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Monday, December 14, 2009

Le Marché Du Dimanche

Eating out tends to be expensive in France. A very simple meal costs about S$100 for a family of 4. Of course, even simple meals in France is comprised of a starter, a main and dessert/cheese. Still rather elaborate by Singaporean standards where one eats a plate of char kway teow and lunch is over.



On our first day here, we ate at a charming brasserie (we were told that it had been around for the last 100 years) where the décor was reminiscent of the 1940s. The tiny tables were placed so close to each other that people had to move tables for me to squeeze into my seat. There was a lively buzz of soft conversations and the intense fragrance of coffee in the air. It was altogether very pleasant. Little Boy ate up his lunch and part of all ours. The food was that good.

But one does not need to eat out to eat well. I contrived to book accommodation that came with kitchens. Armed with my kitchen, I plunged into the crowds at the Sunday market. We found a stall selling about 14 different varieties of oysters. We bought a dozen for S$20. There were some specialty breads so we picked up a loaf. And I swiped 4 different goat cheeses from the crêmerie with exotic names like Crottins de Chavignol (roughly translated as "shit bits of Chavignol"), Trou de Cru (i.e., a Hole of Raw) and Bouchons de Sancerre (i.e., Corks from Sancerre"... which looked exactly like a peeled banana). Very evocative names that reflect sense of humour of the peasant folk who created these masterpieces from milk. I even found a stall selling organic apple juice and pear juice.



And then we had lunch. Very fresh raw oysters with a hint of lemon and a lot of sea in them, chewed down with crusty bread and good French butter. The children loved the bread and the cheese but balked at the raw oysters. I was puzzled. In my own experience, I had taken to French oysters like a walrus but it took me 2 years to get into cheeses. Oh... if only Sunday markets were everyday. I would go back there to get a dozen oysters a day.

For another meal, I went sniffing around for a "charcuterie". This is a place that sells treated meats of every sort. I carried away packets of pâté (these come in a variety of different meats, from pork liver to goose liver to chicken and salmon) and meat mousses and my favorite "rillettes d'oie" (minced goose). The variety of treated meats is mind-boggling. All one needs to do is to close the eyes and point. It doesn't matter what you choose. They're all good. Then, with a baguette (french crust bread) lunch is again served.

I like hot dinners so I bought filet mignon and served up steak with flavoured with herbes de Provence. Oh... I look forward to every meal here.

9 comments:

barefootgardener said...

You are making me drool, Petunia! You should be a food columnist with the writing talent you have!

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

and i look forward to more entries from you!

petunialee said...

BFG - Thanks! I don't think I do justice to the food though. I'll try and upload pictures soon.

petunialee said...

Fry - More comin' right up!

KT said...

You can store unshucked oysters for a few days in the fridge, on a bed of wet paper towels and covered with wet towels. I hope you buy oysters unshucked? Otherwise you risk losing the oyster liquor on the way home. Or bring a big plate to the market! And ask for a taste of the different types, then pick what you like. Good oyster liquor is like very good Chinese soup. Very, very umami.

KT said...

There's very good and very cheap ready to eat beef carpaccio at the butchers. On a plastic plate with dressing and cheese. Haiz! But we have laksa and mee siam in Singapore lah.

petunialee said...

KT - I asked for shucked oysters that day, but I made sure that the liquor stayed in the shell by carrying the carton home very carefully. I'm no good at shucking oysters so I paid the guy 2 Euros extra to shuck them for me. Then I just arranged on the plate and tucked in 10 minutes later.

petunialee said...

KT - Those oysters were REALLY good. Very fresh and juicy with liquor. They were very fleshy too.

petunialee said...

KT - Yup! Yup! I saw the beef carpaccio at the "boucherie". I was so tempted to buy but I thought the beef looked rather dry. Then at the restaurant, I almost ordered beef tartare, but The Husband disapproved, worried that I might expose myself to unnecessary risks of infection. Of course, if well-prepared there isn't any risk but well... I ordered a "magret de canard" instead. It was good too!