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Parisian Health Food On-The-Town: La Petit Legume & Voy Alimento

June 30, 2010

There are lots of health food stores in Paris–but is there anywhere to go to for a tasty, healthy, vegan bite to eat? Absolutely!

After a long day at the gay pride parade, we wandered over to La Petit Legume, a nearly all-vegetarian macrobiotic cafe in the 5th arrondissement. This cafe is adorable–the rustic tables, combined with the live plants, nice natural light, and modestly decorated light green walls make it the kind of place I’d like to be for quite a while. Apparently other people feel the same way–we showed up for a leisurely two-hour meal, and when we left everyone who had been there when we arrived were still enjoying themselves.

Graham got the plat de jour–split peas, roasted vegetables, brown rice, and meatball-style seitan.

I got the whole wheat spaghetti with herbs, tomatoes, garlic, olives, and pine nuts.

Now, since this is macrobiotic food, a lot of it is salt-free. At first I was a bit taken aback–no salt? At all? But then I realized that the tables were equipped with about a dozen different kinds of condiments–there were different sorts of oils, vinegars, salts, peppers, and some nutritional yeast, all there so that you could outfit your meal with the level of sodium you actually wanted. Once I had added a little salt, I thought my pasta was great–simple, but well-made. Graham’s dish was also very good; the meat-balls were incredible (very flavorful, made with lots of sausage-reminiscent spices and a savory tomato sauce), and the rice, vegetables, and peas were also perfectly cooked and fresh-tasting. 

Earlier today, we went to lunch at a relatively new vegan restaurant called Voy Alimento–a plant shop that specializes in Central and South American plants, and that also serves vegan lunches oriented around plants from those areas. I have to admit that I think I like this place a little more than La Petit Legume–it’s extremely reasonably priced, and the food is both healthy and truly inventive. To start off with, we each had a glass of xocolatl, a chilled chocolate drink that was (apparently) made by Ancient Incas. Although Graham wasn’t sure what to make of his, I couldn’t get enough of mine and his–all I can say is that it’s a little bit like drinking chilled chocolate tea, which is right up my alley.

Graham got the plat de jour, which was quinoa cooked in a tomato sauce, a salad, fried vegetables, and a blini.

Since I wasn’t quite as hungry as Graham, I just got a blini–although I shouldn’t say just a blini.

This fluffy little guy was topped with tahini and sesame seeds, and came with three different kinds of salads–all of this was then drizzled with sweet Yacon syrup. I liked to eat all of it together, picking up a piece of blini, swishing it around in some of the Yacon, and then piling on some of the tomatoes and sprouts. It was truly incredible. And what’s more, this blini plate was a mere 5 euros. 5 euros!

We decided to get dessert–a milkshake made with oat milk, bananas, carob, and spirulina, and a raw mousse made with chocolate and coconut.

The servers kept warning me that the milkshake would be weird-looking, which really just made me want to try it more. It was, despite being teal-colored, a great treat–it wasn’t a cold milkshake, but more like a creamy banana smoothie, with a hint of carob. The little mousse cup, however, may have outshone the milkshake. It came in a tiny little cup, and we found out why once we dug in–it was extremely rich. It was made with coconut milk, very dark chocolate, blended nuts, and agave nectar. It was also topped with an adorable, but unidentifiable (by us, anyway) dried fruit!

I loved Voy Alimento–they were very, very friendly, and have an adorable space near the Canal in the 10th arrondissement. They also are one of the first places in Paris I’ve found where you can hear an interesting variety of good music–many Parisians seem to be enamored of 1) late 90s alt metal and 2) Lady Gaga. Their shop is filled with unusual plants, as well as bins of imported sweeteners and spices. They’re only open for lunch from 12-2pm, and then on Sundays they do a brunch from 12-6pm. I really hope they continue to do well; when we were there, the place gradually filled up until there was no seating left, which was great to see. Normally I would worry about the viability of an out-of-the-way plant shop that only serves extremely non-French lunches, but Voy seemed to be very popular among health-conscious working folks looking for good eats.

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