How do you rebound from a day of bad stomach? Well you go out and gorge on foie gras and oysters of course!
The Pari Fermier is the ultimate Food Fair for any visitor to Paris looking to sample artisanal products from all over France and I was lucky enough that it was taking place while I was in town.
There are over 200 small-scale artisanal producers who come from far-away French towns that I hope to one day visit. In the meantime, I was able to sample the best of what they had to offer. And offer they did! I tasted figs, prunes, foie gras, honey, jams, oysters, foie gras, sausage, other cured meats, lentils, foie gras, walnuts, olives, cheeses, and wines. Oh, did I mention they had an abundance of foie gras? In all forms as well, in full, as pates with duck, as pates with duck and pork, as mousse…
The best thing about this market was that the purveyors also sold portions of their foods so you could put together a meal.
After all of the eating of the morning, I needed to walk off all the foie gras I’d tasted, so it was off to do some sightseeing in Paris. But what I’ve learned in my life is that seeing this:
Is only an excuse to get into the right neighbourhood to sample this:
But my traipsing all over Paris in search of the best sweets is another post entirely.
Les Cocottes is a Christian Constant restaurant, (which may mean something to some people, it didn’t to me). Located in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, my great plan was to eat an earlier dinner, (they don’t take reservations and open at 7) and then wander around the tower to walk off the meal.
Les Cocottes’ specialty is that everything is cooked in Staub cookware, (cocottes). It may be gimmicky, but they totally back it up with amazing food. I was lucky enough to be seated at the bar next to a diner who had eaten there 4 times on his 2 week visit and had let me in on his favourites. I took his advice and was so pleased with the results.
Lentil salad with crisp Serrano ham. Not normally something I’d order, but everyone else seemed to be having it and raving about how wonderful it was. The masses were right.
Mushroom veloute with Chantilly cream infused with foie gras. I kept wondering how something so rich could taste so light at the same time. All in all, a heavenly soup that made me feel like it was autumn in the woods.
Next came the lobster ravioli with artichoke foam. Watching Top Chef has taught me that chefs should stop serving things foamed and that diners don’t like it anymore. But the intense artichoke aroma infused into the light foam cut into the decadent buttery lobster ravioli. My opinion is that if chefs can continue to use foam to accent flavours without adding heaviness, then they really shouldn’t stop using it as a technique.
I wouldn’t normally choose to order the pig’s feet, but my dining neighbour said it was the best thing he’d had on the menu. I’m thankful for the suggestion, because these roasted nuggets of potato stuffed with the slow cooked meat of the feet was the most soulful dish I’d had in Paris thus far. I’d heard a lot of talk about the new generation of French cooks bringing food and dining back to “the people” and making food more approachable, and I think this dish epitomized that thought.
The wonderful meal deserved to end with a sweet treat, so I indulged in Chef Constant’s chocolate tart. I’m not a huge dessert fan, mostly because I don’t like ending a meal with something overly sweet. This tart looked like it was going to be overly sweet and heavy. But much to my delight, it was smooth and chocolatey without being to sugary. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.
Les Cocottes – 135, rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris