Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Paris: The Food

Of course everyone who knows us has been asking the same question since we returned from our trip: "How was the food?"  I've already shared one of our best meals, at the Artichoke outside of London.  And my last post started with our first meal in Paris. 

Shocking as it may be to you, we didn't thoroughly document every single meal we had in Paris...and I do apologize! ;-)  However, we did capture a few here and there...
In fact, I had to take pictures...for, after all, food is one of the important categories of vocabulary I have to teach my students.  And it's usually the most popular part of the class.  So I wanted to get some images to illustrate some words.  For example...

un sandwich

les frites
des frites

le pain

la limonade / le diabolo fraise

This meal was at one of several cafés on the Place St. André des Arts, near Place St. Michel on the left bank.  Unfortunately, it was not the best café on the Place.  At least, I hope it wasn’t.  Miss Chef had a roast chicken that she found so dry as to be unpalatable, and the famous frites were worse than many we’ve had in the States: frozen, mush-filled and lacking any crispness.  Bleah.


Sorry, Hon, but my sandwich was ok.

The good news is, that was easily the worst meal we had all week.  We generally didn’t look up reviews or recommendations, online or in guidebooks, to find restaurants.  We waited until we were hungry, and then did our best to pick a place based on its menu.  So the evening after our mediocre lunch, I was a little leery about whether we’d run out of luck.  We had just left the Pompidou Museum and wandered into a nearby street before deciding on a place.  It turned out that we had stumbled onto a Persian restaurant, and back into our good luck!

IMG_0779 dinner
Coquelettes apparently means “wings!”  The saffron rice was fantastic, as I repeatedly informed Miss Chef.


Her stuffed peppers didn’t look all that appetizing, but she said they were just like Grandma used to make.  Huh, I didn’t know your Grandma was Persian… Winking smile


Miss Chef was as ecstatic over her saffron, rosewater and pistachio ice cream as I was over that rice.  You can see my baklava in the background.  That too was quite good—not drowning in syrupy sweetness, it still had a good crisp bite, and I could see all the bits of pistachios in it.


We generally took our breakfasts at home.  A couple of mornings I ran around the corner to the boulangerie to pick up croissants, but more often it was just cereal.  Not very good cereal, but I ate it anyway.  In spite of the packaging showing crispy flakes, it was more like raw oats with a few nuts thrown in.  If it hadn’t been in the 90s for several days, I might have tried popping it in the microwave and eating it warm.


And no, I didn’t think to photograph the croissants!  They didn’t look much different than what we can find at home; it was the taste that was completely different…mmmm….

Um, anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes, on to our next meal, which was another café lunch.  We had seen a farm truck making a delivery to a restaurant on our way past in the morning, so we made a point to stop in for lunch.  Again, I think I enjoyed my meal more than Miss Chef enjoyed hers.

IMG_0794 lunch

I had another salad with warm goat cheese, like the appetizer I had the first night.  This cheese wasn’t as melted, but the dressing on the salad was delicious, and there was some very good prosciutto hiding in the bottom.  (Oh, and can you see the kir just at the upper right edge of the picture?  Miss Chef wanted to know why I hadn’t introduced her to those earlier.  It’s one part crème de cassis to four parts white wine, if you’d like to play along at home.)

Miss Chef had a croque monsieur, France’s answer to the grilled-cheese sandwich.  It was fine, but not what she was expecting.  They’re not normally open-faced, but I guess this chef was taking liberties with the classics.  Oh, how dare he! Open-mouthed smile


These fries were better than before, but we never did have those thin, delicate, crispy fries that I remember from my earlier visits to France.  Most restaurants were serving the larger, home-fry sized ones, and none of them seemed to be using the duck or (yes) horse fat that supposedly makes them so good.  Something to leave on our list for our next trip: find really good fries.

That night we finally put the kitchen to use…sort of.  Actually, we put the neighborhood to use!  Within a block of our door, we found everything we needed to put together a quick dinner.  Two grocery stores, a wine store, a foie gras store, a vegetable stand and the most stereotypical butcher you can imagine.  Short, plump, balding, flushed and sporting a respectable mustache, he served us with a brusque good humor.  It was so busy and we were a little off-kilter, confused by this system of ordering, getting tickets, paying, getting another ticket and then finally picking up the food…well, that’s all to say I didn’t get a picture of the butcher or his shop.

I did, however, get a picture (or sixteen) of dinner!


Bread, cheese, foie gras and some of the fruits we’d gotten at the market a couple of days earlier.  In the back are the roasted chicken and potatoes from the boucherie, and the requisite bottle of wine.  Yeah, it was a little harsh for chicken; I guess we bought things out of order.


Here’s a close-up of my stinky cheese…mmmm…


…and the fruits: figs, cherries…

…and gooseberries!  We didn’t know what they were when Miss Chef bought them.  I asked the vendor, and then had to go look up macareau de groseille before we got to…gooseberry.  Then we remembered we’d had some at the Artichoke the week before!  They are quite tart, and I learned that night that they pair nicely with foie gras.

Dessert was an odd selection…a pistachio brioche I’d bought that morning, which tasted better than it looked…


…my favorite yogurt I’d been dreaming of for months.  And yes, it was as good as I remembered!

And then there was another adventure of Miss Chef’s.  Anyone recognize this alien pod fruit?


It’s most commonly encountered in Asian cooking…here’s the white, edible fruit.


Give up?  It’s a lychee rambutan!  Very sweet, delicate and refreshing on a 95-degree day.  Thanks to Amanda for correcting me in the comments--apparently lychees and rambutans have similar tastes, but they actually don't look that much alike.

Delving into my picture files, I see there are a couple of other memorable meals to relay, but I’m going to include them in my chronological journaling to come.  Certainly, you must be full by now?

I am composing this in Live Writer for the first time, and I’m having a few “growing pains.”  How can I turn off this double-spacing every time I hit Enter?  And is there any way to do picture captions like in Blogger’s direct uploads?


  1. Could I have some saffron rice, and some of that ice cream for desert, please?

  2. Hmmm. I've never had any issues with double spacing, but I don't hit enter for every line. As for the photo captions, you can just add them anywhere you'd like above or below the photo, or you can use one of their photo frames that looks like an old Polaroid photo and gives you a place to add a caption at the bottom.

    Thanks for sharing some of your meal photos. Those Persian meals look delish..especially the saffron rice. The ice cream and the baklava looked scrumptious! Your fruit photos looked amazing, too. And how funny that your favorite yogurt is made by Nestle. Wonder why we can't get it here in the states. Is it like Greek yogurt? I love the thicker Greek Yogurt, with honey. Mmm!
    That cereal looked more like uncooked oatmeal. I wonder if you boiled it, if it would have tasted better?

    More please?
    I'm still hungry.


  3. Sorry I can't help you with the technical issues. I am in love with fresh lychee. I had some in Hawaii. I would marry it if I could.

  4. The Persian meal looks fantastic!

    We can get fresh lychees here, but the skins are brown and without the wild hairdos - maybe that means they're not as fresh? But the insides looks the same. I think they are an incredibly refreshing thing to eat on a hot day.

  5. I've never had lychee - unless it was in a Chinese stir-fry or other Chinese meal. The decorative shell is absolutely beautiful! Looks like a sea anemone. OK, fine! You've succeeded in making my stomach growl, so I shall go fix my lunch, but it won't be anything spectacular like you ladies usually have!!!

    Nancy in Iowa

  6. Brie and figs in PARIS! I am so jealous. Looks like you have some seriously good food-- Even the lychee (which I'd have never guessed).

    I'm off to read your Paris posts that I missed.

    Cheers, jj

  7. I guess I'm too simple and not very adventurous cause most of the foods look like I'd pass. I know, I know.

    I love Live Writer. It's all I use.

  8. I don't think that is a lychee. I am from a Chinese background. Lychees have a rougher, yet flatter skin, like what you would see on a frog/reptile. I think what you are talking about are rambutans. They have that type of "stringy" exterior. For a better image, you can google it. I am almost positive that it is a rambutan. The flesh looks similar(both opaque), but they have a different taste. In my opinion, the lychee is more "heavy" in flavor (almost annoying if you eat too many), and the other does not have such a potent flavor (more floral-ly).

    Nice blog!

    I am a teen food blogger. I would appreciate it if you could check mine out!


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