14 April 2010

American Comfort Food in Paris

Craving for good ol' American food in a country of escargots and foie gras? I assure you that your greasy fantasies are very normal, even in  the land of fine gastronomy, but be careful, they increase especially if left unfulfilled! Hence, you've got 2 quick solutions: cook it yourself or pray your online search engine finds that resto tout de suite(immediately)!!


Now if you're lazy to play the homemaker, then find that American food joint in Paris! C'est possible, it's possible! Is there such a place?

I am glad to answer, "YES" indeed! Thank you google for making me stumble upon Breakfast in America which should satisfy any IHOP-lover's heartiest brunch craving in a snap(yes, very quick service once you FINALLY get seated).

It looks like a diner, smells and sounds like one, making you wonder, am I still in Paris? There are only a few tables which are laid out like a long counter giving you many chances to elbow rub your neighbors. The long wait (outside)to get you seated and its cramped size are all forgivable once you are given your buttermilk pancakes and oh-so-sweet individual maple syrup(I missed you Aunt Jemima) containers.

I was satisfied with my fluffy pancakes but regarding the burgers and other must-orders, I think I am due for another visit. Click here for their menu.

Breakfast in America Branches:
17, rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris, France
Métro: Cardinal LeMoine or Jussieu
Tel: 01 43 54 50 28

4, rue Malher
75004 Paris, France
Metro: St Paul
Tel: 01 42 72 40 21

Brunch is totally picking up here especially in neighborhood brasseries or cafes during weekends. Some last as late as 2 pm offering a menu of tea/coffee/juice, fruits, pastries, sausages, crepes and omelettes. Although do not expect the french to have fully adapted to American proportions. Prices range from 12-25 euros but if you prefer a more luxe spread of morning nibbles, there are the trusted ones in hotels like at Crillon for 68 euros. Check out this website for Paris/France brunch options.

Here are some American-esque fastfood chain of restos to check out in Paris:

Frog-Irish pub, brewery, english speaking servers
Léon's - Brussel's version of Friday's specializing in mussels and fries! 
Hippopotamus-French version of  Outback Steakhouse


Monoprix, a grocery chain in France, should have the basic ingredients to cook or bake your way to your stomach's satisfaction. As for me, I have been missing pies like the traditonal applie pie, apple crumble and New York-style CHEESECAKE! Below is a tweaked recipe for cheesecake cravers, also known as gateaux fromage blanc, adjusted according to french products.

I basically combined these 2 recipes from a french blogger and an american food critic living in Paris. 

French Style Cheesecake in 9 steps!

1 box of butter crackers, sables/galette (6 large crackers)

1 kg  fromage blanc*
150g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla stalk
zest of one lemon
3 eggs

*Fromage blanc, also known as quark, is a low-fat curd cheese usually made with semi or skimmed milk. Some of the French eat it as their yogurt or use is it as a spread instead of butter.

                                                 fromage blanc substituting cream cheese

1. For the crust, crush the crackers until you have a bread crumb-like texture.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and adjust the rack to the lower part of the oven.

3. Press the crumbs into a flat layer in the bottom of your pan. Try using the bottom of a glass to do this.

4. Bake the crust for 7 minutes until golden brown. Set the pan aside on a cooling rack while you prepare the batter. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees.

5. For the cheesecake, mix the fromage blanc and sugar until there are no lumps.

6. Add the vanilla and lemon zest. Mix in the eggs.

7. Pour the batter over the crust in the pan. Place the pan into a larger container, like a roasting casserole, and pour warm water until it reaches about one-third of the way up of the pan. This technique is called bain marie (water bath) which is primarily used for cooking with gentle heat, custard-like desserts or melting chocolates without burning.

8. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 45 minutes, and do expect a jiggly, semi-solid mass. Make sure to not overbake.

                       how it looks after being chilled in the ref. notice the vanila seeds? :-)

9. Cool the cake on a wire rack until room temperature(approx. 30-45 min), then refrigerate for half a day.

                             I added kiwis, very rich in vitamin C, and it was perfect together!

Useful Tips:
  • Most brasseries serve hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fries. Also known as steak haché but without the burger buns, make sure you don't get mixed up and order steak tartare which is a french specialty of raw ground beef.

    DIY Tuna Cheese Melt with apple mâche salad
  • Call me deluded, but do try the burgers at Mcdonald's. They taste better and seem to be even bigger. Try Royal Bacon which is a bacon cheeseburger or their CBO(Chicken, Bacon, Onions) with les deluxe potatoes(seasoned wedge potatoes) + ciboulette (spring onion) dipping sauce. Plus, you can order beer here!
  • Soft , chewy cookies are hard to find here. The french like them as crisp as biscuits so do not expect an easy grab at the supermarket or bakeries.
  • American fastfood chains available in Paris: Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Ben & Jerry's.
Leave a comment if you want THS to write about her other easy bake:
Apple Pecan Crumble


Edith said...

pecan pie recipe please. i am impressed with your dishes. i think you should start posting more of your creations. the cheese cake with kiwi slivers look tres magnifique!!

Isolde said...

kiwi cheesecake looks divine! i want i want!

Isolde said...

Kiwi cheesecake looks divine! I want I want :)