The concept of Farm to Table dominates the French culture. With limited kitchen storage space and tiny refrigerators, visits to the market are frequent and the demand for fresh, high quality food abounds. Convenience is also important so there are specialty shops on almost every corner and certainly in every neighborhood. The local Bourcherie is where one can have the freshest meats and poultry dressed to your personal specifications and while you wait. Our’s is just one block away and is owned and operated by a lovely husband and wife. Now that we are settling in, Mitch has decided to start cooking again and first on the list was his bolognese sauce. The spices had already been acquired from our local grocery store so now it was time for the meat. Most stores only offer 5% fat ground beef, and for this delicacy, more fat is required. So off we marched to A La Bonne Viande to see what they could do. After being warmly greeted, I explained in my best broken French that we were looking for hamburger (haché) avec 20% gras. There was a puzzled look for a moment then the ‘aha’ came over his face. He asked how many grams we wanted – trois cent cinquante and with that he was off. First he cut the regular beef then the fat to make it 20 percent. Then his wife placed it in the grinder and voilá. It is amazing to watch the artistry and mastery he has with his craft. Whether dressing a chicken, a rack of lamb or a simple slice of steak, each order is handled completely by hand. We watched him cut a single steak from a large side of beef, which took him about 10 minutes, from start to finish and it was amazing (see photos below).
Once home, Mitch began to make his magic. Not being allowed in the kitchen during this time of creation, I can only tell you that the aromas are amazing and the wait was killing me. Once everything is mixed it is them simmered for such a long time that I think I may have blacked out from anticipation. But the wait was well worth it. Such a delectable dish and enough for two meals. I love when he cooks.
There is an artistry and craftsmanship that still exists in these small shops that should not be missed. If you are in Paris, just stop by any local Boucherie and watch them work – it is a show in and of itself. That is, of course, assuming your are not a vegetarian. Bon appetite.