Results tagged creperie 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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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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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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Crêpes Dentelles

When I worked at Chez Panisse, we had a customer who would come for dinner several nights a week and eat downstairs in the kitchen. Jean lived by herself in San Francisco and took a cab across the bridge to Berkeley for dinner once or twice a week. When the waiters knew she was coming, they’d set up a small table next to the pastry department and she’d eat there. And because she was a generous soul, she’d treat her regular cabdriver to dinner upstairs in the café.

Other customers would come in and say, “How do I get to sit there?” I’m not sure what the attraction was, since we were all busy working, chugging water, tracing around, dishwashers hauling dishes, garbage and compost bins, but the concept caught on and eating in the kitchen became de rigeur for foodies. Oddly, for a while, whenever I went out for dinner and they knew me from the restaurant world, they’d always seat me near the kitchen, so I’d have a view of it. And I always asked if I could sit somewhere else. Who the heck wants to watch someone else work on their day off?

Jean was born and raised in San Francisco. Her parents were fur traders and they’d take long boat trips back and forth to Asia, and she and her sister would accompany them. During the long voyages, she told me, Jean and her sister would sit in the chef’s office and rifle through his cookbooks, picking out things for him to make.

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Buckwheat Crepe Recipe

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked the age-old question: “How did you start cooking?”

My usual wise-guy answer?
“Well, I turned on the stove and put a pan on it.”

In reality, I probably should acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Anna Maria Albergetti who got me on this whole obsessive measuring-thing, hawking those carefully delineated bottles for mixing up Good Seasons salad dressing. But I also think some of it began at our local mall, at The Magic Pan, one of those crêperies that popped up everywhere in the 70’s. In the dining room, women in puffy-sleeved dresses stood over a open-flamed, circular crepe-cooker, presiding over a bevy of hot skillets that turned slowly over the flames, frying crêpes as fast as they could.

Wanting to be just like the girls at the mall, minus the puffy-sleeved dresses (which would come later in life), I bought one of those worthless numbers; a Taylor and Ng crêpe pan with a rounded bottom where you dipped the underside of the hot pan in a big bowl of batter, praying it didn’t stick before you could lift it up and flip it over to continue.

And apologies to my family for all those crêpe-filling experiments, especially the chicken in cream sauce, which, in my impatience, I madly kept adding spoonfuls of flour to until it thickened—which I presumed should take all of about 20 seconds.

The result?

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