Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Salad Envy – On Saladism

I have been waiting for what seems like the entire five minutes I have been waiting. I only notice because The Suit in front of me is speaking fluent Suit with another Suit and I find the talk of Suits reminds me that I used to be a Suit too. In a default Suit reaction I make a list in my head. I’m hungry. That’s the list.

I should have paid more attention. By the time I meet my challenger I wish I had made a better list. Fifty odd salad ingredients. One set of tongs. One Salad Master (or a demi-teen dressed as a Salad Master) and me. Calm.

I instantly regret my lettuce choice (always crispy mixed, always crispy mixed) as I fumble between chicken and tuna (chicken), parmesan and feta (feta), always baby tomatoes, cucumber? Here is where it starts to go wrong. Breathe, just breathe. The lady behind me is tapping her manicured nails on the glass counter impatiently at the hold up my decisional impasse is causing to the execution of her salad list. I should have made a list. I freeze and then point and nod at every ingredient that was never meant to meet the rest of my salad. Focus. Crème fraiche dressing (no, before you ask, it’s not good, it means nothing to nobody). Pay. Seat. Breathe.

As my pulse slows I peer into the deep silver bowl, the product of my friends Salad Master battle and his scars are far fewer than mine. He’s done well, stuck to the classics. Avoided the comingling of sweet and savoury. Balanced cured and fresh, dairy and legume. Damn him. Avocado. I don’t have avocado. I wish I had avocado. I think perhaps my cucumber could be as tasty as avocado. It’s not. I have an impotent salad. Salad Envy.

This is me in a salad bar. Even the very popular one at Calm (4 rue du Commandant Rivière 75008 Paris, 01 53 76 12 20 and 60 boulevard Malesherbes 75008 Paris, 01 45 22 31 98, ) despite the support and emotional direction provided by the stores proper noun. I make poor and regrettable decisions on a nearly per ingredient basis and have learnt that if you can’t say anything nice, do not say anything at all. Get a sandwich.

But do not avoid Calm. The concept of the instructional salad bar isn’t a new one. But it is done well here. The ingredients are fresh, the staff very generous (especially the feta), the options wide, tables ample and it makes a light change to the usual plat de jour lunches in the 8eme. How about the NASDAQ today ?...(oh sorry, that’s the default Suit again).

If you are like me or if you can separate yourself from the need to control your salad, calm down (once you’ve pounced a terrace table) at Au Rocher de Cancale on Rue Montorgueil (78 rue Montorgueil 75002 Paris, 01 42 33 50 29, Reservation not required, and let the kitchen concoct make your salad list for you (it’s called a menu).

Here they serve predominantly salads. Big salads. Elaine Benis kind of salads.

The langoustine offering appears on the specials board regularly and is the envy of nearly every other diner who has regrettably forgotten to consult the chalk board before ordering one of the classics (Nicoise, chevre chaud, Paysanne, Grecque). Green with envy. The plate nearly consumes the table, the little shrimp fight with the big shrimp for creamy dressing, the pink langoustines kick back on the bed of tomatoes and greens. Croutons and cucumber crunch and add texture. No stress.

Salade Chevre Chaud - You can't go wrong...unless you've missed the langoustines.

The Italian Salad is a perfect list (tomates séchées, poivron mariné, champignon, courgette grillées, jambon de Parme, coeur d’artichaud, mozzarella), but I’m currently ignoring artichokes after an unfortunate incident between myself, a turning knife and one of their kind in the kitchen.

Damn him. Still. Avocado. I should have thought of that….food grudge.

No comments:

Post a Comment