Thursday, August 27, 2015

American Burgers at the French National Library

Comfort food is whatever makes you feel better, and I've been missing the US lately, so I craved an American burger. Everyone has recommended Le Camion Qui Fume, or the "Smoking Truck"  the first food truck here in Paris, started by a Californian, so I braved the wait at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, or French National Library, for a taste.
The line starts on the left as you order and pay, then you shift to the right side to pick up according to your name; at 1pm it was an hour wait total.
Keep in mind if you go later to avoid the lines, they may be out of certain choices, so if you don't want to wait, get there when they open.
For between 9-14 Euros ($11-$16) you can get a burger, or burger and sides at one of their locations
There are three condiment choices for the fries, but I didn't want any of them....
There are no tables or chairs at the truck, but at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, there are plenty of places to sit on benches or steps, and everyone created their own"picnic" nearby.
I went with the only French friend who was still here in August, who wanted TWO burgers (one to eat, and one to take home), one classic, with cheddar, pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise,
and one Barbecue with cheddar, caramelized onions, bacon, barbeque sauce, and mayonnaise (I thought it was weird to combine barbecue sauce with cheese). The fries are crisp, salted, and nearly everyone chose them as their side dish. The burgers are small by US standards, so you can order a double patty for an extra 5 Euros or $6, if you have an American appetite and don't want two burgers. I was perfectly happy with my burger and side, but I eat like a French person now:)
I chose the Campagne, or mushroom, caramelized onion, Swiss Etivaz cheese, and mayonnaise. I was thrilled to see they toasted the inside of the soft bun :)
and I was even happier that there was some pink in the juicy meat! The combination of ingredients made this the best American burger I've eaten in Paris!
Even the coleslaw was outstanding, with real zing, and completely fresh authentic ingredients!
A view of the Seine from the steps of the library made this the perfect lunch spot.
The library itself is huge
with four modern buildings that reached sky high, as well as lower levels that went underground.
The green atrium in the center of the library was a green reminder of what books were made of in olden times, as well as providing some natural elements to the concrete and glass :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Jubey & Hokkaido Japanese Food in Paris

August in Paris means the locals are gone and the tourists are in town; it also means finding any place to shop or eat on a Sunday becomes even more of a challenge than usual, requiring the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes. After a bit of research, Sherlock @John8600 pointed me in the direction of Hokkaido. Even though it's Summer, the days are rainy and cool enough that eating ramen is still a pleasurable experience, at least it is for me, a Southern California transplant:) 

I got the Champon Ramen, which was packed with vegetables and a few thin slices of pork in a clear broth. The vegetables were very fresh, and the noodles were decent. After eating the ramen at Dosanko Larmen, I had hoped for soup comparable in depth of flavor, but the broth here did not have much flavor and even after using the condiments on the table, I couldn't doctor it up enough to take more than a few sips. The portion is huge (for Paris) so if you want a filling dish, this would fit the bill.
The menu special of 11 Euros included 5 gyoza which were very good; crisp on one side, tender tasty filling, and not greasy. I would definitely order these again, but maybe instead of ramen, I would try one of their noodle or rice dishes, both of which looked good on other tables. Service was very pleasant, and even though it was packed, the food came out rapidly.
Even when it's not Sunday or August, finding a place that is open between the usual lunch and dinner hours here of 3pm-7pm, is so challenging that restaurants advertise if they are open "nonstop" as an enticement. Udon Jubey usually has lines out the door during the peak meal times, so if you don't want to wait, or want to eat during the afternoon, this is an excellent choice.
I think that until you've tried something done well, you can't really say you don't like it. I used to say that I did not like udon, but this bowl changed my mind :) The springy noodles in the flavorful broth with the green onions and seaweed are a classic preparation, yet I had never tasted such a symphony of simplicity; every note was perfect, and the music of slurping sounds could be heard throughout the restaurant.
As part of their set menu of 16 Euros, you get the udon and a choice of sides like this Katsu and omelette slices over shredded cabbage
with a small bowl of chicken rice with pickles. The Katsu was crisp with a nice sauce, and the rice had the benefit of richer flavors from being cooked with broth.
The small portion of Katsu with the set menu was so good, I went back for a full katsu on another visit, which was almost more than I could eat; I saw plates of tempura which looked tempting too, but I had no room to eat anymore!
Besides the warm service, and the delightful food, they had something on the tables which literally made me smile: bottles of red pepper condiment :)




Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunny Sunday in Saint Germain en laye

Most Parisians leave town in August, heading to the shores of France or abroad to begin their 5 week Summer vacation. The traffic out of Paris was so bad on Saturday that the city asked people to consider leaving Sunday or Monday. Adding to the Summer mass exodus headache is the Summer maintenance on several lines of the RER and metro. I decided to avoid all of that by staying local this week-end. I went to the Museum of Archeology in the Chateau of Saint Germain-en-laye and the Museé Maurice Denis, both of which have huge gardens adjacent to them and because it was the 1st Sunday in August, entry to both was free:) 

The RER A1 literally stops in front of the Chateau of Saint Germain-en-laye so you can't miss it. This was where Louis XIV was born, and it was his home before he moved to the newer warmer chateau of Versailles (yes, even in those days they didn't like cold drafty chateaux). The adjacent park and forest are great places to have a picnic or sunbathe. There's one small café in the park on the edge of the forest, but otherwise there are only two small stands for drinks and ice cream, so if you want to eat, go to one of the cafés facing the Chateau, or the Brasserie du Theatre and order some oysters and their grilled fish (see my blog post here).
The interior courtyard is impressive, and the museum takes up two floors with about 20 rooms of exhibitions, including some multi-media video and audio sections.
It's the Museum of Archeology so most items are ancient weapons, tools, and some skeletons of both animals and people. This display of armor was the most striking to me since men actually wore these heavy metal vests to war.
 My favorite part of the museum was the chapel.
 About a 15 minute walk away is the Maurice Denis Museum and garden where art classes are held.
 The workshop or Atelier was closed, but the museum and garden both open.
 The Museum is inside the building on several levels with work from various artists including Gauguin, but sculptures dot the garden.


Maurice Denis.


 Gauguin's artist pallet.
 There's a play area for children who may not be interested in the museum:)
 A small chapel in on the property and a registered national monument.



 The garden has many beautiful paths





 The path out is as beautiful as the path in :)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Afternoon in Barbizon

An afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of Paris is refreshing, not only for the change of pace, but also for the reminder that not all of France is Paris :) 

The forest and chateau of Fontainebleau is only about 35 miles away and adjacent to the forest is the small village of Barbizon. It's a side trip worth making, especially if you have a car, but if you take public transportation, the easiest way to get here is to go to Fontainebleau and then take the short taxi ride to Barbizon (about 10-15 minutes) on the other side of the forest. Barbizon School was named after this town and this is still an artist colony with mosaics that line the main street.
The entrance to the Barbizon School.
There are charming places to eat and sleep if you want to stay in town, ranging from inexpensive to very expensive.



There are numerous ateliers where artists work and showcase their craft.
 Some homes are private sanctuaries


 while others are sometimes open for tours (but not on Mondays or Tuesdays).
 Sometimes it's a pleasure to go to school :)