Last weekend. Paris. Too lazy even to open a guide book, I and my friend (a fellow mother of small children – ie punch drunk with exhaustion and a need for essential oils, complimentary shower caps and an evening in front of the Eurovision Song Contest) asked at the hotel front desk for a restaurant recommendation.
This is risky. The second night, we hit dross with La Rotonde where I felt like we’d wandered into that Victoria Wood sketch where the waiter looms leeringly over two sunburnt female holidaymakers with a giant pepper grinder – ‘More pepper, ladies’ – flirting patronisingly in search of a tip, which obviously being British and terrified of offending, we gave anyway. But the first night we hit gold with Le Timbre, a tres intime little place who’s English chef (I know, alarm bells did initially ring) wowed us with the usual French fare of snails and duck, but most importantly a fillet of cod on a bed of succulent broad beans of the brightest emerald, coaxed to perfection with a smattering of lardons.
We strolled through the Jardins du Luxembourg, wondered why Parisians in the 6th arrondisement need so many children’s clothes shops when, by the looks of it, there have no actual children, and marvelled at how very French France is (queues outside patisseries! old women looking like Brigitte Bardot! little dogs! little dog shit!).
But, safely returned on the Eurostar, it’s those broad beans that I keep thinking about. This is because I have very little capacity for high culture and a very high capacity for food. However pretty the Georges Pompidou Centre is, you can’t eat it. But mainly it’s because the broad beans in my garden are just about ready to pick and the bar has now been well and truly raised. So how do I recreate that perfect broad bean dish?
Does one steam them or boil? Obviously you have to pop them out of their grey pods to avoid wading through a dish of saddlebags, but when? What oil do you use? What bacon? What herbs? Do they need lemon juice? The questions are endless, I need answers…