Friday, February 13, 2015

Oeuf Cocotte au Pistou (Baked eggs with pesto) + Paris

A few weeks ago, we went to Paris as my sister was visiting. It has been two years since my husband and I were last there. We'd never visited during the winter before and boy, was it chilly! Charming nonetheless: all the architecture, the big colorful doors, the trees, the farmers markets...

We were there for just 3 days. When it came to lunch and dinner, we searched high and low. Sure, we could eat ethnic as all the websites suggested, but I wanted to eat French food - I know the cuisine has vegetarian food to offer but somehow it just doesn't make it onto the menus in Paris!

Nonetheless we did manage to eat some fantastic food! #1. There are always baguettes and croissants!!!! #2. You can't go wrong at the farmer's market with more bread, cheese, veggies and who knows what else! #3. Galettes (savory crepes) are the way to go and most places usually have at least one vegetarian option.

On Friday night, we arrived just in time for dessert! Luckily there was a place called Le Hibou (the Owl) right by our hotel where I ate one of the three BEST cheesecakes of my life. (The others were in New York and Berlin).  I've realized that cheesecake is different in every country. New York Cheesecake to me is dense from the cream cheese and satisfying with its graham cracker crust. The raspberry cheesecake I ate at the Berlin farmer's market was light, invitingly unsweet (like most desserts we tasted there!), refreshing and made from quark cheese. This Parisian one was crustless, and normally that's a no-no for me, but after I tasted it, it didn't matter: it was smooth, creamy, tangy, slightly goaty, fresh, not too sweet, and the crunch of the peanut crumble and the dark chocolate sauce was just bitterly divine. It was so good that I simply had to eat it again one last time!
Le Hibou (for the best cheesecake)
16 Carrefour de L'Odéon
75006 Paris
FranceSaint-Michel/Odéon, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés, 6ème

On Saturday morning, we NEEDED coffee and croissants. My sister said we had to go to Pierre Hermes, which was this very fancy boutique bakery. I was hungry and irritated as we hadn't found breakfast yet but goodness golly, this was worth every minute, penny and calorie: crunchy, flakey pastry with a raspberry-rose filling and tangy freeze-dried raspberries on top. HEAVEN.

We window-shopped around the Marais and met a friend for lunch over galettes and cider. We had at least two choices on the menu, which I appreciated, and the galettes were simply delicious -- I would definitely go back there! I think galettes are perfect because they're traditionally made from buckwheat flour, which is gluten-free, and anyone's stomach would need a break from all the gluten around town all day long!
Crêperie Suzette
24 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris, France

We visited Musee d'Orsay for the impressionist paintings and saw my favorite Monet painting with women in a field of poppies. Having been to so many museums in other countries and seen the Getty in Los Angeles, and also my FAVORITE Uffizi in Florence, Musee d'Orsay wasn't as impressive as I would have thought. Well yes, the fact that it's an old railway station meant that the architecture of the building was stunning, but I was a little bogged down by the dark gray walls behind the paintings. I don't think the walls need to be white per-se, but choosing such dark colors with low ceilings made me feel a bit stuffy. But maybe that was because it was raining outside.

Dinner! We put so much pressure on dinner that it disappointed us! My sister had read on David Lebovitz's website that she shouldn't miss Chez Omar but I was skeptical because vegetarian food is so hard to find. We walked all the way there only to be turned away because they didn't have anything vegetarian on the menu???!!! HEY I'm no one to tell people to stop eating meat but to not offer anything vegetarian on the menu sounds really extreme! And another thing, I guess I can't really listen to meat-eaters tips on where to dine in Paris because it's from the omnivore's perspective. We did eventually find Hank Burger and ate some good vegan burgers. 55 rue des Archives, 75003 Paris.

On Sunday morning we ate a satisfying breakfast at a bakery called Pauls where we got the perfect croissant with butter and jam, great baguettes, eggs and coffee. Rue de Buci, 75006 Paris, France

We decided to re-visit the Bastille Farmers market (even though Paris has farmers markets all over that I'm sure all deserve visiting!) as it's one of the largest, and bought some cheese and yogurt to get us some probiotics and my sister found some crepe-spreading gadget. No trip to Paris would be complete without visiting Montmartre so that's where we went next! We were really hungry and didn't know where to look for brunch so we decided to go back to our favorite Montmartre cafe and luckily, it did not disappoint! They had two or three vegetarian choices on the menu and my husband ate a veggie burger so he was happy.  And I got exactly what I was after - oeuf en cocotte - baked eggs in a pot with creme fraiche and pesto -- it was warm, bubbly and satisfying with a crusty sourdough toast on the side.
Le Cafe du Commerce - 13 rue de Clignancot.

On our way back to the hotel, we treated ourselves to one last coffee and pan au chocolat -- no one can not visit Paris without tasting one! And even though we went to a random brasserie, we found a delicious one! We saw them warming them up in the microwave and were really skeptical, but they tasted great! It was so lovely to spend time with my sister -- she's my partner in crime, and we tried a lot of desserts and sweet treats together.

So this weekend, my sister and I decided to make some oeuf en cocotte as a nod to our favorite cafe in Paris -- I made mine in Stockholm and my sister made hers in Santa Cruz! It's just so delicious and perfect for Sunday brunch, but do make sure to treat yourself to some croissants as well! Hope you enjoy and are transported to lovely Paris.

Oeuf Cocotte au Pistou (Baked Eggs in Pots with Pesto)
Serves 2

Bechamel sauce*:
1/2 tbs / msk butter
1 tbs / msk all purpose flour
1/2 cup / 1 dl low-fat milk
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt & white pepper
2 organic eggs
2 handfuls of basil leaves and stems
1 tbs / msk walnuts
1 tbs / msk nutritional yeast or vegetarian parmesan cheese
1 small garlic clove
1 tbs / msk olive oil
1/2 tbs / msk lemon juice
2 slices of toasted sourdough bread for serving

1. PREHEAT the oven to 200C / 400F. In a saucepan, heat the butter and mix in the flour and stir on low heat for a minute or two, until the flour has cooked a little bit. Gradually pour in the milk and stir constantly to prevent lumps. Season with nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Turn off heat once thickened.

2. Grease the bottoms of two little pots with lids. Divide the bechamel between them. Break an egg into each pot and season with salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 6 - 7 minutes or until bubbly and still jiggly in the center. (It will continue to cook once it's out of the oven so you don't want to bake it completely in the oven. Plus, eating a runny yolk provides lecitin, which is brain food, so don't overcook your egg!).

3. While the egg is baking, make your pesto: pour all the ingredients to a blender and whizz until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper.

4. Once the eggs are cooked around the edges but still wobbly in the center, take out of the oven. Wait 5 minutes and then dollop with the pesto and enjoy with some toasted sourdough bread.

* The one I ate in Paris had creme fraiche instead of bechamel, which gives the dish a delicious tang. But I also love this one with bechamel, especially when I don't have creme fraiche lying around. You can alternate between the two and see which you prefer!


  1. Congratulations on your website! Your photos are truly gorgeous! The text is very good too, and free of errors. I'm a Canadian vegetarian and I intend to bookmark your site and pass it on to others.

    Best regards, Kathleen

    1. Thank you kindly Kathleen for your feedback, it is very much appreciated! Hope you'll try some of the recipes and let me know how you like them!

      All the best,



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