Archive for March, 2011

Gallia Beer

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
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Alexia serves Gallia beer at Creposuk,
a crêperie in Paris
(c) Discover Paris!

Two young entrepreneurs, Jacques Ferté and Guillaume Roy, have recently relaunched Gallia, a beer that was originally brewed in Paris from 1879 to 1968.

I had the occasion to taste the beer at the last Tweet-up, held on Friday, March 25 at Creposuk, a crêperie located on rue Galande in Paris’ 5th arrondissement.

I did not find the flavor of the beer particularly distinctive compared to other blond beers that I have tasted. However, I find the idea of drinking a beer associated with the history and traditions of Paris appealing.

Now brewed in the Czech Republic according to the traditions of Pilsner beers (the use of bottom-fermenting yeasts that produce a pale beer with a prominent flavor and aroma of hops), Gallia is available at numerous bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and wine shops in Paris.

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Big Tweet-up Last Night in Paris

Saturday, March 26th, 2011
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Last night was the occasion for yet another lively Parisian tweet-up! This one was held at Creposuk, where veteran tweeps and newcomers alike gathered to chat face-to-face and in person! It was heartening to see—in this day and age of instant, facile electronic communication—so many people who were willing to emerge from cyberspace to assemble together in one material location.

Special thanks to Pamela Poole of Francophilia and Forest Collins of 52 Martinis for organizing the event. Another big thank you to Guillaume Roy, co-owner of Gallia Paris, for putting his beers on sale at a special price. And thank you Creposuk for hosting the event.

A good time was had by all!

From left to right:
Melissa Ladd, Forest Collins, Pamela Poole, and Frederic Hume
(c) Discover Paris!

Guillaume Roy of Gallia Paris
(c) Discover Paris!

Charles Schulz and Melissa Ladd
(c) Discover Paris!

Pamela Poole and Guillaume Roy
(c) Discover Paris!

The following tweeps were party animals for the evening:

Tom (that’s me) Paris Insights
Monique Entrée to Black Paris
Forest 52 Martinis
Kim paris et cie
Karen Bonjour Paris
Melissa Prête-moi Paris
Charles Standards and Freedom
Marlys and Michael Paris Movie Walks and Easy Hiker
Frederic N.0
Pamela Francophilia
Leila Leila’s Photos and Stuff

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Sweet Misdemeanors

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
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Délits Sucrés (Sweet Misdemeanors) are tender marzipan confections made by Claudine Rémiot. These are not the chewy, industrially-produced marzipans in the shape of fruit or animals that Americans are familiar with. Rémiot’s confections are handmade and measure roughly 1″ x 1″ square. They are flavored with fruit liqueur and decorated with natural pastel colorants and little squiggles in the shape of quotation marks. They are so tender that they melt in the mouth!

We purchased a box containing nine different flavors from Mococha, a chocolate and confection shop on rue Mouffetard. (Click here to view a video of the shop’s founder, Marie-Hélène Gantois talking [in French] to the camera on the evening that she held an open house to promote Rémiot’s confections.)

See our tasting notes below:

Limoncello – Limoncello liqueur by itself is cloyingly sweet, but in this confection the sweetness is attenuated to produce a subtly-flavored lemon delight.

Orange – Zest of orange is evident in the first bite.

Café – Assertive coffee aroma and flavor. Coffee drinkers will like this.

Rhum Vanille – Mild-tasting vanilla and rum flavor.

Mirabelle – Full-flavored, sweet yellow plum. The taste of alcohol comes through.

Poire – The fragrance and flavor of pear is immediately recognizable.

Figue – Delicate-tasting fig. Too subtle for one taster.

Piña Colada – As sweet and delicious as the cocktail after which it is named.

Coco-Fraise – Harmonious, delicate coconut and strawberry flavors.

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Will Discover Paris! Finally Get Its 15 Minutes of Fame?

Friday, March 18th, 2011
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Tom Reeves and Monique Y. Wells being interviewed by Anna Bromwich
Cameraman: Stephen Mann

On Friday, February 25, we met Amanda Rogers and Stephen Mann of RPP Productions in New York at the Café Tournon to participate in a documentary for a Web TV program on “literary Paris.” They had heard that we have expertise regarding the African-American literati who frequented the café in the 1950s, and they wanted to film us talking about that history.

With the permission of the café’s owner, we occupied a corner of the dining area and were recorded discussing Chester Himes, Richard Wright, William Gardner Smith, and other men who met frequently at the café (perhaps sitting in the very same corner) to debate politics and particularly the condition of black people in the United States. They also played chess, drank, exchanged banter, and flirted with the local women who came by to see them.

After our conversation, we moved to the Luxembourg garden where Anna Bromwich, an English woman living in Paris, acted as moderator and asked us questions about black history in the neighborhood. I talked about Ira Aldridge, an American and perhaps the most famous Shakespearian actor in Europe in the 19th century. He performed the leading role in Othello at the Odéon Theater, across the street, in 1867. Monique talked about Alexandre Dumas, perhaps the most famous French writer of the 19th century, who is buried in the Panthéon. Its immense dome is visible from the garden, providing a great photo opportunity from our vantage point near the Medici fountain.

The photographs were taken by Bryan Pirolli, an American studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, who came by to help out Stephen, who operated the video camera.

Cameraman Stephen Mann Adjusts His Camera to Shoot the "Good" Side of Tom Reeves and Monique Y. Wells

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Tasting Single-origin Chocolates from Pralus

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
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Dégustation des 10 Plus Grands Crus de Chocolat 75%
(c) Discover Paris!

Pralus was founded around 1948, when August Pralus opened a pastry shop in the town of Roanne. In 1955, he won the distinguished Meilleur Ouvrier de France award, a title attributed to outstanding craftsmen in their trade. And, in the same year, Mr. Pralus created a butter brioche containing praline made from Valencia almonds and Piedmont hazelnuts. The pastry quickly became Pralus’ signature dessert and remains popular to this day.

In 1988, August’s son François took over the business and decided to set up a laboratory dedicated entirely to the manufacture of chocolate. Today, Pralus claims to be one of the last three French Master chocolate makers to make its own chocolate directly from cocoa beans.

We stopped by the Pralus shop on rue Rambuteau and purchased an assortment of single-origin chocolates (75% cocoa). Unlike the single-estate chocolates that we wrote about on January 19 (which come from identifiable chocolate plantations), the single-origin chocolates that Pralus sells are identified with different countries throughout the world.

The assortment that we bought consists of a single square of chocolate from each of the following countries:

Papua New Guinea
Smooth; pure chocolate flavor.

Woodsy, mossy flavor; smooth texture.

Sao Tomé & Principe
Light flavor, but long aftertaste; smooth texture.

Slight aroma of light tobacco; assertive flavor with grassy notes.

Toasty and smooth.

Rich, toasty; slightly fruity flavor.

Sweet, slight caramel flavor.

Mild aroma; soft and fruity flavor.

Strong aroma; spicy flavor (allspice).

Muted aroma; smokey, woody flavor.

As well as single squares of chocolate, Pralus offers full-sized chocolate bars (100 grams) made from the chocolate of each country.

Pralus has two shops in Paris, one at 35, rue Rambuteau in the 4th arrondissement, and the other on the 6th floor of Galeries Lafayette at 40, boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement.

Bonne dégustation!

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Coffee Roasted In-house at Hédiard

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
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Roasted Coffee Display at Hédiard
(Coffee Roaster in Background)
(c) Discover Paris!

I stopped by the gourmet food emporium Hédiard at place de la Madeleine recently to see what kinds of tempting sweets I could find. This store carries an amazing variety of confections, spices, spirits, wines, fresh fruits, cheeses, teas… I could go on and on, because it’s a gourmand’s paradise! But what caught my eye on this day was the store’s display of a wide selection of coffee beans and its fire-engine-red coffee roaster.

The store clerk told me that Hédiard roasts four of the coffees that it sells. Presumably this means that it gets its other roasted coffee beans from an outside source, but no matter. I selected 250 grams of the in-store-roasted, whole-bean Mélange Hédiard, a blend of Arabica coffee beans from three countries: Brazil, Ethiopia, and Burundi. When I took the coffee home and brewed it, I found the store’s description of the product to be accurate: “strong, dense, and aromatic.” I would also add “full bodied with a slight note of cinnamon.”

After I paid for my purchase, I walked to the coffee roaster to take a picture of it. The clerk waited patiently, then, as I was leaving, hit the start button to begin the process of roasting a new batch of coffee beans. I wish I had had the time to linger awhile to smell the wonderful aromas that must have wafted from the machine!

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Le Bistro T—In the Spirit of Fine Brasserie Dining

Friday, March 4th, 2011
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Left to right: Mahamdou, Christian Béguet, Estelle Bassalert, Roger Ridez
(c) Discover Paris!

The other night we happened down a side street in Paris and came upon a restaurant called Bistro T. After dining on the delicious cuisine served there, we learned that the restaurant was operated by Estelle Bassalert, wife of the late François Bassalert. Mr. Bassalert was the fourth generation of a family of restaurant managers who made a name for themselves at the famous Thoumieux brasserie on the other side of town. To learn why we heartily recommend dining at the Bistro T, read our review in this month’s Le Bon Goût, a feature of our newsletter Paris Insights.

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Bonne lecture et bon appétit!

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Love2Eat Comes to Paris

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
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The irrepressible Lové Anthony, hostess of the YouTube video series Love2Eat, engaged Discover Paris! to escort her around Ile-Saint-Louis so that she could sample food at the gourmet boutiques there. Click on the video screen below to view her culinary adventure!

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Henry Miller in Paris

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
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Henry Miller
(c) 1940 Carl Van Vechten

Henry Miller was an angry, turbulent man who went to Paris in the 1930s to devote himself to writing. The shocking novels that he turned out were banned in the United States until 1964. Read our account about the man and his experiences in the City of Light in this month’s Paris Insights newsletter.

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Bonne lecture!

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