Thursday, February 01, 2007

I love food and love Paris!

A new cookbook turned up on my desk today! Yes, I was as shocked as you no doubt are! And saying it turned up almost implies that fairies brought it. Well that's not quite true! In fact it came from, my bookseller of choice. To my mind a much better option than that rainforest based one! Ordering off is perceptively easy; you almost don't feel like you're doing it. You don't do anything irritating like having to dig out your credit card or type in a delivery address. That's all remembered. You just click a few buttons and generally a couple of days later you are a proud possessor of a new book, DVD or CD. It's almost scarily easy! And my deliveries seem even easier and I have them delivered at work to save the aggravation of not being in to sign for a parcel - the scourge of internet delivery. Those nice people in the post room used to squirrel away my parcel until I was free to collect; now they just deliver it straight to my desk. What a service!

Many of the book orders I place are pre-orders, I get the merest sniff of a new book (generally cook book, surprisingly!) coming out and add it to my order for future delivery. This means I generally get a new book as soon as, if not sooner, that it's out in the shops. I can be one of the first to open the virgin cover, smell that special new book smell and start slowly turning the pages. Bliss! It's not just me that feels the same about books. I was reading my favourite blog that's not about food (and yes, they do exist!) Dooce, and she talks of her three year daughter Leta who loves her Elmo and Dora books so much that she has to sleep with them all. Well I don't go that far, granted I may read a book in bed but if I took them all to bed, if need less of a bed more like an aircraft hangar with sheets!

But this book was a little different than usual, it hadn't been pre-ordered like most of the others but whilst browsing in a bookshop I spotted the title Love Food, Love Paris and immediately thought yes, yes! This is totally up my street, or even up my boulevard! And it's more than just a cookbook; it's more a culinary journey through the artisan food shops, the markets, the bistros, brasseries and restaurants of Paris. There are some recipes including a better version of the petit pois a la Français that I made for our French dinner but the emphasis is really on where to go and what to buy. In the prologue it says "It is almost impossible to think about Paris without thinking about food". And that's true I recall some wonderful meals in Paris, not just great food in convivial surroundings but the unforgettable times with fabulous family and friends. I can remember sharing a big cheese fondue followed by an everlasting pot au chocolat. Not that I could squeeze in any seconds after that fondue, but the concept was very pleasing. I recollect middle of the table bowls of fat moules alongside plates of skinny frites, dining rather finely in the Train Bleu which is rather madly above Gare de Lyon (this seems rather mad as I defy you to find a restaurant remotely as impressive in a British station!) and there's been a plethora of croque monsieur or madame in little art deco mirrored cafés and a magical lunch cruise on the Bateaux Mouches enjoying exploring both wonderful food and the joys of Paris without risking blisters. And I still have Parisian foodie adventures I wish to experience. I had booked a table at La Tour d’Argent to partake in the ever so famous ‘canard à la presse’ enjoyed by kings and epicureans the world over for my birthday before last. According to my new book you receive a commemorative postcard when you eat this special dish. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances I couldn’t go to Paris for my birthday and I still haven’t experienced the fabulous duck. But one day…

As well as La Tour d’Argent there are many other places in the Love Food, Love Paris book that I’m keen to discover. For example, Place des Vosges has always been my favourite Parisian square, the stunning classical architecture and the elegant façades but I wasn’t aware that it’s also home to Ambroisie, one of France most luxurious three Michelin starred restaurants. But it’s not just about the stars; I also want to drop in on some of Paris’ legendary gourmet emporiums that are nearby also.

Since discovering the amazing confection that is a macaroon, I am now compelled to explore Ladurée as their celebrated macaroons just look stunning. There’s a beautiful photograph of the most stunning dark pink cassis macaroons in their window in the book and there seems to be many websites dedicated to worshipping them.

And for more mouthwatering images please visit the Ladurée site as you will just literally drool!

I’d also love to revisit Fauchon and Hédiard again; it’s just such a pleasure to peruse the shelves of these well stocked world renowned purveyors of fine epicurean treats. And if I feel the need of further kitchen apparel or table accoutrements (as if?) I could pay a fruitful visit to either A. Simon or E. Dehillerin.

This is certainly a book to make you salivate, immediately start searching for your passport and reaching down your biggest case (just to ensure there's plenty of room for your Parisian treats!)
If I hurry I might be able to make the last Eurostar train, see you there!

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