My search for the perfect Lamington ended this morning. If you don’t know what a Lamington is, you’re not alone. Yes, even I hadn’t heard of one, until a posted a picture of the Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows from The Sweet Life in Paris on my Flickr page and they were mistaken for Lamingtons.
Results tagged espresso from David Lebovitz
I’ve pretty much said everything I could about the “coffee issue” in Paris here*, but one place that’s trying to buck the trend is La Caféothèque, a shop and café that roasts coffee beans from all over the world. It’s also one of the (very) few places in Paris where I’ve seen a person preparing café express (espresso) correctly, using a tamping device, and actually taking great care with the coffee they’re serving.
A place that roasts and grind their owns beans is no longer a big deal back in America. Of course, it’s gotten a little overdone with all the pomp and circumstance just to get a cup of coffee. (I prefer the Italian model of lining up at the counter, having a quick, well-made shot, then moving on, rather than the whole big to-do in certain places just to get a cup of coffee.) But in Paris, it’s practically unthinkable to roast your own beans, or spend a lot of time preparing the coffee. Yet a few savvy and concerned coffee lovers have opened a handful of coffee shops that specialize in using good beans, properly roasted, and preparing the coffee with care and attention to flavor. It’s a trend that many of us here are hoping will continue.
I’ve worked in the service industry since I was sixteen years old and realize how hard the work is, and how much the people who work in it are undervalued and generally underpaid. On a recent trip I stayed in quite a few hotels, a different one every day for a week, and realized they could be doing a few things that would make things more pleasant for guests, as well as make life easier for the good people that work there:
1. Put amenities in large refillable bottles.
I’ve stopped taking home those tiny bottles of shampoo and body lotion. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I’m no longer that cheap and don’t mind spending a few dollars every couple of months to buy my own. I suspect most people that take them aren’t merely using them as travel-sized bottles for their carry-ons. I’ve always wondered what happens to those little bottles if I use them once. Do they get refilled, or tossed away? I assume they’re tossed, so I no longer bother to use them and bring my own. But for those who just have carry-ons, let’s all make the switch to using large refillable bottles.
2. Give me a checklist with checkboxes asking me what level of service I want.
I am sure there are people out there that like it when someone knocks on their door in the morning, asking if they’re in there so they can clean the room. And I am certain some people like it when they’re watching television and relaxing in the afternoon and someone stops by to see if they need the minibar filled, then thirty minutes later, another person comes by to lift the top of the sheet from the bed and fold it down, otherwise known as ‘turndown service.’
One of the curious things that’s happening right now in the Paris food scene is a spate of what I consider ‘anglo’-style cafés opening up in various smaller neighborhoods. There are a few that have been around for a while. But in the past year, casual restaurants that sell leafy salads, made with just-cooked fresh vegetables and greens, house made soups, hand-held desserts like individual carrot cakes and les muffins, fresh fruit juices, and coffee made with care and attention, have been giving the normal lunch of choice for harried Parisians, les sandwiches—including the good ones from the local bakeries, as well as those from the unfortunately popular Subway sandwich shops that are rapidly invading France—a run for their money.
Today, I’ve had gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And as I write this, it’s only 3pm in the afternoon.
It all started on this bright Sunday morning, when I made the onerous hike up to Prati, to Fatamorgana for their daring, wildly-flavored gelati. If you weren’t looking for the place, you’d probably keep going. But being the trooper that I am, in the blazing heat, I pushed past the crowds at the Vatican and trudged upwards toward my goal.
To say the walk was worth it is putting it mildly. This compact address scoops up some of the most astounding gelato I’ve tasted. I wasn’t quite sure what to order, as there were literally three kinds of frozen zabaglione and nearly ten various riffs on cioccolata.
I decided to go for it and had Kentucky, flavored with chocolate and tobacco, ricotta-coconut, and pure zabaglione. When I took my cup outside and spooned in my first bite, I almost started crying. In fact, I did cry a bit—it was so good.
You might not remember the days before the internet, but when we used to travel somewhere, we’d ask a friend to scribble down a list of suggestions. And we’d often be asked to do the same in return. Then when computers became widely used, other ‘favorites’ lists started circulating, including suggestions posted in online forums and in blogs.
So think of this list as my modern-day scribblings of places to go on the rue Montorgueil. Aside from it being perfectly located in the center of Paris, it’s a great place to take a stroll, and is pedestrian-friendly and wheelchair accessible, as it’s flat and closed off to cars. It’s a lovely walk, and everything is in a three block radius, making it easy to sample some of the best food shops, bakeries, chocolate shops, and kitchenware stores in Paris in one fell swoop.
The area was, for centuries, the home of the famous Les Halles covered market, which stood in the center of the city. As part of the modernization of Paris it was dismantled in the 1970s, replaced by an unattractive shopping mall (which is widely reviled), and the merchants were dispatched to Rungis, a large industrial complex on the outskirts of Paris. Still, reminders of Les Halles remain, including restaurant supply shops, late night dining spots, and the rue Montorgueil, which has become a vibrant street lined with restaurants, food stores, chocolate shops, and lively cafés.
The street is the perfect place go if have just a short time in Paris, as there’s a lot to see—and eat, in a very concentrated space. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can take the métro and get off at Etienne Marcel, Les Halles, or Sentier.
You’ll probably want to visit the restaurant supply shops, which you might want to schedule at the end of your stroll, so you don’t have to lug purchases around with you.
If you’re thinking that you’ve been ‘set up’ by the previous post for Chocolate Sherbet, je suis coupable. (I am guilty.) You likely know Adam Ried as the man who obsessively tests equipment and recipes on America’s Test Kitchen. He was also an editor at Cook’s Illustrated for ten years. So when I saw his new book devoted to milkshakes, because I always have a freezer full of ice creams, sherbets, and sorbets, I was delighted to have a fool-proof collection of well-tested recipes—and my blender has been begging for mercy ever since.
Because he’s super-sweet, I asked Adam if he’d like to share a recipe from Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes, his all-new collection of milkshake basics, plus everything from Malted Caramel to Mango, Chile, and Lime. I was delighted when he agreed.
So get out those blenders, and welcome Adam Ried!.. dl
Shake de l’Opéra
Quick….. what leapt to your mind when you read that word? For the culture vultures among us, maybe it was Monteverdi. Or Mozart. Or Wagner.
For me, it would be chocolate (which, admittedly, often comes to mind no matter what words I’m reading), followed immediately by coffee, and then almond.
This winning flavor trifecta defines gâteau de l’Opéra, an ever-present stalwart of pâtisseries from one end of Paris to the other. Most gâteaux de l’Opéra hew pretty close to this alluring formula: thin layers of almond cake, soaked in coffee syrup, alternated with layers of coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache, all hidden under a cloak of glistening chocolate glaze.
We’ve been doing quite a bit of shopping here in New York. Romain has been here before, but never with an ‘almost’ local. (I grew up next door.) Sure, he’s been all the museums, but he’s never been to places as uniquely American as Bed, Bath & Beyond, TJ Maxx, and Old Navy, where we saw the woman who played Janice on The Sopranos loading up on bargains.
I guess since she’s now unemployed, she’s watching her finances, too.
He was absolutely bewildered that one could buy a shirt for $10 or pay just $25 for a pair of sneakers, which, in euros, cost a third of that. We’ve both been loading up on Levi’s at Dave’s for $32, or €20. And my once-empty suitcases are now bulging at the seams.
Everything is so cheap here, and no tax, either—God bless America!
Oddly, the same jeans I bought in France cost €72 ($100), and that was when they were on sale.(Although I didn’t get the same personal attention that I did in Paris, which, arguably, is worth the extra cost—at least at my age.)
After all that bargain hunting, what could plus obligatoire than a cup of good, strong coffee?
So we stopped in at Joe The Art of Coffee. Although I’ve always found their espresso a bit murky, Romain’s declared his espresso macchiato, “Le meilleur café de ma vie”, the best coffee of his life. I took a sip of his, and indeed, it was amazing.
I don’t quite know what to write about French coffee that I haven’t written about before, but after he was done, he wondered why he couldn’t get coffee like back home. So now he’s hooked, and so am I.
And not just on the coffee, but the bargains. We’re going to need an intervention to get us to leave.
Joe The Art of Coffee
405 West 23rd Street
New York City
(Other locations throughout Manhattan)