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!

Marché du Mois: Marché Convention

Café du Marché rue Convention, 75015 The minute I set foot in the 15th I'm overcome with an immediate craving for croissants. I think this is due to the fact that this particular part of Paris seems to be so quintessentially French that, even after 8 years living in the city, I feel transformed into a tourist upon arriving in this arrondissement. I quickly find myself scouting the city streets for a spot to treat myself to iconic French pleasures, such as a café crème, a croissant and a view of the Eiffel Tower.

Window shopping on rue Convention

While rue Convention has managed to escape the observant gaze of le tour eiffelthis boutique lined street is packed with fromageries, butchers, and bakers with windows stocked with creamy cheeses, golden baked goods and impossibly perfect creations such as tourte à la viande, feuilletéand baby quiches. It all seems so old-fashioned and charming, so linked to an artisanal French heyday that I almost expected Julia Child herself to burst out of the doors of one of these boutiques, her shopping basket overflowing and her face lit up with a smile.

Metro Convention, doorway to croissants and Marché Convention in the 15th arrondissement

While the brick and mortar installations on rue Convention seem in keeping with traditional French culinary tradition, its market seems to have unfortunately kept up with modern times. The aisles that make up Marché Convention are largely comprised of stands selling industrial foods and polyester blend clothing. This is a sad, yet familiar sight for the committed market goer in Paris, but I always feel the same level of disappointment every time I realize how few and far between farmers really are at Paris markets.

Autumnal tomato harvest at Marché Convention

Therefore it came as a great relief and surprise that upon reaching the eastern end of the market, settled on place Charles Vallin, I saw Marché Convention's only independent producer, Masion Lenoble. Even more exciting, these market gardeners are from Ile-de-France- located in the Val-de-Marne, less than an hour southeast of Paris.

The farm's mid-October harvest brought together a selection of tomatoes, both in bright reds and greens, cabbage, lettuce, leeks and potatoes as well as watermelon radishes, the first I had ever seen of this variety in Paris.

Locally grown watermelon radishes

In addition to their stand in the 15th, Maison Lenoble also sells their locally grown produce at Marché Berthier (75017) and Marché Point du Jour (75016).

While it's hard to beat a café and croissant, I think there are few things more gratifying and fantastically French than a basket full of locally grown, fresh vegetables chosen with care at your local market- and Maison Lenoble is one of the few places you can still enjoy this pastime in Paris markets.

lenoble crates

Marché Convention

rue Convention 75015

M°Convention (line 12)

Open Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday 7h-14h30

A Tale of Two Community Gardens

The past few weeks have been full of community garden discoveries for me. Not only did I become a new member of my local community garden,Les Jardins du Ruisseau, but I also had the pleasure of accepting invitations to visit two friends in the different community gardens they are involved in.
These shared gardens, scattered all over the city, prove that urban agriculture is more than just a budding movement in the capital, but a flourishing opportunity for city dwellers to get their hands dirty and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

My first stop was Terresa's shared garden in the 12th arrondisement. Tucked away next to a small park where locals have their dejeuner, Terresa packs an impressive amount of agriculture into two tiny (and tidy) plots of land. While most members' interaction with this garden consist of taking advantage of the lovely bucolic setting while dining under the grapevine-covered awning that is the centerpiece of the organic sprawl, Terresa actively tends to the terre.

At Terresa's garden, a handful of dedicated urban gardeners succeed in cultivating a hearty yield of locally grown produce, which include strawberries, raspberries, courgettes, tomatoes, greens, beets, carrots, turnips, and a wide variety of herbs among many other seasonal crops.
I may have been a guest in Terresa's garden, but I was eager to put in a day's work. Upon arriving at the garden's gate, Terresa presented me with the itinerary for the day. We took a tour of the garden and the two plots Terresa tends to. I was convinced that our day's duties could hardly be as time consuming as Terresa made them sound. However, an hour later and only half way done with thinning out panais sprouts and replacing hay with coffee grounds as a preventative measure against unwelcome pests, I realized how much work really goes in to keeping a garden alive.
As we tended to the to-do list of garden chores, Terresa would periodically excuse herself to check on the fish pond that is tucked in the corner of the garden. She had been soothing the single coy fish in the pond since our arrival, assuring it that she would stay until his water had been refreshed. Moving the hose and checking the water quality from time to time, it was clear how invested Terresa is in the life thriving in the garden.

While working the land is inextricably linked with the creation and support of new life, and Terresa is a befitting representation of the gardener/nurturer (she prefaces the use of the term "mauvaise herbe" by explaining that no herbe is mauvaise- we just simply find ourselves more interested in certain herbes depending on the circumstances), my green-thumbed guide didn't shy away from showing me the darker side of gardening. Turns out that when it comes to fending off garden pests, coffe grounds are fine but bootsoles are better.
The anti-pesticide approach to gardening includes a lot of nasty smelling DIY antidotes including nettle-based sprays and decomposed slug corpse concoctions, however the most straightforward approach consists of seeking the little buggers out and squishing them underfoot before they can get to your lush leaves of kale or chard.
The world of urban gardening, just like any other natural setting, is dog-eat-dog. I didn't have the stomach for the slug and snailocide that followed, but Terresa had long abondonded any sympathies with the bitty beasts that had ravaged her crops for too long. She bravely exterminated the little clan of creepy crawlers that had camped out near her crops while I sought solice near the coy pond.

But I couldn't dwell on the carnage for long because instants later I was Keds-deep in composte tea, sprinkling the nutrient rich residue from Terresa's composte pile over the plots of land that we had meticulously minded, thinning out the sprouts and weeding out the herbes that we weren't interested in cultivating at the moment. All said and done, I was proud of our day's work and was elated with the unexpected pleasure of having dirty finger nails and compost smelling clothes which resulted in an earthy smell that I didn't mind bringing along with me on the metro.
Terresa sent me home with a lovely bouquet of horseradish, bay leaves, lavender, and a baby carrot, but before we parted ways we were visited by a member of the garden. Terressa asked him why he didn't have a plot of land of his own and he explained to us that he was an agriculteur not a gardener. "What's the difference?" we asked him. "An agriculteur grows things, a gardener makes works of art" he replied.
We looked around the hodgepodge of plants and flowers, squeezed into a small space in the shadow of the Bastille and a bustling city. A mess of sprouts and blossoms, the garden was sort of a crossroads of agriculture and gardening, if we accepted the gentleman's definition.
"This is a work of art?" Terresa asked him, gesturing to her bit of land. "Well," he responded slowly, hedging diplomatically, "not every work of art is a masterpiece". Maybe it wasn't a masterpiece to all, but after spending the day kneeling in the dirt, our work felt like no less than a chef d'oeuvre to me.

Q: What's better than discovering a secret garden tucked away next to a charming church built around a living tree? A: Being given a tour of said garden by a lovely Mademoiselle who will eagerly share her knowledge of roses and English Litterature with you.
I had the best of both worlds when I found myself in the fortunate position of visiting Florence's community garden in the 15th arrondisement. The garden is a project headed by the Russian Orthodox community who use the garden as a spot to meet after church and hold community events.

Florence got involved with the project when she saw an annonce seeking help with the upkeep of the garden. She met with the elderly Russian man who had taken on the project tout seul and was happy to lend a helping hand. Having lived in Russia when younger, Florence was happy to be in contact with Russian culture and be able to brush up on the language (Florence is totally the type of worldy and cultivated person who knows how to speak Russian, and probably 4 out of 5 of any language you would ask her about.)
Hidden behind an unremarkable door in a neighborhood in the 15th, the garden is part of an enchanting courtyard that houses the wooden church which was constructed around a tree that predates the community's use of the space. The chiming of traditional Russian bells and the neighbor's habit of busting Beethoven in the apres-midi make this spot an ideal respite for those of any and all theological persuasions.
Surrounded by Hollyhocks, Hydrangeas, and roses of all colors I realized how much this garden reinforced the qualities that I love about Paris, most particularly that you never know when you will find beauty next and that behind every door hides the possibility of surprise.

Thanks so much to my two guides, Terresa and Florence, for sharing their time and plots of land with me! Next time we'll have to do it in my little urban wilderness. Rendez Vous aux Jardins du Ruisseau bientôt!
If any of my readers would like to share their urban gardening projects with me or the blog, I'd love to take a tour! Also, it's sprouting season and I think this Parisian rain is only helping our budding buddies, even if it's not doing much for our moods! If you, like me, had a green thumb bigger than your balcony/window box this year and would like to exchange or share your sprouts with other Parisian Paysannes, please don't hesitate to post and network on the Facebook page or leave a comment on the blog!!