Go with the grape on rue Mouffetard

September 25th, 2009

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Rue Mouffetard on Thursday – even in light showers – is a bustling jumble of fruit vendors, fish stalls moved out on the sloping street, and oh, what cheeses!  This shopping street is legendary, nothing new to Paris shoppers, but for some of us from “the provinces”, rue Mouffetard has it all. And the story this week begins with grapes, voluptuous bunches of French Chasselas de Moissac and Italian Italia grapes. The vagabond hopped off the bus just a few steps from this market in the 5th arrondissement, drawn to a vendor’s stall literally draped with grapes. In addition to chasselas, translucent and pearly pale green to gold, the larger and less-sweet-more-racy- italias begged to be plated for an autumn banquet. Perhaps a cheese or two would be good companions, I thought, and peered into the shop windows of Androuet Fromagerie, the classic Parisian Cheese Shop founded by Pierre Androuet. His Guide du Fromage (published by Stock in 1971) has been this cheese-lover’s bible for fifteen years.  So it began well, an uphill market ramble  on rue Mouffetard.

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About midway up the street, between butcher shops and racks of Indian scarves, I had a hankering for a warming cup of cappucino, answered immediately by a stop at a cozy Sicilian café. As I pondered the choice between a hot chocolate and a capucino, I was informed that this café is more than a coffee stop, it is a phenomenon. Beyond espressos, crèpes or Sicilian pastas and salads for lunch, to live jazz on Saturday nights, the crèpe master exclaimed: the Sweet Lounge is five cafés in one! After my last drop of cappucino, I took note of this espresso stop/crèpes extraordinaire/pasta lunch/bar/jazz-corner/international crowd’s watering hole…. for future reference. Continuing along the street between shoppers’ caddies and strollers, I resisted the urge to choose an ice cream at Berthillon and chocolates from Jeff de Bruges or sweet delights from Octave. Past sizzling, crisp-skinned chickens on rotisseries, wine shops and pâté boutiques, past a host of aromas and temptations, the vagabond resolves to return for more flavors on rue Mouffetard in upcoming seasons.

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