I wish every day could be carefree and involve thinking of ways to prevent my shoes from falling into the Seine. (Obviously, you take them off. This ain't rocket science.) If you sit by the Seine at night you too can gawk at the Bateaux Mouches as their crowds of onlookers gawk back at you. And it's easy for them to spot you because the Bateaux Mouches are (usually) outfitted with rows of lights on both sides that channel the luminescent power of a nuclear explosion. I haven't been on one of those boats yet, but I think I'd prefer to sit with one or two friends near the edge of the river than ride on it with hoards of other people while listening to a tour guide point out one of a gazillion Parisian landmarks every 2 seconds. Hell, I can do that.
"Look, really cool park."
"Look, another boat."
Don't worry; I won't become a tour guide.
Upon Alex's suggestion and vegetarianism, we went to Le Potager du Marais for dinner on Wednesday night. Why else would I go to a vegetarian restaurant? HAR HAR HAR. (On a side note, most of the food I eat is technically vegetarian, if I may include dairy and eggs. And for all those people who wonder if I eat vegetables, yes, yes I do. Most of my lunches at least include some kind of leafy green and there's usually some other raw or cooked vegetable for dinner. Frankly, that stuff is boring, hence why I don't talk about it.)
The restaurant consists of one narrow room lined with two-person tables that have about 1 inch of space in between them, making us wonder how people could get to the other side. That's probably why the only other customers were seated at the end of the row (and us at the opposite end); these tables were the most easily accessible. We were a bit early at 7:30 PM; the restaurant filled up later on in the night.
After staring at the menu for too long (which is usually how I stare at a menu), I decided to go for the gold and order the 20 € entree/main/dessert menu. Alex went with one entree. Yes, I'm a pig.
- caviar d'aubergines, gratin aux poires, and beignets de legumes au tofu et aux noix de cajou, sauce Raifort
I ate it all. Disturbingly, I don't know what I ate. Seriously. It didn't really hit me until I left that even though nothing tasting unpalatable, nothing had much taste either. Salt is your friend. Sugar is your friend. Let's use these friends to better enrich our lives with sodium and carbohydrates. It was more about texture than flavor; the eggplant stuff was like...you know, mushed eggplant, the fried vegetable stuff reminded me of Korean pajun without whatever it is that makes pajun addictive, and the dessert was mushier than what I would've preferred. My favorite part was actually the
cous cous QUINOA, I KNOW IT'S QUINOA WHAT THE SHIZZ, which tastes good on its own.
...But as I said before, I did eat it all. It's not like anything was inedible. It was just...odd. Also, most of the reviews are good. Did I just pick the worst choices on the menu?
Alex's vegetarian chili seemed good, cylindrical rice and all. He said he was expecting it to be spicier, but it must've had more flavor than my dishes. The name does have chili in it. Otherwise it would be some kind of plain bean stew.
I'm not sure what kind of recommendation to make. How about I recommend that you don't order what I did? The restaurant is cozy, the waitresses are friendly, and if you're vegetarian then that makes it all the more worthwhile for you.
macarons and other baked things
Curse me for going to school so close to Jean-Paul Hevin. I went on Wednesday morning after a disasterous history test (history is one of my worst subjects) and emerged with puck-sized macarons and a chocolate bar to mend my ego stomped on by my failure to recall ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian facts.
3.10 € will get you this beautiful subject of chocolate macaron-ness. Like the other JPH macarons I had, the seconday flavor was extremely subdued. I think the more JPH macarons I eat [ahem], the more I'll appreciate this subtlety. I didn't taste pistachio as much as feel its presence through its nutty scent and texture, as though it were a regular chocolate macaron simultaneously inhabited by the ghost of a pistachio macaron. You know in movies when a ghost passes through a human and the human is like, "Whoa, that felt weird,"? (That isn't what they say, but that's what I would say. Maybe.) It's kinda like that. But with macarons instead of humans.
...If you nod your head, this will make the blog entry go faster. [pat pat]
On the less satisfying side, Lenotre's macarons are good, but they don't feel worth the price of 9.20 € for a box of 8 (or 1.20 € individually). I was expecting more "wow" in flavor or...overall macaron-ness (which I feel like I should make a numerical scale for). With all the macaron choices in Paris, I'd go somewhere else. Their other patisserie items and stores in general are fun to look at though, so you may as well visit one. Worth trying, just not a "must eat".
I was also slightly disappointed by JPH's caramel milk chocolate bar. That I bought it on Wednesday and it's still sitting in the cupboard on Saturday is not a good sign; I should've eaten it in a day or two in regular piggish-Robyn fashion. Of course, it doesn't taste bad (hello, it's chocolate), but I found it overly sweet. On the upside, it has the delicious, unique salty undertone of fleur de sel that goes well with caramel, as opposed to flat out throat-clogging sweetness. Maybe I'd enjoy one of JPH's dark chocolate bars more.
I went to Auvray Bakery, one of the gazillion bakeries in the vicinity of AUP, on Tuesday with nothing in paticular that I wanted to try. Rows of miniature cakes, cookies, and simple breakfast goods (because you really should eat pain au chocolat for breakfast every morning) attacked me from all sides within the bakery's golden interior. Just so you know, most bakeries in Paris visibly radiate with the love of baked carbs.
I left with a large lemon macaron and a molleux au chocolat (better known in English as chocolate fondant cake). The food pyramid weeps for me.
Yes, I sure love my ginormous macarons.
This macaron was unfortunately just okay. It was a smidge too dry (displayed though over-crispiness and chewiness) and the lemon flavor was very faint. I did like the cream though, of which there was a substantial amount (too little filling makes me sad; thankfully I've rarely seen it). On the whole, it was an enjoyable macaron eating experience...just not one I'd go through again.
Just so you can see something different, here's an aerial macaron shot. Har har. God, I must be bored.
I've never encountered a substandard molleux au chocolat. Admittedly, I haven't eaten many of them, but this dessert doesn't lend itself to as much experimentation as the multi-flavored macaron since it only comes in one flavor: chocolate lava explosion heaven. After popping it in the microwave for a few seconds to better liquefy its chocolate-filled belly, the top cracked slightly by the force of its melted innards. Light spoon poke-age slowly released the rest of the thick, chocolate goo. Oh jesus....so damn tasty. It's certainly not a light dessert, but it's not as heavy or rich as you may think it is. Or maybe it is and my stomach just can't tell. Probably the latter.
On Friday I went back to Auvray (you have to visit a place multiple times to get the right feel for it, you know) and bought a baguette and a palmier. The baguette was, again, just okay. Crust was too soft, innards were pretty fluffy...actually, maybe most baguettes are like this. It's just my preference anyhoo; surely not bad (I embrace all my baguette-like friends), just not one I'd eat again. The palmier was roughly the size of a satellite dish, which attracted me at first until I realized that any cookie-like thing the size of a satellite dish is just too damn big.
It sure is beautiful though, eh? A sea of undulating, crispy, layered dough. I've never seen a palmier quite like this before. And now comes the sad part: it wasn't very good. The layers were too crispy and reminded me of those flat fried noodle snacks you sometimes get at Chinese restaurants with a side of sweet and sour sauce. Know what I'm talking about? This palmier had about the same crispiness level. Crispiness is fine as long as ease of chewability is also high, which wasn't the case in this palmier. [sigh] I hate saying bad things about beautiful food. It didn't look like it was over-baked, but it tasted too dry. Maybe it just needed another stick of butter evenly slathered between every layer. Ooh yes. [goes into a daze]
Rather than go into detail, I'm just gonna shove a bunch of photos in your face. THERE. [SHOVE SHOVE] I wandered over to Patisserie du Sud Tunisien with my housemate, Valerie, after we took the metro to St. Michel to visit a store that ended up being closed. Not wanting to go straight back home, we wandered around the food-filled streets around rue de la Huchette.
You can't miss it; it's got lots of people, lots of bright signs, and lots of juicy, compressed meat stacks for makin' gyros.
Yes, Valerie is adorable and photogenic proof that I actually interact with other humans. She got a piece of baklava that I think she really liked until she realized she needed to buy a bottle of water to wash it down.
I bought a tasty cigar-shaped thingy made of rolled up phyllo dough filled with chopped up nut stuff and sweet syrup that dripped out like leaky pipe. Hey, what's that on my foot?...oh, syrup! Crap! Yummy, but beware of its messiness. I also got a green pistachio cookie that didn't taste as good as I thought it would. It tasted of...texture. Yet another dessert that would benefit from an additional stick of butter. [sigh]
La Grande Epicerie
Dear Whoever Makes the Rules at La Grande Epicerie:
I know you told me not to, but I took a photo anyway. BITE ME.
Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world that I was scolded by a woman at La Grande Epicerie for taking a photo of their bounteous macaron display. (I wasn't as lucky as Tita, sigh!) Otherwise, I would've felt compelled to take dozens of photos, which would've taken up a lot of my precious "staring at photoshop and editing all my photos for a long enough time so that my butt molds to this chair" time. It's a cool store. Alas, all you get is that outside shot. Looks nice, eh?
I made the completely non-nutritionally balanced purchase of yogurty delights and chocolate bars. Yogurt was damn tasty (Vanilla La Fermière is my favorite) and the Weiss milk chocolate hazelnut bar was one of the tastiest milk chocolate bars I've ever eaten. It was crisp, light, clean, smooth and milky without just being sweet. If you've ever eaten milk chocolate that required a bucket of water to wash down the sugary goo-like mass in your esophagus, this bar is nothing like that. I think there may be many people who like chocolate, but see milk chocolate as some kind of lesser relative to dark chocolate that taints the holy name of "chocolate". Milk chocolate may not provide all those little little nuances in flavor or whatever it is that people are looking for, but it can be damn good. APPRECIATE THE MILK CHOCOLATE FOR WHAT IT IS, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
La Grande Epicerie also sells Fluff. I know that's what you crave in Paris; don't you dare lie to me. They also sell Ocean Spray cranberry jelly, which will be nice for when I get a hankering for a log of fruity gelatin that makes a pleasing ffwwshkp sound upon de-suctioning itself out of its semi-bacteria free cell. That is the definition of yums.
And they have a lot of other things, but I don't quite recall everything without the photographic references.
45 rue Cler, 7th
Metro: La Tour Maubourg (8)
NYC macaron list
Apparently an NYC macaron location list is sorely needed. Here's mine in no particular order plus pictoral evidence:
- Fauchon (I don't think they allowed photos inside..hohum)
- Bouchon Bakery
- La Maison du Chocolat
- Bouley Market
Update (10/20): It turns out that Bouley doesn't make macarons anymore! BUMMER! Otherwise the bakery is pretty awesome from what I've had. They sell the same stuff I've seen here. Check out Tina's post about the best macarons in NYC. Awesome.
There are more places that make them, but those are the main ones. Financier's are probably the least expensive and Bouley's or Fauchon's are most expensive. Bouley has certainly made the largest macaron I've ever seen (it's a cake for god's sake). Bouchon's is surprisingly inexpensive. Outside of NYC in the tri-state area, you may find macarons at Wegmans, an insanely awesome supermarket chain. It was the first place I ever tried macarons (which they call nicolettes for some reason) and even though I haven't had it in a long time, I'd still say it's one of the best I've had.
So to all you New Yorkers, fulfil your macaron cravings! It's not that hard. If you find a particularly good one at a place I haven't mentioned, let me know. I can think of three other places that have them if not all the time then at least...some of the time—Something Sweet bakery in the East Village, Cha-An teahouse in the East Village, that Italian bakery in Chelsea Market—but I don't know if they're worth trying.
And to answer someone who's probably thinking this, no, I haven't been to Pierre Herme yet. Yes, I will go at some point.
for no reason...
A bunch of people liked that photo, so I thought I'd share it for those of you who don't look at my flickr account. The fountains at Place de la Concorde were lit with blue lights last Saturday for Nuit Blanche, which I semi-attended until I realized that being alone while wandering around high human-dense areas sucks ass. I touched upon that in my last entry. Woo.
...And this Saturday wasn't very different. Being alone gives me more reason to think about why the Earth would be better without me. But at least I can contribute a macaron list. Har har. Seriously, who spends their Saturday night writing a blog entry and doing homework? At least I'm listening to good music. And that I'm not suicidal, or else I would've had many oppotunities to throw myself into a metro track today.
I'd talk about what I do in school, but I don't want to share the pain of higher education with you right now. I did horribly on my first computer science quiz (it didn't have many questions and I made really stupid mistakes), pretty horribly on my first psychology assignment that I obviously spent too much time on (but have the opportunity to revise and get a better grade on), spend hours in frustation while doing my computational environment homework (even with the help of my dedicated teacher, who checks his email even while in the French countryside), and have less aptitude at ancient history than plankton. How strange that out of all my classes, French, which I've barely absorbed, is the most carefree for me. But hey, I can screw that up too.
Also, I might need a root canal, but I wouldn't know until I visit the dentist, and I can't do that until Monday when the dentist is actually open.
Alright, I should work on that psychology assignment.
(I hate being uncessarily depressing, but that's the way I am. It might just be the core of my being, aside from the crazy randomness and happy bakery dancing I sometimes display. Thus why I shouldn't have friends. It's a crappy cycle though, as having less friends makes me more depressed, leading to the feeling of not wanting any friends. And I don't mean for this to look like a call for friends. Most of my readers are so insanely nice, I feel the need to warn you that if you really knew me, you probably wouldn't like me. ...I could explain that, but it would take too long.)