The Canal St Martin is bobo central. But then we're all a bit bobo at heart. One of the best things about bobos is that they like to eat vegetarian food.
Carmen Ragosta is a fantastic Neapolitan lady who runs a boutique-cum-restaurant named after herself. She's a proud vegetarian, and serves up delicious, simple food made with love in her boutique where she also sells her clothes and accessories made with love. Nothing dead on the plates, nothing dead on the rails.
Although the food isn't all vegan, if you let Carmen know you'll be coming a day or two in advance, she'll rustle up a vegan feast for you. In fact, even if you don't warn her, she'll rustle up a vegan feast for you. I've just got back from brunch with a friend at Carmen's place, and she prepared for me:
A warming bowl of rice laced with basil, hazelnuts, and mushrooms.
A couple of wholemeal tartines topped with sun-dried tomatoes.
The most delicious aubergine I've ever tasted - grilled and marinated with garlic, super good olive oil, and red chillies.
A little cucumber salad, with toasted sesame seeds, turmeric, and more of that superb olive oil.
A pear compote with cinnamon and coconut.
Dessert was more pears, this time with caramel and nuts.
A glass of fruit juice is included in the brunch for €16, and the whole lot is washed down by your choice of tea, Italian coffee, or big/American coffee.
If you warn her in advance that you're vegan, Carmen will make egg-free pasta for you. Vegetarians get a beautiful-looking tiramisu for desert.
Oh yeah, and the coffee was served in red mugs from Habitat with a sausage dog on them. I remarked, 'ah, I've got one of those mugs at home'. She said 'yes, these are Habitat. The mugs are good, but they're not as good as the real thing. PIPPO!' And along waddled Pippo, a beautiful silky sausage dog who lives with Carmen. He's friendly as they come. Apparently there's also a cat, but said cat didn't deign to visit us today.
Go see Carmen - she's fantastic. She speaks English and French with a glorious Italian accent.
8 Rue de la Grange aux Belles (map)