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Monday, August 16, 2010

9 Days in Paris (Part 5) - Cuisine Végétalien

Around 80% of our pre-departure research was dedicated to food. And even that was probably not enough. Although we were allowed to use the hotel dining room to eat, we didn't have any way to cook anything (not that I really felt motivated to cook after a long day of sightseeing). I didn't want to live on baguettes and applesauce every day for over a week and being an employed person who is otherwise not really big on shopping, I figure I deserved this much.

However, there was another thing to keep in mind, namely the fact that Frosty is vegan.

I am not.

That said, I'm also not a picky non-vegan that needs to have animal-based ingredients in all of my meals. If you're not vegan and you're going to date a vegan, this is the attitude that you should have; otherwise, you can almost never go out to eat together.

Trying to find a restaurant that does meat and vegan food is tough. Moreover, even I would question the vegan-ness of the food in such an establishment. So usually we try to find a place that's at least vegetarian, because it's easier to get to vegan from there. If the search is not successful then we have no other choice but to take turns and go and eat where ever the hell we want -- meaning that we go somewhere and he watches me eat and then we go to a different place and then I watch him eat or vice versa -- which is the lamest shit ever.

To avoid having to go through that crap, we just try to go to vegan places. In Hamburg, this has proven to be quite easy. Maybe it's because we both know the word for "vegan" in German, but didn't know what it's called in French (I sure didn't know it until I looked it up for this entry -- make a note, Frosty). Thanks to Google Maps, we had marked a number of potentially vegan eateries on our map. The plan was to hit up these places for dinner. In all but two places, long discussions ensued with the restaurant personnel about whether or not the food was really vegan or not.

This often caused stress between us. I would have preferred to check with the staff before we sat down and started looking at the menu. It's no fun to look at a menu and think to yourself, "Oh, that looks good". Then imagine how good it would taste, only to look over at your partner who has a look on his face that says, "I can't eat anything here."

Then you're right back to what I was talking about two paragraphs up. I blame the pescatarians always trying to sneak their seafood on to vegetarian menus.

Nevertheless, we managed to find some really good eats in the city that didn't make us go broke and are vegan-friendly.

Krishna Bhavan - This is where we went on the first night. It wasn't very far from our hotel. It's a small establishment in an area with a lot of Indian shops. When you get there and look at the menu, it looks a bit deceiving, because everything looks like an appetizer. However, it was really good and filling. Frosty had to finish of my plate because it was too much for me. I don't have any pictures of it though because I left my camera at the hotel and I was so hungry.

Random Pizza Place - *Sigh* this place wasn't on our map, but Frosty and I had a bit of a row. We stopped by the next closest place on our food map, but Frosty took a look at the menu and deemed it too expensive and wanted to dine somewhere else. I got whiny, because I was hungry and it was getting late, but we moved on. Then we found some kind of gourmet take-away pizza place. Frosty ordered the vegetarian pizza, without cheese and I got this thing...which was delicious and kind of pesto-y. It hit the spot. Also the they've got a halal certificate, which could be useful for some.

Godjo - This is an Ethiopian restaurant that we also marked on our map. It's around Sorbonne / studenty area. It was the most expensive of our meals, not to mention the most stressful of our meals & Frosty's least favorite. Despite the Qype reviews, I found the staff to be very unfriendly. Perhaps it was a rough night, perhaps my stress level was simply too high. I had been looking forward to trying out Ethiopian food. Frosty noticed that some fish dishes were listed under the vegetarian section, which cast everything in to doubt. I didn't want to eat there if he wasn't going to eat. Cue long discussion with the waitress about the ingredients of the food. Anyway, the flat bread (which was rather crepe like) probably had egg in it and Frosty ordered a dish that was too spicy for him. Mostly out of spite -- which I now realize was a really bitchy move and for that I apologize -- I ordered a dish that was just mostly meat (three different kinds, plus a hard-boiled egg on the side) and a bottle of wine. It was that kind of day. The food was good (at least mine was) but I left with a fairly negative impression of the place for other reasons.

The Loving Hut
- The Loving Hut is a chain of international vegan restaurants founded by (as stated in her Wikipedia article) the "self-titled...spiritual teacher" Supreme Master Ching Hai. This was the spot where we had our most harmonious dinners, simply because there were no questions about the menu. Frosty could eat everything on it. We ate here three times and it was great each time and the staff was very friendly. It was a mix of French/Vietnamese cuisine...but vegan. I wanted to try the phở
but I was too hungry and it was too hot for soup. So we split some appetizers and I had the quiche.

L'as du Fallafel - When you're written up by the NY Times and endorsed by none other than Lenny Kravitz and there are like 50 people lined up just at your take-out window, you're not exactly a secret spot anymore. However, this place has (without a doubt) the best motherfucking falafel that I've ever eaten in my life. Pardon my French. We ate here twice and then tried to go back a third time, but the wait was too long. So we went to the falafel place across the street, which was also amazing. L'as du Fallafel is situated in the Falafel District in Paris. Ok, it's probably not called the Falafel District, but there are a lot of falafel places in a rather small radius. I don't know if this one's the best out of all of them. Wait until I try out all of them on my next trip. All I know is that when we got back to Tübingen and went to the Kichererbse (aka The Chickpea, aka the place formerly know as the best motherfucking falafel that I've ever eaten in my life) I was a bit disappointed.

Cool & Calm - This is the one place that I would say is really a little gem that we found purely by accident. We wanted to go visit this squat/community center called "La Petit Rockette". Squat sounds dum in German it's called a "besetztes Haus" (like an "occupied house", which also sounds dumb, I guess). Anyway, we went by and there were some dudes painting some really beautiful graffiti pieces on the outside of the house. Frosty wanted to go inside, I was (as usual) too much of a 'fraidy cat to just go inside, so I asked him to ask someone if it was ok first.

Turns out the guy standing next to us was some kind of French Rasta dude, who was like "Oh yeah, go inside whatever it's cool." And then he mentioned that there was also this restaurant down the street associated with the squat. I don't know if that was really what he meant. But my interest was piqued. And I'll tell you why...

Because his English was like, you know, how you imagine that French people speak English, but with a large dose of Jamaican patois. It was truly amazing. So we ended up going down to this restaurant called Cool & Calm. As it turns out, they specialize in vegetarian and Jamaican food, but they are vegan-friendly and they even use different cooking utensils and pots and pans for the meat / non-meat dishes. Very cool.

We ate there on our next to last night in Paris. I had some jerk chicken with rice and plantains. Frosty had...whatever he had. I couldn't take a picture because my camera battery died. Anyway they had sorrel! And ginger beer! I highly recommend this place. Here are some pics that I snatched from their Myspace page (the dude on the far right is the French Rasta dude).

So, that's what we ate. The Ethiopian restaurant was the most expensive, most of it was that bottle of wine that I bought. I didn't try any snails or anything. I also had a couple of crepes. Frosty introduced me to a delicious spread that tastes like spekulatius cookies (pictured at the top of the post). It's the new Nutella.

Oh and also, there was one day when Frosty and I did separate activities. After visiting the Musée Carnavalet, I sat in a park, had some wine and ate some delicious Brie and crackers. And then I had a conversation with a guy who bummed a cigarette from me. His name was Jean-Somethingorother

It was like my own personal version of that International Coffees commercial from the 80's, except with cheese and a bit of alcohol...


Katie said...

So, in New York there are lots of weird food trucks (like ice cream trucks but with cupcakes or dumplings or whatever), and one of my faves is a waffle truck run by awesome Belgium guys. They love that Spekulatius cookie spread. I've been nervous to spend my money on anything non-Nutella, but next time I'll give it a try!

lebrookski said...

I love Spekulatius cookies. I mostly just wait to buy them around Christmas time. The spread is so good, Frosty bought like 10 jars to bring back.

It looks like peanut butter, so that might throw you off, but the taste is more cinnamon/caramelly-ish?

Anonymous said...

"...I loved that waiter." *lol*