Mon petit marché

Posted in La France, Paris at 20:45

Pain de campagne, cheeses and radishes

A few weeks ago, on my way home from work, I passed what looked like a miniature outdoor food market: a food truck selling cheeses, bread, fruit, and vegetables. They had a sign with a website address on it, so I checked when I got home. To my surprise, it was a sort of organic food collective that tours Paris and environs, selling local edibles. They drop by my area once a week in the evening. Best of all, you can order online, and when you request pickup at the truck, they’ll fill your order the day they’re in your area, with fresh goods!

I’ve since gotten in the habit of picking up mon panier parisien once a week. The vegetables are delicious, but best of all are the cheeses. I love Brie and buttery Camembert, as well as longer-aged, harder tomes, and hard cheeses such as Comté and Beaufort which can be aged for years. Le Panier Parisien has an absolutely incredible Camembert the likes of which I had never tasted before, and their crottins de chèvre (literally “goat droppings”, but actually soft goat cheese, you can see two above the Camembert) are also delicious. Together with authentic, freshly-baked pain de campagne, I am now a very spoiled Parisienne indeed.

Chat courbevoisien

For more local color, this is a relaxed tuxedo kitty I also spotted on my walk home.

Un aïoli dans le Vieux Nice

Posted in La France, Nice at 19:00

Suggestion du jour, Pilha Leva

Yesterday, rather than sew, I realized I had better go to the mairie (city hall) to request my French ID. At the citizenship ceremony, our cartes de séjour et de résidence, visitor/work/residence permits, were taken by the préfecture since gaining French nationality meant we’d no longer be “visitors”. We were given our new French birth certificates, which are one of the documents needed to request French ID. Rather than go to city hall on a Saturday morning, likely to be crowded, I decided to use one of my weekday vacation mornings and then make the most of my detour in the old town. After une flânerie (a stroll), I had aïoli, a traditional Provençal dish with a garlic, basil, pepper and egg white sauce. In fact, the name aïoli is the name of the sauce, which, theoretically, could be served with anything that goes along well, but as the name of a dish, it usually comes with potatoes, courgette (zucchini), leeks, carrots, boiled egg, and white fish.

When I got home and uploaded photos, I realized that in all my years here, I still hadn’t created a photoset for Nice’s old town. That’s done now: Vieux Nice photoset includes the photos from yesterday and several older ones.

Tomorrow is May Day, so here’s some traditional May Day muguet (lily of the valley)!

Muguet (Lily of the valley)

Tasty local products

Posted in La France, Nice at 18:53

Olive oil from Nice

I do my grocery shopping at a small shop in Nice called Diététique Malausséna, located on the avenue of the same name (Malausséna). Having gone there for seven years now, I know the owners and employees well — they’re really nice people, and very helpful, which is great when you have food allergies and/or intolerances. In addition to foods for those with special dietary requirements, they carry a lot of delicious organic foods that I rarely, if ever, see in larger stores here.

Last week they brought in red and rosé wines from Bellet, for instance. Bellet is part of Nice. All the Bellet wines I’ve tasted have been wonderful, quite unique compared to other areas, even those from nearby Provençal vineyards. The store also had olive oil from Bellet, which I’d never seen before. I didn’t even know olive oil was produced in Nice, but one of the shop owners told me it was hard to come by. The color was stunning, and it smelled good, so I bought a bottle today.

This olive oil is from Saint-Roman-de-Bellet. You can see it’s a very green part of the city:

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Festive eats

Posted in La France at 16:04

While at my local supermarket this morning, I noticed they’d put escargots at the end of an aisle. Some French people — not all, many wouldn’t touch them if their lives depended on it — eat snails, more specifically the Burgundy snail, escargot de Bourgogne. They’re usually served in a fragrant butter-based sauce called beurre à la bourguignonne (Burgundy butter), seasoned with garlic, shallots and parsley. I happen to love snails, but have never cooked them at home; they’re for very special occasions. I didn’t buy any today, although I will admit to being tempted. That said, there are better places to buy snails than canned from a supermarket.

Also tempting were the rows and rows of bottles of champagne. This year, however, I’m eschewing my usual bottle of holiday champagne for other wines: Sauternes to go with foie gras (and because I love Sauternes), Blanquette de Limoux brute, Crémant de Loire rosé (pink), and a Côtes du Rhône red. I’ve already had the blanquette, which was delicious. I found it to be smoother and with a better body than champagnes, which are more ethereal.

Living in France, it’s hard to avoid getting to know wines. Over the years I’ve discovered that I like fuller-bodied, earthier wines, which is interesting since my home state of Oregon produces one of the best examples of that taste: Willamette Valley wineries make gorgeous pinot noirs! As for French wines, my favorites are from Burgundy, Rhône, and Patrimonio (in Corsica). While there are Bordeaux wines that I enjoy, generally I like them less; there are several Bordeaux I dislike that other people find very good. As a result, when TV shows or movies have a scene where someone orders a Bordeaux to admiring oohs and aahs, I’m left cold! (Give me a Châteauneuf-du-Pape any day. Or an Eyrie Vineyards or Domaine Drouhin Oregon pinot noir. Help, I’ve become a wine nerd.)