Eat local — Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain (part I), France

poila%cc%82ne-bakery-is-renowned-across-france-as-one-of-the-great-bakeries-in-paris-and-not-a-baguette-to-be-found-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-saint-germain-france

Poilâne bakery is renowned across France as one of the great bakeries in Paris (and not a baguette to be found!), Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France; David Lebovitz noted in 2011 “… there’s something special about the bread at Poilâne – it has a certain flavor, just the right tang of sourdough, dark and husky but with an agreeable légèreté… I am also crazy for Poilâne’s apple tartlets.”

 

In our readings and recommendations from friends we came across a small cooperative that offers food and wine tour of Paris – “Paris by Mouth”.  For our second day in Paris we booked well in advance a four-hour walking, tasting, eating and wine drinking tour of Saint-Germain-des-Pres.  They note that their food tours have been celebrated by The New York Times (twice!), and knowledgeable foodies like  David Lebovitz and Ruth Reichl.  What we really appreciated and enjoyed is that the tour group size is limited to seven people!  We also found that they were true to their marketing claim: “we spend generously at the best shops in town, and we only work with expert guides who have devoted their lives to food & wine.”  [See: http://parisbymouth.com/paris-food-tours/]

 

beautiful-brown-loaves-of-bread-at-poila%cc%82ne-bakery-along-with-one-of-their-popular-tarts-with-the-individual-tartelette-aux-pommes-apple-tarts-on-the-shelf-below-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-sa

Beautiful brown loaves of bread at Poilâne bakery, along with one of their popular tarts (with the individual Tartelette aux Pommes (apple tarts) on the shelf below); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

It turns out that it is a very “small world, after all”.  Our guide, a professional food writer (years at Gourmet and Saveur) looked familiar to the two of us (and vice versa).  It took a while, but we finally figured out that we had met a couple of years ago in Paris when she was observing a cooking class that we were taking in the Marais neighborhood with a cooking teacher with whom we had cooked previously – as part of the background profile story she was writing for a magazine.

 

the-sampler-box-of-favorite-chocolates-at-mof-patrick-rogers-chocolate-shop-on-saint-sulpice-in-saint-germain-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-saint-germain-france-see-the-text-for-the-explanation

The sampler box of favorite chocolates at MOF Patrick Roger’s chocolate shop on Saint Sulpice in Saint-Germain, Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France; see the text for the explanation of MOF (Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (shortened to MOF), translated as One of the Best Craftsmen of France)

 

On our tour we learned a new term in French food – actually a title – “MOF” (see below for a detailed explanation of the “One of the Best Craftsmen of France” competition and title).  Very few French craftsmen and artisans earn this award that takes years of preparation before the competitive examination.  We were introduced to the term outside of Patrick Roger’s chocolate shop in Saint-Germain.  It turns out that there are very few winners of the award in each category, with restaurant chefs being one of the categories with more numerous winners.  Of course, a little later on the tour, it was no surprise that our guide took us to an MOF butcher and an MOF cheese monger (in the Marché Couvert des Saint-Germain – covered market of Sain Germain) and, for dessert, an MOV pastry chef-owned La Maison du Chou (known for Paris’ best pâte à chou).

“Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France is a craftsman competition in France, held every four years.

“The title of Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (shortened to MOF) is a unique and prestigious award in France according to category of trades in a contest among professionals.  This contest is organized and recognized as a third-level degree by the French Ministry of Labour.  The President of the French Republic is granted honorary membership with the title MOF honoris causa.   The awarding of medals occurs at the Sorbonne, in Paris, during a large reunion followed by a ceremony at the Élysée [the President’s residence] in the presence of the President of the French Republic.

“This award for special abilities is unique in the world.  Created in 1924, initially between the best workers of the era aged 23 and over, this contest was given the title of Un Des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (One of the Best Craftsmen of France).  Today, by the diversity of specialities, the list of which is regularly updated, the award has also been awarded to more modern trades and high technology fields.

“In this competition, the candidate is given a certain amount of time and basic materials not only to create a masterpiece, but to do so with a goal of approaching perfection.  The chosen method, the organization, the act, the speed, the know how and the respect for the rules of the trade are verified by a jury just as much as is the final result.  The winning candidates retain their title for life, with the indication of the specialty, the year following the one in which they obtain the title.  This prestigious title is equally recognized by professionals and the greater public in France, particularly among artisan-merchants such as pastry makers, hairdressers, butchers, jewelers, and others whose trades are recognized, particularly those for more luxurious goods.

“This competition requires months, sometimes years, of preparation.  Technical skills, innovation, respect for traditions and other aspects are all practiced repeatedly to a level of refinement and excellence, effectiveness and quickness to succeed and be crowned by the jury, which makes its decision according to the distribution of points awarded during the entire process.” – Wikipedia

 

the-jewel-like-beautiful-green-chocolates-in-the-center-box-are-filled-with-a-chocolate-ganache-delicious-at-mof-patrick-rogers-chocolate-shop-on-saint-sulpice-in-saint-gremain

The jewel-like, beautiful green chocolates in the center box are filled with a chocolate ganache – delicious!, at MOF Patrick Roger’s chocolate shop on Saint Sulpice in Saint-Gremain; Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France; see the text for the explanation of MOF (Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (shortened to MOF), translated as One of the Best Craftsmen of France)

 

the-second-floor-of-mof-patrick-rogers-chocolate-shop-on-saint-sulpice-in-saint-gremain-is-where-patrick-roger-houses-part-of-his-eclectic-modern-art-collection-with-many-pieces-crafted-by-t

The second floor of MOF Patrick Roger’s chocolate shop on Saint Sulpice in Saint-Gremain is where Patrick Roger houses part of his eclectic modern art collection, with many pieces crafted by the MOF Chocolatier himself; Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-takes-place-under-beautiful-arcades-and-is-open-6-days-a-week-with-fruit-and-vegetable-sellers-grocers-fishmongers-and-sta

Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market) takes place under beautiful arcades and is open 6 days a week with fruit and vegetable sellers, grocers, fishmongers, and stalls selling roast meat (by an MOF butcher) and international foods (Iberian, Italian, Greek, etc.) and an MOF cheese monger’s stall; Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

fresh-tomatoes-and-vegetables-for-sale-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-saint-germain-france

Fresh tomatoes and vegetables for sale at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

fresh-fruit-and-lettuces-for-sale-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-saint-germain-france

Fresh fruit and lettuces for sale at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

our-guide-knows-the-mof-butcher-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-and-he-befriended-our-small-group-and-offered-us-several-different-samples-of-his-charcuter

Our guide knows the MOF butcher at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market) and he befriended our small group and offered us several different samples of his charcuterie; Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France; see the text for the explanation of MOF (Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (shortened to MOF), translated as One of the Best Craftsmen of France)

 

a-portion-of-the-numerous-medals-won-and-displayed-by-the-mof-butcher-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-saint-germain-france

A portion of the numerous medals won and displayed by the MOF butcher at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

several-of-the-pates-hand-made-by-the-mof-butcher-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-saint-germain-france

Several of the pâtés hand-made by the MOF butcher at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France; our guide bought some of the Vollaile en Gelee for eating later [see our next blog post, “Eat local — Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain (part II), France”]

a-selection-of-fresh-fish-at-one-of-two-fish-mongers-stall-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-paris-by-mouth-taste-of-saint-germain-france

A selection of fresh fish at one of two fish mongers’ stall at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

fresh-crevettes-shrimps-prawns-and-gambas-sauvages-giant-4-ounces-apiece-prawns-at-one-of-two-fish-mongers-stall-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-mar

Fresh crevettes (shrimps/prawns) and Gambas Sauvages (giant, 4 ounces apiece, prawns) at one of two fish mongers’ stall at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France

 

a-selection-of-chevres-goat-cheeses-at-the-fromagerie-cheese-shop-run-by-mof-cheese-maker-michel-sanders-at-marche-couvert-des-saint-germain-the-saint-germain-covered-market-paris-b

A selection of chèvres (goat cheeses) at the fromagerie (cheese shop) run by MOF cheese maker Michel Sanders at Marchè Couvert des Saint-Germain (the Saint-Germain covered market); Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain, France; see the text for the explanation of MOF (Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (shortened to MOF), translated as One of the Best Craftsmen of France)

 

As provided by our guide, here’s a list of places visited during our Taste of Saint-Germain food tour:

  • Poilâne bakery at 8 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006 (bread, apple tarts, punition butter cookies)
  • Patrick Roger chocolate 2-4 Place Saint Sulpice, 75006 (rocher, basil lemon, individual selections)
  • Marchè Couvert (covered market) de Saint-Germain at 4/6 rue Lobineau, 75006
  • La Dernière Goutte wine shop at 6 rue Bourbon le Château, 75006
  • Henri Le Roux salted caramels at 1 rue Bourbon le Château, 75006
  • La Maison de Chou pastry shop specializing in pâte à chou at 7 rue de Furstenberg, 75006 (pâte à chou)

 

4 thoughts on “Eat local — Paris by Mouth: Taste of Saint-Germain (part I), France

  1. Well, now you tell us after we are back from Paris! It sounded wonderful. We will have to remember this if back in Paris. Tomorrow George and I are going on a food tour of Little Italy and North Beach in the city. Kelly had given this to us as a gift recently. We had loved the one we took in New York. Looking forward to it and the rain is supposed to stop. ❤️Trudy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I received a comment from our tour guide from “Paris by Mouth”:

    Now that I’m back in Paris, I wanted to send a little note to say thank you so much for the posts and what a delight they were to read. It was fun to relive the tour through your eyes. And what wonderful photos too!

    Because I used to be a fact-checker, I’m not sure if it’s worth noting a few points of clarification. Serge Caillaud, the lovely butcher, is actually not an MOF. He’s something even more distinguished called a Chevalier de l’Ordre national du mérite. It’s something akin to being granted a knighthood and I consider it more prestigious because you don’t have to compete.

    Also, the cheesemonger in the market is not an MOF but does supply the cheeses for some of the top restaurants in town.

    Other than that I enjoyed your posts and look forward to keeping up with your adventures.

    All the best,
    Diane

    Like

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