Tag Archives: market

What is for dinner this summer?

This week chez nous in Paris the menu has been cantaloupe starters, tomato mozzarella salads, grilled eggplants, stuffed courgettes, Asian prawns with broccoli, peppers and coriander, spanakopita with lots of onion, and sliced peach for dessert.

IMG_1591

All these fruits and vegetables from the Bastille Market for just 10 Euros! Enjoyed with excellent (and cheap) rosé from our favorite wine shop (see: Christmas preparations: wine). Cannot complain!

What has been on your plate this summer?

No Bastille Market today

As a consequence of Friday’s tragic events the markets remain close today. This is a pity because we love going to the Bastille Market every Sunday, and would have gone also today. All those colors bring us a lot of joy. Not to mention that we bring home several bags of fruits and vegetables that last at least until Thursday –the day the market opens again.

The Bastille Market, open on Thursdays and Sundays, gives a lot of joy to us.

The Bastille Market, open on Thursdays and Sundays, gives a lot of joy to us. Today the market remains close.

Many Parisian have preferred to stay indoors since yesterday but I believe this is exactly what the terrorists want. And I don’t want to give in. I have never been good at doing what I am “supposed” to do…

Yesterday afternoon we left our secured home and wandered through the streets of Paris. First Rue de Charonne where we met with a friend, then la Place de la Nation and Rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine. The 11th arrondissement  was very quiet indeed but calling it a ghost town would be far-fetched. Near Faidherbe-Chaligny metro, a few steps away from the shooting sites, we said good bye to a friend who headed home. We started walking towards our arrondissement, the 4th, and did groceries in the heart of the lower Marais, Saint Paul. Shops, cafes and restaurants were open and alive. By the time we were ready to return home it was lheure de lapéro. I paid attention to a church that was unusually full of people of all age. Hundreds of candles were lit.

In a few minutes we are going to check the market anyway. Maybe an odd vendor will be selling aubergines and grapes? Probably not. In this case we are going to have a walk. Should we stay inside and prepare for the worst, minimize the risk by skipping our usual habits? No, I don’t think so. I have never lived by fear, even in countries where I probably should have because the risk of terrorism was very high. So far my intuition and luck (or destiny if you prefer) have kept me alive and I trust they will continue to do so. Maybe I am naive but I refuse to live under fear.

PS I was going to end this post by referring to the Western values like freedom etc., but I don’t want to fall under this East (“bad values”) versus West (“good values”) thinking, which I believe is another trap, something terrorist want us to start believing too. The global situation is by far much more complex….

New year, new adventure

Some of you have wondered about my unusually long silence and I don’t blame you. I am embarrassed too when I look at my last publishing dates but thankful at the same time for those who have been loyal to my blog, contacted me privately to ask about my life, or simply taken time to comment old posts.

For almost six months now I have been suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), more known today as the Kate Middleton condition, and life has been about daily nausea and vomiting. Yes, I am pregnant and contrary to many common presumptions, I am definitely not having the time of my life. My husband thinks I look like a prima donna from the Paris Opera but I wonder if he ever went to see an opera. In reality, I look and feel like this tree.

tree under snow

To say the least, it has been very tough to handle the daily life. Instead of cooking (something I love), I now throw some frozen industrial food into the oven. All sorts of smells trigger the nausea so without rare exceptions (like Christmas), I haven’t been able to visit our favorite food market in Bastille (Sunday Market). In addition, I have developed some very strange eating habits that have come in phases: two weeks of mashed potatoes from morning until evening, industrial soups for another two weeks’ period, then bagels, then something else. Lots of potatoes and wheat –ingredients easy to throw up!

I am aware that all this sounds very strange and hard to believe unless one has had personal experience with HG. I cannot even believe this myself. I am a rather practical and realistic person, and never had too many illusions about pregnancy, but I could have never imagined either that something supposedly so magic could make one so sick. It seems neither natural nor fair (but hey, life is not about fairness, right).

So, apart from eating difficulties, how else has HG affected my daily life? Well, I do nothing that I used to do, so it has changed everything. In the first months, when all this started, I stayed in bed all day long, closed my eyes and tried to sleep as much as possible as it was the only state when I didn’t feel nauseous. Unfortunately, as I realized, a human being cannot sleep 24 hours per day! I also stopped looking at Facebook and Internet because there were too many food photos (oysters that I usually love became the worst; only a thought and I would throw up). I stopped reading because it felt more challenging than climbing Mount Everest. I went to the movies once but brought along a bag to vomit in. Apart from a brief, odd phase of ramen soups (Sapporo: one of the best cheap ramen in Paris) and few other exceptions, I haven’t been to restaurants (and we usually go twice a week!). As I work independently, I haven’t been able to accept any contracts and clients. I had to cancel all the trips. When I finally started taking medicines (my husband took me to the emergency room after I had been vomiting nonstop for hours), I got a little bit better and we decided to go on holidays (Miami, here we come!), but the trip made my condition worse. On my birthday I was lying on the sunbed, turned my head toward the sand to vomit, and the vomit hit my shoes. Yes, you can laugh.  I may be able to laugh too one day. I hope.

I think it is fair to say that HG has eaten away my personality (and dignity, I feel), and I am afraid I will never be myself again.

So, this blog post. A long explanation to a long silence. I may or may not be back soon, and certainly hope that it will be sooner than later. One of the basic needs of a human being is to be creative and I miss that (amongst other things).

tulips in Paris

***

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

It is estimated that about 0.5-2% of pregnant women are touched by HG. Even the medical community is not very well aware of HG and what causes it, which makes things worse (support is rarely there). Most likely the doctor will dismiss the woman’s complaints by saying that nausea and vomiting are normal during the first trimester, and will disappear soon enough.

However, if the symptoms continue into the second (or worse, the third!) trimester, then it is important to act. There are some signs that tell the difference between the “normal” morning sickness and HG. For example, the latter makes one vomit a lot and systematically, and lose weight, and one will most likely need hospitalization and or medication in order to be able to continue living. As a basic rule, what helps to cope with the morning sickness doesn’t bring a lot of relief (if any) to someone suffering from HG. One can try acupuncture, ginger products, eating small snack and portions, homeopathy, etc, but most likely nothing will work. A great website to differentiate the morning sickness from HG is found here: http://www.helpher.org/blog/the-differences-between-morning-sickness-and-hyperemesis-gravidarum/

So, as cruel as it sounds like, to some extent HG accompanies the pregnancy during nine months, and the only cure is the birth.

In order to get help and support, I cannot over-emphasize the fact that one needs to understand that the morning sickness and HG have almost nothing to do with each other. Once you know what you have, things will probably get emotionally better. The doctor, family and friends should take your condition more seriously when you start introducing yourself as someone suffering from HG (do not forget to specify that HG is different from the morning sickness –this way you can hopefully avoid listening to annoying comments like “have you tried ginger ale?”).

I hope this post will help some other women suffering from HG, and should you have questions or need support, you can always contact me publicly or privately by my blog or by Pearlspotting Facebook page. Even if I may not be writing new posts, I do always respond to comments.

The Old Market Hall in Helsinki

From The Market Square by the sea in Helsinki my little good bye tour of Helsinki continued to another wonderful market, the Old Market Hall. This beautiful building, open to public in 1889, is one of three covered market halls in Helsinki and another must place to see when visiting the Finnish capital.

The Old Market Hall opened its doors in 1889. This is when Finland was an autonomous state of Russia named the Grand Duchy of Finland.

The Old Market Hall opened its doors in 1889. This is when Finland was an autonomous state of Russia, the Grand Duchy of Finland.

The Old Market Hall has some of the best choices of food in Helsinki, from oysters to snails.

The choice of food is outstanding and includes fresh oysters, snails, crayfish and best cuts of meat, among many others.

I had already had strawberries and coffee outside by the sea, and it was now time for salmon and more coffee. A typical Finnish breakfast (just kidding!).

My mission was to overdose on Finnish delicacies before catching my flight a few hours later and I had decided there was no better way to do this than buy slices of marinated salmon and eat them with fingers!

Salmon with different flavors at Fish Shop Marja Nätti. My paradise!!

Salmon with different flavors and ways of preparation at Fish Shop Marja Nätti. My paradise!!

When in Finland, make sure that you taste other fish like white fish, too. The variety of fresh water fish keeps impressing me, so don't stick to only salmon.

When in Finland, make sure that you taste other fish like white fish, too. The variety of freshwater fish keeps impressing me, so please do not stick to only salmon!

I purchased a few slices of marinated salmon from Fish Shop Marja Nätti that I got to know during my food tour in May (Helsinki by Food), and entered a fish heaven. I have no problem eating salmon for breakfast, as long as it tastes good, and the rosé pepper flavored salmon was just from heaven. Not only it tasted divine, but I was also boosting my Omega 3 levels… Perfect! Ready to leave Finland soon!

The Old Market Hall: http://vanhakauppahalli.fi/en/

The Market Square by the sea in Helsinki

It was my last day in Helsinki. Well, to be precise, I only had a few hours remaining. My husband had left on an earlier flight and mine was in the afternoon. I hopped on the tramway, got off at the railway station, and begun my own little good bye tour of Helsinki. The sun was shining, it was 27C and the more I approached the place where I would have coffee, the more I could hear the seagulls.

The Market Square is a lovely place by the sea in the center of Helsinki. The farmers sell their fruits and vegetables next to vendors specialized in souvenirs such as reindeer skin. The square is always full of locals as well as tourists, many who stop by for a cup of coffee or salmon soup.

The Market Square is located on prime location by the sea, next to the Town Hall of Helsinki and the Presidential Palace.

The Market Square is located on prime location by the sea, next to the Town Hall of Helsinki and the Presidential Palace.

You should visit the Market Square in the morning to find the best products.

Like everywhere in the world, visit the Market Square in the morning to find the best products.

I ordered take-away coffee and begun walking around. The breeze was lovely. People were happy and I felt excited as a first-time tourist in Helsinki. There was an abundance of berries, potatoes, smoked fish and girolles. I bought strawberries for breakfast. Talking about natural sugar!

Finns are crazy about strawberries in summer and I was not an exception.

Finns are crazy about strawberries and I was not an exception.

While I was enjoying these local delicacies something struck me. I sort of went crazy and purchased blueberries, strawberries, salmon and girolles to take back to Paris…. as if Paris didn’t have them –of course it does! However, my moment of craziness was moderate, I think, because I did not buy potatoes and onions….  and not even dill!

Even if this dill looked amazingly tasty (nothing like one finds in Paris), I didn't buy it. And guess what? I regret I didn't!

No, I did not bring potatoes to Paris… even if they looked delicious and so clean!

Pleased with my purchases, I started walking toward the Old Market Hall (The Old Market Hall in Helsinki). I don’t know if they have always been there, but for the first time I noticed some boats in the harbor, between the Market Square and the Old Market Hall. The boats were very cute: small and inhabited by individual farmers selling few selected food products (fish and potatoes, of course). I almost wished that I could sail to one of the many islands of the Finnish archipelago with them.

These small boats had sailed from the archipelago to sell vegetables and fish in Helsinki. Cute!

These small boats had sailed from the archipelago to sell vegetables and fish in Helsinki. How romantic!

The Market Square is a lovely place to hang out, to buy food, to drink coffee or eat salmon soup and other Finnish delicacies, so make sure you make it your stop when visiting Helsinki!

PS This is where most of the archipelago cruises depart. The Suomenlinna ferry that I took in winter (The Best Part of Public Transport in Helsinki) can also be found in the proximity. If you hold a valid public transport ticket, do not miss this great opportunity!

Helsinki by Food

So much has happened on the Helsinki food scene since the ’90s that some call it a revolution.

All current Michelin-star restaurants in Helsinki have been created since 2003 and none of the current Bib Gourmand restaurants existed before 2009. In addition to Russian, Tex-Mex and Mediterranean restaurants, which were some of the first international cuisines to arrive in Helsinki, choices keep growing. There is now a Kosher deli. A Peruvian restaurant opened earlier this year. Two young chefs mix Korean, Japanese and North-Chinese flavors. Hakaniemi neighborhood has turned into a bazaar of ethnic grocery shops. The Restaurant Day concept, born in Helsinki in 2011, has now spread to more than 30 countries. The first street food event was organized in March this year. And the list goes on. Indeed, Helsinki has never been as welcoming to foodies as it is today!

As someone who left Helsinki in the mid-’90s, I am intrigued by the latest food scene developments of my old hometown. During my last visit to Helsinki in May this year I took this passion even further and spent an entire day touring the Finnish capital with a professional food guide. Read further to see why this day was fantastic!

I met my lovely guide Veera in front of the Hietalahti Market Hall, which was our first stop. According to an urban legend, this 110-year-old covered market was used as a horse stable during the Russian rule.As visiting Finland is nothing without discovering local fish, our first stop was Fish Shop Marja Nätti. We had a chance to run into Petri, Marja’s son, who proudly explained to us that the sandwich we are eating is their newest recipe: cold-smoked salmon and asparagus on malt bread topped with caviar-infused Hollandaise sauce. Wow. It was as delicious as it sounds like and yes, it was eco-friendly caviar grown in the heart of Finland’s lake district.

Indeed, respecting the ecosystem, traditions and small fishermen were the words that kept appearing in Petri’s talk. He revealed that this summer Marja Nätti will co-run a fish and chips restaurant at the entrance (outside) of the Hietalahti Market Hall. One of the items on the menu will be a fish burger made of those Finnish fish (roach, pike, etc.) that have been ignored for a long time by chefs.fish skinJust as we were leaving, Petri grinned and asked “are you adventurous“? Curious as we are, Veera and I responded yes and Petri brought us another new product: fried salmon skin, a Finnish delicacy from the ’60s and the ’70s. I was a bit skeptical before tasting it, mainly because I am not a big fan of fried food, but it was lighter than I thought. And very tasty. My guests in Paris, are you ready for fish skin starters?

Our second and third stops were chosen by Veera because they are true representatives of the classic Helsinki: Lasipalatsi and Fazer. She explained to me that in spite of all sorts of exotic tendencies that hug Helsinki at the moment, these two places have maintained the market position thanks to their excellent, traditional products and loyal customers. At times when so much new comes to the market every week, people like to return to the roots from time to time, she added.

Lasipalatsi is an architectural masterpiece, a perfect example of Finnish Functionalist architectural style from the ’30s. Originally built as a temporary office building, Lasipalatsi is today one of the main landmarks of Helsinki and home to a well-known retro restaurant and a busy cafe, as well as other businesses.LasipalatsiThe best cafes of Helsinki are located in the residential neighborhoods but Café Lasipalatsi in the heart of Helsinki is one of the rare exceptions” Veera told me. She continued to explain that helsinkiläiset (residents of Helsinki) are very fond of this institution, making Café Lasipalatsi a meeting point of different generations. As we were walking out, I snapped some quick photos that in my opinion portray well that particular atmosphere (very Kaurismäki some may say).Cafe LasipalatsiOur third stop, Fazer, needs no introduction to Finnish readers. To my foreign readers, let me start by saying that Fazer is a confectionery and food company, created in 1891. Whenever there is a ranking of the most-loved Finnish brands, Fazer and its products are on the top of the list. For example, if you ask a Finn living abroad what she misses about Finland, she/he will probably tell you “Fazerin Sininen” (Fazer’s most popular milk chocolate).Fazerin SininenWe stopped for a cup of coffee but Veera reminded me that I should try to come back to enjoy Fazer’s famous brunch. Apparently reservations are sometimes needed a month in advance but this seemed understandable to me. Who would not salivate over these sandwiches? FazerFrom the city center we moved to a charming neighborhood called Kruununhaka, and this is where I got a little bit lost. I know Helsinki very well, and could have guessed the previous stops, but suddenly I had no idea where I was walking. Suspense!Anton & AntonAnton & Anton, where we stopped, is a lovely grocery store created out of love. The founders, previously unknown to each other, met and decided to create a super market that specializes in personalized service and sells the kind of food they would want to eat themselves. Conveniently, they both had a son called Anton, and that resolved the problem about the shop name. Cute, isn’t it!Anton&AntonWhile we were tasting different types of cheese (with fantastic fig and rhubarb jam!), I learned more about the everyday business of Anton & Anton. Veera told me that the idea of Anton & Anton is not to sell exclusively organic food, but simply good food: seasonal products, handpicked artisan products, food that comes from respected origin, grown by passionate small farmers, etc. Some products come from Finland –many from the Åland Islands I noticed– but there are products from abroad, too. Before we left Anton & Anton I made a note to self: fill your picnic basket here next summer.

Our next and last destination required catching Helsinki’s funky orange metro. It was a nice ride by the sea and this time I knew where we were going: Teurastamo alias the Abattoir. Yes, this lovely ’30s building made of brick was indeed a place of blood until the early ’90s. The Abattoir HelsinkiVeera was taking me around the Abattoir complex but I had to stop her to confess something. “Veera, I do not understand what the Abattoir is about. It seems to be work in progress but where is it heading to?“, I asked her. Veera laughed and said it was well said. She continued that indeed the Abattoir is an urban concept still looking for its identity, but that basically its role is to provide premises for different activities (often ad hoc) including city gardening, food-related lectures and festivals, flea market, concerts, exhibitions, etc. One can also book a sauna (of course, after all we are in Finland!) or simply use the premises for a private barbecue party. The main guideline of the Abattoir is to keep it easily accessible and available to everyone.

In addition to aforementioned activities, there are a wholesale market and some restaurant-bars. We visited Jädelino, an ice-cream bar run by a Finno-Italian couple. JädelinoValerio, the Italian side of the love story, served us amazing pistachio and divine chocolate ice cream. He explained that he has no previous experience in ice cream making but that a kind man in his home town taught him all the tricks. Last November Valerio was ready and Jädelino opened its doors to serve ice cream and sorbet of Finnish and other flavors. When Valerio mentioned that some customers come from really far away just for his ice cream I was not surprised –I will return from Paris for his pistachio! And I will definitely return to the Abattoir. For me, it is one of the most interesting things happening on the Helsinki food scene at the moment.

My guide: 

Veera Teppola
Facebook: Helsinki Bites / Blog: http://food-fetish.com / Email: helsinkibites@gmail.com
Visits are tailor made and languages spoken include Finnish and English.
Highly recommended!

… places visited during the tour:

The Hietalahti Market Hall: http://www.hietalahdenkauppahalli.fi
Fish Shop Marja Nätti: http://www.kalaliikemarjanatti.fi
Lasipalatsi Restaurant: http://www.ravintolalasipalatsi.fi
Café Lasipalatsi: http://cafelasipalatsi.fi
Karl Fazer Café: http://www.fazer.fi/kahvilat-ja-leipomot/kahvilat–ravintolat/karl-fazer-cafe/karl-fazer-cafe/
Anton & Anton: http://www.antonanton.fi
Teurastamo (The Abattoir): http://www.teurastamo.com
Jädelino: http://www.jadelino.fi

Sunday Market

Surely every tourist already knows this, but when you visit Paris (or any other French town), do not miss a food market! I go to the Bastille Market every Sunday and love it. For less than 10€ we buy seasonal fruits and vegetables that last entire week. The Bastille MarketNot only the Bastille market is very affordable, but the atmosphere is particular, too. Vendors shout at each other (and you) and everyone is from somewhere. A true melting pot of French regions. Fish comes from Brittany, cheese from Normandy, snails from Burgundy, beef from Limousin, etc. The Bastille MarketEven if we have our usual suppliers, every Sunday we meet new ones. Like this kind fishmonger from Brittany who took time to chat with us.Fishmonger from BrittanyAs you can see, visiting a market is fascinating, but it is also très sympa to walk home with several kilos of tomatoes, melons, onions, mint, lemons, carrots and salad. Not forgetting a bottle of Côtes de Provence rosé to celebrate the beginning of the summer! coming home from the Bastille MarketBon appetit everyone! It is 6 o’clock and I will have Greek for a late lunch.