Category Archives: Paris

ginger cookies & rose bakery

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pastry in the marais

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miss gla’gla

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itinéraires in paris

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le timbre in paris

one of our recent finds in paris is le timbre, a postage stamp-sized (and so, eponymously named) bistro manned by english chef, chris wright.

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jacques genin in paris

jacques genin has been whispered as the greatest chocolatier in paris, and has for years supplied 3 star michelin restaurants with chocolates on a strictly need to know basis.   he opened up a retail shop in 2008 not too far from place de vosges, but a bit of a hike away from confectionery ground zero in saint-germain.  yes, it’s taken me 3 years since his opening to make my way there.

is it worth the hike?  YES! everything sold in the shop is made in the kitchen Continue reading

a visit to l’atelier de joel robuchon

years ago, G, hubs and i wandered over to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in midtown during its first opening week.  they hadn’t as yet gotten their act together, and the evening ended up being a bit of a disappointment.  (i’m told by foodie friend M that the NYC branch has since ironed out the opening jitters and ranks among his favorite eateries in the City).

now in the last few years, it seems as if every food tv show doing a special paris  food scene segment includes a visit to the original L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon on rue de montalembert.  when hubs and i found ourselves in paris over our december holiday, we decided to give L’Atelier another try. happy christmas to us! Continue reading

a french diner? les cocottes de christian constant

ever since i heard about this little restaurant located near the eiffel tower described as being a french take on the american diner, i’ve wanted to check it out.  so of course, when i found myself in paris during the holidays, i convinced hubs that he really wanted to leave the warmth of our hotel room and trek about 30 minutes in the cold for lunch at les cocottes de christian constant.  we got to the restaurant about 10 minutes before the 12 noon opening time.  unlike le comptoir du relais, there was no line.  i don’t know if it was due to the holidays or not, but it seemed as if one could easily breeze in as late as 12.30pm and be seated immediately.

the interior of the restaurant features a long counter (probably the source of the diner reference) and a few smaller tables with high bar seats scattered around the perimeter — all done up in a contemporary manner.  i’d say the whole thing is closer to david chang’s momofuku experience, rather than a traditional roadside diner.  we were seated at a table, rather than the counter.  our waitress hailed from australia, which was a relief, as we didn’t have to stumble through with our rather broken french.

just about everything at the restaurant is served in either a jar, or staub cookware.  the staub cooked dish goes straight from the stove to your table.

hubs and i both ordered the crab salad.  it comes served in a glass mason jar.  they really stuffed in the ingredients. it seemed as if it took me a good 20 minutes before i found the bottom of the jar. a few days later when we returned stateside, we agreed that it was one of the best things we ate on our trip.

for our mains, hubs ordered a halibut cooked in a staub pot. yes, that’s halibut under all that foam. i recall hubs remarking that when something is flavorful and perfectly cooked, you really don’t need a huge portion to feel satisfied.

i got the milkfed lamb in a thyme sauce.  even though a few pieces of the lamb were tougher than others, i quite enjoyed the dish.  like the halibut, it was perfectly seasoned and brought me back to my summer vacation in provence just a few months ago.

hubs topped himself off with an apple crisp, and i ordered a plum clafoutis.  while these were definitely your better than average desserts, i expected something more.  there are so many transcendental dessert experiences in paris, that if given a tight quota of calories to consume or dollars to spend, i would recommend skipping dessert at les cocottes and heading over to the domain of  those pastry gods that rule the saint-germain area.

there coffee is, however, excellent!  the cappucino comes deeply foamy and is accompanied with a buttery, spoon shaped cookie from poilane.

our 3 course lunch ran us about 80 euros for the both of us including wine, coffee, etc.

Les Cocottes de Christian Constant
135 Rue Saint-Dominique
75007 Paris, France
01 45 50 10 31
Lunch:12 noon – 4pm
Dinner: 7pm – 11pm
Closed on Sunday
No reservations

hidemi sugino’s financiers

S came over early on thanksgiving to “tablescape.” i literally turned around after i saw what he did, and said, omg, who is getting engaged!  i’ll post more S tablescape pictures in a bit, but his floral arrangements and tablescapes were romantic, artistic and stunning.  personally, i think he should start his own tablescaping enterprise.

as the title suggests, this post is really about hidemi sugino’s chocolate financiers.  while in tokyo earlier this fall, i picked up a little cookbook  because the front cover contained a picture of a financier that looked very much like those sublime ones i tasted at Victor & Hugo in paris.  the book itself is titled, Desserts Faciles Au Chocolat par les Plus Grands Pâtissiers, and contains chocolate related recipes written in french from some of the most famous pastry chefs around the world (though weighted towards those in europe).  [note: if sugino’s recipe is any indication, the recipes are not by any means beginner.  you do need an understanding of pastry fundamentals to decipher a lot of the recipes — assuming you can read french.  on the other hand, most french recipes are written assuming the cook knows something about what they’re trying to cook.]

while sugino isn’t the pastry chef at Victor & Hugo (he has his own shop in tokyo where he’s famous for mousse cakes), his recipe for financiers turns out a velvety morsel that is shockingly similar to the Victor & Hugo financier.  S, who had recommended the V&H financier to me initially, took a bite and excitedly agreed that this was in fact the V&H financier.

the rise in sugino’s version is achieved by whipping egg whites into a soft meringue; no baking powder is used.  having looked at several other financier recipes, i think it’s this technique that enables sugino’s financier to achieve that peerless velvety texture.  he doesn’t stop there though.  he goes on to add a rich nutty encore behind the chocolate curtain through the use of browned butter. all this packed into the petite body of a simple financier. so genius!

sugino’s original recipe also calls for morello cherries and raspberry jam.  having run out of steam cooking 16 dishes and 6 desserts, i decided to simplify his financier a bit by baking with fresh raspberries instead.  (And yes, i don’t have a financier pan, so i suppose, technically, i didn’t make financiers, but you get my drift…)

Simplified Sugino Chocolate Financier
(makes about 30 one-inch round financiers or 20 small rectangular financiers; modified and translated from the original recipe publishes in Desserts Faciles Au Chocolat par les Plus Grands Pâtissiers )

Almond Flour 150g
Sugar 150g
Cornstarch 25g
Cocoa Powder 15g
Egg whites 5 egg whites
Honey 30g
Butter 90g
Raspberries 1 pint
  1. Butter the financier molds and place it in the fridge until ready for use.  Pre-heat oven to 320ºF
  2. Sift together the almond flour, sugar, cornstarch and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside
  3. In a small saucepan, brown the butter and then set aside to cool slightly
  4. Add egg whites into the bowl of your standmixer and beat until you reach soft peaks. You can add a bit of cream of tartar as a stabilizer.
  5. Very gently, fold the almond flour mixture (from step 2) and honey into the meringue
  6. Transfer the meringue mixture into the molds.  Place a raspberry in the center of each.  Then bake for 12-15 minutes, remove to cool on rack.
  7. When cool, you can dust with powdered sugar or coat the raspberries with a bit of strawberry jam.

 

 

 

chez l’ami jean: food glorious food

i’ve been attempting on my last 3 trips to paris to land a reservation at chez l’ami jean, and finally managed to snag a spot. yipee!  the meal did have a rather shaky start.  my husband and i arrived about 10 minutes late for our 7.30p reservation (i had a slight malfunction with a certain pair of ballet flats  — don’t get me started on that topic). when we arrived, we were asked to wait outside until our table was ready  (either we were late and they gave away our table, or they messed up the booking).  we ended up waiting an entire hour for our table to be ready and it was about 90 degrees outside.  however, they tried their best to keep us comfortable, bringing out cool glasses of wine, bottles of iced water and 3 boards of the most delicious basque charcuterie (the spicy chorizo pictured below) — all on the house.  i think we were pretty full by the time we got seated.

the interior of the restaurant is dimly lit, boisterous and tightly packed.  i felt like i was inside a scruffy tavern, rather than a prototypical parisienne bistro (or whatever that means in my head).  there are quite a few personal drawing and photos that the chef and proprietor (stephane jego) hung on the wall — one of which is a photo of him with new york’s daniel boulud.

there are 3 general menu options:  ordering a la carte, 3 course for €35, and carte blanche at €60.  the staff speaks easy to understand english and helped us decipher the menu.  we went for the 3 course and it turned out to be very generously portioned.  i think the waiters were a bit concerned that we didn’t enjoy our meal because we could only get through about half or less of each dish.  (or maybe we shouldn’t have eaten so much ham while waiting!)

hubby’s appetizer.  it’s #3 on the blackboard menu above in the starter section. i remember it being herbs mixed in with salmon with some ricotta, all artfully piled on his plate.  check out the bacon strips.  i don’t know how they do it but it’s wafer thin, not a bit greasy and exquisitely crisp.

here’s my appetizer, #2 on the blackboard menu.  an impossibly rich egg mousse (really really good but so rich that i only managed a few spoonfuls ) accompanied by sauteed girolle mushrooms and baked bread sticks (got a bit cut-off but they’re on the far right side).  this dish was amazing.  in fact, the table that sat down next to us, took a look at my dish and asked to order it.

wanting to keep it light, we both ordered the fish (#1 in the entree section) as our main course. little did we know of course that chef jego would be serving us the entire fish!  it was succulent — roasted whole with sauteed fennel and greens on the side.

pictures can be deceiving.  this is a huuuge bowl of what they call grandmother’s rice pudding served as a portion for one.  it could easily serve 6 to 8 people.  the pudding is divine — creamy, not too sweet, imminently comforting.  you can eat it by itself but it comes served with the perfect homemade caramel sauce — almost like a dulce de leche and freshly toasted granola on the side.  i must get my hands on this recipe! (anyone have it?)

here’s what hubby got for dessert.  i think its the last item in the dessert section.  i was so enamored of the rice pudding and heck, hubby as well, that neither of us have a good recollection of what this dessert ended up being.

i plan on going back to chez l’ami jean the next time i’m in paris.  although in the future i’ll know to starve myself the entire day, run a marathon beforehand, and arm myself with a more extensive vocabulary of superlatives!

Chez L’Ami Jean
27 rue Malar, 7e
Paris
Tues-Sat: 12p-2p; 7p-12a
01-47-05-86-89