February 2015 Newsletter A couple of years ago, I decided to "ramp up" my newsletter. At the time, I was using a less-than-optimal service, which mad

       
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February 2015 Newsletter

Green garlic

A couple of years ago, I decided to "ramp up" my newsletter. At the time, I was using a less-than-optimal service, which made writing the newsletters awkward (as in, if I hit the "back" button to edit, it would often delete the entire draft of the newsletter!) Since I'm at the age where if I pull any more of my hair out, it ain't coming back, I switched to a better one, and decided to put out something that is worth reading...I hope, but different than my blog.

It's more personalized with bits and pieces of things that I find interesting - sometimes a few restaurants, a recipe here and there, new book launches, things on the web I find interesting, a recap of what's been on my blog, and some thoughts and opinions that I share in this more personalized space.

Chez Dumonet Paris bistro-14

Last month we saw several acts of terrorism in Paris. A lot of issues came up, revolving around free speech and how people of different races and religions feel marginalized in France. I was planning on saying something on my blog. But I couldn't really put what I thought into words - I left it up to journalists and others, so I kept my thoughts to myself.

I didn't really have much to add. But I was interested in what would happen in the aftermath. Like 9/11 in New York, which jolted the United States, and the world, into a new reality, I wondered if people would take a look at what happened in France, asking why it happened, and address any changes or ways to resolve some of the social problems that caused it. The answers aren't easy because there are a lot of issues involved, many are deeply rooted and not easy to face.

One thing that happened in the aftermath wash a silly story on an American news channel about "no-go" zones in Paris, which was ridiculous. (I live right next to one and "go" there daily.) As far are cities go, Paris is a pretty safe place. There has been an uptick in petty crimes, pickpockets on the métro, etc. but in general, there's no reason not to come to Paris. Our mayor was concerned that the comments on the news network would give the city a bad rap, but when I meet readers and read the comments on my site, and in my Inbox, most people have a very deep love of the city, as do I. Yes, Paris has flaws.

Life isn't perfect anywhere. (If it is - tell me where!) And I write about the good and sometimes not-so-good things in Paris, because I find the culture fascinating and and intriguing. It's a mix of tradition, which one generation of the French have a profound desire to maintain, and a new, globalized world, which don't always mesh with the old.

vin sign

Visitors like Paris because it doesn't change quickly. And this month I saw both, through Parisian cuisine. I revisited an old favorite bistro, as well as a new bistro, and saw the contrast between a well-worn place that is still going strong (which I'll be writing about on my site this month), as well as the newer place (Le Bon Georges, in the 9th) that is striving to do contemporary bistro fare with carefully sourced ingredients, accompanied by a younger, fresher vibe. I also had a terrific meal at a new restaurant, mentioned below, on the rue Faubourg Saint-Denis (in the "no-go" zone) that was worth the risk.

Bon appétit as they say...and bon courage!

- David

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Three New Paris Favorites

52

I joined a friend for lunch at 52 rue Faubourg Saint-Denis, a place that's garnered a lot of press. I don't run to new places as I want to give them some time to settle. But since it's been a few months, I hiked over to the formerly louche area near the Porte Saint-Denis for the meet up. The quartier is going through a renaissance (ie: gentrification) and is completely different than the neighborhood that I first explored over a decade ago. Where there were only Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African places to eat at the time, a lot of young talent have come here, and les hipsters have followed.

Charles Compagnon, the owner, also runs L'Office and Le Richer restaurants, and the first thing I thought when I walked into the restaurant was: "I love this place."

The interior is light and bright, and the crowd is casual. Because they are open daily from 8am until midnight, with no reservations, I got there early (because of the no-reservations policy), and many tables were filled with young people on their laptops, turning upside-down the idea of what a "restaurant" is, in Paris. (See? I told you things were changing...) While everyone put their Macs away before lunch, or left, I like the idea of a casual, mixed-use space, making good use of the room between meal service.

We had a lovely lunch. I started with a bowl of chicken livers crowned with a crunchy pistachio disk on top, then a rather avant-garde coq au vin, deconstructed, and excellent. (Above, left.) Dessert was pear clafoutis (above, right), which bore little resemblance to the classic French dessert, but tasted great - little squares of silky pear custard with dabs of tangy lemon curd and crisp sesame wafers. Lunch for two, with a glass of wine each and a shared dessert, was €66.

Chilango

Luis Rendón, formerly of Candelaria, and co-owner of Mil Amores tortilleria in Paris has gone off on his own to open Café Chilango (82, rue Folie de la Méricourt, 11th). While Mexican food used to be, at best, a crapshoot in Paris, locals have taken to the cuisine and welcomed it as much as expats.

The daily lunch special features a platter of tacos; we had ones filled with vegetables, crisp roast potatoes, and cheese, and chicken with chile sauce. There was a generous quesadilla (yes, we over-ordered!), and house-made tortilla chips with a scoop of guacamole mixed with bits of watermelon. This laid-back, friendly spot is open for a quick coffee, as well as lunch and dinner. Luis seems to be most proud of his brunch. And although I'm not really much of a morning person, I think one day I will muster up the energy to make it over there on a weekend morning to give it a try. They have a well-edited bar, so I suspect there are brunch-time cocktails on offer, too.

maison du miel

My dream is that I had time to write up all the great places that I find in Paris. I was invited my Denise Acabo, the owner of the popular candy shop, A l'Etoile d'Or, which had an unfortunate gas explosion and is closed. (I'm often asked what is going on with her, and the shop. She is still pondering what to do in the aftermath. But as of now, she's still sifting through the rubble.)

La Maison du Rocher is my new favorite honey shop. With Madame Acabo by my side, we tasted everything from honey made by bees that feed on carrot and onion flowers (above, left), to miellat, a thick, molasses-like (above, right) sap that was brusque and earthy. I loved this shop, and came home with a bag of nonettes, spice cake-disks filled with orange marmalade, which were the best I've ever had.

I'd hoped to write about the shop on my site, but I was so busy listening to Madame Vidal, the passionate owner of the boutique, that I couldn't take notes, take pictures, listen to her, and taste honey at the same time, as I was lost in the moment. (You can take a virtual visit via this You Tube video.) But I do hope to go back when my honey stock runs out - I came home with 3 pots of honey as well as those excellent honey spice cakes. Plan to do the same if you visit!

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Interesting Links from Around the Web

Cornbread recipe-6

-Trying to juggle it all? Check out Zen Accounting for Bloggers (Pinch of Yum, via When I Have Time)


-So frustrating when manufacturer's change can or package sizes. Which is one reason why no one should write a recipe that calls for "one can of____." (Dianne Jacob of Will Write for Food)


-Is sensitivity to MSG real? (Harold McGee in Lucky Peach)


-Cinerama is Back! (The Seattle Times)


-So far, this has been the year of le plug in Paris. (I'm no fashionista. But let's hope this isn't a trend.)


-Eating and Drinking in the No-Go Zones lets you know where you can safely eat in Paris oof... (Paris by Mouth)


-I'm not so handy, but could maybe tackle one of these DIY coffee tables (Decorating Your Small Space)


-And I love these double hook shelves (Soapbox)


-Oh, heck. Why not make your own kitchen? It's child's play. (Dwell)

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Favorite Recent Posts On My Blog

Polenta cake recipe-6

-A visit to La Tuile à Loup, a great source for artisan pottery in Paris.


-There's a dessert-only restaurant in Paris? Yes - Dessance.


-Tangy orange glaze livens up a delicious Polenta Cake, with the crackly crunch of polenta in a buttery batter.


-Some thoughts on transitioning from 2014 to 2015.


-Good beans and ham hocks are the base for a nice batch of Pork and Beans, to keep you warm for the winter.


-Swimsuit season is far, far away. Make a Dulce de leche cheesecake while you wait out the winter.

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See you next month! - david

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My Paris Kitchen hi res
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