Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sunburn and Speculoos

The past two weeks of spring weather have left me with two things. Some unfortunately geometric tan lines (more correctly burn stripes) and a renewed love for ice cream. I was the subject of a pop up foodie pop quiz by a new friend this week – favourite colour (green), favourite food (cheese) and favourite dessert (cheese). Easy.

I was swiftly prompted that in fact it was not so easy given the plethora of cheese varieties in France alone (between which I retorted I refuse to discriminate my love) and politely requested to reconsider my response. Whilst deep in self contemplation I proposed the same to my friend. His response, blue (for boys, very mature), all food (so obvious) and sweet cucumber and aloe vera coriander mousse and mozzarella ice cream. Damn you, I thought. That’s a great answer.

I love boutique ice cream flavours, odd and niche so you know the batch is beautifully homemade and the product of a moment of odd thought by and eccentric taste bud. Pizza East in London ( routinely changes its ice cream selection as the chefs try out new flavours and ideas. Creme Fraiche and brown sugar got me every time.

Berthillion - Worth waiting for...just not that long.

Eggs & Co

I have no puns or witting word plays for the title of this post. Eggs & Co (previously Coco & Co) (11 rue Bernard Palissy, Paris 75006, 01 45 44 02 52, Reservations Advised, is exactly what is says on the sign. All about eggs and the company they chose to keep.

In her past life before entering the wtiness protection program - Eggs&Co (Coco & Co)

I Sarah, take you Pain Perdu

I have spent much of adult life ‘wedded’ to food. I can’t say my relationships have always been monogamous. My eye has strayed. I’ve dined with handsome strangers. It is a little more akin perhaps to the concept of marriage as exercised by a maharaja with his concubine or let’s be honest, multidimensional family living on a commune in the middle of Utah.

I was introduced to my first love by an ex-boyfriend at a still amazing restaurant Ezard in Melbourne ( This chance meeting occurred at a time when Said Ex was meant to be my first love - so you can imagine how awkward that first encounter was. One thing led to another and I ended deeply in love with Truffle and Artichoke Creme Brulee for a number of years. As it turned out, Said Ex was also entwined in a fiery affair with Chilli Mud Crab so no hearts were broken during this culinary exchange of affection.

Without sounding like a food floozy, my twenties have been a bit of a table hopping decade. I’ve recently ended an affair with Turkish Eggs (served at Providores in London (  perfectly poached eggs served in a pillow of whipped Arabic yoghurt and bathed in chilli and garlic clarified butter). Long distance was never going to work out and I think he became jealous of the occasional Sunday morning I would spend elsewhere on the menu.

My Ex - Turkish Eggs at Providores, London

Since moving to Paris I have had many one meal stands. Some have become regular visitors in my kitchen, while others I’ll probably struggle to remember their name in a few months time. I’m currently dating the nutty, smooth and slightly spiced Hummus sold by the Lebanese vendor at my local market. It’s still a new relationship, but I’m optimistic.

I’ve nearly always been in savoury relationships. My friend Sarah, she’s the opposite, it’s all about the sugar. Sarah left her high school sweet heart, Nutella, back in Connecticut for a three month volunteer program in Tanzania before moving to Paris. She’s met a lot of interesting prospects in the past few months, but we knew that French Toast was different. French Toast often, but not always, is served at Coffee Parisian (4, rue Princesse, Paris 75006, 01 43 54 18 18, No Reservations) a bustling and very popular American themed diner in the 6eme.

Outside Coffee Parisien, Paris.

I had heard so much about French Toast that by the time we finally met, I doubted he could ever eat up to the hype. I had already flirted with a plump and meaty burger that night (the burgers are what Coffee Parisen is best known for), but with tart grapefruit and lashings of maple syrup there was enough room in my heart that evening to understand what Sarah saw in French Toast.

It’s tough with friends though, you often think they can do better. While I knew Sarah’s affection for French Toast was very real (she was already talking marriage) I also knew there were plenty of other toasts on the griddle. So I set up a blind date with Pain Perdu a good friend of mine at Cafe Charlot in the Marais (38, rue de Bretagne, Paris 75003, 01 44 54 03 30, No Reservations). Pain Perdu is only ever served with the brunch plate on Sundays, a delicious forest of ramekins filled with creamy eggs, smoked salmon, herbed crème fraiche, seasonal fruit and a plum tomato salad. Pain Perdu is sweet, but not too sweat, moist and smooth like a marshmallow of brioche, cream, eggs and sugar.

Sarah's First Date with Pain Perdu, Cafe Charlot, Paris.

Cafe Charlot does a great coffee, the tiled and wooden decor is straight from an early century movie, the staff love their regulars and always welcome new faces and the menu is filled with everything you love to eat with your Sunday paper and good company. I’m going on a date with Eggs Benedict there tomorrow and trying to think of something cute to wear for the occasion.

As it turns out, I played the perfect cupid. Sarah and Pain Perdu will be married in August here in Paris. I wish them only happiness and maple syrup for their future.