Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Edible Whole - Les Bouquinistes (Paris)

Les Bouquinistes is owned by restaurateur and chef Guy Savoy. Located near the Pont Neuf, it is named after the old booksellers on the Seine. We ate lunch there after visiting the Pantheon and other 7th Arrondissement hot spots.

It's around 1:30pm. I am so excited because they have a lunch prix-fixe for 29 Euro, which includes a glass of wine. I have been raving about these prix fixe deals since before we left! When we get seated, we are given a 2-page menu with no prix fixe anywhere to be found. The "plats" are 30 Euro++. We are both negotiating with the menu, trying to determine what to buy since this wasn't in the budget. Who wants to spend 50 Euro on Lunch?! I begin to doubt all my researching skills because I could have sworn I saw it on their site.

How could we avoid the embarrassment of leaving immediately.... we decide just to ask the waiter if there is a lunch prefixe. He responds, "Oh, you want the lunch menu."

I don't know... is this one of those crazy cultural things - not to expect the "lunch" menu at "lunch" time.

He brings us a much smaller menu. We are obviously relieved, except we really can't translate it and have to ask the english-speaking couple next to us to make sense of it.

Despite a rough start, we did enjoy our three-course lunch. Remember, when in France, you may have to consult your watch and ask for the appropriate menu.

Entree (Annie):
Salmon Tartare w/ "espandon" and beet vinaigrette
Entree (Zena):
Duck skewers w/ Marinated Cantaloupe

Really delicious. Duck was cooked well, but still tender. The balsamic drizzle on the plate was a nice acidic touch to a rather sweet plate.

Stewed veal breast w/ artichokes and carrots

Dissimilar to the night before, this was a move savory preparation of veal with some root vegetables, olives, and some micro greens. The jus or reduction was well seasoned, buttery, and very rich.

Dessert (Zena):
Exotique Mousse w/ tonka beans and melon sorbet.

Pros: good contrasting textures. The mousse was passion fruit flavored w/ tonka bean specs (substitute for Vanilla).

Cons: awkward presentation. The glass is a little too tall.

The Edible Whole - Vending Machines

Just a quick post about vending machine culture in Paris:
They're everywhere (like metro stations) and you can buy almost anything from there including a sandwich, chips, a cold drink or your morning espresso or latte chaud.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Edible Whole - Fondues Au Chocolat

After a quick trip to Notre Dame, Annie and I crossed the Seine to do an unguided walking tour through the Latin Quarter. 

We come across a sidewalk poster on Saint-Germain des Pres for Fondue, which sort of looked like a Hot Chocolate advertisement. Obviously confused, we decide to go into the small shop, Aux Anysetiers du Roy, since we are drawn to all things molten and chocolate.

To our surprise, the boutique owner was providing samples of the fondue, showcasing 6 varieties of her popular flavors in lait, noir, and blanc.


Aux Anysetiers du Roy was a small restaurant in Paris which began a line of French gourmet food products. In addition to fondue, you could purchase fine teas, herbs de provence, flavored sea salts, oils, vinegars, etc. 

Fondues au Chocolat is a modern take on a French tradition. All flavors come prepacked in ceramic cups, beautifully labeled in hand-written font for that "authentic" look, and ready to heat in the Microwave. The genius lies in the ceramic, which once heated, will keep the chocolate warm & fluid for 45 minutes. Perfect for decadent dessert at the end of your dinner party.

Any remaining chocolate can be refridgerated and then reheated for those late-night cravings. Each 7-ounce fondue is more than enough for 4 people.

We could sample with clementine sections and green grapes. I was impressed with the silky texture of the chocolate and surprised that it held a beautiful sheen despite being microwaved.

There was no question, we had to bring these back home with us!
I bought:
Lait w/ Vanilla, Noir w/ Litchi, Noir w/ Amaretto, Blanc w/ Cassis, and a Salted Caramel Sauce.
Each fondue was 11 Euro.

Aux Anysetiers du Roy will be visiting us during the Fancy Food Show, June 27-29 at Jacob Javits Center

For an immediate fix, you can buy some of their products through Amazon:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Edible Whole - Hotel Noailles Breakfast (Paris)

Due to my savvy know-how, we were able to get this 4-star stay, Hotel Noailles, at an extremely reasonable rate through GTA Hotels. It was centrally located near the Opera Metro, which made it super convenient to get around the city.

Our package included the following:
Free Wi-Fi ... came in handy when we wanted to stream Marie Antoinette after visiting Versailles.

A 5lb Key and a finnicky lock

(photo representational, we stayed in 506)
Large Bathroom w/ no shower curtain, but the luxury of a toilet behind a closed door.

The company of orange bears scattered around the building.

Sounds delightful, but all joking aside, the breakfast buffet made it worth the stay!

All you can eat: cereal, baguette, cheese, eggs, dates, tartes, juice, croissant,  fresh fruit salad, etc...

I won't embarass Annie by sharing the amount of salami + proscuitto she would eat in the morning.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Edible Whole - Restaurant Itineraires (Paris)

(5 Rue de Pontoise, 5th) is ironically a fitting start to our culinary journey through Paris. It was by happenstance we ate here since Frenchie didn't have a record of my reservation. I am not too convinced their current system is working, as the chef there also answers the telephones and only takes reservations during certain undisclosed hours. Again something not detailed in the NY Times review.

Earlier that afternoon, Musee Galliera was closed for renovation. Our recourse was to stroll the immediate area and find soup for Annie. Have you ever tried finding an open restaurant after 2pm in Paris? Forget it. While strolling through the 16th arrondissement, I received a phone call to confirm my reservation for an inaudibly heard restaurant. I reversed traced it through google and vaguely remembered reading about it. 

Itineraires can be found in the Latin Quarter off Saint-Germain, a small modern bistro run by husband and wife team Sylvain and Sarah Sendra. Their claim is creative cuisine. Their presentation is young, and slightly reminiscent of Blue Hill. There was a fair amount of American tourists there, despite reading it was a popular venue for the French... maybe around 9 or 10pm. We found we eat "early" for Paris time. It felt like New York, like a quaint restaurant you would find in Soho.

Entree (appetizer):
Terrine de legumes printaniers, condiment carotte-galangal, poudre de caille de chevre, huile de noisette (Fresh vegetable terrine, carrot & ginger sauce, powder of fresh goat curds, hazelnut oil)

It was like a mosaic and the flavor was just as flat. Once you get past the gelatinous goo holding the crudite vegetables together, you sumise the best part of the dish was the onion and the partially frozen goat "curds."

Plat du Jour (Annie):
Filet of Some-Fish w/ a Zucchini & Beet "Roulade"
Annie felt the fish was good, but a small portion.

Plat (Zena):
Cote de veau francaise cuite en cocotte, pommes rattes confites dans la graisse d'oie, ail en chemise 
(+15 E) (French Veal Chop casserole, baked potatoes & confit garlic)

Remember the word, "Cocotte," as it will take on a life its own in later posts. 

Personally, I thought this dish was delicious. The garlic confit really highlighted the sweetness of the veal. The potatoes were crispy, savory. The herbs really gave the dish a fresh flavor. Portion was huge. 

Completely took off guard when I got the bill. In my excitement to eat my first meal, I didn't notice the 15 Euro supplement. I also had (2) glasses of wine.
Dessert (Zena):
Mon Gateau au chocolat noir, noisette-praline (My black chocolate cake, hazelnut and praline)

Itineraires version of a deconstructed chocolate cake. I really enjoyed this, great contrasting textures. The praline crumble was very good.

Dessert Du Jour (Annie): 
Stewed Cherries w/ Fromage Blanc Sorbet

Just a bowl of warm cherries done right! Totally in season and slightly sweetened. The sorbet was light, w a touch of acidity making it not an overpowering dessert.

The waitress told us it is a traditional French dessert.

Damage: 3-course Prefixe (36 Euro), 2-Course Prefixe (32 Euro).

Intro: The Edible Whole

I've been meaning for a while to create a subset of blog posts on meals shared beyond my local offerings. Paris is a fair place to start so consider these next posts as the first installment of  
The Edible Whole.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Edible Whole - Parisian Expectations (vol 1)

My existence is organized through a series of spreadsheets. Even when I go on vacation, I have a very detailed itinerary, one which I've learned is not easily followed while in a foreign country. Its hard to stick to the minute, when you're walking in circles, falling into a crowd of skateboarding fanatics, or dodging rugby lunatics when the game lets out. Let's put it this way, the language barrier was the least of our problems, but overall we had a great time and ate well on most occasions.

Restaurant Itinerary:
Annie is completely wacked out because of our RedEye Flight... we have to eat at 10 restaurants to satiate her ravenous hunger... ok just 2:
Pomme Pain - Sandwhiches, pasta, pastries, DECENT
Cafe Galliera - overpriced, rude service, Annie had ham and cheese w/ a side of lettuce (supposed to be a chef salad), EH-

Frenchie - no record of dinner reservation, completely booked, FAILURE
Restaurant Itineraires - forgot about reservation, SUCCESS

Les Bouquinistes - reservation confirmed, SUCCESS
L' Violin de Ingres - reservation cancelled and opted for Les Cocottes, SUCCESS!

Lunch at La Flotille at Versaille, BIG MISTAKE
Le Chateaubriand - stood up for Les Cocottes, FAILURE/SUCCESS

Lunch at Yam'tcha - reservations were required. Thanks NYTIMES!!!! NOT MY FAILURE.
La Bague de Kenza - where you end up when Yam'tcha denies you. EH+
L'Atelier Joel Rubochon - did not confirm, too expensive, opted for Middle Eastern, EH

Lunch at Les Cocottes, yes 3rd time! SUCCESS!
Ze Kitchen Galerie, too full from lunch, opted for Dalayrac Cafe, BIGGER MISTAKE
Too bad the Crepe place we stopped at first turned us away.

Stay Tuned for the details and descriptions of all the worthy Parisian fare.