Friday, July 21, 2017

Paris Journal: Bon appétit!

At Le Bistro du Maquis
Bon appétit! (adopted from French –Merriam-Webster)

By Moristotle

I suspect that many of you were hoping Monday’s entry (“‘Je vote France Insoumise’”) would be mostly about food. “Food,” after all, was its fourth word (“Remembering the Moroccan food….”). And you might have hoped that its subtitle, “‘I Vote France Unbowed’,” meant that I vote for France’s food. Indeed, I do vote for it.
    But to make up for the entry’s not being mostly (or even much) about food, I’ve decided today to share many of the photos I felt like a Facebook Fool taking during our month abroad, beginning with photos of ourselves taken our first evening in Paris this year, at Le Bistro du Maquis, in Montmartre, the restaurant our friend had introduced us to our first day in Paris last year. We’re enjoying a bottle of the same sparkling water he chose for lunch that day, April 10, 2016.

The French menu of course lists individual starter dishes, main courses, and desserts, but it typically offers the option to order one of three combinations:

    The first line gives the price of either starter plus main course or main course plus dessert, and the second line gives the price if you have all three. Carolyn and I typically opted for plat + dessert since we could (and usually would) have a salad at dinner in the apartment.
    But we did occasionally have an entrée, and this entry in the Paris Journal does need to start properly:

At Chamarré Montmartre,
just down stairs to the next street from the apartment

At L’Amboise, in Lyon

At Polissons, in Montmartre

    And, of course, our waiter would often bring a basket of pain to the table before our plat arrived. The breads were generally excellent, much better consistently than bread served in American restaurants.
At Le Trévise, in Sceaux

At Polissons, in Montmartre

But now to the pièces de résistance (the showpieces or prizes) of the various plats we enjoyed:
At Chamarré Montmartre

At Chamarré Montmartre

At Le Trévise, in Sceaux

At Polissons, in Montmartre

At Le Bistro du Maquis

At Le Trévise, in Sceaux

At Le Bistro du Maquis

At Ménara, in Auvers-sur-Oise

At Le Bistro des Arts, in Compiègne

At Polissons, in Montmartre

Finally, certaines choses à mourir (some things to die for): desserts!
In the main restaurant at the Musée d’Orsay,
part of the Gare d’Orsay when the building was still a train station

At a restaurant across from an entrance to the estate
of the Château de Fontainebleau

In Café Campana, at the Musée d’Orsay

In the main restaurant at the Musée d’Orsay

At Le Bistro des Arts, in Compiègne

Down into the dessert shown previously

   This is a good place to mention a local French baker, Chef Benjamin of the French Corner Bakery in Durham, North Carolina. I’ve mentioned him a few times on this blog, even “limericked” him:
Benjamin didn’t mind that bit of verse,
so now he’s gone and baked me something worse:
    Pain au Chocolat! It’s scrumptious,
    it helps me feel rambunctious.
Wife thinks if I have two I’ll need a nurse.
That verse was accompanied by a photograph of a tray of pains au chocolat I found on the French Corner Bakery’s Facebook page.
     I mention Benjamin now because on a number of occasions in France, I heard Carolyn say, “This croissant isn’t as good as Chef Benjamin’s”! In fact, she found only one occasion to say, “This croissant is as good as Chef Benjamin’s!” (In that case, the exclamation mark was hers.) Benjamin is, by the way, literally a French baker, having learned the trade in Paris as a teenager.

We almost always had breakfast and dinner in the apartment, or “at home,” as we were entirely comfortable saying. We had already learned to feel at home in our friend’s apartment during the three weeks we stayed there (lived there) in April last year. Returning on June 1 this year was like coming home.
    For breakfast we always had coffee, which I made by measuring 5/8 cup of finely ground coffee into a filter and pouring on very hot water, filling the carafe and providing about 2-2/3 mugs of excellent coffee.
    We usually had fruits and bread and cheese, and additionally for me, low-sugar granola with plain yogurt and milk. I also had Quaker brand oatmeal on four or five occasions. We bought the coffee, bread, cheese, cereals, yogurt, and milk mostly at Monoprix. Also orange juice, with pulp.

We generally used one of the Monoprix’s rolling baskets

    I almost always had either orange marmalade or apricot & peach preserves on my cheese and bread – I bought the Bonne Maman brand at Monoprix. The cheeses were all French, as I recall, Bries, Camemberts, and also a Boursault, which we settled on as our favorite, both for its taste and the fact that it wasn’t rubbery, like the others tended to be. And the bread we settled on was one from the Monoprix bakery, with noisettes (hazelnuts), and I used Monoprix’s own brand of plain yogurt.
    Alas, I seem not to have taken any photos of these breakfasts, but I do have a photo of the wonderful granola package. (We also found it in Cardiff, Wales, where we visited our friend Penelope Griffiths – that visit will be the subject of a future entry in the journal. Somehow we failed to notice, until we returned to our North Carolina home and read the unopened package we brought back with us, that Lizi’s is a product of Wales!)

Carolyn, in pink cap,
pays for our last purchase this trip
We purchased almost all of the fruits and vegetables we had at home from Le Panier Lamarck, 150 meters or so across the street, down the steps and street northward from the apartment.
A typical collection from Le Panier Lamarck;
note the paper bag provided for loose items (like greens)

For our main courses at home, we often relied on frozen foods, more often from Picard Gourmet Frozen Foods (which we never visited in 2016), but sometimes from Monoprix, like the first item shown here:
These tomato tarts were outstanding; we both loved them!

The box the tomato tarts came in

I purchased 500 kg of jambon (ham)
at a boucherie (butcher shop) two streets
down from the apartment

I think I purchased this “hot dog” –
it might even have been labeled “American style” –
at Le Deux Frères, adjacent to Le Panier Lamarck

We paid 16€ for this rotisserie chicken from a man
who, I still feel, was taking advantage of a couple
of foreigners (and the meat was fairly dry)
    Dessert might be as simple as a few rectangles from a lait (milk) or noir (dark) chocolate bar, usually with noisettes, or something purchased from a local pâtisserie (pastry shop), sometimes as good as if served in a restaurant, but usually less fresh (and lacking in “presentation”):
From Boris Pâtisserie, which we had discovered in April 2016,
and really, really binged from one afternoon (five desserts, had it been?)

Another from Boris

Not sure where I bought this – Le Deux Frères?

Pistachio something from Boris
    I knew I could find a way to end with desserts!

Copyright © 2017 by Moristotle

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