Marché du Mois: Marché Couvert St. Germain

Chances are, unless you've taken a guided tour of the 6th arrondissement, you probably haven't wandered into Marché couvert St. Germain. A regular stop off point to show tourists what French cheese and charcuterie looks like, this small market is emblematic of most covered marchés in Paris, which is to say farmerless markets with a focus on specialty products.

With the exception of Marché des Enfants Rouges, which occasionally has a local producer selling seasonal produce, the covered markets of Paris are largely outlets for refined products, from cheeses to meats to regional specialties of all kinds.

Certain markets excel at offering a wide variety of quality products- such as the Italian and artisanal counters at Marché couvert Beauvau or the fabulous fish and cheese vendors at Marché couvert de Passy. Others are a bit less exciting, Marché couvert St Martin comes to mind...

The advantage of Paris's covered markets is that they figure amongst some of the few of the city's food markets that fit your work schedule. Which is why, even though I prefer the outdoor markets of Paris with their potential for farmers and fresh produce, I also visit the covered markets from time to time to see if they hold any surprises. 

Marché couvert St Germain straddles the line between interesting and industrial. The organic shop is very proud of itself, but mostly sells pre-packaged gluten-free crackers and a few rather sad looking vegetables. Another disappointment is the  choice of hot lunch options, including a Thai takeaway counter and several small restaurants that line the perimeter of the market, which do little to inspire one's appetite. In this regard, Marché St Germain would do well to follow the example of Marché des Enfants Rouges

The most interesting aspect of the market is, as it happens, exactly what flocks of guided tourists gather around when entering the market: the cheese counters with a wide variety of fromage from around the country and other Franco-centric specialty shops.  

Les Jardins du J'GO sell a large variety of preserved items, including homemade jams, soups, sauces, and dried goods. The "meat market" may have been pandering to these very tourists, but their selection of French origin meat looked legit and was presented with care and professionalism. 

If you happen to be guiding a tour through the 6th arrondissement, or in need of some last minute cheese for a picnic, pop into Marché couvert St Germain. Otherwise I suggest you wait for the neighborhood to celebrate the weekly apparition of Marché bio de Raspail to do your market shopping. 

Marché couvert St Germain

4/6 rue Lobineau, 75006

m° Mabillon (line 10)

Open: Tues-Sat 8-20h, Sun 8-13h30

Profil d'un Producteur: Valérie Debiais of O'Regal Muffins

Well before the food truck trend came to Paris a New Jersey native named Michael Healey founded O'Regal Muffins and set up shop in a two-and eventually four-wheeled Muffin mobile at the Marché Bio de Raspail.  

O'Regal English Muffins at Marché Raspail

In the beginning, Michael brought freshly baked english muffins from his left bank atelier to the "boulevard bio"-boulevard Raspail- in the 6th arrondissement. The muffin man found a receptive audience at this organic market, popular amongst ex-pats and well-travelled Parisians who literally ate Michael's muffins up.

Once he had earned enough money, Michael invested in an equipped camion complete with a brick oven that allowed for muffins to be baked on site.

The inventive American and his moveable feast attracted an adoring audience at the weekly market, including the ardent admirer Valerié Debiais, who would later marry Michael and join him in the O'Regal Muffin enterprise.

English Muffins ready to be baked

While Michael's showmanship and flair can be credited with making O'Regal Muffins a market legend, it is Valérie that keeps that legend living.

Taking over the laborious task of spending Saturdays baking hundreds of each variety of muffin (not to mention brownies and French canelé), Valérie prepares the baked goods that she will bring to the market early the following morning.

The camion, whose technical maintenance has become too complicated to keep on the road, sits stationary at the family's home in the Loire Valley about 150 miles outside of Paris. However, the brick oven and the muffin mobile still serve as O'Regal's bakery and it is here that Valérie uses locally sourced ingredients to make her delicious organic muffin varieties.

Muffins and scones- photo courtesy of Valérie Debiais

The star ingredient of O'Regal Muffins is without a doubt the locally milled flour which comes from a farmer less than 5 miles away from the family's home. Working with heirloom varieties of wheat, this farmer grows his crop organically in a rich and diversified environment, resulting in a high quality product that renders the muffins not only enjoyable but also apperently easier to digest- Valérie told me that even gluten, or glutton, sensitive customers have told her that they are relieved to find they can enjoy O'Regal Muffins!

Along with english muffins, you can also find other favorites such as apricot and coconut, lemon poppyseed, carrot, and banana muffins at the O'Regal stand on Sundays. For a warming winter treat, stop by to see Valérie and grab a cup of chocolat chaud or an organic coffee to start your day at the market!

O'Regal stand at Marché Raspail, where you'll find muffins, chocolat chaud, and organic coffee

Thanks so much to Valérie for sharing the story of O'Regal Muffins and thanks to both Valérie and Michael for bringing muffins to the market!

In Season: Rutabaga

  Rutabagas at Marché Bio de Raspail

I've always passed over Rutabagas at the market because I'd never been formally introduced to them and had no idea what to do with one if I brought it back to my kitchen.

Since my Autumn and Winter months have been filled with fun with root vegetables like beets, turnips, and parsnips, I figured there was no sense in leaving Rutabaga out of my seasonal vegetable rotation.

My opportunity to experiment with Rutabaga came while shopping at the Marché Bio de Raspail this past Sunday, where I spotted some at the stand of Eric & Martial Refour. These organic apple growers bring about a dozen varieties to the market each week, along with seasonal organic vegetables from the Val du Loire region.

After tasting samples from their large apple selection, I picked out a few parsnips and rutabagas and went home to experiment.

Rutabagas and Parsnips

What: Rutabagas (Swedes)

When: February 3, 2013

Where: Marché Bio de Raspail 75006, Eric and Martial Refour's stand

How: The vendor at the Refour stand explained to me that Rutabagas are best prepared with other vegetables. I chose a favorite of mine, parsnips, to accompany this unknown- to-me légume and decided to make a purée.

Rutabaga flesh gets spongy and porous when cooked, much unlike the tough interior of a parsnip. The combination of the two results in a hearty, yet fluffy purée that makes for a great side, or even a main dish.

Rutabaga and Parsnip Purée

Rutabaga and Parsnip Purée

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1 large rutabaga

2 parsnips

3 cups broth

Salt & Pepper

Steps:

1) Scrub rutabaga and parsnip with a vegetable brush under cold water, be sure to remove all the dirt. Chop into evenly sized cubes.

2) Melt butter in a casserole on medium heat. Once butter is melted add the parsnips and rutabaga, stir until coated with butter. Let simmer 3-5 minutes.

3) Add three cups of broth, increase heat slightly, and cover. Let the veggies cook until tender, 15-20 minutes.

4) Once the vegetables are easily pierced with a knife, remove from heat and use a hand mixer to purée. Add more water or butter as needed and mix until smooth.

5) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.