Saturday, August 7, 2010

Paris, France

I finally have my notes in front of me and can begin to tell you about our 48 hours in Paris.
As Patricia & Walter Wells said "We've always had Paris...."  This is a wonderful city.  It may be the color of the buildings or the romance of the history.  Maybe it's just the cheese. Paris is a magnificent walking city beautifully laid out with something to see at every turn.  Outside of Paris is a different story.  Just take the train to the airport and you'll see the change.

Eighteen hours after arriving at the airport in Porto we arrived in Paris. Wanting to use every minute we had to eat and enjoy we took a taxi into the city right to Rue des Fossess St Jacque to a local wine bar, Cafe de La Nouvelle Mairie. When you walk in you know you're in Paris, the people squish together sitting so closely they are practically sitting on each others laps drinking, talking and laughing. My first meal and bottle of wine in Paris, consisted of an assorted cheese plate and charcuterie, delicious bread, and a bottle of Le Fleurie- I was in love (I'm sorry I can't be more specific aside from the photo .  I don't care what anyone says but for me red wine is better in France.  Hahahaha I couldn't believe I was in Paris the bottle went down so smoothly I looked for another, but it was late and the place was closing and we needed to get a little rest before embarking in the morning for all the pastries we could fit into one morning before lunch and the next bottle of wine.

The next morning we had breakfast at Le Loir Dan Latheiere on Rue de Rosiers for an outrageous hot chocolate and delicious artichoke omelet.

Headed to Pierre Herme's shop for a buttery croissant and to Poilane for second breakfast ~ an apple tart and onto dessert for chocolates at Patrick Roger. Spent an outrageous amount on various chocolate bars that we ate within days of coming home.

For dinner we met friends ~ yes Americans in Paris at Chez Michele.  O had been here before and loved the place.  Instead of bread or olives on the table they start you off with snails and butter.  I don't know if the shell was empty or what but after 4 shells and not being able to get the snail out I decided to give up. We started out with a 2007 Thierry Puzelet.  The nose was very funky to me but I was liking everything I ate and drank in Paris.  I think we ordered everything on the menu.  It's hard for me to tel you everything we ordered because it was all in French but we had: Asparagus Soup with Goat Cheese, Raw Scallops, Eel Carpaccio which was divine. We moved onto a 2004 Breton Bourgueil Les Perrieres which I loved. There was Duck with peas, carrots and turnips, Goat Rib & Breast, Coucou de Rennes with morelles & cream in a pot ~ that was enough for 4 people.  These birds are spectacular and moist and come from Brittany~nothing like the birds we have here.  Do you know the old SNL expression if it's not Scottish it's crap well if it's not from Brittany..........

Dessert was over the top and I don't know how I ate any of it.  I had an Apple Clafouti with a pot of cream yes a pot that poured like cold honey.  I've never seen anything like this in the US of A.  Rice Pudding comes in a pot also enough for 4 people served with a citur marmalde with almost no sugar ~ not my thing but very interesting and good.  Creme caramel with coffee this was so light not anything like the pot de creme or creme caramel that's made here either.  Then the cheese plate comes.  You take what you want off the huge hunks of cheese they put before you.... it's unreal I tell you. And this was just the first day.

When you travel to smaller towns and places where the urban and the neighboring countryside blend together naturally, you will find the food and wine coming from the local area. It seems odd to me looking at how "local" "sustainable" & "farmers markets" are now the trend.  When I was a child we had a bungalow just outside of the town of Peekskill. Across route 202, just before you veer off to the right towards the Bear Mountain extension, was a farm.  We would stop there every weekend when we came up from the city. He had the best corn and we'd get all our vegetables from him.  I even have a photo of my brother riding the tractor when he was about 4 years old. The farmers name was Angelo and I thought he was a distant relative.  Then one day he was gone.  He must have been old when I was a kid and I don't think they had any children so the farm disappeared.  I don't know what's there now as I don't want my memory changed.  I'm glad the farmers markets are coming back  Well, I digress but it's interesting how Europe is so far ahead of us in so many ways regarding food.

The next morning it was back to the same ~ apparently we had already established a routine.  Head to Pierre Herme for croissants and then compare the rest ~ hahaha.  His are the best in Paris! After gorging ourselves on croissants here and there and a piece of chocolate at Michel Chaudun and at Patrick Roger both are different one is older and traditional yet the best you can buy the other innovative & sublime.  He carries signature bars made from cocoa beans from all over the world.  The most amazing selection you will find. Here's a list of choclate & pastry shops to see in Paris.

In Paris it's always a holiday so if you don't have the time you can miss a lot.  We missed an amazing wine bar.  We got there too late for lunch and the place is so small if you don't make a reservation you can't have dinner. We were lucky enough to hit it right and get a lovely table outside at Le Comptoir which also has a hotel connected to it next door. In fact we had lunch and dinner here because it was that good.  You sit outside feeling just like one of the locals except that you don't smoke.  You order a carafe of wine and chat enjoying the street musicians and the people passing by.  You might even see a friend who will stop and sit with you for a while.  We drank a caafe of the house Rose a 2008 Bandol by Alain Constant.~ I could drink this all year long. They had white asparagus with chives and butter so of course... you haven't had white asparagus until you've had it in Paris~ the stuff you get in New York doesn't taste like anything. Then we ordered a bottle of C'est Le PRintemps 2009.  I don't know how to describe this but it was wonderful, you could tast the spring time and it smelled like red cherries.  Everything we ordered from the Pork & Lentils, to the Steak and Lamb came with purple potato chips ~ the best I ever had.

Did I mention earlier that it was cold in May in Paris?  We I was freezing the whole time.  It's a good thing those heat lamps were there or not only would I not been able to sit outside I wouldn't have been able to eat dessert either ~ which was simply delicious.

In between all this eating, we tried to visit The Picasso Museum.  Unfortunately or fortunately for the future it's under renovation and will not reopen until 2011 so if you're going check first.  Otherwise anywhere you walk you will find museums and places of interest.  The city is so full of history that every park and every square, every church and every corner for that matter has history you can read about.  We happen to walk into a mansion, the floors were beautiful.

Generous portions and nothing pretentious about these desserts. Deliciousness in ice cream, Espana Chocolate of all things.  A vanilla pot de creme with a simple piece of chocolate cake.  Okay the chocolate cake should have been a cookie as it was on the dry side.  But then again they probably expected that anyone else was going to have a coffee ~ hahaha I fooled them didn't I!!!  No Coffee for me.

And last but not least the fruit tart an apple tart with armagnac with a soft flaky pastry served with a prune ice cream.  At least that's what we think it was.  I can't read French and it's hard trying to have everything translated and then figure out exactly what is it.  Besides I wasn't there to translate I was just there to eat up all the yummy deliciousness.

The great thing about Paris is that at 11pm at night on your way back to your hotel, just when you think, where are we going to pick up a couple of sandwiches to take with us to the airport.... you pass a sort of street deli where they're selling sandwiches and roast chickens for people to take home.  This is what I call fast food! And now we go home.

Check the links for addresses and places to eat.

Sourdough Pizza Update

We've recently been making pizza like crazy.  Using my uncle's sourdough starter has been the greatest inspiration as the culture is very lively and tasty not to mention that it smells wonderful.  I keep 2 parts in the fridge and one of them I'm starting to modify so it's much less sour.  I wish I was a chemistry major- hahahaha

The experimenting never stops but I've finally developed a recipe that for the moment I can live with.  For some it would be the end, and don't get me wrong, this recipe makes great dough. The pizza is amazing and we're using the best ingredients you can buy.  Cheese from Di'Paolo's in Littley Italy, fennel sausage from Faicco's on Bleecker Street and miscel.things like greens and bacon from the Union Square green market and occasionally Whole Foods.  I'm just looking for something a little different, something more like Anthony's at Una Pizza - watch the video it's so cool.

I think the problem is that I've only had the pizza I'm looking for once and I may not be able to duplicate it at home because it's impossible to get the oven to 800 or 900 degrees F not to mention it's extremely dangerous at home. The recipe I'm currently making came about when I finally sat down and read Jeff Varasanos website. He talks about the mistakes you should watch out for and gives detailed information and percentages that really helped put me in the right direction.

Right now I think I will have to wait for the weather to warm up a bit so we can head to Chris's place and get the wood fired oven warmed and ready for pizza.  If you want my recipe email me.  Just remember it for use with a starter not instant yeast.

I was in the middle of this blog when I got interrupted.  Currently I am still working on the recipe. I am determined to develop my own but I am still obsessed with a single pizza I ate last year at Una Pizza Napoletana in NYC before they closed.  As of today I have dough sitting in my refrigerator ready to go.  I will bake some on Sunday and some on Monday and I will let you know how they are. 

Yes, I know I've left you hanging on the last 3 posts but I'm trying to get back on pace so please keep checking back there's more to come.