Le Petit Marcel restaurant (Paris 4)

I loved this place. Admittedly, it’s partly down to the fact that I was looking to escape the office one lunchtime and it ended up being a haven of peace and tranquillity for an hour. But also thanks to the skilled and funny waiters, the very fresh food, and the lovely terrace with very few cars.

I had the salade di buffala followed by an expresso. Nothing very original or exciting about that, but the mozzarella and salad leaves were really good quality and the dressing homemade (disappointingly rare in standard bistros). And I spent my time watching the waiters skillfully chat up the customers, including calling the female ones ‘chérie’ which I’m always a sucker for.

I’ll be going back there. Either to escape work for a bit as I did that time or at some point to have a half price mojito during their happy hour.

Peach, prosciutto and pecorino

This was delicious, very light and airy, and loads of flavour.

I used what are probably among the last peaches of the season, from the same batch as the end-of-summer breakfast.

Ingredients (for 2)
Some sprigs of rocket
2 peaches
Couple of slices of prosciutto (or Serrano ham in my case)
A few shavings of pecorino (I used fresh parmesan though, just as nice)
Snipped chives
1/2 lemon
Splash of olive oil

You assemble all the ingredients on a small plate. For the parmesan shavings use a vegetable peeler. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil and drizzle over (you’re also supposed to add pomegranate molasses here but I chucked mine away recently after 4 years of meaning to use it and never getting round to it). Then snip the chives and sprinkle over.

Thanks Waitrose Magazine for this one.

End-of-summer breakfast

I love the changing of the seasons, but it’s always with a hint of sadness that I use up what are likely to be the last peaches of the summer. In the knowledge that it won’t be for another 10-11 months that I eat the next ones.

This morning’s breakfast is a great mix of end-of-summer fruits: little mirabelle plums, a fig, half a banana, a damson plum, and a peach. And tonight I’ve planned a starter with the last of the peaches in our bowl, to really make the most of them before we’re officially in Autumn.

Julhès deli (Paris 10)

Was in Julhès (54, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010) on Saturday doing the weekly-ish deli shop. ‘Deli’ doesn’t really do it justice though – I’d call it more a purveyor of traditional and France-produced delicacies (also because I’m in PR).

Said weekly shop usually consists of cheese, some form of cured ham or saucisson, and yoghurts produced by an independent French dairy. The latter have that inimitable sour taste you rarely get with industrial stuff (even though I also buy various Danone products by the vat).

There’s a brilliant selection of wines too, and a sommelier on hand to advise (although he’s your stereotypical mardy Frenchman who can bring down even the most enthusiastic Saturday morning shopper).

Despite the sommelier the place has that unique power whereby you instantly want to remortgage your house so you can buy everything in there. Thankfully I have resisted so far.

Ratz beer from Cahors

We went for a stroll in Cahors the other day and happened upon a store specialising in local produce: mainly Cahors wine, olive oil, foie gras, rillettes, and beer.

I’m a big fan of beer (although as a girl in France I risk social pariah status every time I order one), and I’m always up for testing some of the local stuff when I happen upon it.

In this case the local stuff is called Ratz and is brewed in Cahors. The white beer got a bronze medal in the 2016 Concours General Agricole, the annual celebration organised by the French Ministry of Agriculture which celebrates the best French produce. That was good, although not as good as the ‘blonde’ (lager or light ale) which has a lovely hoppy taste and is quite strong (6%), which in my opinion makes it better from a taste point of view. That one got the bronze in the 2013 Concours General Agricole.

Both are from the organic range, which is not why I bought them. They just happened to be the only ones sold in the shop, which I suspect sells a lot of stuff to holidaying Parisians who are in general obsessed with anything organic.

I stumbled on an article about he Ratz brewery in the local paper the day after buying the beer and learnt that they’ve been going for 15 years now. The brand seems pretty well known in the region; the beer is distributed in bars and supermarkets there as well as by local wine sellers.

Just a shame the article didn’t feature more info on the founder Christophe Ratz, I would have liked to know more about what motivated him to start up his brewery and why in Cahors, as the Lot is not an area I associate with beer.

In any case I’ll look out for Ratz now I’m back in Paris.

Porridge and stewed plums

So the first exploit with the fruit we picked off the tree is stewed plums. Really easy, and because I’m addicted to porridge (there are worse things), I decided to cook some of them up for breakfast.

I realised recently when I made an apricot puree without sugar for my daughter (she hated it and as a result I inherited it), that combining starchy oats and acidic apricots worked really well. For some reason heating certain fruits accentuates their acidity – I’m sure there’s a Michelin-starred chef out there that can explain that – the same principle applies for apricots as it does peaches and plums.

Conclusion: the porridge in the picture was delicious.

For the porridge, pour a small cup of oats into a saucepan, add double the amount of milk. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the ingredients have turned into a creamy mixture. For the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones, place in a saucepan and also cook on a low heat for 20 minutes or until the fruit are soft.