I’ve been feeling a little removed for just about everything lately. Mired in administrative stuff, I’ve been swamped with paperwork and technical issues – neither of which are really my thing – and haven’t been able to spend all that much time cooking or baking, except for regular meals. (And, er, copious snacking in between.) I’ve really missed sticking my hands in doughs and batters and was happy when I took a break from technology and the staggering amount of paperwork that seems to arrive faster than I can process it, and headed out to the countryside.
Results tagged France from David Lebovitz
Fouquet is one of my favorite shops in Paris. I’m absolutely addicted to the thin crisps of spice bread enrobed in dark chocolate as well as to the house-made pâtes de fruits and the coconut-filled rectangles cloaked in chocolate. And, of course, the caramelized almonds, too.
It’s rare to find a shop still making candies the old-fashioned way and I thought it would be fun to share it with you, along with meeting Fréderic Chambeau, whose family has owned the shop for several generations.
36, rue Laffitte (9th)
Tél: 01 47 70 85 00
Two other boutiques in Paris:
-22, rue François 1er (8th)
-42, rue du Marché Saint-Honoré (1st)
Related Posts and Links
Fouquet (My Previous Visit)
A Visit to Patrick Roger (Video)
Ready for Dessert (Video)
The TGV Lyria train makes the trip to Switzerland is just about three hours. If you buy your tickets in advance, first-class seats aren’t that much more expensive than regular fares (sometimes the difference is little as €5) and as a friend said to me, “Since I don’t use drugs, I spend the extra money on first-class train tickets.”
Lest you think first-class is elitist, I often go second-class. The good thing about first is that the seats have electric outlets, which is great for getting work done. As in, all the 119 pictures you saw on the Swiss posts I processed on the train ride home. Plus there isn’t the usual “seating scrum” that happens in second class trains in France where it’s not surprising to board the train and find someone in your reserved seat. Then the process is you go sit in another seat. And when that person comes, they go find another seat. I always want to say, “Why doesn’t everyone sit where they are supposed to sit?” But Romain tells me, “C’est comme ça. You don’t understand.” And you know what? He’s right.
Aside from having a seat with an electric outlet, and even better—no one in it—when I looked at my ticket it said “Meal Included.”
Recently I visited the laboratory of master French chocolatier Patrick Roger. His shops in Paris are some of my favorite places to swoon over chocolate and it was wonderful to have the chance to step behind-the-scenes and watch him make his extraordinary confections and impressive chocolate sculptures, as well as visit his garden and apiary.
(To view the video in a larger format, you can watch it at Vimeo.)
I sometimes take a bit of ribbing because being a good American, I can’t go too far without having le snack handy. And with airlines requiring earlier check-ins and cutting down on food service, a number of airports have gotten with the program and realized that there’s thousands of people passing through daily, many waiting…and waiting…and waiting, with nothing to do but eat.
I’ve given up on the food on the trains since those plastic-wrapped triangular sandwiches look terrible. If I was famished, I’d sooner eat the armrests. They apparently gave up the pioneering sous vide cuisine that three-star chef Joël Robuchon created for the trains, and while rail technology was embraced and swiftly moved forward, the food unfortunately didn’t zoom exactly in the same direction.
I was browsing through my archives this weekend and landed on a post that I wrote back in 2005, about Vandermeersch. The bakery is really out in the middle of nowhere and for most visitors and even local, whether you’re going by foot or even by métro. But I was looking at the pictures I’d taken back then, which didn’t do the kouglof justice, that I hadn’t been back there in a while and since I had friends in town, I figured there was no time like today.
When I arrived in the nondescript area just at the perimeter of Paris, my friends were a few minutes late and I noticed—then panicked—because there were only five large kouglofs left in the shop, and just a few individual ones. Certain they’d arrive just as the last ones were being bought up by someone less-worthy than me, I was a little rude and went ahead and bought two of the pastries, and stashed them in my bag.
A couple of books have been resting on my nightstand for the past few weeks and I’ve been enjoying dipping into each, back and forth. They’re quite different and I didn’t expect to take a shine to them both as much as I did. Both of these authors and books are about teaching people to cook, from different eras and in different styles. And the more I read of each, the more I realized how much the two intersect.
Cooking is something that’s always evolving, whether it’s figuring out how to make a good French baguette in an American kitchen or presenting a technique for making risotto in just seven minutes. The first book is based on the correspondence of a familiar face, someone who wrote a book five decades ago that few thought anyone would have any interest in. And the second is from two modern-day faces that are pushing to evolve what we eat even further, based on a new cooking style brimming with new ideas, techniques, and flavor combinations.
As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
Although many people enjoyed the film Julie & Julia, I would venture to guess that the actual characters are more interesting, and even richer, than what was possible to present on a film screen. Anyone who has watched even one short episode of The French Chef with Julia Child knows that a few minutes of her roasting a chicken tells you just about all you want to know about her. And on the other side, although I didn’t read the original Julie/Julia blog or book, I’m sure she’s a more multifaceted than depicted as well. The film enjoyed a lot of success and pulled Julia Child back into our collective memories.
In this age of e-mail, tweets, and text messages, quite a bit of our lives get lost into cyberspace as we type short notes, then hit the delete button once the information has been processed. The art of letter-writing is on the wane, but evidence of how much we’ve lost can discovered in the pages of As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. Fortunately Child and DeVoto were avid writers and their fervent letters were preserved, and archived, then sorted through by Joan Reardon for this rare look at not just how a cookbook gets published, but a glimpse into the lives of two dynamic women living in separate cultures and gradually discovering what connects them.
Three sweet spots have arrived to Paris. I took a bit of time to sample a few of their specialties—although I’m looking forward to going back to explore more of their confections. Here’s a few favorite tastes from each…
This outpost of the famed pâtisserie Meert in Lille has opened on a corner, just a few blocks from the bustle of the overly-hectic streets of the Marais. Known for their spiced Speculoos cookies, pain d’épices, and brittle pain d’amande cookies, Meert is most famous for their “gaufres”. Quite unique, these dainty, chewy waffles come sandwiched with either vanilla or speculoos cream. The shop is a bit austere, so expect understated elegance rather than opulence, a nice change of pace away from the shoppers crowding the sidewalks a few blocks away.
16, rue Elzévir (3rd)
Tél: 01 49 96 56 90
(Closed Monday and mid-day Sunday)
3, rue Jacques Callot (6th)
Tél: 01 56 81 67 15
(Closed Monday and Sunday Afternoon)