R’Aliment, une Cantine Bio

R'Aliment, une Cantine Bio

2005 Update: Unfortunately, R’Aliment is now closed — my friends and I mourn the loss. You can still however go to the sister restaurant Biotifull Place, on the 1st floor of the Printemps de la Beauté department store, at 66 Bd Haussman in the 9th.

R’Aliment is a small modern restaurant in the 3rd arrondissement, that I would label “cantine bio” : “cantine” is French for a school or office cafeteria, and is sometimes used to mean a restaurant that has a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, and where you could see yourself having lunch or dinner everyday. And “bio” is short for “biologique”, and means “organic” in French. In the words of the owner – my translation – it serves a “healthy and balanced cuisine, flavorful and colorful, prepared with seasonal organic products, domestic or exotic”. Promising, no?

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Chocolate, Apricot, and Ginger Loaf Cake

Cake au Chocolat, Abricots et Gingembre

On Sunday afternoon, we had a few friends over for the goûter. In attendance were : Marie-Laure and Ludo, with whom we had had brunch earlier in the day ; my friend Sophie, who used to work at my company ; Stéphane and Caro, who are friends from college ; and our neighbors Stéphan and Patricia. To feed this crowd, I wanted to make something chocolate. I know, I know, I surprise myself too, sometimes.

When Pierre Hermé‘s Chocolate Desserts cookbook came out, one of the magazines I read had an article that published four of them : they don’t quote the book word for word, they just give the recipe essentials, which still makes the book worth buying, as Pierre Hermé always gives very detailed instructions. All those recipes looked great, but you have to make choices in life, as hard as they may be. So I set out to make the apricot and ginger chocolate cake.

Language note : in French, the word “cake” (which is pronounced more or less like “kek“) means not just any cake – that would be “gâteau” – but a cake that’s baked in a loaf pan.

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Burgundy Snails

Petits Gris à la Bourguignonne

Last week, Maxence and I were at the Poissonnerie Bleue, the fish market at the bottom of the rue des Martyrs, a.k.a. fish lover’s paradise : they have a very wide and very tempting selection of sea food. It is always pretty crowded, but the service is friendly and fast. As we were standing in line to pay, we noticed they also sold frozen garlic snails, so we promptly bought two dozens.

Petits gris (literally “small gray”) are a variety of snails, much smaller than their cousins the “Escargots de Bourgogne”. They are often prepared “à la Bourguignonne” : boiled, seasoned with garlic parsley butter, and served as a first course, in their shell.

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Le Troyon

Update, spring 2004 : Le Troyon is now closed, but the same team now runs Caïus at 6 rue d’Armaillé in the 17th (01 42 27 19 20).

[Very surprisingly, Le Troyon does not give out little address cards like most restaurants do, so I don't have a picture for this entry!]

Last Monday, my parents invited Maxence and I to dinner at Le Troyon, Maxence’s favorite restaurant in Paris. This was our fourth time eating there, we had raved about it to my parents, and they were eager to try it. The setting is elegant but intimate, and the service is professional yet friendly. They have a three-course menu that runs at 33 euros and changes every day but for some signature items.

As is the style in a lot of Parisian restaurants, the menu is hand-written in chalk on blackboards, that the waiters carry to each table for diners to read, propping it up on your table, or balancing it on a chair or a shelf close to you. I like the dynamic of that, because people squint, they turn their necks, they comment on the spelling, wonder about a word that they can’t quite make out, and is it “cul” or “col“, and they’re all looking in the same direction, instead of being isolated behind their own menu.

When you are ready to make your choice (or not, as is more often the case), the waiter will stand next to the board and answer questions, decipher the handwriting, describe dishes, give advice, discuss the choice of products. I love that part because that’s when I get to enquire about what this or that is served with, and how is it prepared, and do you recommend it, and will I like it, and does the chef like it, and where do you buy the bread, and what’s a good wine pairing, and how’s the business going, and can I work here? Until I feel everybody’s getting impatient and I just shut up already.

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Garlic Press R.I.P.

Garlic Press R.I.P.

I broke our garlic press yesterday, and now I can’t help but wonder… Is this a sign of the Gods? Do I use too much garlic? Do I *eat* too much garlic? Have I pressed too much of it? Or too hard? Is this the first spasm of the Worldwide Garlic Mutiny? Some people are violently against garlic presses, so was this affirmative action from a commando of those guys? Sabotage?

I think I will hold off buying a new one for now, see what happens… But if you hear anything, do let me know, okay?

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