Sunday, 10 August 2008

Les Secrets du Paris en Août

I’m not quite sure what it is, but Paris seems a bit meh of late. It could be August, when half the city is closed, and the other half is too full of people who still need to eat, shop and take the Metro. It could be the weather, which is neither so awful as to warrant a sense of injustice, nor so consistently lovely as to enable me to look anything other than pasty. It could just be that summer (or indeed any season) is more easily enjoyed a deux, and, perhaps, somewhere with a real beach.

Whatever the cause, the joie de vivre could stand to be kicked up a notch. My list of August-enhancers isn’t all food-related, but I’m hoping that one of these might do the trick.

1) Croissants from Pierre Herme. Yes, they are just as good as the macarons.
2) White peaches from one of the fruit stands still open at the market.
3) Sampling the perfumes at Diptyque.
4) An Americano at Le Fumoir.
5) The vista of the city, framed by two outdoor Picasso sculptures, on the 5th floor of the Centre Pompidou.
6) Iced tea made with the thé vert aux fleurs from La Graineterie du Marché
7) Cycling on the cobblestone roads lining the Ile St Louis and Ile de la Cite.
8) A warm salad of yellow courgettes fried with garlic and topped with fresh mint and feta.
9) Beginning a meal (every meal?) with gougeres and a glass of rosé.
10) Company, and a few days in Marseille at the end of next week.

Yellow Courgettes with Mint and Feta

This doesn’t really require a recipe—just an assembly plan. And while I tend to stick to these ingredients, it could easily be adapted: plain old green courgettes (though not too bulbous, as they tend not to fry down well); basil in addition to or instead of the mint; a creamy, rindless goats cheese in place of the feta; textural contrast and some extra complexity from pine nuts, red onion (chopped fine or sautéed) or mild black olives. A few hints, though:
-Slice the courgettes in thin even rounds or half-moons, and make sure the pan has enough room for them to soften, brown and even catch slightly.
-Serve the salad warm, not hot. You’re not looking to melt the cheese, just to meld the ingredients.
-Finish with a drizzle of good olive oil and, if you like, a squeeze of lemon juice.

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