Taste of Paris: Miznon

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11695902_844701115977_8803345370097266460_n.jpgThis past Summer I spent two months cooking for a private family abroad in France. It was my first time to France, and I arrived not speaking a word of the language and completely unaware of how life changing the experience was going to be for me.

About a month into my stay in France, I journeyed to Paris for five days. I took a beautiful train ride that cut from the coast of La Baule to the city of Paris.

When I arrived, a car took me to Ile Saint Louis, where I stayed in a stunning chateau. It had floor to ceiling windows that opened out to a large courtyard below and the quiet, quaint streets of the island.

I ventured out into the maze-like streets of Paris. I refused to buy a map, but discover the city of my dreams on my own. I memorized landmarks and navigated my way through the city.

My first day was overwhelming. Starving, I decided to walk through le Marais and find an authentic dining experience in Paris.

Everywhere I looked was filled with tourists. I walked through seemingly endless side streets and alleys until I came across a tiny storefront of a restaurant with patrons spilling out the windows and entryway. I knew I had to eat here. 11836827_844700831547_9000377625054051336_n.jpg

The smell coming through the door of the restaurant was amazing! It smelled of slowly cooked meat, char, and smoke. I pushed through the door and saw a room with fresh produce on wood shelves, big bowls of lemons and heads of cauliflower. The menu was scribbled on a chalkboard wall in bright colored chalk. The kitchen was completely open, and the cooks prepared the food right in front of you as you ordered. There was minimal seating, and the crowd was loud and joyous. It felt like I had entered someones home, like everyone there was family. 11796379_844701135937_8055135375021145522_n.jpg

I stood awkwardly- waiting for someone to wait on me, or take an order – it never happened. I felt so embarrassed, I almost left. Then I decided to step out of my comfort zone, and I plunged myself down at the counter bar, and sat next to a beautiful pregnant woman.

I sat a few minutes, and then pushed myself to talk with her. I nervously asked her if she spoke English, (which she did, thankfully), and then proceeded to ask her how to order. I then explained I was a NYC chef visiting Paris, and wanted to taste the best food the city had to offer. She explained to me that her husband owned the restaurant and that I was indeed in the right place for good food.

She brought her husband over, and the three of us spoke about middle eastern food, restaurants, New York, and Paris. It was one of those experiences you don’t forget, and then the Chef decided to order for me. 11846732_844700891427_8813675508574140144_n.jpg

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The man working the counter was a combination host, maître d, and comedian. He poured me some warm red wine on this balmy  95 degree day. The restaurant was open to the street, and the heat everywhere. My clothes clung tight and wet to my body. A runner brought over some fresh made pita with side dish of tahini with tomato water and spiced olive oil. I dipped the hot fresh pita into the cool spread, and it refreshed me. 11846620_844701190827_7939526496194403906_n.jpg

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11836825_844700991227_537711851019361455_n.jpgNext came out a fresh pita pocket stuffed with thinly sliced steak, fresh parsley, red onion, and tahini sauce. It was served with roasted green chiles on the side for spice. (They’re very spicy!)

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Next came out the most incredible boeuf bourguignon stuffed pita. The combination of french and Israeli flavors are absolutely delicious, and was the singularly most delicious and memorable thing I ate in all of France. At the same time, they brought out a whole roasted head of cauliflower. It was perfectly tender, roasted nicely with salt and oil. You cut off sections as you ate it, and it made for a perfect accompaniment to the meal.

11825810_844701016177_7969641697193079440_n.jpg11013217_844701056097_1822053214430203279_n.jpg11825795_844701066077_1189422550208118183_n.jpgI drank a few more glasses of wine, ate way too much food, and chatted with the owners. Before I left, I was treated to one last indulgence. Apple Tarte Tatin, stuffed in a pita. A classic french dessert, with an Israeli twist. It was so delicious, I’m not sure how it hasn’t blown up into a huge trend around the world. (Maybe it will now!) 🙂

11855844_844701210787_2959316317263413118_n.jpgIf you’re in Paris, and venture into le Marais, you must check out Miznon.

Miznon
Restaurant: Israeli-French Fusion
Address: 22 Rue des Ecouffes, 75004 Paris, France
 

Bon Appetit!
Sean Patrick Gallagher
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A FAB Weekend

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Fab haus

Brightly adorned livingroom

 

About two months ago, one of my best friends Tom (who also does all my lovely photographer) – I’m going to plug Tom now.. not only because he’s a close friend, but an immensely talented photographer! Check him out! Tomtrocola.com – invited my partner and I away for Labor Day weekend. We agreed to the trip, an escape from the big city and a few days to catch up on a book or two and try to get rid of these dark circles.

This past weekend, we left the city along with a couple Manhattanites and embarked upstate to a town called Sparrowbush. We had obviously never heard of it, but braced ourselves for the two hour trip.

When we arrived, we were blown away by the 1960s rambler ranch, completely remodeled, and modernized. The outside planks coated in a stark dark slate grey paint, with large windows showing brightly decorated walls inside. We dragged our luggage up several flights of stairs and in through a sliding glass door to the first room of the house: the kitchen. Chalkboard paint coated walls, covered in obscure chalk written phrases, shiny-refinished rosewood cabinets, bright plumen bulbs hanging from tiny red colanders.. an outlandish yet cohesive room where retro meets modern and function meets style.

Chalk board kitchen

We were escorted downstairs to our room. Larger than any apartment we’ve had in New York City. The room was adorned with Eames chairs and couches, a large beautiful bed, floating blue side tables and bright prints dotting the walls. All the walls in the house were covered in bright prints from notable artists. Off of our room was a bathroom and a sliding door which led to a play room.

China and Taxidermy

Back up the stairs, to the right there was the living room with large vaulted ceilings, a retro 1960s bar with a copper top and rough hewn wooden stools, resurfaced with brightly colored upholstery. Down the hall were several more bedrooms, all delightfully decorated, as well as the master bedroom, which was larger than my first apartment in Massachusetts! All the details in this house were perfect. Chosen lovingly by someone far more talented than I at decorating. A gun case built into the fireplace now housed colored baseball bats. A retro buffet in the dining area was covered in brightly colored cake stands and ceramic doughnuts. Two large, red heart shaped chairs  flanked one another in the living room. This was a venerable fun house, every corner showed a new surprise. Outside was a large pool with gorgeous modern furniture adorning it.

Greg the pool boy :p

For those next three days I had the pleasure to cook all three meals for the group in this magical kitchen. I got to lay out in a heated pool all day and (attempt) to play volleyball.

Doughnuts anyone?

This was by far one of the most relaxing trips I’ve ever had. In a paradise of color. Not only was it solitude it was inspiring. The amount of thought that went into designing a place of this caliber has to be the same level as Willy Wonka designing the Wonka Bar. I left feeling like I had received the Golden Ticket and got a glimpse into the life of a style icon.

My boys

Thank you for listening to me blab on!

Poolside portrait

Enjoy the pictures, they’re all taken by Tom Trocola

Green skate

Cheers

They do!

fab.com

 

Sean Patrick Gallagher