Tag Archives: Deauville

To Market, To Market…


The best thing about being in France, if you are a foodie, is going to the fresh food markets.  J’aime bien ça!  It kinda reminds of the fresh food markets in Singapore that I used to go to with my mother when I was a child, only wet markets in the days of ole Singapore were not as orderly as the ones here in France and definitely also not as quiet.  Asian markets tend to be very noisy, with stall owners shouting out their wares and prices, housewives elbowing each other out of the way and haggling down prices.  That of course was how I remember markets to be when I was a child.  But, of course, the prices are now fixed and vendors no longer encourage haggling of any sorts.

In Honfleur, Normandie, not far from Deauville, we arrived into town, greeted by the usual tourists and unusual glorious weather for April.  It didn’t take the Italian long to find a parking area where we left the car and contents of last night’s stay over at Deauville.   We’d spent the day at the beach yesterday, soaking in the sun, eating moules et frites in a seafood restaurant right on the promenades des planches, taking a stroll up and down the said promenade lined with cabins where the French store all their beach paraphernalia.

It being Saturday the day we arrived in Honfleur, the market was in town.  French marchés are not daily occurrences, some markets are opened on Wednesdays and Saturdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Vendors tend to move around to optimise sales and serve different towns and villages.  But Saturdays are very common market days.  And we were very fortunate to be in Honfleur that Saturday.  The town centre is situated on the southern bank of the estuary of the river Seine in the Calvados region of Normandy.  The port of Honfleur is flanked by picturesque houses with slate covered fronts.  Many artists have painted this port, one being Claude Monet.  Look at this:

Honfleur

We took a leisurely stroll along the marina soaking up the sunshine and taking photographs.  RN with her camera, the Italianwith his and me, with my iphone. SS had decided to let her heart take the pictures because her camera had run out of batteries.  As a child, she and I used to play this game – “take a picture with your heart” as digital cameras were not yet the accessories to have.  If I remember correctly, if they were available, they were very expensive or they haven’t been invented yet.  In any case, SS and I would take a picture with our hearts whenever we saw something we wanted etched into our memories.  So on that very lovely sunny day, we both did exactly that.  Only I cheated every now and then, and whipped my iphone out.  Here’s a pic I took of a slate fronted house:

An Honfleurais Pharmacy

The previous pharmacist in the days of yore had used the front of his practice to advertise the remedy for sea sickness.  I thought it added an extra element of quaintness to this already pretty and quaintly unique town.

Walking up the street where this pharmacy was located, we found yet another market – this time where the vendors were selling fruit and veg, meat and fish.  It seems that the market in Honfleur extends from the marina, where one can buy stripy sailor T-shirts, shoes and sandals and all things not related to food, up along the hill towards the old church.

The food market was buzzing.  Smelly cheeses assaulted my nose.  Colourful vegetables and fruits met my eyes.  I saw a woman with only a table for a stall, selling oyster mushrooms that came attached to a very big sponge:

Fungi

I thought of creamy mushroom risotto, a mélange of mushrooms stir fried with oyster sauce.  I could go on but my eyes caught something else – white asparagus. These ones sat beautifully bundled up in a crate and they had purple tips:

Asperges Blanches

I love white asparagus.  The season only lasts a very short time and I like the milder taste of the white ones compared to their green cousins.  Unfortunately, I didn’t purchase any this time because we still had the whole day ahead of us.  I held this sight in my heart, even though I’d taken a photo of it.  And when we returned to Paris, the first thing I did was to head off to the green grocers to get some white asparagus, totally inspired by the purple tipped ones I had seen.  This was what I cooked:

White Asparagus with a sauce of citron vert and olive oil

I am not a fan of hollandaise sauce which is the natural condiment accompanying this vegetable.  So I whipped up a sauce of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and lime.  To balance out the flavour, I also added sugar to the mixture, making the vinaigrette somewhat sour/sweet.  This took away the tartness caused by the lime juice (I used only half a lime).  I grated some lime zest over the asparagus before pouring the sauce over them.  Yummmmms!!!  And they went so well with the stew I had made for dinner that night.

Back to Honfleur.  It was nearing lunch time and the kids were hungry.  We were fired up to look for a restaurant asap – hungry kids have to be fed promptly before grumpiness and temper tantrums set in causing much grief to the parents. Luckily for us, the saucisson man came to our rescue, providing the respite that we needed.  Here we bought the girls some petites saucissons to keep their hunger at bay.  These dried sausages came in the width and length of a pencil, easy to hold and eat and can be consumed immediately –  the perfect snack for hungry children fast approaching grouchy levels.   Monsieur Saucisson said that they were flavoured with walnut.

Walnut Flavoured Saucissons

Personally, I couldn’t taste the walnut although the Italian did on the third time. Perhaps it was his excuse to eat another one, kawan kawan since salami are his favourite most things to eat next to pizzas.  Nonetheless, these saucissons were goooood!  The meat was dry cured, not greasy or chewy and pas trop fort in taste.  I liked them, like I like Lap Cheong – Chinese dried sausages – which are sweeter and waxier but very tasty in Fried Rice.  When I was little, my mom used to add them to omelettes.  Those were good dried-sausage eating days, kawan kawan.  How I miss them.

The kids happier, we then took our time to find a perfect restaurant.  I wanted seafood but SS wanted crêpes.  Oh, what to do?  What to do?  Do I do the self less mother thing and let a teenager dictate what we eat or do I do the selfish mother- knows-best thing and choose seafood?  Stay tuned for more, kawan kawan!

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A little Italian in Normandie


Paris was blessed recently with glorious weather fit for a Royal wedding – alas, unfortunately for Kate and William, it was 2 weeks short of their wedding with climate change occurring on the wrong side of the Channel.  Perhaps on their special day, the weather cloud will move in their favour towards Britain.  But nous avait profité from this sunshine.  The Italian suggested we do the 2 hour drive to Deauville, a seaside town well known amongst les Parisiens for its beautiful tudor like architecture and its promenades des planches where chic Parisiennes can be seen with their oversized sunglasses and high heels having a walk on the promenade along the beach.  This planked promenade was constructed in 1923 to allow les dames to walk along the beach front without sullying their long dresses and wetting their feet.

Deauville in the evening on a balmy night is really the place to be.  The town centre was buzzing with life – the young and old, couples and families out for dinner, really taking advantage of the glorious weather.   I can see the reason why so many Englishmen buy their holiday homes here, even why chic Parisians who cannot live without their LV and Hermés want to grow roots in this town.  Can you believe it, kawan kawan, Deauville spots a very attractive shopping street with Loius Vuitton and Hermés bags sitting prettily in tudor fronted shops.  I can understand the Hermés brand being there because Deauville is a riding town, with its own race course.  But the LV?  Are the French that patriotic to their own brands and creations?  Well, you can take the Parisian out of Paris but not Paris out of the Parisian, mais bien sûr!

Well, dinner was quite something else.  I guess in the case of the Italian, you can take an Italian out of Italia but never Italia out of him.  So, it was very apt that the choice of restaurant rested on Pizza Santa Lucia.  Additionally, my iphone App – Places – suggested that we should head for Santa Lucia if one wanted some Pizzas and Les Pâtes for dîner.  So religiously, taking the advice of the ever useful and friendly iphone, we parked the car, might I say , rather easily even in a crowded town centre, where if one were in Paris, would take at least a half hour to find a spot.

RN was very excited about the choice of cuisine for dinner.  She wanted to eat lasagne.  She had a food craving in the middle of the afternoon one day, requesting that I cook her lasagne for dinner.  The lasagne she ordered had a very rich meaty ragu which tasted simply splendid.  The portion was just enough for one person unlike the gigantic ones the kids had gotten used to in NYC the week before.  Here is what RN ordered that night:

Lasagne

The plating in Italian restaurants is never as pretty as that in French establishments.  Italian restaurants always try to retain their rusticness and sense of home, very proud to serve up dishes the way Mamma does à casa.  I actually like it this way, as there is no fuss and plenty of thrill, if one is lucky enough to find a good Italian restaurant.  In this case, we did.

I ordered the plat du jour which was sardines fritures.  It was simply delicious in a perfect sort of way.  I like my fried sardines with a squeeze of lemon with every other mouthful smeared in tartar sauce.  I guess sardines are best eaten grilled or fried in a light batter like the ones I ordered:

Sardines Fritures

The Chinese usually prefer their fish steamed with ginger.  But one can hardly steam sardines, can one?  So this is the best way to eat them, bones and all.  There were really hao chi!

The other fried fish dish that is a favourite amongst the Navas is the calamari fritti.  This one RN loves very much.  I thought that the sotong served at this restaurant was simply divine.  I can taste the freshness of the squid even though they were covered in batter.   I like my rings of sotong with a squeeze of lemon but the little fairy princess likes hers just as they are:

Fried Sotong

For some strange reason, the Italian decided against the Pizza much to his regret.  Why?  Je ne sais pas but SS ordered her usual quattro formaggio which she generously shared with the Italian so he did luck out, fortunately for him. She reported it to be delish as did he!  I didn’t get a chance to taste her pizza because I was getting a little too full.  I could smell the oven baked goodness of the pizza dough though and I know that this is the sign of a good pizza.  The taste of oven-bakedness known to the Chinese as wok hai (in Cantonese) is what gives the pizza dough its flavour, enhanced of course with the cheese and tomato sauce. It’s that “little bit of burnt” on the crusts of the pizza that works magic, making one come back again for another bite of the same. Wok hai in fried kway teow is c’est la même chose.  In Cantonese Fried hor fun (kway teow in Singapore Hokkien), the rice sticks which are broad and flat are first fried in the wok before a gravy of meat and vegetables is poured over them.  Here I am not talking about the famous Char Kway Teow that all Singaporeans and Malaysians swear by.  The aforementioned version is served with a thick gravy.  That is a chance for another post, kawan kawan for the Cantonese Fried hor funis really a fav of mine.  Oops, I was waxing lyrical so much that I almost forgot to show you the pizza.  Here it is:

Quattro Formaggio

Observe the rotund pieces of chèvre.  Mmmmmmmm!  See those spots of burnt on the dough?  That, kawan kawan is the magic chargrilled taste that I was talking about earlier.

Pizza Santa Lucia

15 Avenue de la République 14800 Deauville, France

tel: 0899 234 693