Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jardin des Plantes

I'm not in a blogging mood so often these days. It seems like a sacrilegious activity in my free time given how gorgeous it is outside, and given that my day job requires me to be attached to the computer for the most part. Recent highlights include a meal of Manitoba pickerel I bought at Kingsland Farmer's Market and several glorious weeks of arugula salad from the garden with Little Creek Dressing, or as it is known affectionately in my household, Little Crack. I do love arugula. It has a wonderful horseradish-like kick. I'm looking forward to trying mizuna in the fall, another spring/fall crop that does best when things cool down. It is another spicy green. The pickerel was pricey, but GOOD. I guess that must be because it was flash frozen. The texture was the best I think I've ever had from frozen fish. In Paris there was no messing around with frozen fish of course. My favorite meal was fresh grilled sardines.
Another contender for best meal of the trip was salmon tartare. It was flavored with sesame, and served with a crunchy coleslaw that was a great contrast to the fish. E had grilled trout. The meals were all very simple and so, so tasty.
Here are some pics from the beautiful Jardin des Plantes in Paris, the national botanical gardens.
As you can see, it is huge. There is even a zoo. I was very sad to find out that they phased out the last of the potager (food) gardens three years ago. I'm guessing the trend toward more decorative gardens will turn back to food eventually, but for now I had to content myself with the traditional medicinal plant garden. I saw many of the plants that traveled with my ancestors to North America.

Stinging Nettle: Good for treating hay fever and inflammation.
I tried the Salvia, alas no exciting effects. Actually this is Salvia officinalus,
(common sage) and is much less dramatic than its Latin American cousin.
Nevertheless, it has been used as medicine throughout history and
the name is derived from the Latin 'to save'.

It's nice to be back to enjoy the garden and the wild world coming into bloom. I am starting to think of preserving already, as all the plants come into flower and fruit. It has been a long wait! But finally, the season of walking in the park and having dessert at the same time (the Saskatoons are amazing this year due to all the rain we've had..) is here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Where to begin with Paris. We had a terrific time, despite being there in the hot, muggy season because we were attending a wedding during our trip. Good food and relaxing days were our main goals, as my husband and I had both previously been in Paris when we were younger and had done the tourist thing. We had the pleasure of staying at the apartment of a friend of E's parents. She apologized in advance for how small her place is, which is funny considering the size of my apartment in Korea (see below..). It was one room. Yes, that's the kitchen and washing machine in the front hall.

Instead we found ourselves in a beautiful classic French apartment, with the requisite three flights of narrow stairs, huge shuttered windows, and a bustling cafe below. Dreamy.

We were a bit outside of the city, which meant a 30 minute commute in, however this had its advantages, namely friendly shopkeepers who were patient with our rusty French (a more elusive quality in the city..). I had read about the different markets in Paris at Chocolate and Zucchini, and so we set off to track down the 'bio' (organic) market that takes place on Sundays. It was pretty easy to find, it's located in the 6th arrondisement, at Boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche midi and rue de Rennes.

The market was also dreamy.

This stall amused me given my blog name.. she was selling limited edition organic perfume, scented with carrot and coriander. It was very nice, but it was also $120 euros. Non merci.

I should have taken more pictures but I was busy soaking it all in! I bought some terroir honey, and some orange leaf tea, which I haven't tried yet, but given how much I like neroli (orange flower essential oil) I suspect I'll enjoy it. We also bought some olives, a vegetable tourte and some cheese. The cheese was the only miss. It was called chevre sec (dry goat cheese), and I picked it because it was small. Turns out it was small because it was hard as a rock, and was a bit of a punch to the face taste-wise. Like an extremely funky goat parmesan. Not exactly what we were looking for. But the tourte and the olives were great (the olives tasted incredibly fresh, like they had just come off the tree..), and were even more enjoyable in the park.

More dispatches to come!