Les Halles – Lyon, France

Lyon

Lyon

The next stop after Burgundy on my recent Europe trip was Lyon, known as the French capital of gastronomy.  Our culinary partner-in-crime Gregory gave us a quick introductory tour of Lyon, through the cobblestone streets of old town vieux Lyon and across the bridges over the Rhône and Saône rivers.  With the beautiful Notre Dame de Fourvière standing magestically above the mountains, and cafes and bouchons lining the riverside, Lyon was quite a sight to take in.

IMG_6970All that walking got us hungry- when can we start eating some food?  After all, we were in Lyon.  With only 2 hours to go until our dinner reservations, we couldn’t help but indulge in some quick but good eats.  Gregory knew just the place to satiate our needs, and took us straight to the marketplace Les Halles.

Les Halles is an amazing place stocked full of the best foods in the world.  Row after row of food stalls, seafood bars and restaurants throw temptation in your face from all angles.  The vegetables stalls have the freshest vegetables bursting with flavor and juice, and the charcuterie stalls with infinite selections of hanging saucissons and hams.  The fromageries boasted an assortment of cheeses that I’ve never encountered before in my life, and a macaroon shop offered about 30 different flavors (even white truffle, olive oil and foie gras flavors! ).  There was a pastry shop dedicated solely to pralines, and about 4 different oyster bars. In fact, this Les Halles in Lyon is named after famed French chef Paul Bocuse.  I wish we had a marketplace like this in Los Angeles.  If such a place existed, I would probably be there every day.

Seafood stall

Seafood stall

Macaroon stall

Macaroon stall

Praline store

Praline store

Patisserie

Patisserie

Vegetable stall

Vegetable stall

Fromagerie

Fromagerie

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

We decided to eat some oysters, and sat down at a table by the oyster bar at the Ecailler Cellerier.  Gregory had just been there earlier that day for oysters, so the patron recognized him right away.  The kind patron gave us a warm welcome, and joined us for some conversation and a white wine toast.

Sharing a toast with the patron of Ecailler

Sharing a toast with the patron of Ecailler Cellerier

We tried 4 types of oysters: Marennes Fine de Claire, Isigny de Normandie, Speciales Gillardeau Number 3 and Speciales Gillardeau Number 4.  My favorite was the Gillardeau Number 3, a 3rd grade oyster harboured in the Marennes region of France from the legendary family-run oyster farm Gillardeau.  They were plump, rich, luxurious and divine, and truly some of the best oysters that I’ve ever tasted in my life.  So this is the famous Gillardeau oyster…now I see what all the fuss is about!  Some claim that these oysters are the best in the world, and many 3 Michelin star restaurants in France serve them.

Speciales Gillardeau N3 oysters

Speciales Gillardeau N3 oysters

Speciales Gillardeau N4 oysters

Speciales Gillardeau N4 oysters

Master oyster shucker

Master oyster shucker

Plate of oysters....so yummy

The most delicious and precious plate of oysters

Within the first 2 hours of arriving in Lyon, we were already at Les Halles having some of the best oysters in the world.  Les Halles here in Lyon is not a place to be missed.

Ah, Lyon, I love you already.  More exciting gastronomic adventures to come!

Random trivia:  Did you know that a baby oyster (larvae) is called a ‘spat’?

Little Next Door

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One of my favorite little cafes in LA is the Little Next Door which opened a few years ago.  I used to frequent this place when it first opened, when I was completely enamored with the cute Parisian/Moroccan decor, handsome friendly French waiters and delicious sandwiches and wines.  After a year’s absence, I went to have lunch with some friends, and it reminded of why I fell in love with this place to begin with.  The decor is still cute, with the striking cobalt blue walls, quaint front patio, and high ceilings; the wait staff are all wearing white long sleeved shirts with blue horizontal stripes, and the majority speak French- Sacre Bleu!! Am I in a Paris?  Oh, and did I mention that the waiters are cute, friendly and attentive?  Yeah, and the food is still great.

Little Next Door

Little Next Door

They have sandwiches, soups, salads, crepes, quiches, entrees (pasta dishes, steaks, grilled chicken, lamb shank), homemade pates and terrines, cheeses, wines, coffees/teas and desserts.  Anything to please your taste buds.  It’s very relaxing to sit on the patio while sipping cafe au lait and doing some people watching.

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We opted for soups, deli salads and sandwiches since it was lunchtime.  I got the ‘Little Next Deal’, which includes a soup, half sandwich, 1 deli salad, and a macaroon for dessert.

French onion soup and chicken lentil soup

French onion soup and chicken lentil soup

The french onion soup was very traditional, packed with caramelized onions, soaked baguettes in veal/beef stock, and a heaping mound of gruyere.  I got the chicken and lentil soup, which to my surprise was packed with large tender chunks of savory vegetables.  I was expecting a somewhat bland and simple brown lentil soup with maybe some bits and pieces of chicken, but this was a very hearty and satisfying soup that made me want to cry out for my maman.

Sandwiches and salads

Sandwiches and salads

I got the smoked salmon sandwich, with tzatziki and arugula on a brioche bun, with a side of triple beet salad.  It was wonderful.  My friend got the smoked chicken sandwich, likewise on a brioche bun, with a side of celery root salad.  Very simple flavors, but delicate and delicious.

Macaroons

Macaroons

For dessert, pistachio and lavender macaroons.  They also had dulce de leche, rose and chocolate.

And what’s more, you can enjoy this brief escape to the streetcorners of Paris with the perks of LA food culture- I got my cafe au lait with soy milk.  What’s not to love about this place?  A tout a l’heure!

http://www.thelittledoor.com/

Random debate: So are macaroons cakes or biscuits?  Well, they are considered to be more like biscuits, since they don’t rise when baked, like cakes do.