Getting to Know the Marche d’Aligre with David Lebovitz
About Ble du Sucre (7 rue Antoine Vollon) and those madeleines: The patisserie, which is only a teensy detour from the market, is worth a trip on its own. The chef, Fabrice Le Bourdat, had been at the luxe hotel Bristol for seven years, and before that he was in Cannes at the Martinez, but for New Yorkers he’s “the one that got away.” He told me that when pastry chef Francois Payard was leaving restaurant Daniel, Daniel Boulud asked him to fill the slot. Le Bourdat went to New York, spent a week in the City, and flew back to La Belle France. Too bad for the Big Apple; awfully nice for Paris. Ble du Sucre has what fashion designers would call a well edited collection – meaning there aren’t a trillion things in the case, but there were plenty of treats, among them madeleines, which is what David wanted me to taste and I’m grateful to him that he did: they’re lovely – moist, supple, buttery and finished with a sugar glaze that’s slightly crunchy (the glaze is a great idea that I’m thinking of adopting). Not wanting the sweet little madeleines to be lonely, I got some financiers, too.
About the fish guys at Peche Paris (rue d’Aligre): If I lived near the Marche d’Aligre, I’d become 100% fishatarian – they’re very cute.
About La Graineterie du Marche (8 place d’Aligre): It was only the thought of having to drag an even heavier bag around the market that stopped me from buying one of everything Jose had there. As it was, I came back with a sack of hibiscus flowers (I want to make a syrup), some licorice candies (of course) and so many cans of sardines and tuna that I feel like I’ve got my own little school of fish in the kitchen.
About Salim at Le Verger d’Aligre (in the covered market): David’s right – he’s adorable and he’s got some of the season’s prettiest fruits and vegetables, just about all of which he wanted us to taste.
About David: Rest easy David adorers – he’s as wonderful as you think he is. He’s also a guy with terrific taste (I know I’m not telling you anything new). It’s not just that he knows a good madeleine when he sees one, it’s that he knows how to savor the pleasures of this city. I realized this again when we went to the CafÃ© Aouba (rue d’Aligre), a little shop with a big coffee roaster and a happy bustle. Drinking his espresso, he looked out at the market, which was in full swing around us – from where we stood you could almost feel the pulse of the market – and said, I think this is my favorite spot in Paris. Of course it would be. It could be the center of the universe for all of us who love Paris and the way life is lived here.
I’m heading back to New York tomorrow, but I’m putting in my reservation for another day with David when I get back.