastry and chocolate shops in the world!
I’ve written up many of them and you can browse through my archives to find out more about them: Paris Pastry Shops.
A recommended book for visitors is The Pâtisseries of Paris: A Paris Pastry Guide, which lists many favorites, along with addresses and specialties.
A favorite quick-bite on the streets of Paris, at L’As du Fallafel.
L’As du Fallafel is one of the few places where Parisians chow down on the street. Beginning with a fork, dig into warm pita bread stuffed with marinated crunchy cabbage, silky eggplant, sesame hoummous, and boules of chick-pea paste, crisp-fried fallafel. Spice it up with a dab of searingly-hot sauce piquante.
L’As du Fallafel: 34, rue de Rosiers, in the Marais. Open every day, except closed friday beginning at sundown, reopening for lunch sunday.
One of the great places for lunch in Paris is Cuisine au Bar (8, rue du Cherche-Midi), which has been touted as the French version of the sushi bar. The servers are welcoming and generous, and the tartines (open-faced sandwiches) are the most inventive and marvelous in all of Paris. A dedicated friend of mine lunches there every day.
I met Pim for lunch, and we both ordered the same thing: the chicken sandwich, a toasted slice of Poilâne levain bread (the bakery’s just next door) moistened with homemade mayonnaise, slices of plump chicken, filets of anchovies and a scattering of capers, which kept rolling off. We both systematically added flecks of coarse sea salt, then consumed. Delicious. Pim, being far more polite than I am, ate her sandwich perfectly reasonably with a knife and fork. I wolfed my down, polishing it off in record time, licking my fingers afterward.
After braving La Poste together afterward, we parted, making plans for eating Thai food with other Paris bloggers in June. However after we parted, I noticed she made a beeline to the astonishing pastry shop of Pierre Hermé on the Rue Bonaparte. So a few days later, I returned as well, and tasted one of the most stunning pastries of my life, his Arabesque macaron, which Pim had rhapsodized over earlier in the week.
Normally a classicist, I prefer my macarons with chocolate, coffee, or pistachio. But this was an amazing creation. Delicate, crackly pistachio-dusted meringue cookies flavored with apricot. The filling was a melange of apricot cream and caramelized nut praline. Each season, M. Hermé introduces new flavors of macarons, some successful (olive oil-vanilla, rose-lychee, and caramel-beurre-salé) and some less so (his white truffle and ketcup come to mind.) However Arabesque was perfection and I was sorry that I only bought one.
I will be going back tomorrow for another.
72, rue Bonaparte (6th)
184, rue de Vaugirard (15th)
4, rue Cambon (1st)-macarons & chocolates only
58, avenue Paul Doumer (16th)-macarons and chocolates only
A friend of mine, another David L (who also worked at Chez Panisse with me and is now a chef in Switzerland) comes to visit me often, and it’s one of the few times I let someone else into my tiny kitchen. He’s a terrific cook, and perhaps the only person who is more picky about the way things should be in a kitchen than I am.
David and I like to roam about town looking for things to eat but we always we have a falafel at L’As du Falafel on the rue des Rosiers, in the Marais when he arrives. I usually insist visitors to Paris go there during their trip, since I would rank their 3.5 euro falafel as good as many 3-star dining experiences (and better, and cheaper, than one I recently had.)
Recently we were at the Richard Lenoir market, off the Bastille, and on sunday (the market is thursday and sunday) there are two of the nicest young women from the Savoie selling products from their region. They’ve got everything from buckwheat squares of pasta, rugged mountain cheeses, and cured meats. David (the other one) was excited to see this sausage which is studded with nuts!
It seemed pretty wacky to me to put nuts in sausage, isn’t it? But the nutty, crunchy almonds are terrific and I can’t wait until next sunday since, as you can see, I’m almost at the end of my, er, sausage.
There are plenty of clichés about Paris in the springtime that are true. But what I really am happy to see are the return of the radishes. I love radishes, and by the looks of things, so do Parisians…
Wow! I can’t get enough of them and I always get two bunches, since I eat one right away, dipping each crisp, spicy radish in a bowl of fleur de sel.
One radish vendor told me eating radishes will make you sleep better. Lars, a German friend, told me to save the leaves and make soup (which sounds interesting), and Chinese medicine practitioners eat daikon white radishes to ‘cool’ down. I remember as a kid, in my first (and only) garden I planted radishes, which actually grew!… unlike much of the other things I planted. I discovered it wasn’t much fun pulling weeds when everyone else was playing, so the garden was abandoned after the first radish harvest.
Luckily radishes are in abundance right now, and I can buy them weekly at my local market in the Bastille, and I’m using them as much as I can. Aside from dipping them in salt, I thinly slice radishes and toss them with coarse frisée, toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut oil; a terrific salad served with a round of fresh or aged goat cheese. Trimmed radishes, split lengthwise, are tasty served alongside Tapenade.
So it’s springtime here in Paris. At my outdoor market, I’ve been buying colorful blood oranges from Tunisia and Spain and making refreshing sorbets, then candying the peel to serve alongside. (My grandmother never let me throw anything away…) As the weather gets warmer, dinner’s often a simple salad of peppery arugula and watercress sprinkled with a drizzle of argan oil, a favorite oil, made from argan nuts that have been munched by tree-climbing goats in Morocco, after which they’re “expelled”, then laboriously pressed.
I’ve also been baking tagines (Moroccan casseroles) using spring lamb and plump, sweet prunes from Agen. And sometimes dinner will just be a slice of Terrine Gascon which I get from my local butcher, made from shredded duck confit and I suspect an overdose of duck fat. (I figure if I down enough rosé with it, that will dilute the richness in my system.) There are also many new cheeses that I’m trying at my fromagerie, such as an earthy, crumbly, and pungent bleu cheese from Savoie, ripe and gooey brie de Meaux, and a new favorite, Langres, a copper-colored knob that when sliced, reveals a soft, creamy interior with the lovely sweet-pungent smell of fresh cream, grass, and barnyard.
And I’ve been trying as many new chocolates I can get. I’ve had some lovely bars from Green & Black’s organic chocolate from Great Britain, as well as handcrafted Tuscan chocolates from Slitti and Amedei that I’ll be visiting with guests in May during my upcoming Italian Chocolate Tour.
For those of you unfamiliar with Tuscan chocolates, they are some of the finest chocolates you’ll ever sample. Wish you were coming along?
The International Salon d’Agriculture in Paris
Each winter, the International Salon d’Agriculture occurs in Paris at the enormous Porte de Versailles exhibition center. The French are in love with anything agricultural. I recently saw a huge, room-sized map of France artfully composed of vegetables and fruits from the various regions.
And they love cows. (Well, living in a country with the most exceptional cheeses in the world, I am beginning to worship them as well.) When I last went to the post office, I was offered their newest stamps, which featured a cow. When I showed them off to some French friends that came for dinner that night, there was much ooh-ing and ahh-ing.
Although I do like cows as much as, um, the next person…I was more intrigued by the food representing all the regions of France and several other European communities and Africa. I bought a hunk of nutty Gruyère from the Swiss pavilion that was really, really good and sweet-scented, slender vanilla beans from the Antilles.
There was lots of unusual seafood to gasp at, delicious Basque foie gras conserved with pimente d’Espelette (smoked pepper powder), and much wine to sample, as well as Pommeau, an aperitif of Calvados brandy blended with apple cider.
I meet some lively Africans from the Ivory Coast, who split open a cocoa bean and fed me the slippery seeds within. If you’ve never seen a cocoa bean, they’re beautiful pods filled with slippery, almond-sized beans imbedded in a creamy liquid.
Although the Salon is great fun, it’s always mobbed and this year was no exception. The one thing you never want to do is get between a French person and food. Otherwise, look out!
43, rue de Montreuil (11th)
12, place de la Nation (12th)