Results tagged Bastille from David Lebovitz

Bazin Bakery

Le Pain

This probably isn’t the kind of bread that visitors come to Paris to experience, and while I like baguettes, I really, really crave breads loaded with grains. So when I was recently in Bazin to pick up my usual Bazinette aux Graines (seeded baguette), I noted a rack of these loaves lined up in the corner.

As usual, I was waited on by my favorite saleswomen. And I have to admit that her and I have a certifiable crush on each other and we always find more things to talk about than bread. When it’s my turn, we make googly-eyes at each other and engage in small talk like teenagers in love, oblivious to the long line of customers growing behind me.

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les Soldes

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Tomorrow is the official start at les Soldes, the twice-annual period when the French government allows stores to discount merchandise. It usually last four weeks, although for the past couple of months, a few scofflaws have been marking things down discreetly anyways, flaunting the law in these cash-strapped times.

The area I live in is the Bastille, and it was once known as a hub of activity for furniture makers and interior designers. During the past few years, the Gap, Levis, and Nike, have muscled their way into the neighborhood as well. Unlike their American counterparts, they have to wait for the sale period as well.

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Mini-Tongs

Whenever I go to San Francisco, I stay with a friend of mine who generously offers to put me up as long as I’m in town. It’s fun, especially since she likes to hit the off-price shops and her kitchen is filled with lots and lots of kitchen tools.

Since she knows I live abroad, where many of them aren’t available, if I express interest in something she’ll invariably say, “Oh, go ahead and take it. I can get another one easily.”

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After a bit of obligatory mock-protesting on my part, I grudgingly accept it, and in it goes, right into the suitcase. On my last trip, I noticed she had a pair of mini-tongs in her drawer, which were not only adorable, but fit too-perfectly in my hand.

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Outlaw Carrots

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The European Union just overturned regulations that will allow fruits and vegetables that aren’t technically picture-perfect, to be sold alongside their more attractive counterparts. But the laws are still place until next July. I had no idea there was such a directive in effect, and I’ve been innocently part of a conspiracy, participating in, and abetting, illegal behavior.

According to EU directives, things like carrots must be “..not forked, free from secondary roots.” Since I found that out, I’ve been much more careful about what I bring home. When I picked these out at the market, my carrots didn’t seems to have any of those kinds of hideous deformations (imagine that…forked roots!…ick!), but when I unpacked my haul, I noticed that the specimen above found its way into my market basket. Accidentally, of course.

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Renting an Apartment in Paris

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The other evening I was having dinner with a group of folks from out of town, and not one of them was staying in a hotel. Each had rented an apartment and were having a great time—and saving money, while doing so.

There are scores of websites and companies that rent mid- to high-end apartments, which are great places to stay if you’re looking for more plush surroundings. But while many owners will rent a short-term vacation apartment from an agency, the most economical way to stay in Paris is to find an apartment that’s for rent by owner. (FRBO). These deals may require a bit of digging, as residents will often post to online bulletin boards or send out e-mails to friends to pass on rather than listing them with agencies.

Aside from being less-expensive than a hotel, a benefit of renting an apartment is that you can save big-time by skipping hotel breakfasts and get your own freshly-baked pain au chocolat from that charming little pastry shop on the corner.

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At the Market in Paris

At my local marché this week…

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Grown in Brittany, one of the weirdest vegetables found in France is Romanesco, a relative of broccoli. It’s cooked the same way, a la vapeur, simply steamed and tossed with a pad of rich French butter.

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Sand-grown carrots are sweeter (and dirtier) than ordinary carrots.

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French (and American) cooks can find lots of thyme at the markets, which is much stronger than the thyme I’m used to. When I moved to France, I’d add big handfuls of thyme to everything I could since it’s so abundant and fragrant. It’s my favorite herb. Eventually a regular dinner guest bluntly told me I put too much thyme in things. (French people believe they’re doing you a favor when they criticize you, and I’ve had to explain to a few of them that Americans are a bit more subtle in our approach.)

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The wonderful, sparkling-fresh seafood at the markets is something I’ve always stop and take a good look at. I’m always fascinated (and sometimes a bit freaked out) by bizarre sea life; slithery eels, shark meat displayed alongside the toothy shark head, bulots or little sea whelks that you pop from the shells with a pin, octopus (which some day I will work up the nerve to try…or perhaps not), and tiny grey shrimp, known as grises that are simply boiled in aromatic fish stock known as court bouillon then eaten cold, like popcorn. I really admire the fish people I shop from at the market, since I think their job is the most difficult and gruesome (although last week I saw an enormous wild boar, larger than I was, hanging upside down at the boucherie, which was soon to be evicerated for Civet de Sanglier, a long-cooked savory stew of wild boar, the sauce thickened with red wine and blood.)

Come Christmas the fish mongers are especially busy folks, since French people are insane for fresh oysters and buy them by the crate. Almost all the oysters come from Brittany, and before motorized transportation, horses would gallop wildly towards Paris from the coastal regions until they collapsed from exhaustion. Then there’d be another horse along the route to take over from there. This ensured that the briny oysters made it to Paris fresh and cold. My favorite oysters are the flat Belons, which I like with a bit of shallot-vinegar sauce wiht a few grinds of black pepper, sauce mignonette, along with a well-chilled glass, or two, of Sancerre and tangy rye bread smeared with lots of salted butter. It makes the cold, grey winter that’s quickly approaching us here in Paris bearable.

The Biggest Bottle of Red Wine in Paris?

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I’m Nuts For This Sausage

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!

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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.