Archive for September, 2011
In our next installment from the French-ified Foodie, I’m gonna lay down some awesome seasonal inspiration I got while in Paris that has a few select foods on my mind:
Red Currants (Groseille)
These beautiful little red berries are bursting with sweet, tart flavor in every tiny little bite. Virtually impossible to find back in the Boston area, though I’ll let you know when I track them down. Every marche in Paris had these babies. We just picked them from the vine and ate in their own splendor.
For more info, Paris-based blogger and food writer Chocolate & Zucchini has more on these beauties.
Basically the rolls royce of mushrooms, chanterelles have the most delicate, complex flavor of nearly any mushroom out there and add such amazing texture and depth to any dish they inhabit. Girolles are the most refined form of chanterelles out there and defy any car comparison. They were everywhere we shopped and rightly so. Feast your eyes on the dish above to see how these bad boys look in butter over a nice entrecote…yum.
Paris is often lauded for its restaurants and higher-end eateries, but I appreciate the fruit of footpaths, the pleasures of “les places”, and the riches of “les rues” as much as fine French dining. As a visitor in the city, the more travelled, touristy areas that are dead-zones for good restaurants often offer great street options.
Here’s a guide to the best types of Parisian street food and where you can find the best of it:
About as traditionally French as you can get, these amazing thin pancakes present endless possibilities for passerby. Sure, you can find great sit-down establishments to munch on crepes but some of my favorite spots are street-side in the Quartier Latin.
Here’s a couple spots to look out for:
- Nondescript miniscule joint affixed to a shop selling touristy goods next to a “MacDo” (pictured above)
Location: 5th Arr., near intersection of St. Germain and St. Michel
My personal favorite is this tiny shop serving locals and tourists alike. You can get any combo of egg, cheese, shrooms, and ham you like. The generous portion of cheese envelops the other ingredients and when wrapped together all the components ooze out this rich, buttery, fragrant juiciness that coats the whole inside of the creation and dominates your last few amazing bites. Beautiful. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try the heart-attack provoking “hot dog double avec fromage”: 4 hot dogs wrapped in melted cheese and inserted into a Dijon-coated baguette.
- Rue Mouffetard, 5th Arr.
This beautiful small walking street is lined with eateries and small shops serving all manner of great French goods. There are also a couple good crepe joints along the way as well. My fav. Is a Greek-run spot that serves up mega-sized crepes that can be stuffed with a huge selection of options.
Sandwich Turc/Sandwich Grec
I developed my love for gyro sandwiches while studying abroad in Paris. It started as a quick, cheap option to sustain myself and developed into a sort of passion. The best part is, nearly every neighborhood in the city has it’s token Sandwich Turc/ Sandwich Grec shop.
Usually served with fries on the side (or stuffed into the sandwich) these delicacies typically include some combination of meat shaved off a rotating log of lamb, chicken, or other mystery meat, lettuce, tomato, and a tzatziki-like sauce. Can be packed into a pita, sub roll, or baguette. Perfection.
The Two-Step Guide To Selecting a Good Sandwich Turc/Sandwich Grec Shop:
1. Inspect the Rotating Meat Log. What you want here is a thick, juicy-looking log that has some texture to it and actually looks like ‘layers’ of meat stacked upon each other rather than a single-shaded smooth grey cone. The more you can clearly distinguish what type of meat it is the better. You still may not actually know, but inspecting the meat log is the most important part.
2. Know the Area. The best sandwich shops from my experience are in the more touristy or highly-travelled parts of the city. The more foot traffic in the area, the better chances of a good meat log. Better not to go for a shady dimly-lit spot in some random sketchy neighborhood.
Falafel Sandwiches from the Marais
Visitors tend to flock to the Marais for it’s beautiful ambiance, small boutiques, cafés and shops, however the big draw for me is a good falafel sandwich from a Jewish-owned joint.
Pretty much any spot selling falafel sandwiches in the area will impress you. Just the most moist falafel balls, red cabbage, pickles, and other goodness stuffed into a soft pita. I like mine with a little hot sauce.
Paris has the best Lebanese food I’ve had anywhere. Great cooking and nearly anything you order at these places will be outstanding. The shawarma, kafta, and kibbeh sandwiches tend to be excellent however you’ll find all kinds of good options.
Neighborhoods for good Lebanese:
- Rue St. Andre Des Arts, 5ieme
- Les Halles environs, 2ieme
- Rue Mouffetard, 5ieme
Marchés Alimentaires de Paris
Anyone who knows anything about Paris will direct you to check out the many great fresh food markets throughout the city. This is a quintessentially French experience and you’ll find some of the best food in the city here.
One of my favorite markets is the Marché Maubert, however you can get the locales and hours for a range of Parisian markets right here on an interactive map: http://marches.equipements.paris.fr/
So, on your next trip to Paris consider some of these options for a quick lunch, easy dinner, or delightful snack. You’ll avoid big prices, reservations, and your stomach will thank you.
That’s right, the recent lull has been caused by culinary exploration. And that’s the only reason there would ever be a lull.
A trip through Antibes, Juan le Pins and Cap d’Antibes on the Cote d’Azur brought more gastro-pleasure than you could imagine.
For your reading delight, following is a brief tour of dishes tasted, foods sampled, and beverages imbibed in one of the most marvelous areas on earth:
First of all, no meal is complete without a bottle of Rosé. People swig this stuff constantly in the south of France. Normally I’m not a big fan, but these wines are incredibly refreshing in warmer weather and if you’re gonna buy one, definitely make sure it’s from the area of Provence.
While I’m on the subject of wine, here’s a general tip for buying vino in this country: the French make it cheap to buy good wine. Tasted several bottles of Rosé from 4-6 euro all of fairly decent quality. You can often get good bottles from all over France from a local supermarket from under 10 euro that will be much better than what you’d expect for the same price back home.
Paupiettes de Veau
This is a recipe eaten all over France but I tasted it for the first time in Antibes. Life-changing.
Carnivores – picture perfectly seasoned veal meatballs wrapped in a thin escalope of veal and a thin layer of veal fat, then tied with a string. Topped with a mind-blowing tomato and garlic sauce. This is arguably the most amazing French comfort food creation I’ve ever tasted besides Cassoulet. It will warm my bones for years to come.
This is a Mediterranean white fish that we sampled and appeared to be a staple dish on many local menus. Rightly so. Slightly firm and less flaky than light white fish like cod. Incredibly flavorful and a real treat that we can’t find here in New England despite being a haven of the sea.
A tantalizing dry sausage found in a local butcher shop that was outstanding. Nothing more to say.
If you ever find yourself in the South of France in old Antibes (and I recommend you do), the following three spots are certain not to disappoint and served up some of the best food I’ve had in this culinary mecca of the world:
A true culinary talent behind the kitchen here people. This Michelin-rated spot the size of Ten Tables (JP) had an amazing ambiance, friendly service, and served us dishes like:
- Artichoke velouté (soup) with seared foie gras and greens.
- Risotto, chanterelle mushrooms, escargots.
- Filet of dorade and fresh veggies
“Between two wines” is a tiny wine bar serving stellar grapes and a small but very satisfying menu of plates. They were the spot that served me my first paupiettes de veau and also turned my taste buds on with mortadella and truffle.
Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit – http://www.restaurant-figuier-saint-esprit.com/
The only word to really describe our meal here is that it was truly a work of “art.” Owned by Christian Morisset, who is not only rocking one of the best handle-bar moustaches ever but is also a French master, this is one of those places where I felt like saying “I’m not worthy” as I tasted each dish. Writing would not do justice to the beauty of the food here. Instead of painstakingly trying to describe in a novella what we ate, let’s just have a moment of foodie silence instead.
Just a few highlights but more to come (on Paris) shortly.
Nick the Foodie.