The nice thing about not having to work Metro-Boulot-DoDo (Train-Work-Sleep) Monday-Friday is that any day can be a "week-end". Today I did what most people will do tomorrow and Sunday, I started with a trip to the Banette boulangerie around the corner for an almond and chocolate croissant.
The interior is filled with almond paste and dark chocolate. I cut it into quarters thinking I would not finish it, but that just made for daintier bites:) I savoured it slowly but I ate the entire thing! Amazingly enough I have lost weight since I've been here because even in the rain, I've been walking for hours a day and up five flights of stairs to visit friends. The best diet in the world is an active way of life!
Speaking of friends, I met several for lunch at a cafe owned by one of their friends. As in any city, friends of friends are the best connections for making life better. Honesty is another facet of a healthy life and I was warned that Cafe Frappé was neither great nor horrible, but a good value for the price of under 15 Euros for a lunch time special combination of two to three items. Since it's in the middle of a very business centric arrondissement, it draws a huge lunch time crowd. We were one of only two tables of women out to lunch in a sea of businessmen on a lunch break. We were treated to a nice complimentary tapenande as soon as we sat down.
I chose the entrée and plat for 14,40 Euros (about $20 USD) and here that means you get a beginning course and a main course. The entrée (beginning course) was tomato with mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic. The tomato was not completely ripe nor especially flavorful, but the presentation was lovely.
One of us ordered one of the large plate salads composed of tomatoes, mozzarella, ham, and drizzled with balsamic. It was a huge (for France) portion which she barely finished.
For my plat (main course) I ordered the confit duck leg with orange sauce over mixed vegetables. The duck was tender and moist and the vegetables a mélange of eggplant and zucchini. I didn't care for the sauce which was almost like a mild sweet and sour with a light orange taste.
Everyone else got the salmon with the same vegetables I had with my duck leg. Two of my friends thought their salmon was great, but the third found hers was overcooked. With a flurry of orders during the lunch rush in an approximately 40 seat space, getting every dish on point with one cook is amazing enough that one slightly overcooked plate is still pretty good.
The cafe gourmandise was everyone's favorite (it can be combined with a main dish in the formule instead of the tomato and mozzarella entrée). The small round dish in the upper left is a "brownie" serving, still warm and a nice bite for a chocolate fix, the larger cup to the right is a fruit crumble with pineapple which was everyone's favorite, and the macaron came in different flavors for everyone who ordered dessert.
Market days are usually three times a week here and they sell everything from lobsters to linens. Unlike the farmer's markets in Los Angeles, these are covered due to events like rain and snow, but they are in the middle of town, completely set up by 8:30 and taken down by 1pm. I bought beautiful muscadet black grapes for about 6 Euros a kilo (which equals about $4 USD a pound) and they have cooked foods like roasted free range chickens, paella, and charcuterie if you want to pack a picnic.
I think I counted 10 rows of stalls with four aisles across in this market, which continues up the street on Sundays for another 4 blocks from the center of the town square.
Flowers are considered a part of life here, so there are beautiful blossoms for sale all over town.
The "Ham of Paris" or white ham can be ordered "chiffonade" or thinly sliced as a great snack or part of a sandwich you build with some butter or mustard. The basic sandwich sold here in boulangeries is just ham and butter, so don't expect a mile high tower of meat and additions.
The fish mongers have prepared "salads" of shrimp and mussels and calamari which are great take away items for appetizers or add ons to a lettuce salad.
A slice of brie de Meaux with a nice glass of Bordeaux and a bit of a baguette tradition, just three of the reasons why I love it here!
Now I just have to decide what I want for dinner:)