March 16, 2007

Staff of Life: Paris

Paris may well be a movable, moveable feast, but the shops of the rue Montorgueil are fixed. Pâtisseries, bars, cafés, sandwich stands, fruit & vegetable stalls, butcher shops, cheesemongers, fishmongers, charcuteries, a florist, a news vendor, they're all on our doorstep.

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Bread is essential. An ordinary croissant, pulled apart and dunked into a frothy grand crème while standing at the zinc-topped counter of a corner café tastes astonishingly wonderful. A tartine, French bread slathered with unsalted butter, is even better. The best is a long, thin loaf called a flûte, very Parisian, with Echiré butter (from a remote area of western France where the cows feed on unique local grass). The best of the flûtes is called Gana, invented by Bertrand Ganachaud over 40 years ago.

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The Gana difference is a pre-fermentation process that produces a starter known as poolish, which gives the bread a nutty taste. The dough is formed by hand and baked in a wood-fired oven under licenses the Ganachaud family has granted to some 200 bakers across France. Cost of a half-pound loaf? Buck fifty.

Posted by Ronald Holden at March 16, 2007 3:29 AM

I'm going to put all of your Cornichon observations into one compilation and, after editing, and settling on a catchy title, sell it and make a million. Keep'm coming.

Posted by: Dave L at March 16, 2007 5:46 PM

How the fuck do you know all this?!!! I can't wait to have my own ;-)

Posted by: David H. at March 16, 2007 10:07 AM

For those of us left back in Seattle (at the moment...) to get close to the wonderful Parisian excursion described by Ron, try a walk through Pike Place market and a glorious lunch of frommage, Pate'Albigeois and a fine pichet of Rhone at the darling little French cafe "Le Pichet" on 1st & Virginia. You can also listen to some great local "free" music at 2:30 every Sunday! "La vie est chere, la musique est libre!"

Posted by: Lisa Hilderbrand at March 16, 2007 10:07 AM

Can't we all remember the glorious tastes that lie just at our doorsteps, as you say, on almost any Parisian backstreet? I guess that's why we go there.

Posted by: David at March 16, 2007 7:09 AM

Sounds like heaven! The French make something so simple into a artform.

Posted by: Trisha Nerney at March 16, 2007 6:31 AM