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The sweetest gifts are presents from people who know what you enjoy and surprise you with their thoughtfulness. A friend I had not seen in decades found me through this blog and brought me some chocolate treats from Angelina, remembering how much I love chocolate. She brought FOUR desserts for the TWO of us, giving me a very generous allowance for my appetite still being what it used to be in my twenties. I only managed to eat about half of ONE, and because she would not take the rest with her for her flight back to the US, I was left suffering the terrible sacrifice of having to eat the leftovers 🙂

The Negresco, made with meringue, light and dark chocolate mousse, dark chocolate icing and dark chocolate shavings.

The Choc African, my favorite, made with African origin chocolate, chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse, and chocolate cream.

The interiors  of the Negresco and the Choco African show how light and silky the mousse fillings were.

This summer variation on the classic Mont Blanc added strawberries to the meringue, whipped cream, and signature chestnut cream vermicelli. If you enjoy strawberries and cream, with a slight chestnut flavor, this would be a great choice.

Another friend gave me these chocolates from Mococha as a thank-you gift. Seems everyone knows chocolate is a good way to make me smile.

Mococha brings together very talented chocolatiers, several of whom are MOFs, to one place,

giving them all a showcase for their skills, and giving me a variety of choices to satisfy my chocolate addiction; with all this chocolate, I think I’m set for at least a few days 🙂

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Les Pates Vivantes is one of the more well known Chinese restaurants in Paris, with a window onto the street showcasing how they hand pull their noodles. Tucked in areas near Les Halles and Montmartre, they attract as many tourists as locals, with menus ranging from about 10-15 Euros for combinations of stir fried or soup noodles with gyzoas. I chose the vegetable noodles, which were springy and fresh, but greasy (you can see the pool of oil on my plate on the right side of the photo), and the vegetables were only green onions and wood mushrooms. Even with some hot chili oil borrowed from a nearby table,  I couldn’t eat more than a few bites. Service was typically brisk, geared more for fast turn over than a leisurely meal, as is typical for touristy locations.

The gyoza came out after my noodles and were tender, but also oily.

I went back for another try, ordering cold noodles with duck which I thought might at least circumvent the oily tendency. The noodles and raw onions were bathed in a peanut/sesame sauce that left me as cold as the dish. The duck was good and a generous portion, so I would recommend ordering a separate side plate of duck and maybe some noodle soup.

A friend lives in the 13th (not in the neighborhood near Chinatown, where good places abound) and I thought my chances of finding good Chinese food might be better in a local neighborhood place, Bonheur D’Asie, which is a traiteur, or take out place, as well as a sit down restaurant. The shrimp dim sum were tasty, but since I got there in the late afternoon, they suffered from having been out all day. If you want fresher ones, go earlier in the day. I loved their hot and sour soup, but I forgot to take a picture of it before eating; take my word for it, it is both hot and spicy and you will enjoy it on any cold or rainy day in Paris! It’s a family owned hole in the wall, so much more personal with only locals as patrons, which makes for a nice change from touristy spots.

I was marvelously surprised by the tasty ginger chicken, served with a side (I chose white rice since the sauce with the dish needed something plain to balance and absorb the flavor). I didn’t think I could finish the generous portion, but I did:) The ginger was strong enough to add a bite but not overpowering, and there were more vegetables in this dish than the vegetable noodles I had at Pates Vivante.

The menu option (all menu plans were under 12 Euros) offered a dessert of choice besides the main and side, so I chose the coconut ball, a soft, chewy, slightly sweet thumb sized treat that was filled with shredded coconut cream. A very nice way to end the meal.

The best Chinese food I’ve found so far in Paris is at Etoile D’Asie, in the 15th, on Daguerre, which is a pedestrian street lined with vendors of produce, meat, seafood, pastries, and restaurants. The display counter offers about 50 choices (I am not kidding), ranging from dim sum to entrées, sides of noodles and rice or vegetables, and desserts. It’s a bit of an overwhelming choice, but it’s a fun problem 🙂 Service is efficient and smiling, even extending to patient as people invariably linger trying to decide what to choose, no one ever rushes you or scowls. The place is filled with local regulars and a few random tourists who wander over from the catacombs nearby; keep in mind this Chinese restaurant keeps French hours, so it closes in the mid afternoon between lunch and dinner hours. Everything is incredibly fresh, with popular dishes coming out from the kitchen to replenish the sold out ones, and with a brisk take out business, the line moved quickly. Everyone orders and pays; if you are eating in, go sit down as you wait for your order to be brought to you, otherwise you wait by the register for take out. Menus start from about 6 to 15 Euros, or you can simply get dishes by weight.

I chose three shrimp dimsum, which were light and tender, although I found the har gow dough a bit thick.

I got a side of vegetables instead of rice, and doctored it with the sriracha and soy sauce on every table (I was ecstatic to find sriracha bottles on every table).

For my main course I got 300 grams of the spicy shrimp, which were actually a bit spicy! For future reference I will get 150 grams since I had a hard time finishing this portion after the dim sum and the vegetables.

Another day, another choice, this time I chose garlic chicken with a glass noodle side, both of which were wonderfully done and not a bit greasy.

I liked this place so much I went back for yet another meal, this time the sauteed beef with peppers (not the spicy kind), vegetables, and plain rice. Etoile D’Asie means “star of Asia”, and this place gets a gold star for Chinese food.

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