The Grainy Breads of Paris

Bread from 134RDT

I’ve dedicated a healthy portion of my life walking the streets and boulevards of Paris to find grainy bread here. In a city where there’s a boulangerie on every corner, you can get excellent baguettes or a nice loaf of pain au levain just about anywhere. But it’s hard to find a loaf of bread with lots of seeds and stuff in it. Maybe it’s because the breads in Paris, like Parisians, are so refined. And as much as I love all the breads in Paris, it’s the grainy breads that I find especially appealing.

Here are some of my especially favorite grainy breads from various bakeries across Paris. These are the sturdy, hearty breads that I enjoy most. And the ones that I’ll happily walk across town for one.

Grain Bread

Norlander Bread
Christian Voiron
61, rue de la Glaçiere

I learned about this bread from Clotilde’s explorations and it’s a favorite. Tight and compact, Norlander bread is the heaviest bread I’ve found in Paris. And it’s also small, making it the perfect bread for a little afternoon snack with some contraband peanut butter, which a friend smuggled out of an American army base in Switzerland.

Nordiqueblog.jpg

Pain Nordique
Le Grande Epicerie
22, rue de Sèvres

I’ve been told the Grand Epicerie makes over 80 different kinds of bread underground, beneath this enormous food emporium. This is a lighter, airy bread, yet full of lots of sunflower seeds and a good amount of oat flakes. It’s excellent sliced-thin and toasted. But get there early: for some reason, by mid-afternoon they start feeding all the Pain Nordique loaves into the slicing machine and bagging them up.

Last time I was there, I was in the slowest line in the world, and as the lone saleswoman waited patiently on some madame that was bickering over the prices or freshness of a single roll or something. Meanwhile the other salesperson was tossing the brown loaves into a slicing machine as fast as he could. All I could do was stand there helplessly, hoping that my turn would come soon, before he could finish slicing all the loaves. I ended up getting the last two. Whew!

Pain aux Cereales
Eric Kayser
8, rue Monge

This is one of thes best breads in Paris, period. I don’t know how Eric Kayser does it, but each loaf comes out encrusted with golden sesame seeds. Slice it open, and you’ll find a delicate but full-flavored bread studded with crunchy grains of millet, sesame and sunflower seeds, with a naturally sweet taste. I used to walk across Paris to his shop on the rue Monge for a loaf (actually, I always get two and freeze the other.) Kayser has opened bakeries across Paris – and even one in New York City – so it’s easy to find this bread. It’s got a lovely lightness, along with the crackle of the grains, and is perfect with cheese or swiped with butter and honey for breakfast.

tradiograinsblog.jpg

Tradigrains
Au Pain de Saint-Gilles
1 bis, rue Saint-Gilles

When the quality of the baguettes of my local boulanger, Au Levain du Marais, slid downhill after their month-long summer vacation a few years ago, I agonized over the loss for weeks and weeks. I was torn. In France, your live your life according to your local bakery. You know when the loaves go in and come out of the oven, when the baker is off, and how to get the baguette cooked just the way you like it (bien cuite, svp!) You adjust your life, since most bakeries are closed two days of the week, so you need to plan your schedule and meals around those two days.

My supreme disappointment lasted for months until I discovered this grainy Tradigrains loaf at Au Pain de Saint-Gilles in the Marais, just a few blocks from chez David. Now this is proudly my baguette of choice. Do you see why?

Millet, poppy seeds and flax seeds ripple through the interior of each loaf. I can barely get out the door of the bakery without ripping off the end, called le quignon, and devouring it (a French tradition, after any baguette purchase…I think of it as an immediate quality-control check.)

[The loaf pictured at the top is from the 134RDT at 134, rue de Turenne.]

Related Links and Posts

Blé Sucré

Bazin

La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc

Paris Favorites

Chocolate Bread Recipe

Du Pain et des Idées

Paris Pastry App

Chocolate, On Rue Tatin

Cooking On Rue Tatin
with Susan Loomis and David Lebovitz

For this very special week, I’ll be joining cookbook author Susan Loomis for a week of cooking and baking at her gorgeous and famous home on Rue Tatin (yes, she lives on Rue Tatin!) in the village of Louviers. Susan has written extensively about her life in Normandy and her latest book, Cooking At Home On Rue Tatin has quickly become one of my new favorite cookbooks.

During the week with Susan and me, we’ll be cooking up a storm in her professional kitchen, creating menus and elaborate multi-course meals featuring local ingredients as well as learning cooking secrets and techniques as we go.
We’ll be focusing on chocolate this week, and I’ll conduct special seminars during your visit. We’ll have a focused tasting and evaluation as well as learn how-to tempering chocolate, create wonderful chocolate confections, and baking classic French chocolate desserts.

We’ll also visit an outdoor market in the medieval village of Le Neubourg that is simply amazing, as well as conduct private tastings of goat cheese and wine with local producers and specialists.

More information can be found by visiting On Rue Tatin.
This week is certain to sell-out as group size is limited; reserve your space now.

September 25-30, 2005

Second Chances

For the past several years, I’ve avoided Mariage-Frères in the Marais. Last time I was there, a friend who had just arrived from the states had to go there immediately for tea. As the afternoon wore on, he began the usual jet-lag wilt (I can mimic the facial expressions, complete with nodding-back head, but I can’t describe the feeling adequately at the moment.)
The best description that comes to mind–“Your body arrives one day…and your soul arrives a few days later.”

DSC01289blog.jpg

As my friend faded into oblivion, I unsuccessfully tried to signal one of the linen-clad waiters for l’addition. At Mariages-Frères, the waiters have perfected and refined the art of avoiding the customers gaze. So we waited and waited and waited. That was my last visit.

But last week a non-jet-lagged friend asked to meet me her there for tea, and I thought why not give it another chance? Three years is a long time to hold a grudge against something that’s a Paris institution.
Our rendez-vous was mid-afternoon, and the tea salon was calm and the servers were graceful and accommodating. I had a perfectly brewed pot of green Sencha tea along with a rather good wedge of tarte layered with fresh raspberries topped with a black tea chiboust.

tartblog.jpg

In the grand tradition of tea time, we imbibed in small cakes as well: a lovely, moist financier scented with green matcha tea and a madeline with a subtle bit of Earl Grey tea leaves.

teacakesblog.jpg

Mariages-Frères
30-35, rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Métro: St. Paul

Coconut Chocolate Macaroon Recipe

Many people tell me this is one of their favorite recipes from my cookbook, Ready For Dessert. In addition to these fantastic Coconut and Chocolate Macaroons you’ll find my infamous recipe for Fresh Ginger Cake which makes a fantastic summertime dessert served simply with sliced, juicy-sweet peaches or flavorful strawberries and raspberries.

macblog.jpg

I made a batch of macaroons for a Thai banquet last night here in Paris, where a happy alliance of French and American food bloggers (and food-lovers) got together for dinner. We chopped giant bunches of vivid-green herbs like cilantro, mint, and other greens with names that we learned have no English, or French translations. Jumbo prawns from Chinatown were quickly peeled and sautéed, and tiny branches of fresh green peppercorns were quickly skillet-cooked until tender.

Succulent beef was grilled and marinated in a spicy glaze then tossed with hot chilies, fresh cilantro leaves, and cooling slices of cucumbers. Things heated up as we simmered tea-smoked duck in red coconut curry sauce which was spooned over steamed rice fragrant, with aromatic pandanus leaves. And I loved the shrimp stir-fried with vivid-green garlic shoots, which mellowed considerably once cooked quickly with the plump shrimp and Thai spices.

Coconut and Chocolate Macaroons

30 Cookies

From Ready for Dessert (Ten Speed)

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2½ cups unsweetened coconut (see note)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

In a large skillet, mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour.

Heat over low-to-moderate heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir.

When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.

(At this point, the mixture can be chilled for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.)

When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch mounds with your fingers evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cool completely.

To dip the macaroons in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave.) Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the chocolate and set the cookies on the baking sheet. Refrigerate 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate is set.

Note: Unsweetened coconut is available in most natural-food shops or you can purchase it online.

It goes under various names, such as coconut powder, medium shredded coconut, and coconut flakes. All will work well in this recipe.

Le Petit Suisse

If you live in the US and shop in supermarkets, usually there are just a few choices of yogurt, ranging from lots of mass-produced store brands to a few upscale organic selections. But visiting the yogurt aisle at the grocery store in France is always an exciting event for me.

The choices just go on and on and on and on and on and on and….

marketyogrtblog.jpg

There’s plain yogurts made from cow, sheep, and goat milk.

There’s reduced-fat.

There’s soy yogurt (à la vache! in this land where cows are sacred…)

There’s names like Fjord and Jockey.

There’s off-beat flavors like fig, kiwi, prune, and wheat (yes, wheat.)

Small fromageries sell dainty glass jars filled with tangy, farm-fresh yogurt. Enormous hypermarches like Auchan boast multiple refrigerated aisles stocked with nothing but yogurt and fromage blanc, a cousin to yogurt (fromage blanc and fromage frais are soft, fresh cheeses, eaten with a spoon.)

When yogurt is sweetened, the labeled usually proclaims avec sucre de canne, with cane sugar, which is highly regarded here as a sweetener, in spite of the many sugar-beets harvested in France. In the US, high-fructose corn syrup is used, which is much cheaper than sugar but has an icky syrup-y aftertaste that I don’t like. If you’ve ever compared a American Coke with a Coke from Mexico or Europe, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’ve always been tantalized by le Petit Suisse since stories of French people descending on a San Francisco supplier during their
Open Warehouse
events which are legendary.

Le Petit Suisse is not yogurt, but a very rich little pot of fresh, sweet fromage frais. The first thing you notice is it’s about half the size of the standard (4 oz) French yogurt (left, which is about half the size of a standard American yogurt (8 oz).

2yogurtsblog.jpg

Le Petit Suisse is made from skim milk, cream, and ferments lactiques. It was developed by a Swiss dairy worker, Monsieur Gervais, whose name is still emblazoned across the packaging. He’s credited for developing it over 150 years ago in Normandy, a region justly famous for it’s smooth, creamy, and unctuous cheeses like Camembert de Normandie, Epoisses and Pont L’Evêque.

Being France, naturally there are lots of rules involved if you want to enjoy it properly.

peelinggervaisblog.jpg

Overturn the little pot and squeeze it slightly to release the cylinder. Tip le petit Suisse on its side, then unroll it while peeling off the paper. Then you sprinkle a generous amount of turbinado sugar (called cassonade, or unrefined cane sugar) over the top, or serve it with a spoonful of jam. And dig in. It’s tangy-sweet taste lends itself to being served with a fruit compote as well, although I prefer it as shown. And I like to savor it with a tiny spoon; its richness is best enjoyed in small doses.

finishedblog.jpg

Related Posts

Caillé

French Sugars

Comté

French Cheese Puffs Recipe

Paris Cheese Archives

Learning French…Simplified

Just in case anyone thinks that learning French is difficult, my French workbook offers this simple explanation of how to easily construct a phrase.

French1.jpg

Comment Policy

fruit

Comments are welcome and an important part of my blog, and readers are very welcome and encouraged to leave comments in the blog posts. Questions will be answered in the comments at my discretion and due to the number of comments some posts have, and my other work, I’m unable to answer every comment. And in other cases, I may answer inquiries personally via e-mail and may not publish the comment.

So please use a valid e-mail address when sending in a comment. E-mail addresses are hidden from the public view and will not be used for any other purpose, nor are they shared or published in any way.

If no comment field appears at the end of a published post and comments, that means that the post is closed for comments. And if you have a question, it’s likely been answered in the comments previously and I don’t wish to comment further on it for various reasons.

1. Comments and URLs which link to commercial websites or blogs will immediately be deleted.

The exception is if the link is part of the discussion, ie: If someone asks where they can find a certain item or product, and another reader leaves a comment with a link to where it can be obtained.

2. Please do not leave the name or URL to your website or blog in the body of your comment.

There is a space for that where you enter your name and e-mail address, and it will automatically be linked to your website or blog. URLs that don’t relate to comments will be stripped out.

The exception to that if you are linking to an entry on your blog or website that is relevant to the discussion. Examples include if you’ve attempted a similar recipe or you have a post on your website or blog that adds to the discussion. You are welcome to leave a link, but please format it in HTML, (tutorials here and here), which will make it easier for readers to visit your site.

3. Comments may be edited for grammar, spelling, or content.

4. Comments may be moderated and may not appear on the blog without approval.

5. Comments may be deleted at any time, without notice.

6. If you find a broken link or typographical error, you are welcome to point it out.

But please realize that due to the temporal nature of blogs, those are both bound to happen and if you wish to mention it, tact is appreciated.

7. Diverse points of view are welcome but please keep the conversation civil.

The comments often become forums for discussion amongst readers, which is encouraged, but name-calling or baiting comments will be edited or deleted.

8. One-third of the readers of this blog live outside the United States

Please keep that in mind and readers should be sensitive to cultural differences and values when leaving comments or responding to others.

9. Anything written in ALL CAPS will be deleted.

10. Don’t Be a Douche.

Having worked in restaurant kitchens for over three decades, there isn’t anything that I haven’t seen, or heard. Trust me.

Blog Policies

If you have questions about various policies of the blog, you will likely find the answers at these links:

Disclosure Statement

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Use the Comment Feed

Restaurant Write Up Policy

How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned On the Site



Me and Pam Anderson, Tonight On Fox

One of my favorite actresses, and the first lady of American theater, Pamela Anderson, has a new progam called ‘Stacked’ on Fox television wednesday nights. Starring alongside Pam (who plays a bookstore clerk), and prominently displayed behind her enormous talents, is Ripe For Dessert.

ripe.JPG
Check us out tonight!