Cafe Cubano (Chez Moi)

I grew up drinking Cuban coffee, which is essentially sweetened espresso.  I remember my mom giving me Cuban coffee before basketball games when I was in high school.  That’s probably when my coffee obsession began.  Back in the states, Cafe Bustelo is the coffee of choice for making Cuban coffee, since actual coffee from Cuba is illegal in the states.  Here in Paris I found coffee grown and produced in Cuba, so I picked up a can to brew at home.  To make Cuban coffee you need a stovetop espresso maker, sugar, an espresso cup and a small spoon.  First place about 1 teaspoon of sugar in the espresso cup.  Start to brew the coffee and as soon as the first bit of coffee brews, pour just enough over the sugar to make a paste.  Place the espresso maker back on the heat to finish brewing.  While the coffee brews, vigorously beat the sugar paste with the spoon.  The color of the sugar paste should turn lighter as you beat it with the spoon.  Once the coffee is brewed, pour some slowly into your cup and stir lightly.  You should have a light froth on the top of your coffee.  By the way, the Cuban coffee I bought is really good!


L’as du Fallafel Part II

After buying a couple of more books at Librairie Gourmande (my favorite store in the world), we decided to trek over to the Marais district to check out L’as du Fallafel for a second time. Knowing how big the portions were the first time around, we ordered only mains. My wife ordered the full fallafel platter and I ordered the shawarma platter. To wash everything down I ordered an Israeli beer. This time around we were given warm pita bread instead matzos. My wife’s fallafel platter was as good as the last time we had it with light flavorful fallafels and and a variety of accompaniments. My shawarma platter was large enough to feed a family of four and it came with a pile of French fries in the middle. The meat portion was a mix of turkey and lamb. I know it sounds weird, but it was delicious. This place is the Paris equivalent to a great Mexican restaurant in the Bay Area. We plan on returning one more time before we leave Paris.

Aux Pres 6th

Tonight we paid a visit to Aux Pres in the St Germain des Pres neighborhood. Aux Pres is run by French celebrity chef Cyril Lignac, who was in the restaurant while we ate dinner. The restaurant is fairly small with an old school brasserie vibe. To start my wife ordered the crab on toast with avocado and cilantro. I ordered the house made ricotta with pine nuts, eggplant and Parm ham. The crab toast was delicious with a generous portion of crab. The ricotta was smooth and rich, offset by the lightly pickled eggplant and deliciously salty Parma ham. For our mains, my wife got the chicken sate tacos (yes I said tacos) and I ordered the sweet & sour sweetbreads with carrots and spinach. The tacos were delicious, definitely not your typical taco in regards to flavors, but a great combination of Thai flavors and Mexican ingenuity. My sweetbreads were cooked to perfection, with a fairly mild sweet & sour sauce that reminded me of the Nicaraguen dish chop suey. The spinach and carrots were nicely cooked. To drink we shared a bottle of Alsatian Gewurtztraminer. For dessert my wife got the French toast with pears, hazelnuts and vanilla ice cream. I went with the Bordier Saint Nectaire cheese with gem salad. We started to eat our dessert and cheese course before taking pictures, sorry. The French toast was light and delicious. The hazelnuts turned a good dessert into a great dessert. The cheese was amazing. Cheese in France is on a whole other level. Dinner ended with a couple of warm madeilines. Overall a great meal and experience.

Croissant and Eclair from Moulin de la Vierge

After checking out the Petit Palais, one of the few museums in Paris that is free, we decided to get a quick snack for lunch at Le Moulin de la Vierge. My wife got a chocolate eclair and I grabbed a croissant. Last time I got a croissant here, I didn’t eat it until the next day, so it had lost its crispness. The chocolate eclair was delicious. The chocolate filling was more intense and rich than the eclair we had from Nelly Julien. The croissant was crisp on the outside and light on the inside. Definitely on par with the croissant at Nelly Julien and less greasy than theirs. Right now, Moulin de la Vierge is my favorite shop in Paris.

Apricot Tart from Le Moulin de la Vierge

I decided to walk over to my local market, only to find it closed. It seems that 90% of businesses in Paris close on Sunday. Luckily there is one business that opens on Sunday, Le Moulin de la Vierge. I picked up a raisin escargot, a palmier, a mini baguette and two apricot tarts. We had the apricot tarts for dessert today. They were delicious. The tart shells were crisp and buttery. The apricots were both tart and sweet and there was a light custard around the apricots.

Nelly Julien 7th

It’s impossible to stay in Paris and not eat some sort of pastry or bread every day. Right around the corner from my studio are two great Patisseries/ Boulangeries: La Moulin de la Vierge and Nelly Julien. They are literally across the street from each other. Today I went to Nelly Julien early in the morning to grab a couple of croissants for breakfast. I ended up grabbing a croissant, pan au chocolat, lemon tart and a religieuse. The croissant and pan au chocolat were still warm when I bought them. The croissant was excellent. It had a thin crisp outer layer and the interior was as light as air. The best croissant I’ve had yet. The pan au chocolat was the same as the croissant add chocolate in the middle. The lemon tart was nice and tart however the filling was a little too grainy. The religieuse is two glazed cream puffs filled with coffee flavored pastry cream and stacked one on top of the other, held together with buttercream. Based on the quality of their eclairs, I knew the religieuse would be spot on and it was.

World’s best sandwich? (Certaldo, Italy)

On our way to the Certaldo train station, we decided to grab a couple of sandwiches at Jam Cafe. After looking over the sandwiches we decided to grab a couple of prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches. However, when the clerk opened the sandwich display, I got a good whif of truffles. I asked the clerk what smelled like truffles and he pointed to a sandwich that had ham, egg and truffle mayonnaise. I picked one up and we were on our way to the Florence airport. On the train ride to the airport the truffle smell was seeping through the paper bag the sandwich was in. Once we arrived at the airport we sat down to eat our sandwiches. Unbelievable! This was the best truffle flavor I’ve ever tasted. It wasn’t that over the top artificial truffle oil taste, but this faint, slightly musky truffle flavor that brought out the flavors of both the hard boiled egg and ham in the sandwich. Since truffle season is over, I assume they use a good quality truffle paste to make the sandwich.