The well-dressed, elderly lady passed by the cafe a leash in one hand and a rolling cart handle in the other. Her little pug had trouble keeping the pace. At each stand she would pause to talk with the shopkeeper, inspect the fruit or bread, make a purchase and move on. A young couple, walking hand in hand, pass her coming this way. They are out for a stroll, not worried about groceries. And even though they are dressed in just jeans and t-shirts, they look like models - beautiful skin, shiny hair, scarves carelessly wrapped around their necks, expensive shoes. The couple strolls past the dark complected, Greek man, black shirt and pants with a white apron, standing at attention at his crepe stand- ready to help the next customer.
Tucked away in the 7th arrondisement, just a 5 minute walk from the crowds of the Eiffel tower, is a perfect slice of Paris. The Rue Cler is a bustling pedestrian market street lined with colorful produce stands, flower markets and busy cafes. No more perfect place exists in Paris for people watching, picnic shopping, or an enjoyable lunch at a sunny cafe. The French do so many things well. They seem to have perfected the art of living. Even a trip to the grocery has style and grace. The shopkeepers take great pride in their offerings, l'homme in the boucherie was proud of the meats and pickles we chose and offered suggestions for our picnic. Les femmes in the patisseriewere happy to help our selection of quiches. The produce was all carefully selected and artfully displayed. The handsome Greek at the creperie engaged my children in a conversation on the morning of Good Friday, sharing his faith and intention to fast on that holy day.
In the evening, the open air cafes came to life with Parisians out for dinner and visits with friends. As tourists, we did our best to become blended visitors, enjoying the peek into their neighborhood. While waiters hustled between tables while patrons enjoyed the beautiful April evenings and the fabulous meals, we did our best to translate menus.
The French eat well. They do not shy away from rich cheeses and wine. Eggs are available as part of every meal. No one seems to be concerned about their cholesterol or carb intake. However, you rarely see an overweight frenchman. They eat fresh, fabulous food in smaller quantities and walk.
And why wouldn't you walk? Every corner in Paris holds another interesting piece of architecture, pretty storefront, stylish pedestrian, funny dog, or piece of history.
My Basic Quiche recipe
We love quiche at our house. All kinds. A few years ago, I realized that if I make one recipe in two pie pans, I can keep them in the fridge and reheat a slice at a time in 30 seconds for breakfasts or lunches.
Buy the pie crusts in the dairy section in the red box - Pillsbury. You have to defrost them and put them in your own pan and form the crust but they are so much better than frozen and so much easier than making your own.
Defrost two pie crusts, place in 8 inch round pie pans, tuck under edges and crimp. Prick the crust with a fork and bake at 450 degrees for about 8-10 minutes until light brown. Remove and cool.
In a bowl, combine 3 eggs lightly beaten, 1 1/2 cups milk or heavy cream, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. This is your base. Your options from here are limitless.
Lorraine- Add 4 oz sliced and cooked bacon
Chile and Cheddar - Add 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar and one small can drained and chopped green chiles
Vegetable - Add 1 cup spinach(sauteed) and 1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
Tomato basil - line the bottom of the pie crust with sliced tomatoes and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.
You can use goat cheese, ham, green onions, parsley. You can omit the crust and spray the pan with Pam to cut down on the carbs.
Place the fillings of your choice into the pie crusts. Fill each pie crust with 1/2 the egg mixture and bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes until center is set. Serve warm or room temperature. If you are saving, allow to cool completely then cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Serve with fruit for breakfast or a salad or soup for lunch or dinner.