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Groceries, and Rue des Rosiers

May 18, 2010

On Sunday evening, after our morning at the Marché and our afternoon at the Luxembourg Gardens, we used the broccoli we had picked up earlier

Graham with broccoli

(that’s Graham, posing with our broccoli) along with some food left by the previous tenant to make a strange meal.

The former tenant left some onions and garlic, neither of which were in very good shape, along with some spaghetti and chickpeas and a few condiments. So, I salvaged what I could of the onions and garlic, and made pasta with balsamic-glazed onions and chickpeas, with a side of broccoli and garlic. Though a little unusual, it was still quite good.

Cooking in our new kitchen will take some getting used to. We only have two burners, which requires some careful planning, and the burners are electric (whereas I’m used to gas, at this point). So, the water took a painfully long time to boil (from my perspective), and the chickpeas took a very long time to glaze. The kitchen itself is Paris-sized, and so very small.

Our kitchen

This picture makes it look bigger than it is, I’m afraid. So, it’s extremely difficult, say, for Graham to wash dishes while I cook. Fortunately, there’s quite a bit of storage underneath the sink, and there are many cupboards and hooks along the walls.

On Monday, I just had some leftovers for lunch (and I heard that Graham ended up just eating some pasta with olive oil at the place where he ate lunch with other IP people–too bad). I then set out on foot to do some experimental grocery shopping. I first went down Sebastopol to the Monoprix, which is kind of like a small Target. I was able to pick up a few household things we were looking for along with some food, including something called an “oriental tabouli salad,” which seems to be neither oriental (although “oriental” is such a vague description that, for all I know, it is oriental in some sense) nor tabouli, but it is vegan and quite tasty. As it turns out, such little packaged salads are readily available and quite inexpensive. After the Monoprix, I stopped at Biocoop, a chain natural food store. There, I was able to find some vegan butter, some fairly inexpensive brown rice in bulk, some tofu, and some peanut butter. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have gotten the peanut butter. I don’t think it’s as ubiquitous here as it is in the US, which makes it fairly expensive. But, I was hoping to make some spicy peanut tofu, and so got some anyway. I then headed to the West end of the 1st arrondissement (or somewhere in the 2nd?) to Kioko, a Japanese market. Unfortunately, I got there only to find that it is closed on Mondays, and I have yet to go back. Finally, I visited La Vie Claire, another health food store about half a block from our apartment. This is very nice little store, although it’s predictably a little expensive. At that point, I had picked up everything I needed, and so didn’t get much except for these delicious-looking little cookies.

La Vie Claire cookies

Not all of La Vie Claire’s treats are vegan, but some are. These were delicious, by the way–they’re light and crispy shortbread-type cookies with a chocolate-coated bottom.

When Graham got back, we headed into the Jewish neighborhood on and surrounding the Rue des Rosiers in the Marais. We had heard/read about two different falafel places in that area (although there are perhaps dozens), and tried one of them called Chez Hanna. I have to say that it was hands down the best falafel I’ve had in my life.

falafel from Chez Hanna

On top you get a few pieces of caramelized eggplant, carrots, two kinds of cabbage, and cucumbers. Underneath all of that is a layer of hummus, under which is some fantastic falafel. Oh, and surrounding the falafel is a kind of chile-tomato sauce, which is perfect. Just ask for it without the too-creamy-looking sesame sauce (which you won’t miss, given all of the hummus and chili-tomato sauce you’ll get). I think that what makes the falafel special is 1) a really great texture–not too dry, and not too moist, 2) the fairly generous amount of cumin that I think they put in it, and 3) the fact that it’s just a little bit spicy.

I’m very much looking forward to going back to that neighborhood, which is an easy ten minute walk from our apartment. It’s filled with little Kosher bakeries, many of which I think make baked goods sans lait and sans oeufs. However, I plan to practice my French a bit more before going back and trying to talk to the bakers. In general, I’ve found everyone I’ve met while eating and shopping to be extremely patient with me, despite my bad French; nevertheless, I don’t want to wander into a bakery just to waste someone’s time and leave them confused.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Caroline Brooks permalink
    May 18, 2010 4:16 pm

    This is great Amelia – love the pics and the narrative! I have absolutely no idea how you have the time or energy to write and post all this after all of your shopping, cooking and exploring exploits – you amaze me! It probably goes without saying that you are making me and probably countless others extremely jealous! So glad you seem to be having such a wonderful time already! (Et oui, j’aime Monoprix!)

    • May 18, 2010 7:39 pm

      The key to writing this after shopping and cooking is to not do any other work of any kind. I’ve decided to take about a week off from working on my proposal, and to try to have a little fun. I’m sure in a week or so these posts will become more sparse.

      I have no intention of making people jealous, unless that prompts them to come and visit. (:

      • Stephanie permalink
        May 18, 2010 10:45 pm

        I would love to visit, am already jealous, and am glad to hear you’re taking a week away from work.

        Your chickpea dish looked delicious, I would make some balsamic glazed chickpeas right away, if all the chickpeas we have weren’t dried :-/


  2. olivia permalink
    May 18, 2010 4:57 pm

    amelia–so glad you’re posting. everything you’ve written so far is really interesting and i think ultimately this will be incredibly helpful to lots of people! lots of love!

  3. Mary Bosch permalink
    May 18, 2010 6:04 pm

    Yes, you were spoiled by that great gas stove in your South Bend apartment. But your “strange meal” looks quite beautiful!


  4. angela permalink
    May 18, 2010 8:05 pm

    yay! thanks for telling me about the blog. i love it and i’ll be checking it often. thinking about you two.

  5. Kiki permalink
    May 18, 2010 9:27 pm

    That falafel makes me hungry!!

    Love this post! Also love your cute kitchen! It reminds me of the kitchen I used to have. 🙂 You’ll get used to the size! And when you come back here everything will seem really big. 🙂 I also love the picture of Graham posing with the broccoli, haha!

    It sounds like a great idea to take a week off to settle in and find your way around. Have fun!

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