Our Place de la Réunion Market


This past Sunday we made a concerted effort to go to our local farmers' market at Place de la Réunion, just a couple blocks south of the Pére Lachaise cemetery.  We are lucky to have plentiful grocery shopping options very close to our apartment, but it's often easy to leave out the trip just a little further to the farmer's market.  I often forget how incredible it is that there are two markets per week at Place de la Réunion and two per week along the Cours de Vincennes, also a very short walk from home.  

Our first stop was at the flower shop where we had a thoroughly enjoyable few minutes checking out the offerings and listening in on some good banter about the importance of clipping stems at an angle.  We ended up getting a bunch of tulips, and the woman threw in a rose to make up for not being able to split up our bunch of flowers.

We also grabbed two large, round artichokes from Brittany.  Boiled in salted water with a bay leaf and lemon, served with a chunk of good, salted butter, these things can just about be a main course in hot weather.  If I had a grill, I would have bought at least four whole mackerel to eat after the artichokes.  One of my favorite summer foods is mackerel grilled on a wood fire with nothing more than large sea salt, aromatic herbs and maybe a wedge of lemon.  It's also worth noting that maquereau is the French word for both "mackerel" and "pimp".

A few years ago, while trying to motivate a group to go on a walk after a large meal, a friend said, "Come on, I don't think anyone ever regrets going on a walk."  I feel that way about farmers' markets; even on the rare days when I don't buy anything, it's still a rewarding experience.

On my list for next Sunday is the fish-shaped semi-aged goats' milk cheese from the Fermier Du Tarn.  Even if I can't grill a few mackerel at home, at least I know I can get cheese shaped like one.

Sharing is Caring

Here in Paris, we have found Chou Frisé ( Savoy Cabbage ) but no Tuscan/Dino Kale or Curly Kale. There seems to be an ongoing confusion between what Chou Frisé  and Kale are here. Although lots of people here think Chou Frisé is the name for Kale in french, it's actual name is Borécole. When recently asking a french friend where to find kale, the response was simply, " we feed that to the pigs". Perhaps Kale is too tough and bitter for it to ever make it to the plate in France. It's odd to me because it's a vegetable in classic dishes in many regions including Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and Portugal. 

Instead of trying to solve this Kale mystery, we decided to turn our attic guestroom into a temporary green house and grow it ourselves (thanks to a little care package sent over from our dear California friends). We currently have over 40 young Kale plants ( both Dino and Curly) as well as peppers like Jalapeño, Poblano and Serranos. Oh, and California poppies and Lupine too. Since we've only seen red poppies in France, we thought it would be fun to have a shock of orange California poppies for the sunny window boxes too.

If you live in Paris and have a sunny balcony, a hanging railing planter,  window box or courtyard, please contact us if you would like a trio of baby Kale plants (for free of course). I can set up a pick up location once I've got some interest, most likely at Candelaria or the Brachfeld gallery. We would like to spread the Kale love. Let's get this going!

A Resource for Modern Mothers

Babyccino Kids was created by three friends who are based in London, Paris and Amsterdam. Courtney, Emilie and Esther, with an additional contributor based in NYC, write about restaurants, shops, parks and all kinds of special finds and resources that have been personally visited and tested by them... tried and true.  They locate places that feature items such as sweet hand knit sweaters for little ones, hand crafted toys and organic pizza as well as boutique spas, tea rooms,  art museums, and beyond. They also add daily info on their site including recipes, craft activities,  support for soon-to-be's and has a vast online community for city moms.

The website also features travel guides for Paris, London, Amsterdam and New York with labeled maps and articles. The Paris guide features some deluxe addresses like a hairdresser that has a créche, playroom with a guardian, called Mum and Babe so mothers can chill and get their hair done while their children are being looked after.  Babyccino Kids is sure to be extremely useful for all the international mothers out there.

A Lamb Farm in Burgundy

Last weekend our friend Pierre introduced us to Guillaume Verdin, the young man who raises lamb at Ferme de Clavisy, just outside the town of Noyers-sur-Serein in Burgundy.  Entering the farm is an experience of pastoral idealism. After turning off the main country road, the driveway curves between small pastures with sheep and cows leisurely grazing. Crossing the gentle Serein river via a wooden bridge, the ancient stone farmhouse and first barns come into view, with the farm's fertile acres rolling out to the horizon. Founded and built by the Verdin family at the end of the 17th century, the farm has  stayed in the same family and made it's way to through the generations to Guillaume.

Stepping out of the car, we were greeted by a pack of friendly dogs of many sizes, who scrambled and loped around us as we walked into the first of two large bergeries that house the lambs and their parents. 

There is an unavoidable giddiness that comes with being at the center of a large building filled with newborn and very young lambs.  Amid the high-pitched, human-sounding bleats and the fumbling bounces and wobbles of newborns taking their first steps, it's easy to see why the lamb has secured a spot as the symbol of innocence, sweetness, and springtime joy.

Guillaume is very proud of the dietary regime he has designed for his flock.  Unlike many lamb farms that buy feed, Guillaume grows over sixty percent of what his lambs eat.  I had a hard time keeping up as he rattled off the ingredients in the mix, but I know it included hay, alfalfa, various grains and herbs, and even, I think, juniper berries.

After staring at the lambs for who knows how long (tearing Danielle away from the bouncing newborns was no easy feat), we walked back to the farmhouse and into the small shop.  From the walk-in refrigerator, Guillaume pulled down a whole lamb and we  selected two côtelettes which he nonchalantly butchered for us. On the way out, we couldn't resist a few dry-cured saucisson as well.

Later that night, Danielle masterminded the preparation of aforementioned côtelettes.  Seared in garlic butter, slathered in Edmond Fallot mustard, then crusted with fresh-cut herbs and breadcrumbs, finished in a hot oven.  There isn't any other way to put it: this is the best lamb I've ever eaten.

Just before leaving the farm we heard a faint yell from across the field and Guillaume sprinted off.  A few minutes later, he came back, soaked from the chest down.  The yell was from his mother, and the reason was that one of the wily young puppies had pushed a sheep into the river.  The sheep was unshorn, and had to be fished out of the water by Guillaume.  "This sheep still has thick wool, and the water can absorb and drown her," he explained.  The dopey happy puppies continued their endless scramble as we drove away, knowing that all's well at the Ferme de Clavisy.

Wandering Around Vézeley and St. Bris

While spending a long weekend at Rod and Marco's house in Noyers-sur-Serein, we went to nearby Vézeley and St. Bris to pick up some bottles for the cellar. One of my favorite things to do in the Burgundy region is to drive through the fields and get lost in it all. 

 Goisot in St. Bris, an incredible bio-dynamic winery

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