Paris: Day 4, meal 4

April 14, 2023 • 11:45 am

I don’t know what the magic ingredient is in Paris that’s making me sleep more: distance from Chicago, lack of responsibilities, large quantities of good food, or all of the above. But for some reason my insomnia has largely disappeared: I slept over 10 hours last night. Perhaps I should move here!

Getting up late means a lack of morning activities, so I have nothing cultural or touristic to report today: only food. There is, however, an exhibition of felines at the Natural History Museum and, as a reader mentioned, an exhibition of prehistoric art at the Musée de l’Home (“the Museum of Man”, a name that would already have been changed in America).

Today, after sleeping late, doing my morning ablutions, and writing a Hili post, it was already time for lunch. Today we went back to an old favorite that I first discovered when I did my sabbatical here in 1989, and it’s been consistently very good: L’Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes It’s very close to Republique and also to Cartet. But it’s not well known to tourists, and we saw none today. I’m surprised at this. given the restaurant’s quality, but it is a bit out of the way and hard to spot. As you see below, only the tiny sign tells you where it sits on a deserted back street.

Here’s the restaurant with Winnie for scale (she’s about 5′ 5″).

Interior. Not my photo, but one from from The Fork.

We dined with two of Winnie’s local friends: Irina and Konstantin (originally from Russia, but are gravitating here (they bought a flat) after they retired from jobs in the Bay Area of California). It was a delightful lunch with good food, good company, and good ambience.

I have never had a meal here that was less than very good, and the price is right (39 Euros for a big three-course lunch, without wine). They’re famous for their cassoulet, which is both delicious and comes in HUGE portions that no single person (save “The Whale” in the movie I saw on the flight over) could finish. See below for other dishes (the menu is here).

Everything here is from a meal for four.

First, the SALADE FRISÉE AUX LARDONS, CROÛTONS À L’AIL CONFIT, OEUF BIO POCHÉ (description in caps taken from the menu). This is the best salade frisée I’ve ever have, with delicious fresh greens, a hot poached egg on top, and, best of all, plenty of thick-cut bacon along with the croutons. As you see, there are more lardons than croutons. For many people this salad would be a meal. Winnie and I each had one:

Irina and Konstantin, being Russian and hence brought up on herring, ordered it as an entrée: RAMEQUIN DE HARENGS POMMES À L’HUILE:

Wines are served in 50 cl. “pots”.  We had one of Brouilly and one of Pouilly-Fuissé:

I decided to skip the cassoulet (for the first time) and try a steak: the ENTRECÔTE (400 GR ENV) DE BOEUF FRANÇAIS, CRÈME AU POIVRE DE MADAGASCAR, GRATIN DAUPHINOIS.  I slathered the sucker with pepper sauce and dug in (it was cooked “saignant” or “bloody”). The steak was good (not as good as the onglet at Chez Denise), and the potatoes were spectacular:

Irina and Winnia had a risotto for the plat: RISOTTO “CARNAROLI” AUX ASPERGES VERTES DE PROVENCE DU DOMAINE SAINT-VINCENT. It’s asparagus season here, and it’s on many menus.

The house speciality: CASSOULET DE L’AUBERGE. This is about half of what was in the copper pot (see below) but most of the meat. Nobody ever finishes a single portion. Konstantin pronounced it excellent. It is!

And the Remains of the Dish, which Konstantin didn’t finish:

Desserts: Winnie’s MILLE FEUILLE À LA VANILLE DE MADAGASCAR ET CARAMEL AU BEURRE SALÉ (a bit out of focus; I used ambient light in all photos):


And my TARTE TATIN, CRÈME FRAÎCHE D’ISIGNY, before and after application of the crème fraîche. There are few finer French desserts than a tarte Tatin (an apple tart) served warm with crème fraîche. Ice cream would be too much, and whipped cream too light and sweet. The tart and heavy crème is just what it needs.

And now I am full once more, and hoping to sleep well again tonight.

28 thoughts on “Paris: Day 4, meal 4

  1. My cassoulet days are over. I used to love preparing and serving it to guests but it was difficult to get the beans tender instead of soft, and also difficult to get the right ingredients (lamb and sausage)_ here in Barbarian Nation (good lamb and sausage). The US can never brag of food as long as it continues to shun butter for baking; apparently few Americans really care at all. Of course I used goose fat, which I always saved from Thanksgiving dinner or duck fat from Long Island ducklings, long a local food from farms on eastern LI. We once made the mistake of eating a Canada goose we found dead on the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens….really really too tough (not to mention plucking it). And forget good lamb in the US…..try lamb from Australia or, better still, from a South African ranch, the most tender and tastiest of all.

      1. The criterion I was given (by an alternating poacher/ gamekeeper) was to hang the goose by your back door by a bootlace round the neck. When you come out of the door to find the goose on the floor, it’s ready to cook.

    1. Everything’s better with butter (or bacon(or darkchocolate). I prefer NZ lamb to our local Canuck variety. Never tried to eat Canada goose😹Usually keep some duck fat in my fridge. Just made my bf a Lotus biscoff cake for his birthday on Sunday. It called for 1 POUND of butter (cake and filling and frosting) but I cut it down to 3/4 lb. OINK…

      1. I’ve found that in most recipes, it’s easy to cut down on cooking oil/fat. Recipe calls for 1/4 cup, use 3T, even 2T works in most recipes. Baking is another story, so kudos for your success, but cooking proteins and most vegetables, no need for all da fat, I say.

        Regarding lamb, hard to get good cuts ’round here…”good” meaning shank and shoulder. I love ground lamb, at least I can get that easily, and use for Indian dried meat and mid-east kabobs. When I go out of the way to get a shoulder, I grind that for the best ground lamb has to offer.

        On a side note, thanks, Merilee, for being a great gustatory virtual friend over the years. You turned me on to Ottolenghi many years ago- what a treasure trove. Just felt I needed to say thanks.

        1. You’re most welcome, Mark! Would you believe I now have 8 Ottolenghi cookbooks (crazy, huh) and now cook 2 or 3 new recipes/week. Challenging and fun and tasty. Lots of eggplant, especially smoky and burned😋 As for my bf’s cake (still untasted as a whole), I just made a half batch of the frosting, so only 1 stick of butter for that. There were all kinds of picky directions, as in freeze the cake layers for half an hour then frost lightly and put back in freezer, for another half hour. I had no patience for that, thus the inelegant look of the final product. I assume it will still taste good.
          PS Love ground lamb, too, and shanks in the winter. Our local store sometimes carries small portions of marinated leg (sometimes frozen) which goes great on the bbq.

          1. 8?! Whoa, you’ve doubled my 4 which I’m still cooking through. Yes, I love his technique of charring veggies: eggplant, zukes, tomatoes, etc. He’s brilliant. If I ever make it to London again, I’m hitting his restaurants!

            1. Me, too! (About the veggies plus going to London) I did make his burned zuke something-or-other. Lost a lot when I removed the skin. I made a note to myself to do it with eggplant next time. Do you know Nik Sharma? He has at least two great cookbooks.

  2. They’re famous for their cassoulet, which is both delicious and comes in HUGE portions that no single person (save “The Whale” in the movie I saw on the flight over) could finish.

    I thought Mr. Aronofsky’s film was very good, and Brendan Frasier’s performance in the title role well-deserving of his Oscar win. But the film seems a bit on the nose as the viewing choice for someone on their way to an eating binge. 🙂

    1. Yes it is Musée de l’Homme, translates into “Mankind” in this context, so not so much of a problem. In London the Jeffreys Museum was indeed rename into the Museum of the Home for founder bad connections reasons, but that is just a coincidence.

  3. I’ve got to start eating more before reading your daily Parisian food diaries. Looking at the pictures makes my stomach growl.

  4. “But for some reason my insomnia has largely disappeared”

    It never occurred to me before now, but I wonder if the natural frequency of the building or location matters. Seems it might. Time of day as well – trains, subways, noise.

    Then there’s light pollution.

    I guess that settles it – Paris, France – not a bad home address!

    1. Natural frequency of what?
      One hypothesis (which I never paid much attention to, because we used multiple frequency equipment, and work power was always variable) that I have heard is flicker from lighting at 50 Hz (Europe, Asia, some of Africa, parts of Japan) versus 60Hz (NA, parts of Japan, don’t know about South America).

  5. Jerry, maybe the French cuisine loaded with probiotics is helping your gut biome flourish and hence helping sleep quality. Then there’s the stellar company, all that walking, and you don’t have to rush to get Hili Dialogue out first thing.

  6. I am 150 miles from Paris, in Burgundy, but as luck will have it, between three excellent French restaurants. French food is so good that the French language will survive…!
    The French used to be a bit rude to foreigners, but that is largely gone.
    I really enjoy prof. Ceiling-Cat’s love for good food. Always a highly intelligent approach to food…!

  7. Have you and Winnie seen a great deal of protests in Paris? That’s all they show in the news. If you already addressed this in a previous post, please ignore this comment.

  8. “…making me sleep more: distance from Chicago, lack of responsibilities, large quantities of good food, or all of the above.”
    may I add “as happy as a pig in s**t” in the best possible way! as Kenny Everett used to say, I know I would be. Bliss on a plate!
    Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett were among Britain’s most flamboyant, outrageous and best-loved entertainers. For nearly 15 years, the lead singer of Queen and the zany radio DJ and television comedian found their lives and destinies intertwined. Meeting in 1974 on Kenny’s radio show the pair instantly hit it off.

  9. A wonderful spread. 39 Euros for a meal like that seems like an excellent deal. The last fine meal I had here in the US worked out to about $150 per person, though that did include 2 bottles of wine. 4 bottles actually, but we brought 2 with us.

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