5 Spots to Score or Sip a Bottle of Natural Bubbles this NYE

goin out In France, the year's end is commemorated with celebrations that encourage submerging both the good and bad of the 365 days gone in an onslaught of bubbles and oysters. It's a great way to see the end of the past year, but often renders the beginning of the following year a bit rough. To avoid starting your new year with regrets and a headache avoid the primary causes of both which can often be attributed to sulfite-laden, sweetened champagnes.

Waking up sans morning after aches doesn't mean excluding yourself from the festivities, it just takes a little planning and enjoying a healthy dose of natural bubbly throughout the evening. These untreated wines, which have the benefit of being both less expensive and more forgiving the next day than your standard champagne, will guarantee a great night and an even better beginning of 2014.

Fancy champagnes may make you feel like a baller they evening of, but leave you feeling less glamourous the morning after

Many natural sparkling wines, or petillants naturels ("pet' nats" if you're in to the whole brevity thing) as they are referred to in France, contain no added sulfites or other chemicals, making them all around easier on the head.
Along with avoiding any added sulfites, natural wine makers also eschew adding sugar, and will not chapatalize their wines (add sugar to increase alcohol content) or practice what is refereed to as "dosing" a sparkling wine (adding a dose of sugar or sweet wine to the bubbly at the time of bottling). Adding sugar to a wine may increase the alcohol or amount of bubbles in your bottle, but it also increases your chances of a nasty hangover the next day.

A glass of bubbly at Ma Cave Fleury

There are plenty of options for spots to pick up a bottle of pet' nat for your New Year's Eve fête ce soir. Here are five of my favorites:
Ma Cave Fleury
Ma Cave Fleury is a small cave à vins in the 2nd arrondissement. The space has seating available and you can enjoy a bottle of natural champagne on site, or you can grab a few bottles to go. Here you will find a selection of natural champagnes (including a few non-dosed options) from the Champagnes Fleury domaine, which espouses a biodynamic approach to agriculture and winemaking.
La Cave des Papilles
La Cave des Papilles is an institution in the natural wine shop scene in Paris. The staff have developped close relationships with all the winemakers they work with and are happy to help you chose a bottle. A selection of natural bubbles from the Loire and southern France await you at this cave in the 14th arrondissement.

Triple Zero Petillant at Le Siffleur de Ballons

Le Siffleur de Ballons
Le Siffleur de Ballons is one of my favorite spots to have a glass of natural wine with an assiette de fromage because their constantly changing (and super affordable) wines by the glass menu is an excellent way to discover new wines and revisit old favorites. There is always at least one pet' nat available by the glass, but you can also choose a bottle from their boutique. I recommend Jacky Blot's Triple Zero, which has been a good companion for several happy occasions.
En Vrac
En Vrac is a fairly recent addition to the natural wine bar scene in Paris. Located in the up and coming Riquet neighborhood in the 19th arrondissement, En Vrac sells both bottles and bulk wine. As it's name (French for "in bulk") implies, the cave offers the option of bringing your own bottle to fill with your choice of reds and wines by the barrel. If you're looking for bubbles, ask the friendly staff to orient you towards a bottle among their small but well curated selection of natural wines.

Bottles of Natural wine at Ma Cave Fleury

Le Vin en Tête
Le Vin en Tête has two wine shops and one wine bar in Paris, all of which are staffed with incredibly helpful wine geeks and stocked with a beautiful assortment of natural wines. The shops regularly host tastings, often with winemakers from the Champagne region, and can help you pick out a great bottle of bubbly for your evening, and why not pick up a white to pair with your oysters while you're there?
I wish you a happy and sparkly réveillon readers and all the best in the new year!
Bonne Année from Paris Paysanne!!

In Season: Betteraves

  Raw beets at Marché Monge

I had never really eaten beets before moving to France, where they are a ubiquitous menu item in school cafeterias.

My eagerness to experiment with beets therefore obliged my French husband to overcome his childhood distaste for betteraves as I discovered their diversity and deliciousness.

At Paris markets you will find beets sold both cooked (i.e. boiled for hours until tender) or rawWhen I stopped by Olivier Couroyer's stand at the Marché Monge they were selling two types of cooked beets, the traditional round variety and another parsnip shaped variety (red crapaudine?) that I had never seen before.

Olivier Couroyer sells cooked beets at Marché Monge

When I asked the vendor what the difference was between the two types, he explained that the parsnip-shaped beet had a sweeter taste and was good for using in salads.

Buying beets pre-cooked saves you the hours of boiling them yourselves (and removes some of the risk of dying your hands and clothes beet red as you handle their tenacious tints).

Having said that, uncooked beets have their advantages. Once scrubbed and washed, the raw root vegetable can be cut into big cubes, brushed with olive oil, lightly salted, and roasted on high heat for a hearty winter side dish.

Beets can be both roasted or eaten in a salad

What: Betteraves (Beets)

When: January 18, 2013

Where: Marché Monge 75005, Olivier Couroyer's stand

How: Boiled beets make for a super easy salad that can be whipped up and stored away for a healthy, detox-diet approved lunch option.

Cut your beets into bite-sized cubes and toss with an olive oil based vinaigrette. You can add whatever you want to spice up your salad. I like to add feta or chèvre as well as sesame seeds or pine nuts. Add a touch of green by throwing in some seasonal pimpernel or watercress and give the salad crunch by including fresh radicchio - all of which are readily available in the markets this season.

In Season: Navets

I first met independent farmer Marc Mascetti almost two years ago when I wrote about Marché Monge, where Marc is the only local producer. The situation seems the same at Marché Port Royal, where Marc sets up his stand on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I went to visit Marché Port Royal with Kristen of The Kale Project because she had a lead on some kale being sold there. Turns out it was the energetic and enthusiastic Mascetti who was selling the kale, along with other homegrown goods.

Among his produce, the bright purple blotched turnips stood out to me. Realizing I've never bought navets,or turnips, in my life, I asked Marc what one does with this root vegetable and the answer was rather simple- Marc grabbed a knife, cut open the navet and offered me a slice. Turns out all you have to do with a turnip is eat it, "with the apèro" Marc suggested with a smile.


What: Navet (Turnip)

When: November 6, 2012

Where: Marché Port Royal, 75005

Who: Marc Mascetti, whose farm is located 34 km South of Paris

How: You can enjoy turnips raw, as Marc advises, or prepare them in a mash, gratin, or stir fry.

The New York Times article Giving Turnips a Second Look provides great recipes for this "under-appreciated and often overlooked" vegetable.