Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book Recommendation

Jasmine introduced me to many a great food tip - the top two being cheese biscuits and Clotilde's blog. Long before I imagined I'd be in Paris for nine months, Jasmine and I would drool over chocolatier recommendations, bread and mie commentary, and absorption pasta recipes.

So it is with mixed emotions that Clotilde's book (pictured to the right) arrived as I prepare to depart. So many great places I had yet to visit, and so little time.

I started with the places that I'm always seeking out in Paris with little luck - 'ethnic restaurants.' In a city where Italian is listed as 'world cuisine', finding decent Indian or dim sum can be quite difficult. Yet, Clotilde recommended one of the best Indian places I have been to here - Muniyandi Vilas.

Liam and I ate there for less than 10 euros and my mini-plat of two vegetables, a moong dal, fresh hot paratha and chai was the most perfect meal I've had in Paris.

Total: 2.90.

Liam had the vegetarian thali and was similarly impressed as his tab crept up past 5 euros. Each dish is accompanied by amazingly dry and delicious coconut chutneys - my first visit had coriander and another more spicy. My second visit kept a similar spice and also included a caramelized onion dish.

We had less success at Tricotin, recommended for dim sum - but after many an analytic conversation with other Americans here, we think it's simply impossible to get the kind of dim sum you can get in the U.S. (and we've tried many a place in the 13th which is the quartier chinois and location of Liam's work).

More success was had with Japanese 6th - Azabu - a nearly perfect formule that Johanna and I enjoyed at the bar (the pickles! the radish! the sauce on our calamari! the tea AND glace included!) and at Cafe Panique in the 10th where Dana and I celebrated her birthday last week.

Liam and I had Saturday dinner at Urbane and were partially impressed - tempura sardines kept these fish on my mind for days contemplating ways to replicate at home sans fryer or panko. Liam's veal looked great perched on melon and his dessert of roasted rhubarb cheese cake was lovely. My vegetarian dish was later explained by the hostess as 'the least interesting' of the dishes. As much as I love an option, I would also prefer for the restaurant to maintain their level of dish integrity across the carte - even Momofuku Noodle Bar does that and they have a disclaimer that vegetarians shouldn't visit. But perhaps my expectations in this world are too high ...

Alas, I adore this book. I love that she recommends Le Loire dans le Theiere - a place that saved me this winter with their fresh made desserts and tea gouter after 3pm. I love that there are chocolate shops and confisseries and that because of this book I trekked out to the 17th to visit Le Petite Rose and gorge myself on the much photographed mendiant chocolat. I appreciate that there are sections on etiquette and customer service and the ways of the French.

I also can't resist saying that you can get it in Paris - I got mine at my most favorite petite English book shop down the street, The Red Wheelbarrow.

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