In an attempt to get through the incredible backlog of reviews, events, and posts I have planned for you, I’ve decided to do another fun compilation of foods I’ve been eating here. Winter has sort of set in in Paris- not quite to the extent of a New England winter. Hell, I’ve had Augusts colder than this, but it’s the perfect time for chilly-weather treats and meals. Most of the cafes and restaurants have heated outer terraces, perfect for sitting and watching the world go by without worrying about losing a finger to frostbite.
A few weeks ago, my dear friend Vonnegut came to Paris for a weekend visit. He is studying abroad at Oxford and had never been to France before! We enjoyed pastries and parties together, and ate at some sweet brasseries near Saint-Paul. I had this Camembert salad for lunch one day. Simple and delicious- roasted Camembert fondue with honey and greens.
On this visit, we also enjoyed some pastries from Miss Manon- sesame and sunflower seed sables, an enormous, self-destructing millefeuille, and the Mexico, a gold-leafed chocolate monstrosity. They were all delicious.
On Vonnegut’s last evening in Paris, we went to Angelina for a hot chocolate and some macarons. I went for the traditional chocolat africain, while he tried the white chocolate. I’ve had quite a few hot chocolates in Paris so far and highly recommend Angelina. It’s no secret at this point, but what they do, they do exceptionally well.
Shortly before Vonnegut’s arrival, I took a trip to Normandy and Saint-Malo for a few days. The above beverage is a local Breton specialty, lait ribot, a fermented milk beverage. I was expecting something similar to the chilled buttermilk my grandfather used to drink straight from the quart, but received a large, deceptively deep mug of lukewarm, slightly effervescent, thick, tangy milk. It tasted somewhere in between yogurt, seltzer, and a milkshake, with a cheesy aftertaste. Later, I discovered that lait ribot is made from the leftover fermented milk used for making butter, which explains its richness. It took some time, but the flavor grew on me, especially with the sweet, sweet crepe I ate alongside…
This crepe was served flaming, drizzled with housemade Calvados, and stuffed with salted caramel and baked apple compote. Topped with vanilla ice cream, it was one of the best crepes I have eaten here so far.
The next day, I ate this special omelet for lunch. The omelet Normande, or Omelette de la Mère Poulard, as the famous restaurant in Normandy is known for, is puffed up by whipping the whites into a frothy sauce, adding the yolks shortly after. Good ones are served like a soufflé, with a soft middle and fluffy outside. This was from a restaurant close to the Mère Poulard, but for a fraction of the price. There was no way I could see myself paying 35 Euro for an omelet, no matter how good!
Back on the home front, here are some of the things I’ve been cooking. I’m afraid it’s been fairly basic for the most part. I’ve been realizing the differences between living somewhere and vacationing somewhere. It’s an interesting fact to reconcile, as so many of our conceptions of international travel are based on these montages (backed by accordion music) of shopping, eating, and attractions in a week-long period.
Somehow, it comes as a surprise to people to find that I don’t wake up at 6 every morning to schlep to the Eiffel Tower, nor do I eat steak frites for every meal or go out to a cafe every day. It astonishes them to hear that I spend weekends doing laundry or- gasp! homework, and they are amazed to discover that I don’t go to the Louvre once a week. The truth is, it’s difficult to justify buying a block of foie gras over a week’s worth of groceries. However, I’ve still been having a smashing time with my own recipes. So many little stores and places make their own products, or their own condiments, the likes of which I’ve been buying and enjoying to fit my needs. Chinese five-spice mustard and freshly squeezed tangerine juice have been making appearances in my latest recipes. Above, you’ll see grilled proscuitto and raspberry-coing preserves. Below, pulled pork for a party.
For a special Halloween dinner, I made pumpkin crepes.
Sometimes, I stick to basic, but tasty standbys, like this Caprese omelet and grilled cheese, with fresh basil from the Marché St-Eustache and a slice of tomato atop melted sheep’s milk cheese.
I have been treating myself to some pastries and funky favorites, though. My Parisian pastry bucket list is getting smaller by the day! These giants are the famous rose pralines from Francois Pralus. He has a store in the 4th, about two blocks from my apartment, but at the Chocolate Salon, they were baking these inside giant pop-up ovens in their booth. I got to try a fresh piece of one- flaky, buttery, and sweet. I don’t know that I could eat an entire loaf.
When Dillinger and my little sister came, we took a walk past the Christmas market at Champs-Elysees. Dillinger picked up one of these Alsatian specialties, chocolate boules, a thin layer of chocolate topped with coconut or caramel, filled with fluffy whipped cream. It wasn’t that cold out, so we were surprised to see how well the chocolate held in the cream.
Another day, I took a walk with my sister to one of my favorite patisseries, Pain de Sucre. In addition to their plethora of macarons and pastries, they make gigantic, squishy marshmallows in a wide array of flavors. We picked up whiskey and salted caramel, rose, vanilla bean, and olive oil, and raspberry-coconut. I’m dying to go back and try their black sesame, too!
These croissants, from Sadaharu Aoki, have also worked their way into my breakfast repertoire. Flaky matcha croissants, bright green on the inside. It is my goal to ensure that at least one makes the trip back to my apartment to photograph. Four croissants and I’m still unsuccessful.
Last but not least, my absolute favorite dinner here so far- okay, I’m biased. The spiciest and subsequently, best dinner on a cold night, takeout noodle soup from Happy Nouilles in the 3rd, near the Arts et Metiers metro stop. My go-to order (typically paid for in coins) is the #4, the Zati, with black vinegar, ground pork, bok choi, and hand-pulled noodles shaved right into the pot when you order. Amazing, sheer perfection with my now omnipresent mug of Lapsang Souchong. My inability to use chopsticks turns my tablecloths into a warzone. More treats as the cold sets in!