(Just a note: This post contains a somewhat graphic image of meat being prepared which some folks might not wish to view. For that reason, I’ve placed it after the jump and near the end of the post so you don’t have to see it. If images like that are challenging to you, I recommend that you don’t scroll further and perhaps that you not read this post. As regular readers know, I share and aim to respect diverse cultural and gastronomic issues, and am presenting this aspect of life in rural Lebanon because I was fascinated watching his talent and skill. That said, I promise the next post will be about Lebanese pastries : ) -dl)
Results tagged lamb from David Lebovitz
I was walking down the Avenue Trudaine the other morning, on the way to Kooka Boora for yet another coffee, and they were setting up for the small afternoon market there. Most of the markets in Paris take place in the mornings, which means that people who work don’t get to go to the market except on weekends, when the outdoor markets can resemble the trading floor of a stock exchange. So it’s nice that a few of the markets in the city are open in the afternoons and early evenings, to accommodate those people.
The Marché d’Anvers is a rather compact market, with a few fish stalls, a bread stand, and some vegetables. There is also a butcher that has a very, very long refrigerated counter, which I scanned. I don’t know all that much about meat but I like to look at it. (And, yes, the swarthy butchers are often worth scanning as well and unlike other vendors at the market, women seem to be particularly attracted to them. And even the most reserved Frenchwoman seems to get reduced to a smitten schoolgirl when it’s their turn with the butcher.) When I reached the end of the showcase, I noticed a pile of something called Melons d’agneau.
Everything I know about meat could probably fit on a sirloin tip, but that still didn’t stop me from dropping my jaw when I went into Victor Churchill. When I was asking friends about places to visit in Sydney, Anissa Helou said to me – “You must go to that butcher!” I didn’t know who “that butcher” was, but a simple online search led me right to Victor Churchill.
I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat: I worked with Mike Tusk at Chez Panisse – he was a cook upstairs in the café and I was downstairs in the pastry department, and although I knew he was a good cook, I was blown away the first time I ate at his restaurant, Quince.
I went there shortly after it opened, when it was in a residential neighborhood in San Francisco. The kitchen was nice and rather large if I recall, and he explained to me that he was figuring out how to do everything that he wanted to do in that space. I had dinner later that week in the dining room, which is run by his wife, Lindsay, and was really delighted at the wonderful meal I had, especially the pasta dishes.
When I started working at Chez Panisse way back in 1983, from the moment we opened the doors at 5pm for dinner, the place was packed. I worked in the café upstairs, which opened because the restaurant downstairs had become a little more formal than anticipated and since the original idea for Chez Panisse was to be a casual dining spot, they opened a café with a no-reservations policy.
At the time, Chez Panisse was garnering a lot of publicity across America and everyone wanted to eat there. So a line formed outside of people waiting for that moment, at 5pm, when the host would go downstairs and open the front door to let everybody in.
Coming from San Francisco, a place where there essentially aren’t any seasons, it’s been an interesting transition living in France, where each season has its own rhythm and distinct feeling. Winter, as you can imagine, is the least favorite season of the year and this past winter was particularly somber and dismal. Parisians refer to the dreary gray days of winter, and the tristesse that accompanies it, an effect of la grisaille.
Yet when seasons change here, it usually happens in one day. All of the sudden, you find yourself able to open a window and you might head out with just two, instead of seven, layers of clothing. And from that day on, it’ll stay that way until the start of the next season.
After my visit to the Vevey market with Chef Stéphane Décotterd, we headed back to Le Pont de Brent, his restaurant located above the lakeside Swiss town of Montreux. While he was laying out the fish for the day, which he had just sourced, I noticed the kitchen was unusually calm for pre-service and I didn’t see anyone in the usual panic that happens in restaurant kitchens just before the customers arrive. The cooks were quietly doing tasks like peeling and slicing vegetables into tiny pieces, rolling leeks around scallops with thin wisps of black truffles in between, and baking off miniature tartlet shells.
Laid out neatly on trays, he showed me the different fish he had, from a kite-sized Turbot to a blue lobster from Brittany, with tiny black eggs stuck in between all the craws and crevasses.
During the 1960s, when Paris going through a fit of modernization, it was decided that Les Halles, the grand market that had been in the center of Paris for over a thousand years (in various guises), was going to be finally torn down and the merchants would be moved to a place well outside of the perimeter of Paris.
Reasons given were that the old market lacked hygienic facilities and was creating traffic problems (this was when it was famously declared that Paris would become more car-friendly, and highways were built through, and under, the city) and the food merchants from Les Halles either went out of business or moved en masse to Rungis, which officially opened in 1969. The grand pavillon was cleared quickly, then the building was razed and the old market disappeared from the city forever.
The shopping mall that stands in its place now is a blight to Paris, and part of a long, undending conversation about what to do with the ugly error that was erected in its place; an underground shopping center which is avoided by most Parisians as much as possible.