Results tagged crepe from David Lebovitz

Our Tour de France

Goat cheeses

The French often say, “There’s no need to leave France – we have everything here!” While it’s easy to brush it off as chauvinism, it’s true — for a country that could fit inside of Texas, there is a huge diversity of climates and terrains in one, single country. You can find everything in l’hexagone, from the windy shores of Brittany (where we’ve huddled around the fireplace, wearing sweaters in Augusts of yore), to the sunny south, where beaches are clogged with tourists and the few locals that choose to stay in town, to bask in the abundant sun of the Mediterranean.

The Lot

After living in France for a while, I sometimes get the feeling that the country never gets a break on the summer weather. While it can be gorgeous, we were told that the day after we left Paris, the weather turned grey and cool. And while we had some nice days during our two weeks of travel, we hit quite a bit of uncooperative weather ourselves, that always seemed to be creeping up on us.

France

Being from San Francisco, I never look at forecasts and simply plan for everything. And anything. (And you’ll see that in spite of my best efforts with photo editing software, I was unable to add in sunshine to the shots.)

gazpacho

Since we were mostly éponging (sponging) off friends, by staying with them as we traveled, I had to brush up on my morning small-talk skills. I’m hopelessly terrible at responding to enthusiastic greetings of “Good morning!!” or “Hi! How did you sleep?” first thing in the morning.

Boucherie

It doesn’t help that Romain is so talkative first thing in the morning that I often check his back, to see if I can take the batteries out. I need at least thirty minutes, minimum, to adjust to the new day – preferably without any commentary.

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10 Goofy Foods You’ll Find in a French Supermarket

mes 4 croissants opening croissant

1. Mes 4 Croissants

Poppin’ fraîche has gone global and even with over 1200 bakeries in Paris, why would anyone bother walk all the way across the street to get a fresh, buttery croissant in the morning, that only costs 90 centimes, when you can simply unroll a package of doughy crescents and never slip out of that comfy peignoir de bain? For all you lazy types out there, I took a bullet for you and tried them out.

And speaking of taking bullets, when I peeled back the first layer of the package, the dough exploded with a startlingly loud pop, which so shocked me that I jumped as the dough quickly expanded as it burst from its tight confines. I almost had a crise cardiaque.

rolling croissants

The ingredient list was nearly as wordy as the instructions but the upside is that I learned a few words to add to my French vocabulary, such as stabilisant and agent de traitement de la farine. (Margarine, I already knew). As they baked, my apartment took on the oddly alluring scent of the métro stations equipped with “bakeries” that “bake” croissants this way, whose buttery odors may – or may not – be a result of some sort of traitement.

unrolling croissant dough  croissants

One thing I often have to remind people is just because something is in French, like croissant or macaron (or elementary school lunch menus), doesn’t mean it’s a good version of that item. Just like one could conceivably call a hot pocket of dough with some warm stuff in the middle a calzone, after ripping off an end of one of the soft, spongy crescents, in the words of the late, great Tony Soprano..with all due respects, I’ll stick with the croissants pur beurre from my local bakery. Even if I have to put on something other than my bathrobe in the morning to get them.

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Princess Crepe

Princess crepe

I wasn’t on planning on going to Princess Crêpe, which I’d passed a while back and was intrigued (for lack of a better word) by their unusual look. Well it was “different”, as my mother used to politely make me say when something was out-of-the-ordinary. If we were in Harajuku, it’d fit right in. But in Paris, this is decidedly different from the rest of the surrounding area, the Marais.

I’d gone by the place a few times in the morning and they have “different” hours, open from 1pm and closing up a few hours later at 7pm. So basically they open after lunch and close just before dinner.

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Paris Restaurants

les frites

I’m just finishing up my Paris Chocolate Tours with guests this week and we’ve had a terrific time visiting everywhere from Rungis market to watching the talented confectioners at Fouquet work their sweet magic.

Because several folks were spending a couple extra days in Paris, I made up a list of some places to eat they might enjoy, that aren’t stuffy or too-expensive, but places I like very much for a variety of reasons. So I thought I’d share the list here as well.

Chez Dumonet
117, rue Cherche-Midi (6th)
01 45 48 52 40

Great classic French food—and huge portions! Order the crisp duck confit and the Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert. One of the few remaining classic French bistros that maintains high quality standards. Although dishes are huge, half orders are available.

Bellotta-Bellota
18, rue Jean Nicot (7th)

Wonderful Spanish hams including the Jambon Ibérique Pata Negra, the black-footed pigs of Spain, the dine on wild acorns. The ham is sublime and goes great with the other Spanish appetizers they serve at this casual restaurant. Do try lomo, the tenderloin of the pig, and the pickled garlic, which is nutty and crisp.

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10 Things to Do If You’re Stuck in Paris

Air France mob scene

Yesterday, I was passing through the Place de l’Opéra, and saw this mob outside the Air France office. And the line snaked around the block. I took a picture and went home to happily finish packing for my trip, which was going to start tomorrow.

I must be living in a volcanic cloud of my own, and indeed, when I woke up, there was an e-mail that my trip has been canceled. So instead of facing the dreaded task of unpacking my suitcase, which included a swimsuit (grrrr….) I made a list of things you can do if you’re stuck in Paris:

1. Book a spa day. I can’t tell you where I’m going, because I’m waiting for my confirmation. But many folks like the Mosquée de Paris, which is inexpensive and located in a lovely building where you can sip mint tea after your steam. There are specific days for men and women and prices start at just €15. I’m not sure if the treatments there are as luxe as one might want, but my friend Heather is a bit more generous than I am and has a list of spas in Paris that are a bit more posh.

2. Hit each and every place on my 10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris.

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West Country Girl

West Country Girl-3

There’s a new girl (and guy) in town. And she owns a small crêperie which is one of my favorite little addresses in Paris and worth a visit, in spite what some might feel is a relatively obscure address.

table and charis business cards

To me, though, it’s not all that obscure because I’ve forged a pretty clear path to their front door ever since they opened. The original owner, Sophie Le Floc’h, has opened a crêperie in Brussels called West End, and handed over the reins to new owners, the young team of Marc Kinder and Pascaline Cordier. Marc runs the front of the house, greeting customers with a friendly smile and pouring cider, while Pascaline mans the griddle, turning out superb buckwheat crêpes, called galettes, in French – or crêpes made with “blé noir,” another name for buckwheat.

You can order crêpes filled with camembert and bacon, chèvre and spinach, salmon and pine nuts, bacon and mushrooms, or andouille sausage (which they say, correctly, that you have to be French to appreciate) from the menu. I usually stick with complète, a buckwheat galette filled with ham and melted cheese topped with a fresh egg, sunny-side-up, resting on top.

salted butter caramel

If you don’t order the reasonably-priced prix-fix menu at lunch, or even if you do, you can start with a pot of homemade rillettes of sardines, a delicious spread they make in-house. If available, the fresh oysters are excellent, arriving at their door direct from Brittany. The typical drink is sparkling apple cider from Brittany, slightly alcoholic, and is the best accompaniment to the crêpes. Ask Marc about the difference and he’ll explain each one, including the ones that are doux (sweet) or brut (dry). A few of the ciders are organic as well.

When it comes to dessert, homemade salted butter caramel is the way to go. Better yet, the galette with a baked apple and caramel is hard to beat! Lastly, the coffee they serve is really good, which is a sign of a thoughtful restaurant owner. The care that they take with the final coda on the meal is the last impression that’s made before you walk out the door and here they draw shots of excellent espresso – and they do them right. The end to a terrific meal, from start to finish.

salted butter caramel west country girl

West Country Girl
6, passage Saint-Ambroise (11th)
Tél: 01 47 00 72 54
Métro: Saint-Ambroise
Reservations recommended.

(Note that the restaurant is located on a small side street. It’s best if you can make yourself a little map to make it easier to get there from the métro station, which is close-by.)



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Socca Recipe

When people come to Paris, they often ask me where they can find good bouillabaisse. And when I tell them, “You can’t”, they’re always very surprised.

“Well, isn’t it French?” they’ll reply.

adding olive oil rose

Yes, it is. But to get many of the regional specialties in France, you need to go to the region. Hence my frequent visits to Nice, to get socca at the fiery source.

And although you can make it at home, making it in a home oven is like baking off a batch of S’Mores in there: it’s close, but not exactly the real thing. You really do need a wood-fire to get that blistered crust. Still, after much experimentation, I got it close in my home oven and I now make it all the time to serve with an apéritif before dinner.

mixing socca batter

Socca is basically street food, intended to be eaten off napkins to blot up all the excess olive oil, with plastic cups of frosty-cool rosé.

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Pimping My Crêpes

pimp my galettes

Turn on the television any night in France and chances are excellent that you’ll land on a program, held in a brightly-lit studio, where celebrities, authors, and other French luminaries mingle, chat, and talk about issues—or whatever they feel like.

For some reason, though, they don’t run a banner at the bottom while the person is talking, like they do incessantly on American television. And because of that, I usually have no idea who all those overly-made up people are.

So I’ll ask—”Romain…who is that?”

folded galette

He’ll be surprised, really surprised…”You mean you don’t know who Valérie Lemercier is? She is a very big star. Très, très connu!” I always hate bursting bubbles, so I’ll nod kind of half-heartedly, although I’m not so good at keeping a poker face and hiding my feelings.

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