So we’ve had the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker open in Paris. And now we have homemade tortillas. Or as I call them, “Two more reasons to stay put.” Which also means I can give the valuable luggage space I was devoting to lugging corn tortillas back from the states to something else – like pecans and memory foam slippers.
Results tagged Candelaria from David Lebovitz
Most people probably don’t think of hard liquor when they think of France. But nowadays it’s hard to pass one of the many cafés in Paris which features les happy hours and not see a round of mojitos on just about every table. From the looks of things, they’ve become more popular than wine or beer. Unfortunately most are not very well made and as cocktail fans know – and even those of us that only occasionally imbibe – that there’s a definite art to making mixed drinks. And it’s curious that many of the world’s great spirits, such as Lillet and Noilly Pratt vermouth, are French. Yet few people in Paris know what they are and I recounted the mix-up that happened when I ordered a Lillet at a café in Paris in TSLIP.
On the other end of the cocktail spectrum in Paris are places like the Hemingway Bar at The Ritz, famous for its Martini (as well as its hefty price!) and the myriad of excellent cocktail places that have sprung up in the last few years. Although my days of being able to drink four or five martinis and still be able the function the following day are in my past, with all the talk about the terrific cocktails being poured around Paris, I’ve been finding myself craving cocktails like I used to, albeit in more prudent quantities.
I’ve come to realize that I’m not very good at ‘watching’. When I worked in the restaurant business, one of my cohorts said to me one day – “There are two types of chefs: doers and watchers.” Meaning that some chefs got right into the cooking with the line cooks, while others like to stand there and watch. I, myself, could be classified as a doer because I’m like I’m a shark: If I don’t keep moving, I’ll wither away.
I’ve kind of had my fill of watching and waiting, so instead of continuing to wither away, I decided to take matters into my own hands and deal with what I could control. This week the weather took a turn for the better in Paris; it’s always one day when the bleak weather suddenly changes and we revel in the hope that the cold snap of winter is behind us.
Everyone on the sidewalks of Paris is a little stunned to see the sunlight, almost walking around in a daze (including the number of people who refused to get out of my way when I was struggling to carry an iron pipe down the sidewalk and as a consequence, almost walked right into the butt of a massive metal pipe) but within a few hours, all the café terraces are packed – and not just with the usual fumeurs – but everyone craning their necks, trying to catch a little wedge of sunshine.
I always think that maybe I’m kind of a loser because I don’t go out and eat as much as people think I do. Ever since I left the restaurant business – where I worked every single night of every single weekend of my life, surrounded by other cooks (which probably explains why I am a social misfit when I have to mingle with “normal” people), the idea of calling ahead to reserve a table at a busy place and making plans in advance is still pretty much a foreign concept to me.
After a recent stint making tacos with the crew at Candelaria, I realized that I missed the camaraderie of cranking out food at a rapid pace with other cooks, all working smoothly – with good humor and care, in a hectic environment. Although I have to admit that at my age that I’m not sure how many more of those kind of nights I have left in me. (The two cocktails, one Mexican beer, and two Mezcal shots probably didn’t help either.)
Luis Rendón is my new favorite person in Paris. And the guy who makes the tortillas is my second favorite (I suppose if I got his name, he might be the first.) But it’s Luis behind the great Mexican fare at Candelaria, a narrow slip of a place in the upper Marais that serves authentic Mexican food.
Lately there’s a new openness, a willingness to try something new in Paris, and to take other cuisines seriously. When I moved here nearly a decade ago, the Japanese restaurants on the rue Saint Anne were nearly empty and never, ever in a million years (or even ten years, for that matter) would I have imagined that there would be several excellent Mexican restaurants to choose from in several neighborhood.
But here we are right now, and it’s encouraging to see them not filled with folks from elsewhere hoping for a taste of home, but young people happily slurping udon or soba, and yes, even picking up burritos and jamming them in their craw. (Although I still don’t have to worry much about having to share my hot sauce with other diners in the vicinity. Except for my friend Fréderic, who can easily outdo me in burrito and taco consumption. Good lord, can that man eat.)
People think it’s odd that there’s a craving amongst a certain crowd (namely transplanted Californians…but with a growing number of curious locals) in Paris seeking Mexican food. But like any city with an international population, a variety of ethnic food and places are welcome.
(And if you don’t believe me, I’ve been reading about the hordes descending upon the Italian food emporium that recently opened in Manhattan.)
Parisians, notably the younger set, are becoming more adventurous about Latin American foods and the quality of Mexican places is getting better, including a few joints that are rolling out their own tortillas. Even Chipotle has opened in Paris.