Thursday, February 26, 2009
I sleep late today. I ate fish at le Dome last night, monkfish (lotte) avec truffles, turbot avec epinards et hollandaise, vouvray - fini. Funny, there is so many places to dine, and I am back to le Dome for the second time this trip - it makes me happy. I tour about my neighbourhood in the (late) morning, cafe at my local, wee bit of shopping, back to the flat for dejeuner. Then, I meet a Canadian friend who is the Paris correspondent for Art Review. He brings along an artist friend and we tour galleries in the 3rd. After our exploring, we go back to his flat to dine with his family. As my time here is drawing to a close, I have cleaned out my fridge to contribute to dinner - salmon fume, cheese, rice, wine and a few other items. We start with sardines, pickles, olives, then he makes blinis for the salmon fume, mushroom soup, squid ink risotto, fromage and poire for dessert. The children devour my leftover macaron from La Duree and perform all sorts of aerobic acts, art projects, recite poetry - their home is busy, loving and the perfect place to be spending my 2nd to last day in Paris.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, I managed to stay close to the flat, working.... but, I did manage to make my way to Rue Cler to re-visit Davilo, an Italian shop. In this small shop, I am at peace; the display of charcuterie, smoked salmon, salmon roe, prepared salads, pastas, oils, wine, pastries and cheese causes me to wimper with joy. The devil within tempts your wallet to open wide, but I am content (today) with salmon fume and lapin and pistachio terrine. In another shop I buy a quail, and in yet another shop, I buy some cauliflower. Home to the flat, where dinner is set in motion. I begin with a glass of Pouilly-Fume and the Rabbit Terrine, then a roasted Quail with Cauliflower Gratin. In many ways, this was my favourite meal in Paris.
Today, the sun was glorious and I took a few hours to walk along the Seine. Dinner plans are still in the making.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I do love jazz, and Paris is happy to please. I went to a club on Sunday night called Caveau de la Huchette. The history of the room goes back to 1550 and was the particular meeting place for the principal figures of the French Revolution; Danton, Marat, Robespierre etc. You can feel the history seeping through the stones and as wonderful as I felt in the room, listening to the Clarinette Connection, my imagination ran wild with thoughts of what exactly went on in these rooms so long ago. But since 1946, this historic landmark has been a jazz club and hopefully, that is what it will stay.
Monday, I spent dedicated to my work, until the late afternoon when I went for a demonstration (in French) of a machine that takes pictures of things. Does this sound like the sort of thing a Luddite would do in Paris? I then met 2 cookbook authors for dinner at a delightful bistro, Dominique Bouchet. Champagne Rose, Cauliflower Soup with Truffles, Ravioles de legumes, Macaronis de homard sur puree de champignons, Galette de pieds de cochon, Souffle chaud au Grand Marnier. Chardonnay from Beaune, Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois, Medoc, 2002.
Now, its time to hit the streets.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday morning took me to the east of Paris, adjacent to the Vincennes, which is what the Bois de Boulogne is to the west of Paris. I travelled here to lunch with new friends who were introduced to me by a very good friend in Vancouver. Their home is in the village of Nogent sur Marne, and the street they live on is basically across the street from the city of Paris. I brought a friend with me who happened to be spending a few days in Paris. We were five, all lovers of food and wine. Our afternoon began with a glass of bubble and nibbles of saucisson sec, peanuts, root vegetable chips. Dejeuner began with a salad of lettuce, a mild goat cheese - warm - on a slice of apple, the wine was Chateau Bel-Air, Lalande de Pomerol 2001. Second course was Sauteed Prawns with basmati rice, cold tomato and cucumber, the wine was Chateau Branaire, St. Julien - Medoc 1975. ( can you believe my good fortune?) We finished the wine with the cheese course, then in a very merry mood, began our dessert course which was the most delicious chocolate gateau with a choice of two glace from Berthillon - rum and raisin or chocolate, of course we all took both. The most beautiful tasting calvados hors d'age was presented, which I declined for myself but managed to sneak a few sips from my friends glass when he was otherwise engaged in conversation. We departed around 4:30, the taxi ride back to Ile de la Cite was sleepy, followed by a delicious nap, a frisee salad with smoked salmon, and sweet dreams.
Sunday morning, I was gently brought into the day as the bells of Notre Dame sang their song of joy. I walked to the Sunday Market on Rue du Monge, which took about 25 minutes, purchased more food, took it back to the flat then met a friend at the Ritz for Sunday Brunch. The brunch is set up in a beautiful room which is otherwise used for private functions. There are many tables of food, one for viennoiserie, another for fish, another for sushi, another for salads, another for middle eastern food, a hot station where they make any egg dish you desire a la minute. The hot offerings included Duck stuffed with fois gras and Sea bass in Brioche with a sauce of crayfish. Then there was the patisserie. sigh. We drank a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, 2002.
The afternoon continued with a walk to Laduree where we purchased macaron (not sure when I will be able to actually eat them) a tour of this neighbourhood before returning to the flat for a nap.
The evening ahead I promise to be disciplined with my work, but hope to take in some jazz at a local club recommend by our server at brunch, before retiring for the night. ONLY 6 SLEEPS LEFT.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Well now, a special day indeed. I made my way to the Ritz Hotel and presented myself to the Director of the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, Dominique Potier. We took lunch with a mutual friend outside of the hotel, but the real treat of the day was going back to the hotel for a tour of the kitchens and cooking school. Did you know the kitchens of the Ritz were the inspiration for the kitchen in the film Ratatouille? We had cafe and miniature eclairs in the Bar Vendome (The Hemingway Bar does not open until 6:30 pm which is a must on my list before I return home). The Ritz is a very elegant experience. Then off to explore some more food shops, purchase more food and wine then back to the flat to cook dinner with a friend who cooks much better than me, so I trust the evening will result in a few recipes for the book.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Today I - well we actually- play tourists. Tour Eiffel. The sky is brilliant and the queue is manageable, and only in my dreams could I have imagined the view I experienced from this historic structure. My tour guide slowly walks us around the 2nd landing while describing every notable landmark. ( I can only hope the pictures are as grand as my memory will be) We leave the tower and walk a short distance to Rue Cler, an amazing market street where we purchase ingredients to cook our dinner. I cannot begin to list the items we came away with, but I envision a full and long evening of eating very well, with a wee bit of wine. But what I can tell you is that when we returned to the flat, our afternoon tea consisted of: Mortadella, Andouille de Guemmene, et Pate de tete, the wine was a South African Sauvignon Blanc - a wonderful wine cost: 10 Euros from Nicolas....
Have I told you I loved Paris?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I have been in Paris for 2 weeks now, and finally made my way to Librairie Gourmande today. It is a very nice cookbook shop, some wonderful old books (en francais) and a few new publications in English. I did not purchase today, but have made a list for the next visit. This shop is on 2 floors, a woman sits at a desk on the first floor, and another woman sits at a desk on the second floor. It is quiet, no music and no Master Holmes about to offer you a cup of tea or comical observations. Do I sound a bit homesick?
Monday was a day of cooking, writing and ending the day at a literary cafe (les editeurs in the 6th) with friends for a bottle of wine. And Sunday, new friends took me to the country to scour flea markets. That was good fun and included lunch from a catering truck which was a delicious sandwich of merguez sausage with dijon mustard on baguette.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Coq au vin from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
3 to 4 oz. chunk of lean bacon
2 Tbsp. butter
2 1/2 to 3 lb. cut-up frying chicken
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup cognac
3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock, or canned beef bouillon
1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
12 to 24 brown-braised onions
1/2 lb. sauteed mushrooms
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. softened butter
Remove the rind and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4 inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry.
Saute the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned (temperature of 260 degrees for an electric skillet). Remove to a side dish.
Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole (360 degrees for the electric skillet).
Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
Uncover and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for serveral seconds until the flames subside.
Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Simmer the cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off fat. Then raise heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.
Blend the 3 Tbsp. flour and 2 Tbsp softened butter together into a smooth paste (beurre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it, and baste with the sauce. If the dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot through.
Serve from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.
For 4 to 6 people
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Baking is a delicious way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Mark Holmes treats us every weekend here at Barbara-Jo's with various sweet delights he prepares. A couple of weekends ago it was the warm creamy comfort of sweet aromatic vanilla rice pudding with raspberries and thyme. The recipe is from the cookbook Maze by Jason Atherton. Maze is one of Gordon Ramsay's fine dining restaurants in London where Jason Atherton is the Executive Chef. If you didn't get a chance to taste this fine pudding last Sunday at the store, make it at home with the recipe below!
Warm Vanilla Rice Pudding
with raspberries and thyme (Serves 4-6)
500g whole milk 180g pudding rice
500g double cream 1 vanilla pod, split seeds scraped
135g caster sugar 2 large egg yolks
Put the milk, cream and 90g of the sugar into a heavy-based pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Tip in the rice and vanilla seeds and pod. Simmer very slowly for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the rice is tender, or cooked to your liking. Give the mixture a stir every once in a while to prevent the rice from catching and burning on the bottom of the pan.
Take the pan off the heat and remove the vanilla pod, then cover the surface with cling film and leave to stand for 15-20 minutes. The cling film will help prevent a skin from forming on top of the pudding.
Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and remaining 45g sugar in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Using a hand-held electric whisk, beat the mixture until it is pale and thickened. Fold this through the rice pudding.
If serving warm, immediately spoon into warm bowls and top with the raspberries and thyme jam.
Raspberry and Thyme Jam(Makes about 200g)
80g caster sugar
1 thyme sprig, leaves only
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously to begin with to dissolve the sugar. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until any juices released from the raspberries have evaporated and the raspberry mixture has taken on a jammy consistency. To test if the jam is ready, check the temperature with a sugar thermometer: it should register 104 degrees Celsius.
While still warm, push the jam through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard the seeds and thyme leaves. Leave to cool completely, cover the bowl with cling film and chill until ready to use.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I have been in Paris for one week, the past days have felt like a dream, but now, I truly believe I am here. I walked to Dehillerin today. This shop was established in 1820 and I am sure it looks the same today as it did then. I purchased an asparagus server, a tart server and an olive scoop. For days, I have listened to the bells of Notre Dame chiming, I stare at the roof and steeple, but have not allowed myself to get too close. In the sunlight today, the church was bathing in its glory, so I just couldn't resist actually touching the walls. Maybe tomorrow, I will go inside. I did make the five minute walk from my flat into another magical landmark - Shakespeare and Co. And can you imagine, I bought a previously enjoyed out of print cookbook from Scotland. I discovered a new shopping street today, filled my bag with good food and am now about to prepare dinner (my own concoction) for a friend.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Fat has been one of the most controversial books to grace our shelves this past year. With refreshing philosophies on why fat is a necessary element to a healthy diet, Fat succeeds at dousing our fear of the misunderstood ingredient with unique recipes and tantalizing photographs.
Join Jennifer on March 11th when she receives the coveted sterling silver Brussels sprout in honour of her deserving book. Local artist Robert Chaplin hand-crafted the sprout which has become a symbol of the annual Sprouts Awards. We are pleased to announce that ticket proceeds will be donated to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre to help in the Cultch's quest to preserve and encourage our cultural community. Cost: $75.00. To register, please call 604-688-6755.
I made my way to the Arc de Triomphe this morning to meet a friend for petit-dejeuner, then proceeded to marche back to my flat. This took about 2 hours, breaking my journey for a stroll through the Hotel Crillion and a cafe longue. Aujourd'hui, il pleut beaucoup et tres gris - tres February, mais, still beautiful. I was ready for a good lunch when I returned and there was some lovely provisions in the refrigerator from my shopping on Saturday at la grande epicerie. I enjoyed a composed plate of baby rocket, avocado, ham, tongue with pistachios, cherry tomatoes, fromage and frozen grapes. Dinner this evening consisted of rabbit sausages, braised with fennel, garlic, white wine and cherry tomatoes. Now, it is 9:00 pm and I am meeting a friend for a glass of wine, because that's just what you do in Paris, go out late on a rainy Monday night.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Dimanche and the bells of Notre Dame ring triple duty. I am truly blessed with a flat that must be in the quietest neighbourhood of Paris and to date, the music of these bells is all I require for my entertainment. Petit dejeuner - pamplemousse, poire, fromage, pain et yoghurt.
A walk through the Isle Saint Louis takes me to my new local for cafe, then off to Le Dome for lunch with a spirited French man and many elegant ghosts. Hemingway in particular, approved of my choice of monk fish liver and turbot avec hollandaise sauce. The chef presented an amuse of risotto with black truffles and seared scallop complete with its roe. No dinner ce soir, not quite so hungry any more.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Saturday in Paris, with a Parisian. The day started with cafe et pain and the french lesson. A walk in the SNOW, the metro to a wonderful restaurant - le clos des gourmets -where we dined on Scrambled Eggs with Truffles, Salade avec Celery chips and beet puree, steak tartare with celeriac remoulade, roasted calamari with polenta, roast chicken and patates, fromage and Paris Brest, a bottle of wine, cafe. I have dined at this restaurant before and it was as delicous the second time as the first, probably better today as sharing the experience and the food was terribly pleasant. Then off to the cinema to see a movie I had no time to see in Vancouver. Slum Dog Millionaire. Loved it. Then off to la grande epicerie, the most marvelous food emporium I have visited.
sigh. This is a good sigh.
Friday, February 6, 2009
The chef does everything from cooking, serving, dishes and selling the cigarettes. Food was good, wine was good, Paris is good.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Laura is beloved in many kitchens for her approachable take on French cooking that she demonstrates on her Food Network show French Food at Home. Now, Laura has shared those magnifique techniques in her new book French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating. French Taste evokes the beauty and refinement of French cuisine with exquisite photographs, but the recipes stay true to Laura's belief that French cooking can remain free of pomp and circumstance.
Tonight, guests will have the opportunity to ask Laura questions about her experiences in food. Attendees will receive a copy of French Taste which Laura will happily sign at the reception following the film. Laura has selected one of her favourite European films which she will introduce to commence the evening. Cost: $75.00. Please call 604-688-6755 to reserve your seat at Laura's movie night. Bon appetit!