Take a food lover’s tour of Paris with Chocolate & Zucchini's Clotilde.
Name: Clotilde Dusoulier
Provenance: Paris, France
Current residence: Paris, France
Languages: French, English, some German, trace amounts of Japanese.
Favorite city: I have three, Paris, NYC +Tokyo
Current occupation: Food writer
Coffee or tea: Japanese green tea, especially from Jugetsudo tea salon and boutique in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in the morning right after breakfast.
I love that Paris is both a big city, with lots of places to explore and new things going on all the time, and a small, highly walkable city, where each neighborhood feels like its own village.
Bring your appetite! And comfortable yet stylish outfits, too. You want to be able to walk around (a lot), but you’ll also want to look good! Parisians are typically attentive to their looks, so if you’re dressed in sports clothes and hiking shoes— as I see many tourists dress — you may regret not blending in more smoothly.
The dress code for Paris is stylish and comfortable. PHOTO BY THE SARTORIALIST
I would go to the Président Wilson greenmarket, Marché Président Wilson, on Avenue du Président Wilson between Rue Debrousse and Place d’Iena, in late morning on a Wednesday or Saturday to collect the makings of a nice picnic — a selection of cheeses and charcuterie, a crusty loaf of bread, radishes, a basket of strawberries.
“I recommend buying artisanal products, not brand name products.”
I recommend buying artisanal products, not brand name products. Regarding cheeses, you should ask the vendor what’s best on the day you shop, but for instance you could get some comté, a piece of Saint-Nectaire, and a round of chèvre. For the charcuterie, a saucisson and terrine de campagne (a rustic pork terrine) would be nice.
Then go eat it on the newly landscaped and redesigned left bank of the Seine called Les Berges de Seine, which runs from the Quai Branly Museum to Pont Royal. After shopping, walk across Pont De l’Alma to Quai D’Orsay and simply walk along the bank in the direction of Pont Royal. There are low benches, all along the banks — pick the one you like best!
After the picnic you can visit the Quai Branly Museum, which features features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The exhibitions are usually very good.
To view the walking directions in Google Maps, click here.
Welcome to Paris! Clockwise from left to right: Marché Président Wilson, Pont De l’Alma, Les Berges de Seine, and Quai Branly Museum. PHOTOS: MARCHÉ PRÉSIDENT WILSON BY CHA XIU BAO, PONT DE L’ALMA BY PARIJS MIJN STAD, LES BERGES DES SEINE BY HIP PARIS, QUAI BRANLY MUSEUM BY MY FRENCH LIFE
I don’t think it’s possible to name a single dish, but one I like a lot is the steak tartare, served with a green salad and fries — it’s a iconic, simple, vibrantly flavorful dish featured at practically every bistro, and it is most satisfying in the mix of textures and temperatures. I would recommend you eat it at Brasserie Wepler, one of the last independent brasseries in Paris.
A classic of French cuisine, steak tartare.
I am currently smitten with Le Mary Celeste, a tiny bar in the upper Marais that does cocktails, oysters and other shellfish, and small plates to share. It’s usually packed, but the food is fabulous and I love the vibe — cosmopolitan yet friendly.
“I am currently smitten with Le Mary Celeste, a tiny bar in Marais that does cocktails, oysters and other shellfish, and small plates to share.”
Le Mary Celeste is perfect for an upscale casual ambiance à la New Yorkaise.
I have recently released a new book called The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from my Parisian Kitchen. It’s a book that celebrates the love story between French cuisine and vegetables, and it is the result of my shifting to a mostly plant-based diet over the past few years. The recipes are largely inspired by my greenmarket finds, and memorable dishes I’ve tasted at Paris restaurants. I am working on a book that will be titled Edible French (to be published by Penguin in the fall), an illustrated collection of food-related French expressions inspired by a series on my blog called French Idioms.
Top: Clotilde gets French with vegetables in her current book. Bottom: Coming this autumn, French idioms explained by Clotilde in a new illustrated book.
The best thing is that there are very many of us! It’s not at all unusual to meet other people who are working for themselves in unconventional jobs, so it never feels lonely. I wouldn’t complain if the cost of life were less expensive, but I’m very happy here.
“It’s not unusual to meet other people who are working for themselves in unconventional jobs, so it never feels lonely.”
I’m so pleased to see that chefs are placing a stronger focus on vegetables now, making more efforts to procure unusual varieties, and giving them more room on the plate. A good place to witness this is at the Terroirs d’Avenir produce shop on Rue du Nil. It was opened by two guys, Samuel Nahon and Alexandre Drouard, who supply quirky local vegetables to some of Paris’ most interesting chefs.
Local and seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish and produce. PHOTO BY HOTEL COSTES
A few years ago I had a marvelous lunch at Jules Verne, the gastronomic restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower (click here for 360° panoramic views), it had recently reopened after a renovation, and I was reviewing it for an article. It was a gorgeous day, the view was breathtaking, and the food was excellent — a contemporary take on classic French foods, a ham and endive dish with truffle sauce that made me like endives for the first time. I was with the love of my life, my boyfriend, Maxence. It was a memorable experience because it’s always a treat to have a gastronomic meal with my boyfriend — he’s such great company. It was a gorgeous winter day, and the setting was absolutely unique. It’s not every day you get to eat inside the Eiffel Tower. It was magical.
“It is not every day you get to eat inside the Eiffel Tower. It was magical.”
Top: Inside the famed Le Jules Verne restaurant. Bottom: After lunch photo of the beautiful Eiffel Tower by Clotilde. JULES VERNE PHOTO BY YELP
Color: The greys and blue-greys and pink-greys of paving stones.
Sound: The beeping sound of metro doors about to close.
Feel: Tearing the pointy tip from a still-warm baguette and feeling the promising crackle of the crust and the resistance of the crumb.
Taste: Too many to list, but would include a bite of unconched*, bean-to-bar dark chocolate from La Manufacture de Chocolat, a chunk of oozy cheese on a piece of sourdough bread, a piece of seasonal fruit offered for tasting by a market stall-keeper, and a very good cup of Joe from one of the new coffee places.
Smell: the smell of freshly baked croissants wafting out from a bakery’s ventilation system when you walk past in early morning.
*Conching is what transforms gritty chocolate into the smooth chocolate.
Clotilde as a child experiencing the taste of fine French cuisine.
CREATION + INSPIRATION + FRENCH FOOD TIPS
Give us your top tips for understanding the basics of French cuisine and please share a favorite dish: Learning how to shop is just as (if not more) important as learning how to cook: once you have fresh, quality ingredients on hand, inspiration flows and everything else feels effortless. And, know your basics: it’s a good idea to start by learning how to make classic French preparations — a simple vinaigrette, a béchamel sauce, a batch of choux pastry, a vegetable quiche, etc. Once you have those simple things mastered, they are great building blocks to use and reuse and adapt. To illustrate my points, below you will find a recipe for one of my favorite dishes, onion cumin quiche, and one for a fresh herb vinaigrette to dress the salad you should serve on the side.
“Learning how to shop is just as (if not more) important as learning how to cook: once you have fresh, quality ingredients on hand, inspiration flows and everything else feels effortless.”
I am most creative when: I have a produce drawer full of fresh things.
What I do when inspiration runs dry: I give myself the afternoon off and go out for a walk with my camera.
Inspiration is: Everywhere if you know how to look.
Onion and Cumin Quiche (Serves 4 to 6)
Practice Clotilde’s food tips with her favorite dish. PHOTO BY FOOD NOUVEAU
For the filling:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1kg (2 lbs) yellow onions, about 6 medium, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 sheet of uncooked store-bought puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
3 large eggs
177ml (3/4 cups) light cream
355ml (1 1/2 cups) freshly grated Comté or Gruyère
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsps whole cumin seeds
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt, and stir. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent. Remove lid, turn heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until most of the liquids have evaporated. (Can be prepared a day ahead.)
2. Preheat oven to 177° C (350° F). Grease a 25cm (10in) ceramic quiche pan with olive oil. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry in a 30cm (12in) circle. Transfer pastry into pan, prick the bottom with fork, and press on sides with fingers so dough will adhere. Put into oven for 7 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven (leave heat on) and set aside.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and cream. Season with remaining 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, and cumin. Fold in cheese and onions, and pour into tart shell.
4. Put into oven to bake for 35 minutes, until top is golden, and the quiche center is slightly jiggly. Turn off oven, and leave pan in closed oven for 10 minutes, until set. Serve warm, with a salad of butterhead lettuce dressed with fresh herb vinaigrette.
Fresh Herb Vinaigrette (Makes about 125ml (1/2 cup) dressing)
1 tbsp strong Dijon mustard, 2 tbsps red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, 6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, 32g (1/4 cup) loosely packed, finely chopped fresh herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, chives, cilantro, basil, and/or chervil, freshly ground black pepper
In small bowl, stir mustard, vinegar, and salt with fork until blended. Add generous grind of black pepper, then pour in oil in a slow stream, whisking it in with fork to emulsify. Fold in herbs, taste and adjust seasoning. Toss salad greens with vinaigrette at last moment, so acid doesn’t wilt leaves.
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO NEXT?
Christina Liljenberg Halstrøm is a rising Swedish-Danish design star who is known for her beautiful, minimalist and functional style. Her iconic Georg stool has just received the prestigious Red Dot Product Design 2014 award.
Travis J. Todd, an American entrepreneur living in Berlin, is the co-founder of e-shop Toast and Silicon Allee, the premiere organization for Berlin’s startup community. Travis is also a Ruby on Rails developer and beer enthusiast.
Mireia C. Saladrigues, is a prolific Catalan artist, whose art focuses on the study of audiences, channels of reception, and the conditions that spectators come up against. She’s currently pursuing a PhD under famed artist Hito Steyerl.