Friday, 2 December 2011

Complex delights.

Day two was supposed to be about markets but evidently my guide book is out of date so Bastille market was rightly empty. Better luck was had at the Marché St Quéntin but I just ended up feeling despondent at all the things I couldn't buy due to liquid restrictions or plain common sense dictating that cèpes would spoil before I arrived or that taking home a whole rabbit is neither sensible nor, possibly, legal.

', absolutely nothing to declare...'

Instead I settled for a warm rabbit and cèpes pastry (genius) to start my day and a selection of mini Thai dumplings - against my instincts of buying simple honest French food but they were just so damn pretty that I couldn't resist. As lovely as they sounded - beef with clementine, chicken with green tea - their flavour lacked the pow I was expecting. Perhaps best to try the next time I have a potsticker evening at home. The rabbit pastry was delicious however.



Then I learnt the real reason to get up early on holiday. Forget catching bargains, missing the rush, fitting it all in etc, the real reason is to allow food to settle between meals. My next stop was only just an hour later and made use of another tip from Fooding - a 12-table bistro called Métropolitaine near Pont Marie, and, Wow. Bread (and it always makes me smile how much bread one can devour simply by being at a continental table) came in a mini tin bucket and the travel theme perpetuated throughout for good kitsch measure. Starters were 'boardings' and main meals 'Bon voyage', the wine list an itinerary and each table had a ticket stamped on it for good measure. The lunchtime menu was a reasonable €17 without wine, which is priced in a way that Fooding refers to as 'harsh but fair'. The reasons I love food shot through my brain as I tucked into yet MORE mushrooms, this time as the menu's soup with slivered garlic croutons and lamb crackling. Divine. It's texture was just assorted enough to give interest without over-complication and lamb with mushrooms, although a new idea to me, worked incredibly well as the earthy flavours played off each other.
As soon as blogs allow for readers to taste what they see, I'll sort this out for you...

Already feeling full, I battled through with a main course of seabass (fine by Fishfight standards) fillet with a fine crouton atop a swipe of bright broccoli puree, studded with tiny particles of grapefruit. All perfectly cooked, beautifully presented (Foodings comments about Lichtenstein proving accurate) in a lovely atmosphere and making my head swim with ideas. At one point I thought I had found a fishbone but it turned out to be a piece of thyme which for some reason seemed to make the whole experience even better!

Tasted as beautiful as it looks.

I didn't stay for dessert as I had other ideas but did appreciate the cutesy travel sweet-caramel accompanying the bill. I stayed as long as it is decent for a lone female diner to do so before heading to my next station.

After a few hours of wandering through île de St Louis, crossing over to see Notre Dame and join the schoolchildren for a view of the growing nativity scene, stopping in shops that sparked my interest, I came to the Louvre and Tuileries gardens. Gastronomically, this can only mean one thing, and here came a point of skewed balance. I may have chosen to forfeit Versailles this holiday in anticipation of a warmer visit but the weather justified perfectly a visit to Angelina, home of Paris' best hot chocolate. Sitting at my table, I seemed to have gone back in time several centuries albeit accompanied by a large number of Canadian and Japanese tourists. I intend more than ever now to read my copy of 'French Women Don't Get Fat' having enjoyed my unctuous and delicately spiced jug of hot chocolate and almost all of its accompanying sweetened chantilly. Maybe if I was that concerned I would just have had the jug of water it was served with.

Another walk through the gardens and over to the left bank and St Gérmain lead me back to rue de Seine (S&R would wish this to feature daily in any trip to Paris I'm sure) where it felt right to pick up my very own copy of Fooding and ponder on what I would be able to fit in my hand luggage.

Dinner - hotly anticipated and pre-booked from London - was at Les Papilles. Having been here before, I knew that here one can enjoy the 'menu du marché' for €33 and it is pot luck as to what you will be presented with. C and I had a beautiful sweet potato soup, ladled from a seemingly bottomless turrine onto a mixture of olive oil cream, chorizo pieces, sweet potato cubes and crisps, coriander and mini garlic croutons. A touch of theatre at the table is usually a winner in my book.

The main meal came in an oval brass platter precariously filled with two duck breasts (perfectly pink) balancing on mange tout, carrot batons, caramelised garlic cloves and roasted baby new potatoes all bathing in the most delicious of gravies. We couldn't finish it all. Then came a lovely young goat's cheese with a quenelle of black olive tapanade, sunblush tomato and coarse paprika. Dessert was a pannacotta of caramelised apples and a caramel foam. Les Papilles doubles as a food boutique and we had a fruity and delicate burgundy to accompany our meal chosen for us from the floor-to ceiling wine shelves and at a reasonable price. Sadly no other purchases, this time. Oh to have arrived by Eurostar!

Wonderful soup, beautiful people

Not so ugly duck.

Made me feel all bubbly inside

After breakfast the next morning I was on a mini-mission to buy. Lafayette gourmet was a veritable treasure trove for a luxury picnic lunch. I picked up some Petrossian taramasalata in its bijou tin, a rustic-looking boule from Eric Kayser and a number of brightly coloured sweet-tooth presents from Sadaharu Aoki.

Filled chocolates from Sadaharu Aoki,
winner of the International Excellence Award
2011at Paris' Le Salon du Chocolat
I pondered over buying some Mariage Frères tea but feel this is more justified after an afternoon in the boutique itself and I craved a larger selection. Which I could have found near to rue de Seine but by now I was running out of time. A quick stopover at Da Rosa (banking time here to keep me going until my next trip) produced some foie gras blended with Iberico Bellota ham. Then a cheesy disaster struck - Quatr'hommes was closed! Again! Alas lunch was therefore almost cheeseless but nevertheless a de luxe gastronomical delight. What better way to secure the inevitability of my return sooner rather than later?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sarah. Enjoying the blog. Looking forward to more posts about your escapades in the restaurant kitchen: prefer the Kitchen Confidential-esque stuff to the Julie and Julia. Eagerly awaiting further tales of scrapes and triumphs...