Posts Tagged ‘deliciousness’

Yum.

Monday, February 25th, 2013

This morning I ate this with my coffee:

Escargot pistache et chocolat

Escargot pistache et chocolat

It was from Du Pain et Des Idées (one of the best bakeries in Paris and where I bought my galette de rois from this year) and it was just amazingly good. Simple, crispy, buttery, pistachioy, chocolatey. Pure delight for my tastebuds. Gosh I’m going to miss French baked goods.

Little Popelini

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Yesterday I went on a random walk through Paris and as I was heading through the Marais I realised that I would be going past a cake store that I have been meaning to try. As I am about to leave this great city, I felt it only appropriate that I stop and sample their goods even if I had only just eaten lunch. Named after the inventor of choux pastry – an Italian genius by the name of Popelini – this patisserie only sells small choux balls filled with delicious flavoured creams. I, of course, sampled the dark chocolate and as I stood outside in the snowy weather and bit into the exploding puff, my eyes lit up and a huge smile took over my face. Why hadn’t I tried one of these earlier? I am not a huge choux pastry fan and I never choose eclairs – but this! WOW.

So cute and so delicious!

So cute and so delicious!

 

The chocolate cream was dark, rich and plentiful inside the pastry puff. I almost turned around and went back in for a second but probably would have felt very sick if I had. One was perfection.

Popelini
29 Rue Debelleyme
75003

Verjus is Vergood

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

I have added another major tick to my “Culinary Adventures To Have Before I Leave Paris” list. Last night my friend Jen and I had a “Day After Valentine’s Day” date at Verjus – another highly prized, much talked about restaurant in the Paris foodie world. Located in the first arrondissement next to Louis XIV’s old haunt, the Palais Royal, Verjus is a bit more upmarket than previous restaurants we have been to and we went there for their 60 Euro degustation menu.

I should perhaps mention that my day began with a pre-breakfast meal of drugs – cold tablets, nasal spray and cough medicine. I wasn’t particularly impressed that my body had decided to give me a cold on the one day that I really wanted my taste buds to be fully functional. But being a non-believer in colds, I pumped myself full of drugs and ignored it all day.

Goodbye, cold.

Goodbye, cold.

We met for a drink at the Verjus winebar located underneath the restaurant and as we walked in we both agreed that the ten or so people in the wine bar would all be non-French, most likely American, British or Australian. CORRECT! Not a word of French was being spoken and I don’t think there were any French people in the wine bar or the restaurant at any point in the entire night.

The upstairs restaurant is small and cozy with lots of wood and great windows that look out at the Théâtre du Palais Royal and the little passages surrounding the building. We were served by lovely waitresses who told us about the set menu, happily gave us tap water and recommended a good bottle of wine to go with our food. And then it began…

I got to eat ALL of that!

I got to eat ALL of that!

We were served eight plates in total and we could have also had cheese for an extra 12 Euros but we figured eight was enough. Each plate was beautifully presented with bright colours and interesting mixes of ingredients. It amazes me how chefs know to put some of these ingredients together and in what sort of quantity/shape/texture etc. Nothing was disappointing or disagreeable – I even ate clams and scallops and enjoyed them! I was very annoyed that, despite ignoring it, my cold had taken over by this point and I didn’t get to enjoy my food as much as I wanted to. However, the highlight dishes for me were the clam soup, the hanger steak with carrots, and the chocolate ganache.

Duck.

Duck.

Steak.

Steak.

Somewhat strangely they brought the two dessert plates out at the same time which I didn’t really agree with because I had both of them staring at me and it was as if the dessert courses weren’t as important as the others. That said, it isn’t every day that I have two plates of dessert sitting in front me and I get to eat BOTH of them.

Two desserts, one spoon.

Two desserts, one spoon.

The cardamon panna cotta had a very gelatinous texture which distracted from the flavour but once you got over that and mixed it with the pears, dates and almonds it was delightful and light. The chocolate ganache was one of the best chocolate ganaches I have ever had (and I’ve had a lot) and the Golden Graham ice cream was amazingly creamy. I could have kept eating both of them all night. In fact, I could have started the entire menu again – it was all so good.

Chocolate.

Chocolate.

For 60 Euros it was one of the best value dinners I have had in Paris – the quality of the ingredients and the presentation and craftsmanship behind each dish was just wonderful. I will definitely try and go back.

Except next time I go, I am going to take a large bucket of socks that I have pre-rolled into balls that I can stuff into the mouths of all of the excessively loud American tourists who surrounded our table. I had my back to a window, but on every other side of the table were groups whose voices became increasingly louder and louder as they fought to talk over the top of the rest of the noise. I really wanted to stand up, blow a whistle and call “Time Out” and offer a small piece of wisdom that I learnt at Primary School – if everyone speaks softly then everyone can be heard and no one needs to yell! The problem with these situations is that you start eavesdropping on the conversations because you can’t hear anything else and you have to listen to their discussions about how they don’t understand how the degustation menu works or how the guy who likes motorcycles proposed to his girlfriend on the plane on the way over because it was Valentine’s Day and yet before their friends arrived they had a little tiff about how she didn’t have a clue where they were going and that was his fault. Wow. I should write a book about it.

The Frenchie Experience

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon I discovered why people like Twitter. I had been dabbling with it for a few months now and was starting to see the benefits and then yesterday afternoon at 4.30pm I realised why it is the BEST THING EVER. I happened to spot a tweet (look at this lingo! I’m down with it.) from a restaurant in Paris that has grown its reputation to such an extent that you need to book a table a few weeks in advance. Frenchie is one of the many set formule restaurants in Paris that the BoBos and the expat-wannabe-BoBos adorrrrrrrrreeeee and will drop into sentences, such as “Last time when I was dining at Frenchie, it was DIVINE” or “I am free any day except the 16 March 2020 because I’m having dinner at Frenchie.” And so while it was on my list of restaurants to go to before I leave, I had decided the slightly elevated price and the expat-blog hype meant it wasn’t worth the effort. But then imagine my surprise when in a Twitter message less than 140 characters in length I discovered there was a table for two available that night at 19h. Oh. Hello.

The fact that I had seen this message in combination with my recent decision to ‘just follow the path life takes me on’ and that my foodie friend Jen and I were planning on meeting for half-priced cocktails at that exact time anyway, all seemed to come together and form a HUGE BLINKING SIGN THAT SCREAMED, “BOOK THE TABLE!” So after my usual umming and ahhing and indecision, an SMS confirmation of “YES.” from Jen made me pick up the phone and reserve la table pour deux. And who said getting a table at Frenchie was hard?

Looking across to Frenchie Wine Bar

Looking across to Frenchie Wine Bar

The restaurant is gorgeous – a wood, limestone, cozy design that is then replicated on the other side of the pedestrian street at Frenchie Wine Bar. The area around the restaurant isn’t much (the streets in this part of the second arrondissement are full of warehouse clothing stores and brothels…) and I’m not entirely sure why they chose to be there. But clearly it works – they are booked out for their two sittings per night at their restaurant and the wine bar opens at 7pm and a fists and elbows fight for a table.

The menu offers two entrées, two mains, two desserts (or cheese) for 45 Euros which is on the pricier side. But after doing a head count, the restaurant would only cover approximately 65 people per night, and there were at least five chefs in the kitchen. And the ingredients… oh yes. The food.

For entrée both Jen and I had smoked fera (that’s a fish apparently) with avocado and grapefruit. This dish was potentially the highlight of the night – who knew smoked fish could taste so good? I didn’t want to finish it because then the experience would be over.

Delicious and pretty!

Delicious and pretty!

For main I had pigeon which was served with red endives and beetroot and something cubed and crispy. It was a bit of a muddle of textures and flavours, and I couldn’t quite stomach the fact that the pigeon was really REALLY undercooked. It was essentially raw. Normally I wouldn’t be so squeamish about this as I do love a bit of blood in my meat, but having just gotten over a case of gastro, eating raw meat wasn’t so appetising. My stomach issues aside, I still think it should have been cooked more – there was a little bit of crisp pigeon which was amazingly good and I wished the whole piece had been like that. The sauce was nice and it was tasty but not the best thing I have ever eaten.

I'm not sure why the French use endives so much. They're good but not THAT good.

I’m not sure why the French use endives so much. They’re good but not THAT good.

And then came dessert. I had a brown sugar tart which was served with a caramelised apple gloop (it was as if they had caramelised apples, turned them into mush, and then pushed them through a sieve to form gloop. REALLY GOOD.) and ‘hay’ ice cream. This was amazing! The tart wasn’t too sweet and remarkably light with a super crunchy crust and creamy inside. The gloop was tangy and bright and then the ice cream was creamy and ‘hay flavoured’. I have no idea what made the ice cream ‘hay’ but it was really delicious so I don’t care. I’ll have more of it!

So good. So so good.

So good. So so good.

So a very enjoyable meal was had, including some tasty wine and prompt and amicable service. The down side was the table sitting behind me. Luckily I had my back to them otherwise they would have annoyed me more than they did. A foursome of late-fifties Americans – two couples I presume – whose voices pounded around the walls of the very small restaurant and stabbed like very sharp knives into our ears. With each bottle of wine they ordered, the louder and more obnoxious they became. The room was full of expats (so therefore generally noisier than the average French group) but the conversation topics and general intelligence of this particularly table made us, and I suspect the entire room, cringe. As we were leaving, Jen asked the eventually friendly waitress whether or not there were any French people dining in the restaurant or if it was entirely foreigners. “They are coming at 9.30 for the next sitting,” was the fantastically witty response. I left Frenchie laughing and very happy.

Galette de Rois Returns

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

While often I slap my head and roll my eyes at French processes, procedures and general uselessness, every now and then I really appreciate the French way of doing things. One thing that they do exceptionally well is eat, drink and celebrate as much as possible. Any excuse will do, and they don’t just crack open a few beers and get drunk, they will often invent an entire meal, tradition or delicious layered cake that everyone embraces and enjoys.

The 6 January is Epiphany which apparently celebrates when everyone realised Jesus was God’s son and therefore had a big feast. The French love a good Christian holiday, and celebrate with the Galette de Rois – an amazing puff-pastry round cake filled with frangipane (almond butter.) Every bakery throughout France produces a galette and inside each one is a ‘treasure’ to be found by one of the people eating it. I believe I wrote about this event last year when Ben was still in Paris and we ate two on one day. This year I summoned my friend Jen as my fellow galette consumer. We were to have the galette the day after Epiphany, eat a light soup dinner and then gorge ourselves on butter, sugar, butter, butter and almonds. And more butter.

I purchased the galette from one of Paris’s most prized bakeries and the place considered to sell the best galette in France – Du Pain et Des Idées.

Such a pretty place to buy such a delicious dessert

Such a pretty place to buy such a delicious dessert

It is a gorgeous bakery, not far from my apartment, that sells amazing bread and viennoiseries and is very well known for their pastry. The galettes came in various sizes – I chose le petit which was bigger than my head and really designed for at least four people. At 19 Euros it wasn’t cheap and I hoped it would be worth the money.

So beautiful.

So beautiful.

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH how it was so worth the money. I would go back and spend every last cent I own on these disks of buttery pleasure. Crisp, flaky pastry with the best frangipane filling I have ever tasted. Some frangipane loses its almond quality while in this beast you could still see glints of the almond skins.

By dividing it into eight, it felt like we weren't eating as much!

By dividing it into eight, it felt like we weren’t eating as much!

Jen divided it into eight portions and then, as the youngest guest, I chose who received each portion. I clearly got it wrong as Jen was the winner, discovering a ceramic crocodile inside one of her pieces. La Rein de Galette. And so we ate four pieces of galette each and felt remarkably ok at the end of it. I can feel butter oozing through my pores today and clogging every artery in my body, but if I die from butter-overload I don’t care. It was worth it.

Famous Food

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

I didn’t have time in London to put my previous ‘train-journey-written’ posts up so you will have to imagine some sort of magical time difference between this and the following stories. I am currently under the sea (Under the sea… under the sea… doo doo di doo doo doo doo) in a train in a tunnel. I learnt in the Eurostar magazine just a few minutes ago that I’m not actually currently surrounded by water, but the tunnel passes through the seabed. This is extremely disappointing. I like the idea of being merely metres away from fish, but sadly I am not. I’m probably metres away from seabed living worms or algae. I guess I’ll have to make do with this fact. I am less than 10 centimetres from a snoring woman who was going to steal my window seat and became grumpy when I insisted on having it. Within three minutes of departure she was snoring. It would have been a wasted window.

My day in London was a food-bonanza and on a high-profile scale. I appear to have turned into a food snob and only like eating at places run by famous chefs. That’s ok with me, I am willing to accept this status. My morning started with coffee and a piece of chocolate and almond torte at Princi bakery. It is an up-market Italian bakery/pizzeria that does very tasty food at ridiculous prices. It is one of the hip-and-cool places in the middle of Soho that you go to because it’s Princi. My chocolate torte was good but was certainly more almond than chocolate. It was a bit flavourless and could have done with more chocolate but that is probably just my own personal preference for chocolate-based cakes. If it is going to have chocolate in it, make it lots and make it dark. The coffee was very good and wasn’t over priced which was a relief. The café is beautifully laid out with a water fountain running down one wall, lots of large communal tables and a great window looking out into Soho. It was a nice experience but I think you can get just as good cake for half the price (eg. Forge Bakehouse.)

Fancy cakes

Fancy cakes

After using up some time visiting the Queen, a large clock tower called Ben and going future-husband spotting in the fancy-cars-and-houses area towards Kensington, it was time for lunch. For a few years now I have been in love with a Yotam Ottolenghi, a chef whose cookbooks and restaurants have redefined vegetables. I have been wanting to eat at one of his London-based restaurants and made it my mission to do so this trip. His Belgravia café is more a take away venue but I managed to get a seat at the one communal table. You can choose from huge piles of delicious salads with amazing combinations of ingredients, as well as pizzas, quiches and soups.

Mmm... salads.

Mmm… salads.

I had eggplant with goats cheese curd; a red quinoa, rice, dried fruit and spices salad; and roasted carrots with chilli, herbs and a magical mix of spices.

So colourful and so delicious

So colourful and so delicious

It was all so good but again, I was paying for the experience to eat Ottolenghi’s recipes and £11 for a smallish plate of salad was quite a lot. But I’m glad I did it. Next time I will make sure to have room to try one of his desserts but I was feeling guilty from my morning tea and aware that I was going out for dinner so I resisted.

I think I deserve a medal for resisting these.

I think I deserve a medal for resisting these.

So that brings me to dinner. I was staying with my friends Angela and James who are soon heading back to Perth to join together in holy matrimony. As I won’t be at their wedding, I wanted to take them out for dinner to celebrate and Angela booked a table at the York and Albany hotel – one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants. They have a special set menu on weeknights if you eat between 6-7pm, which is exceptionally good value at three courses for £22. The food was very, very good – I had a celeriac soup with truffle and parmesan croutons (very creamy and delicious); beef with horseradish mash (tasty although a little chewy); and a chocolate fondant with honeycomb ice cream. The fondant was good – not too sweet and the honeycomb added a nice flavour combination. It was a very tasty meal and exceptional for that price. I would definitely go back.

It was romantically dark in the restaurant.

It was romantically dark in the restaurant.

And so concluded my day of famous food. The value and standard of Mr Ramsey’s meal out performed the others but I can’t say I ate anything that disappointed me. Thumbs up all around to London foodies.

Serious Apple Pie

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

I am currently sitting on the train from Sheffield to London digesting. Ben and I went to his local pub, The Broadfield, for lunch and both rolled home in a state of extreme excess. Ben was worse than me having chosen the beef and mushroom pie which is served with hand cut potato chips and mushy peas. The pies are very good but I wanted dessert so I was somewhat smart and chose the leek, potato and stilton soup. We both then ordered apple and walnut pies. In my mind I pictured a decent slab of sweet pastry filled with soft apples and the odd bit of nut. I had quickly dashed off to the loo and returned to discover a PIE THE SIZE OF MY HEAD sitting on my plate. It wasn’t just a slice, it was a full pie with a pastry lid and everything. Next to it, the ball of vanilla ice cream looked miniscule. Ben and I looked at each other and just laughed – how the hell were we going to eat these things?

That's a big pie.

That’s a big pie.

The answer was ‘we couldn’t.’ We tried – oh how we tried, but we both left large amounts of pastry cases on our plates. I usually love the pastry more than the filling, but even I couldn’t tackle this. The pie innards were very good – huge chunks of apples with whole walnuts and dates. Seriously tasty. But way, way, way too much. Even if Ben and I had shared one we wouldn’t have been able to finish.

It pains me to leave food on my plate, particularly when I have enjoyed it, but if I had continued to eat my stomach would have exploded into a hundred million pieces, strewing itself throughout the pub with large chunks of pastry hitting other customers’ faces. And I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about it.

Rewind to Christmas

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I realised I never blogged about Ben and my Amazing-Christmas-Dinner-Feast-For-Two so allow me to do so now, mainly through photographs. Neither of us could be called chefs (Ben is certainly a baker but a whole chicken is a lot different to a ball of dough), but if the help of a National Trust english cookbook, we made one mighty fine roast chicken. To go with it, we had some delicious buttery brussel sprouts, broccolini and asparagus, crunchy roasted potatoes, and it was all followed by gooey chocolate puddings. It was one seriously good Christmas dinner and our night was made even more special by watching the all-time family classic, Hook. RU-FI-OOOO!

Better than KFC.

Better than KFC.

The recipe made six puddings which sounded like a good idea at the time...

The recipe made six puddings which sounded like a good idea at the time…

Mmmm... chocolate pudding...

Coffee and Carrot Cake at Café Coutume

Monday, December 17th, 2012

There are many hip and cool hangouts for the BoBos of Paris and I like to follow along behind like a lost puppy trying to be as ‘down with it’ as them. Not going to happen. But one of the biggest BoBo hang outs is Café Coutume, a coffee, brunch and ‘Check-out-what-I’m-wearing’ joint located in the ooh-la-di-da seventh arrondissement, down the road from Le Bon Marché. As I walked to find the place, I went past Hermés and various other designer stores that I would be refused entry into, and dodged lots of little old ladies in fur coats buying their grandchildren matching Louis Vuitton slippers for Christmas. I felt somewhat out of place, but pretended to blend anyway.

I had been wanting to try Café Coutume for ages but it’s location on the other side of Paris meant it wasn’t really somewhere I could go and grab a quick coffee. I had heard and read many good things about it so took the opportunity to meet my friend, Jen there as she lives on that side of the river.

The café is reasonably large compared to other places in Paris, although it isn’t particularly well laid out and the tables are quite clunky and take up too much space. I ordered a long black and Jen had a noisette (a short black with a dob of milk foam on top) and we each had a piece of carrot cake. The coffee was good – it was rich and strong which is always a pleasant surprise in Paris. The cake wasn’t bad although I have had much better (I think we all know this to be true.)

Café Coutume

Coffee and carrot cake

While the coffee was good, I don’t plan on going back because:

  1. It was expensive
  2. It was snobby. Seriously snobby. I can handle BoBo arrogance and coolness, but there was a different level of snob at Coutume.

I think because I am used to the less-rich-scene of the tenth arrondissement, the seventh just oozed money. The staff weren’t particularly friendly and there was a strong rich-Parisian attitude that alienates you if you are an outsider or your Daddy isn’t the CEO of a bank. It is a great thing to watch though – I find these people highly entertaining with their Longchamp bags and depressive attitudes.

Speaking of Longchamp bags, a few weeks ago I was bored on the metro and decided to count the number of Longchamp bags I could see just in my section of the carriage. Over a ten minute journey I saw twelve. Wow. Let’s all spend excessive amounts of money on a particularly unattractive handbag that every other woman owns. Congratulations, Longchamp.

Café Coutume
47 Rue de Babylon
Paris, 7eme

Tuck In

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

A few months ago I was sad to see the closure of Sweat Shop – a café/sewing shop where you could rent sewing machines or take a knitting course while eating a piece of cake. Then the other day, a fellow Australian said “Let’s go to Tuck Shop.” to which I auto-replied with, “Ok.” I had no idea what she was talking about. But now I do. Apparently Sweat Shop had been turned into Tuck Shop – a new café for me to spend far too much time and money and calories at!

Tuck Shop is another “Australian style” café offering GOOD coffee (hooray) and great home made cakes. Run by some lovely expat ladies, it is vintage galore in this cozy little joint. I had a long-black equivalent which was delicious and served in a great looking cup.

Tuck Shop coffee

What a cup!

Plus a scone with jam and cream which was a little disappointingly rock-like but still tasted good. My friend had the cheesecake which was as creamy and cheesy as a good cheesecake should be.

Tuck Shop

Happy times.

The café wasn’t particularly busy, but it was a Wednesday morning in the middle of winter and close to Christmas so not the busiest time of the year. To be honest, it was nice to be in a quiet space for once as Paris is becoming a little bit manic with all of the christmas shopping requirements that are sending Parisians mad.

My friend and I stayed chatting and soon it was lunch time so we decided to do the lunch time formule backwards – we’d already had the dessert so we ordered the home made zucchini soup and grilled vegetable and houmus sandwiches. Luckily the staff aren’t French otherwise doing this would have caused massive brain explosions. So so tasty and healthy – it was the perfect lunch for just 10 Euros. Brilliant.

Tuck Shop
13, rue Lucien Sampaix
10eme