Friday, 22 February 2008

Paris for fussy eaters and tired girls on a business trip, vegan paris part 1 (Paris végétalienne)

Having a blackberry is more or less like being kidnapped by the aliens and  having a microchip  

installed behind your ear, you know that they know where you are and there is no excuse and no hiding. I had it for he past week and it was a terrifying experience.

I got into my first trip to Paris after the launch of the new faster Eurostar and the new re-vamped St Pancras station opening, two hours and fifteen minutes can be an eternity if you use the time to reply to an infinite number of email and each flashing envelope on the screen makes you jump in your seat.

So was this a week of hard work and modern days slavery? Well just partly.

I enjoy Paris and go fairly often, even this time after ten hours work and when my thumb was about to fall off (yes the BB again) I still had the energy to go out, and exhausted the day after I never regretted it!

Paris has been difficult for me in the past as it is hardly a paradise for vegetarians, and even if there is a great deal of bakeries and ethnic restaurants I always felt like I was just filling myself with bread and cous cous and not much else.

But something is changing!As soon as I arrived at la Gare du Nord a group of dreadlocked-pierced people were giving food away to the commuters. 

When I approached them the lovely girl that handed over the dahl told me that the food was végétalienne (vegan) and made with the supermarket donations (of ingredients near the expiring date).

they are part of  FOOD NOT BOMBS how could I disagree?

was this really happening in Paris? In the country of the croque-monsieur and Beef Bourguignon

The first night I went to  one of my favourite restaurants: Le Potager du Marais, it is in fact located in the best area, it’s cheap delicious and the atmosphere is so great, I needed to book as he place is minuscule, if I was in Paris with a non-vegetarian I would choose this place for sure as their veg dishes are delicious, also they have great spelt and barley beers and good wines. I liked the fact that the waitresses spoke English, Italian and Greek!

22 Rue Rambuteau

tel 0142742466


A good snack in the afternoon in the Marais could be at the Victoire Supreme du Coeur especially if you don’ mind a bit of rudeness from the staff (maybe I was just unlucky?).

27-31 Rue du Bourg Tibourg

tel 0140419503


My favourite peaceful island to unwind is a macrobiotic place, where the food is delicious and clean and it works on your body when you have been really working hard and talked all day and there are no fashion people on sight…

Au Grande Appetit 

9 Rue de la Cerisaie 

tel 0140270495

You can drink as much Japanese tea as you like and even if you eat a lot you will not spend more then 17 euros. I loved their delicate petit assiette that is a complete and balanced meal that made me feel immediately home. 

The ladies that run the place are very friendly and there is even a Japanese scenographer passionated about Italian theatre that works there part time as the food is soooo good!

The dessert are delicious too. In line with the macrobiotic principles don't expect a fancy restaurant but a simple and pleasant one.


A bizarre place is The Green Garden, the place is a Chinese specialized in Mock meats located in the China town of Paris. It is not central and when I booked it through my hotel (my French is rather poor) the lady at the reception gave me a strange look but I just ignored her and kept my eyes on the infernal device (BB if you were wondering)

20 rue National (M porte d'Ivry

tel 0145829954

I visited the place as it was reviewed on the beautiful Chez Pim blog, the location is really unappealing but the owner is the nicest person and the food is really really good (if you like Chinese of course)


Much more convenient is the  Vietnamese  Tien Hiang restaurant in the Bastille area also specializes in mock meats but as that’s really not my favourite thing I ordered a fresh soup, and what arrived is like the soup I always dream of when I think Asian food. Lots of different  ingredients, quite filling and superhot, it is exactly what I would expect to get at Wagamama (that is sadly always below my expectation). You don't get any cheaper then this in Paris and it is a cheerful simple place just 10 minutes walk from Bastille.


92 rue du Chemin Vert

Tanks to the friends that make Paris always a great place to be! That took me to the theatre, made me laugh, and to the ones that  I met as a coincidence(!)

Monday, 11 February 2008

ready to go again..

Back to the reality far too quickly and getting ready for the next work trip, while I am packing to go to Paris I remember that something terrible happened in the Gambia. My camera has been a victim of my carelessness. My camera has been with me every day ever since I got it as a gift but just in my peculiar style with no case. Of course!
The Gambia is no place for such lousiness and the sand is unforgiving, it gets everywhere.

Today I cook and was about to take a picture of the dish  (freak I know) but I had to take it with my phone and I think this is very likely to be the trend till I get a new one…


Last night I went to see Carbon Casino it was the fifth night of the Carbon Silicon special gigs and you are still on time to catch the last one next Friday!

 "The Carbon Casino" - each Friday from January 11th until February 22nd 2008. To give everybody a chance for entry, there is NO advance tickets for these shows - just turn up on the night holding a £10 note at the Inn on the green in Portobello.

Carbon/Silicon is a Garage Rock duo consisting of Mick Jones formerly of the Clash and Tony James (Generation X) but there is a lot more to see at Carbon Casino lots of other bands DJ set and the athmosphere is  cheerful and genuine, lots of old punks, the audience is really enthusiastic. 

As always after a gig when I woke up I was starving and I also needed to empty the fridge before leaving for Paris.

So the perfect solution was:

Punk Curly Kale Monsters

About 150 gm of Curly Kale

1 small parsnip

2 small leeks

½ cup of Oat flakes

200 grams of firm tofu

Flaked almonds

½ spoon of sodium bicarbonate

2 tbs tamari



I steamed the veggies till soft and blend them with the soy sauce and the other ingredients (a part from the almonds) till really smooth, I divided the blend in individual ramekin topped with almonds baked for 20 mins 180C° till golden and sprinkled with parsley.


Note that I used random vegetables that needed to evacuate the fridge before my departure, most greens will do.

The sun is shining on London again, we are getting spoiled! 

If you are going down to Notting Hill to the last Carbon Casino take advantage of the cheap and great for vegetarians Malaysian Cafè Makan, that has been going for ages and on this neck of the wood that's a pretty good sign.





A gourmet holiday? The Gambia

Friend: So how come you have not been cooking lately, nor you have been talking about some boring farmers market in London?

Glowing happy blogger: I have been to Gambia

Friend: Where??

Glowing happy blogger: Gambia West Africa near Senegal.

Gambia is an inspiring place. Food is probably not what is known for, but the experience of street food or even the family food that was cooked at our compound was truly excellent.

The Gambian food is mainly based on one grain that could be other rice, cous cous or millet, and root vegetables cooked in palm oil. Cassava is what you are more likely to eat every day.

I have to admit that having the vegan version of the Gambian food made me feel a bit of a spoilt child but our guesthouse was vegan so no fussing or embarrassment.
Nyima was our cook, she is an exceptionally beautiful young woman that has been cooking for this very special place for ten years.
My favorite bit of cooking was bought from the street vendors by our host for breakfast we had Accara (fried bean flower) accompanied by what is literally a baguette and some spicy sauce.

Having fried food first thing in the morning is not really the healthiest of things but it seemed perfectly suitable when I was there…

Some other guest requested porridge and they were served a delicious Chura (millet porridge).
In the evening I had different sorts of stews and vegetables but never took any picture after 6PM as I was too hungry to wait! I particularly enjoyed Benachin that is rice cooked with tomato sauce (same principle as a risotto the rice is cooked for absorption) topped in the same pot with some vegetables (or fish for the non-veg).
Generally food is very hot and the chillies are of those kind that you find almost only in Brixton Market and are illegal anywhere else ☺

Interesting food facts from the Gambia:
for a cost reason everything in
Gambia is packed in small plastic bags, rice, sugar, even ice cream come in those!

ice cream in bags
Fans of peanut butter will love Gambia! The groundnut paste is sold everywhere and it’s delicious
Those that avoid sugar will find difficult to explain to Gambian friends why, Gambians are amongst the sweet-toothest people I
ever met.
If want to know where you can learn to drum (djembe’ but also other drums on request), eat vegan food and maybe learn how to cook some west African delicacies just check here

lovely food shop