I apologize for my long absence. After three weeks in Europe for work and other travels, I had a bit of a hard time acclimating back to being at home. But I'm back now to tell you all about my Tastecation.
First stop, Paris.
All of these things are wonderful, and I did enjoy a number of classic French meals, from flambéd crêpes at Crêperie Josselin, to scrumptious crayfish and melt in your mouth soufflé at Aux Lyonnais, to classic Niçoise salad and the most amazing espresso crème brulée (and I don't like crème brulée) at Le Comptoir du Relais. My mouth waters just thinking about this wonderful weekend in Paris. Mmmhmmm.
These things are obviously an important part of a successful tastecation, but my favorite part of Paris is the marketplace culture. In sharp contrast to the complexity of most French meals, you can walk down streets where you see these amazing French dishes in their most basic forms.
Yes, I do talk to my food. Don't judge me.
But really, you have to go to a market street. And I really mean street.
open air markets that are only open selected times during the week (also, most of the shops are closed a couple days a week, so make sure to note the hours of your favorite). Here you can get similar food to what you find in the shops in addition to other specialty foods. My favorite is the olive booth. Beautiful and delicious.
As a result of all this specialization, you are guaranteed the best food. You will get a freshly baked baguette from the boulangerie. You can taste the housemade tapenade before purchasing. And my favorite part, you can watch the cheese monger in the fromagerie as she gently squeezes the cheese to make sure it's ripe for you.
You will also find the pride that the French have in French food. No one has to tell them to eat locally. They've been doing it for years (they probably assume that no one knows food as well as they do). And in a trip to the market, you'll see that much of the food is from different regions in France.
And seasons are important, too. When I walked into the fromagerie near my hotel, I immediately saw the sign that said "Le fromage de chèvre, c'est de saison!" Yum. Goat cheese season! We tend to think of just fruits and vegetables as having a season. But spring also brings fresh goat milk and the start of fresh goat cheese. I couldn't pass that up.
THAT is quintessential Paris life.
And I love it.