Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lunching at Monsieur Marcel

Going to the Farmers Market in Los Angeles on 3rd St. & Fairfax is something I like to do when I visit the area.  It's always nice walking through the aisles of vendors, cafes, restaurants and various shops, because I get inspired by everything.  One thing that remains constant and somewhat of a tradition for me, is having lunch at Monsieur Marcel, which is located right in the middle of the market.  This gourmet food store also runs a small brasserie-style restaurant described as: " an authentic petit bistro, where we embody the idea of leisure time spent with friends, nibbling on cheese, charcuterie and a glass of wine."  I think that enjoying a leisurely lunch over something delicious (and people watching) is one of the reasons I like coming here so much.  It reminds me a bit of my time spent in Paris where I had a cafe au lait or cappuccino every single day at one of the many cafes throughout the city.  One can relax, enjoy the view and chat for quite awhile with friends.

A few weeks ago when I paid a visit to this great market, I happened to go on a day when the sky was overcast and the temperatures were not too welcoming for Southern California.  I believe we were in the mid 50° F range for several days, so I bundled up when we made our way to the market.  I know what you're thinking.  Yes, I am used to colder temperatures, but you see, whenever I go to Los Angeles during the winter, I want to have warm temperatures and sunny skies.  I long for them! 

If you've been to the market before then you know it's a very good thing to have this landmark establishment here, but if you haven't had the pleasure of visiting this little gem, I suggest you do so when you get the chance.  Stroll the market at your leisure and see what catches your eye.  You may just want a quick latte from a bakery offering the flakiest croissants or you may want to sit down to an authentic croque monsieur from Monsieur Marcel.  I hope you visit it soon.

This is one of the entrances to the Farmers Market on Fairfax.  Parking can be somewhat of a problem, but if you arrive early you may find a good spot like we did on this particular morning.  There are a lot of restaurants ranging from Asian, French & Mexican, to American seafood, Spanish tapas & Italian.  

The awning of the gourmet market has the emblematic image of a coq gaulois.  I think that's one of the reasons I like this market so much.   

The entrance to the Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market has a framed image of their label.  The market itself has many artisanal products, classic French ingredients and even their own private label merchandise.  Don't forget the wine!  They have a good selection of wines from around the world.  Unlike my state of Pennsylvania where one has to buy wine from a state store, the people of California can purchase wine at most well-stocked supermarkets.


Here is a glimpse of the seating arrangements at the petit brasserie.  You'll notice the rattan French bistro chairs grouped around the tables and the central bar.  If you sit in the bar area, the seating is situated so that you look out onto the crowds of people.  Thankfully they have space heaters which makes dining out in the open on cold days very comfortable.

I was in the mood for some spinach quiche on this day.  The generous wedge was piping hot, with a nice flaky crust and a gratineed top.  The mesclun salad with sliced radishes was tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette.  My lunch was very tasty.

By the way, they have a very comprehensive wine list to accompany whatever you happen to be eating.  Their knowledgeable staff makes it easy to pair food with wine if you aren't familiar with regions and types of grapes.  I've never been disappointed with my selections.

My friend enjoyed a beef panini with a mesclun salad as well.  His dish looked very good too, don't you think?

When you walk into the actual store you are immediately confronted with so many wonderful things.  I loved these industrial butcher-block kitchen islands which housed some of Monsieur Marcel's kitchen wares.  If you like good couscous, there are several traditional cooking vessels in several sizes to help you make the best couscous on the planet.  You'll notice the wonderful wine selection in the background.  Monsieur Marcel carries their private label wine, which I haven't had.  I'm sure it's good.

Here's a view of the other side of the store.  It's not very large, but it is very well stocked.  I like getting my Valrhona chocolate and cocoa powder from here if I happen to need it.  You can see jars of their confitures and pasta sauces.

Although I don't own any, I love the Laguiole brand of cutlery from France.  Every single one of these handmade pieces has a forged bee symbol which is a trademark of the brand.  Pricey, but worth every penny, these unique pieces are made to last a lifetime.  Knives, forks & spoons come in a variety of shapes and colors.  
The variety of salts seems endless here.  Do you want fleur de sel from the Camargue, Himalayan pink salt, Maldon sea salt or Kilauea black sea salt?  You can find it all in one spot.  Some even come with their own salt mills which makes enjoying them so simple.

Don't forget a bottle or two of extra virgin olive oil.  If you want to be environmentally savvy when shopping, pick up a few of these reusable tote bags like I did to carry your groceries.  They come in various sizes and only cost at most $2 each.  

Oh yes, don't forget one of their aprons too if you like to bake and cook.  I consider them a part of my Essential Baking Tools.


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It is a Farmers Market after all.  You will find a multitude of vendors selling the freshest fruits at reasonable prices.  Look at all that citrus!  

There are several aisles like this with open seating.  People can buy whatever one wants to eat and sit wherever there is space.  It really is nice to shop and eat in this unpretentious way.

Don't you just love this mint green enameled table?  It's very retro.

Make it a point to stop at Short Cake L.A. bakery located at the market if you're in the mood for something sweet and delicious.  The croissants are irresistibly flaky, buttery and so good (they'll shatter into a million pieces like any good Parisian croissant).  Get a couple to take home.  I like the jadeite cake stand by Mosser too.  This bakery which is run by Amy Pressman, in collaboration with Nancy Silverton and Hourie Sahakian, is superb!

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2 comments:

  1. What a wonderful place, David! I'd have to spend a whole day there, I'm afraid...as well as possibly bringing a trailer to cart home all the treasures I'd find. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  2. Haha! I can see the temptation for wanting to spend the entire day at the Farmers Market. Do make it a point of visiting that landmark if you're ever in the area.

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