What better way to start the day than by eating yourself through two of the best markets of Paris: Marché d’Aligre and Marché Bastille, both within a fifteen minute radius by foot.
We started out with Marché d’Aligre, which has a large outdoor section that mainly offers fruit and vegetables, flowers, and the like, along a single street, and a slightly smaller covered market, where you find most of the fish, meat, cheese, ready-to-eat meals, and the likes, including a couple of little eateries. Whatever you’ll try, it tastes perfect. Our favourite was probably the daily prawn cocktail special at the main fish stall, which (besides the main ingredient) contained finely diced chanterelle mushrooms, tomatoes, capers, mustard, lemon juice, and a very sizeable amount of chillies besides various undetermined herbs and other ingredients.
Right next to the covered market, literally in an adjacent block in the corner building on the side facing the market, you’ll find Le Baron Rouge, a great blue-collar wine bar that serves good food. On a Sunday (the day we went), you can also get excellent oysters for a very reasonable price, which we enjoyed with a small glass of Sancerre respectively a small glass of Champagne.
From there we walked the short distance to Place de la Bastille, from which the Marché Bastille stretches towards the right, from where you’re coming. Another very good experience. Some of the fish they displayed at the large number of excellent fish stalls were fish species we hadn’t seen for sale anywhere in a long time, the variety was very impressive. The beef at the meat stalls was impeccable. In terms of sausages you could get everything from German types via Spanish morcilla to smoked duck sausages from the Perigord (our favourite).
We were shocked to see that one of our favourites, onglet (according to Wikipedia UK this is called “hanger steak”, even though in our experience onglet is translated into English as ‘onglet’, and it is “a cut of beef steak prized for its flavor. Derived from the diaphragm of a steer or heifer, this cut was in the past sometimes known as ‘butcher’s steak’, because butchers would often keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale”), one of the cheapest cuts, sold at around €24, while entrecote sold for a mere €2 more at €26. It seems that supply and demand have pushed France on the edge of a veritable Onglet Crisis (in London you can get very tasty onglet for less at the Ginger Pig and other good butchers; the one thing to remember when preparing it is that it has to be rare, depending on the size and texture roughly a minute and a half on each side pan-fried at medium-heat, then add the red wine and shallot sauce you’ve prepared beforehand and let the whole meal rest in a pre-heated 72 degrees oven for another few minutes before tucking in; if you try to eat onglet medium or, mon dieu, well-done, good luck, it’s going to be tough as a shoe sole and your worst culinary experience in a long time, unless you have a platinum card at Greggs that is).