Friday, August 30, 2013

Premiere Pression Provence (PPP)

Navettes de Provence are special boat-shaped biscuits I tasted when I visited Aix last June.
I've been waiting for the Premiere Pression Provence (PPP) to reopen after the summer hols...
1 rue Lassus, 75019
You walk inside and feel like you're immediately in Provence...it has a lovely ambience
And lots of drool-worthy products
I'm seriously tempted to buy this crème d'amande just for the pretty jar, though I bet I wouldn't have any trouble devouring the contents...
Priemiere Pression Provençe is a chain that acts as direct distributor between producer and customer. You can even fill your own bottle with a variety of olive oils (I was going to say just like peanut butter but it doesn't seem appropriate...ahem).
A big antique oil grinding wheel in the window...
I was tempted last visit by the sound of these tartines just like I ate in Aix
Géraldine created a sandwich for me with delicious black olive tapenade and freshly sliced jambon (I forgot to ask its origins...). Plus a taste of their pure apple juice (you can also get wine).
She proudly showed off her tablier made of REAL de Nimes/denim fabric.
It belonged to her paternal grand-pere, a charcutrier in Burgundy.
The bread of my sandwich came from patisserie de l'Eglise just across the square under eglise Saint Jean Babtiste
I'd taken a look since they've just reopened as well. They have adorable 'eclair' sandwiches using the PPP's tapenade so it's a nice exchange. I shall definitely return!
Geraldine recommended I check out Fromagerie Beaufils nearby...
Clearly you shouldn't buy cheese based on its cute goat labels. I still have a lot to learn about fromage...hmmm. I'm really enjoying my quartier. How neighborly everyone is, happy to share information and addresses. The cookies at the top are traditional Navettes made of flour, sugar, egg, butter and fleur d'oranger that goes back to 1781. The recipe for this version was revised by no less than Pierre Hermé. Walking back home, you can't miss how everyone is enjoying the glorious weather we're having. It's all delicious!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Le Bonbon au Palais - Guimauve 101

Trying to match the delicate pale colors of French guimauve (or what we call marshmallows) is not nearly as easy as eating them.
As someone with a long history of roasting marshmallows while my parents were out of the house, I assumed I'd some background knowledge of guimauve. This proved not to be the case at all.
Let the leçon begin students.
The only appropriate schoolroom is at Le Bonbon au Palais at 19, rue Monge 75005 Metro;Cardinal Lemoine.
No other site in Paris offers the variety of guimauve. I checked. And you can buy just one piece if you're unsure about making a commitment just like when you were a kid at your local candy store.
Professor Georges is in deep contemplation preparing the lesson...
The traditional Chamalow found in most shops are from Arnaud Soubeyran in Montelimar. You can find them in the US too. On the right, Guimauve fantasie (meaning faux or fake) from Montpelier. Both are made (horrors - industriale) by machine in a kind of taffy-like fashion. They have about 10% egg white in them and tend to be seche or dry and elastic. I rather like them since they remind me of the chewy Campfire marshmallows of my childhood though none came in framboise or citron flavors...
Georges handles each guimauve rope like it was a precious strand of pearls. I could use a drawer full of these...
These pillowy big squares have no animal gelatin in them so are perfect for vegetarians. And they have no whites of egg either or blanc d'oeuf (which sounds like 'blond-Ouf' to me when Georges says it).
These even bigger squares are made with a new special artisanale technique from Pascal Jeanblanc, Toulouse. They are beaten to a fair thee well (by hand of course...) till a huge bubble thing forms. So they are much more airy in texture (nothing like my crisped, blackened marshmallows but the flavors are intense and not overwhelmingly sugary with flavors like banane, coco, framboise, poire, citron, chocolat, vanilla, rose, cerise, fleur d'oranger.
And as mentioned you can buy just one and try it.
These are cutup versions of the strips
I felt I should check out a few other candy shops in town...
I always love La Mere du Famille. This branch is on rue Montorgeuil.
They just have the strip version tied up in knots. They have many other traditional regional French candies as well...
Patisserie Ble Sucre is back from summer hols and open. Hooray! when I spotted squares of guimauve I asked where they were from. The chef was standing by and announced, all their candies are made on site a la maison. Ooopla. These were of the airy, fluffy variety by the way. I got a pack of fleur d'orange (5 euros).
Here is my haul or rather this was my haul. Most of it has disappeared...hmmm.
Georges happily gift-wrapping someone's candies. This year's Salon du Chocolat (end of October) will have an annex with all the French confisieurs separate and Georges is in charge. I attempted to roast one of the small elastic guimauve but it tasted like Franprix matches. Ugh. Much better to go with the real thing unroasted.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nantes

What I bought and ate in Nantes.
You've got to go to Nantes to get to Machecoul and the fromagerie Beillevaire and then back to return to Paris. A few hours exploring seemed essential. I wish I'd taken a few days...
There's a Jardin des Plantes adjacent to the train station. Turns out Nantes (Capitol of Atlantique-Loire) has been named one of Europe's most livable cities and ranks 36th globally and 4th best in France. Maybe I should move there?
Time for a quick charge around  town to search out the caramels au beurre sale.
The Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne is easy walking distance from the train station
And a good place for a picnic.
The streets are narrow and full in allyways worth exploring
I meant to visit the cathedrale St.-Pierre St.-Paul to keep A strong Belief in wicker happy but shops full of local products lining the Place St.-Pierre beckoned.
Naturally I'd checked my Atlas of France Gourmand before setting off north, but so far no chickens of Loue, rillettes du Mans or Eels (thank goodness) had crossed my path.
Petit Beurre are everywhere since 1886, when created by Louis Lefevre-Utile in Nantes - more info here about the brand. You can make your own petit beurres at Clotildes.
You'll find them in every form and some are calorie-free.
La Trinitaine called out to me - a haven of biscuits, sweets and savory items.
It's obligatory you buy some salt when you're in Bretagne. Preferably the finely ground 'fleur' de Guerande used for seasoning after cooking. The chunkier salt is used in cooking.
Shelves and shelves of goodies await but how to choose?
I've seen Creme de Salidou on the shelves of G.detou in baking supply haven so how bad could it be? There's none left in case you were wondering....
I wish I'd bought some bath salts but the sweet tooth won out with crepes instead (also now gone..).
I found the grinder for course salt in the train station relay.
A menu in the street looked awfully tempting if one had more time - all seafood.
When buying products in France keep an eye out for these symbols denoting high quality. Have you been to Nantes? Do tell all. Shall I go back? Do take a look at I Prefer Paris' interview of yours truly.