Friday, September 30, 2011

Paris Foodie Top Four

Sacre ceour

My friend Kate frequently makes everyone around a dinner table recount their "top four" - this means your list of your Top Four of absolutely everything in the world. Friends' top fours shift over the years, but Kate seems to have an endless memory for every permutation over time and can recount various "top fours" and place them in a time line. For instance, she recalls with glee the day that "comfortable silences" replaced "great sex" on my Top Four. I still maintain this was not a deliberate exchange!

More recently my Top Four has included 1) fresh sheets, 2) reading a can't-put-it-down novel under my doona on a cold day, and - as a result of this week in Paris - two new additions: 3)French champagne aperitifs and 4) nutmeg (especially in a chilled leek soup on a hot night). Of course, all Top Four entries are subject to change without notice.

Kitsch cordials for sale!

So, what exactly have we been up to in Paris, you might ask? Well, in the spirit of Kate, I give you my Paris Foodie Top Four (so far...again, subject to change without notice). These are not in any order!

1) Unexpectedly good treats in the most unexpected of places... For example, a fresh baked brioche on the way to buy a GPS for our road trip to Gascony. It was still warm and studded with melted chocolate chips, wrapped in a twist of paper and devoured while walking the streets. I even licked my fingers. Also, a spur-of-the-moment canele (an incredibly moist cake dipped in some sort of clear, vanilla bean laden glaze) bought on the Ile Saint-Louis as I wandered past a tiny little bakery. I am not sure what is in it, but if you ever see one, buy it. Or the bijoux street market we came across today in Place de Madeleine, complete with haughty fish monger and the most beautiful roses. All unexpected treats when they are least anticipated. Maybe that's what makes them so good.

Food markets outside Madeliene Church

Figs at the market

I love French roses!

2) White truffles. We spent our lunch break in the Maison de la Truffe, the House of Truffles, eating delicious pasta with white truffle - we were told it's currently in season - shaved over the top. Divine! More subtle that black truffle, with all the earthy flavor I love. Mum ordered the truffle ice cream, and I have to say my taste of it was pretty fabulous. The Maison de la Truffe is still a family owned business, serving up truffles since 1932, and well worth the visit.

Mason de Truffe


White truffle tagliatelle

3) Pine nut flavored ice-cream from Berthillon, a Parisian institution, on the Ile Saint-Louis. The salted caramel ice-cream came a close second.




4) Dinner at Gaspard de la Nuit, a family-owned old style bistro near the Marais (6 Rue Des Tournelles) where the tradition of unpretentious French cuisine is alive and well - along with a trolley laden with just as venerable armagnac. The hostess was welcoming and the food delicious. My attempt to replicate the chilled leek soup with a hint of nutmeg will be hitting Four Figs in due course.



A close fifth has to be dinner tonight at which I sampled roast grouse stuffed with fois grois for the first time - grouse should be more common on Australian tables!

Tomorrow we are off to Gascony, so I of course reserve the right to amend my French Top Four accordingly...

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