Afelia is Greek not ‘franglais’ I hear you all shout – yes this is true, but I wanted to say a word about ‘foreign’ food in Paris.
My step son wanted to go for a Greek meal for his birthday, but the only Greek restaurants that we could find were in the very touristy St Michel (Latin Quarter) area.
Being a lover of Greece and Greek cuisine, I was really looking forward to this – alas, what was served up was bland, badly cooked and barely edible. (we have since discovered a lovely little ‘authentic’ Greek restaurant right off the tourist trail at the top of rue Dageurre in the 15th ‘arrondissement’ and I am sure that there are others tucked away in obscure little corners of the city)
Sadly this is typical of what passes as ’foreign’ cuisine in France, this is why the French think that all food except French food is disgusting, and who can blame them, as French food is generally delicious! And sadly this is what the majority of these ‘eateries’ (I can’t bring myself to call them restaurants) are serving up to tourists.
The little warren of winding streets between St Michel and Notre Dame forms one of the oldest parts of the city, and do have a certain charm and are an essential part of any visit to Paris, for the unique ambiance which includes the various patrons standing outside their establishments in a very ‘un French’ manner trying to entice you inside – just like in Greece – in fact this being the only touch of authenticity, as even the music playing inside was the French radio station ‘cherie fm’!
There are also Italian, Turkish, Lebanese and even French bistros vying for your custom, but as they are mainly catering for tourists who they will probably never see again, the food is not great; but is very reasonably priced, with three course fixed menus (choice from around 5 entrée, plat and desserts) starting from 10 or 11 euro in some places, and the atmosphere is bustling, lively and colourful.
I have found on the whole, with the exception of two Italian restaurants on the fringe of things, that the French bistros tend to serve a better standard of food, especially if you chose the slightly more expensive fixed menu.
But my Afelia is anything but bland, and definitely not badly cooked, so next year, we will stay ‘chez nous’!
750g of lean, preferably organic, pork
250ml of red wine
1 tablespoon (2 cuilliers de soupe) of oil
1 heaped teaspoon (cuillier de café) of black (or mixed if preferred) peppercorns (grains de poivron noir)
1 heaped teaspoon (cuillier de café) of cinnamon (canelle)
1 heaped teaspoon (cuillier de café) of ground coriander (en poudre)
Must be started the day before, or early in the morning
Cut the pork in to a little larger than bite size cubes and put in a casserole dish
Crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar (if you do not have, place them in a plastic bag and crush either with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser)
Sprinkle (soupoudrer) the pork with the crushed peppercorns (make sure that they are evenly distributed and push them gently into the meat, turning it over so that all sides are covered)
Mix the cinnamon and coriander with the wine and pour over the pork, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight (or for at least 8 hours)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan
Drain the meat, reserving the marinade
Cook the meat in batches browning on all sides (if you put too much in the pan at the same time you will create steam and the meat will not brown and seal (saisir))
Add the marinade, reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until the meat is tender and most of the liquid has disappeared
I usually serve this with rice and tomato salad and either humus (to follow) or tzasiki and warm pitta bread