Results tagged market from David Lebovitz

Milk from Here

lait

There is an interesting emergence of things that are ‘green’ or écologique, in Paris. Words like commerce, responsable, équitable, éthique, durable and solidaire are being seen on more and more products in supermarkets, and even on some restaurant menus these days. Paris has two popular organic markets and discount grocery stores are now offering products like bio (organic) crème fraîche, butter, and pasta. And the city even has an official to preside over sustainable development and ecological initiatives.

(Although no one has asked me, I’m sure quite a few trees could be saved if there wasn’t so much paperwork to fill out, photocopy in triplicate, classify, then re-classify, around here.)

The forward-thinking action that got the most press internationally was the Vélib’ bike program. The program still has a few kinks to work out, though, most notably the costs and excessive vandalism: a recent article in Paris Magazine estimates that the annual upkeep for the program is €20 million and if the roving bands of repairmen were to stop fixing them, there would be no operable bikes in Paris within ten days.

As a user of the program, I think it’s pretty great, considering that they had to reconfigure a good portion of the city, and some attitudes around here, to accommodate it. Yet in spite of the obstacles, it has survived the initial grousing by drivers and other naysayers. And the bikes, along with various other initiatives that have been applied by the local government, has helped to reduce pollution in Paris by approximately 30%.

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The Barbès Market

fish radishes

Every once in a while there are contests in Paris to decide who makes the best croissant, a hot new restaurant list get published somewhere, or a market way on the other side of Paris that supposedly has great onions grown in the same soil where Louis the XIV once took a squat, becomes a “must visit”. It’s pretty encouraging to see and hear about new places, especially when it’s a young baker or chef getting some recognition for maintaining the high-quality of one of France’s emblematic pastries or breads. And often I add the restaurant to my hand-scribbled list in hopes of one day being able to say “I’ve been there!” (The jury is still out on those onions, though.)

strawberries at market

When I moved here years ago, I’d gladly cross the city to find and taste all these things. I remember one day tracking down what was known as the best croissant in Paris, as mentioned in an issue of The Art of Eating. At the urging of a visiting friend, we trekked out to some distant bakery in the far-away fourteenth arrondissement, only to find the baker closing up shop for his mid-day break. There seems to be a corollary around here: The longer you have to travel to get somewhere, the more likely it is to be closed when you get there.

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10 Things to Do If You’re Stuck in Paris

Air France mob scene

Yesterday, I was passing through the Place de l’Opéra, and saw this mob outside the Air France office. And the line snaked around the block. I took a picture and went home to happily finish packing for my trip, which was going to start tomorrow.

I must be living in a volcanic cloud of my own, and indeed, when I woke up, there was an e-mail that my trip has been canceled. So instead of facing the dreaded task of unpacking my suitcase, which included a swimsuit (grrrr….) I made a list of things you can do if you’re stuck in Paris:

1. Book a spa day. I can’t tell you where I’m going, because I’m waiting for my confirmation. But many folks like the Mosquée de Paris, which is inexpensive and located in a lovely building where you can sip mint tea after your steam. There are specific days for men and women and prices start at just €15. I’m not sure if the treatments there are as luxe as one might want, but my friend Heather is a bit more generous than I am and has a list of spas in Paris that are a bit more posh.

2. Hit each and every place on my 10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris.

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Truffle Hunting

truffle hunting scene

It’s not all fun and frolic—and chocolate—around here. Aside from dealing with banks that limit access to your own money, or scratching your head when the France Telecom representative tells you that it’s going to cost you a mere €465 to keep your mobile number if you change to another one of their other phone plans (although it was a stretch to even get there; his first response was, “Yes. It is not possible”), believe it or not, there are some less-than-pastoral things about life here.

truffle hunter's hands

One of them is not Tuber melanosporum, or black truffles, which as far as I’m concerned more than makes up for anything else. (Well, I would like a new phone…)

Sure, various black truffles are found in Spain, Italy, China, Croatia, and even in the United States of America. But none that I’ve smelled compare to the famed black truffles unearthed from woods and forests of southwest France. Rien du tout.

truffes du Quercy pig

When I worked in the restaurant business, we’d often get knobbly black truffles sent to us, which were shaved over simple dishes like pasta, potatoes, and risottos; anything more complicated competes with their funky, pungent, but highly-prized aroma. People go ga-ga over truffles, but I never caught the truffle bug, which was excellent news for my wallet.

searching for black truffles

On my recent trip to Cahors, we went for a walk in the forest with a truffle hunter—and his boisterous pig, in search of black truffles. And it was there I learned how they work together to find these elusive tubers.

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Community Supported Agriculture, in Paris

About a year ago, I was having supper in a friend’s apartment and everything we ate was simple, and tasted really good. He’d lived on a farm near Toulouse for many years, where he worked for one of France’s agricultural organizations. Now he lives in Paris and I was surprised when he told me that the onions we were eating on the tart he’d made were from a panier, or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box.

pannier

He gets a weekly panier from Les Paniers du Val de Loire. I kept hemming and hawing, thinking how nice it was to shop at my local market and pick out everything myself. But I finally signed up a couple of weeks ago, and got my first panier yesterday.

Living in San Francisco and working closely with a lot of farmers and small-producers in my restaurant career, I have a weakness for hard-working small producers who are trying to do the right thing. I remember a woman showing up at our back door with a box of amazing French butter pears, asking us if she planted more trees, would we would buy them? (We took a bite and said that we’d take any and all that she wanted to bring us, a promise we made good on.) I remember an organic dairy sending us their first samples, and customer reaction made us realize that people weren’t ready for the strong taste of farm-fresh dairy products.

And there was Mr. Hadsell, a frail old man who could barely walk, who’d open the kitchen screen door and shuffle inside, balancing a few flats of just-picked raspberries from his backyard. You could feel the warmth of the sun radiating from each basket of plump, perfect berries. Those were the best raspberries I ever had in my life and I hope the lucky customers that got them felt the same.

beet greens

But elsewhere, it can be an uphill battle to find just-picked, fresh produce, even in a country with strong ties to its agricultural traditions, like France.

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Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

Every year I get a slew of requests from people looking for a recipe for Pumpkin Ice Cream. While in The Perfect Scoop I have a recipe for Sweet Potato Ice Cream studded with maple-glazed pecans, there’s something about the fall that makes people think of all-things pumpkin. I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, personally, but old traditions die hard I suppose. And Pumpkin Ice Cream got put on my to-churn list.

pumpkinicecreamblog scooppumpkinicecream

As luck would have it, I was leafing through a copy of The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco, former pastry chef at Craft in New York City, and landed on a picture of Pumpkin Ice Cream. Quelle chance! So I thought I’d give her recipe a spin in my ice cream machine.

butternutsquash moresquashpuree

Karen uses canned pumpkin, which a lot of people like to use because it’s easy and consistent. But it’s not so easy to find in Paris. And even though I’m an outcast for using sweet potatoes, I’m still a bit old-fashioned and like to make my own puree. So there.

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Puerto Cacao

chocolate chaud

I keep a piece of paper near my front door. On it are places in Paris that I want to visit. When I hear about a place that sounds interesting, on the list it goes. Unfortunately, it seems as soon as I cross one off, a few more get added. And the list gets longer and longer and longer and longer and…

One particular spot that I’ve had my eye on for too long was Puerto Cacao, located in the farthest part of the city from where I live, requiring more than my limit of two métro changes. The focus of the shop is chocolate équitable, or fair trade chocolate.

So I was surprised when I was walking near the Marché d’Aligre and the store with the pricey mid-century modern furniture that I used to covet was gone. And in its place was a new hot chocolate spot.

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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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