Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hello strangers.

I know. I was so good at feeding you tasty posts and then I fell completely off the wagon. Life got complicated and then got very busy. The good news is that I am now in Paris, France for a few months and will be happy to report on all things food related.

We are still quite jetlagged and instead of spending my evenings blogging, I am trying to get small children to sleep when they are WIDE awake!

We are living in a lovely flat in the 8th arrondissement which is convenient to my husband's office, the kids favorite parc, and the city's oldest bio market (organic). Most people who visit Paris have the unfortunate luck to be staying in a hotel. For the past two years, my husband and I have been coming to Paris for long stretches of time and therefore have been renting apartments. However, I now realize that there are many apartments for rent here for very short-term lets. Even if you are here for a few days you can find yourself a pad with a few rooms including a kitchen. I had a recent absurd conversation with another parent at my daughter's school regarding where to stay in Paris. She and her husband were traveling to Israel and were going to stay in Paris for a few days on either end. She asked me for a recommendation of a place to stay and I then launched into how great it was to stay in apartments and proceeded to give her a list of short-term let agencies. She stopped me mid-sentence and informed me that not only would she never stay in an apartment but that she only stays in 5-star hotels. I tried to convince her of the virtues of having your own kitchen while traveling but she was fixated on room-service. I let her know we should never vacation together.

I love apartments because a) I don't want to have to get dressed to go get coffee in the mornings on vacation b) I generally travel with a knife kit and frankly what's the point if you have no kitchen and c) I like to have an excuse to go to food markets. Now that we are on our third Parisian apartment I will tell you that I hate hotels even more. I love being able to play with food and shopping in foreign markets is such a treat.

So even if you've never been to Paris I bet you have a good idea that fresh food markets abound here and you can't help but stumble over markets selling produce that is bursting with flavor. (see photo above of tonight's quick grab at the market located about 20 steps from my apartment) I of course had all those notions before I came to live here last summer but what I didn't know was that there is a clever little market called Picard here in Paris which only sells frozen food. The insanity of your local Monoprix with loud music, bustling families, and crowded aisles is completely contradicted by the serenity of a Picard. The store is quiet, the people shopping there are quiet and if you've come in with children, you find yourself shushing them because the place is so calm. Most everything is housed in chest type freezers and at the front of the store there are always a few cases of "la sèlection du mois". Those are the unique items they have discounted that month. The products sold here are surprisingly good. Last year we got hooked on mini-ice cream cones. The nice thing about Picard is that they are everywhere and ours happens to be on the corner facing the market street I use to do most of my shopping so when I come home with bags full of fresh produce I can easily stop in to see if they have anything good on special at Picard.

This month we are rewarded with New Zeland rack of lamb on special so I decided to try it and it was fabulous. I seared it and then added a rosemary garlic rub before roasting. Along with some leftover risotto, heirloom tomatoes, a plate of cheese, baguette, and a salad with french vinaigrette - what could be better?? Since they come frozen, I am going to grab a few more racks for my freezer for the special ends this weekend.

I am surprised a store like this has not popped up in the US. 

I was aiming for a more rare piece of meat but I am still adjusting to a new kitchen with far less equipment than I am used to. I am going to have to get pretty good at the finger-press test to determine how well done a piece of meat is. I think learning to use one's senses rather than a thermometer is a good thing.