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.

Advertisements




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 »





Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine and My New Favorite Fromagerie

18 07 2010

Julhès: the fromagerie/caviste

Admittedly, one of the reasons this is a favorite is that it’s less than half a block from my apartment.  Even so, I’m a little sad that I didn’t know about Julhès before moving to the rue du Faubourg St. Denis.  Yes, it’s a cheese shop.  It’s also a wine cave.  With an impressive selection of liquor.  And select charcuterie.  Plus bulk free-range eggs and fresh dairy products like yogurt, milk, and butter.  Not to mention the snacks – Tyrell’s chips, bars of Valrhona and Zaabar chcoclate – and condiments – a truly mouthwatering array of mustards, sauces, and jams.  It’s a one-stop shop for a picnic if I ever saw one.

But the best part is that the cheeses (and wines…) are good.  The service is friendly, too.  One time I saw them make a camembert sandwich for a customer.  And they’re open seven days a week, though they close for lunch on weekdays, as well as on Sunday afternoons.  Pretty good for Paris.  The cheese/wine shop (a category that gave me some trouble when I was adding it to my map because my current color-coding scheme doesn’t allow for such a thing), however, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Julhès: the boulangerie-pâtisserie

Julhès also has a boulangerie-pâtisserie two doors down.  I like their baguette au levain bio (organic sourdough baguette) quite a bit – I think it’s one of the best 1-euro baguettes in town.  A full gamut of pastries are on display, which I have yet to try, as well as a coin traiteur (deli counter) serving various salads and sandwiches, and they even offer outdoor table service!

Julhès: the foreign products

And then there’s the produits étrangers.  Just past the Kurdish sandwich place, Julhès has yet another outpost.  Here they specialize in products from around Europe, particularly Italy, Greece, and Eastern Europe.  Fresh raviolis and other non-filled pastas, a myriad of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, stuffed peppers, and various dips and spreads are sold in awesome, re-usable plastic containers.  In addition, the walls are lined with olive oils, non-French wines, and a parade of Polish and Russian vodkas.

Have I mentioned how great it smells on my street?  I mean it, even if I do have to step over the occasional bum to get to the sidewalk from my apartment.

I seem to have gotten a little sidetracked.  I was supposed to be writing about cheese.  Just this morning I popped over to Julhès (the fromagerie) to get provisions for an afternoon snack.

Read the rest of this entry »





12 Hours in My Paris

3 05 2010

I’ve gotten requests to do this “12 hours in…” meme that made its way around the interwebs a while ago, but mostly just felt confounded by the enormity of the task when faced with only 12 hours in Paris.  If I wasn’t frantically packing, I’d probably end up with my nose buried in various guidebooks, trying to figure out the perfect day, only to find that once I had it planned, my 12 hours were up.  But my recent move (for those interested, the fridge gets delivered on Saturday, and maybe one of these days our bathroom will have a medicine cabinet and a door, all of which will go a long way towards making the new place feel like home) prompted me to give the 12 hours thing a second thought. 

Granted, we really only moved about half a mile away, but it feels very different over here in the heart of the 10th arrondissement.  Both neighborhoods have diverse immigrant populations, but while the old one was predominantly North African and Chinese, the new one has Turks and Indians.  The old street had a dozen butchers and at least twice that number of crappy clothing stores.  The new one is a veritable market street, with vegetable stands, a fromagerie/wine shop, and a handful of butchers and kebab shops taking the place of most of the cheap clothes.  Which is just fine with me.  But I still want to take you on a farewell tour of my old neighborhood, which centers on the Goncourt métro station and stretches its arms up into Belleville, down along the Canal St. Martin, and over a bit into the lively Oberkampf district.

So here we go… 10 am: Escargot pastries (basically croissant dough rolled up around various fillings and sliced to show off the spiral shape), chaussons aux pommes, and pain au chocolat-banane for breakfast at Du Pain et Des Idées.  Ideally, it’s sunny out, so I’ll eat at a bench along the canal, and then find a Velib’ to ride up the canal to the Bassin de la Villette.

Just try walking past here without succumbing to the mouthwatering aroma of roasting chickens.

12 noon: Make my way back home, stopping for a roast chicken from Boucherie Tizi Ouzou (the best), Boucherie d’Agadir (the friendliest), or Boucherie Djurdjura (if I’m in the mood to pay a little more for a poulet fermier).

1:30 pm: After devouring chicken (and potatoes, and hopefully some salad or fruit) chez moi, take a walk up to the Parc de Belleville to enjoy the flowers, people-watch, and take in the wonderful view of the city.

Parc de Bellville, in full bloom

3:30 pm: Wander further up the hill to the village-y Jourdain neighborhood.  Admire the St. Jean Baptiste church, the pastries in the window at the Pâtisserie de l’Eglise, and the smells emanating from the Boulangerie au 140 and the Fromagerie Beillevaire.

St. Jean Baptiste de Belleville

5 pm: Head back downhill, stopping for a drink (or two) on the terrasse of Aux Folies.  Look at the graffiti around the corner on rue Dénoyez.  And of course, more people-watching.

Read the rest of this entry »





Around Paris: 10th: Du Pain et Des Idées (again)

5 01 2010

Entrance

It’s January again, and you know what that means: galettes des rois!  It also means a new year, and a new project.  Last year I visited (virtually or otherwise) a different French region every month.  This year I want to focus on my adopted hometown, Paris.  My goal is to have (and write about) at least one food adventure in every one of Paris’ 20 arrondissements.  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll be doing them sequentially or not, but I’m starting with the 10th because it’s close to home, and home to one of my very favorite bakeries in town.  Yes, I’ve already written about Du Pain et Des Idées, but that was before I became a regular.  (And before Clotilde convinced me that sometimes it’s ok to repeat yourself on a blog, especially if it is about something that gets repeated frequently on your table.)  It is safe to say that I have by now sampled all their products, except the ones with walnuts, to which I am allergic.  For those of you who are wondering, the best mini-pavé is the Bayonne-Reblochon-figue, a lovely sweet and savory bite of cured ham, stinky cheese, and fresh fig.  I am also a big fan of the seasonal fruit tarts, which for most of the winter consist of apple caramelized in salted butter.  But I had yet to try their galette.  Until now.

Gorgeous galette

As you can see, it is spectacularly beautiful.  Fortunately, it tastes every bit as good as it looks.  Nick and I split a small one (which I am pretty sure is intended for four people) for breakfast on Sunday after a morning walk along the sunny Canal St. Martin.  The puff pastry is golden, buttery, and extremely flaky, and the almond filling is just right: not too sweet, moist as opposed to dry, and all the almond flavor comes from actual almonds.  After polishing off the galette (I got the bean, and used my powers to decree that I didn’t have to wear the silly paper crown) and our mugs of home-brewed coffee, we headed over to the Centre Pompidou for a free Sunday (the first Sunday of the month, many of Paris’ museums are free!) modern art fix.  But that’s another arrondissement.

Following me on my adventures around Paris is easy – check out my Platial map, the Gourmand’s Map of Paris.  It has markers for places I’ve written about as well as ones I’m keeping to myself.  I try to keep it up to date, and give useful information such as addresses, Métro stops, and opening hours.  Here’s to a fun new year of exploring!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








%d bloggers like this: