Au Passage

29 08 2011

Reservation

I’m a latecomer to the wine bar bandwagon.  I admit that for a long time I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about.  The idea of having to plan ahead and make reservations just to have a few drinks and nibbles with friends put me off.  I mean, such a meal would seem to be inherently spontaneous – reserving just feels contrary to the whole aesthetic.  And yet, Au Passage may have changed my mind.

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Diet Food, My Way

25 08 2011

This week has not gone as planned on the blogging front.  I have a bunch of posts just dying to have their chance in the spotlight, one I even had to stop working to jot down this morning.  But of course I left that notebook at work.  Fortunately, I’ve got one of these “One Meal, One Photo, One Sentence” pictures up my sleeve.

Roasty-roasty

Roasted salmon, risotto made with shrimp stock and roasted zucchini.  This is what I make when I’m trying to eat lighter.  Really.

On this day in 2009: The Land of Chocolate (includes my recipe for premium chocolate ice cream)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





My 7 Links

21 08 2011

This 7 Links meme has been making its way around the internet, and it’s a fun one.  Jennifer of Chez Loulou tagged me for it, and I’ve been having fun going back through the archives – 410 posts in three and a half years! – to find posts that fit the criteria.

1. Most Beautiful

beautifully patterned tiles

The colorful tiled houses and intricate monastery architecture make my first post about our trip to Lisbon last winter an easy choice.

2. Most Popular

Airy Interior

Hands down, my most popular post by far is the one I wrote about gougères, entitled Cheesy Poofs Kick Ass!  This one post actually represents 1% of the total page views on my blog, ever, and it has more than six times the number of views of the next most popular post.  Was it the title?  The step-by-step photos?  I have other posts with clever titles, and good photos, but for some reason this one really caught on.  Maybe I should quote South Park more often.

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El Guacamole

17 08 2011

Mexican food is becoming downright trendy here in the City of Lights.

hours and phone

And I, for one, am thrilled.  Quelling that Mexican craving no longer requires lengthy and expensive ingredient hunts followed by all-day cooking sessions.

Menu

Nope, nowadays all I have to do to get my fix is head to one of a growing number of taquerias.  Parisian Mexican stalwart Anahuacalli, widely regarded as one of the best in the city, has now entered the fray with their own taqueria in the hip Canal St. Martin neighborhood, called El Guacamole.  At three and a half euros per taco, prices are a touch more expensive than Candelaria, but on par with Itacate (whose tortas, it must be said, are something of a disappointment).

Pollo pibil, puerco salsa verde

However, they’re generously filled, traditionally garnished (buenos dias, marinated red onions), and served on good – but not handmade – corn tortillas.  Having stumbled across their website on Monday night, I found myself at El Guacamole for a late lunch on Tuesday.  It was sunny out, for once, and I decided to hop on a Velib’ and head down the canal after work, just to check the place out.  But I could hardly check it out without eating, could I?

I’m pleased to report that the puerco cooked in salsa verde was very good.  The pollo pibil had kind of a funny taste to my palate – maybe too much annatto? – but I loved the onions on top and the tender, long-cooked texture.  The “salsa piquante” brought to the table along with the tacos was not in the least picante, but the gentlemen running the place were very friendly.  I’ll be back, for sure.  I mean, I have to give the other menu items a try before passing judgment.

El Guacamole

They’ve only been open a week, but another thing I’m sure of is that the long, narrow restaurant with the bright green facade will have long lines at mealtimes, especially while the weather is nice enough to take your tacos to go for a canalside picnic.  Two more pieces of good news about El Guacamole: it’s mere steps from Du Pain et Des Idées, and the next time I want a taco before a show at the Alhambra, I don’t have to walk all the way across République to get to Candelaria (which, by the way, still has my heart, but I’m always glad to have options).

On this day on 2010: Le Bambou (more ethnic-eating-in-August adventures)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Le Pacifique

13 08 2011

I’ve always been intrigued by this place on an uphill corner not far from the Belleville Métro stop.  Something about the design of the place has always made me think of Chinese restaurants in L.A. in the forties – or at least the way they’re portrayed in film noir.  The fact that they’re open until 1:30 am only reinforces this perception.

Le Pacifique, Belleville

The effect is certainly more pronounced late at night, when the neon trim is lit up and you can just imagine the Private Eyes rendez-vous-ing inside.  I know this because I’ve walked past here dozens of times, en route to and from Restaurant Raviolis.  I admit that’s where we were headed last Saturday for lunch before doing some banana leaf hunting at Paris Store.  This being August, though, our regular haunt was closed for vacation, and so, on the strength of a recommendation from Sophie, we found ourselves perusing the dim sum menu at Le Pacifique.

You can learn a lot about an unfamiliar restaurant by observing the other diners.  I don’t mean you should be staring, but do check out what’s on their plates, discreetly.  I learned this way that Le Pacifique serves pitchers! of iced! tea!  Of course it was printed on the menu as well, but now I knew to look for it.  And at 4 euros a pitcher, it’s a hell of a bargain, especially when compared to the price of a single glass of iced tea at, say, Le Loir Dans La Théière.  Iced tea seems to be something of a rarity outside the United States, but it’s something I like very much, so it’s always exciting to see it outside my apartment.

Iced tea at Le Pacifique

And it was good, too – not skunky at all, the way iced tea can get when it’s been sitting around too long – flavorful but not overbrewed, nicely chilled and not watered down by the ice.

Enough about the tea, though.  What of the food?

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The Four Pounds of Cheese Project

7 08 2011

The Four Pounds of Cheese Project

This week I’ve been participating in a food waste awareness event started by Jenni Field, also known as The Balanced Pastry Chef.  It’s called The Four Pounds of Cheese Project, and she came up with the idea after reading a National Geographic article about how much food Americans throw away every year.  In order to raise awareness about the vital issue of food waste, everyone participating has been photographing the food they throw away for a whole week.

I think it’s an important issue on many levels.  On a social level, it is egregious that some of us have so much excess food that it goes to waste, while others are starving.  On an economic level, with the uncertain state of things in many major world economies, it seems prudent to practice spending less money on food, especially that which we don’t need or will end up going to waste.  On an environmental level, you have agribusiness continually trying to increase production by means of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, and other environmentally harmful practices.  If we realize that we can’t eat five pounds of tomatoes before they go bad, for example, then we won’t buy the bulk-size bag, and if demand for massive amounts of harmfully-produced food decreases, then hopefully so will the use of environmentally damaging chemicals.  Not to mention the landfill space issue with throwing away foods that cannot be (or aren’t) composted.

So without further ado, here’s what I wasted this week:

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Eggplant with Mustard Seeds and Yogurt

5 08 2011

August’s Currypalooza recipe, chosen by Margie of More Please, features eggplant, which is appropriate considering we’re really at the height of eggplant season these days.  Like last month, it’s a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, and again features yogurt in the sauce, which has an unfortunate tendency to break and make the dish look rather unappetizing.

This was the best I could do.

It tasted great, though.  Not too spicy, nor overly mustardy, but with a rich, complex flavor.  The mustard seeds offered a nice textural contrast with the yielding eggplant.  There were some interesting techniques in the recipe, too – crushing mustard seeds and mixing them with lots of water and a little cayenne to use as the base for cooking the eggplant was certainly an unexpected step, but I think it helped to infuse those flavors right into the vegetable.

To increase the spice factor of our dinner, I also made a spicy vegetable dal with green beans and carrots, and rounded out the meal with some steamed basmati rice.

Margie has posted the recipe on her site, along with her take on it.  Rocquie of Sage Trifle has hers up as well, and check Needful Things later today for Grapefruit’s Currypalooza post.

I’m having a lot of fun with this Currypalooza so far.  I love getting a new Indian recipe to try every month, and it’s interesting to see how everyone else fared with the same recipe.  We often discuss it over email, sharing problems, ingredient questions, and the like, so it’s been educational, too.  If you want to join us, let me know, and I’ll be sure to get you on the email list for next month – when I get to choose the recipe!

On this day in 2009: C’est Moi Le Chef! Strangely enough, I had a similarly frustrating experience today, where I had to wait for TWO HOURS after finishing my work before the sales rep came so I could place my order for next week.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

 








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