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Frenchie and la Rive Droite

12 Jun

I need to admit I’ve never given much thought about the right bank of Paris when I used to live there.

Too far.

Left bank is of course so much better.

What to do there?

Why even bother to go after all?

This thought process definitely did not help the rive gauche vs. rive droite bitter battle.

But since I lived in the 15th, went to school in the 14th, college in the 5th and hanging out in the 6th, with the occasional Châtelet-Le Marais trip which part of me always deliberately accused of being on the wrong side of the Seine, I never had any reason to cross the river and go north.

Until all my friends moved to the right bank. Well, most of them.

The perfect opportunity to explore new areas I did not know enough.

All joking aside, I did make my way there once in a while when I still lived in the city and have continued to explore the northern arrondissements during vacation time.

However, my home has always been rive gauche.

Surprising myself this time around, I mostly roamed and scouted the right bank during my last Parisian trip.

Offbeat. And unusual for me!

I had already explored a bit in a previous colorful post with plenty of places and addresses to share.

But there was more to discover.

With one exception noted below, the following list is exclusively rive droite.

– From the Big Mamma Group, East Mamma (11th) opened a couple of weeks before I arrived in the space La Main d’Or used to serve delicious Corsican food. I will miss La Main but am delighted East Mamma renovated, remodeled and revitalized the dinning and kitchen areas to make it an inviting open space filled with colorful plates and fresh Italian produce. The vibe is, well, very Italian as the wait staff takes your order with a slight accent and the bright yellow menu holds hidden tasty treasures. Go early! There is a line outside the door.

– Keeping up with the Italian theme, le Comptoir Gourmet (4th) is small, narrow, loud, cheerful, lively and that wall paper – a real Instagram magnet!! If you manage to grab a seat at the counter-height tables you’re in for a treat. Don’t fill up too much on the bresaola carpaccio with fennel, Italian desserts are eyeing you on the counter.

– Cheating on the right bank a bit, this gem of an ice cream place is on the other side of the Seine. Il Gelato del Marchese (6th) will show you how real pistachio ice cream looks like and how it’s supposed to taste.

Le 975 motto in the 17th is bien manger, bien boire, bien vivre. And in this yellow “fish bowl” as they call it, the food is the perfect marriage between French dishes with a sprinkle of Japanese flavors. Taiki Tamao, one of the two chefs, explained to me that Japanese chefs are now flooding the Paris food scene because they bring something distinctive and special that traditional French chefs do not think about. Book now before there is a line outside the door.

– Impasse Poule, Impasse de la Confiance, exploring the area around rue des Vignobles in the 20th. And how could you not fall in love with Le Vingtième Art and its newly painted façade displaying green, red, yellow, pink, and blue color blends?

– A quick stop at the Libre Ère bookstore 111 boulevard de Ménilmontant will make you green with envy when you see the storefront and some of the treasures inside. Cité Durmar and Cité du Figuier nearby – the memory keepers of a Paris long forgotten. Les cités d’artistes du 11e.

– Surfing on the Nouvelle Vague Paris renewal by expats, Le Mary Celeste (3rd) provided just the right cocktail I was looking for in a Haut-Marais quaint setting.

– An inside courtyard, a food truck, plush couches with round mirrors above and colorful pillows, an old school map of the various mountains and rivers of France, a reading nook, and pistolets aka small bread rolls from Belgium, all of this can be found and enjoyed at L’Improbable (4th). Unpretentious and seriously cute.

– Rarely have I seen a space like the one at Les Chouettes (3rd) in Paris. While I did not try their menu and food, I thoroughly enjoyed a cocktail on the third floor, all the way to the top, in a somehow industrial aesthetic Eiffel Art Nouveau style with arcs, geometric shapes, old books, imposing nuts and bolts, giving an Industrial Revolution/WWI vibe with modernist elements to the space. A must see. Oh and did I mention the 66-feet high ceiling under a glass roof?

– Thanks to Lindsey, I was able to enjoy a delicious lunch at laid-back yet chic Tannat (11th). Fresh seasonal food and menu with a modern twist makes for my big coup de cœur of this trip. The wall and ceiling mirrors definitely brighten up the space and make the intricately plated meals even prettier.

– The beautiful small villas off of rue de Mouzaïa in the 19th, walking on rue de la Liberté, rue de l’Égalité and rue de la Fraternité. Si français. And I always say that tourists should have the Buttes Chaumont parc on their radar because it is worth a visit.

So little time yet so many unknown areas still to discover.

Cheating on the rive gauche was clearly much-needed as far as I’m concerned.

Till next time.

PS: last special kudos to Merci and La Maison Plisson (3rd) for fun shopping and eating.

Frenchie and a Colorful Adventure

23 Oct

I feel lucky!

Lucky to have amazing family and friends who took care of me for 3 weeks.

Lucky the weather smiled at me throughout the trip with warm temperatures and a bright golden sun.

Lucky to still discover unknown streets and areas – nooks and crannies to stumble upon.

Lucky to have readers who push me to share more of my experiences, tips and addresses.

Some of you asked me to include new addresses I’ve noted along the way, which I have done in the past but apparently not enough.

So without further ado, my Top 10 list in no particular order of my recent French trip.

1. Lunch at Buvette to share small plates, a slice of pâté, a glass of rosé, a tartinette and a pastry. Little, cosy and rustic. And if you cannot make it to Paris, there is a location in the West Village in New York City.

2. La campagne à Paris in the 20th. A small parcel of land with plant-covered houses, small gardens and picket fences – in Paris! A quick magical instant resembling more la province than the capital we all know (rue Irénée Blanc, rue Paul Strauss).

3. Tucked away in the 1st is Verjus with a tasting menu that would most likely thrill the pickiest eaters. French in spirit but American to the core, it is a unique experience.

4. Did you know that 55 minutes by train from Paris there is a town where the old city is so well preserved that the Roman wall surrounding it is still partly standing and dates back to the 3rd century? How could I not encourage friends visiting France to spend a day or two in Le Mans. It is picture perfect for anyone looking to snap pictures of a cathedral built between the 11th and 15th centuries and to walk the tiny narrow streets where the oldest houses are from the 14th century and the newest from the 15-16th centuries with people still living in them.

5. My friend Lindsey took me to La Pulperia one night for a meal I won’t forget anytime soon. And dragging this Rive Gauche boy to the other side of the world in the 11th is not easy, trust me!

6. If there is one thing that I absolutely love about Paris is the small non-touristy streets with lots of plants, colors and charm. Rue des Thermopyles in the 14th, Villa Santos Dumont in the 15th, la Cité Florale in the 13th (rue des Iris, rue des Glycines), and the stunning rue Crémieux in the 13th where Notting Hill meets Paris – truly a feast for the eyes.

7. Is there a prettiest name for a hotel than Hôtel Amour? The courtyard in the back is a must-see, especially before winter and before the leaves fall and disappear from the trees, for a goûter or an apéritif with friends. A peaceful serene greenhouse-like ambiance away from the hustle and bustle.

8. While I mentioned this bakery several times already, it is always a stop for me when I am in town – Au Petit Versailles du Marais. And I decided to mention them again because they won 2nd place in the baguette tradition competition this year. First place next year? I hope! Even if you’re not hungry when you walk by it, the Belle Époque ceiling, the tiles and the mirrors will give you a stiff neck from looking around, up and down.

9. Even though I only had a kir there during their happy hour, I was fascinated by the space at Le Jules in the Carreau du Temple. Truly creative and impressed by the renovation they did of that space. Very spacious and modern, yet chic and warm with a voluminous design soothed by the wooded light framework. Bravo!

10. If you like the New York High Line, you will like the Paris Coulée Verte. They are still working on it as I am writing this so don’t expect the same length of green path through the city. However, the Petite Ceinture in another area of town also offers a walkable green promenade.

Frenchie and the Mint-Infused Quinoa Tabbouleh

7 Jun

The move to Charlotte still fresh in my mind and France was already calling me.

A quick trip for a milestone birthday, a family visit and to recharge my French batteries.

And despite the gray, rainy, drab spring weather covering Europe throughout the month of May, we found the time to cook, visit, laugh, eat and use our umbrellas.

Many photos, memories and the story of a tabbouleh.

Magically, the sun came out at two distinct times during the trip.

As we were about to sit down for the birthday lunch – shinning brightly in the garden, calling us to delay lunch time and play in the garden.

And during a Parisian weekend as I explored new places and discovered new bites.

The feeling of being stuck inside when it’s cold and rainy outside.

The joy in everyone’s eyes when the call of the first sun rays hit the windows.

Tous dehors !

And with the amount of bouton-d’ors – buttercups – sprinkled in the fields showing us yellow dots all around, it was a celebration of all things yellow, happy and bright.

Despite all this, I still managed to enjoy the changing seasonal menu of L’Alchimie.

The quaint and quirky setting of Colorova Pâtisserie along with their tempting pastries.

The elegant design and honey-roasted pigeon at Le Quinze.

A very green matcha (green tea) financier in a newly opened 1950-1960s vibe Café Loustic for a quick goûter with my twin from another life – the lovely Lost in Cheeseland.

And an unusual mango éclair sprinkled with pansies at L’Éclair de Génie. When art meets food.

And then came the tabbouleh.

A secret but not-so-secret recipe.

Inspired by a recipe from “T.”.

A spring dish, a green plate, a yearly tabbouleh to prepare around that time of year.

A tabbouleh inspired by many springs. By a lifetime of many springs.

Rain, cold and gray – et si on faisait un taboulé ?

Yes, let’s make a tabbouleh! Un taboulé de couscous.

I knew I had to make something similar when I got home. A quinoa version.

And a southern maple cider vinaigrette with mustard was truly a good pairing as a way to celebrate new influences.

Mint-Infused Quinoa Tabbouleh with Peas and Maple Cider Vinaigrette

for 4-6

2 cups + 1/3 cup (553 ml) of water

50-60 mint leaves (whole) + 30 extra leaves (chopped)

3/4 cup (110 g) of peas, fresh or frozen

1 cup (200 g) quinoa, uncooked (white, red, or mixed)

1 Tbsp of summer savory, chopped

1 Tbsp of lemon thyme, chopped

1.5 Tbsp of flat-leaf parsley (or chervil), chopped

7 Tbsp of olive oil

1 teaspoon of strong French mustard

2 Tbsp of maple syrup, medium amber

4 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar

sea salt and pepper

4 Tbsp of unsalted, dry toasted slivered almonds

zest of 1 organic lemon (optional: add the juice of the lemon for an extra lemony flavor)

Prepare a mint herbal tea-like water as a base for cooking the peas and quinoa later.

Bring the water to a boil with 50-60 mint leaves in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes. Cover with a lid, remove from the heat and infuse for 15-20 min.

Squeeze out the excess water from the leaves with a spatula or a spoon and discard the leaves.

Bring the mint herbal water back to a boil. Cook the peas for 2 min, if frozen, or 3-4 min if fresh.

Strain the peas in a colander and over a bowl – do not discard the mint water and keep it aside in the bowl.

Run cold water over the peas in the colander to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Put the mint water back in the saucepan. Rinse the quinoa throughly in cold water. Place the rinsed quinoa in the mint water and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed – about 10-13 min.

When done, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let cool in a bowl.

Prepare the vinaigrette in a small bowl by whisking the summer savory, lemon thyme, parsley and oil together. Whisk until well mixed.

Add the mustard, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar, sea salt and pepper while continuing to whisk.

Pour the vinaigrette over the cooked quinoa and mix well.

Add the peas, almonds, remaining chopped mint leaves and the lemon zest. Mix delicately so the peas don’t get mashed.

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve cold.

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