October 2005 I ate at L’As Du Fallafel. I didn’t know it at the time but this experience became the prototype for Clover’s most successful sandwich.
This past weekend I took a trip to Paris with my father and my son (Blue, above). We’re approaching Clover’s 10th birthday (10/29/18) and I thought it would be fun to return to this touchpoint. We ate and ate and walked and marveled at everything in Paris.
Back in 2005 Brooke and I burnt our savings for a last trip without kids. She was pregnant with Clementine, our first. We stayed in a cheap hotel with springs coming out of the mattress. We ate the hotel’s complementary stale bread with hot chocolate every morning, and wandered the city. The memories from this trip are very sweet. It doesn’t feel that long ago, a feeling I’m sure many of you who are aging recognize.
Back in 2005 there was almost nothing vegetarian in Paris. I’m not exaggerating. Almost nothing. We had to look long and hard. We found at place called La Ferme, that later became pretty influential for me. It was a farm to table grab and go place. Pretty amazing. Think Pret-a-Manger but the food was actually fresh and well sourced and tasted great. We ate lots of cornichon, cheese, and baguettes. The baguettes we had back then weren’t that great honestly. I think Paris went through a bit of a culinary dark ages.
Brooke and I were constantly hungry on that trip. One day while walking we saw people with these colorful overfull sandwiches passing us on the sidewalk. We traced where they were coming from and slowly honed in on the Marais, and eventually L’As Du Fallafel. They served it with a fork. We ate on a bench. I hadn’t had anything like it before. It stuck in my memory. Years later when I was trying to figure out what should go on the Clover menu the sandwich I had there floated to the top of my list. And my intuition was right since day 1 the Chickpea Fritter has been a huge hit and is largely responsible for building Clover.
Paris has changed so so much since that trip. Food in particular. The city has upped it’s game. Baguettes we had this time were heavenly. There is more experimentation. And that spark that was present in L’As Du Fallafel has spread. We had crazy pastries that were French and arabic, Tunisian food (which I’d never had before), Iranian food, and ate at a killer fine dinning Israeli restaurant called Balagan. The combination of arabic and French is beautiful and exciting (and naturally has a strong vegetable orientation). If anybody wants some Paris food recommendations please let me know. In particular Christy Timon (founder of one of my favorite bakeries in town: Clear Flour) recommended a brioche at a little out of the way spot that I’d love others to enjoy. It was like nothing I’d ever had. The place was called: Ble Sucre and the Brioche was a crazy whole grain masterpiece.
The chant in our PSG game: “Ici, c’est Paris!”