Bon Appetit

5/21/2013

 
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Rotisserie Cuisine. Photo courtesy pugfrea on Flickr commons. CC some rights reserved
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Moules at Leon de Bruxelles. Photo courtesy of RC! on flickr commons cc some rights reserved

Bon Appetit

     While it isn't exactly Mediterranean or Caribbean weather, it is definitely one of the many faces of spring weather in Paris.  Spring in Paris can be gorgeous and colorful, but can more readily be cool, damp and very gray.  The weather can turn on a dime or it can tenaciously settle-in and refuse to change.  This seems to be a year in which spring is sluggishly arriving in many places around the globe. Paris appears to be one of the cities where spring has sheepishly arrived, but the weather keeps slipping back towards overcast, damp and cool.  Some days it seems more like autumn than spring.  The views in any direction are like a black and white movie poster.  Only the flowers in the parks and window boxes, and the blooms on the trees, which seem to punctuate the gray like a freshly begun, paint-by-numbers painting, confirm the fact that spring has indeed arrived.  One thing is certain, blooms or not,  Paris wears gray extremely well.
    In fairness, I have to admit that I never need an excuse to want to eat in France, but cool weather makes me crave certain things.  Just as you might find bad restaurants in any city, you can find bad food and disappointing restaurants in France as well.  On the other hand, the food in France generally ranks somewhere between great and phenomenal.  I'm not suggesting that you should go to a fast food dive or a roadside kabob stand and expect to get food to rave about.  I'm talking about a busily buzzing restaurant with steady patronage rather than a restaurant with many empty tables and sedentary waiters. 
    When I want comfort food, but don't want to cook nor eat out, there are rotisserie ovens outside many of the butcher shops in Paris.  Rotisserie chicken is delicious, but my true weakness is the rotisserie duck.  8utchers line the bottom of their rotisserie ovens with cut potatoes which slowly cook beneath the rotating ducks.  The meat is incredibly tender and moist, and the potatoes are cooked to perfection as the rich duck grease drips onto them.  It all looks, smells and tastes delicious.  One stop at the market for a salad or another vegetable and you have a five star meal with very little effort.
     The rotisseries may be particularly tempting on a cool day, but there are certain favorites that must be cooked at home or eaten in a restaurant.   I especially love seafood and, on occasion, I like to go to one of the several locations of a restaurant chain called Leon de Bruxelles.  The restaurants are part of a Belgian chain of restaurants specializing in seafood, but known for their mussels and French fries.  The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food is dependably good.  It's great to catch the metro to the Champs Elysees and eat dinner at Leon's when they are having a special on all-you-can-eat mussels and fries.  When spring is here, but it's still cool and overcast,  there is nothing like going to Leon's for a huge plate of baked, garlic-parmesan mussels and endless French fries.  They have a good wine selection and will recommend a nice white wine to accompany the mussels, unless you prefer to have your meal with beer as is preferred in Belgium.  That wouldn't be my choice; I'll stick with the wine.  If you pace yourself and fight the urge to be a total glutton for the wonderful French fries, you can order a dessert and double espresso.  If, after dinner, you are planning to go to a movie at one of the theaters along the Champs Elysees, you'll need that espresso.  You may also want to choose an action movie to keep you awake.  There's more than one reason it's called comfort food.   It's one thing to eat your fill. It's quite another thing to have an endless supply of French fries.  It'll take all the caffeine you can drink to counteract the carbs from the fries. 
Bon appetit ,  Mimi