Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Murderous Fougasse

The other day, being peckish and between meals, the boy and I looked around the bakeries in our trendy neighborhood. Why so trendy, you ask? Well, all the cool boys hang out here. You know the ones...they dress well, take care of their bodies, generally talk very fast and use their hands a lot. The kind that don't even notice when you embarrassingly have one part of your skirt caught on your purse and its riding up so high, one of your butt cheeks is hanging out. Took a straight man with a gorgeous girl on his arm giggling uncontrollably to point it out. Niiiiiiiiice.

We very much like the shops around here. We are very fond of the baked goods and sandwiches from Legay bakery. That's no typo. It's Legay bakery, which on weekends, you can often purchase a 'magic' baguette, complete with decorative poppy seeds.

But that day we decided to go for something which caught our eye in the window. It was a fougasse loaded with olives. And I mean LOADED. No square inch of that thing was without an olive. We had to get it. It was delicious. On a slightly crispy bottomed foccacia bread topped with loads of juicy olives and a light hand on the cheese, it was just the thing to help us tick over to dinner.

Besides, as we found out later, the bakery has a murky past, whose story have only heightened its popularity.

Legay Choc

Artisan Boulanger P√Ętissier
45 rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris

L'Avion Delices

32 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75004, Paris

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sherbet Fountains

In my continuing education on British sweets, I picked up something called a "Sherbet Fountain". Pronounced "SURE-BERT" despite being spelt "Sher-BET"

Sound nice, doesnt' it? In my mind, I picture a nice ice cream dish piled high with lime sherbert, with a can of Sprite poured over, a cooling dessert for a hot summer day. That is not what a Sherbet Fountain is.

THIS is a Sherbet Fountain.


Described as a 'fizzy sherbet with a liquorice dip, it looked intriguing, all yellow and orange with these weird swirly things on it. It had a little tab on the end which something black was poking out. I secretly hoped that it be a very cool type of chemical reaction candy whereby you pull the black liquorice tab, which would mix the two chemicals and something wonderfully tasty would come flying out, fountain like and you had to catch it in your mouth.

That is not what happened.

It turned out to be far more mundane but yet compulsively addicting type of candy.

I unwrapped it to find that it was a roll of cardboard inside the wrapper, sticking out the 'liquorice dip', which is like a flat long piece of liquorice.

Inside the carton was powdered sherbet, the kind that is kind of like what was in pixie sticks. Basically a slightly fizzy, powdered candy. Despite being slightly disappointed that there was no cool reaction to speak of, it was quite good. The slightly bitter liquorice went astonishingly well with the fizzy sherbet and it was a fun, time consuming, albeit messy process.
Dipping in the liquorice stick and licking it off felt a tad mischievous, kind of like the feeling you get when you were 10, sleeping over at your friend's house and gorging on junk food outside of the view of your Mom. Maybe it was because dipping and licking seemed furtive or because my Mom never let us have candy of the powdered variety. In any case, I enjoyed it and it made the car ride a lot more pleasant.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Smoke Free

As most of the countries have now put limitations on smoking indoors, there seems a resurgence of interest in helping to kick the habit.

During a 15 minute (the boy timed me so we wouldn't be late) shopping spree at Morrison's, a supermarket in the UK, I saw a box of Chupa Chups. It was a small box of 6 mini Chupa Chups, sugar free, citrus flavored with extracts of lemon balm and lime blossom. As I only had a few minutes, I didn't hesitate and threw them in the basket, thinking that Chupa Chups have gone on to target adults.

It wasn't until upon closer examination of the box in the car that I remarked on the size of it and how similar the packaging seemed to be to a box of cigarettes.

Then I turned it over to read the back...............................................>

Chupa Chups marketing gurus have cottoned on to the idea of selling the lollipops not as a fun treat for kids but to replace the hand to mouth action habit which is an issue for smokers. Even endorsed by the NHS (National Health Service in the UK)!

A nice idea but not sure how cool people think lollipops are. Its hard to look tough while sucking a lollipop.

Luckily I always choose yumminess over coolness.

Monday, September 10, 2007

One of my Favorites

Due to a last minute trip to the Northeast of England to scout for wedding venues, I had the chance to catch up with the boy's family. I went on my own. Very scary I must admit, to be going on my own to visit the boy's family. Luckily I was welcomed with open arms. Staying at the boy's aunt's charming Guesthouse, I had also timed my visit to coincide with the boy's parents and drag them along to view venues with me.

While the boy has featured on this blog, the boy's family, less so. Except for, of course, the devilishly wonderful grandmother whose protests about not being able to finish dessert often taking up to twice the time it takes for her to inhale the dessert, beating out all the others at the tables.

The boy's family, in simple terms, are wonderful. Warm and funny and a bit nutty, just like one of my favorites from the market in Aix, a concoction called "Noix et Champignons". Noix et Champignon is like a pesto made of walnuts, mushrooms, olive oil, dried tomats and pine nuts. A jar of which the boy's thoughtful mother never fails to bring me.

It has been a lifesaver many a time, pulled out for guests to spread on crackers, mixed in with pasta and served either hot or cold, a spoonful mixed into a weak sauce to give it body and even served as a bruschetta for a first course.

Coming home to an empty fridge, the boy's mother saved me once again and I dug out the jar from my suitcase and dinner was on the table within minutes. As we sat eating our meal, I recounted to the boy how I was making fun of a hall named "Shafto" when his entire family (mom, dad, aunt, grandparents included) broke into song! Singing something about Bobby Shafto and buckles on his knee, the whole family joined in, finishing the song before resuming the conversation. Although a bit surprised, I found myself happy to be joining a family in which breaking into song, like the musicals I grew up with, was nothing unusual at all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Medley

For many, the return back to work and school after their holidays in August is a time of sadness. For me, it's joy as the restaurants begin to open again and the bakeries are once again wafting tempting smells onto the streets.
Don't get me wrong, I have been eating in August, just nothing so spectacular that I needed to tell you about it. So in this edition, a medley, if you will, of bits and pieces I have been nibbling at.

First up was the bottarga. First having spotted it in the market upon arrival, I had thought it was a relation to the Taiwanese delicacy. Turns out it is almost the same thing! I stumbled across a simple recipe on the talented Lobstersquad blog and proceeded to make her simple pasta recipe by grating it and mixing with olive oil. Unfortunately it was a bit too mild for my taste, perhaps my olive oil was too strong. However, thinly sliced, it was lovely with a crisp white wine, my favorite of the moment being a Vouvray I bought on our Loire Valley trip (for those of you who read that post, can you believe we're down to our last dozen bottles?!?)

The boy also took me to Marriage Freres one blustery rainy afternoon to partake in their tea menu. The open faced sandwiches failed to impress the tastebuds but not so their take on creme brulee.

Cut from one big circle of creme brulee 'cake', this was so rich, so decadent that the boy's eyes rolled back in his head so far I feared they'd never be the same again. He exclaimed it as "THE best in all of Paris" and I had to fight him for a bit of the piece as he kept moving the plate just outside of the reach of my spoon. Let me just say there was almost a brawl in the midst of the tea time calm.

I also finally tried Umami's "rice salad" using some leftover roast chicken (which was FABULOUS if I dare say so myself!). I think I used a touch too much vinaigrette as it was a bit too puckery with the apple and cukes I put in. Tasty all the same.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. I bought some Ile Flottant at the supermarket, curious as to what they'd look like and missing our neighborhood bakery's tarte fine au pomme for a post dinner sweet. It came in a little pot with caramel sauce to drizzle over. It was fine if a bit too much 'creme anglaise' to meringue-y bit. Although the boy complained that creme anglaise was most definitely NOT custard (Susan, you know what I'm talking about), he still licked the pot clean.

Walking past Pain au Sucre, we were delighted to find that it was open and picked up a wild strawberry tart and a lemon one. Both delightful if a little melty from the hot afternoon. The wild strawberry was not too sweet, perhaps a little past its season but nice and fresh with the simple buttery tart shell. The lemon tart was nice, tart and lemony and absolutely wonderful with a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

Another pleasant surprise was when we walked past the falafel street and saw one stand (I forget the name but it was on Rue des Rosiers closest to Rue Vielle du Temple) boasting of the "world's best falafels". Quite a statement to make seeing as one of the most famous falafel shops in all of France was just down the street. While the boy ordered one immediately, I went for the 'foie de vollaile', or chicken liver pita. Stuffed with a tomato-ey, cucumber and chili mixture along with melt in the mouth aubergine, caramelized, slightly crunchy onions and drizzles of tahini, it was topped with the most rich, perfectly cooked, deliciously soft chicken livers. An absolute mess, it was the highlight of my day.

And to end this medley of foodstuffs I have been partaking, is a newly discovered favorite of Umami's. The Affrogato at Pozetto. I cannot even begin to describe....

Let's just say that when confronted with a heaping cup of delicious gelato and a tiny pitcher of strong, gorgeously bitter coffee, there was only the sound of spoons and orgasmic "mmmmnnns" to be heard throughout the shop. Our smiles were as huge as the gelato cups themselves.

So, dear friends. I have to admit all the above has not led to any weight loss whatsoever. Let's just say I'm on diet hiatus. Until deliciousness ceases to exist.

And if you have not tried any of the above, all I can say is, you only have yourself to blame for not coming to visit.

39, rue de Roi de Sicile
Metro: Hotel de Ville

Pain de Sucre
14, rue Rambuteau
Metro: Rambuteau