Monday, June 8, 2009
A few weeks ago, a friend had her family in town, and I was invited to join them for dinner. The only catch was that I had to pick the place. I quickly consulted one of my favorite blogs, even more so now that I live in Paris, David Lebovtiz's Blog. Filled with great recipes, fantastic recommendations and very colorful stories, I check it often, trolling the archives for tips for living in Paris. I found a recommendation for a great value restaurant, actually a cut and paste list David made from other people and their recommendations. I called the restaurant, Au Goût Dujour, to see if they could take a last minute table for four on a Friday night, and the friendly woman said no problem. I met my dinning companions for a pre-dinner treat at Pierre Hermé (had to show them the macarons...) and we made our way over to the 15e for dinner, walking towards the restaurant, we could see the Eiffel Tower not to far away, already glowing.
We arrived at the restaurant, a crisp decor, but still warm and welcoming, and after ordering a bottle of wine, we were presented with a little ramekin of purple olives with olive oil and herbs. We tasted cumin and fennel, unique and delicious. The one and only waitress brought over the ardoise, the chalkboard menu, and propped it up against the window at our table. I translated the dishes as best as I could, filling in the blanks, by asking the waitress. The cuisine is French. Neither the hearty heavy country food, nor the light, leaving you still hungry,over refined gastro fare, but a pleasant melange of the two. We ate traditional dishes, showcases some fine spring produce, but we left not feeling stuffed or weighed down by choucroute for example. I enjoyed a poached egg, over roasted peppers, with a small arugula salad, followed by Saucisse de Morteau, a fresh pork sausage, over lentils de Puy and a dollop of creme fraîche. Everything was exceptional though, from the chilled pea soup with cantal cream, to the sauteed mackarel, the terrine de campagne and the cod over ratatouille. We had to order a few desserts, and the winner by a landslide was the pistachio cream with a strawberry compote, and a sablé (buttery shortbread cookie). That plate was seconds away from being licked, but we remembered our manners.
I enjoyed this place so much, I came back with another group of out of towners for another fantastic meal. To top it all off, this place is really a true deal. Two courses are 18 euros. Yes, they have a few supplements if you order the fillet de beouf, but all in all this place is shockingly reasonable for the quality of food and decor. Perhaps that's why you have to trek all the way there, but you can walk to the Eiffel Tower after your meal, to watch it sparkle at midnight. (Or on the top of any hour after sunset, until 1am).
I keep checking David Lebovitz's blog, and was surprised to find this entry last week. 15 Things I'd Miss about Paris If I Moved Away. Not really a surprise, since it's right up his alley in terms of writing style, but because I inspired the post! I was at his book signing a few weeks ago, and after he opened up the floor to questions, he caught us all off guard by forbidding two questions. I quickly racked my brain, we had to ask him something! I know the crowd enjoyed his reading, and are all huge fans, and we need to show some respect and ask him something. I quickly thought of a question, raised my hand, then asked him "You say you don't know when you'll move away, but if you ever do move away from Paris, what would be somethings you'd miss, expected or unexpected?'' I guess I caught him off guard too, since he said, "that's a really good question", paused for a bit, then said, well he'd of course miss the boulangeries. It's really hard to top having good bread on almost every corner. He also mentioned he'd miss the french sense of humor, and that they really are nice people. I was really glad to see him expound on this list, and get a shout out..even if he didn't say my name.
Au Goût Dujour
12, rue Beaugrenelle
Metro: Charles Michels
01 45 71 68 36
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
There are times I wish I had paid more attention in High School English, perhaps I would then be able to write an ode to mâche. In the US, you might catch a reference to mâche on a French menu, or from Martha Stewart but here in France it is everywhere - even the discount grocery store. It is eaten throughout the winter, until the more delicate spring greens are available. I am seeing it less and less as the summer approaches. Although I appreciate the respect for seasonality here, I do want to get my fill of mâche before heading back to SF. Mâche grows in tiny clusters, which are preserved during the picking, sometimes you'll even see roots! The tear drop shape is also reminiscent of lamb's ears and it is sometimes called "lambs lettuce" in English. The taste is mild, reminding me of spinach but not as chalky. The crispy stems combined with the tender leaves makes a perfect salad, with only a mustard vinaigrette as an enhancer. I'll bring a container for a picnic with the dressing on the bottom (whole grain mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper) then mâche on top, and just mix it there to prevent the leaves from getting to wilted.
Although thought of as just a salad green, I wanted to see what else it could do. Turns out it wilts nicely, just like spinach, and you can throw it in at the end of any dish. The other month, when cheap favas were abundant at the market, I did a fava bean and mâche risotto. Or even with some scrambeled eggs, instead of spinach. If you can get your hands on some while it's still available, let me know what you do with it!