Just one green vegetable. Or juice. Or something.
That certainly wasn't what we travelled to Paris to find, but by the end of day three it's about all we wanted.
In late March, Peter, Scott (our Charcutier) and I travelled on an overnight flight to Paris, with the nearly singular goal of experiencing as much authentic French charcuterie as we possibly could in less than 72 hours. We went immediately from the airport to our first three stops, with a quick espresso and croissant to get us started. As most of these shops are on the smaller side, and jam-packed with product, we decided just to pick up the items that most appealed to us (a caveat here, it was all appealing to us, but we were mostly focused on products that we are either currently producing a version of, or would like to produce) and bring them back to our Air BnB to taste and compare.
We learned a hard lesson that first day. Nearly 20 different types of pâté, terrine, sausage, salami, rillette, etc. etc. is just too many to taste in an abbreviated afternoon, no matter how much enthusiasm you bring with you. Having said that, our over-zealousness on afternoon one didn't preclude us from keeping our dinner reservation at the charcuterie centric Arnaud Nicolas, and tasting another four pâtés (the appetizer), and a main course pâté en croûte.
Day two followed a very similar pattern, with us covering a fair portion of the area north and east of where we were staying and visiting around fifteen charcutiers, traiteurs and boucheries. Again, we returned to our rental late-afternoon, with bread, wine and charcuterie in hand. Our lone meal of the day (again, save a quick pastry and more than a few espressos) was comprised heavily of pork meat, pork fat, pork liver, duck liver, goose liver, chicken liver...well, you get the point. In fairness, I think we also squeezed in a few grapes, strawberries, and cornichons, just for nutritional balance.
The main takeaway for us on our whirlwind tour (aside from learning that yes, a person can eat too much pâté), was that we've now found a proper reference point for the direction we want to take our charcuterie program. Scott has already begun tweaking some recipes (less spicing in the brine, more belly and jowl rather than lean trim and fat, etc.), and added others to his repertoire (Pâté en Croûte Richelieu, pork liver mousse) based on our experience in Paris. There is such a culture around charcuterie in France and we hope to capture at least a piece of that here in Toronto. Please, the next time you come in, don't forget to try out some of our many pâtés and terrines, and let us know how we're doing.