When honeymooning in Paris, don't forget to order the cauliflower
We made quite a few rookie mistakes as first-time Paris visitors. But one thing we didn't flake on? Having a meal at Miznon.
After months of planning, saving, budgeting, bargaining and furious coupon-cutting, it's quite the treat to find yourself strolling the streets of the most romantic city in the world, hand-in-hand with the one you love, gazing up at a breathtaking parade of ancient architectural wonders and stunning cultural artifacts.
The joy lingered for the two of us that week, the first leg of our European honeymoon. It lingered even through all those times we discovered that we'd taken a wrong turn and gotten ourselves lost. It lingered when we nearly broke our luggage in half trying to squeeze through the turnstile in the Metro station. It lingered when we spent 45 minutes trying to exit said Metro station only to realize we'd gotten off at the wrong stop. It lingered when we went looking for an early dinner and ended up with a coffee and a baguette.
OK, so we were those tourists. The clumsy, clueless, hopelessly awkward American strangers-in-a-strange-land, trying to make our way through Paris without losing our way, our wallets and our whereabouts. Indeed, we made more than our share of rookie mistakes.
But there's one thing we got right. So very, very right.
We found Miznon.
To be fair, I'd been briefed on this gem already, so I wasn't thrown by its presence. Here at the Israeli Kitchen channel, we've been singing the praises of pita-centric Miznon since writer Zach Pontz visited its flagship Tel Aviv shop back in 2016. There's been a sort of mystique surrounding chef/owner Eyal Shani, the wild-haired, enigmatic Israeli known as the "Cauliflower King," who's responsible for turning this humble vegetable into a culinary powerhouse. It's been featured in The New York Times, and award-winning chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Alon Shaya have raved about it.
"What's probably most impressive about Shani's recipe is its simplicity," Pontz said at the time. "All it involves is cooking a small- to medium-sized cauliflower in salted water and then letting it drain. Then you douse it in olive oil and stick it in the oven. That's about it ... But oh, is it good."
You can order the cauliflower whole, just as nature intended, on a plate, with a fork. Or, you can get it in a warm, fluffy, housemade pita, with flavorful sauces and complementary veggies. If meat's what you fancy, there's no shortage of beef and lamb pitas on the menu, too.
Fast forward to June 2019. We'd been pleasantly roaming about Le Marais, a neighborhood in Paris known for its high concentration of falafel shops and other Israeli-Mediterranean flair, for most of the afternoon. And we were getting hungry.
So what better place for a couple of hungry honeymooners to wander into than the undisputed kingdom of cauliflower?
My husband, admittedly, is not much of a cauliflower eater. In our house, it's usually an afterthought, a simple side dish to round out a meaty entree. So the idea of ordering this as a mealtime centerpiece? Yeah, it took some convincing.
But after one bite, the skeptic became an unofficial ambassador. "Don't forget to order the cauliflower," he advised some unwitting guests who'd just wandered in. "It's life-changing."
I, on the other hand, preferred stuffing my face to confronting strangers. Fork-full of steaming-hot cauliflower in one hand, overflowing pita in the other. I trusted that any other clueless tourist (and there were many) who would happen by this unpretentious outpost would be lured first by its aroma, followed immediately by its charm, and ultimately won over at first bite, just like we were.
So, bellies full, we could now proceed with our trek through the City of Light, tethered to Uber and GPS, by turns bewildered and humbled by our surroundings. And, periodically turning to each other to reflect on the ingenuity and beautiful simplicity of a meal at Miznon.
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Related Topics: Healthy eating