Monday, 14 December 2015

La Boucherie Végétarienne

Yep, your French is good enough to decipher that name accurately.

The 'vegetarian butcher' opened up earlier in the year 110m from my front door (I just google mapped that - don't worry). I didn't notice it for a while, despite walking past several times. I thought, 'hmm, another kebab-style place? Not sure we need one'.

In fact, la Boucherie Végétarienne is a delightful little all-vegetarian fast food joint-cum-fake meat retailer. They do nifty little meal deals for lunch, but close too early for dinner (unless you eat your evening meal between 4pm and 8pm, like my parents). The staff are brilliant.

There's not really much / any room to eat in, but you can take your vegan burger away to enjoy at the Square Trousseau or on the Coulée Verte.

All the fake meats for sale are frozen, and three of them are vegan (mince/ground beef, falafels and bean burgers). The rest are just vegetarian. They also deliver via the website here.

I tried the vegan burger meal deal t'other day. There are loads of vegan burger options in Paris now, but this one holds its own against stiff competition. There's slightly too much bread for my taste, but the vegan burger patty is good, and there are lots of roasted veggies that you can't really see on the photo, plus crunchy lettuce. The chips and elderflower lemonade went down very nicely too. There are vegan dipping sauces to be had.

The second vegan meal deal is a wrap with falafel and fixings. There are so many great vegan falafel places in Paris that I'll stick to the burger from la Boucherie Végétarienne.

If you're vegetarian, you'll have way more options here than your vegan chums. There are lots of different veggie burgers (chicken, cheese, beef...), as well as wraps and vegetarian chicken nuggets. The same goes for the mock meats on sale - choice galore!

Le Boucherie Végétarienne
10 Place d'Aligre
Paris 75012
Métro: Ledru-Rollin (line 8) or Gare de Lyon (lines 1 and 14, RERs A and D)

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)

Monday, 3 August 2015

Hobbes vegetarian organic restaurant, Paris

Super fresh ingredients prepared simply but with lots of skill and care. The older I get, the more that latter thing seems to matter to me. When I look at a plate of food, I want to be able to tell that the person who put the food there did so with care. That they don't hate their job, or aren't just passively uninterested in serving people nice food. None of that please.

Hobbes cares, and it shows. Little touches like rosemary sprigs in the water jug are nice, but it's mainly the good service and the care and attention paid to what is on the plates that makes me love Hobbes.

Here's the dish of the (other) day:

 Here's the burger, topped with smoky tempeh and accompanied by potatoes so good they might as well have been cooked in goose fat (they weren't):

Here's the incredibly good, raw dessert:

Everything was truly delicious. All the ingredients taste of what you'd like them to taste of: themselves, nicely seasoned. The coffee was heavenly too - they just can't go wrong.

Hobbes is entirely vegetarian, mostly vegan, and all organic. It's located in the 19th, which is an area that not enough visitors to Paris make it to, but they should! The restaurant is a stone's throw from the beautiful Buttes-Chaumont park, and you can get your food to go if you're feeling picnnicky, which I often am.

Hobbes Restaurant
31 Avenue Simon Bolivar, Paris 75019
Métro: Pyrénées (line 11) or Buttes Chaumont (line 7 bis)