Paris Notebook has moved and can now be found at www.myparisnotebook.com, so please head over there to read my latest post about Pierre Jancou’s beautiful new restaurant in the 10th, Vivant.
Unfortunately I hadn’t quite figured out how to move subscribers at first, but I think I have gotten the hang of it now, so if you subscribe to Paris Notebook you should be automatically notified for the next post. If you want to be sure to get an email, you can resubscribe on the new site.
If you have any suggestions or comments, I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People ask if my eating habits have changed since moving to France, assuming that Americans live off processed junk and shop in giant supermarkets. Thankfully my upbringing was nothing like that and not all that different from how I eat in France.
My mother worked full time, but managed to make a home-cooked dinner for four kids every night. We had a milk man who left fresh milk and eggs on our porch and a butcher named Tony who wrapped my mom’s packages in brown paper, tied up with string. My parents weren’t foodies, but for some reason we never bought meat from the supermarket, only from the butcher. I remember one night my father asking with suspicion if my mom had bought that night’s steak at the Acme, and you knew from the tone of his voice that this was not something you wanted to do. Produce came from the Amish farmers market up the street and we had a vegetable garden in the summer. We had all sorts of tomatoes in that garden and I have never tasted better tomatoes than the one’s my father grew. I learned that eating fresh local food was better. No one told me it was better, but it certainly tasted better.
There’s a myth that everyone in France shops at outdoor markets or their neighbourhood butcher, cheesemonger and baker. Sadly this isn’t always the case. While many still shop at family run shops, more and more people are opting for the ease and convenience of hypermarchés or giant supermarkets just like Americans. And even if you do shop at outdoor markets in France, it is by no means a guarantee that what you’re buying is from a local farm and may very well be from some industrial farm in Spain. Click Here To Keep Reading
With two women in the kitchen, an Irishman in the dining room and an American barrista, it’s clear from the onset that this former 1920’s cabaret turned art space is anything but typical.
Located just a short walk from the Place de Clichy, on a surprisingly charming impasse, it turned out to be the perfect place for Sunday brunch. Warm scones, fresh squeezed OJ, eggs over easy, real bacon (and not what usually passes for bacon in Paris) and undoubtedly some of the best coffee in Paris, made for one of the better brunches in Paris.
However, there’s more to the menu than just brunch and from all reports, Alice Quillet and Anna Trattles’s simple, British-influenced cuisine is more than satisfying with dishes like Welsh rabbit, cauliflower and cheddar soup, pork chops with roasted endive, and woodpigeon with beets. The wines get noticed as well, which is not surprising since two of those involved used to work at Willi’s Wine Bar, which also explains the charming bilingual service. You can finish up with a plate of Neal’s Yard’s Stichelton with Carr’s biscuits and chutney, a delicious looking Eton’s mess, or an excellent cheesecake, which is what we opted for.
While the restaurant itself is reason enough to cross town, I wouldn’t miss the first-rate photography and film exhibits, shown downstairs from the café. At the moment you can see Anonymes: L’Amerique Sans Nom, a depressing, albeit fascinating, look at the lives of ordinary Americans through film and photography from the 1930s till present times.
Be warned however that this address, which is barely a few months old, was swarming with middle-aged intellectual types by 13h00 who had just gotten out of the nearby Cinema des Cineastes, so if you want to enjoy your brunch, go early.
Le Bal Café
6 Impasse de la Défense
Métro: Place de Clichy
01 44 70 75 56
Open: Wednesday-Saturday 10h-23h, Sunday 10h-21h
Cooking has become very popular in Paris in the past few years and the number of classes has increased tenfold since I’ve been here, leaving a dizzying number of courses to choose from. I’ve taken several classes and love to cook, so when invited to attend a cooking class at Guy Martin’s Atelier with a group of bloggers in Paris, I immediately said yes.
The class began at 12h30 sharp in a beautiful hôtel particulier in the 8th. We grabbed our aprons, washed-up and took our places in Guy Martin’s state-of-the-art kitchen, ready to make the first dish—a tri-colored tomato carpaccio topped with arugula, basil granita, and grilled bread with crisp bacon. Click Here To Keep Reading
Sven Chartier and Ewen Lemoigne have taken the concept of cave à manger to a new level with Saturne, a beautiful, spacious wine bar and restaurant located steps from the Bourse in Paris’s 2nd arrondissement. Both were most recently at Racines, a wine bar in the Passage de Panorama known for its almost militant adherence to natural wines and impeccable products. Saturne offers much of the same, but in a much grander setting. Click Here To Keep Reading
It’s August, which means like most Parisians I’m en vacances and writing from the sunny Côte Vermeille along the Mediterranean. When I first arrived in France, I felt no need to flee the city in the summer months, however, I soon tired of explaining to literally everyone—from the bus driver to the baker—that no, I wasn’t going en vacances. I now head south in the summer like everyone else to avoid the bemused looks from Parisians who can’t understand how anyone could possibly stay in Paris over the summer.
While heading to the coast this year, we crossed the Viaduc de Millau, the highest bridge in the world at a stunning 1,125 feet high. Should you find yourself in the area, be sure to stop for lunch at the rest stop which lies just at the foot of the bridge. I promise, you’ll be glad you did. You see, this is not your average rest stop, but is overseen by none other than 3-Star Michelin Chef Michel Bras, one of the greatest chefs of his generation.
Bras, along with his brother André and son Sébastien, serve their own version of fast food, using only the best of local ingredients. They invented an interesting device which makes warm, crisp crepe-like cones called capucins to order and then fill them with ingredients like truffle and potatoes, aligot and sausage, foie gras with mushrooms, Laguiole cheese with apricots, Roquefort and pears, smoked trout, and Bernard Greffeuille’s Allaiton lamb, the same lamb used at Michel Bras’ restaurant. They’re delicious and a welcome change from the plastic containers of jambon beurre sandwiches you normally find along the highways of France.
Even the drinks are local with an amazing cherry nectar, local cola, lemonade and sparkling grape juice.
We finished up with an espresso topped with salted butter caramel whipped cream for dessert, but they also have homemade ice creams made from local ingredients. You won’t find vanilla, which isn’t native to the Aveyron, but instead can try hazelnut, salted caramel and honey gingerbread ice cream topped with fresh berries, Bonneval Abbey chocolate, caramel or whipped cream.
Our lunch with 3 capucines, 2 salted butter caramel coffees, chips with Roquefort cheese and 2 drinks was about 30 € ,so more than we would have spent at an ordinary rest stop, but considering the quality, it was worth it.
With the Aire de Millau, Michel Bras has shown that fast food doesn’t have to mean junk and has created a wonderful place to showcase the region’s products which he clearly loves. As the locavore movement picks up speed and chefs become more focused on ingredient-driven food foods, I hope we will see more of such places all over France. For now, just hope you find yourself crossing the Viaduc de Millau in the near future.
Millau Viaduct Service Area
Open 7 days a week
I’ve wanted to go to Le Kolo, Asafumi Yamashita’s vegetable garden and table d’hôte, located about 45 minutes from Paris in the Yvelines, ever since I read about it in Wasabi, sometime last year. For someone who goes out of their way to find interesting local products, Yamashita’s garden sounded fascinating.
He grows remarkable Japanese vegetables like Kabu (white turnips), hinona (long purple turnips), komatsuma (similar to spinach), beautiful white and purple eggplants, snap peas, micro tomatoes and other unusual vegetables in his garden in Chapet and hand delivers them twice a week to a very select group of chefs in Paris. The group is so exclusive that you can count its members on two hands and they include three-star chefs like Pascal Barbot, Pierre Gagnaire, and Eric Briffard.
His vegetables are highly sought after and his waiting list includes Paris’s top chefs. But rather than expand, Yamashita prefers to work his small parcel of land alone with his wife, which means production is kept low. The small space enables him to work by hand and use minimal chemical interventions. He uses his knowledge of Bonsai gardening, which he learned from his father and grew commercially before turning to vegetables, to carefully trim each vine, checking the roots to determine when to water and treating each plant according to its unique needs. The seeds are brought directly from Japan and, unlike industrial growers, are chosen for flavour rather than durability.
The result? Beautiful, intensely flavoured vegetables. click here to keep reading
For those of you who didn’t get into Frenchie on your last Paris trip, you might be able try Gregory Marchand’s cooking this coming weekend as Omnivore is bringing a team of young, talented French chefs to New York for two nights of cooking, master classes and a street party on 4-5 June.
Gregory Marchand of Frenchie, Peter Nilsson of La Gazetta, Gilles Choukroun of MBC (all from Paris), Eric Guérin of La Mare aux Oiseaux in Saint Joachim, Philippe Hardy of Le Mascaret in Blainville-sur-mer, and Jean-Luc Tartarin from Le Havre will be cooking along side American chefs like David Kinch, Dan Barber and Paul Liebrandt.
The five French chefs will then team up for a special night of “live cooking” for 500 lucky guests at a Brooklyn block party at the Invisible Dog complete with food truck, DJ and more that is sure to be a blast.
For more information and reservations head to www.omnivore.fr
More in the Press
Exceptional cooking requires outstanding products and even in a city like Paris where markets abound, they are not always easy to find. Even worse, the products often used in three-star kitchens like Le Meurice and Astrance are just not available to the public.
Luckily this weekend, you have the chance to buy some of the best products available in Paris at Spring Boutique, thanks to Alexandre Drouard and Samuel Nahon of Terroirs d’Avenir, a Parisian based company which sources the best artisanal products in France–often local and hard to find.
If you are lucky enough to be alerted to one of their “marchés éphemères (pop-up markets), you might find “Jacky Mercier’s beautiful heirloom tomatoes, Laurent Berrurier’s incredible choux de Pontoise (cabbage) or, real champignons de Paris, which have been cultivated by the Spinelli family for over 3 generations and taste nothing like ordinary white button mushrooms.
This weekend at Spring Boutique, Alexandre and Samuel will be selling Berrurier’s wonderful small production Argenteuil asparagus, for 14 € a kilo.
In addition, Spring Boutique always carries many of their products including their intense dried peppermint from the Milly forest which makes an incredible tisane, Brigitte Verdaguer Rancio white wine vinegar which will transform your salad dressings, or the only real jambon de Paris, made in the 11th arrondissement. I have tried most of their products and they are truly outstanding.
So, if you want to buy some excellent asparagus, don’t miss this marché éphemère on Saturday.
52 rue de l’Arbre Sec,
More about Spring Boutique can be found here
Drawing by Asako Masunouchi
It’s been nearly ten years since Alexandre Cammas, then writing for Libération and Nova, coined the term Fooding–a mix between food and feeling–and launched the first “Semaine de Fooding” in December of 2000. Since then Le Fooding has been holding some of the best culinary events in France with their “Semaine de Fooding” and “Grand Fooding d’Eté, both of which invite some very big name French chefs to serve playful dishes in unusual atmospheres at very democratic prices.
I’ve been to winter carnivals where Yannick Alleno and Yves Camdeborde served up street food in the village Saint Paul, summer BBQs with Inaki Aizpitarte, Pierre Gagnaire, and Alain Passard and this year’s aptly named “Les Incorrects“, which served up some pretty politically incorrect dishes, like bunny and horsemeat, in the spectacular Piscine Molitor. This year the Fooding gang even took on the Big Apple with Le Fooding d’Amour, which brought together some of France’s and New York’s best chefs, American and French alike.
Val d’Isère: 25 April
Fooding à la Neige (aka Fooding in the Snow): Taste the cuisine of Christophe Aribert (Les Terrasses D’Uriage), Emmanuel Renaut (Flocons de Sel), Alain Perillat (Atmosphères) and Patrick Walker (La Fruitière) from the terrace of the Folie Douce on the summit of Val d’Isere. Entrance 25 €
Paris: 2, 9, 16 May
2 May: Eric Fréchon (Bristol) and Federica and Fabrizio Mancioppi (Caffé dei Cioppi)
9 May: Giovanni Passerini (Rino) and Grégory Marchand (Frenchie)
16 May: Alberto Herraiz (Fogon) and Cédric Casanova (La tête dans les olives)
For an invitation visit their site at 10am on 29 April
Nice: 5 June
Mauro Colagreco (Le Mirazur), Mickaël and Gaël Tourteaux (Flaveur), Armand Arnal (La Chassagnette) and Mickael Gracieux (L’Aromate) will be on hand for a BBQ at Hi Beach in Nice.
For an invite, visit Le Fooding on 3 June at 10am.
More events are planned throughout the year, with events in Paris, Biarritz, Milan and NYC again. I will be posting more information as it becomes available.
More about Le Fooding
Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, April 5 2010: No Rules! Is Le Fooding, the French culinary movement, more than a feeling