La Parisienne Pates

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290 Lygon St, Carlton. Phone: 9349 1852

Remember the Rainbow Warrior?

There was a time of several years in my life – and in the lives of just about every Kiwi around the world – when I’d sooner have gouged my eyes out than let anything French, liquid, solid or otherwise, pass my lips.

Thankfully, those days are long gone.

France is rehabilitated into the brotherhood of nations, even if it is no closer to sainthood than any of them.

Like several of its near neighbours and many others, France is up to its eyeballs in the wickedness of the arms industry.

The mock-solemn pronouncements of national leaders regarding the misbehaviour of tyrants in the Middle East and elsewhere deserve no more than snorts of derision.

From whence do the guns come?

Do they take us for fools? (Rhetorical question!)

And, of course, villains are far more likely to be of a transnational variety these days.

Corporations with tentacles in just about all countries who pay taxes in none.

Dangerous, stupid, ignorant ideas and the people who believe them also show complete disregard for nominal national boundaries.

And, no, I am not referring just to the usual terrorist bogey men! Christianist sharia law, anyone?

In any case, having briefly surveyed the surrounding Lygon St options and then engaging the staff in some pleasant chat, I am delighted to sit back, chill out and generally have a ball for an hour’s worth of lunch time at  La Parisienne Pates.

This is a splendid temple to all things French, with dazzling displays of lollie water, mustards, jams, pates, snags of many kinds, cheeses, sweeties and so on, including cassoulet that appears to be incredibly rich and fatty but a bit of a bargain at $25 a portion.

Most of the business seems to be of the take-out variety, though up the back there are a handful of marble tables where patrons can partake in the pleasures of a simple and affordable eat-in menu.

Being in a charcuterie, I do the smart thing and order the piggy platter of the same name.

Although never big consumers of cured meats, just lately we’ve backed away even more from having them around – been a long time since chorizo was a weekly event!

So it is with an easy heart and no guilt at all that I tuck into my lunch, which looks on the diminutive side for $16.

But as is so often the case, looks are deceiving – this is a filling repast and quite a bargain.

The OK baguette bread, of which I’m told there is plenty more should I require it, teams up with a handsome, juicy slab of pork and pistachio terrine. Wowee – it’s brilliant!

The other porky bits consist of a piece apiece of three different and very fine salamis and a rolled-up slice of ham.

The odd man out is a slice of pastrami, its coriander crust providing a flavour grenade.

Unmeaty variety is provided by a single chargrilled artichoke and a handful of sour and sublimely crunchy cornichons.

Such an unapologetically fatty meal renders the knob of butter surplus to requirements.

I eat much slower than is my usual habit, savouring every delicious mouthful.

Around me, other customers are getting stuck into one-man quiches and filled baguettes.

My cafe latte and the service are outstanding.

I leave with a caramelised onion tart and a small serve of swell-looking potato salad.

There’s heaps of good stuff to eat in and around Lygon St, but you’ve got to be smart about it – it’s all to easy to stumble into one of the many options that are of profound mediocrity.

In that context, La Parisienne Pates presents as an extremely handy and tranquil alternative. 

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