The organic market on the boulevard Raspail is another must-go Paris destination. I enjoy farmers’ markets wherever they are, but like ice cream, they really are best in Paris. In addition to excellent vendors of produce, cheeses, and meats there are some especially good stands that are worth a stop. Michael Healy, an American living in Paris, sells handmade English muffins that are a real treat—his stand is about halfway down the narrow market. For me the best thing about the market is Les Gustalin, the stand right near the entrance at rue du Cherche-Midi. It sells the most amazing potato pancakes I have every eaten. We kept going back for more…
Also, no visit to Paris would be complete without a trip to Polaine. Their bread may be the main draw, but I can’t get enough of their Punitions (Punishments). I ended up bringing two boxes of these butter cookies home on the plane—I have a real weakness for butter. I was willing to get rid of clothing to make room for these perfect little cookies. Dorie Greenspan published the recipe for these in her book Paris Sweets. The recipe works perfectly. It is a great way to have a taste of Paris whenever you need one.
This is a simple recipe with few ingredients, the better your butter is the better these cookies will be.
- 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- Slightly rounded 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1. Put the butter and pinch of salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the butter is smooth. Add the sugar and process until thoroughly blended into the butter, scraping as needed. Add egg and continue to process, scraping the bowl as needed, until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the flour all at once, then pulse 10-15 times, until the dough forms clumps and curds.
2. Gather the dough into a ball and then divide the ball in half. Shape each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill the disks until they are firm, about 4 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the lined sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. Gather scraps and repeat process with them.
5. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are set but pale. (I leave mine in a little longer so that there are slightly browned at the edges.) Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.