Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Paris by the Sea - a favourite place to visit!!

Paris by the sea..............Restaurants in Paris may come and go, but after 15years the seagulls are still squawking daily at one of our favourite haunts in Paris's 1st arrondissement.
As Australians we are spoilt when it comes to exceptional quality seafood, so I think very hard before choosing to eat seafood when abroad, however, the French grow the most fabulous oysters and as one of my favourite foods, this is definitely an exception to my rule! As a nation, the French are Europe's largest producer of oysters and the 4th largest in the world with almost all consumed domestically, so, as for many food products in France, the craft of producing, consuming and selling oysters, is taken very seriously indeed!

Like wine, oysters reflect the terroir (area) of where they are cultivated and have been part of the French diet for centuries. Since Roman times they have been farmed in the Lagune de Thau, in the Mediterranean and in the Bay of Arcachon, where they are still farmed today.

I will certainly plan a trip to these regions in the future to samples their varieties, but in the meantime,  L'Ecume St Honore oyster bar on 6 Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, offers me samples from across the country and is a fabulous spot to punctuate my day. A plate of oysters, a glass of wine and the traditional basket of brown bread and butter - all enjoyed while the seagulls fly above your head (painted on the ceiling) and squawk continuously (a looped audio tape) - a perfect way to rest your feet from arduous task of the Paris sales and spectacular art galleries.

Oysters in France are sold by size - I think the smaller sizes often have a more intense taste but are perhaps not as 'full bodied' or 'well rounded' as the larger sizes. At L"Ecume they are always freshly shucked by men who look like they have just departed the fishing trawler, and the presentation is superb - simply delivered on a bed of fresh seaweed with fresh lemon. I am a fan of all oysters but if I had to make a French choice it would be the large creamy and intense flavour of the Blanches variety - succulent & sweet with the delicious briny aftertaste  of the juice that they are ensconced in - though I certainly intend to continue sampling all the possible varieties just in case there are better varieties I may have missed!

If Oysters are not your thing then they also sell delicious platters of smoked salmon, expertly hand sliced, and other beautifully fresh seafood product. And as for dessert..... don't expect cake or macaroons here, their treat when we were there a few days ago, was superb, finely cut raw St Jacques scallops!