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Nanashi Bento Paris Dining Gets Creative

My job frequently requires me to eat elaborate three-course meals at lunch and dinner several days in a row. It’s something I have trained myself to do over the years and my stomach rarely utters a peep of complaint, as long as I don’t overdo the wine (not as easy as it sounds). I am grateful, though, when I come across a restaurant that acts as a kind of cleansing interlude, replenishing my body with crunchy vegetables and wholesome grains.

Until recently Rose Bakery served that purpose: after munching my way through one of their colorful mixed salad plates, I always felt ready to face another multi-course feast. But as this café has grown ever more popular and expensive I have started looking for alternatives, and Nanashi has become my new haunt. Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 7 Comments »

Au Merveilleux de Fred: A Meringue Bakery in Paris

While some French food enthusiasts cherish the macaron, the piled high buttercream cupcake or the newly-enamored whoopie pie, I remain an original meringue fan. Whenever I pick up my baguette in Paris, I always add a simple gigantic meringue to my order, as every bakery keeps a few at the ready. A lot of egg whites and sugar, whipped and baked, meringues are an old standby and perfectly resilient. We think the new Au Merveilleux de Fred bakery, a spot heavily dedicated  to meringue, will change all that soon. Thanks to our friend Rosa Jackson for sharing it with the world and, hopefully, making it au courant again. – Maggie

When my friend Maniko casually mentioned a meringue shop in her neighborhood, I stopped her in mid-sentence.

“Did you say a meringue shop? As in a shop selling only meringues?” Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 26 Comments »

On Being a Vegetarian in Paris: Tien Hang Bistrot & more

Rosa Jackson, the fabulous food writer and chef, is based in Nice where she conducts market tours and succulent Provençal cooking classes. She travels to Paris frequently (as one must) in order to keep up with the restaurant scene. Here she checks out Tien Hang, a true haven for Parisian vegetarians!

Rosa Jackson Vegetarian Restaurant Paris
Rosa Jackson’s vegetarian son Sam in Zen restaurant

A few months ago, my son Sam declared himself a vegetarian. Now, if we lived in California this might not sound unusual, but this is France, proud land of steak-frites and saucisson, andouillette and tête de veau. What made his decision even more surprising is that both of his parents are meat-eaters. If much of my cooking relies on fresh vegetables from the market, I also can’t deny having a passion for steak tartare.

At first I wasn’t sure how to react. He had been making noises about becoming vegetarian ever since watching a cooking show on the television channel Arte in which a group of 12 to 14 year-olds visited a rabbit farm to see where meat came from. Picture the poor bunnies dangling from hooks, then cut to the skinned rabbits a few seconds later, ready to be chopped up for lapin à la moutarde. Who could really blame Sam?

For two years (he saw the show when he was five) I persuaded him that eating a little meat and fish is not a bad thing if you choose it carefully. But, as he got older, he became convinced that anything with a heart and a brain shouldn’t die in order to feed him. When he started to categorically refuse meat and fish, I decided not to fight it.

Rosa-Jackson-Vegetarian-resto-Paris-Stuffed-tofu1
Rosa Jackson’s Stuffed Tofu – Tien Hang

I quickly discovered, though, that becoming vegetarian in France isn’t so simple. First, there was the school’s reaction. The teacher and canteen supervisors came to me saying, “Is he serious?” When I assured them that he was, they frowned and shook their heads. In France, school canteens operate on the principle that every child should eat everything, or at least try everything, unless they have a religious or health reason not to. The upside of this is that France is a nation of unfussy eaters. The downside is that la différence is not welcomed.

I went to see the économe, the woman in charge of collecting money for the canteen, and explained the “problem.” She gave me a sympathetic yet puzzled look.

“Vegetarianism is not a recognized diet in France,” she said. “We’ll have to put everything on the plate even if he doesn’t eat it.”

Thus, my son who doesn’t want to animals to die for his sake still gets served meat or fish every day at school, and has to eat around it.

As any vegetarian who has travelled to France knows, eating in restaurants is also a challenge. Fortunately, I live in Nice where the Italian influence means that gnocchi and fresh pasta with pistou or tomato sauce are nearly always on the menu. Nice also has one of the best vegetarian restaurants in France, La Zucca Magica, where children under 12 eat for free. Paris bistros are a bit more problematic, but since Sam is not fussy in other ways he will settle for almost anything that doesn’t contain animal protein (as long as goat cheese is not involved). He is also thrilled to eat miso soup and vegetable maki at my favorite Japanese restaurant, Zen.

Last night, as we were meeting a friend who has also gone off meat (or at least non-organic meat) after reading Eating Animals, I decided to see if we could find a good vegetarian restaurant in Paris. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 27 Comments »

Rosa Jackson stays in Erica’s Haven in Paris Montmartre Flat

Rosa Jackson, the fabulous food writer and chef, is based in Nice where she conducts market tours and succulent Provençal cooking classes. She travels to Paris frequently (as one must) in order to keep up with the restaurant scene. Last year, she stayed at Haven in Paris’ very own Houdon flat. This lovely write-up ensued on her blog

Vacation Rental Paris Montmartre Houdon

I have a vision of my perfect Paris apartment. It would be high up – stairs don’t scare me – with a small balcony and a sweeping view over the zinc rooftops, punctuated here and there with church spires and glimmering domes. There would be parquet floors, big windows on both sides (east and west, ideally) and a sunny kitchen that opens onto the living space. Oh, and it would have central heating.

When I first laid eyes on Erica Berman’s apartment just south of Abbesses Métro station, I felt slightly breathless. That might have had something to do with the five flights of stairs required to reach it, but it also came from the certainty that this was my dream apartment. I loved the antique table and mismatched chairs, I loved the contemporary paintings and well-tended plants, and I especially loved the vintage wooden pâtisserie sign above the kitchen, which Erica found at a market in Provence.

Vacation Rental Paris Apartment Montmartre Houdon

It’s no surprise that Erica’s flat should seem so effortlessly tasteful, given that she is the owner of the hippest apartment rental agency around: Haven in Paris. I first met Erica when she came to do one of my food tours in Nice, and I immediately realized that we had many things in common: our love of Paris, Provence and Italy (especially Liguria), our fondness for off-the-beaten track bed-and-breakfasts, and our insatiable curiosity about new Paris restaurants.

When I dropped by her Paris apartment before a meal at the nearby bistro Le Cul de Poule (here is a report on the Haven in Paris blog), she beckoned me onto the balcony for a glass of Italian wine. Erica has lived in Paris for 17 years and there is almost nothing she doesn’t know about the city, as proved by her frequently updated blog. We chatted about good and not-so-good meals she has had in the Pigalle and Montmartre area: her current favorites are Le Miroir (94 rue des Martyrs, 18th) and Guilo Guilo (8 rue Garreau, 18th), the second run by a renowned chef from Kyoto.

Vacation Rentals Paris Apartment Montmartre Houdon Continue Reading »

Posted in Homes, Parisian Living, Travel | 8 Comments »

Rosa Jackson Tests Pramil with Erica, A Favorite New Marais Neo-Bistrot

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Pramil with Rosa Jackson and Paule Caillat for a tasty dinner of refreshingly delicious, and reasonably priced French fare and excellent company. Pramil is a tiny bistro tucked away on a small side street in the hip Arts and Metiers neighborhood of Paris. I’m already plotting my return and thanks to Rosa’s great write up, I can re-live the savors and the experience until I’m able to find my way there again! — Erica.

PramilcutEBB

When it comes to restaurants, I’m not really that demanding. I want the basic ingredients to be seasonal and good. I want the cooking to show restraint: nothing puts me off more than an overly complicated plate. And I want the chef to have a heart that shines through in the food.

Sounds simple, right? Yet these three elements come together more rarely than you might think, even in Paris. That’s why a recent meal at Pramil felt so refreshing.

Pramil - Rosa JacksonRosa Jackson

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Tours and Classes | 2 Comments »