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samedi 26 février 2011

The Salon de l'Agriculture

It doesn't take an advanced degree in the the agricultural arts to understand the appeal of Paris' annual Salon de l'Agriculture.

Every year, the Salon attracts about 650,000 visitors who are drawn by the promise of meeting regional and international producers and tasting the fruits of their labor.

But the taste testing is only half of the Salon's fun, after noshing on artisinal cheese, meats, wine, and beers, one can wander over to a neighboring Pavillion and hang out with over 4,000 farm animals.

During this week dedicated to all things agricultural, the Paris Exposition center at the Porte de Versailles houses a wide variety of animals including horses, cows, donkies, sheep, pigs, and rabbits.

The giddy Parisian toddler or the tipsy and toddling urbanite can enjoy getting up close and personal with these awesome animals, which is needless to say a rare opportunity in Paris intramuros.

This year, I was particularly smitten with the donkies, but I strongly recommend making the rounds to find your own spirit animal amongst the stys.

Aside from donkies, I took a special interest in locally brewed beers during my visit. I was happy to find two beers brewed in the Ile-de-France region, which Paris calls home, that offered especially tasty amber ales.

The first beer I tasted was La Gâtine, a beer which is made from hops grown in the region and brewed sur place in the Pays Gatinais, located 100 kilometers from Paris. This brasserie brews both a blonde and a pleasing amber ale that dares to embrace a bitter taste that one doesn't usually discover in French beers on tap in Parisian bars. La Gâtine makes a good argument for changing that unfortunate state of affairs.

Even closer still, the Brasserie Chevreuse, is located near Versailles, a mere 20 kilometers from Paris. The team brews their beer in the town of Bonnelles, using organic hops and barley bought from Germany and France.

The brasserie's "Volcelest" line of beers includes a Blonde, Amber, Stout, a Brown Ale, and their Triple beer, fermented three times to reach a level of 8% alcohol. Their Blonde and Triple beers were a bit too sweet for my taste, but the Brown Ale was delicious and I'm disappointed I didn't take home more than one bottle.

If you want to get in on some bottle tasting and barnyard action, get yourself to the Salon tout de suite! This is the last weekend it's on so take advantage before it's too late! If you want to make the most out of your visit, be advised that Pavillion 7 is where you'll find the French products (wine, beer, and food) and Pavillion 1 is where you can go hang out with the animals afterwards.

The Salon de l'Agriculture
Feb. 19-27; 9h-19h
Paris Expo Porte de Versailles
m°Porte de Versailles (line 12)

Want to find out more about artisinal beers from the Ile-de-France?
Check out the site for Les Soirées Maltées, where you can buy tickets for their March 3rd event featuring several local brasseries, including the Brasserie Chevreuse.
Tickets are 12 euro in advance and 16 euro at the door, act fast while they're still available!

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vendredi 18 février 2011

Profile d'un Producteur: Oskar Viljasaar

Welcome to my first installment of "Profile d'un Producteur". This new addition to the blog is inspired by all the creative Parisian "producteurs" that I've been meeting lately.

In this addition to the blog, I'd like to turn the spotlight on the people in our neighborhood who have fully embraced a DIY spirit and made unique artisinal objects to share with us.

I hope to make this a regular feature on the blog, so if you or anyone you know is a local producer and would like to share your story, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me, either by e-mailing: Emily@parispaysanne.com or posting your info on the forum.

Withour further ado, I present our first producteur, Oskar Viljasaar. Oskar has come up with an ingenious and energy efficient artisinal computer that he makes himself. Oskar's computer is not only eco-friendly, but it also has an unmistakable "French Touch", I'll let him tell you all about it:

Hello! My name is Oskar, and I'm selling wineboxes for ~300-350 euros a piece. It's not very cheap for a box of wine, but it has its advantages.

My take on a box of wine would be that it wouldn't really have any bottles in it (although it's possible to get them too), but instead would have a small energy-efficient computer for daily usage.

One of its goals would also be to promote small wine producers, as this would be an unusual and original way to do it for them. One of the big advantages of it would be that it would take less power than a lightbulb, and be totally noise-free, so at a first glance it could be a bit shocking for people to use it :)

The origins of this idea/project can be traced back to around 2006, when I got the crazy idea of putting a whole computer in a box of wine. I successfully did it, albeit with old spare (antique) computer parts I had lying around in my room, so it was relatively noisy. On the other hand, it was used for about six months daily, so this very fact confirms the viability of the idea of assembling a computer in a box of wine.

The difference with the first box of wine (I would call it Prototype #-1, yes, Minus One) would be that Prototype Zero would have no mechanically moving parts, eg. no hard disk drives (replaced by a solid state disk), no fans (replaced by less heating parts) and would be, as I already said, energy-efficient. Exact power usage numbers would [possibly] be max 30 watts. I don't really know if this is achievable, but it is a goal I'm setting to myself.

For the geeks reading this, Prototype #-1 was made out of an old motherboard, a dedicated graphics card, a PCI ethernet card and a 250watt Codegen PSU.

Prototype #0 would be based on a Mini-ITX motherboard (Intel Atom is the way to go), would have no optical reader (there's always the possibility to buy one pluggabe to an USB2 port), discrete graphics (exact chipset would be decided upon, probably Intel, but for the gamers out there, there is a possibility of including nVidia Ion), two gigabytes of RAM and a 32gig SSD.

The inclusion of Wi-Fi would be on demand, as at the moment, Wi-Fi-licious Mini-ITX motherboards are more expensive than those without. This would be reflected in the price, too.

If you're really interested in this (maybe even in buying it!), please leave a comment or mail me: oskar.viljasarr@eesti.ee

If you're excited about this idea or want to hear more, get in touch with Oskar, he'd love to hear from geeks, wine producers, interested buyers, and everyone in between!

Thanks Oskar for being my first "Profile d'un Producteur" I'm looking forward to publishing more of these stories in the future!

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lundi 14 février 2011

Marché of the Month: Marché St. Quentin

Ever since I first moved to Paris, I've been intrigued by the Marché St. Quentin. The market is one of the few remaining covered markets in Paris, which makes it intriguing to anyone who wants to take a closer look at the French architect Rabourdin's work, or to anyone who wants to find out what is behind the market's cast-iron doors.

For whatever reason, I've never been near the market during it's opening hours and everytime I've walked by the closed up, sizable, market building I've promised myself to make the trip at a time of the day when I can actually set foot in the place. Encouraged by a suggestion left by a reader on this blog, I made a point to schedule a visit. Here are some reflections on this month's Marché du Mois.

St. Quentin is an impressive space, with soaring ceilings and ample space for vendors, most of whom seemed to have called in sick on the day of the week that I visited making the space seem even larger and more impressive. I imagine that weekends are more bustling and would advise any interested visitor to stop by during a rush hour, because the ambience would only add to the charm of the marketplace.

I rarely recommend visiting a market at peak hours- waiting in long lines for your vegetables can be tiresome and should be avoided whenever possible as far as I'm concerned. However, I wasn't at all tempted to buy vegetables while I was at this particular marché. The fruits and veg seemed mostly imported from Spain and other neighboring countries- even the squash, that grows locally and lovely here, came from far away!

Clearly, the produce is not the strong point of St. Quentin, but that isn't to say it has nothing to offer. While wandering through the stands I was delighted to find Pasteis de Nata, a delicious tradtional pastry, at a Portuguese food stand. Since Paris has a huge Portuguese community, it seems strange that it would be such a rarity to find Pasteis- but I don't think I've ever seen them anywhere else. I'm sure my readers know some good addresses to point me to to get my fix, but at least now I know for sure that I can find them at this market.

The Marché St. Quentin is in fact a hub of international food sellers, which makes it both a special market and a specialist in niche items you might not find at other smaller, open air markets. While there I walked by African food stands, Italian delis, North African epiceries. There were also vendors selling region-specific French goods, like beer from the North of France. The choice of cheese from all over the country was also very tempting.

Another store that caught my eye was the beer boutique that sold unique and artisinal beers. There you can find both Gallia and Demory, two brands of Parisian beer that have been resurrected by young entrepreneurs and will hopefully find a home, and a brasserie, in Paris one day.

If you feel like drinking your beer sur place the Marché St. Quentin has a friendly looking bistro that you can siddle up to and take a break from shopping or a pause for noshing. Whatever you do, take advantage of the fact that, with so few covered markets left in Paris, you've found a spot where Rabourdin's ceiling will keep you covered and his walls will keep you safe from the elements, making St. Quentin a cosy spot to duck into in any season.

Marché Saint-Quentin
Blvd. Magenta & Rue de Chabrol
Paris 75010
m° Gare de L'Est (line 4, 5, & 7)
Tuesday-Saturday 8:30-1:00 & 4:00-7:00
Sunday 8:30-1:00

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mardi 8 février 2011

Valentine's Day: Local Ways to say "Je t'aime"

The 14th of February has a special significance for me. This is because the date represents the fact that we're halfway through February.

Getting mid-way through this month is a great relief to me as I am not a Winter person by any means. By the time I get this far into the cold season, I'm usually counting down the days to the end of the longest short month of the year.

I'm not just a weathered Seasonal Affective Disorder vicitm (pun intended), though- I also suffer from an acute case of Spring Fever. The promise of the arrival of Spring is enough to make me swoon, and any signifier of the progression of time that brings me closer to the solstice with the mostest is more than welcome, so that's usually what I celebrate when Valentine's Day rolls around.

However, I must admit that the fact that sometime around the 14th (give or take two days) my dude usually brings a flower home for me isn't so bad, either. I don't mind ringing in the daffodil season with a hearty rose or two.

Still, the Hallmark holiday aspect and the vulgar marketing of the event (I saw a vaccum being sold at a "low Valentine's Day price" in an advertisement in the metro the other day) can make Valentine's Day a very boycott-worthy event. I get it. But, for those of you who are suckers for the tradition (the newly-coupled, those who cry at the end of Pretty Woman, and the fleur-o-philes among us) I offer a few Valentine's Day themed artisinal and local products that you can have fun finding and sharing with your chèri(e) on the 14th.

If you have the habit of planning ahead for this special date, I suggest penciling in a visit to the weekend's organic markets or placing an order for some of the local and creative gifts that are available within 100 km of our lovely City of Light.

Ekeing in at just under the 100 km mark at 95 km from Paris, Provins is certifably local and certainly lovely. The region's pride and joy is the Rose de Provins, which was brought back from the crusades by Thibaud IV of Champagne in 1240 and has become emblematic of the surrounding area.

This sustainable souvenir is the main ingredient of the region's several local specialties. Oils from the rose are prepared as “confits” and syrups, as well as liquors and bon bons. Honey from bees in the region and rose petal tea are also also a by-products of the famed fleur.

If you want to give some one a rose that keeps on giving, check out the city's online boutique where you can find the above-mentioned products and more information about Provins and its artisans.

If you prefer to stay within the confines of the metro lines, I recommend hitting up either one of Paris' 100% organic markets - Batignolles or Raspail- and picking up some artisinal-as-it-gets chocolate.

My friend Terresa recommended I check out this chocolate made by a woman who retired from her day job (making chocolate) and then came back to the chocolate trade, to the delight of any organic market-goer who has tried her milk, dark, and white chocolate varieties (either plain or with hazelnuts and almonds, 45.20 euro/kilo).

At the Marché Raspail or Batignolles, look for the stand that sells dried fruits and grains, it will also be equipped with boxes of bars of chocolate and the lovely women who (wo)man the stand will be happy to hook you up.

The chocolates are sold in bulk and then sent home with the buyer in a little plastic bag. It's no heart-shaped box, but as Terresa points out, "The beauty is in la bouche". While at the market you can also pick up some fresh flowers or some organic honey for your honey.

If you can't make it out to Batignolles or Raspail on the weekend, or if fresh flowers aren't your thing, head over to the 9th arrondisement and visit Aurore Capucine (3 rue Rochechouart, 75009 Paris m° Cadet, ).

This little salon de thé/bakery offers a bouquet of floral delights, including lavender and rose flavored cookies and cakes (1.20-3.70 euro) and their speciality, the macaron.

I tried the fleur d'oranger macaron and thought it was quite good, but found it no more special than their sablés; which are perfect for dunking in thé.

Complemented with ginger, honey, and apricots, Aurore Cupucine's variety of confections make a perfect treat for sweetheart. For the more traditional, chocolate versions of most baked goods are also available.

Wherever Valentine's Day takes you, and whomever it brings you together with, I hope you'll find yourself with good company and something sweet to eat, it's the least we can do to get through these dwindling days of Winter.

I've switched things up a bit this month (February madness?), so if you want to send me a valentine, here is my new contact information:

E-mail: Emily@parispaysanne.com
Twitter: @parispaysanne
website: www.parispaysanne.com

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The First Day of the Rest of this Blog

Hi Readers (et lecteur/trices- français en bas),

I hope you've followed me this far! I'm writing an informative post today to announce some changes to the blog and some additions to the website.

First of all, I've consolidated all networking tools under the name "Paris Paysanne", that means the blog, my twitter account, and even my e-mail have now adopted the Paris Paysanne moniker. I think this is more cohesive and I'm happy to have one alternate internet personality instead of a split one.

Secondly, the ParisPaysanne.com now has a forum that I hope you will check out. The forum is meant to serve as another way of interacting with the site as well as opportunity for local producers to leave their information which will evenutally get turned into a comprehensive list of producers in the Paris region.

What this means for you is that all information I post and update will be accesible through the Paris Paysanne site. If any of you are following me on Twitter as @Not at Carrefour, it would be great if you could switch over to @parispaysanne.

As an added incentive to following my tweets, I'll send out my top-secret Kimchi recipe to the first 10 people who follow @parispaysanne!

I hope you'll enjoy the site and it's new features and please keep coming back for upcoming articles in February, including a special Valentine's post, February's Marché of the month, and my exhaustive coverage of the social event of the year: The Salon de l'Agriculture!

Salut les lecteur/trices!

J'espère que vous m'aves suivi jusqu'au ici! J'écris un message d'information aujourd'hui pour annoncer quelques changements sur le blog et quelques ajouts sur le site.

Tout d'abord, j'ai regroupé tous les outils de réseau social sous le nom "Paysanne Paris", c'est à dire le blog, monTwitter, et même mon e-mail ont maintenant adopté le surnom "ParisPaysanne". Je pense que c'est plus cohérent et je suis soulagée d'avoir une personalité internet alternatif au lieu d'une division une.

Deuxièmement, ParisPaysanne.com a maintenant un forum et j'espère que vous allez le voir. Le forum est destiné à offirir une autre façon d'interagir avec le site ainsi que la possibilité pour les producteurs locaux à laisser leurs informations et coordonnées. Ces infos seront eventuellement transformés en une annuaire complète des producteurs de la région parisienne.

Alors, qu'est-ce que cela signifie pour vous? Ca simplifie des choses, en fait- maintenant tous les renseignements que je poste, ainsi que les mise à jour, sera accessible sur le site Paris Paysanne.Si quelqu'uns d'entre vous me suivent sur Twitter, sous le nom @ NotatCarrefour ,ce serait génial si vous pouviez passer à @ parispaysanne.

Comme une incitation supplémentaire pour ceux qui suivent mes tweets, je vais envoyer ma recette top-secret de Kimchi aux 10 premières personnes qui suivent @ parispaysanne!

J'espère que vous appréciez le site et ses fonctionnalités nouvelles! Et revenez pour les articles à venir en Février, y compris un poste spécial Saint-Valentin, le Marché de mois de février, et ma reportage exhaustive de l'événement social de l'année: Le Salon de l'Agriculture!

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jeudi 3 février 2011

Day 159: A Little Market

Lately I've been having a great time seeking out and meeting producers and designers in Paris. I especially enjoy meeting artisans who choose to follow their creative whims and dedicate themselves to making something unique to share with the world.

I think that's why A Little Market was such a warm and fuzzy find for me. This French version of Etsy unites producers from all around the country (with some Swiss and other Europeans getting in the mix as well) and offers them venue for sharing the fruits of their labor.

The site is militant in it's support of handcrafted goods and encourages visitors not only to "Achetez Fait Main" but also to get to know the vendors and join in their community. The site also facilitate's local shopping by giving browsers the opportunity to shop by French regions with the use of an interactive map that locates nearby vendors.

A Little Market's dedication to community organizing is something to be appreciated. The site offers several mediums for discussion, exchanges, and communities to be formed within the larger community (there are 48 "families" included on the site grouping people together under themes such as "Art-Handicap", "Créà Corsica", and "Les Correcteurs d'Orthographe")

The market is stocked with items ranging from accesories, clothes, products for children, and "piéces pour création" or, in other words, the ingredients for making your own treasures with your own two hands. I've had a lot of fun wandering around the virtual aisles of this market over the past few days. Here are a few of my favorite vendors:

Memi the Rainbow

Memi the Rainbow is an Italian student living in Paris. She makes all things cute and little. Like Japanese-style cute. I don't even like that kind of cute, but I love Memi's online store. Check out her natural cotton shopping bags (32 euro), her cute-as-a-button buttons (where the expression comes from?, 6.50 euro) and her range of office supplies like her notebook covers (20 euro) and pencil bags (25 euro).

La Mare à Boutons

La Mare à Boutons boutique offers a wide range of handmade products, from necklaces to hand sewn throw pillows, but my favorite item is their bright red polka dotted apron (34 euro) for little helpers in the kitchen or in front of an easel. This cheery tablier promises to make your kid stand out in their "arts plastiques" class at the maternelle!


I still haven't figured out what these are exactly. But Limaginarium's creations look pretty cool. Printed on silk paper, each image is a part of the "petits bonheurs" series (which includes "déboucher une bouteille de bon vin" and "trouver un beau couquillage"). I'm not sure how big they are or where you put them, but you could start collecting all the "petits bonheurs" (3 euro each) and figure it out as you go!

Atelier Fanny D

Fanny's atelier includes prints of old French advertisements mounted on bright backgrounds that would make fun wall decorations in your kitchen. The ads bring you back to a time when it was okay to seek the cure for everything in a bottle. Sore throat? Unflattering thigh fat? Whiny kid? Take a swig! I particularly like this one advertising what seems to be anesthesia for use on children. Oh the 50s!

Go and have a look at A Little Market for yourself! Your orders not only encourage local and quality production, but also support these vendors in pursuing their creative endeavors and maybe one day ditching their day job for good!


If you like this concept and want to support it, A Little Market will be opening up a real-life boutique from March 8-April 8 at 37 rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010 Paris!

Keep up-to-date with A Little Market by becoming a fan of their Facebook page.

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