Posts Tagged ‘food’

Paris Street Markets: rue Mouffetard (5e)

September 3, 2012

Get your little string shopping bags ready for the rue Mouffetard

Dear Readership you must wonder where we’ve been all summer.  Nurse underwent the first of two knee surgeries in July and we’ve been working through her rehab and adjustment to being home again.

So we delved into the archives to bring you a short report from a visit Melinda and I made to market in the rue Mouffetard.  

At home, the Experienced Travelers endure the weekly food shopping.  They clutch their coupons and wheel the grocery cart through crowded aisles, wishing they were treading the cobbles of a Parisian street market instead. (note: coupons for items you need are *found money*!)

The rue Mouffetard market is one of the oldest in Paris.  But like the holy grail,  it eluded the ETs because we couldn’t actually find it.  Somehow we always wound up near the Mosque and settled instead for a delicious couscous lunch which is very affordable at it’s restaurant.

So I was bound and determined that Melinda and I would overcome my faulty map reading and get from the Place Monge metro station to the market.

Lost!

But determination doesn’t guarantee success.  Soon we were dazed and confused in a maze of cheap Greek restaurants and second-hand stores.

Another wrong turn

Melinda relieved me of command and in very short order we were poised at the top of the rue Mouffetard with stalls of tasty goods arrayed before us.  I was confounded again, but delighted to see what lay before me.

Anyone have a cracker? Cheeses at the Fromagerie Vernon

Once the Roman road to Italy, the rue Mouffetard is replete with everything you’ll need for a five-course meal and something to wear as you serve it up.  Hemingway lived nearby at 74, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, and like the fantasy in the movie Midnight in Paris. We hoped he would appear so we could help him with his shopping which we assumed meant getting drunk, debating the meaning of art, and having fistfights.

Baguettes, gros pain, pain au levain, pain de ménage. How to choose!

Many French families shop every day – even office employees who go first thing in the morning, and again after work.  During the day, you’ll meet an army of dapper ladies, nannies with strollers and retired gentlemen who can browse at their leisure thanks to the generous French pension programme.

Knowledge and experience at your service.

Anyone who leaves the rue Mouffetard hungry must be an ascetic in an extreme state of self-denial.  I was lost again – lost in my hungry thoughts of those scallops, that loaf of bread, and this bottle of wine.

A little something to keep the ancient Romans from getting thirsty on the road

I think that the Romans chose the rue Mouffetard for their road because they could pick up tasty victuals for the trip on their way out of town.  While all roads may lead to Rome, this road will also satisfy any appetite, ancient or modern.

Generations of dedicated shop owners and purveyors of fine foods have kept the rue Mouffetard vital. Salut!

So What’s for Dinner?

June 25, 2012

Everyone’s doing the shopping – what’s on your menu tonight?

The Experienced Travelers have all the flashing Eiffel Towers, Montmartre sno-globes and “I Ate Snails” tee shirts we’ll ever need.  So we are left to apply our considerable shopping energies toward something with immediate benefit – the fresh food on offer in the irresistible Parisian food markets, that will be destined for our rental apartment kitchen.

Nurse in the kitchen after she has given me a job to do elsewhere that is more suited to my talents.

I believe that because it’s French food and a French kitchen, our humble victuals will automatically transform into haute-cuisine, no matter how badly I prepare them while Nurse is out of the room.

When our friends Barbara and Chris arrived jet-lagged, dinner at home was the way to enjoy good food and have an early night.  We drew up our dinner strategy over chocolat chaud.  Barbara, Chris and I had assigned courses to buy, while Nurse directed our forays.

Imagining a hot skillet and a little butter, Christine chooses carefully.

Christine was in charge of veggies, and applied her business acumen to the rows of attractive fresh vegetables.  The French have come around to the practice of self-service.  Years ago, you had to wait for the Produce Man to choose, bag and weigh for you.  This was never an inconvenience because the Produce Man was often attractive and flirtatious, making it a pleasure to part with a few francs.

Faced with a myriad of choices, Chris decided some plump and pretty white asparagus would grace the table admirably.  We’ll have to ask her if she thought the Produce Man would grace the table admirably too.

This is a long way from Betty Crocker. Barbara casts a knowing eye over the dessert choices.

Barbara had the enviable category of dessert and found a small pâtisserie in the rue Cler.  The hardest part was deciding among the calorie-laden choices.  Despite her jet lag, Barbara called upon her Sacred Heart French and did an admirable job communicating with the assistant behind the counter.  Nice work, Pal!

With cunning, I chose the main course so I could procure one of the roasted chickens that turn slowly in special chicken ovens strategically placed outside many bûcheries.  Equally cunning, these ovens waft the enticing smell of roasting bird into the nostrils and brain synapses of passing shoppers.  Those ovens deliver a real return on investment.

Hard at work choosing the main course. Photo by Chris

There is purchasing protocol at the bûcherie too.  I discussed with the butcher the merits of each chicken – size, price and worthiness.  After choosing our chicken, he gave me a ticket to take to the cashier at the back of the store.  I paid, then brought the receipt back to the butcher and collected my prize, wrapped and ready for the table.

Meanwhile, I trusted that Nurse was creating calligraphy menus and place cards, and letting our complimentary bottle of wine breathe.

Barbara and Chris weren’t too jet-lagged to stop at Cantin for a lovely smelly bit of cheese to have before dinner.

If you’re staying in a hotel, visit the charcuteries, where you can buy ready-to-enjoy foods prepared by the the talented staff.  The butcher will cut your chicken and the  local wine shop will be happy to uncork your bottle.  All you’ll need are utensils and a pleasant spot to eat.

A most important assignment for Christine

So under Nurse’s supervision, we set to work in our apartment kitchens.  In short order, we were dining en famille on the fruits of our shopping – and at a very reasonable price, leaving Found Money for our adventures the next day.

Confounded by two unfathomable French corkscrews.

Dear Readership, don’t be shy about shopping at the local stores in your neighborhood.  If you’re uneasy about speaking French, rely on the international language of pointing, gestures and smiles.  It’s an affordable way to dine and there might be a handsome Produce Man to make it worthwhile.

The colors of happiness. Photo by Christine

C’est Frommage: Cantin

May 11, 2011

Say Cheese!

The Experienced Travelers promised our faithful Food-eurs and Food-ettes a taste of Paris, and it’s time we delivered.  Uncork  your favourite vintage and keep an aged wedge near at hand, because you’ll need both by the end of this post.

As many of you know, Nurse and I often rent an apartment off the rue de Champs de Mars.  This gives us the thrill of food shopping in the rue Cler and the deep satisfaction of Nurse’s talents in our kitchen – compounded by the Found Money from “eating in” that we can fritter away later.

Naturally we visited the cheese  store on the corner, lured by the dazzling window display of wedges and rounds.  Who knew that our corner shop was the world-renown Marie-Anne Cantin fromager de tradition Affineur.

Cantin on the rue de Champs de Mars: through these doors lies perfection

Cantin supplies the best Paris hotels and aristocratic tables.  When the Sarkozys entertain at the Élysée Palace, Carla rings up Cantin.  Surely this tenuous thread is the closest the ETs have come to the ermine cloak of power.  Can la Légion d’ honneur be far behind?

Calling all citoyens - slice a baguette and dive in

Mme. Cantin’s father opened the shop in 1950 and it is from him that she learned the art of cheese-making.  She ages her own delicacies in one of her seven caves, and sources others from small farms.  Mme.’s website advises that the process begins with the hay or grass that a happy cow, goat or ewe grazes, and finishes in caves, aging from a few weeks to two years for a beaufort or comté. (We may have cheeses aging that long in the fridge. Does that count?)

Hungry yet? Mme. Cantin's cheeses are cause for celebration

The inviting shop features chèvre, brie, camembert, comté, roquefort and cantal.   Even the uncompromising liverot – the colonel of cheese – stands at attention.  If you’re inclined to raw milk cheeses, Mme. can fulfill your order with the authentic item.  There is also rich butter and exquisite crème fraîche doled out from a large bowl.

The ETs were welcomed by the helpul staff at Cantin

Last month I brought Melinda to worship at this  Shrine of Cheese.  She went directly for the hard cheese while I favored the chevres.  We floated on the sweet pungent scents, admiring the selection and fingering the Found Money in our pockets.  The staff graciously explained the bounty before us, while I shamefully wished for a Triscuit and a knife.  My friend Stephen swears that the smelly, runny varieties are most satisfying.  He would be delighted with Cantin.

On an earlier trip, this delectable Cantin epoisses raised the standard of our vin ordinaire

Rest assured the ETs are dedicated to further exploration of Marie-Anne Cantin’s excellent craft whenever they are in the rue de Champs de Mars.  And when we win the lottery, we’ll have Mme. Cantin on speed-dial, just like Carla Bruni and the Comte de Paris.

The “No Wine Left Behind” Tour

April 15, 2011

No Wine Left Behind: ETs Melinda and Julie working hard on behalf of the Blog

The Experienced Travelers can authoritatively state that a crisp côtes du rhône on a sun-filled cafe terrace in the Place Saint-André des Arts is the recommended treatment for cobblestone-worn feet.  And a carafe is even better. Associate ET Melinda and I had five fantastic days in Paris, while Nurse enthusiastically directed our activities from home base.  Melinda is every bit her mother’s daughter, and having her along was like Virtual Nurse throughout the trip.

St. Agricola of Avignon, the French patron saint of good weather, smiled on us with buckets of warm sun.  Thus the Parisians were in good spirits, and well-disposed toward tourists like us who leaked euros wherever they went.  Adding to the climate, Melinda’s glowing Texas charm melted the cool French demeanor and raised our cachet all across town.

Nurse supernaturally knew when it was meal time. We reported dutifully on this omlette and goat cheese salad

We went everywhere (one of us in stylish wedgie sandals) and photographed like mad. Nurse carefully monitored our pictures via Dropbox to make sure they were perfect for the Readership. Under strict direction from Nurse’s texts (what r u eating?) we documented every meal, so there are several scrumptious posts in our future! 

Melinda claims I am a travel taskmaster, but that just isn’t true!  It’s perfectly reasonable that, on our jet-lagged day, we breakfasted on the Rue Cler and tried the first macaron in our Taste Test, hit the Bon Marché food hall, shopped the rue de Sèvres and visited the chic new Hermes store, stopped for a pick-me-up and people-watching at the Café Flore and explored the rue Montgoreuil market for the second macaron in our Taste Test at Strohrer.

The dreaded cobblestones tested the ET endurance

After a short metro ride, we genuflected before E. Dehillerin and bought lovely new knives, tried fresh oysters and a crisp vintage at Au Pied du Cochon, passed the construction site over Les Halles, made our way to happy hour at a faux-Mexican bar on the rue de Bucci and had a light dinner of an omlette and a chevre chaud salad (with wine, n’est pas) at the Café Danton.  Taskmaster?  Moi? 

Over the next four days, we had Paris at our feet – which we would have realized if we had any feeling left in them. Early on, we ordered wine at every opportunity.  By the end of Day 1, we consumed 14 glasses between us.  By mid-day 2, we invoked emergency ET legislation requiring us to drink Perrier every other round. Yet by the time we dined in Montmartre that evening, we passed an amendment suspending the Perrier rule after sundown.  As we toasted the throng in the Place du Tertre,  the portrait artists lured willing subjects and the lady inside warbled Piaf songs to a piano accompaniment.  Exquisite.

Toasting the crowds in the Place du Tertre

Watch for more reports on our Parisian sojourn in future posts!

A Paris Moment

April 9, 2011

Happy crowds filled the cobblestone streets of Montmartre on a Friday night

The Experienced Travelers appreciate variety, and we’ve certainly had ours on this latest visit.  Our dinner in Montmartre last night was a blast. We heeded Nurse’s text message “Montmartre – fun. Pigalle – oh la la, non.”.  Clearly, raucus living high above Paris agrees with us.  We rose early enough to fit in a full day today.

The ETs had a rue Mouffetard morning

Here’s a quick moment from our visit to the market on the rue Mouffetard.   The colorful blooms and bundles of white asparagus announce Spring.  Cheeses and delectables were for sale by hard-working shopkeepers.  Neighbors chatted, compared prices and bought for their Saturday night dinner.

We’re headed out for our Saturday dinner and a restaurant I haven’t tried before.  Will post again when the wireless internet cooperates!

April in Paris

March 28, 2011

 

Mise en place in Paris. All that's missing is an ET.

The Experienced Travelers toil and sacrifice to entertain the Readership with anecdotes about Paris.   From time to time, we must refresh our photos – and our palettes – with exquisite new wonders to share on Julie’s Paris.  Thus, it is solely for your benefit, dear Readership, that I return to our beloved Paris in early April for an extended weekend of ET research and grocery shopping.

Is there falafel in my future on the rue des Rosiers?

Nurse declined to come along because it’s a quick visit, but I have the next-best travel companion on board – Nurse’s daughter, Associate ET Melinda. Melinda is an excellent photographer, a first-class shopper and a true food enthusiast.  She will be a boon companion and a welcome addition to our blog.

Fans of Nurse will be pleased to know that she’ll oversee operations from Command Central, directing our every move via phone and text message.  Believe me, nothing will get by Nurse and she has firm opinions about how this trip should go.  You’ll be hearing from her!

The gardens behind Notre Dame are perfect for a picnic

Melinda and I will make the most of four days in the streets and boulevards.  My cunning plan will keep us busy exploring neighborhoods and restaurants.  I have accounted for the mission-critical aspects on my ET spreadsheet; Omlettes – check.  Croissants – check.   Pâté and a crisp Sancerre – check.  It’s been a long winter and I am ready for spring in Paris.

Yes, I'm dreaming of this hamburger. It was spectacular.

I want to prowl the less-touristed streets of Montmartre and watch edgy young “Bobos” on the cafe terraces near the Canal St. Martin.  I’m curious to explore elegant Passy and we will  lunch-tour at the popular Wine Museum.  Maybe this time I’ll genuflect at Proust’s cork-lined bedroom, where he wrote his masterwork and ate takeout ice-cream from the Ritz.

Why not suggest a sight or a memorable meal using the Comments link below!  We travel to serve to the Readership so you can wine, dine, shop and explore Paris along with us.

Pray for good weather and watch for real-time reports.  Oh, la la.

Melinda and I will be reporting from Place St. Andre des Arts

Entre nous: An affordable feast at Le Felteu

January 26, 2011

Welcome to Le Felteu. The ETs were surprised at what they found behind this rough facade. Photo: Panifers.blogspot.com

The Experienced Travelers take heart that Parisian dining isn’t all “oh la la” and chi-chi.  Casual, affordable meals abound.  You just need a knowledgable friend to whisper a coveted address, and your evening will be made. Thanks to a friend of Nurse’s, we got insider access to Le Felteu in the Marais.  Two years later, the memory is fresh and we’re still full.  Judging from recent online reviews, the secret is out.

The ETs were unprepared for what they found;   A neighborhood bar and grill serving excellent food under the direction of a French Harley-guy named Jerry.  The dining room décor of faded wallpaper and decorative plates was more “early VFW post” than Parisian bistro.  But we sensed a happy camaraderie among the banquettes and everything smelled awfully good.

In record time, the blackboard arrived listing the day’s menu. I ordered the house specialty – lamb – and Nurse seized the opportunity to have strange parts and organs in sauce.  The dining room buzzed with animated discussion while waiters effortlessly moved between crowded tables with corkscrews, bottles and plates.  Le Felteu was looking like a good bet.

After the heightening effects of the house red wine, we greeted our neighbors – a friendly young man from New Jersey living in Paris, who brought his visiting mother for an authentic meal.  Mother insisted she wasn’t going to drink. While the ETs speculated about a strange New Jersey code of behavior that forbade French wine, NJ Guy forsook his homeland and ordered a pichet.  The ETs glanced around the wine-infused room and quietly bet dessert on how long Mother would last.

Alors, cityoens! Maman's baguette slicer will deter unrest in the dining room

Over the din we heard a series of repetitive thuds.  (In France, “chop-chop” can be cause for concern. Fortunately the ETs are solidly middle class.) We turned to watch Jerry’s maman deftly apply a revolutionary-era guillotine to a stack of unlucky baguettes. It was understood that maman would be unquestionably obeyed.

The splendid salad with chevre --- before... Photo: pannifers.blogspot.com

While we enjoyed the fruits of maman’s labor, a gargantuan salad with warmed chevre on toasted croutons and a stunning plate of smoked salmon arrived.  These were serious man-sized dishes of hearty food.  The ETs practice Strategic Eating, but our efforts didn’t dent the portions.  The only sensible tactic was to spread the wealth to NJ Guy and Mother. 

Bottoms Up! Mother reconsiders

It was then that we noticed her glass of wine, and planned to leave room for dessert.

Despite our best efforts, this is as much damage as we could inflict without straying from the Strategic Eating guidelines.

We were still dizzy with joy from the entrees when our plats arrived. 

"How can I possibly eat all this!"

 My lamb chops were beautiful – and plentiful. 

Nurse's dish of stuff and parts in a fragrant sauce

Nurse’s large dish of kidneys and vegetables swam in their sauce. 

The crowning glory: Potatoes Gratin that we fondly recall 2 years later

But the coup de grace was an entire casserole of potatoes gratin that was perfectly browned on top and running with rich cheese just below the surface.  There are times when only a man will do – and this was one of  them.  The ETs fed half their dinners to NJ Guy.  He got one of my lamb chops, a heaping helping of the potatoes and some of Nurse’s parts.  It was gratifying to watch this slender young man devour his meal and ours too.

By now, it was clear that the Strategic Eating guidelines ruled out dessert.  Which was a pity, because the huge bowls of crème broulee that passed our table looked perfect.  The miracle of Le Felteu is that we enjoyed this for just €27 each and we wouldn’t need to eat the entire next day, resulting in approximately €85 in Found Money to spend on perfume. 

And before the evening was over, we got another insider recommendation from NJ Guy who told us that Restaurant Paul Bert served the best steak-frites in town.  That, dear Readership, is how it’s done in Paris.

 Le Felteu 15 rue Pecquay Paris 04 Tel: 01.42.72.14.51. Email: le-felteu.jerry@wannadoo.fr  M. Rambuteau Don’t think of going without reservations

Special thanks to http://pannifers.blogspot.com/2008/04/le-felteu.html for letting me use a couple of photos.  Follow the link to read their review of Le Felteu!

"Oui, maman!"


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