Paris: Day Nine (Jour Et Nuit & Bourgogne Sud)

January 12th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

BSK and Beautiful Granddaughter Sofia were off taking advantage of the Paris sales day so HG ventured into gritty Arab/African Paris, the neighborhood around the Barbes-Rochechouart metro station. This is where the metro emerges from the underground and becomes elevated (very reminiscent of New York’s IRT on Jerome Avenue in The Bronx). Beneath the elevated metro tracks is a raucous, messy, colorful, lively, ludicrously inexpensive market. Enter and leave Paris behind. You are in Algiers or Tunis or Morocco or Lagos — a mad jumble of all of them. This is where Paris’s large working class immigrant population finds bargains in food, clothing and probably anything else legal or illegal that one could want. Much noisy haggling. HG left the market and poked into some the food shops on Rue Chapelle. Good looking chickens gently roasting on rotisseries; sheep heads treated the same way appeared appetizing (except for the very human white teeth smiling through the flames). Lots of lush dates, figs and olives. Freshly made Arab flat bread. Spices, rice and couscous galore. Made HG ravenous. Small restaurant, Jour et Nuit, looked promising. Peered inside. Lots of fat and jolly Arabs having a good time. Good vibes. No English spoken but HG greeted with warm smiles and seated at comfortable table. Ordered a sizzling, bubbling tagine of chicken with preserved lemons (plus tangy green olives and potatoes) and a side dish of couscous with copious rich broth and vegetables. Big crock of fiery harissa on the table. Wondrous food. Better than anything HG/BSK ever ate in visits to Morocco (including meals at posh hotel La Mamounia in Marrakech). Restaurant owner identified himself as Algerian and the food as Algerian home cooking (that’s what HG gathered with much sign language and clumsy French). Before leaving, HG had a glass of best ever mint tea . The bill? Cheap, cheap. Don’t be frightened by the bustle of the neighborhood and the ominous looks of some of the residents. Get to Jour et Nuit when in Paris and enjoy.

Long apres lunch stroll through the Barbes neighborhood, Pigalle and the lower slopes of Montmartre. Reminded HG of Brooklyn where edgy neighborhoods are becoming the haunts of hipsters and the upwardly mobile young. Dinner with BSK at warm and welcoming Bourgogne Sud on Rue de Clichy. Complimentary glass of white wine and sausage from the Macon region on the table. HG/BSK enjoyed the lush and meaty escargots followed by grilled scallops with crisp roasted potatoes and green salad. Drank very good Moulin a Vent red. Wine poached pears with vanilla ice cream for dessert. This wasn’t haute cuisine, just a meal of down home goodness. After dishes were cleared, hostess brought a big bottle of marc de bourgogne and brandy glasses. Left the bottle on the table. A volonte: Drink as much as you want. HG did not drink as much of the lovely beverage as HG wanted. BSK was a moderating influence. But, more than enough. Did manage to walk back to apartment without staggering.


La Mamounia

May 20th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

La Mamounia in the magical, mysterious Moroccan city of Marrakesh, is the best hotel in the world. At least it’s the best hotel HG and BSK ever stayed in. Art Deco deluxe. Don’t take HG’s word for it. It was Winston Churchill’s favorite hotel and he spent happy times painting in the hotel’s lovely gardens. When not rummaging in Marrakech’s souks, bargaining for rugs and inspecting masterpieces of Islamic architecture and garden planning, HG and BSK swam in the vast hotel pool and sun bathed on the comfortable chaise lounges. The pool area was populated by pert young Frenchwomen. Topless, of course. Their nervous husbands paced around puffing on large cigars and conducting staccato conversations on their cell phones. For HG, the charms of the poolside buffet far outshone the French damsels. Inventive Moroccan salads. Grilled lobster and shrimp. Kebabs of tender lamb fragrant with North African spices. Couscous, certainly. And, much,much more.

HG was reminded of all of this by Florence Fabricant’s baked fish recipe in the New York Times food section. The writer had tasted the dish at La Mamounia and gave it a rave. BSK cooked the dish last night and it will become a household perennial. Essentially, some reasonably firm fish fillets (BSK used catfish) are smothered in a variety of spices; showered with garlic, cilantro, flat leaf parsley; doused with olive oil. vinegar and lemon juice. The fish rests on a bed of sliced potatoes and is covered with sliced red peppers, plum tomatoes and kalamata olives. Baked in the oven for some 30 minutes (or less). Super stuff. HG gave his substantial portion a shot of harissa, the Moroccan fiery condiment composed of chile peppers, olive oil and garlic. The lily was gilded.

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