We Did It!

21 12 2011

First service!

Keep up with Blend Hamburgers on Facebook.

Grand opening coming up in January 2012.  Hope to see you there!

Now, happy Solstice to all, and to all a good night.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Beer Hall Eating in Köln

28 11 2011

A couple of weekends ago, Nick and I found ourselves in Cologne, Germany (Köln to the natives) for a concert.  Thanks to the Thalys high-speed train network, the trip from Paris was a short three hours, allowing us to spend the better part of two days eating and drinking our way through the city’s many beer halls.  We arrived in time for lunch, and after finding our hotel, headed straight for the Päffgen Hausbrauerei.

Paffgen brewery

The beers (Kölsch, and Kölsch alone) are brought around on deep trays with slots to hold the narrow glasses. The waiter keeps a tally of how many you’ve ordered on your coaster.

sauerbraten & potato dumplings

I had sauerbraten, a dish of braised beef in a sweet-and-sour sauce traditionally thickened with ground gingersnaps.  It came with potato dumplings and applesauce.  Classic.

bratwurst

Nick ordered the bratwurst, sold in lengths of three-quarters of a meter.  It was served with a tiny tureen of spicy mustard.

Read the rest of this entry »





Burger Bar – A Book and an Announcement

11 10 2011

First, the announcement.

A week ago today, I gave my notice at work.  (You may already have seen this if you’re a friend of mine on Facebook, or if you read Lindsey’s blog, Lost in Cheeseland, where I’m the subject of her Franco File Friday interview this week.  And if you’re new here from Lindsey’s place, welcome!  Make yourself comfortable.)

You may remember, back in June, I mentioned a career dilemma I was having.  It was mostly resolved by July, which was a relief, but it’s been hard keeping it under my hat this long.  I’m so excited that I can finally tell you all what I’ve been up to.

Starting in November, I will be the executive pastry chef for a  brand new gourmet hamburger restaurant called Blend.  We’re hoping to open in late November or early December, so I get to spend most of the month of November working on getting the place up and running, testing recipes, and finalizing the menu.  I don’t think I need to tell you how awesome that is.  You can keep up to date on our progress by liking Blend’s Facebook page, if you’re so inclined.

“Why does a hamburger restaurant need a pastry chef, anyway?” you may be wondering.   Well, I’ll be keeping busy baking handmade buns and signature desserts, as well as developing new recipes for weekly specials that highlight seasonal changes.  Any extra time and energy I have will be funneled into salads, condiments, and best of all, developing the beer list!  The way I see it, this job is nothing short of defending the best parts of the American culinary tradition in France.  I can’t wait to get started.

And now, the book.  Lent to me by my soon-to-be boss, Burger Bar is something of a mirror image of what we’re doing.  Hubert Keller, a French chef, opened a now-iconic burger restaurant in Las Vegas, and the book shares some of his best recipes, from burgers to shakes.

There’s a very clever dessert burger, with a doughnut bun, strawberry tomatoes, kiwi lettuce, and so on.  I’ll probably never make it, but it delights me that it exists.  What I will be making are the condiments (piquillo pepper ketchup?  don’t mind if I do.) and the deceptively simple sides.  I can’t wait to try the panisse recipe – they’re a specialty of Southeastern France, like fried polenta sticks, only made with chickpea flour.  And I can tell you from experience that the oven fries, featuring unpeeled red potatoes and duck fat, are as delicious as they are easy to make.

before

after

All that, and then there’s the burgers themselves.  The flavor combinations range from classic to eclectic, with influences from cuisines all over the globe.  There’s even a little section about beverage pairings, and the photos are gorgeous, too.  My only complaint is that there aren’t any recipes for buns.  (Hey, a girl’s gotta do her research, you know?)

On this day in 2010: Luxury Leftovers – includes a recipe for Smoky Herbed Bread Pudding, which you should definitely try.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Around Paris: 14th: La Cantine du Troquet

1 10 2011

La Cantine du Troquet

Christian Etchebest is one of Paris’ most beloved bistrotiers (is that a word?  Like a restaurateur, but for a bistro?).  His original Troquet is much-loved, though rumor has it he’s sold the mothership in order to focus on a new project.  In the meantime, though, he’s still running the convivial, no-reservations offshoot, La Cantine du Troquet.

Nick and I met some food-loving friends there a couple of Thursdays ago.  We had misread their opening hours (they open at 7pm, not 8 as we had thought) and as a result, had to wait out on the sidewalk for a table to open up.  It was a balmy evening, though, and was not at all an unpleasant wait, with a platter of Basque chorizo balanced on the wine barrel out front for all to share, and ordering bottles or carafes of wine to drink while standing on the corner is not only sanctioned, but encouraged.

Over our wine (poured from a liter carafe of totally drinkable – and totally affordable at 18 euros – Bandol red), we studied the chalkboard menu posted outside, our mouths watering over the beef cheeks and the lomo dish.  Of course, by the time we got seated, both had been stricken from the real-time-updated indoor chalkboard.  Not to be deterred that easily, I asked the waitress about the beef cheeks.  She said they were out, but they had a pork cheek dish to replace it.  I, and two of my three companions, said “yes, please.”

Read the rest of this entry »





Around Paris: 7th: Coutume

11 09 2011

Coutume from the street

Though it’s only a couple of blocks from the much-lauded Grande Epicerie, Coutume‘s location on a nondescript portion of the rue de Babylone makes it feel further off the beaten path than it actually is.  Combine that with the mostly Anglophone staff and the artfully unfinished, postmodern-meets-neoclassical décor, and you’ve got a Parisian coffee shop that would be equally at home in New York or London, if not more so.

Coutume interior

I, for one, am glad that it’s here in Paris.  It’s pretty well documented that I am a tea-drinker, and the selection of organic teas here make me very happy.  They also take great care, serving each tea in its own individual teapot, with instructions about how long to let it steep for optimum flavor.  But I can appreciate a well-made cup of coffee, too, and Coutume has those in spades.

Read the rest of this entry »





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.

Read the rest of this entry »





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?

Read the rest of this entry »





Faubourg St. Denis, Côté Porte

23 05 2011

Well.  Now that it’s been… let’s see… five weeks (!) since we moved, I am finally feeling settled enough to sit down and go through all those photos I took one sunny Saturday a week before moving day.  Our new neighborhood is vastly different from the old one, but wonderful in many other ways.  The former apartment was located on the rue du Faubourg St. Denis in the heart of the 10th arrondissement.  I loved its central location, multiple and cheap vegetable sellers, the fact that I could get Indian, Turkish, French, African, Chinese, and Portuguese products without straying more than a couple blocks, and living across the street from a cheese shop.

The view from outside my door

Oh, and there was the really cool landmark at the end of the street, too.

Porte St. Denis

This is the Porte St. Denis, which at one time marked the edge of the city.  (Porte means door, in case you don’t speak French.)  It was built in 1672, by order of Louis XIV, aka The Sun King, or, as it is inscribed at the top of the monument, Ludovico Magno – Louis the Great.  Apparently he had plans to construct showpiece gates like this all around the city, but only got two (this one, and the smaller Porte St. Martin a few blocks away) completed.  At any rate, it marks the point where the rue St. Denis becomes the rue du Faubourg St. Denis, “Faubourg” being a word that indicated any road outside the city walls.

Wilco!

This has very little to do with anything, but it's right by the Porte and happens to bear the name of my favorite band.

Faubourg St. Denis is a relatively long street by Parisian standards, running the entire length of the 10th, hence the designation, “Côté Porte.”  I often refer to it myself as the “lower” part of the street, which leads uphill.  While the “upper” part is known for being a hotbed of Indian restaurants and shops, the lower bit has quite a few as well, most of which are concentrated in the Passage Brady.

Read the rest of this entry »





Candelaria

20 03 2011

Tired of mediocre Mexican fare in Paris? So was Luis. He came to the conclusion that the only way he was going to get a good taco in Paris was to open up his own taqueria. Fortunately for the rest of us, he did just that.

Candelaria, Paris

The storefront at 52 rue Saintonge in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement, conveniently located between the République and Filles du Calvaire Métro stops, is decidedly unassuming.  Rustic, mostly white with brightly colored shelves and fresh flowers livening up the décor, it does have a bit of that taco-shack-on-the-beach feel.

daffodils at candelaria

But that is far from the best part.

Read the rest of this entry »








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 307 other followers

%d bloggers like this: