I’ve been busy and I’m back here in the U.S. currently testing some recipes for a few cookbooks. I’ve so much to reveal here to you, but not just yet… In one month, we head to Mexico City and I’m hoping to share most of my travel posts before we go. Let’s see, we spent December and some of January in Paris exploring gourmet shops, crafting vegan comfort dishes using local French produce/ingredients and sipping local ciders and wines. It was lovely to be offline for awhile to absorb the local culture of Paris unlike our last trip to Paris in 2008 when we devoted most of our time seeing the iconic landmarks. I had the pleasure using fresh herbs like French tarragon in my pasta dishes and sauces; their tender and long dark green leaves have a beautiful aroma that is reminiscent of anise. I wish I could have fresh tarragon in my kitchen here all year round.
Yesterday at a local market (here in the U.S.), I was tad annoyed with their leeks, chopped down to just the whites. Where are their fabulous dark green leaves – the ones I can use in my stock and sautéed dishes? In Paris, leeks keep their beautiful dark green leaves.
Let’s start with Gentle Gourmet Cafe, I’ve been following the owner on Instagram for a long time and enjoyed drooling at their vegan French desserts, especially the croissant (sadly I didn’t try it during my time). Their website is currently down and has been down since December (due to being hacked) fortunately I have photographed the menu pages. As of January 2014, they are open from Tuesday – Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30 pm, 6:00pm – 10:30pm. So we went a few days after Christmas Day and it wasn’t too busy that day and there was only one waiter. Service was superb (they even have English menus available if you need it) and all the food was delicious, but we most enjoyed our starters and desserts.
Gentle Gourmet Café: For the starters, we had their vegan cheese balls in a cider-based batter, deep-fried and served with a mixed lettuce salad with apple slices, walnuts and a cider-based dressing (€11) + cassolette of wild mushrooms with a cream and herbs sauce (€8). The fried cheese balls contained Vegusto cheese, and they were pretty tasty. I would try their cheese balls first if I were you.
1. Salade Honfleur avec trois beignets de fromage végétal sur une salade mesclun, lamelles de pommes vertes et rouges, cerneaux de noix et vinaigrette au cidre et à l’échalote (€11)
2. Cassolette de champignons sauvages, sauce à la crème et aux fines herbes (€8)
Gentle Gourmet Café: For the main, we had a New Orleans Filo pouches stuffed with a mix of three rices, pecans, kale, shallots, green pepper and chiles and served with a lightly-spiced cajun sauce (€17). This is my favorite main among the other two I’ve tried.
Aumônière Nouvelle-Orléans farcie d’un mélange de trois riz, noix de pécan, kale, échalote, poivron avec sa sauce cajun légèrement épicée (€17)
Gentle Gourmet Café: The heart-shaped potato puree from the main was interesting. It was a tasty dish though. The main was tofu scallops with a soy cream, grainy-mustard and red onion sauce with sautéed green vegetables and a herbed potato puree (€16). I like the grainy-mustard and red onion creamy sauce, especially the creamy potato puree.
Tofu sauce moutarde a l’ancienne accompagné d’un sauté de légumes verts avec et une purée de pomme-de-terre aux herbs (€16)
Gentle Gourmet Café: For the main, we had a bourguignon of portobellos, seitan, parsnips, chestnuts, prunes and carrots in a herb-infused burgundy wine sauce served in a roasted Hakaido pumpkin half (€22). The bourguignon was rich and hearty with great flavors. We enjoyed the fact that the seitan wasn’t too prominent in the dish, allowing the other ingredients to stand out as well. This was the most expensive main on their December Gourmet Mains list.
Bourguignon de portobellos, seitan, panais, marrons, échalote et pruneaux marinés dans une sauce au vin rouge. Servi dans un demi potimarron. (€22)
Gentle Gourmet Café: I had to try something unique and chose this dessert because of my recent love for candied chestnuts. The waiter commented on my choice and kindly added, “Excellent choice, it is very good!” The name of the dessert is a Christmas Napoleon with vanilla and chestnut pastry cream and sprinkled with candied chestnut pieces (€9). I enjoyed the sweet nutty flavors from the cream and the candied chestnut pieces. It was the heaviest of the three desserts we’ve tried.
Mille-feuilles de Noel à la crème pâtissière a la vanille et à la crème de marron aux éclats de marrons glacés. (€9)
Gentle Gourmet Café: We also had a crème brûlée with Grand Marnier and glazed oranges.(€8) I was very excited to see a memorable garnish: uchuva (Colombia) aka golden berry, there are many names for it. I would love to go back to Bogota or Colombia again! It was a good dessert, had nice flavor from the Grand Marnier, good crust and on the softer side underneath (more like a pudding). Or should I say sweet, citrus-based creamy custard with a delightfully cracking sugar crust?!
Crème brûlée au Grand Marnier et oranges confites. (€8)
Gentle Gourmet Café: We had an AppleTatin with calvados and cinnamon-laced caramel served with whipped cream. (€7) Caramelized juicy apples, calvados, and light puff pastry taste lovely together. A classic French apple confectionary.
Tatin de pommes caramélisées au calvados et à la cannelle. (€7)
photo diary: paris #1