Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feeding Our Faces


We've gotten into the habit of shopping at the street market on Boulevard Raspail on Tuesday or Friday, a wonderful resource that took us a long time to realize was there, although it's only blocks away.  It's less pleasant in the rain, but between showers we get to cruise the stands and chat with the vendors.  The current crop of green and white asparagus is filling every stand and appearing on every restaurant menu.  They are delicious and seem to taste better than what we get at home.  It may be an illusion, but it may also be that what we find here is at the peak of its season and usually hasn't traveled farther than a few hundred kilometers to get to us.


Artichokes are also available, and winter vegetables remain, looking lovely if you can resist the asparagus.


And then there are the charcutiers, with prepared foods that tempt you to bag the idea of cooking and just put some of that paté en croute on the plate instead.


Uncooked but ready for the pan are these pieds de cochon, which I can't bring myself to try.  I once had a bite of someone else's dish and was repulsed by the gelatinous texture.  Maybe someday.


One Friday we came across a cooking class offered by the municipality, with three middle-aged women demonstrating a dish for three young ones, watching intently.  There was a video cameraman recording it all.  I have no idea what they were cooking.




We've been eating in restaurants as well, but not as often, since I seem to have finally gotten the hang of cooking in my very basic kitchen and this lousy weather keeps us indoors more.  We've discovered a couple of good new places on our side of the river, which is great, since all the restaurants in the hip 11th arrondissement require a long bus ride or a metro connection.

Just a couple of blocks away is Semilla, the latest venture of Juan Sanchez, the Cuban-American-now French owner of the wine store La Derniere Goutte and Fish restaurant, all within a few steps of each other.  This fried Camembert with apples was one of the small plates we tried.


Also nearby is Pizza Chic, a sleek Milanese-looking restaurant with delicious, if pricey, pizza.  Since French pizza is really odd as a rule, this authentic Italian spot is good to have at hand when the craving strikes.


Our favorite new spot on the Left Bank is Yannick Alleno's bistro Terrior Parisien.  I was too busy eating the delicious food to photograph it, but Alleno, the Michelin starred chef at le Meurice, wanted to  offer a locavore version of a bistro, sourcing from the Ile-de -France, the region in which Paris is located, where possible and reproducing traditional local dishes, also where possible.  It's not a strict policy, but nice to know that your food hasn't been trucked or flown from other continents to get to your plate.

It's a very pretty modern spot and a reservation is going to be hard to come by soon.  Luckily it's open all day, everyday.

We haven't abandoned the Right Bank, dropping in to the Verjus vine bar for a glass or two accompanied by the really fabulous small plates Braden sends down from the kitchen of the restaurant upstairs.  Have I already mentioned the best fried chicken I've ever had?  And the broccoli with Korean rice cakes and anchovy?  The choice gets bigger towards the end of the week when the creative process in the kitchen is on a roll.  Yum.

And last night be found ourselves in the 11th again, at, of all things, a Tiki Bar.  A cocktail party organized by Forest Collins of 52Martinis.com was jammed with people drinking Mai Tais and Mojitos, not something we'd ever come across before in Paris.  But after a couple of those we needed some food and decided to try something that had been suggested to us by Daniel Rose of Spring.  We dropped by that restaurant at about 9:45 and asked if we could have just one dish, rather than the multi-course menu typically served there.

There was a free table, we were told of course we could have what ever we wanted and we wound up with one of the best meals we could have desired.  And since Daniel can't bear to see people without his sterling food in front of them, some oysters topped with a green gelée and later some grilled asparagus with trout eggs appeared on the table.  God, I love that place.


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