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It's like Proust, only longer.

Deuxième Partie.  Êtes-vous prêts?  C’est parti…

Time for the second nail-biting installment of the trip to Paris.  Reading over the first entry, all it makes it seem like I did all weekend was eat.  That is maybe 64% true.

After the giant feast at le comptoir, the burger buddies were feeling a little sluggish.  Food was last on our minds as we headed over to the Louvre and wandered around the tuileries for most of the early and late afternoon.  Well, last on our minds until dinner time rolled around.

We both had a craving for something.  Something meaty, and something smothered in an addictive sauce.  And this meatiness “à côté de” some fried potato items.  I’m talking about the one, the only, Le Relais de Venise l’entrecôte.  Its original location is located in Paris’ 6th.  We walked over to it, only to find a line going halfway down the block.  I guess this will teach us to try to go to l’entrecôte on a Saturday night.

We ended up at a little bistro also locatd in the 6th arrondissement.  Overall, the meal was uneventful, except for the petite souris that BG saw in the corner of the covered outdoor area.  The reaction by the waiter: “c’est possible.”  So French.

Prior to this, I had enjoyed some andouillette (AAAAA , of course.  Which stands for Association amicale des amateurs d’andouillette authentique, in case you are curious).  It is a delightful French treat, which is basically a sausage stuffed with tripe.  And it smells, umm, delicious… and earthy.  And that’s putting it lightly.


After that we called it a night, since our stomachs were still reeling a bit.  And we had to get ready for a couple of strong days of eating (they were our last two, after all).

We awoke on Sunday morning and headed over the Raspail Marché Bio, a huge organic farmer’s market on Boulevard Raspail, also in the 6th.  The market is intense, and basically blows away any farmer’s market here in the US.  The artistry with which the food is presented is something to learn from, and it again proves that organic does not need to equal dirty and poorly-displayed.









At the end of the market was a man making potato galettes, with onions and some sort of cheese product.  I had two, which were delicious.  After wandering around a little bit, we headed over to the île de la cité so that burgerboy could repent for his gluttony at Notre Dame.  Before that, of course, we needed to eat a little bit, so we had a pit stop at berthillon for some vanilla ice cream and a nutella banana crêpe.  Why not, right?


A couple of hours later, we found ourselves in the marais.  The Rue de Rosiers means only one thing: falafel.  More specifically, l’As du Falafel.  I had been there before, but it was burgergal’s first time.  She was suspicious, despite all of the positive press that she had seen and the myriad of blogosphere mentions.  However, her fears were allayed when she saw that Lenny Kravitz had given the place his stamp of approval.


L’as du falafel was tremendous, as I had remembered it.  The crunchy falafel balls were small and perfectly fried, nestled in a fresh pita with heaping handfuls of cabbage, eggplant, and tahini.  It’s nothing like any other falafel that I have had here in NYC.  It’s tremendous.  Check it out.  Trust me.  Let me also mention that it was about 4pm, and we had 8pm reservations at Senderens for dinner.  Yeah.  It’s worth it.


Then we walked over to the 1st arrondissement, to get some French macaroons at the Ladurée located on the Champs Elysées.  The place was a madhouse, but we walked away with a variety of French macaroons in a variety of flavors (lemon, red fruit, vanilla, chocolate, caramel, pistachio).  These little guys were going to get devoured at a later time, however since it was time for dinner (!).



And on that note, I will stop myself again.

Séjour à Paris: Première Partie


I wrote this while in Paris, so it’s written in the present-time, for those of you who are too temporally aware in writing.

Bonjour à tous!

BG and I have been in Paris for two days now, and we have already done some serious damage (to our arteries and all muscles used for walking). for only a couple of days, but we have been here long enough to do some serious eating.  And some serious walking, so it seems to be balancing out.

Within hours of our arrival, we found ourselves at Bread and Roses, an organic bakery very near the Jardin du Luxembourg.  We walked in for a light lunch of a salad with fines herbes and giant pieces of quiche.  BG had a goat cheese, leek, and asparagus, and I went with the mushroom (girolles- chanterelles, which are in season here and are all over the place).  I don’t normally like quiche too much, but these were great.  Creamy but not heavy tasting.


Le Timbre

After walking around for a few hours, it was time for dinner.  After hearing some good things from members of the burgergal clan, we walked over to Le Timbre, an aptly-named restaurant in the 6ème arrondissement, and snagged the last available table.  To the best of my knowledge, the place has three employees: a dishwasher, a chef, and a server.  And they rock out some pretty good food.  I started with some pork head cheese with capers (hure de porc… when in France?) and BG started out with a quick sauté of girolles (chaterelles), lardons, and a heap of butter.  I figured I had already started the day off with heavy cream and eggs, so why stop the fat-train from rollin?



Paired with crusty french baguette, it was like a light salad.  For our mains, I kept the cross-section of meat theme, and had the boudin noir, which I always love– I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong with a meat brownie?  Burgergal was a little limited in options, so she went with the pheasant with cabbage, which looked delightful.  I was mostly upset because my Laguiole knife was missing its bee.



We also drank a delightful bottle of wine, a Fleurie.  Dessert was good but unremarkable, but BG had a mille-feuille, and I had wine-braised figs.  Then we walked back to the hotel and passed out.


Day 2

Day two started with an almond croissant and pain au chocolat at a local patisserie.  Then a bunch of walking and a little musée d’Orsay action.  Saw the James Ensor show, which was great.  Also caught this little gem, to the delight of uberchef.  After a bit more of the sightseeing and a picnic in the Champ de Mars, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner.

And this was no ordinary dinner– it was the big night for dinner at Le Comptoir du Relais Saint Germain.  This is one of the hardest reservations to get right now in Paris, so it had to be good, based on the expectations alone.

After a bit of a mistaken identity issue, we started out with a couple of comp’d glasses of champagne, along with some foie gras on toast.  Not a bad way to start off a meal.  BG ate foie gras for the first time, and she actually enjoyed it (a member of the monthly dinner club appropriately called it “meat butter,” and I think that BG finally understood how applicable that is).

After this, some mini gannat (cheese bread), which was just brought around for a couple of laughs.

Then came the wine, a 2007 Chambolle-Musigny from Philippe Pacalet, a winemarker from Burgundy who uses traditional winemaking techniques and uses few chemicals in the process.  He is like the French slow food winemarker.  I didn’t know this when ordering it, but a little Google action has given me the low-down.

Then came the first course—the menu item was two lines long, and I forgot to take the menu at the end of the meal, but, it was basically cream and artichoke soup with various lobster parts (flesh and roe), some made into a foam.  It was one of those French food items that has around three hundred ingredients, but you can really just describe the flavor, which, I suppose, is the way that it should be.  It was smooth as silk, and had only a faint taste of the ocean.  The bits of lobster were delicate and perfectly cooked, and the dish as a whole was a great start to what I knew would be a delicious (and buttery) meal.

The second course was a pan seared monkfish with country ham and and cauliflower, with a cauliflower mousse and caviar.  While I found the dish to be good overall, I found my particular cut of monkfish to be a bit too sinewy.  The “poor man’s lobster” tasted a bit too much like the former and not enough of the latter.  The fish was perfectly cooked, but the cut was just did not do it or me.  BG ate about half of hers, about which I was proud, since she never eats fish.  I even made a point of telling the waitress this, who understood my pride after her initial shock wore off.

After the monkfish came the main courses.  Normally, the menu tonight included a pigeon, but the chef was making sure that everyone ate pigeon before preparing it, since it has a “particular and strong taste.”  In its place, there was also a rack of lamb that could be substituted.  Regardless of how BG felt about this, I told the waitress that we wanted one of each, and I told BG that she wouldn’t like pigeon, which turned out to be correct.  Now, I don’t know why they were warning people about the pigeon—I thought it was superb (I used the word “sublime”).  It was just half of the little guy, served with a heavy sauce that must have been made from a pigeon/game bird stock, because it was deep chestnut brown and extremely heavy on mineral taste.  It was cooked medium-rare and was as tender as could be.  BG had the lamb, which was very delicate and also tender.  The lamb must have been quite young, because it had none of the gamey lamb taste that the standard carré d’agneau would have here.  The fat had a little bit of that going on, but in general, very subtle.

After the mains they brought out the cheese tray.  They basically bring you a giant tray of cheese and tell you to go to town.  We shared the tray with the people next to us, who were of unknown origin, but we enjoyed it all.  There were about 10 cheeses on the board, and quince paste, black cherry jam, fresh honey, and a pepper jelly on the side.  All of the cheeses were excellent, and they basically give you free reign of the board until you stop.  To give you a sense of how much cheese there was—take the lid of an outdoor garbage can and cover it it with blocks of cheese.  That’s about how much cheese there was.  (Jean Luc, the maître d’ and general man about town (he was the Comptoir representative at Le Fooding, and he told us that the second night was actually much better), told us that they will often do an appetizer board as well, since there is only one seating per night.  The cheese board was good enough, I suppose.)

After the cheese course came dessert, which was tapioca pudding with chestnut ice cream, brown sugar “spaghetti” and various other fruits.  Not really being much of a dessert guy, I thought the pudding was good, but it had too much citrus for my liking.  Europeans love citrus in everything, but the supremed orange wedges, figs, banana, and grapes didn’t really do it for me.  I would have preferred to have the pudding and ice cream and the spaghetti only.

All in, the place was worth the hype.  At 50 Euros per person (for the food, at least), the experience and quality of food render it a veritable bargain.  Since they only do one seating per night, they maximize the experience, and the casual atmosphere contributes to a general feeling of ease and relaxation.  The staff were friendly and helpful, and if you don’t speak French, fear not, it appeared that they speak English (kinda).
More to come, in la deuxième partie…

Le waiting.

So this weekend was Le Fooding here in NYC, the sister event to one of the same name that has been going on in Paris for a few years now.  BG got us tickets, so we headed out to Long Island City for the amero-french culinary explosion.  She and I are heading out to Paris in about a month, so the timing was very a propos.  We also were going to see Gonzales that night and Phoenix the next day, so it was le kick-off to a very french weekend.

Arriving in Long Island City, I am not sure what I expected, but I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked that every foodie in the greater NYC area was there.  Since the general admission started at 7pm, I guess it was normal for people to get there at ten to six.  JBE’s better half got there early and snagged position number 10 in line.  My crew got there at about 6:45 and we were number 1000.  The line wrapped around the block, it was insane.

All of the people that were working there wore t-shirts that said, “i hate le fooding.”  I guess it’s partially a play on the french language, like “i ate le fooding,” but I can’t be sure.  At the moment, I really did hate le fooding.

Anyway, flashforward to 7:45, when we finally got in.  The event was a madhouse.  The french, for all of the things they do well, do a lot of things not well.  Organization is one of them.  The place was out of control.  People were in line everywhere.  Lines were wrapped around the PS1 courtyard like an MC Escher drawing.  I wanted to punch le fooding in le face.

The first thing I ate was a sampler of cheeses from CHEESES of FRANCE. They don’t really win any awards for creative naming, but the cheese they were serving up was pretty tasty.  Since I inhaled the three bites of cheese in about .6 seconds, my judgment was a little bit clouded.

Then we waited in a line for a mystery product.  Complaint number 1– I’d like to know what I am eating.  We got to the front of the line and were handed plastic cups with a little toasty piece of garlic bread.  The soup had the taste of pork with a mirepoix, and some of the pieces definitely had the old “parts is parts” thing goin on.  It was pretty tasty, and I later found out that it was from Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir du Relais fame in Paris.  BG and I are eating dinner there one of our nights (pops came through with the rezzie), so it should be awesome.

Next up was David Chang and the bo ssam.  For dedicated readers, you will know my thoughts on it.  It was pretty much the same, although I felt like I was betraying myself by not having eaten around 23 things before it.  It was solid, per usual.

We then ran into JBE, who was already stuffed.  I was still starving, so internally directed all of my rage at him.  He didn’t know that, but it was true.  In any case, he told us that the place to be was the back room, where some deep fried corn was being served by the guys from Diner.  Again, the readers of my blog know that I am a fan of that spot, and I dig their casual attitude.

I got to the back area and immediately realized that I had no idea which line was which.  There were just crowds of people all over the place standing in lines that seemed to go to nowhere.  We ended up in the WD-50 line, where Wylie was serving up some grilled chicken necks with yuzu.  That is like the ultimate ROI dish ever.  A chicken neck must cost, what, 25 cents?  And he could probably charge a few more cents for that.  Bravo!

I enjoyed the neck, although all of the bones made it a little annoying to eat.  I did enjoy that the center of the neck had a brothy quality to it that was like a little mouthful of stock.  I think uberchef may have commented that it could be used as a meat straw to eat chicken soup.  Kinda disturbing, but it intrigues me nonetheless.

After Wylie BG and I got into what we thought was the corn line, but was in fact the line for Ze Kitchen Galerie, another french spot that I’ve heard about in several places.  They were serving up a pork rib with a teriyaki and pineapple sauce.  Although the LG didn’t really dig it, I was a fan, as was the BG and our dining companions.  Since he was there so early, JBE had around a half-slab and decided he thought they were just ok.

After much beating around the bush, I finally got me some of the bushel (I apologize for that one).  The deep fried corn with “scallop butter.”  The corn smelled awesome coming out of the deep fryer.  BG doesn’t eat scallops, so it was time for me to get my coquille st jacques on, deux fois.  I really enjoyed the scallops, although the crowd didn’t really seem to be feeling them.  They were buttery, which I guess explains the name, but they also really picked up the smoked paprika flavor from the sauce that was smeared all over the deep fried corn.  Deep frying corn, by the way, is a great way to make everyone think you are making zeppole, without actually making zeppole.  BG was disappointed I think.  I could see it on her face.  I, meanwhile, had scallop butter all over my face.  And parts of my shirt.

Believe or not, that’s all I had.  The ice cream line was way too long, and Bigarrade ran out of food before I could get to them.  They had a grilled sirloin if you were wondering.  However, the bo ssam line was nice and short (maybe all of le fooding crowd felt that the hometown champ was not shi shi enough).  So I filled up on that before heading out.

Overall, le fooding was a good experience, but I’m not sure I would go back.  I had some tasty morsels of food for sure, but I think that some logistical flaws really killed it for me.  But I am excited eat to do some fooding of my own in Paris, that’s for sure.

I didn’t take pictures, mostly because it was really dark and because I was too hungry to think about taking pictures.  This guy did, though, so you can re-live each bite here.  I’m also mad that I missed a second opportunity to devour Minetta Tavern’s Black label burger, being griddled up to perfection by Lee Hanson on Saturday night.  But I griddled up my own burgers on Sunday.  More to come there.

While it’s not food related, I suggest all of you go see Gonzales and/or Phoenix live.  They are both french love-fests (in fact, a trio from le fooding was also at gonzales), but they both rocked.  I expect uberchef to write a full recap.

Finally, Rules in London gets some love.

I’d like to thank Serious Eats for finally having the bollocks to do a write-up of Rules, London’s oldest restaurant.  For anyone who is curious, this single establishment is actually the place that convinced me that offal is not so awful.  The steak and kidney pie was my first foray into the true workings of innards.  And that was in 1998.  I’ve been happily enjoying the inner workings of animals ever since.

Read it here.  It has more words and better pictures than I could ever do from NYC.