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Best Eats in Lille, From a Local


Travel season is upon us, and I want to make sure you see and taste the best France has to offer! When it comes to Paris I’ve got you covered, but there are many other cities with exciting and delicious things for you to experience. So I’ve asked a team of French bloggers from different cities to share their favorite spots, and I am offering them to you in this new series.

In Lille, Izabela recommends…

Izabela Lille ConfidentialTo walk us through Lille, I’m happy to introduce Izabela Jeanneau, author of the blog Lille Confidential. She has dilligently tested all of her recommendations, and lives by the motto “Only the best!” It’s the only trilingual (!) blog in the region, available in French, English, and Dutch. Though Izabela is Parisian by birth, she considers herself an adopted Lilloise since moving there in 2009 by way of Singapour, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta and Luanda. Izabela prides herself on her unique perspective on Lille as a cultural and food capital between Paris, London, and Brussels.

In addition to her blog, I recommend you follow Izabela on Twitter and Instagram. (The photos in this post are hers.)

A market or food shop: Les Épicentriques

Epicentriques Lille

A gourmet shop in the Halles du Marché de Wazemmes run by the passionate Jean-Paul Lafitte. Here, you will find high-quality products that can sometimes be more difficult to score: oils from Alexis Munoz, Escuminac maple syrup, a wide selection of spices, including rare salt and pepper and vanilla, as well as teas, coffees, Claudio Corallo chocolate, Corsican honey from Pierre Carli, Bellotta-Bellotta charcuterie… a true gem of a store!

The Wazemmes market is one of the two most traversed markets in Lille. It is located in a working-class neighborhood that becomes very cosmopolitan and animated on market days.

Also: Le Marché du Vieux-Lille

Marché du Vieux Lille

Smaller, and with a more “see-and-be-seen” vibe, but with a pleasant and charming ambiance. On Sundays, there is a very lively atmosphere, and regulars love to sit on the café terraces around the Place du Concert to have a drink and snack after shopping. A few steps away lies the famous shop Aux Merveilleux, where they sell the traditional Northern pastry of the same name, consisting entirely of meringue and whipped cream. Not to taste it would be a sin! They are also open on Sunday morning.

Where to go for sweet eats: Alex Croquet

Alex Croquet

If you haven’t heard of Alex Croquet, who describes himself as bread crazy, he is considered one of the best bread makers in the world, revered by some of the most famous chefs. His breads contain no additives, and sourdough as the only leavener, which Croquet nurtures himself.

Croquet extends the same care to his sweet treats, from the crisp croissants to the citrus zest brioche. On the pastry side, the star is the clementine tart, but in keeping with the seasons, right now it’s a delicious tarte à la rhubarbe, with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

Also: Benoit Chocolats

Benoit Chocolats

This shop holds the best artisanal chocolate in Lille. With more than 60 different varieties of filled chocolates, from praliné to ganache, as well as tea, chili pepper, lemon, and pepper, all expertly crafted. The result is a chocolate that’s not too sweet; rather, it tastes of real chocolate!

Where to get tea or coffee: Méert

Meert Lille

This is certainly one of the better-known food destinations of Lille, but one filled with history, and it remains the perfect tea-time spot. In this authentic Lille institution, you find yourself surrounded by superb period décor, but also the beautiful (and no less delicious!) pastries. Don’t forget to leave with a souvenir box of the famous Méert waffle cookies, it is a must!

Also: Coffee Makers

With a more modern vibe, Coffee Makers serves the best coffee in Lille. These excellent beverages (the beans are roasted on site) serve as the perfect accompaniment for their addictive homemade pastries.

A fun restaurant for dinner with friends: Jaja

Jaja Lille

A beautiful wine bar with a sharp selection of wines by the glass and the bottle, as well as an appetizing selection of plates filled with charcuterie, smoked fish, and the scrumptious Frères Delassic cheeses. The interior is decorated in a vintage-chic style, with long tables, metal accents, unfinished wood, and patent leather. In short, the perfect combination for a relaxed evening between friends!

Also: La Royale

La Royale Lille

This small, quiet restaurant in the old part of the city pays homage to the classic style of a French bistro. The inviting ambiance, fresh, seasonal products, generous servings, and a penchant for uniting terre-mer (the French equivalent of surf and turf) are all part of young chef Mickaël Braure’s style. Add a selection of wines from hand-picked small producers and you have the perfect encapsulation of the bistro spirit.

Where to go for an intimate dinner date: La Table du Clarance

La Table du Clarance

This magnificent spot, with a mix of modern chic and period décor, is located in an 18th century building that is now a boutique hotel. The restaurant, driven by Nicolas Pourcheresse, holds the only Michelin star in Lille (awarded in 2016). The inventive cuisine features superb ingredients, clever flavor pairings, and cooking methods that captivate. For more intimacy, you can dine at the single table that’s set in the former library. And, on balmy days, in the charming parish garden with a view of the Saint Catherine Church. 100% romance guaranteed!

Also: Rouge-Barre

Rouge Barre Lille

Though perhaps slightly less spectacular than my last recommendation, Le Rouge-Barre offers a cozy ambiance typical of Old Lille, with its exposed red brick walls. Steven Ramon’s cuisine shines with a originality and flavor, and it’s a beautiful spot for a romantic evening en terrasse (al fresco) this summer.

Wild Card Spot! Le Bloempot

Bloempot Lille

My permanent favorite is le Bloempot — I call it the restaurant of happiness. The second restaurant of charismatic chef Florent Ladeyn is the most joyful spot in Lille. The pretty and low-key dining room, all wood and exposed brick, is just as cool, authentic, and welcoming as the chef. For this offshoot of his countryside restaurant (starred restaurant Le Vertmont, located 30 minutes outside of Lille), Ladelyn has brought a little patch of nature to Lille, and he rocks Flanders cuisine like nobody else. His is a creative, intuitive, and sincere cuisine inspired by local products. There is no menu — the daily offerings are created based on the season and what vendors on each side of the border can provide. Each plate is a delicate and delicious interpretation of Flemish terroir that you can accompany with wine, or even beer for a more surprising pairing. Oh joy!

Also: Le Gabbro

Gabbro Lille

A young duo is at the helm of this small restaurant in Old Lille, the best value in Lille: Simon Pages in the kitchen and Matthieu Durand as the house sommelier. The restaurant boasts a simple, intelligent, and surprising cuisine, with a short yet wonderful menu. The wines from independent vintners beg to be tasted immediately. This gem of a restaurant is an authentic return to the roots of bistro culture, with generous servings, quality products, and gourmet dishes, all without hurting your wallet. Proof that miracles do exist.

Thank you so much for sharing, Izabela!

You’ll find all these addresses mapped out below:

Do you have your own favorite spots in Lille? We want to hear about them in the comments below! And is there a particular city or area you’d like featured in this series in the future?

Doenjang Glazed Eggplant

Easy Doenjang Glazed Eggplant

This easy recipe for doenjang glazed eggplant is a wonderful first foray into Korean cooking.

For years now I’ve been contemplating Korean cuisine with equal parts excitement and trepidation. I’ve been going out to Korean restaurants, noting how vibrant the flavors and how nuanced the preparations, but I haven’t done very much at home.

Korean Food Made SimpleRegular batches of homemade kimchi, yes, and kimchi fried rice, but that’s about it — until I received a review copy of Judy Joo’s Korean Food Made Simple.

Judy Joo is a Korean-American chef with a few restaurants and television shows to her name, and this is her first book, in which she shares 100+ recipes for Korean classics, plus a few East-meets-West creations.

It is the most un-intimidating book of Korean cooking I’ve seen in a while. The section on Korean staples alone is worth memorizing, and the recipes all feel very approachable. I look forward to tackling the noodles with black bean sauce (jjajangmyun), the roasted pork belly lettuce wraps (bossam), and the caramel doenjang ice cream, to name just a few.

But as a lover of all things eggplant, the first recipe I did try was for doenjang glazed aubergines, a Korean take on the Japanese classic nasu dengaku.

Instead of using miso paste, this recipe calls for the Korean equivalent, doenjang, a fermented soybean paste that is dark brown, richly flavored, and coarser than your average miso. (You should be able to find it at your local Asian market, and you can substitute red miso if that’s easier to find.)

Easy Doenjang Glazed Eggplant

The glaze is very quick to put together, and then you simply brush it onto halved and roasted eggplant, before broiling for a few minutes, until lightly caramelized.

Sprinkled with sesame and scallions, presented warm or at room temperature, it is a beautiful side to go with grilled chicken or lamb skewers. And served over steamed white rice, it makes for a fabulous vegan lunch, one you can take to the office or to the nearest park bench for a picnic date with yourself (because you’re totally missing out if you don’t have those).

Me, my beloved rain boots and my collapsible lunch container, eating eggplant at the park.

Me, my collapsible rain boots and my lunch container, eating eggplant at the park.

PS: My favorite Korean spots in Paris are Korean supermarket K-Mart (6 rue Sainte-Anne in the 1st), and Korean restaurants Sobane (5 rue de la Tour d’Auvergne in the 9th, and 64 rue d’Hauteville in the 10th), Ssam (in the 10th), and L’Arbre de Sel (138 rue de Vaugirard in the 15th). I have been steeply disappointed by Mandoobar, but I wanted to love it so much I might give it another chance, and I’ve yet to try the famed Korean fried chicken at Hero.

PPS: If you read French, you have got to check this out!


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Doenjang Glazed Eggplant Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4.

Doenjang Glazed Eggplant Recipe


  • 4 medium eggplants
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds, for serving
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  • For the doenjang glaze:
  • 125 grams (4 1/2 ounces, about 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) doenjang (Korean soybean paste, available at Korean markets; substitute red miso)
  • 50 grams (3 level tablespoons) honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, germ removed, finely chopped


  1. Put the doenjang glaze ingredients (doenjang, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic) in a medium bowl, and stir well to combine. (This can be prepared a couple of days in advance; keep in an airtight container in the fridge.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F).
  3. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise, and cut criss-cross slits in the flesh without cutting through to the skin. Brush the cut side with a little oil.
  4. Score the eggplant flesh
  5. Arrange the eggplants, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size, until the flesh is cooked through and very tender.
  7. Bake the eggplant until soft
  8. Flip the eggplants so the flesh side faces up.
  9. Baked eggplant, flesh side up
  10. Brush with the doenjang glaze (you won't need all of it, see note), and place under the broiler of the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, until the glaze starts to caramelize. (Watch closely so it doesn't burn.)
  11. Glaze and broil
  12. Sprinkle with spring onions and sesame, and serve over steamed rice. (For eating with chopsticks or a fork, cut the eggplant into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears.)
  13. Easy Doenjang Glazed Eggplant


My Very First Cookbook, Newly Released in French!

Chocolate & Zucchini : Le Livre

Do you read French? Are you a student of the language? If so, I have an important update for you!

I have just released Chocolate & Zucchini : Le Livre, a new e-book edition of my very first cookbook, translated into French by yours truly.

The French edition was first published by Hachette, but it’s been out of print for a while. That always made my heart sink: it’s a book into which I’ve poured all of my soul, and many of my cult recipes, the kind you make again and again, and pass on to your sister and your friends, who later tell you, “You know, that mustard chicken of yours? I make it ALL THE TIME!”

This is why I decided to bring it back to life as an e-book — after a thorough re-reading and re-formatting effort — and I am now offering it for 8€ ($9), for immediate download on Amazon or the secure platform e-junkie.

I want it!

Don’t read French? Get the original English-language edition of the book, complete with my soul and cult recipes! It’s called Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen.

Continue reading »

Spicy Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Spicy Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

These roasted chickpeas play an important role in my weekday lunches.

Most days, when I’m working from home, my midday meal consists of a vegan bowl that features the produce I get delivered to my doorstep every Monday.

These need to be super satisfying, otherwise I’ll be snacking on chocolate all afternoon and then I can’t sleep at night from all the caffeine — true story. So over time I’ve developed an intuitive sense of what I need in a lunch bowl, and it is a combination of the below:

  • Something starchy, such as a grain (typically gluten-free) or a roasted root vegetable (pictured above: roasted sweet potatoes),
  • Something green, such as fresh salad leaves or leafy greens, either cooked, or raw and massaged (pictured above: thinly sliced and sautéed pointed cabbage),
  • Something raw, such as cucumber moons, spiralized and snipped zucchini, grated carrots, diced kohlrabi, radish confetti, halved cherry tomatoes — the list goes on,
  • Something fat-rich, such as an avocado when I can get them from not too far away, or a nut-butter-based dressing such as this simple tahini sauce or this equally easy peanut sauce,
  • Something protein-rich, such as legumes, lacto-fermented tofu, or, a recent discovery and current obsession, marinated and roasted tempeh,
  • Some fresh herbs, my favorite being cilantro, chives, and chervil (pictured above: I forgot to add them for the shot; keepin’ it real here),
  • Something acidic or tangy, such as a squeeze of citrus juice, a splash of vinegar, chopped olives, some pickles, or a thinly diced wedge of preserved lemon (pictured above: a squeeze of lime juice, though you’ll have to take my word for it),
  • And last but not least, what makes or breaks the bowl: SOMETHING CRUNCHY.

Mini Cookbook of Vegan Staples

Continue reading »

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse

You know how, when you buy chickpeas in a can, they come in this thickish, off-yellow juice, not entirely appetizing to be honest, that you pour down the sink without even thinking about it?

Well, as it turns out, this chickpea brine has properties remarkably similar to those of egg whites: it’s a snot-like (graphic! sorry!) liquid that’s full of protein, and can be whisked to form a beautifully flowy mousse, peaks and all.

This was first revealed in 2014 by a Frenchman named Joël Roessel, author of the blog Révolution Végétale, though the “discovery” results from the incremental efforts of different vegan experimenters.

Since then, aquafaba — as the name was later coined — has taken the vegan world by storm, conveniently solving all baking problems that stem from not being able to use egg whites, without resorting to icky, super-processed egg replacers.

Aquafaba makes it possible to make vegan meringues (!), but the minute I heard about it, my brain went straight to vegan chocolate mousse (need I remind you what my blog is called?).

Mini Cookbook of Vegan Staples

Continue reading »

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