Galette redux

I’m an old hand at the crepe/galette thing now (tooth sucking noise). After my first attempt at galettes which did not fold like they do in Bretagne I tried another option which is to roll them like cannelloni which suits my more Italian style of cooking (not to mention being). Basically I made the same filling (different dinner guests). It worked. While it was good and looked good, it really does lack that je ne sais quoi that the folded Bretagnese galette with the fried egg had.

But now that I’ve got that mastered I can put the pan away for good. Basta!

I can toss this now

So I got this pan in Paris and finally used it—like 75 times—so I can put it in the back of my cupboard and forget about it until I decide to make crepes again sometime in the distant future and then I’ll have to spend a week trying to remember where I put it.


So I bought a crepe pan in Paris. I’m sure I can get the same pan on the internet but I was in Paris, and in the throws of the romance of Dehillerin, the fine and charming cookware store in Paris. I’ve been wanting to make galettes, the savory version of crepes for months now. I poached some chicken breast, made a mushroom sauce with sherry and thyme. Made the batter which is easy except that you use buckwheat flour (which isn’t hard but not something most people have on hand) and voila! They weren’t as foldy as they ought to be but they tasted fine.

I need to make them again before I put the pan away forever.

Post Paris

Although French people have the reputation of being unfriendly or downright impolite, there are times when they are very charming, like when complete and utter strangers stop at your table when you are served your meal and say “Bon appetit.” This happens quite often. Or on the metro or the bus when young people get up to give their seats to older people. As happened to me a few times. Shoot me.

Someone knits these little hats and puts them on the sidewalk barriers. It’s adorable. And funny. I considered taking one (Presumably the person who makes these would welcome the opportunity to make more) but then, well, they are not as tidy as one might like and who knows who or what the hell has touched or been schmeared on them.

Parisians have great knockers. 

Sorry for that.

When I first came to Paris, Les Halles was still the food purveying center of Paris. Butchers, trucks, slaughtered animals, flowers, blood, vegetables, etc. At the time I thought it was pretty wonderful, now I am not so sure it would be charming but it makes no difference since this all has been moved far away outside of Paris where it is easier to get to and no one has to look at buckets of offal. In the meantime it has been replaced by a sprawling and strangely glorious shopping center that feels like the inside of a beehive or perhaps paper wasp’s nest. This is the first time I have ever seen it since it’s been under construction for decades. I don’t know how long it will last as there was almost no one in it. If you happen to use the Les Halles Metro stop, as we did, you can get ensnared in miles upon miles of confusing tunnels, escalators, elevators, ramps and platforms. It is not easy but it would be preferable to walking in sleet I suppose.

St Joan of Arc 

Dehillerin, not once but twice (in as many days)…first reconnaissance, and then the actual purchase. As if his apartment building isn’t already teetering on the edge of collapse from the weight of the copper pots he currently owns.

The obligatory chocolate shop explorations

The hotel room was so small you had to open the window and sit on the sill. 

The toilet, even smaller.

The new Russian Orthodox cathedral in Paris was a huge letdown. It looks spectacular on the website but in fact you can only see a little room that holds 4 or 5 icons, and a set of doors. There is also a fairly substantial gift shop selling among other things books about Russian saints who appear to have suffered a great deal. While we were there a priest in a filthy cassock, a long, thin, greasily unkempt beard, and a massive, ornate cross hanging around his neck came whizzing through blessing the bobbing, mumbling adherents who were crossing themselves frantically reminding me of a scene from some lugubrious movie except that it was bright and cheery rather than dark and smoky as I tend to think of Orthodox churches.

Achingly beautiful moments

A Painting by Chagall 

Achingly awful cigarette smoke always. 

Three, possibly four packs of cigarettes. Seriously?!

Paris nights. Chez Paul, gotta love it, bad waiters and all. Sorta like Paris.

Tale of two waiters

We had 3 nights in Paris, what this really means is 5 meals; 2 lunches, 3 dinners. Normally I would not eat much at lunch but when you’re walking 60 miles a day you can afford to eat lavishly at midday, if not drink so much, I mean you can but then you’ll be napping rather than traipsing to the Russian Orthodox cathedral after an invigorating few hours looking at broken pottery from the who-the-hell-cares-what siecle

Our first night for dinner we chose Chez Paul a restaurant I really, really like and have been to many times over 30 years. It’s very Parisian, not fancy, seriously charming, and good food. However, I have never been impressed with the service. It’s the kind of place where you call a month in advance to make a reservation and ask for the upstairs, en haut, when you finally come in they put you at a wobbly table for 1.5 in the service closet near the stairs to the crawl space and when you complain they put you between the bar the open sewer, and finally when you show them in the book you’ve reserved for upstairs they grudgingly take you up the stairs and pin you between 2 large groups and you have to share a seat with a Ukrainian matron with questionable hygiene. 

It’s France, this is part of the charm and beyond that, they’re French, they don’t even like each other so it comes with the territory. But after that rigmarole with the maitre d’ you want a vaguely decent waiter. The waiter can make the meal. Our waiter, though was about as much fun as a neck brace. Anytime you needed him semaphore would not have seemed an unreasonable method of gaining his attention. I’ve been a pallbearer with more enthusiasm. The meal itself was great and I’d go back. (It’s good food for blogthought at the very least) And to a certain extent it’s like childbirth, you forget the misery of the last time when you’re ready to do it all again.

The next day, after an exhaustive and exhausting walk through 40 km of copper cookware at Dehillerin, we had lunch at some little place, I dunno, near there. Frankly, I was going to just sit down on the curb and sob if we didn’t stop soon, and the place (Ok, it was Le Petit Marcel) was right there and they were serving, well, food. But then it turned out that the place was cute, very Belle Epoch, bright and lively. We were welcomed happily rather than grudgingly, were seated right in the thick of things rather than in the broom closet and the food appeared to be, at this point I didn’t really care if it was good or bad because the experience was shaping up to be a good one. 

For a few terrifying moments I thought I’d ordered salmon pasta and while I was determined to eat it, I was not going to be enjoying it with brio. But it turned out that the pink the RIMP gleefully pointed out to me as salmon [I’d ordered “what they’re having” at the next table] were carrots and it was good but nothing special. What was special though was the waiter. He was great, jolly, good at his job, welcoming, funny—after I’d ordered and he was walking away, he said, “à demain.” Which means I’ll see you tomorrow. Prompt courteous and tolerated my French. When he brought our meal he spent quite a bit of time fussily arranging the food on our table. When he was done I asked, “Donc, vous etes prêt?” So, are you ready now? He looked at me for a second and then burst out laughing. What more could I have asked for? The point is, I’d rather eat there with the just OK food and the jolly garçon than at Chez Paul with good food and the dead-to-the-world waiter. Come to think of it, I could be his pallbearer.

Good waiters trump (Oh how I hate to use that word) mediocre food any day of the week.

Chez Paul


Le Petit Marcel

Is it me?

This a non-stick pan. And not just any old non-stick pan, this is a pan I bought in the basement of Dehillerin the venerable old cookware store in Paris. Forced by the Royal Mounted Indian Food Police into the bowels of the store, we searched at length for the perfect non-stick pan. I dutifully bought this and 2 other pans, maybe 3 and schlepped them home. I will admit that for a long while they were very non-sticky. But something seems to have happened. 

Below are the remains of a fried egg. I left a good third of it in the pan. I don’t know. Is it me? It’s probably me.

Luggage overload

I brought three pots back to the US from France. Ashish lured me to E. Dehillerin, the famous cooks’ supply store in Paris and coerced me into buying 3 non-stick Mauviel pots, well, 2 pots and a pan. And a knife.

These are amazing non-stick pans. There is no Teflon. It is all metal and is very non-skicky. They do not match my other pots and pans, but I will have to live with that. A mix of stainless, copper, brushed stainless; All Clad, Le Creuset and Mauviel. I hope Julia Child would not disapprove.

These three pots and one lid (They did not have a lid for the larger same sized pot or pan) and the knife cost less than 200 euros (with the VAT refund). The non stick pan alone costs $154 dollars here. The lid is $55.

My luggage weighed 7 billion pounds. I also had 3 bottles of wine in my suitcase.