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A Teenage Foodie’s Guide to Paris

December 10, 2013 2 Comments Print this page

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Hi everyone! I hope you all are well and enjoying this holiday season.

Where have I been? No, I did not have a baby. It seems like food bloggers disappear unexpectedly usually because of a birth, but not this girl!

At the terrible cost of missing three days of school, my family and I went to Paris (AKA my favorite city in the ENTIRE world) for a week to visit my grandmother. Even though it was gray, cold, and rainy most of the time, I was so happy to be walking around such a wonderful place. I know it’s cheesy, but je t’aime, Paris. I love the narrow cobblestone streets and rotisserie chickens rotating on every corner and the smell of Nutella-stuffed crepes and chestnuts wafting through the air. I will live there one day; just watch me. Le Cordon Bleu, here I come.

I ate really well when I was in Paris. I cooked dinner four nights and we went out the other three; we often ate lunch at our or my grandmother’s apartment to finish up some of the leftovers. If you ever have the chance to visit Paris (or just want to dream about the city of love), here are some places you’ve gotta check out…

Marché Biologique Raspail, Boulevard Raspail (6th arr.)

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And I thought farmer’s markets in the states were big. This open-air market spans at least three blocks, and EVERYTHING–yes, everything–is organic. They have everything: dozens of fruit and vegetable vendors, butchers where the birds still have their heads on, fresh cheeses and sausages, vitamins, eggs, jam and spreads…they really have everything. I picked up some romanesco–a favorite of mine that I can never find in the Northeast–a butternut squash, fresh mushrooms, chestnuts, and a rotisserie chicken for lunch. What a great selection…although I love my farmer’s market  dearly, this one is pretty incredible.

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City Crêpes Café (73 Rue de Seine, 6th arr.)

We were EXHAUSTED when we got to France. It’s worth it, but being in transit for almost 12 hours is exhausting…and it’s not like you can sleep in those tiny, uncomfortable airplane seats! After stumbling around the neighborhood, we went into City Crêpes Café because everywhere else was busy or unappealing…and we were pleasantly surprised! The restaurant was small but cozy, and their menu was really creative: all of the galettes (savory crêpes) had New York City-themed names! I ordered a Union City (the name is very French, I know): a traditional galette with scrambled eggs, smoked sausage, and potatoes. No, it was not the healthiest choice on the menu, but it sure was tasty. They had plenty of salads and non-crêpe main dishes to try, too.

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Blueberry (6 Rue du Sabot, 6th arr.)

For our last night in Paris, I wanted sushi. I know what you’re thinking: sushi, in Paris? Are you CRAZY?! And yes, I am crazy, but we’ve already established this. After a week of French food (that I cooked myself), I wanted something on the lighter side: no braises or butter, just something fresh and tasty. I was poking around Trip Advisor and found Blueberry, which had gotten fabulous reviews from pretty much everyone. We decided to give it a try, and boy, were we wowed.

We started with a seaweed salad with mango (because I am OBSESSED with the ‘weed) and pancakes with crispy duck…both were flavorful, textually appealing, and the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and salty. We then split the Little Miss Yuzu (which was on the sweeter side with mango and raspberry), the Unagii (EEL!!!),  the Ponyo (which used a pancake instead of rice and had a nutty, spicy dipping sauce), and two others with tuna whose names I am forgetting. All were fresh and delicious…we couldn’t stop eating them! For dessert, we tried some mochis: a glutinous rice (which ironically has no gluten in it) wrapper around vanilla, green tea, cherry, and violet ice cream. They were unlike everything I’ve ever eaten before…sweet, chewy, creamy…I HAVE to try making them myself.

Overall, this was my favorite meal out in Paris, and probably the best sushi I’ve ever had before. A definite must-go.

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Rue Montergeuil (1st arr. and 2nd arr.)

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Stretched between the first and second arrondissements, this street is a destination dedicated almost exclusively to foodies. There are butchers, fish mongers, cheese shops, chocolate shops, fruit and vegetable stands, bakeries…you name it, it’s there. If you aren’t satisfied with one shop you see, no need to fear! There are plenty of options to choose from. Oh, and there’s also a giant snail sculpture on top of a restaurant sign, which is pretty cool, especially considering how obsessed I am with les escargots.

While walking down the Rue de Montorgueil, we bought coquiletes (young roosters),  romanesco (huge shocker), fingerling potatoes, a big persimmon for dessert, and a bag of Fuilliants d’Or, my mom’s favorite chocolate ever. (I don’t even know what’s in it; whatever it is, she’s addicted to it.)

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Rue de Buci (6th arr.)

Like the Rue de Montorgueil, this pedestrian street is full of food shops teeming with fresh oysters, meat with the offal still in tact, and cheeses as pungent and mild as you’d like. Luckily for me, this street was right around the corner from where we were staying, so I walked over almost every day to buy food for lunch or dinner.

The little butcher shop was definitely my favorite. The people there seemed a little surprised to see a fifteen year-old girl in a rabbit hat call all of the shots about the food, but I think they got used to me by the end of the week. Butchers in France are COMPLETELY different from those in the states, especially the variety when it comes to poultry. They had at least four or five different breeds of chickens and ducks, plus little birds and giant birds and even a dinde, or turkey. The French really do eat everything: I wish Americans were more like that!

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Ladurée (21 Rue Bonaparte, 6th arr., but also other locations)

OK, I’ll admit it: I am madly in love with macarons. They’re actually pretty paleo-friendly, too: the basic ingredients are ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar, so there’s no gluten nor grains! (No, I am not condoning them as healthy, either.)  To have a really good macaron, you really have to go to Paris: in the States, macarons are usually frozen and shipped over, which definitely impacts their quality. At the shops in Paris, the macarons are made fresh every day, and you can taste the difference.

All of the flavors are excellent, but my favorites are the Ghana chocolat (a dark chocolate macaron made with really high-quality cocoa), guimauve chocolat coco (a chocolate macaron with a fluffy coconut cream filling), and café (COFFEE!!!). Each one is like biting into a pillow of magnificence…there’s truly nothing like it.

Well, there’s one more thing to add to the list of foods to recreate.

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Pâtisserie Viennoise (8 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 6th arr.)

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(See that beret?! I am obviously destined to live in France.)

Because Les Deux Magots, my go-to place for chocolat chaud, was closed for renovations, I was on a quest to find another tasty cup of goodness to savor. After a disappointing cup of pretty much warm milk in Montmarte, I was determined to be satisfied. After searching around the internet, my dad and I decided to try Pâtisserie Viennoise, which was only ten or so minutes away from our apartment.

When we walked in, we were greeted by a huge display of rustic pastries and two women behind the counter busily trying to keep up with orders. We sat down at a tiny table in the back, and ordered our chocolat chaud: with whipped cream for my dad, none for me. When our drinks arrived, our waitress deposited several packets of sugar on the table, which I laughingly pushed aside. Who needs sugar when I have chocolate?!

This chocolat chaud was wonderfully bitter, and just rich enough to be satiating but not overly-indulgent. It was the perfect size, too: not too big, and not like a shot of espresso, either. While I will be returning to Les Deux Magots the next time I’m in France, I will definitely come back to Pâtisserie Viennoise for their chocolat chaud.

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Sugar Daze (20 Rue Henry Monnier, 9th arr.)

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A shout-out here to my friend Cat, who owns this cute, funky cupcake shop! I really admire her for following her dream: she always wanted to open up a bakery in Paris, and guess what?! She did! I hope I get to do something like that one day…hey, would anyone be interested in visiting a paleo-friendly café in the City of Love?

Cat’s cupcakes are beautiful, tasty, and so creative: she names all of her goodies after songs, including “I Want (Cotton) Candy,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Personally, I think her cupcakes are so much better than the mega monsters from Crumbs and Sprinkles…do we really need to eat an overly-sweet cupcake with a cup of frosting on top, anyway? Cat’s cupcakes are perfect, and you should definitely try one, if you get a chance.

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And now, for the pièce de résistance: the meals I cooked in Paris!

SUNDAY NIGHT:

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Roasted wild duck, roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar, three different kinds of mushrooms, and sauteed onions and apples with chestnuts…

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…braised veal shanks in a sweet tomato/red wine sauce and roasted romanesco…

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…braised rabbit in a mustard sauce with haricots verts (also with butternut squash soup and roasted pears, not pictured)…

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…and roasted coquilette with roasted romanesco and fingerling potatoes.

All four were delicious–probably four of the best dishes I’ve ever cooked–and all made in my grandmother’s cozy apartment kitchen. But I made it work, and, well, it worked well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little montage to my favorite city on earth. My stomach and I can’t wait to go back!

Have you ever been to Paris? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Ratatouille (Ratatouille Style)

October 26, 2013 , Print this page

What I make to satisfy my need to eat ratatouille after watching Ratatouille for the ten thousandth time in French class.

Ingredients

Prep Time 35 min
Cooking Time 50 min
Total Time 1 hr 30 min
Yield 3 servings as a main dish or 4 servings as a side dish

2 small eggplants (any variety)

Salt

2 medium zucchini

2 large bell peppers

14 ounces of tomato paste or plain tomato sauce (about 1 medium can)

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

A generous pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of dried thyme

2 teaspoons of dried basil

2 teaspoons of oregano

A good crack of black pepper

Good soft cheese (optional)

Directions

At least a half an hour before you want to bake your ratatouille, slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch rounds.

Liberally salt the eggplant rounds and let them sit on a baking sheet or cutting board until assembly time, at least 30 minutes. This is to help some of the water get out and make your eggplant tender, not mushy and gushy.

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and the bell peppers into 1/4-inch rings.

Set the sliced veggies aside. On the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, mix together the tomato paste or tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, onion, garlic, and the generous pinch of salt. With the back of a spoon or a small spatula, spread it out so the bottom is completely coated.

To assemble, put one piece of eggplant with two or three slices of zucchini and a slice of pepper. Keep going until you run out of space or vegetables…whichever comes first.

Sprinkle the top with the dried thyme, basil, and oregano, a black pepper, and an additional tablespoon of olive oil.

Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly atop the dish. Stick the ratatouille in the oven until the veggies are tender and beginning to curl around the edges, about 45 to 50 minutes.

If you don’t want cheese, you can stop here. If you’re opting for the dairy, top the ratatouille with your desired amount of cheese (for me, about 10 tiny squares cut from two slices worth) and broil until completely melted, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with a large fork and a hungry belly.


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My Month in France

August 1, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hi everyone! It’s so good to be back and with you all once again.

For the past month, I have had the pleasure of staying in St. Laurent du Var, France, with a loving homestay mom and amazing new friends. Although there were some difficulties and awkward moments, I had a good time and am glad I chose to spend the month abroad.

Here are some of the highlights!

1. Fenocchio Ice Cream

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I actually ate pretty healthfully while I was in France: I barely had any refined carbs (bread, pasta, pizza…etc.), didn’t touch a single processed snack or candy, drank only water, and always made sure I was getting protein and some form of fresh produce with every meal.

But Fenocchio ice cream was my paleo rebellion.

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I’m telling you: THIS WAS THE BEST ICE CREAM IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Over the course of my 4 weeks, I sampled 18 different flavors on 6 different occasions. I sampled chocolat piment (spiced chocolate), cappuccino, yaourt aux fruits rouges (frozen yogurt with a strawberry/raspberry swirl), cacao(dark chocolate sorbet), fraise (strawberry), creme beurre sale (salted caramel), cannelle (cinnamon), fleur de lait (not exactly sure still…), chocolat orange, cookiesconfiture du lait (vanilla with a caramel-like swirl), marron (chestnut), mandarin, amaretto (basically sweet almond), amarena (vanilla with a black cherry swirl), pain d’epice (gingerbread), bounty (coconut with a chocolate swirl), and tiramisu. 

Ugh. My stomach hurts thinking about all of those flavors at once. 

But was it worth it? In my opinion, yes. I know I’m probably not going to have ice cream again for a long time, and who knows when I’ll next be in the south of France? I kept a very clean, balanced diet throughout the day and was walking everywhere. Still, no sweets for me for a while!

2. Gorges du Verdon

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I really didn’t want to go here at first. It was a two and a half hour bus ride and I was dreading going kayaking/canoeing in the middle of nowhere. When we pulled up, I wished that I had stayed home and slept instead.

Little did I know I was in for a pleasant surprise.

The Gorges were some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.The massive cliffs towered above cascading waterfalls and the water was a perfect shade of turquoise. My friend Lee and I wound up hopping out of our boat and going for a swim by the waterfall…it was incredible.

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3. Fireworks on Bastille Day

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Honestly, I’m not a huge national holiday person, but I do love fireworks. (Then again, what teenager doesn’t enjoy loud, explosive objects?) Watching a million bursting lights go off above the beach was spectacular…there’s no other way to describe it.

It also gave me a great chance to use the firework setting on my camera!

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4. Dinner with Friends

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In the south of France during the summer, most of the food is simple and fresh: there was a lot of ratatouille (served hot or cold), quiche with summer vegetables, and lightly seasoned cuts of chicken and fish. Although it felt great to eat such clean meals, about halfway through the trip, my friends and I began to get cravings for our favorite flavorful ethnic foods. 

Twice during the second half of the trip, my roommate and two friends of ours had dinner together featuring Indian and Mexican food. For Indian night, I made tandoori chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and rice for the girls, then carrot cardamom pudding (minus the chia seeds) and fresh mango for dessert. For Mexican night, I made pulled chicken with a spicy warm salsa, topped off with avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Neither meals were really authentic, but they were delicious, and so much fun to share with appreciative (and hungry!) friends.

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5. Going Exploring

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Some of my best memories from the trip were wandering around towns and cities with my friends without any purpose or agenda in mind. Whether we were in Vieux Nice, St. Paul du Vence, or San Remo, Italy (as pictured above), we had a great time chatting and meandering through small cobblestone streets and cutesy boutiques.

No matter if you’re 16 or 60, exploring a city on foot is really the best way to go, at least in my opinion. Sure, you can get the feel of a place on a bus or tram car, but you can’t hear the murmur of people around you talking, smell the local herbs wafting through the air, or find hidden shops or galleries you might never have guessed were there.

You might also run into a cat or two…always a plus for me.

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I am so thankful for the time I spent in France this summer, but I’m looking forward to kale salads, reading signs in English, and visits to my local butcher once again. (I haven’t had pork in almost a month!)

What is your favorite vacation destination? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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Mon Grand Voyage (and a Spin on Ratatouille!)

June 28, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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One thing a lot of people don’t know about me (in the blogosphere, at least) is that I LOVE France. When I first went when I was 11, well, je suis tombée en amoureuse. I usually dislike big cities, but there was something about Paris’s narrow streets and petits marchés that made me think otherwise. I’ve been back twice since then, and every time I leave, I find myself wanting to return.

I’ve taken French in school since the second half of third grade, but I’m nowhere near fluent. I can write pretty well, but when confronted with an actual human being, I clam up! I always worry I’m going to say the wrong thing and wind up completely insulting whoever I’m speaking to.

I’m tired of being afraid and want to be able to have a real conversation in French. So…I’m going to France for a month to get brave and learn! This time, I’ll be going to a suburb of Nice called St. Laurent-du-Var, where I’ll be graciously hosted by my homestay mother. I’m really excited and extremely nervous, too!

One thing I’m looking forward to is the food. I’ve had plenty of Parisian fare—duck confit, chocolate mousse, and the like—but I want to taste what else is out there. Since it’ll be July, fresh fruits and vegetables should be plentiful; hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit one or seven marchés en plein air and eat so many tomates cerises I’ll become one. I also foresee mountains of olives in my future, as well as whatever else I may be able to sample.

For the duration of my trip, I WILL NOT be eating squeaky clean by any stretch of the imagination. I may look into doing a Whole30 challenge or something akin to it when I return, but while in France, I’m going to enjoy myself. No, I’m not going to eat a massive croissant at every meal, but I’ll certainly try to have a little taste of a variety of different breads, pastries, and dairy products.

Fortunately, I won’t have to leave the extension of my heart my laptop at home, so I’ll be able to take lots of pictures and update you guys on what I’m up to. Hey, maybe I’ll post a recipe or two, too!

In anticipation for my upcoming voyage, I made ratatouille, probably the tastiest mixed vegetable dish of all time.

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I’ve been in French classes for over SIX years now, and the only movie I’ve ever watched is Ratatouille. At this point, I’ve probably seen it at least four or five times in French and six or seven times in English. And every time after I watch the movie, I want that idealized plate of vegetable goodness Disney so perfectly displays.

To make this dish a little more satiating, I melted a bit of raw Dorset cheese on the top. Don’t call the paleo police! If you’re lactose intolerant and/or avoiding dairy, feel free to take out the cheese…but if you can eat it, I highly recommend adding it for extra tang and creaminess.

This recipe is a breeze to make. All you need are some veggies, olive oil, a couple of dried herbs, and a big baking dish. If you’re sick of eating meat for dinner, this is a great way to work something vegetarian into the mix!

My recipe is adapted from this one.

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At least a half an hour before you want to bake your ratatouille, slice two small eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch rounds. Use whatever you can find, whether it be graffiti, Japanese, or globe.

Liberally salt the eggplant rounds and let them sit on a baking sheet or cutting board until assembly time, at least 30 minutes. This is to help some of the water get out and make your eggplant tender, not mushy and gushy.

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut two medium-sized zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and two large bell peppers into 1/4-inch rings. Maybe it’s just me, but I always eat the ends of the peppers after I slice them.

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Set the sliced veggies aside. On the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, mix together 14 ounces of tomato paste or plain tomato sauce (about 1 medium can), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 chopped small onion, 2 thinly sliced cloves of garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. With the back of a spoon or a small spatula, spread it out so the bottom is completely coated.

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To assemble, put one piece of eggplant with two or three slices of zucchini and a slice of pepper. Keep going until you run out of space or vegetables…whichever comes first.

Sprinkle the top with 2 teaspoons each of dried thyme, basil, and oregano, a good crack of black pepper, and an additional tablespoon of olive oil.

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Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly atop the dish. Stick the ratatouille in the oven until the veggies are tender and beginning to curl around the edges, about 45 to 50 minutes.

If you don’t want cheese, you can stop here. If you’re opting for the dairy, top the ratatouille with your desired amount of cheese (for me, about 10 tiny squares cut from two slices worth) and broil until completely melted, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with a large fork and a hungry belly.

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Next time, I’ll make more…since we had no leftovers. Oh well, at least it was tasty!

What’s your favorite French dish? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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