Markets in Paris – a Sunday treat!

October 16th, 2006
Sundays in Paris begin with a stroll through the market! On a recent weekend in the City of Light, three very different markets offered us a range of seasonal specialties. In brief, I recommend…. 1) Saint-Eustache/Les Halles, in the shadow of Saint-Eustache church, this rather small but condensed market brings back to life the neighborhood ambiance of the former grand Halles market (on a much smaller scale!). Find your way to the 1st arrondisement early enough to enjoy a good selection of fresh fruits and cheeses. By 1:00, vendors are busily dismantling their stalls. 2) Beauvau Market Hall on the Place d’Aligre is the hub of a market that sprawls through adjoining streets in the 12th (Metro: Ledru Rollin). If you love middle eastern cusine, this is the place to shop. Lebanese breads bake on domed griddles, and plump fresh dates (looking more like gigantic grapes) glow in the autumn sunshine. Pomegranates, neat rows of pears and colorful spices are great temptations in a setting that feels more like a souk than a Paris street market. Inside the Beauvau hall, I always stop at a corner stall, Sur les Quais (tel: 01 43 43 21 09) for oils, olives and all sorts of tantalyzing spices: try their own delectable tomato caviar! 3) Marché Auguste-Blanqui is just off the place d’Italie at rue Barrault. Among my Sunday discoveries were the Vergers de Picardie from Douilly, selling many varieties of apples, pears and their own cider. Further along the aisle, I stopped at the Carpentier family stall for cheese (from Camembert to Cantal) as well as wines. This large stall is also at the Neuilly, Fosses la Chapelle, and Pontoise markets. But on Sunday, when the crowd is a mix of serious shoppers and families with kids in tow, these are three of my favorite spots to shop. A few other notable Sunday markets are: Marché Enfants rouges in the 3rd, Marché Monge in the 5th on Place Monge, Marché couvert St-Germain in the 6th, Marché couvert Europe in the 8th on rue Corvetto, and Marché Alibert in the 10th next to the hospital St-Louis. In some of the markets, the local ‘Mairie’/town hall has a table with information on markets as well as other points of interest in the quarter. For a more complete list, check the site: www.paris.fr/marches_parisiens

Tomato Caviar slathered on turkey steaks

October 11th, 2006

What’s for supper when we’ve just come home from Paris?
A quick stop at the butcher and baker, dig through the bag of market treasures, and a supper solution (c’est évident!) is: turkey breast steaks briefly braised under a mantle of tomato caviar (from a vendor in the Beauvau market), on the table in about 30 minutes:

2 shallots, trimmed and sliced, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sugar

2 turkey steaks, paprika (LaVera from Spain, or sweet Hungarian), sea salt

tomato caviar, 1 or 2 tablespoons each steak; 3 tablespoons white wine to deglaze pan

In a cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the shallots until they are wilted (not browned), sprinkle the sugar over them and push to the side of the skillet. Add a bit more olive oil, sear the turkey on one side, sprinkle each top with 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and turn to sear the seasoned side. Reduce the heat a bit, spread tomato caviar on top of each steak, cook for 5 minutes. Pour a little white wine into the sides of the pan to moisten the meat and deglaze, cover and cook over low until done – not more than a dozen minutes; sprinkle all with sea salt. To serve, scoop the shallots out onto each plate, carefully lay the hot turkey steaks on top with a drizzle of pan juices on the side. Camargue rice or organic brown rice is a good match for the turkey. Variations on this theme are many: try chicken breast steaks, veal, or thick pork chops (cooked longer).