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November in Paris

d
Dave Fahey Aug 17, 2007 09:33 AM

My wife and I will be staying in an apartment near the Rue de Levis market (17e) for about four weeks beginning in late October. Although we have been to Paris for a few days before in hotels on two prior occasions, it's our first trip to Paris where we will have cooking facilities. We're not sure how well stocked with staples the apartment will be. A number of questions arise:

We will likely have to buy all the essentials for cooking for a month (flour, sugar, butter, oil, perhaps even salt and pepper, basic spices, etc.). Can any of you recommend a relatively close and inexpensive source for such things?

Is there anything special in terms of meat, fish, shellfish, game that we should be on the special lookout for during November? Similarly regarding vegetables or fruits? We hope to do roasts or other large main dishes where the leftovers can either be eaten the next few days or morph into stews and soups.

Does anyone know an especially helpful wine shop for people whose French language skills are poor at best? We are definitely not able to afford expensive wines; thus will be drinking bottles in the 12 to 20 Euro range.

Thanks for all your help.

  1. j
    jock Aug 17, 2007 10:01 AM

    I can help with the wine. There is good wine shop on rue Poncelet (17th) called the Grand Cave. If Jerome Huard is still there he is very knowledeable and speaks good english. I would avoid the chains, especially Nicolas which is on every corner.

    I would get staples like you mentioned above at the nearest Franprix or Monoprix.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jock
      h
      henri cat Aug 17, 2007 10:12 AM

      I'm not sure why you would avoid Nicolas. We buy wine there a lot because they have a good selection. There is a Nicolas in the rue de Levis and also at least one other wine shop. There is a good Monoprix in rue de Levis, which also of course sells wine, but there wouldn't be anyone there to consult about them. I think you will find that in most shops someone will speak some English, so I wouldn't worry about that too much. The rue de Levis is a wonderful shopping street, with several cheese shops, butchers, bakeries, traiteurs, etc.

      1. re: henri cat
        ChefJune Aug 17, 2007 01:53 PM

        I've found the Nicolas stores to have a lower quality of wine, in general than others I've visited. for everyday stuff, it's okay, but nothing special.

        1. re: ChefJune
          h
          henri cat Aug 17, 2007 10:54 PM

          I certainly agree with you that Nicolas has ordinary wines, but for everyday table wine, I have no complaints with them. For more interesting wine, we shop at Auge, in Boulevard Haussmann. It has been there for more than 100 years, and they stock an amazing array, including vintage Armangnacs and Calvados. Its worth a visit even if you don't buy anything.

    2. eddy Aug 17, 2007 01:49 PM

      For staples check out the closest Monoprix store

      1. PhilD Aug 18, 2007 12:16 AM

        Monoprix is good for basic staples. But, even staples in France are worth exploring further and at least trying the top of the range examples a few times. The range of butter is fantastic - creamy, intense flavors, oils vary enormously, and even the range of salt that you can buy is good. Go to Monoprix for everyday cooking, but also branch out and buy some staples from the better stores to experience the breadth of French food (I used Bon Marche as it was local for me but it is quite a trek from the 17eme).

        What is good in November? My experience of shopping in France (especially in markets) is that if it is good it is on sale. If not then you won't see it. The French tend to eat more seasonally (and patriotically) so you won't typically see asparagus in November that has been flown in from Thailand. First simple rule: if it looks (and smells good) buy it. Second rule: ask advice. For example in the Cheese shop ask what is good today. And if they don't ask you when you want to eat the cheese change shops. Cheese is seasonal and a good shop will mature it on site, and thus they will know what is going to be best to eat for lunch or dinner today, or lunch or dinner tomorrow (and therefore best to buy cheese daily so it is in peak condition). Believe me it can make a dramatic difference - maturing cheese is art.

        I also found that asking advice was good in the in the butchers and fishmongers. For example when making Boeuf Bourguignon my butcher sold me meat I would not have normally chosen, however it made a great dish, with a real depth of flavor.

        Another good shopping street in the 17eme is "rue Poncelet" which also has a very good market and a renowned cheese shop (Alleosse). Worth the trip although it is the other side of the 17eme. Also over this side there is quite a good high-end supermarket under the "Palais Des Congress" at Port Maillot. It isn't quite Bon Marche but it is better for quality products than Monoprix (although not cheap).

        I agree that Nicolas is OK, we often bought everyday wine from a branch in rue de Grenelle (7eme) and always found them helpful with good advice - even for the €5 bottle for the Boeuf Bourguignon, or the cheap Sancerre with the fish bought from the fishmongers next door (and yes they spoke English).

        However, for more interesting wines you are best served by going to a specialist. As we lived in 7eme we used Le Derniere Goutte (in 6eme and tied in with the restaurant Fish). Juan, the owner, is from the US, and has been living in Paris for many years. He specializes in independent wine producers so you tend to get wines you won't see anywhere else. When we left Paris we loaded up the car with 15 cases at an average price of about €15 a bottle. So far everyone has been good. As an example the haul included some good burgundies from "unknown" producers but still showing classic burgundy characteristics. He also widened our palette by introducing us to wines from lessor known regions which has been a good learning experience (if you do go try and time it when Juan is in the shop as I found his advice better than other staff - stock up and get a taxi back).

        6 Replies
        1. re: PhilD
          d
          Dave Fahey Aug 18, 2007 06:12 PM

          Thanks so very much to all who responded. We appreciate your thoughts and recommendations. I use various "gourmet" salts and peppers in home cooking here and am very aware of the difference in butters ... Ireland floored me when we first went there. I plan to put our stomachs in the hands of the shopkeepers, follow their advice, and plan meals accordingly. It is one of the principal reasons we've chosen France for a month. Now back to the RosettaStone DVDs.
          Oh!! Please! Recommendations on a good English-French dictionary of food terms so I can explain that I want, for example, to "braise" the meat. (I'm especially fond of working with cheap, slow-cooking cuts of meat.) My Larousse has, of course, some things: roast, saute, etc. But it would be helpful if I had a compact restaurant and general food terminology guide.

          1. re: Dave Fahey
            AnneInMpls Aug 18, 2007 08:04 PM

            I don't own this book - yet - but it sounds like "The A-Z of French Food" would be a useful reference.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/364176

            Or go to FNAC (fnac.com) in Paris and browse through the language books - they always have a huge selection.

            Have a wonderful time! Shop at small stores, become a regular at your local marché , and practice your French with everyone. Parisians are wonderfully patient if you show that you're trying to speak the language. (They even try to understand my atrocious accent.)

            Anne

            1. re: Dave Fahey
              Deenso Aug 19, 2007 05:47 AM

              My favorite for help with restaurant menus is the Marling Menu Master. I have one for French and one for Italian dining. It's a small book that will fit into your back jeans pocket or a small purse. Very handy.

              http://www.amazon.com/Marling-Menu-Ma...

              1. re: Dave Fahey
                ChefJune Aug 19, 2007 07:55 PM

                To Braise in french is -- Surprise! Braiser!

                I find Patricia Wells' book, The Food Lovers' Guide to Paris invaluable for shopping, restaurants, and everything food in Paris. I suggest getting whatever the latest edition is.

                1. re: Dave Fahey
                  f
                  Fuffy Aug 20, 2007 08:52 PM

                  I have found some useful help for ingredients and cooking terms on the Internet by Googling food translation sites. But can't remember how I found it, I'm afraid.

                2. re: PhilD
                  j
                  jock Aug 18, 2007 06:50 PM

                  Second the motion for Derniere Goutte. Juan is a good guy. While you are there have lunch or dinner around the corner at Fish. Drew is a good guy too.

                  While you are travelling for wine, or an inexpensive good meal, go to Juveniles. Tim Johnston knows his wine and always has a few inexpensive gems. The food is good too. In the 1st on Rue Richelieu (by the Palais Royale).

                3. d
                  Dave Fahey Aug 20, 2007 06:50 PM

                  Many thanks to all of you. Have been reading your posts and replies to other questions and am thankful for your devotion to this site. Thanks so much.

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