From the Office and Backyard to the Road, Boat, or Plane–Backstories and
Side Stories While on Assignment. Updates on Personal Projects, Too.

Archive for October, 2008

Mistral barsoupe, Mistral

Our fast Paris trip gave Peter Frank and I the idea to do a French eat-around at home.  I’ll write more once we get to all of the Charleston-area places we know… some we haven’t been to in a while. So far, we’ve gone out for the U.S. South-meets-French menu at the Fat Hen on John’s Island (duck confit and butter beans), and from the rarely-talked about Mistral, where we had a good and simple lunch last week of bread, good butter, and soupe de poisson Provencale (hard to believe it’s been open since 1986… a couple of images, above).  Next up, Coco’s, La Fourchette, G&M… where else?

 – October 2008, Sandy Lang

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Food, Lowcountry S.C./Charleston



New G&G is out


In the new issue of Garden & Gun I’ve got a nice little piece on Aaron Wells, who builds cypress strip boats in Live Oak, Florida.  (You can read the complete story online at G&G.)  The images of Aaron in Florida and the issue’s cornbread cover shot were taken by Peter Frank Edwards.  He shot the cornbread in Birmingham, AL back in July. I went with him to assist, getting to spend an afternoon with Frank Stitt at Highlands, and eat some very good roasted chicken at Niki’s West.  We also hit Full Moon BBQ… I wrote about that sweet-tang barbecue on an earlier post.  Good stuff.


In this issue, Peter Frank also has a gorgeous 10-page spread about Virginia Hunt Week.  You can see the hounds online here.

– October 2008, Sandy Lang

lapin, tart

Carafes of Bordeaux and water on the table, then the escargot in a hot ceramic croc with its handle missing; a basket of bread that we’d tear into pieces to push into the little snail cups to soak up the beurre and garlic after the snails were gone.  All was warm and vin-blurred in the upstairs room of tables at Chez Paul with its white tableclothes, portrait paintings, windows open to the Rue de Charrone. The large worn pages of the menu were handwritten en francais, the restaurant open since the 1920s in Paris.  There were models – gaunt, cold-looking beauties from the Paris Fashion Week – at the downstairs bar of wooden walls, café tables and coat racks. We’d walked up the narrow staircase behind the bar, following Ian, our young waiter who I’d already noticed was almost always moving, gliding quickly to tables, brown hair brushing low to his eyes. After the escargot there was a mound of steak tartare for Peter Frank avec pommes frites, and I put knife and fork to lapin avec carrotte et epinard – a saute of de-boned rabbit in another wine-soaked sauce so delicious we asked for more bread. For dessert, it was tart tatin avec crème fraiche, with cognac and coffee to help us through the Metro transit of three train changes to return to our hotel in Montparnasse.

Another night we took the Metro to the Temple stop (love to come up the stairs at that one… already seeing the statue of Place de Republique in the distance) to Chez Omar on Rue de Bretagne in Le Marais.  The idea was to get some good comfort food, both for me, who was sad about having to leave mon Paris the next day, and for Peter Frank who’d just finished another long day of shooting for Virtuoso Life magazine.  (His assignment was what had brought us to Paris… for shots of Chloé fashion, Baccarat crystal, Thierry Mugler parfum, French antiques, etc.)  We ordered couscous, which meant that our tiny square table would soon fill with steaming plates of couscous, and of whole chick peas, carrots and zucchini in a light tomato-y broth.  Then there were plates of crispy pan-broiled chicken (about 1/3 bird) and a shank of lamb that was oven-roasted to the color of burgundy wine (also our wine that night, drunk again from le pichet), and a small croc of spicy red harissa to smear on the meats, stir into the sauce. Tout était parfait.
Temple stop/Metro, Eiffel

Besides Chez Paul and Chez Omar, we ate big bowls of mussels in curry broth at the tourist-magnet Leon de Bruxelles (our Parisian photo assistant suggested it would be more fun than gourmet, and it was), and we made a couple of meals of bread, wine, cheese from the corner markets.  One of the nearest Metro stops to our hotel was the Edgar Quinet.  That’s a creperie district, where I stopped twice for crepes topped with crème de marron, getting to watch the crepe maker pour the batter on the round griddle, steam rising, smear it with the brown chestnut paste, then hand the folded crepe to me in white waxed paper.  (Chestnuts were just then ripening all over Paris, falling on the park lawns.  We never did get any roasted ones.)  Also in Edgar Quinet, there is an artist market on Sundays.  I walked through the stalls in the wind and rain (there is tenting) and found and bought a tiny painting of man sleeping on the Metro.  It was painted on an oatmeal-colored canvas by Jacqueline Chesta, who told me she’ll be in NYC next month to show her work there.  Will you be there?  She asked.  “Oui. C’est possible.”

Somehow, I want to keep this Parisian sentiment going, the romantic blur of food, art, discovery.  I keep thinking of what Hemingway wrote, that “there is never any end to Paris.”

– October 2008, Sandy Lang


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Art, Craft, Food, Travel, Wine

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