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More Unusual Home-Cooking, Parisian Health Food, and Jardin des Tuileries

May 20, 2010

On Tuesday evening, after I had spent the afternoon wandering around, I picked up an avocado at a nearby vegetable stand, and continued to try to use up some of foodstuffs left by the former tenant.

First, I made some Franco-Italian beans and rice, which came about in the following way. I had bought rice when I went to Biocoop the other day, and some vegetable bouillon when I had gone to the Monoprix. Now, the bouillon I had gotten was labeled basilic, but I assumed that that meant that it was fairly standard herb-y bouillon. But, in fact, it turned out to be extremely basil-intensive. So, I cooked the rice in the basil bouillon, and at the end added some canned tomato sauce (left for us by the former renter), caramelized onions, dried and crushed red peppers, and kidney beans. I also, once again, made a little side of broccoli and garlic. We topped it off with some fresh avocado slices.

This turned out to be a nice and hearty meal.

The next morning, after eating the same breakfast we’ve eaten every morning so far

(baguette with vegan butter and jam), we headed to the giant BHV department store to get our apartment keys copied. Navigating the store was interesting, as was paying the 40 euros to get the keys copied. Oh well.

We then came home, ate some leftovers, and then set off to explore some of the other local health food stores. We first went across the Seine to a little place called Holy Planet, a small store with a large number of fancy packaged goods.

What I’m beginning to find is that the kind of vegan foods typically carried by Parisian health food stores is very different from the kind typically carried by US stores. In the Midwest, anyway, you will probably expect lots of veggie mayonaisse, sandwich meats, and cheese. Here, it’s mostly vegan puddings and patés. So, that was much of what Holy Planet had–although I did notice that they had little containers of rice and soy ice-cream, which could be good to know about when it gets a little warmer. We didn’t get much at Holy Planet, except for a tasty ginger soda and some soft cheese.

We continued on to Naturalia, another chain food store, where we were actually able to find something akin to nutritional yeast,

some vegan nutella-type spread,

and some quinoa. We also broke down and got some of the ubiquitous vegan pate.

The paté is pretty good. It comes in a can, and smells a little like fish (I’m not sure why–there is certainly no fish, or even seaweed, in it), and so I couldn’t help but be reminded of cat food. But I did enjoy it. It’s soy-based, and yet it really does seem like paté.

We got home, and were already pretty hungry. So, we had a bit of baguette with our new cheese.

I really like this cheese. It’s soft and spreadable (and comes in wheel form), and is very lemony (we got the ‘herb’ variety, and so it also had some herbs in it). It’s very different from many of the non-dairy cheeses one gets in the US, since it’s not the least bit plastic-y. It also doesn’t seem to have the pretension of being cheese–instead, it tastes more like some kind of new but very tasty herb spread, which is more like cream cheese.

I then got working on dinner. This was the first time I used our little electric oven

(that’s it below the microwave, which is below the burners). It turns out to work quite well, at least for what I was trying to make. First, I marinated some asparagus using about 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil (also left for us by the former tenant), some sea salt, the juice from half a lemon, and two giant cloves of garlic cut into large slices. I put the marinated asparagus into what I think was an oven safe dish, set our strange little oven to the “grill” setting, and let it cook for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, I fried some tofu in our wok with a bit of oil. This is where it gets a little strange. Once the tofu was brown and crispy, I mixed some of our paté with warm water, sea salt, and dried basil, and poured that over the tofu. I let the tofu simmer in that sauce for a while, until much of it had boiled off. Then I sprinkled some of our pseudo-nutritional yeast on top of it, stirred it around, and sprinkled on a bit more. The yeast makes the tofu taste a little more savory, and also helps to keep it crispy on the outside. Once the sauce was soaked up and the tofu was crispy again, dinner was done.

As strange as the paté sauce sounds, it turned out to make for very good tofu. And the asparagus was great–it reminded me of some asparagus I made for some friends right before we left South Bend.

That evening, we went out in search of a pleasant place to get a drink that wouldn’t be too pricey. We had been to a place the other night that was fairly inexpensive, but really wasn’t very enjoyable–it was filled with televisions, and played lots of US alt-metal from the late-90s. So, this evening, we went to a place close to our apartment (Sous Bock, I think it’s called) that was much more relaxed, but unfortunately turned out to be more expensive than we anticipated. So, we’re still in search of a good place to frequent.

This afternoon, after continuing to try to figure out the best way of paying our rent (which we need to somehow get into our landlord’s French bank account–this is more complicated than one might initially expect), we had a picnic at the Jardin des Tuileries, next to the Louvre.

We had some leftover “tabouli” salad, some leftover soft cheese (left), some leftover paté (right), a fresh baguette, and some of the chocolate spread bought the day before. The chocolate spread was awesome.

We then went to Kioko (which was now open), and managed to find some very inexpensive tofu (.90 euros!), some rice vinegar, some chili oil, and some nori. Kioko was a very fun store with very friendly workers. It also felt much more familiar to me than many of the French stores around. I had a hard time finding the chili oil (it was upstairs, and I didn’t realize there was an upstairs), and so asked the woman working behind the “Ou est l’huille de… chili?” She looked very confused–I think she thought I was asking for cherry oil. But I got very excited when she said, “La Yu?” La Yu is a good brand of chili oil, and was exactly what I was hoping for.

On our way home, we peeked inside the BNF

(where I think Graham will want to work sometimes–he’s very excited), and walked by a place called Lemoni Cafe, which seems to be a little vegetarian cafe. Lemoni is only a few blocks away from us, and so I plan on paying them a visit sometime soon.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Caroline Brooks permalink
    May 20, 2010 4:16 pm

    I think you just may be he new vegan Julia Child! 😉 Re: paying the rent, are you able to go to your landlord’s bank (with his/her acct #) and just deposit it directly into the account? While strange seeming to most Americans, this is very typical and easy in Mexico, but maybe not in France… good luck, we’ve been there…!

    • May 20, 2010 8:00 pm

      I think the next thing we’re going to try is heading to the bank with a bunch of euros in hand (which does indeed seem strange). They are not willing to accept a cash advance via debit card, and won’t accept a US check, and opening a French bank account is fairly difficult. (We may end up opening one, but it’s also time-consuming–we would first need to apply for our carte sejour [sp?], and then bring them lots of other documents some of which may need to be faxed from US institutions… it just sounds like a real pain, and there’s no need for us to have a French bank account *except* that it would be convenient for paying rent.) So, we’re now working on having our US bank allow us to withdraw large amounts of money, so that we can pay our patient landlord promptly. I’m a little worried that he’ll think we’re trying to get out of paying our rent (when actually we’re spending large amounts of time figuring out *how* to pay)!

      • Mom too permalink
        May 20, 2010 9:11 pm

        HI Kids…
        I had the exact same problem when I made my first trip to Italy. The bank refused to believe that my cashier’s check from the Williamstown Savings Bank was valid… They refused to believe that my bank or the town itself actually existed… Making a direct deposit into your landlord’s acct. so long as no one knows you are carrying a boatload of money seems ok…Your bank in South Bend could also wire the money to his bank which probably costs money to do but at least it would get there. If you email your bank, you might be able to set up an automatic bill pay. I am told that few people in Europe even use checks anymore. It is all done electronically. At least, that is the case in Germany….Awful that they charged you a fortune for your keys. I thought the $20 that Olivia paid for an extra set in NY was outrageous. In little Williamstown, the Aubuchon Hardware store charges a dollar a key! C’est trop trop mauvais!
        Is there a Triple A office in Paris? or an American Express office? They can often help with these nasty things….

  2. May 20, 2010 4:23 pm

    I’m a fan of that paté as well. I’ve seen that very brand at Mediterranean Island in Grand Rapids, of all places.

    • May 20, 2010 8:04 pm

      Well, Grand Rapids, in my opinion, is actually becoming an increasingly great place to find great food–so I can’t say I’m too surprised.

  3. Stephanie permalink
    May 20, 2010 4:54 pm

    I LOVE Tartex. Please try the mushroom flavours for me. I lived off of them (with some dark brown sunflower bread) while I was in Germany.

    • May 20, 2010 8:02 pm

      Yes, you should avoid the Tartex that I bought, and eat only the mushroom flavor–the stuff I got was filled with basil.

      I’ll be sure to try the mushroom, next time. (:

      • Stephanie permalink
        May 25, 2010 8:13 pm

        They ruined tartex with deathly greens? Why would they do that? 😦

        Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  4. angela permalink
    May 21, 2010 5:11 pm

    yay! that asparagus was incredible! you’re lovely.

  5. Kiki permalink
    May 23, 2010 2:04 pm

    I was a little behind with reading, but just caught up. Its great you’re able to find so many vegan products! I’m sure that in a little wile you’ll know exactly where to get everything. Dinner looks really good!


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