After a bit of a dry spell on this blog as far as photos and locations/adventures in Paris, you will be pleased to read that I had a very long and busy weekend, and have photos to show for it.
Saturday, 17 October, my friend Tess and I went on another Saturday luncheon adventure. Tess, wanting to celebrate an early release from a prison of a temp job that had her waking up at 2:30 each morning to be at work by 4 am, and me, to celebrate a month, cig-free, met up at Métro Jussieu in the 5th arrondissement to once again eat lunch at Le Puits de Légumes.
Le Puits de Légumes
The Well of Vegetables Vegetarian and Organic Restaurant
The outside of the restaurant has had a facelift since last July through fresh coats of paint and a new, attention-getting sign.
18, rue Cardinal Lemoine
Tél: 01 43 25 50 95
Open from noon (12 h) to 10 pm (22 h) Monday to Saturday, Le Puits de Légumes serves vegetarian, organic and macrobiotic lunches and dinners.
The thing I appreciate most is that the proprietress of the establishment (whose name I eventually hope to learn) is very well-aware of serving gluten-free meals. There are many offerings that are gluten-free and while cross-contamination with gluten cannot be 100% guaranteed (she does all the meal preparations herself at the kitchen in the back of the restaurant), I have had no troubles with the food. Also, if you need to stay casein-free/dairy free, this is another restaurant where it is very possible to do so.
Fish is served on the menu, but everything else is entirely vegetarian, and, recalling from memory what is on the menu, there are vegan (dairy, cheese, and egg-free) options as well.
The cheerful interior of the restaurant filled with diners as Tess and I lunched.
I ordered an entrée of potage de potimarron, pumpkin soup, for 7 € and a plat (main course) of pavé de saumon, for 14€. Tess ordered the entrée of tartine aux figues et feta, which was served with a small salad for 7€, and a plat of ravioli végéterien.
Me, with potage.
Tess’ tartine aux figues et feta.
The ever-lovely Tess.
Pavé de saumon (salmon steak, served with brown rice, green lentils, and vegetable medley including carrot, leek, cabbage, and fresh herbs)
Tess’ ravioli végétarien, also served with brown rice, green lentils, and vegetable medley.
Our meals were both very good. The servings were so generous, I could not finish all of my rice, lentils, and veggies. Our experience there, as it was the previous time, was exceedingly pleasant! There is a home-like atmosphere to Le Puits de Légumes and I have been treated with kindness each time I have eaten there. It is has a very comfortable and clean ambiance and it seemed that much of the clientèle that shared the afternoon with us there were regulars.
If you are staying in Paris and want a very healthy, filling, and reasonably-priced lunch or supper, and especially if you need to stay gluten and/or dairy-free, please visit this establishment. You will not be disappointed!
We did not stay for dessert this time (we had other plans for that), but I was told by our lovely waitress, whom I believe is the teen daughter of the proprietress and who spoke very good English as well, that they have a chocolate cake which is gluten-free. It is based on châtaigne (chestnut), rice, and, I think she said “millet” flour. I looked up names of flours in French on Wikipedia, and farine de millet is, of course, millet flour (she had pronounced it in French: meel-ay). Anyway, I was assured that this was a gluten-free chocolate cake. I’m not sure if it has eggs and cream or other dairy in it, but the proprietress does speak a little English and she would be able to tell anyone wanting to order!
No dessert, but I did want a cup of herbal, tummy-settling tea (I was full) and so Tess and I had a pot of Japanese Mu Tea. The tea ingredients are listed on this site here, Mu Tea, but is by the manufacturer Wakama.
I love the tea cups at Le Puits de Légumes.
Tess and I walked back on rue Jussieu, just in front of the Université de Denis Diderot and back to Métro Jussieu. It started to pour rain as we walked! Thank goodness Tess carries a teeny umbrella with her. I should to do the same, but I need to get a teenier one to do so.
Here are a couple of photos of things I saw on the way.
A brasserie. In English, from the French Wikipedia page, “A brewery is etymologically and historically the name of the place where the beer is brewed. By metonymy, the term also means a brewery licensed beverage, particularly beer, where you can eat food prepared quickly.” Thank you, Google Translate. 🙂 These are the café/bars one can find all over Paris. The British would call this a “pub.” See also (in French) this: Brasserie (restaurant). The translation, in Franglais (lol):
“In hotels and restaurants, a brasserie is a type of restaurant kitchen more informal than a traditional restaurant. The Brewery has possibly a microbrewery. The brewery offers generally a fixed menu. It can provide: steak fries, flammeküche, and sauerkraut. The drink may be beer, the brand’s particular restaurant, but not necessarily.”
Hee hee hee! I love how Google Translate makes it sound like there’s an actual English as a secondary language speaker using English.
The brasserie interior.
Rue Jussieu, in the rain.
From there, we walked west towards the l’Arc de Triomphe up the Champs-Elysées, with a quick stop at the Virgin Megastore to see if they had David Lebovitz’s book The Sweet Life in Paris (they didn’t), then on to…
You know how you sometimes read in women’s magazines about ladies who have never orgasmed, not really, although they might think they have had, until they really DO and then they realize they had not?
Hmmm. Okay, well, maybe you and I read different magazines then, and noooooo this is not a cryptic allusion to anything whatsoever in my sex life, but I am trying to draw a comparison here to show you now that I GET IT.
I’ve had my Ladurée cherry popped, and yes, Virginia, it really IS everything that they say it is.
A little background, which can be found here at Wikipedia as well as on the English language Ladurée site, is this: once upon a time in 1862, a miller named Louis-Ernest Ladurée started up a bakery on rue Royale near the Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement. The original bakery was burnt down during something called the Paris Commune in 1871 (it was a brief government overthrow/uprising. Paris Historians, please do not get your panties in a wad about my summarization/paraphrase of the Wiki article. Focused on pastries here, not on describing the uprising), and then another guy built a fancy-schmancy pastry version at the same location. It was a hit, and as Wikipedia states,
“Ladurée’s rise to fame came in 1930 when his grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, had the original idea of the double-decker, sticking two macaron shells together with a creamy ganache as filling. Queen Catherine de’ Medici had brought the macaron to France from Italy in the 16th century, and the recipe for the biscuit had hardly varied over the years, but the amounts of the ingredients used and the appearance of the end product were up to the individual bakers.
Desfontaines also opened a tearoom at the pastry shop. In those days ladies were not admitted to cafés, which were the exclusive domain of men. This was a big success with ladies, who enjoyed meeting in the freedom of the tearoom rather than their homes.”
What is being written up there are these:
From left to right: chocolat, praline, pistache, caramel, rose…
… and the figue one which got popped into my mouth before the photo was taken!
Macarons are NOT coconut macaroons. The latter, which I make regularly (scroll ALL the way down to the end of the link posted there for the recipe) as a part of a gluten-yeast-sugar-free diet, are comprised of egg whites, sweetener (sugar, or stevia as in my linked recipe there), and flaked coconut. Macarons are comprised of powdered sugar, powdered almonds (very fine almond flour), and egg whites, basically. (David Lebovitz’s full recipe for chocolate ones here. More on macarons in another post of his, Making French Macarons, with a bunch of links in the post as well).
Side Note: After reading those posts about making macarons, there is no way on God’s green earth that one will likely EVER get me to the labor-intensive place of making these little lovely cookies, lol! Okay, so it’s probably loads cheaper to make one’s own than to pay the 2€ per cookie I paid for at Ladurée (I wanted the box and the box was extra…), and it might be an interesting culinary adventure, but it also sounds like there is a lot that can go potentially wrong with these, and I think I will continue to buy them for my fix, thankyouverymuch. I have a WHOLE new level of respect for the pâtisseries that do make them on a daily basis, though.
Back to the orgasm/Ladurée analogy.
I have had macarons a few times since arriving in France. They are pure delight, and as one who stays gluten-free and yeast-free, they are one pastry I can eat. Granted, they are full of sugar, but as long as I do not eat sugar every day, I can splurge once in a while. While the macarons I have eaten at various bakeries around the city (none that I noted, I was not as into noting things like that before starting this blog) were tasty and made me think “Oh those are very nice,” the Ladurée macarons, which are described on their site as “meltingly moist” made me go,
“OH MY GOD THAT IS SO FREAKIN’ GOOOOOOOD!”
Truly, truly foodgasmic are those little Ladurée gems.
Then there is the whole experience of waiting in line, getting little peeps of the goodies between people until coming to the counter to see the goods in their full glory, and feeling the pure MAGIC that is the place and its creations.
Ooooh! Another peek between customers!
Waiting. This little girl started restlessly patting her head.
Another glimpse of what was to come.
The counter staff are excellent, obviously well-trained, multi-lingual and very charming.
Ahhhhh. A close-up of the boxed beauties.
This was the young gentleman who helped me. I started off in French (said with enthusiasm and a smile, “Je voudrais macarons!” “I would like macarons!”), but then told him in French I could not speak French, which was painfully obvious, lol. In a heartbeat, he switched to English, let me know prices, and charmed the socks off of me with his flirtation. He was a sweetheart. When I told him I could not eat gluten, he straight away let me know that there were two more macaron-based pastries, an apple and caramel concoction, and the l’Ispahan, a rose, raspberry, and lychee pastry. He even called up to the pastry chefs to double-check their gluten-free status, which they were, and of course I ordered one. The l’Ispahan, at 5 €.
The cakes with the little buns on the top are called “Religieuses.” My camera in this light does not depict the beautiful colors that were present in the cases. Certainly, everything here seems bathed in golden light, which it was, but these colors just POPPED out of the case when seen in person. It was a highly SEXY (in a foodsexy kind of way) experience. Sensual. Magical. Check out the pâtisseries on the website to get a better idea of what the colors are like.
Me, with my Ladurée green bag.
The grand finale came later that night with two events.
1) The eating of the last macaron chocolat.
I sneaked off to the bedroom to eat the last one, and took these cheesy and blurry self-portraits of me eating it, lol. It was really, really delicious.
2) The eating of the l’Ispahan.
When I took this photo, I exclaimed and sighed, “Oh, I think that is the SEXIEST thing I have seen!!” PJ, hearing me, came over and said, “Babe, you and I have different ideas of sexy, but you enjoy your bad self,” or something along those lines. I have dedicated several photos to the l’Ispahan on my Flickr page in this set.
Here is one more BEFORE shot:
I had cut the l’Ispahan into fourths to share with PJ and his two kiddos. PJ passed (I think he knew how much I wanted to eat the whole thing, but felt selfish about not sharing with the kids. So he bowed out. He is not really that big into sweets as it is, so he didn’t feel he was missing out on anything.)
So I ate half, which after six macarons was more than plenty for me, who tries to stay away from refined sugar as much as possible.
Here is a little on what in the heck a l’Ispahan even is!
The Ispahan, according to Wikipedia,
is “also known as ‘Pompon des Princes’, [and] is a clear pink, half-open kind of Damask rose (an early type, introduced from the Middle east in European breeding during the crusading XIIIth century)….
The name Ispahan is from the name of city of Isfahan in Iran.
The flowers tend to grow in pairs.”
There are a couple of posts on this pastry, one from Chez Pim about the l’Ispahan from Pierre Hermé. And there is one in French from a blogger named Christine, who has a lovely photo from the one at Ladurée on her blog, too. (I just read the one by Pim before hitting the final “publish this post” button. She’s pretty scathing about the Ladurée pastry as compared to the Pierre Hermé one. I learned , however, that Pierre Hermé was the creator of the pastry when he worked for Ladurée. She says his version is better. Well, she actually calls the Ladurée one “ghastly.” LOL. If it’s ghastly, then I am CERTAIN to get my rocks off on an Hermé one, ha! I guess I know another place to visit here in the city, though…)
I actually did a couple more things this weekend, one of which was to see the delightful film (in French) called «Le petit Nicolas» based on the children’s books by René Goscinny and illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempé, whose work is more familiar to American audiences as he illustrated several covers of The New Yorker magazine (check out the collection at The New Yorker website). According to Wikipedia, the first book about Nicolas was published in 1959. “Nicholas is an illustration of an ideal childhood and a nostalgic memory of the 1950s.” The set design, casting, and costuming for this movie was excellent! I understood the bones of the story, and understood several of the verbal jokes, and the physical comedy, of course. It was a very fun film.
The other thing PJ and I did after the kiddos went back to their mom’s place on Sunday was to visit with some of his co-workers at another co-worker’s home in Belleville (in the 19th). I posted some photos of PJ and some Neufchâtel cheese in my photo set from Flickr. Kudos to PJ’s co-worker, A, who is quite a chef, and to his wife, Also A. They are wonderful hosts!
That’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed the post as much as I did experiencing and writing about it!
Over & out.