Thursday, November 23, 2006

Paris - my food side

Paris, eh? I went a little overboard in 'a few of my favourite things'.

I tried my first raw mussel. My first raw scallop.

Surprisingly, the mussel tasted like a raw oyster.

Midway during my visit to the Lourve, I needed to take a break from so much religious art & culture, that we went to Angelina's, a patissierie on Rue de Rivoli. Angelinas is famed for their hot chocolates and for their 'Mont Blanc' cake, a 7cm high creation of meringue, whipped cream and 'chestnut cream. The recipe, the menuboasts, has remained a secret for over 100 years.

I broke my gelato rule of ordering one thing creamy & one thing not. We ordered two hot chocolates - one white, one milk; one Mont Blanc - because I can never resist when something is a house specialty, and a strawberry tart which looked yummy when we were standing in the queueby the door.

The hot chocolates came in two milk jugs, with a side of whiped cream. White chocolate whipped cream for the hot milk chocolate; and milk chocolate whipped cream for the hot white chocolate. The hot chocolates were incredibly rich - they tasted like they were made of half chocolate, half cream; a bit more diluted than how I would make a chocolate ganache. All I could taste in the white hot chocolate was sugar; and all I could taste in the milk hot chocolate was the cream.
This leaves the Lindt and Max Bremnar hot chocolates dead in terms of over-the-top richness.

Funnily enough, the strawberry tarte and the Mont Blanc reminded me a lot of cakes you can get in Chinese bakeries in Sydney. I'm sure I've tasted chestnut cream elsewhere. The strawberry tart had the clear glaze, and the shortcrust-y type pastry plus the custard. Very muchlike the 'fruit flan' type tarts you can buy too.

The only thing that got finished was the strawberry tart. Only a few spoonfuls of the Mont Blanc had been touched - just to try the different elements. I don't think that it was really my kind of thing.

I cannot believe that I got defeated by some hot chocolate.

So a few days later, whilst wandering around the St Paul/Marais area, when I eyespyed a 'Cocoa et Chocolate' shop, I decided to check if I really had had too much hot chocolate. I got a cup of spicy hot chocolate (with chilli, pepper, cardamon & something mysterious). Igot about 2/3 through when I had had *gasp* too-much-hot-chocolate.

I don't think that I had 'too much' bread. I didn't really reach the 'Oh my, I'm going to throw up' stage at any point. Bread is the carbohydrate staple of France, much like cous cous in Morocco, or potatoes in Ireland. I think though I tried to combine being healthy & the quest for the perfect baguette in one, and it didn't really work. Brown bread or multigrain flavour doesn't have a high turnover, so I was never going to get the just-baked crispy outside & the soft
inside. Unless I got up terribly early, and even then, my chances were slim.

I folded on my second last night as I revisited a bakery in St Paul. "Un baguette, s'il vous plait". 80 euro cents. I got it. It was warm to the touch. Somehow on my metro ride between St Paul and Montemarte,half the baguette went missing. It was delicious.

I haven't eaten mussels for about 5 years. Even since I went to the Belgium Beer Cafe in Cremorne with someone, and we ordered two pots of mussels. After that, I felt as though I would throw up if I even hadjust a taste of one. I think that I had reached mussel overload.

I thought that after this period of time, the gag reflex should have worn off by now. The steak of the guy next to me looked pretty woeful. So I got a pot of mussels, and managed to eat 3/4 of the plate. I stopped just short of repeating the effect from last time though. I think I'm not quite game enough to order another pot for awhile.

One person. 4 kinds of cheese. That's not too much for one week is it?

I went for the stock standard President brand camerbert from the supermarket (shhh!). If the guy next to you rolls up, checks them for ripeness and then walks off with 8 rounds of the stuff, there has to be a reason behind it, right? I also bought some chevre at the same supermarket to regain some of my street cred for wimping out on buyinga washed rind.

I chickened out several times at a fromagerie. The first time, I was hungry and tired from too much walking. If I had started sampling cheeses then, before you knew it, I would have eaten my weight in cheese and still not know what I had wanted to buy. The second time I just sort of squawked and ran away. Finally I couraged up and pointed out some likely contenders that I liked the look of, and they wereyummy!

A sheep's milk brie type thingy which was oozy round the outside near the rind, and almost curd like in the centre. A goat's milk other thingy which was very goaty & sort of stuck on the back of the tongue.Yum!

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