Marché du Mois: Marché Charonne

Markets, and pretty much everything else, are hit and miss during August in Paris. The city's shops, restaurants, and bars systematically shut down throughout the summer, but especially in août - when iron shutters descend on storefronts for anywhere from a week to the entire month. 

Chefs, bartenders, and baristas aren't the only ones who enjoy a congé annuel, or yearly break. Farmers also often take a leave of absence from their market stands. At my local market, Marché Ornano, I've had to get used to having Ile-de-France farmer Jean-Michel Delahaye set up his stand only twice a week, instead of his usual tri-weekly appearances. Staying in Paris during the month of August truly makes you appreciate the people who make the city feel like home the other 11 months of the year

But life goes on, you get used to scanning shopfronts from afar, looking for signs of whether or not their open, holding your breath to see if you can step into your favorite bar or boulangerie. People band together and create resources to keep each other informed of closures, sometimes through word of mouth, other times through Paris by Mouth which puts together an invaluable list every year of What's Open in August. No such list exists for Paris's outdoor markets. 

You never know what you're going to find at any given neighborhood market in late summer Paris. It was with this in mind that I made a recent trip to Marché Charonne with Sarah Mouchot co-owner and head chef at Holybelly.

Sarah lived near Marché Charonne for a few years with her partner Nico after they got back from a three year stay in Australia. She told me she had fond memories of this corner of the 11th arrondissement, where her and Nico hatched the plan that would make Holybelly a reality. Marché Charonne, Sarah recalled, was a lovely market with a farmer that came regularly to sell local produce

This being August, our market rendez-vous on boulevard de Charonne was amidst a scattering of market stalls, proving the market population drastically decreased. Sarah's farmer wasn't in attendance, but we did find another independent producer at the Fruits de la Tour stand, which featured fresh fruits and vegetables from the Drôme region, about 500 kilometers south of Paris

In addition to about a half dozen different tomato varieties, the stand had a huge selection of seasonal fruits. If the downside of August in the city is annual closures, ubiquitous street and building construction, and the occasional sense of being alone in a post apocalyptic Paris, the relief comes in the form of summer fruit.

Melons, apricots, mirabelles, and peaches were bright and tempting. While we decided what to buy, Sarah told me stories of making jam with her parents and how their family had perfected the recipe. She had just come back from a visit with her family, bringing with her batches of homemade jams that will be served at Holybelly. When it was our turn with the farmer we filled our bags with fruits and tomatoes, excited about all the possibilities they offered. 

"You really only need one farmer at a market" Sarah told me, as we spoke about the importance of fresh, seasonal produce. Sarah's right, even if it isn't the farmer you were looking for, one will do. One farmer can give you peach cobbler, tomato salads, and, of course, the perfect homemade jam

Sarah's Homemade Jam

Ingredients

500 grams sugar

1 kg fruit of your choice

Lemon

Half vanilla bean

3 grams agar agar

Preparation

In a large pot, combine sugar and fruit. Add a squeeze of lemon to brighten up the flavor and half a vanilla bean to add depth and complexity. Bring to a simmer then add the agar agar and boil until your fruit is just cooked so you keep the taste of the fresh fruit (3min for raspberries, 20min for strawberries or apricots). Fill up your resealable jars (that you boiled in water for one minute to sterilize them, along with their lids), close tightly with the lid and turn them upside down until they are cooled down, in order to make your jar air tight! 

Marché Charonne

Boulevard de Charonne, 75011

M° Alexandre Dumas (line 2)

Open Wednesday and Saturday, 7h-14h30

Prix d'Encouragement des Commerces d'Artisanat Alimentaire 2014

Tomme de Savoie at La Fromagerie Goncourt

Every year the city of Paris sponsors a Prix d'Encouragement des Commerces d'Artisanat Alimentaire which rewards small businesses who have started, or taken over, an artisanal culinary endeavor. I was honored to be asked to participate as a jury member on the occasion of the ninth edition of the prize, which offers much needed financial support to independent, engaged entrepreneurs.

The prix d'encouragement is actually several prizes, with five allocations of €8,000 each up for grabs. Our job, as a jury made up of representatives from local government and unions and professionals in the food industry, was to choose the most deserving candidates from 15 very impressive applications.

It was difficult to choose among all the applicants and ultimately we decided to split two of the prizes in half so that we could award a total of seven prizes to the inspiring artisans up for consideration.

Thanks so much to the Mairie de Paris, as well as my fellow jurist, Silvi of Que Faire à Paris?  for inviting me to share this experience with them and giving me the opportunity to discover new artisanal addresses in Paris!

It's great to see that the city is actively supporting local businesses and equally exciting to learn about the creative and conscious projects springing up in our community. So here they are, the seven winners of this year's Prix d'Encouragement des Commerces d'Artisanat Alimentaire !

 

Clément Brossault of La Fromagerie Goncourt

La Fromagerie Goncourt (1 rue Abel Rabaud, 75011)

Clément Brossault spent a year traveling around France by bike and tasting different regional cheeses before opening La Fromagerie Goncourt in the 11th arrondissement. This accountant-turned-cheese monger has created a space that highlights his passion for his new career and his knowledge of the country's iconic cheeses. Never far from his vélo all deliveries are made by bike and the shop has a zero sac policy, eschewing plastic bags and establishing itself ahead of the curve on this waste reducing initiative, which the city of Paris plans to impose across the board in the coming year.

 

Pastries at Une Souris et des Hommes

Une Souris et des Hommes (17 rue de Maubeuge, 75009)

This cute concept store combines books with baked goods, creating a welcoming space for both learning and lounging. Régis, Inès, and Damien, the team behind Une Souris et des Hommes, crowd funded their boutique, which is their first small business venture. Coming from literary and culinary backgrounds, the young entrepreneurs complement each other and are sharing their competency with this hybrid shop that is the first of its kind in the neighborhood. The gorgeous pastries and thoughtful decor combined with a real engagement with the local community make Une Souris et des Hommes one of our favorite new addresses in Paris.

 

Jojo & Co. (Marché Beauvau, Place d'Aligre, 75012)

As a devoted supporter of Paris markets, I'm always happy to see new life brought into the city's marchés. Opened earlier this year, Jojo & Co. is Marché Beauvau's newest tenant. Owner Johanna Roques has opened a sweet little bakery where she makes French and English inspired cakes, cookies, and other simple and delicious baked goods. Her charming stand at the market will surely invite people to explore the market and find that Mme. Roques is in good company.

 

La Maison de la Mozzarella (15 rue Violet, 75015)

La Maison de la Mozzarella is Paris' first artisanal mozzarella producer. This made-in-Paris cheese history abroad, with Italian owner Ciro Rosa bringing his savoir faire when it comes to fromage from his native land and sharing it with his adopted home. With the exception of a few specialty products, like the famous jambon de Paris and of course a growing selection of craft beer, there is very little that can claim to be locally made in the city, I'm happy to see that we can now add this delicious fresh mozzarella to the list!

 

L'Artisan du Sandwich (54 rue d'Amsterdam, 75009)

While the façade of this family-owned sandwich shop may not catch your eye, L'Artisan du Sandwich represents a revolution in lunch options for the area's 9 to 5 crowd. Deciding that they wanted to have time to spend with their children, the husband and wife team behind the bakery has established opening hours that correspond with the local lunch rush but have them home to be able to enjoy dinner en famille. Everything is prepared on site using fresh ingredients and integrating the artisanal bread and baked goods. This simple but all-too-rare approach makes L'Artisan du Sandwich stand out amidst the slew of industrial and plastic wrapped self-catering options in the neighborhood.

 

Boulangerie Chambelland (14 rue Ternaux, 75011)

All the baked goods at Boulangerie Chambelland are gluten-free, but you wouldn't know it by the look of the place- without promoting itself as pandering to this latest food trend, the bakery keeps its concept and its cool by offering quality food in a welcoming environment. Using locally milled rice flour made from France's regional specialty Riz de Camargue, baker Thomas Chambelland has found a dedicated following of Parisians who come from afar to enjoy sandwiches made with fresh bread and what is quickly becoming the bakery's signature menu item- sweet and airy choquettes that make eating gluten free fun.

 

A La Belle Viande (2 rue Jean de la Fontaine, 75016)

When A La Belle Viande owner Serge Horeau was laid off from his previous job he decided to take the opportunity to follow his passion and become a butcher. At 60 years old, this ambitious small business owner had a hard time getting bank loans and financial support in a country where career changes and later-in-life entrepreneurship is seen as suspicious. Always perseverant, Mr. Horeau managed to open his charming boutique which caters both to the wealthy population of the 16th arrondissement as well as the less affluent residents who live in in the nearby low income housing. Keeping his prices low without compromising the quality of his products, this exceptional and ethical business man is just the kind of neighbor that every quartier needs.

 

It warms my heart to see such a great group of committed and passionate people enriching our city! Please go check out these shops on your own and support your local small, artisanal businesses!

The Culinary Cyclist by Anna Brones

Taking on Paris' bike lanes with Anna Brones, author of The Culinary Cyclist There are worse ways one can spend a day than speeding through Paris streets on a rented Vélib' with Anna Brones. In fact, it turns out there may not be anything better than spending a sun soaked Thursday morning on borrowed bikes headed to Marché Bastille with a girl who knows her bike lanes.

Although Anna only recently found her way back to Paris (after spending time studying in France in college), she navigates her new home with impressive familiarity and acumen, finding treasures such as socca, floating markets, and her personal favorite, kale along the way.

Bike Lane

Anna documents her foodie findings and musings on her superb site, Foodie Underground where readers will benefit from the lessons learned and stones overturned as this intrepid editor explores the exciting world of food.

But back to my exciting adventure with Anna- which started with a mild bike fender bender somewhere in the 17th arrondissement and then saw us snaking through the rues of Paris to Marché Bastille, where we shopped for locally-grown produce and Anna talked about the inspiration behind her new book, The Culinary Cyclist.

Spring veggies at Marché Bastille

As we made our way through the busy aisles of the market, Anna describes the book as a “guidebook to good living” for people who enjoy a bike-paced life that involves slow food, good friends, and creating situations in which the two collide.  The book is also filled with accessible recipes, many of which are vegan and gluten free.

The Culinary Cyclist is also an introduction to all aspects of food appreciation and preparation- with chapters such as “pantry basics” and guides to how to shop by bicycle and even make your own market shopping bags to fill with seasonal veggies.

Locally grown apples at from Mr. Martinet's stand at Marché Bastille

Drawn in by the spring arrivals at the market, we drift towards Mr. Martinet's locally grown fruits and vegetables. While picking over apples at Monsieur Martinet's stand, Anna and I discussed the importance of supporting local farmers and the lifestyle choices and changes this involves.

Rethinking our relationship to food and the people that provide it is a common theme in Anna's writing. In a recent article published on ecosalon Anna answered a question I ask myself often, “Why do we love markets? Because they’re simple. Because they remind us of our relationship with food; that from what we eat, we draw happiness.”

Anna Brones, author of The Culinary Cyclist

The path to happiness and “good living” may be as rough and winding as a cobblestone street but borrowing a bike or buying an apple is a great first step towards getting you there- and The Culinary Cyclist is the perfect guidebook to help you along the way.

If you're interested in getting a copy of The Culinary Cyclist contribute to the Kickstarter campaign and reserve your advance copy.

Bike baskets and fresh market produce are a dream come true for a culinary cyclist!

 

A bike ride can take you around the block or across the country. A meal can do the same. Put the two together? Now that’s a formula for living well. - Anna Brones, The Culinary Cyclist