Sunday, 8 November 2015

Végé'Saveurs (almost) vegan restaurant, Bastille

A few months ago, a piece of A4 paper appeared on the door of a defunct sushi place just up the road from me, by Bastille. It said 'Coming soon: vegetarian restaurant'. Then began several weeks of anticipation and building works, before Végé'Saveurs opened this summer.

The menu is basically a carbon copy of the Asian vegetarian delights at excellent Paris spots Tien Hiang and VégéBowl. That's fine by me!

There's always a little confusion about what is and what isn't vegan at this little family of Paris vegetarian restaurants. Once at Tien Hiang, they told me that everything was vegan apart from the 'ham' and the one claypot that contains cheese. At Végé'Saveurs, they've told me that everything is vegan apart from the 'chicken' and 'beef', which contain small amounts of milk. To be safe, you can order tofu and vegetable-based dishes. Which are delicious.

Like the green papaya salad, for example. Here it is having been taken away to my house.

There's no price reduction for take-aways, but the dishes are pretty inexpensive anyway.

Sadly, I don't find the food at Végé'Saveurs as good as it is at Tien Hiang. In theory the dishes are the same, but they certainly don't taste identical. The papaya salad is a little bland (I had to perk this up with more lime, soy and hot sauce). And some of the sautéed dishes I've tried are too greasy.

I'm hoping that it's just teething problems. I might even be super brave one day and mention the little flaws in the food. But if the veggie Asian place five minutes' walk from my house was perfect, I'd end up having to be winched out of my flat by the fire brigade. So maybe it's for the best.

29 Rue de Charenton
Paris 75012
Métro: Bastille (lines 1, 5, 8)

Sunday, 11 October 2015

G. Detou - serious cooking supplies in Paris

The area around Les Halles in the dead centre of Paris still has a few clues to the fact that it used to be 'the belly of Paris': the city's heaving, roaring, rat-infested food market. That's now moved out to Rungis in the suburbs, without the rats (maybe I'll tell you about my visits there one day). But around Les Halles you'll still find a few very traditional working class bistrots, as well as a collection of pro kitchen supply stores. That's what we're interested in.

There's a pun in the name of this place. When pronounced, 'G. Detou' sounds the same as 'j'ai de tout', meaning 'I've got a bit of everything'. Which is the case for this treasure trove of a shop.

G. Detou is in fact two Siamese-twin-style shops. Through the door on the left you'll find the lady I like to think of as Mme. Detou, with her selection of goods. She also has an abundance of tips on everything from jam making to olive oil production. She is stellar. Then through the door on the right, you'll find floor-to-ceiling ingredients ranging from luscious jarred cherries to NH pectin.

'Mme. Detou' has a refrigerated display cabinet, but the real reasons to go to her are for the olive oil from Crete, which is truly delicious and reasonably priced, and the seaweed tartare, also delicious, also a bargain. I've also got my eye on Madame's super fresh, plump and sticky-looking vanilla pods, but I haven't yet plucked up the courage to spend that much money on vanilla.

Next door, there are spices galore, such as the fantastic smoked paprika above, as well as tricky to find spices like long pepper and mace. Plus all sorts of sweet fancy goods that are begging to be bought and given to people as gifts. Plus pro and semi-pro baking supplies: things like food colouring and industrial quantities of vanilla extract. And tonka beans. And the list goes on.

While you're here, you might like to stop by the cooking equipment stores that are clustered in the area. There's one called A. Simon that's affiliated with G. Detou and is a little cheaper than the others, at 48 and 52 Rue Montmartre, just around the corner. Nobody does a better line in giant cake molds in the shape of French-colonized islands. Or try the pricier, fancier Mora or La Bovida on the Rue Etienne Marcel. Or E. Dehillerin at 18-20 Rue Coquillière. Dehillerin has pretty awe-inspiring floor-to-ceiling shelves of professional cooking equipment, but tends to attract tourists as a result.

G. Detou
58 Rue Tiquetonne
Paris 75002
Métro: Etienne Marcel (line 4) or Les Halles (line 4, RER A, B and D)