Results tagged Marais from David Lebovitz

Al Taglio

Al Taglio

For quite some time, whenever I’d go out to eat in Paris with a visiting friend, their gaze would invariably land on something Italian on the menu. And they’d want to order something like risotto or salad Caprese, which I’d warn them away from. Or pizza, which might come to the table with some unexpected topping, like canned corn or pineapple. When I moved to Paris, I thought it odd that Italian food wasn’t as well- represented here as I assumed it would be. After all, France shares a border with Italy. But on the other hand, look at how Canadian food is represented in the United States. So I guess that explains that.

When I asked a friend who came last year what she wanted for dinner, she said, “I don’t care. As long as the food is good”, which sounded fine to me. The only problem was, that I’d had a long day and wanted to eat somewhere in my neighborhood and I couldn’t think of anywhere decent—except for the pizza place run by the Sardinians. When I suggested it, she said, “I didn’t come to Paris to eat pizza.”

But it made me realize that in the past five years, Italian food has really come into its own in Paris, and last week, a place that makes their own pasta was turning people (including us) away in droves when we tried to get a couple of seats. When I decided to hit Grom on Sunday, the line trailed out the door and onto the street.

There are some really great pizza places now across Paris serving the real-deal, including Al Taglio, which unlike the other places, serves pizza like they do in Rome, meaning they bake off large rectangles of pizza then cut off squares as you order them. The pizza pieces are weighed, priced, and then warmed up and brought to your table, living up to the name al taglio, or “by the slice.”

Al Taglio

I immediately knew I would like Al Taglio as soon as I walked in because I like sitting at high counters. Although there are tables overlooking the small square outdoors, there’s something about sitting on a high stool at a communal table that’s always been my very favorite way to eat. It’s just so convivial. When friends came in to eat in restaurants where I worked, I just pulled up a stool next to where I was working so I could talk to them when they had dinner and I love cooking while talking to people, as long as they’re seated and at a distance. And pouring me wine.

The pizzas range from a simple Melanzane (eggplant and garlic) to more ambitious Zucca e pancette (bacon and pumpkin cream). I tried three: Patate tartufo (potato and truffle cream), Salami piccante (artichokes and spicy salami) and Amadriciana. (Even though I said the French are embracing authentic Italian cuisine, I guess these things are considered exotic by some, though, because the Le Fooding guide called their toppings ‘chic‘. Black truffles aside, I’m not sure what’s so chic about eggplant, bacon, salami, and potatoes.)

All the pizzas are sold by the kilo, and prices vary depending on the topping. All three I tried were great, with nice, crunchy crust, and flavorful topping. It made a perfect early afternoon lunch along with a very full glass of Anghelia (€3.8), which brought the total of my meal to just over €13. It also made me a wee-bit tipsy.

cucina 100% Italiana

One thing that’s a bit curious is the counter service, which some might consider authentically Italian: one woman was busy taking the orders, cutting the pizza, and weighing the squares, while the fellow next to her watched, then brought out the pizza to the customers. The kitchen was a bit more active: just a few feet away, two guys were working on the next batch of pizzas, scattering them with cubes of mozzarella and bits of speck and other toppings, before sliding them into the oven.

But I’ve learned not to be in a hurry when it comes to food, both in France and Italy, and to relax. And I’ve let go of all that racing to get through a meal or expecting service with a snap. When you do, you have a much better time. Indeed, everyone here was smiling and friendly, including her.

And after working in restaurants for three decades, I always advise people to never mess with people who are making their food or serving it to them. (And that applies to nurses and flight attendants, too.)

I’d imagine Al Taglio gets packed at prime time. But since they’re open continuously throughout the afternoon, my advice is to go for a late lunch. So along with places to get good gelato in Paris, I can confidently add Italian pizza to that list.



Al Taglio
2, bis rue Neuve Popincourt, 11th (off rue Oberkampf)
Tél: 01 43 38 12 00
(Map)

Open daily, Noon-11pm, no reservations.

and

27, rue Saintonge (Upper Marais)
Tél: 09 50 48 84 06




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(Note: The blackboard sign in the post isn’t related Al Taglio, which does not offer a tavola calda.)

Saint Marcellin

saint marcellin

If you go to Lyon, you’ll find Saint Marcellin pretty much everywhere. It’s the best-known cheese from that region, and the user friendly-sized disks are inevitably piled high at each and every cheese shop you step in to. Locals bake them at home and slide the warm disks onto salads, and I’ve not been to a restaurant in that city that didn’t have Saint Marcellin on the menu doing double-duty as the cheese or the dessert course. Or both. At the outdoor market stands, you can see how popular they are with les Lyonnais. And if you don’t believe me, their presence is so pervasive that I once bought a ticket on the bus in Lyon and instead of change, the driver handed me a ripe Saint Marcellin instead.

Because they hover around €3, I used to pick one up at the fromagerie since they’re an inexpensive way to add variety to a cheese platter. The ones I’d buy were decent, although I never heard anyone put a dab on their bread and say, “Good gosh David, that cheese is friggin’ amazing!” (Although I’m not sure “friggin” is a well-used word around here.)

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Rhubarb Tart FAIL

rhubarb tart

I hadn’t planned on buying rhubarb yesterday morning, but I was at the stand of my favorite producteur and there it was, and there I was, so our collective fate was sealed.

As I waited for him to wrap my stalks tightly in brown paper, my mind raced to think what I would do with them. By the time I handed over a couple of euros, I’d made up my mind that they’d make a fine filling for the baked tart shell I had waiting at home, with a thin layer of lemony pastry cream.

It’s been odd around here lately. I think there’s something in the air; le morosité of Paris, as they call it, the general malaise that smacks the city in a collective wallop, like the tiny, sharp grains of pollen that are wreaking havoc on the sinuses of us all. Yes, it’s warmed up and the city is even more beautiful, but a string of May holidays has Parisians bolting for the borders, heading away for le petit weekend any chance they can. There’s just something odd in the city that I can’t quite put my finger on.

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Where Is the Best Duck Confit in Paris?

menu

On her last visit to Paris, I introduced my cousin who’s a Franco-phile, to confit de canard, knowing that she’d love it. When I saw the rapture that took over when she put that first forkful in her mouth, I could see that she was hooked as I am.

I’d taken her to Chez Dumonet, which is reliably excellent. This time, though, I’d like to take her somewhere else. A lot of restaurants offer duck confit, occasionally, but it doesn’t reliably appear on menus.

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Jacques Genin Opens in Paris

jacques genin chocolates

To those of you who’ve been writing and pleading to get into the laboratory of Jacques Genin, the most elusive chocolatier in Paris, the wait is over. After years of jumps and starts, he’s finally opening his boutique in Paris, which is open to the public.

(Previously, one had to call, or just show up at his workshop in the 15th arrondissement, and hope he had a moment in his frantic schedule.)

So his dream is finally a reality—and what a dream it is!

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My Baguette is Back!

baguette

Disappointment can take many forms.

Some people are unhappy with their lawmakers. Others experience unemployment, infidelity, natural disasters, wrongful arrest, declining stock prices, or social injustices.

And then there’s the poor folks that face cultural challenges on a daily basis, and have to deal with disagreeable bank tellers, reams of bureaucratic paperwork, and a France Telecom form promising a refund, but with absolutely no information on where to return it to.

Me?

I’ve got bigger problems around here. Much bigger.

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Milk Chocolate and Black Pepper Ice Cream Recipe

milk chocolate-black pepper ice cream

Because I have nothing else to do with my days, I decided it was time to upgrade the pepper in my peppermills. I think I’m coming late to that game, since I’ve read so many things urging…begging me…to use fancy, expensive pepper. But I tend to buy a bag of black pepper from a local Arab spice shop, which seemed good enough.

Or so I thought.

A few weeks ago, I found myself back in Goumanyat, and they had at least a dozen black and colored peppers to sniff.

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#5: Goumanyat

One of the first places I went to in Paris when I was setting up house, was Goumanyat. My friend David Tanis took me there, who is a chef and lived in Paris part-time. And as I roamed through the neat shop, poked in the wooden drawers and sniffed in the jars, I was thrilled to find such a treasure trove of spices and comestibles to stock my petit placard.

saffron

Yet the real star of the show at Goumanyat is saffron, which they stock in every conceivable fashion. Of course, there’s a huge glass urn of wispy saffron threads, which one can use to flavor a tagine or even a batch of ice cream. But saffron also shows up in many other guises here, sometimes in places where you’d least expect it.

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