Cakes, Desserts And Lots More. Paris Bakeries Part 3: Enjoying The Patisserie.

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The Patissier

Exploring and Enjoying Parisian Bakeries Part 3.

Sweets, Desserts and Much Much More.

There is truly no way to do justice to the depth and variety of delectable goodies available at a good Parisian Patisserie in one article.  You will find an often overwhelming selection of tarts, chocolates, pastries, cookies and macarons (which seem to be everywhere these days).  Some will be familiar to you, others will be new and they are worth seeking out.   Think variety and you will not be disappointed.

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Classic Bakery Counter

Tarte Aux Fruit or Fruit tarts are commonly found in both individual and large. The quality is very reliable even in less than great bakeries. Choices include mure (blackberry), citron (lemon), fraise (strawberry), framboise (raspberry) and poire (pear).  Many tarts will mix fruits for design and color.  Fillings range from simple glazes to rich creams.  The best ones run simple like this:

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Perfect glaze and crispiness

Eclairs. I confidently wager that Paris has the best eclairs on earth with a variety of fillings including chocolate, coffee and vanilla creams.  Take a moment to read my review of Patiserrie Stohrer and then consider going there.  It was that good, the bakery is a throwback to Paris in the 1700’s and Rue Montorgeuil and the area around it are worth the trip.

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Yes, since 1730.

Macarons.   These small almond based cookies or cakes with creme fillings have conquered Paris and apparently the world.  But honestly, is it worth waiting hours in line for one at La Duree? Better to pick some up at their stand at CDG airport on the way home and wow your friends. Macarons come in a cacophony of flavors and colors and are not in any way to be confused with coconut Macaroons.

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Praline

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Pistachio

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Raspberry

Creampuffs are called Choux. The name means “little cabbage”.  If you can find them, try a Chouquette: small puff pastries without filling covered in sugar. Sort of a French donut hole.

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Les Chouquettes

Opera.   An intense rectangular chocolate mousse cake covered in dark chocolate and often decorated lushly even featuring gold flake on occasion.

Canele.  This Bordeaux specialty has a distinctive caramel burnt sugar flavor and unique shape.  They are dense almost chewy perfect along side a shot of espresso.

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Canele, pride of Bordeaux.

Chocolates.  Many bakeries will feature a display of chocolates to add to the party.

Bakery Chocolates

Bakery Chocolates

Recommendations in the neighborhood:

There are two pastry shops worth seeking out close to the Yellow Flat.  First is La Patisserie De Reves located across the Champ De Mars on Rue De Bac.  A visually engaging combination of classics and innovation that is really quite spectacular.  About 20 mins walk. 93 rue du Bac, 7th, +33 1 42 84 00 82. Métro: Rue du Bac. lapatisseriedesreves.com

The second is Desgateauxetdupain, an easier walk and again a lighter and innovative take on traditional cakes.  63 boulevard Pasteur, 15th, +33 1 45 38 94 16, desgateauxetdupain.com. Métro: Pasteur. Open Mon, Wed-Sun 8am-8pm

Though not in the neighborhood, Bontemps Patisserie, a young and dynamic new bakery in the Marais is turning out heavenly cookies called sable’, a cross between shortbread and sugar cookies with a crumbly nutty texture. Small drops of intense flavor made with a fine delicate hand.

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

bonempspatisserie  57 rue de Bretagne in the Marais+33 1 42 74 10 68  Metro Arts et Metiers.

For a completely different experience try these two patisseries, unusual in terms of both flavors and experiences with very different lineage.

While you many not think of Algeria as home to baked goods, consider visiting La Bague De Kenza. Think dates, almonds, baklava, rosewater and honey.  Order an assortment. 233 rue de la Convention, 15th, +33 1 42 50 02 97. Métro: Convention. labaguedekenza.com

Sadaharu Aoki As obvious by the name, this Japanese owned patisserie turns out exquisite chocolates that must be seen to be appreciated.  Located at the border of the 6th, 7th and 15th districts. 35 rue de Vaugirard 75006   +33 01 45 44 48 90 www.sadaharuaoki.com

exquisite candy

To learn more about how to enjoy Paris bakeries go to the first two blogs in this series.  You can read more about how to find the best Breads and get an overview of how to choose a great bakery here.

As always enjoy!

Jules

Parisian Bakeries Part 2: Breads And Lots Of Breakfast Deliciousness.

Paris Bakeries Part 2.  Breads, breakfast pastries and a plan of attack.

That baguette in the window.

That baguette in the window.

My previous post focused on suggestions on how to find quality Parisian bakeries.  And now you have found that adorable artisan establishment and walked inside.  What do you do?  Before you make a move, check the time and be forewarned, Parisian bakeries are not for the meek in the morning.  People (read that as locals) are there to grab and then get on with their days.  Lines are often long and the servers don’t have time to be helpful.  They have a job to do, don’t take their impatience personally.

Many bakeries will have small tables where you eat your baked goods on premises.  If you want to order it this way ask for your order “sur place” as opposed as to go which is “a emporter”.

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Here is a guide to the various breads and pastries that you will enjoy in Paris. This is not a simple subject, you will be well served to decide on what you wantin advance.  Have a plan of attack that requires you to go several times and try lots of goodies.  That should not be too hard.

Lets start with breads.

Pain De Mie

Pain De Mie

Baguette. Your baguette should be golden brown, crispy with a bit of flake, with a hint of salt and a soft inside.  As befitting their importance in French culture, there are lots of shapes and tastes:

Baguette Parisienne. The basic baguette, sometimes called ‘ordinaire‘ or ‘normale‘,  An amazing deal at 1euro40 or less. As with the bakeries, quality varies widely.  If you see a lattice like pattern on the bottom side it was baked in a form pan and likely has an industrial source.  But even those aren’t always bad.

Half baguette, at less than 1 euro it will be just enough for a snack and no one will look down on you if you buy one.

Tradition.   Signifies the efforts of an artisan baker that takes the time to create a hand-made baguette.  Also called Baguette A L’Ancienne or De Campange (country). They will be irregular in shape and a bit more expensive.

Batard.  About half the length of a baguette and wider.

Flute.  A long and very thin baguette.

Couronne.  Ring shaped baguette.

Aux Cereales.  Contains whole grain flour and other grains.

Ficelle. This means string.  A very very thin baguette.

Breads are also available by loaf, consider:

Pain Au Levain.  Akin to sourdough.

Complet. Whole wheat or multigrain breads.

Pain De Mie. The closest thing to white bread, but calling it white bread is just unfair. It is so much better. The best sandwich bread in France.  Maybe it is all the butter but white bread does not like the bread you see pictured above. Period.

Aux Noix.  Walnut bread.

Siegle.  Rye bread.

Good Morning.

Good Morning.

On to another happy subject, morning pastries. I always search out breakfast pastries in Paris. They are the perfect for the on the run moment before you head out to see the sights meal along with a cup of coffee. Again, there are so many to choose from and by no means should you be limited to eating them in the morning.

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The Pastry Counter At Poilane.

Croissant. Try one, please. What passes for a croissant outside of France is often a joke.  A good croissant should reek of baked butter and stain the paper that holds it with fat.  The outer crust should be firm and the inside airy and light.

Pain au chocolate.  Look for ones that are flaky  and stuffed with practically melted chocolate.  Make a mess.

The Pain Au Choc.

The Pain Au Chocolat

Pain au raisin. Snail shaped pastry with raisins and custard.  Personal favorite.

Croissant amande.  Almond croissant usually dusted with powdered sugar.

Venoisse. A rich sweet morning pastry often with chocolate bits. It should shine from the egg wash.

Vienoisse

Vienoisse

Tartlette de pomme.  An apple mini tart and cousin to the Chausson Aux Pommes, apple turnovers.

Brioche.  A sweet bread made with eggs.  Must eat with jam and more butter.

Beignet.   Surprise, you can find doughnuts in Paris, typically plain dough rolled in sugar.

For more information about baked good consider these articles.

Paris has an annual best baguette competition, some winners are near the Yellow Flat. Award winning baguettes near the Yellow Flat include Boulangerie Frederic Pichard at 88 Rue Cambronne or Les Gourmandises d’Eiffel at 187 Rue De Grenelle across the Champ De Mars next to the Eiffel Tower.  Read more at

http://parisbymouth.com/paris-top-baguettes-for-2014/

There are plenty of quality croissants near the Yellow Flat.  Try Boulangerie Pichard at 88 Rue Cambronne, L’artisan Des Gourmands at 60 Rue de la Convetion or Le Quartier Du Pain.  74 Rue Saint Charles.  Be forewarned that the baker at L’artisan is not cheery.  You are not there for friendship.

Read more at http://parisbymouth.com/the-best-butter-croissants-in-paris/

Learn about the ongoing baguette crisis in Paris here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10143339/French-turning-away-from-the-baguette.html

Want to practice your French and read more?  Check out painrisien.  Very detailed bakery reviews but only in French.

As always enjoy the journey and if one pastry doesn’t excite you order another, you are on vacation!

Next up: Patissiers for cookies, desserts and more.

jules

Paris Bakeries. The Good And The Bad. Mostly Good.

Part 1.   How to find a good bakery.

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A trip to Paris must include many visits to bakeries throughout the city (i.e. boulangeries or patisseries) for a taste of the finest breads and pastries on earth.

But all is not as it seems behind that door.  A false step will find you eating a baked off frozen baguette prepared in a factory miles away and months ago that is full of preservatives.  And it will cost the same as a great one thanks to the French government and the importance of baguette to their culture.

The secret, as George Clinton said, is to pay attention  Like these young men are doing.  Oh, to grow up with those baked goods at your corner.

So many choices.

So many choices.

What to do?

Learn to tell the good bakeries from the mediocre ones.  What you are looking for is an artisan bakery that has maintained the traditions of French baking that date back hundreds of years. It is true that French bakeries are in crisis. But their struggle is no greater than those faced by many food producers in this world as they fracture into camps, artisanal and industrial. Fortunately there are lots of easy ways to identify one. And by seeking out the artisan bakers you keep their traditions alive.

Our neighborhood in Paris features bakeries of all kinds and stripes. As you walk around try to follow these recommendations and soon you will quickly spot the good ones.

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Elegant Paris Bakery

Here are some rules to follow.

  1. Look for the words artisan or authentique anywhere outside of the bakery or for this sign.

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  1. Look for the name of the baker somewhere on the exterior of the bakery.  It shows ownership.
  2. As with so many things when you travel, look for and then follow the lines. The neighborhood knows what is going on.
  3. Don’t buy your bread at the supermarket even if it appears they are baking them.
Artisan Flour

Artisan Flour

What is the difference between a boulangerie and a patisserie? Bakeries (boulangeries) in Paris feature baked goods.  And they sell a lot more than baguette and croissants. They also sell sandwiches, sodas, espresso and salads.  They are often your best bet for a quick lunch to go on a touring day or breakfast before hand.  Patisseries specialize in high-end baked goods. They focus on desserts.

Delicate Desserts

Delicate Desserts

But the lines often blur as many boulangeries often sell pastries and desserts as well.  Some carry both names.

Your efforts will pay off. My recent experiences at La Croquandise, the closest artisan bakery to the Yellow Flat, were exceptional. The combination of a solid crunchy baguette, exceptional almond croissants and a wonderful cashier was perfect.  Never did I think I would hear these words in a French bakery as I made a purchase: “I wish you an excellent day”. Wow that breaks a stereotype, doesn’t it.  I went back for a tuna salad that afternoon and it was equally good, clean and fresh.

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Pain De Mie At La Croquandise

Here are some neighborhood bakeries within walking distance of the Yellow Flat worth checking out:

Poilane

Poilane

La Croquandise, mentioned above.  Just follow the link to see where it is located.  It is worth the 5 minute walk as opposed to the shop on the corner of Rue Alasseur, only to be used in emergency.  10 Rue du Laos 75015 Paris France‎.

Les Gouramndise Eiffel. Just across the Champ De Mars, consistent award winner for baguettes. ‪187 Rue De Grenelle, Paris 75007

Polaine.   Famous for a reason. Enjoy the tartlets aux pommes (apples) and all of the breads.  Then head to Rue Lourmel to keep shopping for goodies (here is a guide to shopping that street).  49 Boulevard de Grenelle, 75015 Paris.

Poilane Apple Tartlettes

Poilane Apple Tartlettes

Aux Merveilleux De Fred. Specialzes in massive meringue desserts. If you have a thing for meringue you have to try them.  94 Rue Saint-Dominique Paris

Want to research more?  Here is a comprehensive list of the best bakeries by neighborhood: http://parisbymouth.com/paris-bakeries

And once you there, just what do you order? I will cover that in Part 2 in two weeks.

Do you have a favorite bakery to share with us?  Then please do so in the comments section.  I would appreciate that!

And as always be sure to enjoy Paris at the Yellow Flat.

Jules

Is Paris A Deal For US Visitors This Year? It Certainly Was At Le Pario Paris 15.

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You may have heard that the dollar has gained strength against the Euro. It certainly has, moving from a high of 1.30 last winter to a range of between 1.06 and 1.10. That is a lot of extra buying power for US visitors.

So, is Paris a deal for US travelers?   My answer is yes, but keep in mind that Paris will always be an expensive city on a par with others like New York. But when the subject eating out comes up, Paris is a deal worth traveling for.

On the first day of a recent visit to Paris, I had the pleasure of putting this math to the test and dining at Le Pario, located about 10 minutes walk from the Yellow Flat. It’s a chic small bistro run by Edward Jacinto, a Brazilian chef who previously cooked for Christian Constant who in turn has several successful and delicious restaurants on Rue St Dominique that were previously enjoyed and reviewed.

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Jet lag notwithstanding I was excited to get out and enjoy a good lunch, having suffered (well not really too badly) through years of the 1.35 and up euro.

Le Pario is located at 54 Avenue Emile Zola in the 15th. The setting in this local favorite was warm and not just in temperature. Lunch was full of locals, mostly businesspeople who unlike many of us in the US, they were enjoying a real meal and a glass or two of wine. Why we have stopped enjoying ourselves at lunch I do not know.

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After being seated and finding that the prix fixe menu (limited in choice) was not to my liking (it was priced at 18 euro and 23 euro including dessert) I went back to the menu for lunch.

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Before the meal a small amuse of gougieres, traditional cheese puffs arrived, warm and tasty. I ordered a glass of rose and a bottle of mineral water, just having landed and not being able to stomach the always a bit nasty Parisian tap water (eau plat) just yet. The rose was as it should be, dry and not cloying.

My appetizer was crab with an avocado mousse. The crab was pressed carefully into a block with served with finely cut leeks celery and potatoes, all showing the fine hand of the kitchen with the avocado mousse painted along side and dusting of Piment d’Espelette for emphasis.

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Main course was a confit of cannette, (female duck). It consisted of a delicately braised duck thigh in a classic orange sauce covered with toasted hazelnuts served over a large ravioli stuffed with more the duck confit and a big bowl of what I thought were mashed potatoes but turned out to be a coarse apple sauce contrasting sweet salt sweet salt. The duck melted when touched.

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Having a good bottle of mineral water to myself was a pleasure and a necessity for the jet lag I was now feeling with the help of the rose. The meal closed with an espresso accompanied by several mini pastries filled with caramel, a sort of dessert amuse.

Was this a deal? Do the math and decide.

Start with the dollar at 1.07 to the Euro and yes that is a nice place to start. From there compare your meal to US realities to get a true sense of what it costs. On a meal in the US of good quality and service, it is common to tip 20% and tax is around 10%. And here is the key; in France tip and tax are included. That means you have to deduct another 30% and that is before some of the other add-on charges that have started appearing as of late.

Keeping it simple, a 100-euro meal cost 107 dollars at today’s exchange rate.
Deduct 30% for tip and tax and the result, in true cost, that is that a 100-euro meal costs you 75 dollars.

For my lunch the cost 41.50 Euros. Now with a good exchange and our 30 % discount lunch came to 31 dollars. I would say that is a deal with confidence.  And if I had gone with the prix fixe it would have cost $19.50 including the rose.

As lunch came to an end, I sat watching an elegant grandmother feed her impeccably dressed and behaved granddaughter profiteroles in chocolate sauce as she laughed. I looked out at the Paris traffic and the end of the daily lunch scene. There was no doubt about where I was and just how good it felt.

Le Pario

http://lepario.fr

54 Avenue Emile Zola, 75015 Paris, France

Phone:+33 1 45 77 28 82

 

To reach Le Pario from the Yellow Flat it is a 15 minutes walk.  The easiest way is to turn left out the door and walk to La Motte Picquet Grenelle metro.  Once there continue in the same direction on Rue De Commerce where you turn right on Aveneue Emile Zola, about the fourth street from the metro station.  It is about 10 to 15 minutes walk on Emile Zola, so be patient.

Democracy Is Never Free. Travel To Paris and Honor The Fallen.

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For those of us who have had the privilege to enjoy Paris, as tourists, guides, writers and hosts,  the past week’s events came as a brutal shock.   Perhaps they should not have.  Democracy, pluralism, free speech, freedom of thought, the ideals that many of us around the world hold so dearly have never come without a price.  And now, that price was paid again, in the blood spilled on Paris streets, offices and grocery stores.

So the question comes to mind, should we travel to Paris this year in view of what just happened to so many innocent souls.  The answer more than ever is an emphatic YES.

To not travel to Paris is to give in to the very fear that the instigators of this tragedy wish to install in us.  To not speak up, to not enjoy the beauty and majesty of Paris is to dishonor the spirit of those who were lost.  So if you were thinking about canceling your plans to go to Paris and to France this year or considering changing your destination think again.

We are all Charlie, the policeman dying on the street, the 20-year-old proof reader at Charlie Hebdo, the father gunned down at the Kosher Supermarket.  We are free to travel. They are not.  So honor their spirits and go to Paris this year.

 

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It’s Bastille Day, a great time to listen to French music.

Paris on your mind?  Lets take that thought into your ears.  Whether you are thinking about your upcoming holiday and want to get into the mood or already in Paris, here is our Yellow Flat short and subjective guide to French (or at least French singing) artists to enjoy.  Tune into your favorite streaming service or buy some CD’s, a baguette some cheese and a dry rose.  Can you see the Eiffel Tower in the distance?

 

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1.  It will always begin with Edith Piaf,  France’s answer to Billy Holiday, a tragic figure with a powerful voice all her own.  Nicknamed the little sparrow, her music was covered by countless jazz stars from Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald.  Must listen to:  La Vie En Rose and  No, Je Ne Regrette Rien. (I regret nothing).  She rolls her rien de rien like no other.  You can learn more about her at www.edithpiaf.com.  

2.  Django Reinhardt.  The father of what is now called Gypsy Jazz., born in Belguim of Romani or “gypsy” heritage.  His jazz hot style of guitar playing inspires countless musicians today in festivals throughout the world.  Try his work with violinist Stephane Grapelli with the Quintette De Hot Club De France form the 1930’s.  Timeless.  Learn more at:  http://www.redhotjazz.com/django.html

3.  Jacques Brel.   Brel, another Belgian born singer, is cited as a powerful influence on many well know songwriters throughout the world and covered by singers from Ray Charles to Frank Sinatra.  Listen to Ne Me Quittez Pas to start and keep the tissues handy.  http://www.jango.com/music/Jacques+Brel

4.  Serge Gainsbourg.  Gainsbourg is widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of our century.  A provocateur and satirist, his late 60’s hit Je T’aime, featuring some rather explicit sounds drew a rebuke from the pope as is considered one of the most erotic songs ever recorded.  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Je%20t’aime…moi%20non%20plus

5.  Johnny Halliday.  Is there a French Elvis?  If so, it is Johnny Halliday. Sure the music is derivative, but isn’t all of rock and roll just that?  Listen to Souvenier Souvenier as he sings in French with a country twang.  Following what seems to be a trend, he is of half Belgian, half American family roots.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Hallyday

6.  Carla Bruni.  Model.  Wife of Nicolas Sarkozy.  And decent singer too.   A good source of current French songs delivered in a variety of musical styles.  Follow her at: https://twitter.com/carlabruni

7.  Keren Ann.  Contemporary, smooth and sensual, this Israeli born singer resides in France.  Her music could be described as easy listening but that would be unfair.  It is easy but not simple.  http://www.kerenann.com

8.  Benjamin Biolay.    One of the younger stars of the French music scene and gossip pages.  Ennui lives on even when you are dating supermodels and look like one.  http://www.benjaminbiolay.com/en

9.  George Brassens.   French song writer and poet.  Known for his scathing indictments of high French society, it’s just him and his guitar.   An amazing life story, like Gainsbourg, that influenced his songwriting.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Brassens

10.  Maurice Chevalier.  OK, I couldn’t get through the list without it.  Finish the day with Maurice and try not to smile, you won’t succeed.  As he sings, ‘Paris sera toujour Paris.  Paris will always be Paris’.  He will always be the voice associated with cabaret and France.  http://compmast.tripod.com/chevalie/chevalie.html

Now where is that baguette and the rest of the Rose…..

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Cooking, Shopping and Touring With Paris Passioinista EJ Keller, Much More Than A Lesson.

DSC_0819When visiting Paris earlier this year we (myself and three of my closest friends) had the opportunity to take a market/neighborhood tour with our  friend and Paris Passionista Chef Edward EJ Keller seen here piping blue cheese into slices of endive (our appetizer). EJ is a former resident of the US living in the 2nd arrondissement near the great shopping and pedestrian street, Rue Montergeuil.   Classically trained at some of the greatest restaurants in Paris including La Grand Vefour, L’Escargot Montorgeuil, Jacques Cagna and Cabaret, he now works with private clients offering home meals and culinary events including the market tour and cooking class that we enjoyed.

We met him on a Monday morning near metro Sentier and began our walk through his district going from the 2nd to the 1st visiting several institutions of French food and history along with way.

There was the always beautiful classic bistro Au Pied De Cochon:  DSC_0782

The famous kitchen supply store Dehlerrin, which I will blog about in more detail soon.

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The beautiful church across from Les Halles,  Saint Eustache, wonderfully understated and with a touching memorial to the wholesale food market which dominated the neighborhood until the 1960’s when it moved to the suburbs and the controversial mall constructed and now being reconstructed again.

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From there we walked about Rue Montorgeuil, one of the best shopping streets in Paris where Edward met his butcher to get the proper cut of veal for our lunch.  It was the further thing from buying packaged meat in a Safeway you could imagine, the butcher asked for what he was cooking first and then gave the alternatives.  You can find the movie where EJ talks about the pleasure of his local butcher by going to this you tube address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-l5aq3Q6Hk&feature=youtu.be

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We continued our tour up the street past the famous Patisserie Stohrer, home to what are arguably the best eclairs in Pairs (read the blog on this here).

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And then on to his home kitchen.

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Edward is a teacher full of techniques that you can take home with you.  Anyway, they say a photo tells the story so enjoy this pictorial with minimal commentary of the meal we made.

Cutting the endive for the appetizer.

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And the result (stuffed with bleu cheese and home-made confiture and nuts)

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As it was spring white asparagus was in season.

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And the result?  Amazing.  But everything is better with bacon and a warm vinaigrette

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 Mark patiently tossing the cous cous for 15 minutes.  It made a difference.

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The veal before.

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After.

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Along with this we enjoyed an easy to make vegetable soufflé and for dessert, a chocolate cake.

Somewhere along they way after several glasses of wine we forgot to take pictures of the finished plates.  Oh well,  just too much fun.

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 Salut!

You can learn more about EJ at his website carottecaviar.com  When visiting the Yellow Flat Edward offers you a wide variety of cooking options including market tours, cooking classes and should you wish, he will come to the Yellow Flat and cook for you.  We had a great afternoon with Edward learning about French cooking and the area around Les Halles.