Friday, December 27, 2013

Le Comptoir du Marché

The food trucks that have become ubiquitous around Los Angeles are rare sights here, but the concept of pop up restaurants is gaining in popularity. Le Comptoir du Marché is only open until January 5th, but the permanent restaurants, Le Comptoir du Relais and its little cousin L'Avant Comptoir will continue to serve tapas, burgers, and full plates, all year.

Yves Camdeborde is one of the creators of bistronomy (bistro + gastronomy), and having come from big name old school restaurants like La Tour D'Argent and The Ritz, he took his classical training and made places featuring accessible, casual, and fun food. One of the best signs of being talented in your field is being respected by your peers, and his chef peers rave about his food.

There are three menus at three counters (comptoir means counter), each catering to a slightly different kind of taste. The main counter has the daily special dishes from pork belly to grilled octopus.
The outdoor counter has burgers made with things like boudin noir (blood sausage) or smoked ham. There is another wine and beer counter with plates of sliced charcuterie and tapas like croquetas.
Live music begins at dusk, and the communal tables became stage side seats for a range of musical talents.
This is the boudin noir hamburger, which is really more of a panini with a bit of ground meat, lots of boudin noir and cheese. For only 5.50 € (about $8) it was a bargain for the quality of ingredients.
One of the specialties for the winter is the hearty soupe châtaignes for 5€ (about $7), a chestnut soup, a thick purée made with shallots and garlic.
This wonderfully thick slice of grilled pork belly was served on a creamy bed of mashed potatoes. If you love bacon, this is the ultimate slice of bacon, with very little salt and lots of flavor. For only 13€ (about $16), this was almost enough for a meal, even though it was served as a bite. Wines and beers run between 3-5 € a glass for good quality choices, so you can mix and match your bites as you imbibe. The tables are all communal, and people are friendly, so don't be shy about asking what they are eating and ordering the same thing!
I wanted a crepe for dessert and a few blocks away, I saw a long line waiting for organic crêpes!
I got the citron (lemon) for 3 € and it was probably the best crêpe I've had here! Look for the green "Bio" banner to find this place on the Champs-Elysées near the Grand Palais. They even serve organic juices!
The famous French soccer team has a tag line "Revons plus grand" ("Let's dream bigger").
To walk off the food and for a change of scenery, I went to the Gourmet Lafayette inside the Galeries Lafayette department stores and found something to dream about, a kilo (2.2 pounds) of black truffles for 1800€ (about $2400). I heard from someone inside the business that they are shutting down so maybe they will go on sale when Gourmet closes. La Grande Épicerie in Au Bon Marché is now reopened, so marvelous gourmet choices will still live on at the grande dame of grocery stores. I've had many dreams come true, so why not this small one? And to dream bigger, perhaps a bottle of 1961 Haut Brion :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cartier at the Grand Palais

Cartier. The name is an icon, having adorned royalty and celebrities for decades, the pieces on display at the Grand Palais in Paris until February 16, 2014 are breathtaking. The only Cartier piece not shown is Elizabeth Taylor's 69.42 carat diamond, but with so many other dazzling works of art, it was not missed. I didn't take notes as I took pictures, so today's post will be mainly a feast for your eyes:)
Many tiaras and crowns were on a rotating display as you entered the room.

My favorite was the one worn by the Princess of Wales, Diana :)
Crowns came in colors too.

There were also necklaces with colored stones and diamonds.

This necklace and matching bracelet was privately commissioned by Maharajas of Patiala and the value would probably be the budget of a small country today.
maharajas of Patiala
Grace Kelly's jewelry was at the exhibit.
The necklace she wore on the cover of Match magazine
and her engagement ring.
This was Queen Elizabeth's brooch that she wore on the cover of Time Magazine.
Queen Elizabeth's brooch was not the only one on display.

There were watches throughout the exhibit and one case had about 40 from various eras.
Sets of earrings and brooches, bracelets, bags, and even binoculars were shown throughout.

The immense perfect stones in some pieces seemed to defy nature.

The exhibit expanded my imagination for what is possible:)