Sunday, 29 January 2012

Paris Markets

Marche Bastille et Marche Porte de Vanves

Today, Sunday, we spent the day wondering through the markets lining Paris's streets. We planned to visit Marche Bastille, perhaps the biggest outdoor food market in Paris, and stumbled upon markets on almost every block. Sunday is market day in Paris. Sunday is a good day.. Ahhhh... le marche...

I love farmer's markets. I love our market in Peterborough. Rarely a week goes by when I don't visit the market. I feel very lucky and proud to have our Peterborough Farmer's markets. We have really great markets in Peterborough, but I have to tell you nothing beats Marche Bastille.

Fresh seafood (scallops on the shell with their roe, langoustine, smelts, crab, oysters and whole fish) and meat (including Poulet de Bresse, the famous French breed of chicken with blue feet), cured meats, fromage!, flowers, fruit, vegetables, bread and pastries, prepared foods... what a market - what an experience!

I really feel like I got a taste of Paris life walking through this market, checking out all the beautiful produce, observing Parisian's going about their Sunday morning rituals, absorbing the atmosphere of the market and listening to the vendors singing about their wares, trying to draw customers.

I indulged in another pain au chocolat (when in Paris), and we stopped to to enjoy a mid-morning quiche snack. The next time I am here I am renting an apartment with a kitchen. My head was spinning thinking of all the marvelous things I could prepare with the beautiful ingredients at Marche Bastille.

Next stop was the Marche Porte de Vanves, an antiques market that stretches for blocks. I purchased a couple items that will look pretty fantastic on the walls of Le Petit Bar before we returned to Bastille (where we are staying), and enjoyed lunch in Place des Vosges. I don't have any photos of lunch - they like to pack you in tight (I love it!) which can make hauling out the camera to snap a photo of your steak frites difficult. The cafes, bistrots and brasseries are so bustling! The staff are run off their feet, customers are elbow to elbow,  food is flying out of the kitchens, carafes of wine splash on tables. It really is a unique and wonderful energy.

Now, after dinner in Marais, I am stuffed full of "duck shepherd's pie", or Parmentier de Canard - basically duck rilletes topped with creamy potato puree and baked with a light layer of cheese. Delicious.

Tomorrow is our last day here and I have a few bars a vins on the itinerary - Le Rubis and Verjus. We are going to visit Legrand, a legendary wine shop, and perhaps there will be time for another pain au chocolat and one more stroll through Montmartre...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Montmartre is awesome...

I've found my place in Paris. It's home to Basilique de Sacre-Coeur, Clos Montmartre, the city's only existing vineyard and winery, and Amelie. Montmartre. J'aime Montmartre.

Today we got lost in the cobblestoned, winding streets of Montmartre. Getting lost included stumbling upon an awesome patisserie and enjoying pain au chocolat, finding some cute local bars and drinking some lovely wine, and visiting Le Moulin Rouge.

Today we also visited two of Paris' most famous wine bars: Le Garde Robe and O-Chateau.

Le Garde Robe is incredible. Again, a tiny little cave in the wall. The staff work hard to serve about 40 people squeezed into less than 400 sq feet. Behind the bar they are serving drinks, slicing meat and assembling boards of charcuterie and cheese. Their little toaster oven works over time melting gorgeous hunks of chevre onto fresh pesto and thickly sliced bread, and warming baguette to serve with terrine and pate. Here we sampled porc rilletes, and glasses of Sancerre and Saint Joseph. The bartender opened a tin can of rilletes confit - preserved under a layer of fat - and tipped it out onto a plate, serving it to us with a tangle of radish and cucumber, and some crusty bread. It reminded me of Martin Picard's Au Pied du Chochon in Montreal - the duck in a can. It was quite cool.

We moved on to O-Chateau, a very up-scale wine bar, and a little rich for my blood. The wine selection is incredible, and includes 1998 Sauternes and 1979 Chateau Petrus - both by the glass! We didn't try either -  the more than 200 euro price tags were good deterrents. I did have a glass of Champagne followed by a Chardonnay flight: Vire-Classe (Clos du Chapite), Poully-Fuisse (Chateau des Rontets) and Chablis Premier Cru (Domaine Sarvin), and a glass of sweet Jurancon (Domaine de Souch) 2006 to finish.

Tomorrow is Sunday and many restaurants and bars will be closed. We are going to wander an antiques market and marche Bastille, one of Paris' biggest food markets. Only a couple days left in this city...

Paris Day One

Bowfinger, Le Siffleur de Ballons, Le Baron Rouge, Troll Cafe

Ah Paris. The City of Lights. Can I tell you that I really like it here?

Yesterday, day one of my jaunt to Paris, brought a lot of deliciousness with it. Mainly in the form of animal fat, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the first place we (my good friend Rayce Manger and I) ate. Bowfinger is Paris' oldest Brasserie. It was opened by a guy named Bowfinger who came from Alsace. Bowfinger's restaurant in many ways reinvented the Paris restaurant in the 1800s. After his opening, a number of restaurants started following suit, offering delicious food served to you fast by professional (I mean serious) waitstaff dressed in black, white and ties. The classic Alsatian dish Choucroute is among the many things all Brasseries have in common. I knew we should have Choucroute - a sizzling hot combination of cabbage (sauerkraut), boiled potatoes and sausage. What we didn't know was how large the portions were. I wish I had a photo to show you. We were served a mound of beautiful cabbage topped with four whole boiled potatoes, two pork chops, six sausages (differing sorts), and two hefty pieces of lardon. It was delicious and meat-sweat inducing and would you disapprove if I told you we almost ate it all? Smeared with some of the spiciest mustard I've ever had.

Our next dining stop was at Le Siffleur de Ballons. A great little wine cave I read about on David Lebovitz's fantastic blog. 

This place is super cool. Two staff manage a rammed little room (the size of which makes Le Petit look like a banquette hall), serving wine, slicing cured meats, assembling charcuterie boards and helping customers make purchases of the great selection of wine to go.

We had the mixed board - charcuterie and cheese. Simply presented on a board each selection was delicious, the cheese a perfect temperature, and meat melting in our mouths. Preserved apricots were a surprise and treat - definitely on my radar now! And the pickles were perfectly sour and not too vinaigery.

We also shared the Lard de Catalon here. Thinly sliced pieces of cured lard that is meant to be draped over warm bread so that it melts into all the crevices of the baguette. This was amazing. I don't recommend you eat it very often, but boy was it good.

Next stop was Le Baron Rouge for a couple glasses. Another hopping hole in the wall.

This little wine bar has been here for ages. It is famous. Imagine the Only Cafe in Peterborough filled with French people drinking a vast selection of wines, crowded around the house barrels that you can have your recycled bottle filled with to take home, lined up at the petit zinc bar. Yes I've seen my first Paris zinc. And it was great.

The vibe was excited, the place was bright, it was loud and I loved it, even when the don't-mess-with-her woman who was running the kitchen came out to the bar, rang the bell and told us it was last call, suggesting we all "allez!"

By lucky chance we stumbled upon this place: Troll Cafe.

People were spilling out the front door into the street, beer in hand. Duvel, Troll, La Trappe, Lindemans. These people were drinking some really good beer. I love wine. I love the way it smells and tastes. I love how it can be complex and quaff-able. I love its versatility and I love that it has personality. Of course I love it, I'm opening a wine bar. But, in my heart of hearts, I will always be in love with beer. And so I give you photos of the awesome Troll Cafe, from what I can tell, Paris's best beer bar. Wish you were there, Roland.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Guess who has a building permit!

We are off!


Le Petit Zinc

It's killing me that I don't have a lot to share with you yet. Still being dragged through this permit process! We've been assured that this week it will arrive, and then I'll bombard you with photos of it all coming together.

In the meantime I'd like to introduce you to le petit zinc. (Below is a stock image of a bar with a zinc-plated bar top)

Zinc-plated bar tops are such a commonality of Parisian bars a vins that the bars, often considered the neighbourhood local, are affectionately called "le zinc" by the French. You too can affectionately call Le Petit Bar your local "zinc" because we have some big plans to build a beautiful zinc-plated bar!

This is going to be a really interesting project because we are going to build the bar ourselves. There are some fantastic companies in the world, none in Canada, who design, create and assemble these gorgeous bars but we like a challenge (and we're on a budget). I'm excited to be able to share photos of the bar top coming together as we start building it, but for an idea of how show-stopping these zinc bars are you should refer to Le Select Bistro and La Societe. These Toronto restaurants are homes to some amazing bars. Check out their photo galleries. Le Petit Bar may not be quite as swank, but it'll be your comfortable little zinc.

In two days I'm off to Paris to really nail down details for LPB. I'm going to blog each day I'm gone. Hope you read along.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The City of Lights

In two weeks I'm jetting off to Paris.

I'll be conducting some very serious business over there. I need to do some market research! That includes drinking and eating and bar-watching.

Have you been? Do you have a favourite place? What do I need to see/eat/drink?

Monday, 9 January 2012


  Duck Prosciutto.

Because we're still waiting for a permit (le sigh), and because I can't do much until we actually start building and I can direct the design of the bar, the banquettes, the wall treatments, etc, I'm slowly working on some menu ideas. Et voila:

Test one of potential charcuterie that may make it on Le Petit Bar's menu - here you go: delicious cured duck breast.

I salt-cured this duck and hung it to dry for seven days. The result is pretty good for our first attempt. Feeling confident that we can nail this one.

It will be lovely sliced very thin and served along side some other deliciously salty cured meats and a ballon de vin rouge, or, as I'm enjoying it for lunch, with a simple green salad dressed with fleur de sel, red wine vinegar and good olive oil.

If you can't wait to try it at Le Petit Bar, you should go to 38 Degrees for dinner and order their well-composed charcuterie board.

It occurs to me that charcuterie is not as common a term as I assume it is. I'd like to give you some idea of what you  might be able to expect when you visit Le Petit Bar. Charcuterie is a French term, meaning "cooked meat". It refers to the process of salting, brining, drying and cooking meats (most often pork). The term encompasses sausage, wet and dry-cured meats, smoked meats, forcemeats, terrines (which directly refers to the shape of the dish, but basically includes pate, layered pressed vegetable dishes and what's sometimes called "Cinderella meatloaf" or rilletes - gently cooked ground pork and fat, seasoned with fresh herbs and spices).

Here. Feast your eyes on this.

I took the above three photos from Google.

Next step is to get the meat grinder going and make some sausages and Cinderella meatloaf. Yum...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Le Dream

I know we are leaving you hanging. You want to know what's going on in that space on Water Street!

Things are happening... but, as it goes sometimes, a little slower than expected. We're waiting to start building (permits and all that), but I want to keep you interested.

I can't wait for what's in my head to burst into that space, filling it with the energy and vibe of Paris. So here are a selection of photos that have served as inspiration for Le Petit Bar. Hopefully it gives you a sense of what I dream about every night...


Please note, I've taken all these photos from Google Images. They are not my photos and it is with great pleasure that I share with you someone else's fantastic photographic eye.