Two meals in Paris

Wednesday lunch was at a rare venue for me: a Moroccan restaurant. Le Sirocco, near the Gobelins Métro stop, was highly rated, but I haven’t been to a non-French restaurant in Paris since 1990. Feeling a jones for tagine and perhaps a break from heavy French food, this was the place to go. It turned out, of course, that the food wasn’t that light, but it was excellent.

The outside:

The cozy interior:

At the end of a three-hour lunch, the place—full shortly before I took this photo—was almost empty. But most of the diners, who appeared to be French businessmen, has spent at least two hours there. I don’t know how people can go back to work after a lengthy and copious repast!

Entrées: A Moroccan salad and a chicken bastilla, described asMorocco’s famous chicken pie. A light, crispy warqa pastry shell conceals savory saffron chicken, spicy omelet stuffing and a crunchy topping of fried almonds sweetened with orange flower water. A garnish of powdered sugar and cinnamon adds to the fabulous blend of flavors.”

This “entrée” (in France an “entrée is an appetizer, not a main course, which here are called “plats”) was substantial enough to be a plat:

Lamb couscous (the two big pieces of lamb on the bone arrived separately):

Lamb tagine with almonds and prunes (the two white hemispheres are halves of a boiled egg). All was washed down with a bottle of Moroccan red wine

This is a good place, but service was slow as there was only one guy to take care of at least a dozen tables. Dessert was skipped in favor of excellent mint tea—a great digestif.

Lunch yesterday was at one of my perennial favorites: a superb restaurant which, at least at lunch, seems to get little business. Yet it’s one of the best reasonably-prices bistros in Paris, and the food is terrific and copious.

It’s the Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes, near the Place Republique, and I’d advise you to go there if you’re lucky enough to be in Paris. If you’re really hungry, get the cassoulet, but I bet you can’t finish it, no matter how hungry you are. This time I gave it a pass, much as I wanted to have it; but I also didn’t want to go into a food coma. A food coma ensued anyway.

The outside, on a drab and unpromising street, gives little hint of the gastronomic treasures within:

Entrées: A plate of charcuterie (the paté with pistachios, and the dried and undried hams, were particularly good), and a “light” Caesar salad with chicken and shaved cheese:

Main courses: A classic French dish (as seen in Anthony Bourdain’s trip to Chez Denise), blanquette de veau (veal stew), and pour moi the magret de canard, served with a side of whipped squash and potatoes. All of this was washed down with a pot (60 cl) of Beaujolais, the traditional small bottle served in Lyonnaise bouchons (bistros). This restaurant specializes in the cuisine of Lyon.

En dessert: chocolat pots de creme: very thick chocolate mousse/pudding, and Tarte Tatin (a tarte with caramelized apples), both served with a huge side dish of crème fraîche:

This all induced a serious food coma and a two-hour nap.

34 Comments

  1. Posted November 9, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Je vous envie !

    • Merilee
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Moi, aussi😋

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      … et moi aussi!

      Tout a l’air délicieux!

  2. Posted November 9, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    You order well! I love Moroccan food. Bastilla is great and I adore a good tagine, especially the one with chicken, olives, potatoes, and preserved lemon. Yours looked good too.

    • Merilee
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      First had bstilla in Marrakech in 1969 in a back alley of the souk. H@ve made it myself (chicken, not pigeon) quite successfully, though it takes a fair amount of effort. Love Moroccan food.

      • Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        I had a Chinese pigeon dish once and was not impressed. Definitely not worth the trouble of dealing with the tiny bones.

        • Merilee
          Posted November 9, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Years ago I went to The St. Lawrence Market in Toronto with a friend to buy a pigeon for the bstilla we were planning to make. Turned out we had to point to a live one; we “chickened” out. I have had roast squab at restaurants, which I believe is the same thing, but have never cooked them myself.

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            I would have “squawked” at picking a live bird also. I’m looking forward to the day when all our meat is grown artificially.

        • Posted November 10, 2018 at 12:21 am | Permalink

          I loved it when I was little. Now the tiny bones make me think it’s not worth it.

          -Ryan

  3. BJ
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Much as I stare in wonder at the pictures of places, it’s the food photos that really make me jealous. And you’ve made this a particularly tough week in that regard!

  4. Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I lived in Paris in my twenties, must say I’m living vicariously through your photos. I’m a tad jealous as well. If you have the time you should visit the Dali Museum in Montmartre its amazing filled with sculptures of his most famous paintings.

  5. Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Enjoyed the pictures and comments. I would have needed a three hour nap.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    “Two meals in Paris”

    Good name for a movie — maybe a bitter-sweet romantic dramedy. (If it’s by Richard Linklater, and stars Ethan Hawke & July Delpy, our boy BJ hates it already.) 🙂

    • BJ
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      It took twelve meals to make! It’s a cinematic masterpiece unlike anything seen before!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 9, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        OK, but I was thinking more along the lines of a sequel (triquel?) to the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy.

        • BJ
          Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          I know and I think that duology is…fine. But I can’t help making references to BOYHOOOOOOOD!!!!.

        • BJ
          Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Oh, right, I forgot there was a third. Trilogy. Two Meals in Paris would make it a tetralogy.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 9, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        12 Years a Slave didn’t take 12 freakin’ years to make.” 🙂

        • BJ
          Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          If you don’t watch those guys, I couldn’t give them a higher recommendation. My favorite channel on all of Youtube. They’re hilarious, but also extremely knowledgeable. Everyone involved went to film school. They’ve even made a few films (none of them are good, which they freely admit).

          The Half in the Bag series is where they do reviews of newly released films, and they are excellent and trustworthy (and also happen to line up with my own tastes). They also have their Best of the Worst series, where they watch a random selection of terrible VHS movies and, on occasion, even random (literally, they spin a wheel) VHS tapes from the era when people were releasing tapes on everything from the dangers of the internet to how to give your cat a massage. Finally, they have the re:View series, in which they sit down and talk about a popular film from the past.

          Here’s a recent Best of the Worst episode. On their most recent episode of re:View, Macaulay Culkin sat down with one of them to talk about the “cult classic” Hackers. They’re very well known even among celebrities, despite having never done anything outside of Youtube. They have a lot of fans out there. Directors have tweeted on multiple occasions that they were both looking forward to and dreading the day when the RLM crew would, hopefully, review one of their films.

  7. W.T. Effingham
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Absolutely beautiful images. Very appetizing. No matter what the clock says, it’s lunchtime here now.😺

  8. dabertini
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    One thing is for sure: PCC(e)loves his duck and he will take it anyway he can get it.

  9. Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The duck is killing me. Here I am in the US eating a pop tart and magret de canard sits half a world away. Envy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Well, don’t keep us hanging. What kind of pop tart? And the wine pairing?

      Et comme plat d’accompagnement?

    • Merilee
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Have you ever had the magret that is thin like prosciutto?😋

  10. jhs
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I’d like to invite myself to a Moroccan colleague’s home for dinner. 🙂

    • Posted November 9, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Not sure about the “colleague” part but check out https://www.eatwith.com. They feature meals cooked by people in their homes. My wife and I attended one in the Los Angeles area and loved it. It was a Greek meal cooked by a lady who had written a Greek cookbook. The food and wine were great and the company (about 20 people) was very interesting. The price was not too bad either considering it was a whole evening’s fun. It was about $130 for both of us.

  11. Posted November 9, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    … in France an “entrée is an appetizer, not a main course, …

    … also in British English. I wonder how it came to mean “main course” in American English, given that the word comes from “entrance”, and thus is the first dish, one that is available to be served soon after sitting down, while they cook the main.

    • Posted November 9, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Here’s my just-so story. American restaurants once featured both entrees and main dishes. Due to the huge portions customary in most US restaurants, customers found the entrees were quite enough and never ordered the main dishes and eventually the restaurant dropped them from their menu.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Here’s my theory(and it’s mine): Long ago the U.S. was much like Europe in custom due to the initial immigrants being mostly European. Then fast food and drive through happened. The entrée, served in minutes through a small window, was all that would fit and all they had time for.

  12. revelator60
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Mouthwatering! I bet I could finish the cassoulet if I skipped the salad and charcuterie plate. A great sacrifice, I know, but epicures must occasionally risk a food coma to partake in the great gustatory pleasures.

  13. Richard
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Boss, you are tormenting us!

  14. Neil
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Serious food envy.
    I’m lucky not only do I have a French wife I also have the one thing that is better, a French mother-in-law!
    Who amoungst other great things can knock up the greatest blaquette de veau ever made.
    Got to wait until we go over at Christmas for my next one, she makes it every time we visit.

  15. Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Moroccan! Excellent – and not a cuisine I really know at all.

    Good to take advantage of the food from the results of colonialism. (A good side, for once.)


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