Archive for the 'Gifts' Category

Upcoming farmers’ market in the 12th arr.

Fromage at farmers marketI’ve mentioned my love for Paris markets many times. While the weekly farmers’ markets are always worth visiting; I especially enjoy the special markets for produce and items from around the country.

There’s a Marché des Producteurs de Pays scheduled for May 22 and 23 in the 12th arr. It’s conveniently located between metros Daumesnil and Dugommier.

Keep an eye out for socks and blankets from angora sheep, dandelion wine, sheep’s milk soap, regional cheese and cookies, and buy a hunk of bread from the 3 feet wide circles.

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Marché des Producteurs de Pays, 21 et 22 NOVEMBRE 2009

I love the Marché des Producteurs de PaysMarché des Producteurs de Pays in Paris. This is your opportunity to buy products directly from the farmers, artisans, and craftsmen from around the French countryside.

I especially like the angora socks, aligot, candles, and specialty baked goods. You’ll also find great deals on holiday presents, such as local wine, cheeses, and hand-crafted goods.

The next market will be November 21 and 22 in the 12th arr. on Boulevard de Reuilly. This is a good sized market and you should find plenty of goodies to eat and enjoy.

Aligot in Paris – Aveyron festival October 9-11, 2009

Aveyron festival posterDon’t miss the Aligot festival this weekend in the 12th arr. near Park de Bercy. To be fair, it’s not just aligot but also a celebration of the Aveyron region of France. The Marché des Pays de l’Aveyron festival takes place October 9-11, right in front of my favorite cafe, the Parisian Sweet Bar.

Aligot is a stringy white cheese that is laboriously stirred with potatoes to create a heavenly, yet very filling dish. It’s a rich mashed potato dish that makes even the sturdiest potluck bowls of Alabama pale in contrast. After all, the region is known for its hardy, rustic cuisine.

This is also a great time to sample and purchase confiture, honey, and other local products. I always keep an eye out for socks and other items made from the Angora goats. Making aligot at a Paris marketThese regional festivals are perfect for tourists in Paris that are looking for a quick shopping/eating excursion. Wine lovers can find wonderful bottles that are impossible to find back home. They are free to join and you can expect ample samples and smiles.

Just try to look past the fois gras, sausages, and other meaty products.

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Petite Mumbai de Paris – Indian food and culture

Little India, Paris FranceI’ve been looking for good Indian restaurants since arriving in Paris. I’ve found some decent ones, but none has triggered a desire to return. I’ve been looking for the spirit and joviality I’ve experienced in Bangalore as well as the Indian neighborhoods of San Diego and the Bay Area.

I had heard about some good restaurants north of Gare du Nord but never found this mysterious Hindu Eden. While flying from San Francisco to Paris on Air France I came across an article that described this small neighborhood of saris, sweets, and restaurants. I took the magazine home with me and read the article several times. Finally I had a weekend to do some Paris exploring and jumped on the metro a couple weeks ago to La Chapelle (metro 6).

Rue Cail

Rue Cail seems to be the heart of the community. You’ll find a great assortment of vegetarian restaurants, sweet shops, grocery stores, jewelry shops, and places to find Saris, shirts, and more. My first visit was also punctuated by an impromptu protest rally for an event in India.

Krishna BhavanThere are two restaurants that get the most attention. Krishna Bhavan and Dishny. Both straddle the street with dual identities, formal and casual restaurants. Krishna Bhavan is 100% vegetarian and this makes me very happy. I love being able to order anything off the menu.

Krishna Bhavan

I visited the casual version of Krishna Bhavan. It reminded me of the neighborhood taco shops of San Diego or similar simple restaurants of any city and culture. They serve dosas, rice dishes, samosas, as well as a hearty fixed price menu.

I ordered the basic menu at 13 euros. This includes a drink, entree, dinner, and dessert. For the drink you get your choice of a lassi (mango, salt, sweet, or banana). Entrees include vegetable, tomato, or broccoli soup, potato, onion, eggplant, or banana dumpling, or a green salad. The dinner is either vegetable curry with your choice of rice (coconut, lemon, or yogurt), Biryani, Capatti, Barotha, or Poori. Finally for dessert you have the house cake, gulab jamoun (soft ball in a honey liquid), or laddu (a sweet ball with cardamom). It’s a big meal for a small price.
Krishna Bhavan in Paris
The vegetable soup (dal) is very nice. It’s a light flavored lentil soup. The vegetable curry w/rice was more like rice with curried vegetables. The rice is the star of the plate with the eggplant and potatoes as supporting actors. As with other authentic dishes, you need to be a bit careful eating the rice. It had some hard seeds that could cause pain if bit into them unexpectedly. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying it. The rice is very light; almost floating on the fork. Mine was mixed with coconut, onions, and spices. Finally, when you think you couldn’t eat another bite it is time for dessert.

Chai

Krishna Bhavan in ParisOne of my fondest memories of visiting Bangalore was this small opening into the kitchen of the Yahoo! offices. From this little passage came cups of the strongest, sweetest chai tea you can imagine. Forget what you now of chai from Starbucks. Chai should fill you body with warmth.

Need I bother mentioning my excitement when I looked into the small hole of the kitchen and saw the cooks making what looked like chai. It’s awesome! This is worth the visit alone.
Little India, Paris France

Shops

This is an area to enjoy during the day. There are several grocery stores to purchase indian spices, teas, and ingredients. I also found my beloved instant meals that you can find at any Indian grocery store. These packets are filled with good, spicy curries that you simply heat and eat.

You’ll also find a variety of Hindu god and goddess sculptures, henna tattoos, jewelry, music, videos, saris, and other clothing. I found one shop that specialized in arts and crafts from around the world. The back of the store has a huge selection of jackets, pants, and shirts from Tibet and South Asia. The styles are fairly western but with the strong colors and unique lines of the region.

Indian Sweets

Little India, Paris FranceIndian sweets are hard to describe to someone that hasn’t experienced them before. They are brightly colored, geometric, soft, sweet, and full of spices. They are very different from the sweets you’d find elsewhere in Paris. They are typically softer and less sweet than you’d expect. Frankly most Americans that I know are not big fans of the Indian sweets. That said, they are better than any I’ve tried in California.

A little bit of nostalgia, comfort, and spice in Paris

I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this corner of Paris. Rue Cail brings back my fondest memories of eating with colleagues in Bangalore, shopping for spices with Jim, teaching my mother about curry and naan, and the joy of food cooked without a fear of spice. If you like Indian food you’ll love the rue Cail area. If you love Indian food and culture you will have found one of the finest places to visit in Paris.

Krishna Bhavan
24 Rue Cail (10°)
01 42 05 78 43
Metro: La Chapelle
Indian Restaurant
Wheelchair Access: bathrooms are in basement. Entrance is accessible.
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Location: 4/5
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 5/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 5/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 3/5

Dishny Restaurant
25 Rue Cail (10°)
Metro: La Chapelle
Indian Restaurant

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Souvenir and Gift buying in Paris

Fall is in the air and tourists to Paris can’t help but think about what to bring back as gifts for the holidays. Paris has no shortage on shopping; but where could you find something a bit more unique than an Eiffel Tower key chain or Mona Lisa t-shirt?

Markets

You’ll find a great variety of locally produced and manufactured items at the daily markets. Here are some of the better options:

  • Bastille market on Sunday: You’ll find not only food but hand crafts from around France, North Africa, and other regions. Just go to metro: Bastille, you can’t miss it from about 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m. for the best choices
  • Visit one of the Marchés des Producteurs de Pays . These markets are filled with vendors from around the country. You can purchase wine and spirits directly from the producers, honey, wax, and wool items. Personally, I love the socks. They are great gifts for your friends with diabetes. You can also taste fresh made Aligot, a mixture of potatoes and regional stringy cheese, which is hard to find. Here are some upcoming events:
    • November 22-23, Boulevard de Reuilly, 12th arrondissement (metro Daumesnil).
    • December 5-7, St. Paul village court. This is a bit harder to find. Take the St. Paul metro and go behind the St. Paul church.
  • Honey and Confiture: Nothing brings back local taste than regional honey and preserves. David Lebovitz has a great article about Honey in Paris. For confiture, check out your local markets, the Marchés des Producteurs de Pays, and also stop by a nice fromagerie to see if they offer a confiture de la maison. I buy my coffee and confiture from Pascal Guiraud, in the 12th Arrondissement on Blvd de Reuilly.
  • Timmy at the Paris flea marketMacarons: It’s hard to go wrong with a great box of macarons from Pierre Hermé or Ladurée.
  • Flea Markets: Everyone has heard about the famous Paris Marché aux Puce. It’s enormous and sits in the north border of the city. Frankly, it’s overpriced and you could spend all day looking and not buy anything.

    However, there are several smaller flea markets that are more promising. I personally prefer the one at Porte de Vanves. It is every Saturday and Sunday from about 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Dress warmly for the winter shopping, some areas are always in the shade and it can get chilly. Look for inexpensive art (etchings and prints), glassware, jewelry, and household items.

    You’ll find your best bargains at a Vide Grenier (community garage sale). Keep an eye out for fliers around the city for the local sale. They are not always available.

This is just a short list of places to get gifts for friends and coworkers before heading home. Look for the locally produced and regional cuisines wherever you travel. They’ll be more memorable than the standard souvenirs.

Pascal Guiraud – Torréfacteur
21, boulevard de Reuilly (12°)
01 43 43 93 27
Metro: Daumesnil, Dugommier
Coffee, Tea, Confiture, and Fine Groceries

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