When you stay in your own apartment, not only can you save money by doing a bit of self-catering, you get to browse the stalls, taste the produce and barter at the local food markets. What could be more French than that? Our apartment is tiny. We don’t even have an oven. But with a little creativity we can whip up delicious, simple suppers. This series is all about the meals conceived in our Little Piece of Paris.
Every weekend, the open area in the middle of Boulevard Richard Lenoir is transformed into a bustling market square. Shoppers on the hunt for the season’s freshest and tastiest ingredients pick their way through stalls crammed with baskets of crabs, heaps of oysters, beautiful cuts of meat, colourful fruit and vegetables, glossy olives and stacks of freshly baked bread. You can by all means visit the Marché Bastille just to admire the produce on display but it feels a bit sad to leave empty handed. If you have access to a kitchen, don’t miss the opportunity to do a bit of cooking (I use the word loosely here) at home.
Caprese Salad, Salty Ham, Melon and Fresh Radishes
- Assorted ripe tomatoes of different sizes and colours
- Ball of buffalo mozzarella
- Bunch of basil
- Riper than ripe cantaloupe melon
- Fresh radishes
- 60g of good-quality cured ham
- Freshly baked baguette
- A few glugs of extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
Back in the kitchen(ette):
Chop up the tomatoes into different shapes and sizes for a rustic look (and to minimize any resemblance to the circular slices of watery, orange tomato typically found on a British buffet). Spread them out on a large plate and sprinkle with a little salt to release the flavours. Grind up the basil with a pinch of sea salt in a pestle and mortar and add the olive oil. Tear up the mozzarella and scatter it over the tomatoes. Top with the lovely basil dressing and finish with a good grind of black pepper.
Cured meat makes the perfect accompaniment to this fresh, creamy salad. Bellota-Bellota on Rue de Bretagne sells top-notch iberico ham. Each serving comes with its own identity card containing information about the pig: its race, where it was raised, how long the meat was cured, even the number of kilos of acorns it consumed during its lifetime. A packet of cured ham from the supermarket will of course do the job too, but the intense flavour of the acorn-fed pig (800 kilos of them in case you were wondering), hung for 5 years, really turned our simple supper into something special.
To complete the feast, we added fresh baguette, beautifully ripe melon and a bunch of rosy radishes for crunch, served with ice cold rosé wine.
So simple, so delicious.