Perhaps, if I live to be 107, I might (maybe, maybe) get around to labeling and organizing my pictures. Of course, given that I can barely place the pictures I've got now, the odds are good that I'd make a complete hash of it then. I was searching my pix for something that I'd made a few months ago - an apple cookie - and while I didn't find it, I did come across this. Again. It's a dessert that I had this summer at Semilla (rue de Seine, Paris 6). I couldn't get over it when I saw it - it was at once so simple and so startling - and I had the same sense of delight when the picture came up on the screen now. It's a perfect example of how something very basic can be made surprising. In this case (if I remember it correctly), it's a double ganache: a layer of matcha green tea ganache covered with a layer of dark chocolate ganache. Just before bringing the dessert to the table, the pastry chef ran a spoon through the layers, exposing the two tones and turning the spoonful over so that, depending on your perspective, it formed a spinning top or a curling wave. With that one motion, something simple became something dramatic. It was all in the wrist ... and the chef's imagination.
Trompe l'oeil food, food that literally 'fools the eye' because it looks like one thing but is another, has been around for centuries. While I'd guess it was at its most elaborate in the French courts, I'd bet that once people could stop worrying about where they'd be able to hunt or gather their next meal, they began to play tricks with their food.
This 'garden' of radishes is more rustic than courtly, more fun than fussy and very delicious. I'm sorry that the photo isn't better, but it's hard to focus while you're grinning and listening to the happy oohs from around the table. The dish of radish-leaf puree, colorful radishes and cocoa 'dirt' was served with aperitifs at Le Comptoir in Paris, where most people, with or without trompe l'oeil radishes, are usually happy to be around the table.
While there are still summer radishes in the market, it's a dish to make and serve with a smile and to smiles.
As with so many dishes like this, I don't have a 'real' recipe, just an outline of how I'd make it. Well, that's not exactly true ... I've got a recipe for the crumbs. If you'd like, cut back on the sugar. Instead of 1/3 cup brown sugar, go with just 2 tablespoons. The crumbs will be bitter, but hey ... dirt probably is too.
When you're out shopping for - or picking - your radishes, choose ones with unblemished (or in the case of my garden, uneaten) leaves. The leaves are just as important as the radishes here.
Wash and dry the leaves, chop them coarsely and puree them with sea salt, pepper and olive oil. If you'd like, you can make the puree into a pesto: add pine nuts and some grated Parmesan. Taste, fix the salt and pepper levels and chill, if you'd like and have time.
At Le Comptoir, the dish was served family-style and I like that -- think of it as a communal garden. Puree/pesto on the bottom of the bowl, radishes on top, a scattering of pine nuts and a handful of dirt.
If you’re lucky, you live in a place where tomatoes are still in season. If not, hold on to this idea for next year and accept my apologies for being so late posting it.
We’ve had the best run of tomatoes ever this summer in Paris. Yes, the supermarket still has the same perfectly round, perfectly red, perfectly firm and sadly flavorless tomatoes they have year-round, but the farmers at the markets have had beauties – red and yellow and green, round, oval, palmable, petite, pointy-tipped, pleated and sometimes gnarly. And we’ve been like greedy kids with them, buying them daily and eating them at just about every meal, and sometimes just as a snack – there’s little better than a thick slice of a ripe, dripping-with-juice tomato sprinkled with fleur de sel, unless it’s that slice of tomato on a piece of buttered bread.
My daily tomato salad is a simple one: sliced or wedged tomatoes, salt, freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. At the last minute, and depending on what I’m serving with the salad, I might add a few drops of thick balsamic vinegar (or Saba), some torn basil, some snipped chives or thinly sliced new white onions, rinsed in cold water (to remove the bitter ‘juice’) and patted dry.
If there are a few slices leftover, I save them – I can’t bear to toss something delicious – but the truth is, a day old tomato that’s been salted and vinegared and oiled is a sorry affair. But not an unuseful one: a couple of whirrs of the blender and yesterday’s leftovers become the ideal vinaigrette for today’s salad.
...Continue reading Yesterday's Tomatoes, Today's Vinaigrette: A Recipe for Thrift and Tastiness
This is not the prettiest picture I've ever posted, but it's a useful one: it's my Rube Goldberg contraption for keeping fresh herbs fresh for days. And it's simple.
As soon as you get the herbs home from the market - or the garden - cut the stems, as you would for flowers, put the bouquet in fresh water and cover the set-up with a plastic bag. Cut the stems and change the water daily and you're good. If my bag is big, I'll criss-cross the handles under the vase; if it's short, I'll put a rubberband around it; and if I forget, it seems to be just fine, too.
I leave my 'greenhouse' at room temperture, but you can stow it in the refrigerator - just be careful: messy mishaps are not uncommon ... I know.
The Pont des Arts, a new Lovers' Lane
For many years, the Pont des Arts was the only pedestrian bridge to cross the Seine in Paris. It went from the Institut de France on one side, to the Louvre on the other and its well-worn wooden slats would clack as bicycles passed over them. It was a favorite place for picnickers – still is; and a destination for sunset watchers – still is. For my family, it is where we watch the new year come in. The one big party a year that we throw is a New Year’s Eve dinner and, no matter what point we’re at in dinner, when the clock nears midnight, we grab bottles of Champagne and glasses, bundle up and head to the bridge, where we have to jostle to get a place among the revelers. On years when there are fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, the bridge is a good viewing spot. And every year, it’s the best place to wish your family, friends and neighbors a Bonne Annee.
...Continue reading A Great Neighborhood, Paris-Style: Part 2
For the past 15 years, my husband, Michael, and I have lived (part-time) in Paris's Sixth Arrondissement. And just about every day that I'm here, I go somewhere and I say, "This is what makes life in Paris so wonderful!" Michael can just about cue the line -- I'm nothing if not reliable -- but no matter how many times I exclaim it, I mean it each time. And so I thought I'd start cataloging some of the spots in my 'hood that make living here so wonderful. Think of them as a very biased guide to the Sixth.
L'AVANT-COMPTOIR: Neighborhood Hang-Out; Foodlovers' Destination
Every great neighborhood - at least a Paris neighborhood - needs a great bar. A place with terrific wines, wonderful little things to eat and a barman who knows you, knows what you like and has glasses out and a new wine for you to discover even before you get to 'your spot' at the bar (Michael and I always claim the end of the bar). The bar is l'Avant-Comptoir, the barman in the picture is Eric Guibert (I was sorry not to get Thomas in this photo - it was his day off) and the new wine, a Clos Siguier Cahors, was so nice that we bought what was left in the bottle and served it to friends at home that night.
There are no seats in L'Avant-Comptoir and no need for them. There's also never a lot of elbow room, but there's no need for that either. As soon as you get in, you're part of the family. And, no matter what language you speak, you'll make a new best friend -- it's impossible not to end up chatting with your barmates and often irresistible not to share some of your food.
Don't miss the croquettes, the grilled peppers, the brandade (it's so, so good), the charcuterie and anything that's on the blackboard.
Friends were stopping by for a too-fast hello and a drink last night and I was prepared: I’d put wine in the refrigerator, bought nuts and some peppery dried sausage (saucisson sec) cut nibbling thin. But an hour before they were due to arrive, I felt like making something for them. The problem: I’m in Paris for a quick work trip and there isn’t much in the way of ‘raw materials’ in the house.
...Continue reading NUTS: They're what to make when friends are coming
Once Mireille Guiliano added ‘French women don’t get fat’ to the American lexicon, it’s been impossible for me not to think about the line whenever I’m in Paris. The city is filled with treasures small, smaller and tiny. But, if you’ll forgive the pun (it’s so irresistible), the pastry chef Sadaharu Aoki takes the cake.
Ranged along the shelf that runs the length of his thin-as-a-reed patisserie on rue Vaugirard are a series of packed-to-go sweets; small packs perfect for gifts or for elegant snacking. The further into the shop you walk, the more petit the pastries seem to become, until you find this chocolate cake
Found in the section labeled ‘gouter’ – think after-school snack – the treat weighs one-half ounce and costs 80 cents (Euro) or $1.07. It’s two bites worth of fun and, given how tiny an espresso is here, it’s just enough to get you through a shot of Joe. Looking larger, but weighing in at only 5 grams more, is the chocolate sandwich cookie. Although they look as though they could have been made in an Easy-Bake Oven, they’re as perfect as everything else in the shop – just mini, mini, mini.
...Continue reading Paris Report: Small is beautiful, cute and delicious, too
Here’s the conundrum: I haven’t been posting, so you haven’t seen me but, in fact, I’ve been out and about more than ever. Uptown and downtown. Baking cookies and selling cookies. Dashing around town for meetings. And traveling. As a writer, I always tell people that I work in a cocoon, a comfy one that includes a kitchen and a desk. But ever since the birth of Beurre & Sel, I’ve had to get out of my yoga pants and into town. And you know what? It’s been great! I’ve loved meeting so many people who love cookies the way that I do.
Thank you, thank you to all of you who came to visit us at La Marqueta and the Essex Street Market. And merci to all you visited us online and who entrusted us with sending stacks of cookies to your friends and families, clients, colleagues and holiday hosts. It’s been a really exciting fall (yeah, yeah, a little exhausting too) and we’re all geared up for winter and getting ready for Valentine’s Day. (Wait until you see what I’m baking for it!)
...Continue reading Epiphany: It's a New Year and it just might be a good one ...
There have been so many moments over the past month or so that I've wanted to post a photo and just share a tidbit with you, but ... And so, here's a hodge-podge of stuff, in no particular order and for no reason other than fun.
Six people, 17 cheeses, crisp white wine, good conversation and lots and lots of great information from smart, funny Meg Zimbeck, our cheese tour leader from Paris by Mouth. Meg is a friend and Paris by Mouth (to which I am an occasional contributor) is one of my go-to sites for information on Paris restaurants and food shops. Now it's the site I send people to when they tell me they're interested in taking a food tour of my favorite city. Meg does great chocolate and pastry tours, but one Wednesday, cheese was on the agenda and I happily became part of the group. We toured Androuet on rue du Bac, Barthelemy on rue de Grenelle and Saunders in the St Germain des Pres covered market, buying perfectly aged or pristinely fresh cheese at each stop. And then we filed into Bacchus et Ariane in the covered market, told Georges Casellato, the proprietor, that we wanted white wine that would be both right for the cheese and for the 90 degrees F weather, pulled up a table outside the shop and tasted and tasted and tasted and tasted. This was learning at its best.
I told you this would be random. Here's Michael, my husband, neatly pitting cherries without a cherry-pitter. His homemade technique: He pushed the pits out with a chopstick ... gently, of course. All in aid of my making streusel-topped cherry tartlets with whole cherries.
...Continue reading Catching Up: Paris
I’m a whimsical jammer, meaning I make jam whenever the whim strikes. I don’t plan for jamming, I don’t have special equipment or written-down formulas. I don’t have a jam philosophy and I’m pretty sure I don’t have a jam gene. What I do have is an inordinately grand sense of pride (bordering on shock and awe) when I put fruit in a pot and it becomes jam. For me, jam lives in the realm of the fabulous and I’m always astonished when I can conjure it into reality.
The urge to make jam hit last week in what might be called a double whammy (or whimmy): First, I read my friend David Lebovitz’s post about apricot jam; and then I went to the market and the fruit man gave me a sack of apricots, all very, very ripe and each with its top cut off – they were the apricots he’d used as samples during the morning.
These weren’t the apricots I’d set out to buy nor was jam what I had on the menu, but in the true spirit of the idealized French housewife, the one who doesn’t know what she’s going to make for dinner until she sees what’s in the market, I brought my stash home and pulled out a large pot.
For so many years, I didn’t make jam because I was sure that I’d poison anyone who spread even a lick of it over toast – just about every recipe for jam that I ever looked at when I was first learning how to cook mentioned botulism at least once in the first sentence. And then, a few summers ago, I shook off the kitchen nightmares and decided to make jam whenever the whim struck. And, in the beginning, I made small batches, stored them in the fridge and ate them quickly. I’ve since progressed to ‘real’ jam, but I still love the quick eat-em-now preserves and so I went quick with my apricots and, you know what, the jam went quick(ly) too – a couple of breakfasts, a couple of gifts to friends and whoosh, all gone … only the smiles and thanks lingered on.
Here’s what I did … kind of:
...Continue reading Apricot Jam: A Homemade Paris Treat
Often in life and so often in food, it's the little things that count ... a lot, which is why I was so struck by the difference a generous sprinkle of crisp chocolate crumbs made. And I was struck twice in the same evening.
Michael and I started our evening at Fish La Boissonerie, where the new chef is making light, beautiful and really, really delicious food. After so much good food, we decided to share a dessert: chocolate ice cream with warm cherries ('tis the season here) and chocolate crumbs, lots of them covering the ice cream and the fruit. The chocolate and cherries were a classic combo, but the crumbs made it memorable.
Happy -- and sated -- we said goodnight to Mateo at the bar and headed home, wondering how it had gotten to be almost midnight. As we passed Le Comptoir, we waved to Mao at the bar and she grabbed us and said, "You have to come in and taste the new dessert." Before I could get "Thank you, but ... " out of my mouth, we were tucked into a table.
Remind me to never say 'no'. Why would I have said 'no' to this (sorry for the fuzzy picture, but it'll give you the idea):
What you're looking at is a very light and foamy chocolate mousse, cherries, coffee flavored crisps and the crumbs.
Seeing the crumbs twice in one night -- twice in less than an hour -- felt like permission to declare it a trend. And so (remember, you heard it here first)" I hereby declare chocolate crumbs a Parisian trend.
Of course I had to make my own crumbs the next day. Sadly, I didn't have my favorite cocoa -- Valrhona, which is wonderfully dark -- so my crumbs aren't as dark as Fish's or Le Comptoir's, but they were mighty tasty on top of: a strawberry tart,; coffee ice cream; and yogurt mousse.
I also caught Michael just nibbling on them, une bonne idee! I made my crumbs 'straight,' but the recipe lends itself to spicing up -- try adding cinnamon or allpsice or even vanilla.
If you make the crumbs (the recipe follows) -- and, of course I hope you will -- let me know how you use them.
...Continue reading A Sweet Paris Trend: Cocoa Crumbs (and a recipe to play with)
...Continue reading Asparagus: The way I'm cooking them these days
I just got back to Connecticut where, in the few weeks I was gone, spring seems to have swept through, waved her magic wand and brought everything into bloom. It's beautiful, but I'm not sure I'm ready for it, since my head is still filled with Paris.
The words for 'spring' and 'asparagus' could be synonymous in Paris. As soon as the first crop of asparagus turn up in the market, they turn up on menus all over town. This dish was part of an extraordinary tasting menu at Le Comptoir du Relais. Two perfectly cooked aspargus were paired with a lobster raviole and shellfish foam. If I didn't know that there were lots more wonderful dishes on their way, I think I might have screwed up my courage and asked for a second serving.
I thought these lemon meringue tarts at La Grande Epicerie looked like aerial shots of FantasyLand. (Not that La Grande Epicerie, the specialty food market at Le Bon Marche department store, isn't its own kind of fantasyland ... ) A practical friend saw this picture and wondered how anyone could get one of these beauties home unscathed. Me? I wondered what the best plan of attack would be for devouring the towers.
...Continue reading Paris: A few more pictures, a few more memories
A few random pictures from the past week ...
Hello Kitty comes to Laduree and the crowds go wild! I'm not a Hello Kitty fan, but even I couldn't resist the draw of the adorable.
While the fashion look of the moment is down jackets, mufflers and mittens, it's still officially spring and very officially asparagus season. This dish, a triumph, was the first of five on Septime's tasting menu last week. It's a pair of asparagus, topped with lard de Colonnata, often called lardo and once described to me as white prosciutto, crispy toasted bread crumbs, parsley and shallot vinaigrette.
When was the last time you had a souffle? I don't usually order them in restaurants -- although I love to make them at home -- but a friend told me that I had to finish my meal at Le Pantruche with their Grand Marnier souffle and she was right. It was beautifully made, perfectly cooked and super served with caramel sauce.
And more ...
...Continue reading Paris: Sweet and Savory, Beautiful and Funny
Those of us who loved Patricia Wells’s Food Lover’s Guide to Paris loved it so much that, chubby as it was, we’d pack and re-pack our carry-on bags just to make sure there was room for it. It was impossible to think of traveling to Paris without it. Sans the guide, how would we know which tea shop was the best in each neighborhood? Which cheese shop? And, of course, which restaurant? When the guide went out of print, foodlovers mourned its passing, although some us still kept it on the shelf to flip through just for the pleasure of it.
I had lunch yesterday with my friend Julia at Septime. Correction: I had an absolutely lovely lunch with Julia at Septime. We opted for the 5-course tasting menu -- an option I wouldn't have taken without her urging and I'm delighted she insisted. Each dish was a surprise (there's no printed menu for the tasting) and each was just the right size, that being large enough to taste everything fully and small enough to leave you happily anticipating the next plate.
Septime's bar is right at the door, so as soon as I walked in I was greeted by a reminder of New York, my other home: rows of (empty and almost-empty) Hudson Baby Bourbon, made up-river in Gardiner, NY. When I mentioned to the barman that I was surprised to see the bourbon in Paris, he said: Of course you are, because it is tres, tres difficult to get. And then he winked, making me wonder just how he got it. Those sly French guys ...
THIS JUST IN FROM NEW YORK CITY: My friend, Tony Fortuna, owner of TBAR (1278 Third Avenue), wrote to say that he's got Sheep Dip and Pig's Nose whiskies at the bar. Cheers!
My friends, Juan Sanchez and Drew Harre, who own three places that are among my favs in my Paris 'hood -- the restaurants Fish and Cosi (the original; Drew started it over 20 years ago and it's still just one place, not a chain, in the rue de Seine) and the wine shop, La Derniere Goutte -- now have a fourth, the newly sprouted Semilla, Spanish for 'seed'.
Michael and I arrived in Paris Tuesday morning and that night we nabbed a seat at Semilla and had a dish that I would like to have every day that I'm here and then make every day when I'm not. It's listed on the menu under the heading "Plancha" (a flat-top grill) and described simply and accurately: Shiitake, roasted sesame oil. The mushrooms are cooked on the plancha and then finished with Asian sesame oil, salt, chives and a dribblet of olive oil. So simple; so fabulous!
Then, as we were leaving, we ran into Michael Kennedy, owner of The Moose, a local sports pub that's always jam-packed with happy revelers. He was with friends, including Alex Nicol, who had a surprise in his briefcase: his first bottle of Sheep Dip Amoroso Oloroso from Spencerfield Spirit. Spencerfield makes, among other spirits, Edinburgh Gin, Pig's Nose blended Scotch Whisky and a 'regular' Sheep Dip, a malt whisky. (I know, I know, what a name!) But this Sheep Dip is different ... very different. It was distilled in Scotland, aged in bourbon casks for 3 years and then it went to Sanchez Romate, in Jerez, Spain (Sherry territory), where Alex says, "it was forgotten for 9 years!" before it returned to Scotland to be bottled last month.
...Continue reading Paris: Shiitakes, Sheep Dip and California Burgers
NOTE: Judy Mayer, commenting on my Facebook Page, just pointed out that this recipe, because it doesn't contain wheat, is perfect for Passover, which is coming up soon. Judy, you're right. Thank you.
I’m chugging away on a new book, the one my husband is calling Around My French Oven. It’s going to be very much like Around My French Table, in that the recipes will come from or be inspired by my life in France, but this time the subject is baking and sweets: Cookies and gateaux, tarts and tourtes and galettes and creams and cremes and pastries and maybe a few things made with yeast too. It’s exciting and it’s fabulously interesting to learn more about regional sweets and about what French make at home. In case you’re wondering … what French people bake at home are desserts that are very, very, very simple.
...Continue reading Almond Baby Cakes, Gluten-Free ... Naturally
AND THE WINNER IS: The contest closed March1 at midnight ET and the random number generator came up with 167, which makes Samantha the winner. Congratulations Samantha and THANK YOU all for your wonderful comments. Reading your thoughts on the word 'bistro' was as lovely as reading French Bistro Seasonal Recipes. Merci encore - xoDorie
Note: All (of the amazing) photographs in this post are by Christian Sarramon. They are from French Bistro, Seasonal Recipes, by Bertrand Auboyneau and Francois Simon (Flammarion, 2011) and used by permission.
...Continue reading French Bistro: A Great Cookbook, A Great Giveaway
Thank goodness for Twitter. Without Twitter -- and given that I've had (and will continue to have) my head in oven baking CookieBar treats -- I might have missed this global celebration. And that would have been a shame, because Nutella is something I always have in my pantry, there for when I need a sweet pick-up-me and there when I want to pick-up the wow factor of a sweet. Spread a layer of Nutella under an already fabulous chocolate ganache tart and it becomes fabulouser. And who doesn't love thinking they're getting one thing and discovering that there's a surprise layer?
Nutella was created in Italy in the 1940s, when chocolate was in short supply in the country and hazelnuts were plentiful. Since then, it's become a staple in countries around the world. In Paris, I have only one friend who, like the rest of everyone I know there, doesn't have at least one jar of Nutella in the house. He says he doesn't stock it because if he had it in the house, he'd eat too much of it. And then he comes to my house and, saying he shouldn't, eats anything I make with Nutella and then has seconds.
So here's my easy, but truly delicious contribution to World Nutella Day, a recipe that comes from Paris and from Paris's most famous pastry chef, Pierre Herme, a Nutella lover.
...Continue reading World Nutella Day: Spreading the Love Around (and on bread)
If I ever passed a bake sale without buying something, it could only been because I didn’t see it. I love bake sales and I love them pretty much indiscriminately, although I love them most when there are kids involved, as there almost are.
...Continue reading Paris Bake Sale/New York City Dreams
While the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers have finished every recipe in Baking From My Home to Yours, news of their accomplishments goes on. First, there was the story in the Washington Post, and then yesterday the online baking group was the topic of my conversation with Neal Conan, host of one of my favorite NPR programs, Talk of the Nation.
When what you do is considered the 'talk of the nation', you know you've accomplished something! Congratulations -- again and again -- Laurie Woodward, TWD's founder, and Julie Schaeffer and every baker who joined the group. And thank you Neal and your producers for recognizing the extraordinary nature of the group, its accomplishments and the communtiy it created.
You can listen to the segment or download it from Talk of the Nation. You'll also find the recipe for my Prune-Amagnac Cake, also know as The Cake That Got Me Fired.
For those of you who missed the fun of baking along with the TWD community, you've got another chance:
...Continue reading NPR's Talk of the Nation: Tuesdays with Dorie, A Community in the Kitchen
January 6, Epiphany, was the official day for the French Galette des Rois, or King’s Cake, but Parisian pastry shops and bakeries (this picture was taken at Gerard Mulot) had been offering versions of it, crowns included, since the day after Christmas and will still be offering them in the days to come. But here’s the thing – the word ‘galette’ has so many meanings that even though the galettes des rois will come off the shelves, there’ll always be one kind of galette or another that we’ll want to savor, even when we might not be able to figure out why it’s called a galette in the first place.
...Continue reading Galettes: So Many Kinds, All So Different, All So Delicious
Wishing all of you, and your families and those you hold dear a sparkling, joyous, sweet and delicious Christmas!
I was walking through Le Bon Marche, the only real department store on Paris's Left Bank, and was struck by the crazy number of books on the shelf about whoopie pies. Yes, yes, there are many books about madeleines and macarons -- so many, many books on macarons -- and other completely French cakes and sweets, but whoopie-pie books were getting a hefty hunk of real estate.
This isn't brand new news -- I saw (and posted about) Whoopie Pies and whoopie-pie books in Paris this spring. What's interesting today, is that the number of books has grown and the whoopie pie is still around. When the French like something, they like it for a while.
Here's the latest batch of Whoopie Pies from La Grande Epicerie (the specialty supermarket that's part of Le Bon Marche): Whoopies de Noel. Whoopie Pies have never been at the top of my must-have list, but these are awfully tempting ...
Just in time for a little Christmas dreaming, here's a video of the yule logs that some of the best pastry chefs in Paris are making for the holidays. Merci to my friends at Paris By Mouth for putting this together. If you love Paris + Food, then you probably already know Paris By Mouth. If you don't, you should -- it's a great resource for what's good in my favorite city.
Which of these would you choose for your Buche de Noel? What a hard choice, right?
(Picture from Pierre Herme website - it was so much nicer than my picture)
In no order and for no reason other than that I want to tell you a bunch of things I didn't get to tell you about over the past few weeks in Paris, here are some pix, starting with my surprise birthday cake, a gift from Pierre Herme, who came to dinner at our house with his wife, Barbara Rihl, and Apollonia Poilane on Monday. Here are all the surprise elements:
1) I was surprised to be getting a cake.
2) Pierre was surprised to find out (just as we were saying good-bye) that it was my birthday and that, ipso facto, his cake was my birthday cake.
3) The cake was one of the most surprising I've ever had -- one of the most exciting too.
I detailed the cake's 'innards' on my Facebook page, but they're worth repeating. It's also worth asking you to trust me and, of course, Pierre Herme on this one. The ingredients and combinations may sound odd, but the cake was a masterpiece. Beneath that beautiful facade and within the undulating ring of white chocolate was, from the bottom up: a hazelnut dacquoise (a meringue cake), pieces of chocolate, bits of candied grapefruit rind and, on top, a banana and avocado mousse/cream sharpened with Tabasco. I know it might be hard to imagine, but take my word for it - it was exceedingly easy to enjoy and re-confirmed, for the nine-millionth time, by belief that Pierre Herme is a genius!
...Continue reading Paris Sweets: A Photo Catch-Up
Shopping the Boulevard Raspail Market in Paris: A little late, a little lucky + a recipe from M. Fishmonger
When it’s market day, I’m up and out early. It’s not that I’m afraid that my favorite Paris Market, the one on the Boulevard Raspail, will run out of food before I’ve had the pick of the pack, it’s that still, after so many years and so many markets, I’m excited about going. No matter how good the week might be, market day usually wins as favorite day of the week.
As promised the recipe for the crumble I loved yesterday – and still love today.
...Continue reading Speculoos + Apple Crumble: The Recipe
I don't have time to write a full post now, but I do have time to tease and tempt you a little :) I'm in Paris working madly on my new book and today, after doing some shopping, Michael and I stopped into Le Bistrot des Colonnes for a quick lunch. (4 bis rue du 4 Septembre, Paris 2; metro Bourse) We knew nothing about the bistrot/cafe except that it was there when hunger struck. Our intention was to just have a quick sandwich or salad and get back to our 'hood, but the dessert du jour kept going past us and the aroma of speculoos wore down our resistance. The crumble in the picture was ours -- before we dug in. It was simplicity itself: apples and pears on the bottom, speculoos crumbs on top. Oh, and vanilla ice cream.
I've got my own apple-speculoos crumble in my own oven now as I write. More about it, the interesting woman I met in the cafe and the recipe tomorrow.
Every once in a while - of course not as often as I'd like - I get an idea for a recipe and it's perfect on the first try. Sometimes - happily less often - it's all wrong. And most of the time it's like this peach galette - really, really good and very play-aroundable. With a recipe like this one, no sooner do I make it/see it/taste it, than I think of what I can do next time.
The tart (technically, I think it should be called a galette, but ... ) is French, mostly. I've seen desserts like this one all over France, mostly in the homiest bistros and pastry shops. Mine's a work in progress, but my guess is that the ones the pros make are pretty flexible, too. There are only three essential elements: the base, a sprinkling of sopper-upper and fruit, in this case peaches. You could get fancier, but you'd have to work hard to get plainer.
...Continue reading Freestyle Peach Tart: A pleasure in progress
If I can’t remember when I first made madeleines, it’s because it was years ago. I do remember buying the fluted shell pan: I bought it at a long-gone kitchenware shop in Manhattan that I thought of as Wonderland. And I also remember that it was a splurge for me: I wasn’t in the habit of buying baking pans that could be used only for one thing … and a thing I’d never made before at that. But for me, the pan and the small cakes I’d make it in summed up all that was delicious and wonderful about France and I was obsessed with France and its food.
I used the pan endlessly. I got good at making madeleines and it turned out that my husband, Michael, and later, our son, Joshua, loved them. Since that time, my pans have changed: I’ve bought mini-madeleine pans, silicone pans and nonstick pans. What hadn’t change was the way I made the cakey cookies.
And then, last week, the earth shook, the lions roared and I learned a new (well, new to me) technique for baking madeleines and for getting a big bump on their backs.
The technique combines hot and cold and I learned it from Phillippe Conticini of Patisserie des Reves in Paris.
...Continue reading Madeleines: Always Something New to Learn
When one of you isn't super-busy over this holiday weekend, would you tell me why we Americans don't eat Steak Tartare? We eat lots of red meat and we eat it red. We eat lots of hamburgers and we eat them rare. Why won't we eat raw beef, cut into little pieces and mixed with everything we love to put in, on and under our burgers? It's a cultural mystery.
What you see in the picture, is the tartare I had last night at Cafe des Musees in Paris. I'd already started adding things to it and mixing it around, when I thought I should take a picture, so it's not easy to tell much about this pretty classic dish. I'll explain ...
At its most basic, tartare is premium-quality beef, raw, cut into small pieces.
...Continue reading Steak Tartare: Think Hamburgers for the Grill-less Set
NOTE: I first had these eggs at Braden Perkin's Hidden Kitchen in Paris (see below and see Braden's comment) and loved them. As Braden comments, he learned them from Arzak in Spain. Thank you, Braden and a big thank you to Juan Mari Arzak.
See that little bundle on top of the asparagus? It's an egg and a favorite of mine. I call it a ruffly egg because of the way the whites are folded and pleated, but it's essentially a soft-boiled egg boiled sans shell and I feel very cheffy when I make it. In fact, as I was searching for this photo, I came across one that I'd taken (with my iPhone under horrible lighting conditions -- sorry) at Uchiko in Austin, Texas. Here it is -- ruffly egg, white asparagus and summer truffles:
What you can't see in either picture is what happens when you break into the egg, but I think you can guess: The yolk breaks and runs and forms a delicious sauce. I didn't get a chance to ask the chef how he made his eggs, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did them just he way I do and if, like me, he uses the freshest organic eggs he can find. I'm in Paris now, so here I buy organic eggs that are marked "Extra," meaning that they can be eaten raw or barely cooked up until the date stamped on the box; after that they're fine for any other kind of preparation.
The eggs are so good plain, but it's fun to give them some pre-poach flavor.
...Continue reading Ruffly Eggs: So Pretty, So Good, So Play-Aroundable
A couple of years ago I discovered garlic scapes, made pesto out of the green curlicues and got a little crazy with it. I bought all the scapes I could get my hands on – which wasn’t a lot and wasn’t for long, since their season is short – made pesto like mad and packed my stash in the freezer, ready for that proverbial rainy day. This spring, I just might be doing the same thing with radish leaves! Whodda thunk?
As soon as I came back from the organic market on Boulevard Raspail with fat white asparagus and mild sweet radishes, I came across a recipe for White Asparagus with Radish-Leaf Vinaigrette. Serendipity of the delicious variety.
Maybe some of you have been using radish leaves for years. Me, I’ve been profligate. I usually snip them off and leave just an inch or so of stem, so the radishes are easy to pick up and dip into salt. But the leaves … into the compost bin they’d go.
...Continue reading Spring in Paris: White Asparagus with Radish-Leaf Vinaigrette
A couple of hours ago, while I was wandering around Paris, I posted this picture to my Twitter and Facebook accounts and asked people, "Where am I?" "Heaven" was one answer. One person thought I might be at Stephane Secco's pastry shop and another thought that perhaps it was Pierre Herme's, until someone pointed out that PH doesn't have signs in English.
I had never been to this place. In fact, I didn't even know it existed. Michael and I were walking back home from the Right Bank and, just off the rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre (closer to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs), we were stopped by the display in the window -- macarons that looked awfully good.
I mean, if you saw these, wouldn't you have to go in too? Here's what we bought: one chocolate and one raspberry macaron; one cheesecake with crunchy pieces of caramel in the crust; one lemon tart; one chocolate cupcake; and one very big American-style chocolate cookie studded with chunks of white chocolate. The bill came to 10Euros, so you know that we weren't in one of the city's fancy places.
Want to know where I was?
...Continue reading I'm in Paris ... But Where?
Cream puffs, could they be the next big thing? They already are at Popelini, a new Paris shop devoted to the little sweets. Named Popelini for the chef who came to France with Catherine deMedici in 1540 and is credited with creating pate-a-choux, cream-puff dough, the spare new boutique is not much bigger than the puffs in the display case -- and the puffs are petit. Very. They're also deeply flavorful -- the creams are velvety, luxurious, really, and full-flavored. The shop, at 29 rue Debelleyme (3rd arrondissement), is in a neighborhood that's fun to explore, so consider making a morning of it -- and I suggest you go in the morning, because by all reports the puffs vanish soon after lunch.
Popelini is off the rue de Bretagne, a great market street -- don't miss the Marche des Enfants Rouges -- and Rose Bakery is off that street in the other direction. Rose is homey and unfussy. There's a long display counter lined with the sparkling fresh ingredients that go into the salads and savory dishes, and in the morning there's a steady bustle of cooks getting ready for the lunch crowd. It's a friendly place with friendly food. I especially liked her individual carrot cake, baked in a tall timable mold -- I think it's a really nice way to give a classic cake a new look. And speaking of new looks ...
...Continue reading Bonjour Paris: Cream Puffs, Gateaux and Twists on Classics, Too
The photographs in this post were taken by Jonny Valiant for my story, Dinner in Paris, in the March issue of MORE Magazine.
I'm in love with this photograph, but then again, I'm in love with cheese, deeply, madly and almost indiscriminately in love with cheese -- if there's a cheese I don't like, I haven't found it yet. Michael and I are leaving for Paris on Tuesday and last night we talked about shopping for cheese the instant we get to town. It's like that chez us.
When the editors at MORE asked me to write about a dinner at home in Paris and to include the recipes, I was delighted. And when they said, 'include a cheese course,' I was even happier, since it's such a traditional part of a French meal. A tricky part, too. It should be simple, because all you have to do is shop for it and bring it to the table, but it's got so many rituals attached to it that it's easy for those not brought up with the rites to get a few things wrong.
More about that in a sec. First the menu.
I find everything about this dish -- small pasta (I like tubetti for it) cooked in broth and finished the way a risotto might be with cream, mascarpone and Parmesan -- delicious and deliciously quirky. It's called a risotto, but there isn't a grain of rice in it and it cooks away merrily on the stove without you having to stand over the pot and stir ceaselessly. It's French, not Italian. It can be dinner-party dressy or eaten sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the tv. And it can varied almost endlessly -- because the dish is made-up, it doesn't come with the tug of tradition: you can do whatever you want with it and neither Nonna nor Grand'mere will scold you.
If you play around with it -- and I hope you will -- let me know what you do.
Now that we're used to a sommelier and a cheesemaster and even a tea-sommelier and a selmelier, as Mark Bitterman, the salt expert, refers to himself, there's a new master in some of Paris's chicest hotels and tea salons: the millefeuille maker. One day there may be a sexier name for this person whose job it is to make millefeuille -- or what we call Napoleons -- on demand, but for now the position is so new that no one's yet gotten around to being clever about it.
I had my first a la minute millefeuille last week -- in a restaurant, the expression a la minute is used for anything that's made at the last moment -- and while I hadn't been served one before, I had heard about them. More on this later. For now, I just want you to take a look at this one, made by Sebastien Serveau, the new pastry chef at The Ritz in Paris. It's an almost classic millefeuille: it has the requisite three layers of puff pastry (at The Ritz, a new batch of puff is baked every two hours) and two layers of vanilla cream. But the cream is lighter than usual. Instead of straight pastry cream, the chef uses a creme Chibouste.
Chibouste had a pastry shop on the rue Saint-Honore in Paris and, in 1846, he created an enduring classic, the Gateau Saint-Honore, a pastry in which a cream puff ring is 'glued' to a puff pastry base with caramel, and then topped with carmel-crowned cream puffs and filled with a standard pastry cream lighted with Italian meringue (egg whites beaten with hot sugar syrup), a recipe now known as Creme Chibouste.
But back to the millefeuille ...
...Continue reading Paris's Latest Trend: Millefeuille Made a la Minute (maybe even in a minute)
In France, you have until Epiphany, January 6, to send your ‘wishes’ (your voeux) for Christmas and the New Year, so by French standards I’m almost early. Actually, by Julia Child’s standards, I’d be even earlier, since she gave up on Christmas and New Year’s cards and sent all her voeux on Valentine’s Day.
...Continue reading Paris: New Year's Eve with No Main Course and a Mousse+Pudding Mash-up
Many years ago, as in maybe 20, I was in Paris and writing a story about chestnuts for The New York Times. (Actually, it was because of that story that I first met Pierre Hermé.) And, with chestnuts on the brain, I saw chestnuts everywhere, not just in cans (whole, pureed and sugared and creamed) or in cakes, or on the street being roasted and then wrapped up in newspaper cones, but as decorations in all kinds of shop windows, from the local cobbler to the chicest bijouterie. The chestnut, in its prickly cocoon and burnished shell, is beautiful and window designers must treasure it not just for its looks, but for its sweet evocation of fall in the city.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that food is used in window displays here in Paris in every season. One Christmas, the Hermès windows showed Kelly bags and festooned cakes. And macarons are everywhere. For the longest time there was a huge macaron on the sign above an artists’ supply shop on the Quai Voltaire.
This year, the billboard that caught my attention paired a famous food with a famous food shop: the food is an éclair and the shop, the legendary Fauchon, which, over the past few years, while everyone else was gripped by macaron madness, decided to make the éclair its icon. I’ve seen the advertisement, the beautiful Mona Lisa with éclair eyes, all over town and every time I see it, I stop. What I haven’t seen yet is the actual éclair … but there’s still time.
...Continue reading How to Make Eggs Sunny Side Up the French Way: Add Truffles+Cream
I was on my way to meet the smart and talented Meg Zimbeck, founder of Paris by Mouth, for lunch, when I realized I was steps away from Daniel Rose’s restaurant, Spring, and thought I’d stop in just to say ‘hi.’ “Hi” turned into a lovely half-hour chat interspersed with tastes of the chicken bouillon that was bubbling away on the range – I love that Daniel makes bouillons and consommés and jus, old-fashioned (time-consuming) basics that are part of what makes his (modern) food so remarkable – and talk about vegetables, specifically the lovely, very thin-skinned Jerusalem artichokes he’d just gotten in and the gorgeous cabbage. Last week, Daniel had stuffed some cabbages with lobster – why didn’t my grandmother ever think of that? – and today, well, he wasn’t sure what he was going to with them. Talk about inspirational cooking – Daniel’s menu changes each day and often on a whim. When I left, Daniel gave me one of his big, beautiful cabbages (well, it was more beautiful before I nibbled at it) and now I’m weighing my whims to see how I’m going to use it.
So, with my new green cabbage in my always at-the-ready orange bag, I marched on to meet Meg at the restaurant that’s getting endless press these days, Saturne. Saturne has been called the new wave of French cooking – actually, it’s what Daniel Rose called it and it’s kind of how Juan Sanchez of La Derniere Goutte described it, too.
I was fascinated by the food because to me, many of the dishes looked very American. For years now, I’ve been saying that I think French and American cooking are more closely related than they’ve ever been. And that today, Americans would find French food more recognizable than ever before. As an example, here are some of the dishes we had today at Saturne.
...Continue reading French Food? American Food? How Different Are They?
French Fridays with Dorie: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake and Hachis Parmentier Too (on All Things Considered)
I used to think of myself as a selfish writer because I wrote only about what I liked and, when it came to recipes, included only those I loved. I still think I'm selfish, but now I prefer to call the selfishness "point of view" (sounds better, no?). In reality, I think every cookbook author is selfish in this way because, if she's creating recipes, she's creating ones that taste good to her. (I can't even figure out how I'd create something that I didn't like.) And I think every cookbook author hopes to find readers who share her tastes and enjoy her style of food. The flip of this is that every author who gathers recipes from friends and chefs, as I often do, hopes to find some that match her taste. When I found Marie-Helene's Apple Cake (recipe is reprinted here; picture is by Alan Richardson), I found a dessert that mirrored my taste and style perfectly -- it's an easy-going, unpretentious cake with inviting looks, deeply satisfying flavor, a soft, appealing texture and, as a bonus, it requires no special skill to make.
Skipping around the web and seeing the cakes that the members of French Fridays with Dorie made -- this was the recipe-of-the-week -- I think the cake matches their style, too. I love that so many people were as happy with the cake as I was.
As I write in the introduction to the recipe in Around My French Table, Marie-Helene couldn't really give me the recipe. She could tick off the ingredients, but it was impossible for her to give me exact measurements because she'd never written them down and she just made the recipe au pif, or by instinct -- she's that kind of good cook.
While American school systems are debating the wisdom of doing away with sugary soft drinks, potato chips and vending machines that pop these things out at any hour, Paris is serving lunches with the intention of not just feeding children well but, as the head of the city's school-lunch program explains, to teach them about the pleasures of food and the joy of sharing food and conversation with friends.
CBS News Sunday Morning's Man in Paris, and my friend, David Turecamo, takes a look at the lunches served to 3-year olds in a Paris public school and then travels 200 miles away from the city to talk to a one-time casino chef, who now devotes himself to cooking locally, seasonally and, of course, from scratch, for his teenage charges.
It's fascinating to see the menu for the Paris tykes: 5-courses every day.
...Continue reading Our Man in Paris, David Turecamo Does Lunch ... With 3-Year Olds
I’ve been swamped with get-ready-for-book tour stuff – all very good stuff, but a lot for a one-woman-band, which would be me. But just because I can’t seem to find my desk (or even my keys for that matter) doesn’t mean that I haven’t taken breaks to cook and bake and have friends in. Not that making these nibblers gives you much of a break – they’re just about instant.
- It’s startingly easy, almost embarrassingly easy, but chic and, of course, delicious;
- It requires only 3 ingredients – puff pastry, mustard and egg for the glaze – and you can keep them all on hand; in fact, you might already have them;
- It’s easily play-aroundable, so that you can make it your own;
- You can make the batons ahead and stick them in the freezer, so they’re ready to bake ‘on demand’ in small or large quantities; and
- It’s so very much in keeping with today’s style of French home cooking: it’s a dish that’s elegant but easy, unfussy but good looking, and one that’s fun to eat: it’s finger food of the kind that invites après-eating finger licking. And any time you can lick your fingers in polite company is a good time.
...Continue reading French Made Easy: Mustard Batons from Around My French Table
Around My French Table is Here, Enfin! Heads-Up: There's an Erratum (correct/corrected recipe below)
Well, according to Amazon, Around My French Table is officially out in the world! It’s a surprise to me, since I thought the book wasn’t going to be available until October 8, but it’s a great surprise – I’m thrilled it’s arrived. And oh how I hope you will like it!
The book is filled with my favorite recipes (more than 300 of them) for what I think of as ‘elbows on the table’ food from France. It’s the unfussy, delicious food that my friends and I make in France. This is not a by-the-rules book on French food. It’s not Mastering the Art of French Cooking (what else could be?). And it’s not a book of traditional French food (a Basque tortilla made with potato chips is hardly traditional), although it's got its share of time-honored recipes – I can’t wait for you to try the Cheese-Topped Onion Soup! Instead, it’s my personal take on the bright, fresh, simple food that’s being cooked today in the country of my heart. Oh, and there are lots of stories and lots of gorgeous, gorgeous pictures by Alan Richardson.
There’s also a mistake! A serious one! So here’s an important heads-up: When you get your copy of Around My French Table, open the book carefully, look for the little white ERRATUM paper and tuck it into the recipe for Speculoos on page 406. The recipe is missing a vital ingredient: 1 large egg, which should be beaten into the butter and sugar mixture. (The correct/corrected recipe is below.)
A few years ago, I interviewed Jacques Pepin onstage at the Alliance Francaise when his book, Chez Jacques, was published. Over all the topics we covered – and with Jacques, it’s easy to have one topic lead to another – I remember best a brief conversation we had about chefs and how they use ingredients in their kitchens. Jacques was talking about coming to America from France and the differences he saw in how kitchens were run. He said that in France, where food was expensive and labor was cheap, every little bit of a every ingredient was used. The tips and tops of vegetables went into the stock pot, the bones were roasted and used for sauces and if you were using a lot of egg yolks to make a custard, you put egg-whites-only meringues on the menu too.
But when he came to America, that philosophy of thrift was turned upside down. In the States at that time, labor was more expensive than ingredients and so only the hearts of the vegetables were used and the bits that used to be stock-and-sauce worthy were tossed away.
Things have changed everywhere and while some kitchens are more frugal, others are more profligate: I was just told about a luxe hotel restaurant in Paris where whole chickens are bought, but only their breasts are used!
I’ve been thinking about this – actually thinking about it again (remember when I thought about how Julia Child would always scrape a bowl clean?) because I seem to have gotten a few thrift messages lately.
...Continue reading Paris: Good To The Very Last Pit
Last week I had the kind of experience I adore: I got to spend a morning in the kitchen of Le Comptoir with my Paris neighbor, Yves Camdeborde, the restaurant’s rightly celebrated chef, making Tuna-Mozzarella Pizzas, a recipe he gave me for my new book, Around My French Table. And while we were cutting and arranging the pizzas (it’s more arts and crafts project than recipe), the amazingly talented David Turecamo was there to record the action. Can you see him just behind Yves?
You’ll be hearing more about the shoot soon – and seeing the video and getting the recipe – but in the meantime I’ve been thinking about the puff pastry rounds we used for the pizza and how incredibly easy they are to make, and how many different things you can do with them, especially now when the markets are full of great fruits and vegetables.
Disappointed to discover that my cheese shop, Laurent Dubois on the Place Maubert, was closed for renovation and that the usual roving market at Maubert-Mutualite had more clothes than food -- ah, summer in Paris -- I went on a wander across the river, into the Marais, past l'As de Fallafel (I was tempted to belly up to the counter, especially since there wasn't a line, but it was too early in the morning ... even for me) and then along the rue Rambuteau, which means only one thing to me: Pain de Sucre, the matchbox-size patisserie with the lovely square tarts, luscious marshmallows and breads chockful of things like nuts and fruits and grain and seeds. But alas, it's summer in the Marais too and Pain de Sucre was closed.
There's a foccaceria next door to Pain de Sucre that I'd never noticed before and, once noticed, I passed it by -- does anyone know and love the place? must I go back and it give it go?. I kept walking down the street and came to a patisserie I hadn't seen before either, Atelier Hure (there's an accent over the 'e', but I can't do accents here). Hure looks modern and almost like a chain (actually, there is only one other Hure in Paris and it's on the Place d'Italie), but no matter because I was drawn in by the display of 'fantasy breads,' as the French call pretty much any bread that's not in the traditional repertoire and almost every bread that has an add-in.
In fact, it was the bread with bacon that called to me, even as I had to pass up the bread with cheeses and vegetables. That's it in the picture.
...Continue reading Paris: Bread and More Bread - Snacking on the Rue Rambuteau
Last Friday I had eclairs for breakfast and today I had ice cream for lunch. I consider this kind of whim-eating one of the joys of being a grown-up: there's no one who can tell you you've got to eat your spinach first. Actually, writing this I realize that trying squeeze a sweet in before noon doesn't always work, even when you're as grown-up as I am. I'm reminded of a morning when I'd gone into a cafe on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for a coffee and, just as I was about to order it, I changed my mind and asked for a frozen yogurt instead. "Madam," said the clerk, "it's only 9am. You can't have ice cream for breakfast!" Try as I did, he wouldn't give it to me.
Thank goodness I had no such altercation with the lovely young woman who sold me this ice cream sandwich at Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki. The ice cream is my favorite Aoki flavor, black sesame, a marvel, and the cookie is a thin, not-very-sweet (which means perfect) chocolate sable (or shortbread).
Of course Aoki isn't the only pastry chef to be making ice cream sandwiches in Paris these days.
...Continue reading Paris Sweets: Ice Cream Sandwiches
Last night, at dinner at Aux Deux Amis with Meg Zimbeck, the creator of one of my favorite Paris resources, Paris By Mouth – yes, I’m a contributor, but I’m also a fan and a regular user – I was reminiscing about how lucky I’ve been to work with so many extraordinary chefs. Of course, I worked with Julia Child (who wasn’t a chef and who would correct anyone who called her one; this despite the fact that the name of her long-running television series was The French Chef), but I also worked with, among others, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten on the savory side, and on the sweet side, Pierre Herme, Johnny Iuzzini and Lionel Poilane. And so I think I know a little about what makes chefs great. There’s their talent, that’s almost a given; there’s their energy – they’re built with super-chargers that aren’t standard equipment among us ordinary mortals; there’s their skill at organization and production (not a glam quality, but a really important one); and there’s their intelligence, a kind of intelligence that includes creativity, but that also includes the ability to express, share, explain that creativity and, in doing that, inspire and teach others.
The chefs in my personal pantheon of culinary heroes have these qualities, and so does Hugues Pouget, the pastry magician in Paris’s newest luxe patisserie, Hugo&Victor. I saw Hugues last week in New York at a dinner for which he made the desserts using his ‘house’ chocolate, Domori. When he mentioned that apricots were among his three flavors of the moment at H&V – the other two are peach and lemon verbena (verveine) – he must have seen me smile dreamily, because he invited me to come to the shop this morning and taste the apricot pastries with him.
...Continue reading Paris Sweets: Breakfast with Hugues Pouget of Hugo & Victor
You know it's a good day when you turn the corner and find someone handing out cups of fabulous Grom Gelato (actually, it was sorbetto) in your all-time favorite flavor: apricot. There she was, The Grom Girl, on the corner of rue de Buci and rue de Seine (Grom is at 81 rue de Seine) and, needless to say, for a few minutes she was the most popular girl on the block. I've never seen Grom give away free ice cream on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but then they don't have as many competitors there. In a one-block radius in this Paris neighborhood, Grom keeps company with Amorino, It Mylk (frozen yogurt), Cacao et Chocolat and Ben& Jerry's. And I bet I've left out a few. This little stretch, which is usually bustling with locals and tourists (when it's not the quietest weeks of summer, as it is now), has become ice-cream central.
...Continue reading Paris: Out and About and Only Just Beyond My Doorstep
Pity the poor roasted pepper. Slapped onto grinders and subs at fast-food joints. Sloshed into a bin at salad bars. Chopped up any old way and tossed over pizza. Slivered and crammed into jars to collect dust on supermarket shelves. It’s such a shame that the tasty peppers rarely show up in the center of the plate, on their own to glisten, to shine and to be savored for their sweetness.
I love that in the simplest French bistros (as well as in Italian trattorias and Greek tabernas) thoughtfully roasted and peeled bell peppers, brushed with or marinated in olive oil, are served solo as the main event in the starter category. And with pepper season here – to say nothing of grilling season – it seems to me that now’s a good time to start giving peppers their moment.
I like roasting bell peppers on an oiled grill. (My preference is for any peppers but green, but perhaps you don’t feel that way.) I cover the grill, but you don’t have to, and turn the peppers as they char on each side. Of course you can roast bell peppers without a grill. Peppers are easily roasted in the oven (put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or a silicone mat and roast them in a 425-degrees-F oven, turning them as each side chars, for 45 to 60 minutes) and more messily over the gas burner of your range (place them on the burner rack). Here’s a quick how-to:
...Continue reading Roasted Peppers, Delicious Enough to Serve on Their Own
Remember my friend David Turecamo's spectacular video about the Poilane Bakery? The one in which Lionel Poilane shows me how to make the shop's famous butter cookies, Punitions? Well David, my friend, my neighbor in Paris and the guy best known to CBS Sunday Morning viewers as "Our Man in Paris," has done something wonderful -- again: He's collected some of his clips on a new site, Paris Files.
I'd tell you that you should click over there immediately, but for your own pleasure
...Continue reading The Eiffel Tower: An Inside Look
Sweet Cherry Sweets: Le Comptoir's + Pierre Herme's From Paris and My Little Connecticut Crumble Too
Michael and I dashed into Paris after our cruise and flew out three days later, having had just barely enough time to see a few friends, eat some good food and have the gas and electric meters read in the apartment. You didn’t think life in Paris was all patisseries and pretty bonbons, did you?
But, playing completely out of character, I’d managed to plan ahead and so was able to score a table at Le Comptoir for dinner the night we hit town. I love Le Comptoir (there, I’ve said it for the hundredth time), but it’s tough to get into. They don’t take reservations for lunch or weekend dinners and the weekday dinners that you can reserve for are usually booked eons in advance. Luckily for me, I live down the street from Yves Camdeborde’s little gem, so I can pop in on the off hours or just have a glass of wine and a nibble at Avant-Comptoir next door. Anyway, all of this is the long way around dessert for that evening: A wedge of a thin, crispy waffle, topped with cherries that had been rolled around in a pan of warm butter. The waffles were just dusted with powdered sugar before the cherries were spooned over them. I like that in France waffles are served for dessert and I like that they’re not always served with a sauce – sauceless waffles keep their crispy crust longer.
If Meg Zimbeck weren’t so busy launching her brainchild, Paris By Mouth, I’d suggest we elect her President of the World – the girl can get stuff done and get it done really, really well. Meg, an American in Paris and a food lover of the first order, has been itching to do something like this for a while (did she muse about this in the way-back-when over lunch at Racines?), something big and wonderful. And now, here it is and I think it's one of the most exciting food and wine sites for one of the most exciting food and wine cities.
While wrangling writers is a little like herding cats, Meg managed to get 11 of us on board -- we're the contributing editors -- and to take our opinions (and boy are we an opinionated bunch), writings and photographs, as well as material from other very knowledgeable bloggers, to create an always up-to-the-minute guide to the city. On Twitter, Paris By Mouth is described as "A flabbergasting collaborative website about eating & drinking in Paris" and I think that as big a word as 'flabbergasting' is, it just might be right here.
...Continue reading Paris By Mouth: A Great New Food-in-Paris Website
One of my favorite Paris treats is to go to the Cafe de Flore very early in the morning, find a place on the red banquette in the back, along the wall on the right side (you don't have to imagine the setting, their website shows it so clearly -- it's fun), and order oeuf a la coque, a boiled egg, which, at Le Flore, is served with a baguette and a small pot of Echire butter. With coffee and a newspaper, it's the nicest way I can think of to start a day. And it's not bad with coffee and whatever I need to edit that day either -- I've worked on three books there: Paris Sweets, Baking From My Home to Yours and Around My French Table.
Boiled eggs served in little egg cups with mouillettes (the word comes from the French verb, mouiller, to wet or moisten) or soldiers, as the British call the strips of bread you dip into the warm, runny eggs, are deeply traditional -- except when they're in the hands of Sonia Ezgulian (the woman behind the fabulous Cafe Salle Pleyel Burger), who I think is one of the most creative chefs/authors working in France today. When Sonia sets her mind to a subject, everything, from simple eggs to just as simple stews, becomes fresh and exciting.
The picture above, taken by Emmanuel Auger, Sonia's husband and creative partner, comes from Sonia's book on tv dinners. Here's what you've got, from left to right, on the tv tray:
...Continue reading Eggs: The New TV Dinner
The macarons you're looking at were made by the talented and incredibly patient Noelle Carter, the test kitchen manager at the Los Angeles Times. Yes, the LA Times still has a test kitchen, a rarity these days, and Noelle made these macs almost a dozen times before the recipe was published! The recipe was one I'd adapted from Pierre Herme's (yet to be translated into English) book, Macarons, and it was part of an article I wrote for the paper last week.
In researching the story it was fun to revisit the little pastry and to consider how basic it is and how endlessly it can be varied. While recipes differ (although not much) in the amounts and proportions of the ingredients needed to make the shells or coques, the ingredients themselves are pretty much set: ground almonds, confectioner's sugar, granulated sugar and egg whites. And while how they're combined might differ, the basics are fairly consistent: there's always a meringue, either a simple meringue or one made with a cooked sugar syrup.
...Continue reading Macarons: Make Them at Home
This tart and the pastry shop from whence it came take the cake for drama! While Pierre Herme may have created the first patisserie in the style of an haute-couture bijouterie, the new Hugo&Victor has taken the idea about as far as it's ever gone.
Although there are some croissants and simple sweets on a table and some teas in a display case -- the kind that might hold a signed copy of the Declaration of Independence -- the stars of the boutique are safely enclosed in framed and sealed boxes built into the sleek black walls. The atmosphere is elegant but, even though there's sales chatter - as each person enters the shop, a staff member pipes up explaining the boutique's concept and offerings -- the place is museum-quiet. No one speaks above a whisper in the presence of those theatrically lighted boxes.
Permission to photograph inside the patisserie was denied, but here's an official shot
...Continue reading A New Paris Patisserie: Hugo & Victor
Please, please, please, pick a quiet time, take your computer to a comfortable spot and watch this wonderful video. Called "The Art of Baking Bread," it was produced by my Paris neighbor David Turecamo for CBS News Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood and it's a charmer.
The footage of the late Lionel Poilane showing me how to make his famous Punitions, or Punishment Cookies, is mesmerizing. David shot it in the summer of 2002, right before my book, Paris Sweets, was published with a story about Lionel and the bakery on page 1. That October, Lionel and his wife were killed in a helicopter crash and this clip, always beautiful, became precious.
...Continue reading CBS Sunday Morning, Lionel Poilane + Punishment Cookies
I'm always happy when one of my Paris sojourns corresponds with the annual Salon d'Agriculture, a huge -- gigantic, actually -- fair that includes tractor rides, enormous buidlings filled with horses and donkeys and cows, farm equipment and food, food, food. Every time I go I say I'm going to go pet the cows -- it's what former French President Chirac always does (I know, because he's always photographed in the act) -- but I go directly to the food pavillions and by the time I've seen everything there, the cows are ready to bed down for the night.
The food halls at this year’s fair were jammed as always and the ambience was as lively as always. Someone said it was because of all the wine that’s poured under the guise of tasting, and I’m sure that had something to do with it, but I prefer to think that it’s just the effect of being surrounded by thousands of sausages, just as many cheeses and a dizzying array of honeys and hams, caramels and cakes.
...Continue reading Cookies, Cakes, Kouing-amanns and a Coincidence
I’m at the page-proofing stage with Around My French Table, my new book, and I decided that there could be no better place to read the pages than in Paris, where so many of the recipes in the book were born. In part it was a good idea – bien sur, it’s good to be reading about France in France – but the book is so long and I’m such a slow reader that, while I’m in wonderful, fabulous, beautiful France, I’ve been mostly in my apartment. Who knew the pages would be so big that they’d flop over the edges of a café table and keep me kitchen-table bound?
But a girl can’t stay put forever, no matter the deadline, so I did slip out now and then and I’ve got a few adventures tucked away to tell you about. For now, though, I’ve got this tomato on my mind.
...Continue reading Tomato, Tomato, and Tomato Again at L'Avant-Comptoir
I hope you'll consider this a better-late-than-never post. It's almost a month after Christmas and a few weeks after my return from France, yet somehow I just didn't find time to post much from that trip. So, even though it's tardy and we're already tired of winter and dreaming of spring, here are a few highlights.
Michael and I spent three days at Olivier Roellinger's Chateau Richeux in Cancale and, during our stay, revisited the walled town of St. Malo and, of course, the Bordier butter shop. These days, I can buy Bordier butter around the corner from my apartment in Paris (La Cremerie on rue des Quatres Vents always has a selection, as does Fromagerie Sanders in the covered Marche St-Germain), but it's irresistible not to visit the source. And this year there was a surprise at the source: caramel-chip cookies made by La Maison du Biscuit with Bordier butter. Trust me when I say that this is the proverbial marriage made in heaven.
...Continue reading Catch-Up: Caramel and Assorted Snippets from Paris and Beyond
I've been in Paris for a few days, but haven't had the time to do my complete annual Buche de Noel tour. Happily, les buches remain the centerpieces of Paris patisseries through New Year's, so I've got another week to catch up ... and I will (or at least I hope I will).
No matter that a buche is a yule log and that the traditional cake is usually just that shape, tradition doesn't seem to be much in fashion this year. Fantasy is all and, given what a year it's been, fantasy seems just right this Christmas. Among the most fanciful cakes is this one from Dalloyau. Dalloyau is most famous for its Gateau Opera, and this year the centuries-old pastry house has kept its connection to the stage and created La Prima Donna, a raspberry-vanilla-and-citrus cake dressed in mandarine meringue.
...Continue reading A Sweet and Merry Christmas to All
I love seeing Le Comptoir in the morning when it's still quiet. A few hours later -- and until midnight -- every seat will be filled and the sidewalk will be so crowded with hungry hopefuls you'll have to step into the street to get by.
This morning, on my way through Les Halles to Dehillerin (where, for maybe the first time in my life, I walked out empty-handed), I saw this line-up of Velibs. When I got home, I read in The New York Times that 80% of the bikes are damaged or stolen. I know it must be true, but I hate to hear it.
...Continue reading Out and About in Paris: Random Pix and Pensees
Philippe Conticini is back on the Paris pastry scene and he's back with a bang. His new shop, poetically named Patisserie des Reves (Pastry Shop of Dreams), is on the chic rue du Bac, just a minute away from Le Bon Marche department store and supermarket, and on the day we went it was jammed, which is the way I'm told it is all the time. The look of the shop is ultra modern, even space-age-ish, and the women who are there to take your orders on their tablet computers are wearing little white dresses that look like a melange of Correges (sans the short white boots) and Star Trek (sans the bizarre make-up). Even the pastry cases seem a little out-of-this-world. At center stage there's a round double-decker table with the day's offerings displayed under huge bell jars, which are lifted and lowered using a system of stainless steel pulleys. It's stunning and also a bit disconcerting, since the jars are refrigerated and the condensation that mists the glasses makes the pastries -- and the tickets that tell you what they are and what they cost -- hard to see.
But even if you press your nose against the foggy jars, you might have trouble knowing what you're looking at -- nothing is quite what you expect here. The treat under the jar above is a Tarte Tatin, not just deconstructed, but reconceived.
...Continue reading Paris Sweets: New Ways with Old Faves
It's not that I don't love the Upper West Side, the New York City neighborhood I've lived in forever, it's just that what happens in my Paris neighborhood (the sixth arrondissement) is unfailingly so much more delicious.
Michael and I arrived in Paris late yesterday morning. We opened our apartment door, settled our bags and discovered that we had no hot water in the kitchen and no heat in the apartment and that M. Fix-it wasn't answering his phone. Because I'm not in Paris full-time, I always expect that there'll be 'something' to greet us: a letter from the tax people saying we missed a deadline; a letter from the bank saying we missed a deadline; a letter from the electric company saying we missed the meter-reader ... you get the picture. But no heat and no hot water? Especially when we'd spent six hours the last time we were in Paris waiting for M. Fix-it to come and give the heater its annual spruce up.
The way I see it, faced with such problems, there's only one thing to do: Shop. And since the only kind of shopping I really like to do is food shopping, we grabbed our market bags and set out. But we'd only gotten to the end of our street when we ran into Yves Camdeborde, the exuberant and incredibly talented chef-owner of Le Comptoir, one of my favorite restaurants in Paris.
...Continue reading Avant Comptoir, The New Kid on the Rue
I've written about butter many times, in my books, here on this blog and in The New York Times, but the subject fascinates me and I can't imagine that I'll ever be done with it. What brings me back to it this time is comments readers made on my kouing-amann post. It all started with Robert W wondering if he'd be more successful making kouing-amann - a yeasted laminate (folded and rolled) dough - using a European, higher butter-fat butter. And it continued when Styopa suggested using a 'dry' butter and Romina chimed in to say she uses high-fat butter to make kouing-amann in her bakery.
All this talk put me in mind, as sweet talk often does, of conversations I've had with Pierre Herme, (friend, co-author and le roi of French pastry). Shortly after Pierre and I met, we were discussing puff pastry and he asked: "Do you make your dough with winter butter?"
"Winter butter?" I'd never heard of it and hadn't a clue what it could be.
...Continue reading A Butter Tip-Sheet + A Recipe for Brioche
I'm like a little baby when it comes to travel - as soon as whatever I'm on starts to move, I fall asleep. It means that there's no lively chatter when I'm in the passenger seat, but it also means that I won't complain about whatever music the driver wants to play. And while I usually manage to stay relatively alert until a plane takes off, on this last Paris-to-New York flight, I was not just awake, but wide-eyed, thanks to Air France's good taste in in-flight films. For two hours I stared at the small screen attached to the seat in front of me, fully absorbed in the life of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, beautifully portrayed by Audrey Tautou in Coco Before Chanel.
This is a gorgeous film with such sweeping views of country and sea, city and style, that you could almost sense the pictures pushing the borders of the small screen. Even so, the quality of the cinematography, story, costumes and acting was so very high that it was impossible not to appreciate its pleasures; impossible, too, not to be left longing to enjoy it in a theater, and I had the chance this week when Atout France, the French Government Tourist Office, showed the film in an avant-premiere (a preview). Now I'm here to report that Coco Before Chanel easily stands up to a second viewing.
...Continue reading Coco Before Chanel: Film, Fashion and France
Sometimes working in Paris on an American deadline is a deal - those are the times when you're behind and the 6-hour time difference gives you, well, six more hours to catch-up; and sometimes it's not - those would be instances when you're working in real-time with editors in New York. And so it was one of those real-times when Michael and I finally got off the phone, shut-down our computers, looked at the clock, saw that it was 10:15pm and realized that neither one of us wanted to start rustling up dinner, no matter how easy the rustling would be. And that's how we found ourselves sitting down to steak-frites at Brasserie Balzar, a legendary place so close to our apartment that by 10:30 we were sipping our first glass of rouge.
It's also how we found ourselves finishing our last glass of wine as the waiters were straightening up for the night, clearing the tables of salt and pepper shakers and gathering the mustard pots for refills. Seeing the small pots with their classic wooden spoons bumping up against one another on a side table made me think of an experience I'd had when I was giving a talk about eating out in Paris to a group of Americans lucky enough to have been transferred to the city.
...Continue reading Of Mustard and Steak-Frites at Brasserie Balzar
The envelope stood out from the usual bills and flyers in my mailbox. Its paper was heavier and the script was prettier. It was an invitation from the American Ambassador to France and his wife and it read:
Charles H. Rivkin
Ambassadeur des Etats-Unis d'Amerique
et Madame Susan M. Tolson
Madame Dorie Greenspan et Monsieur Greenspan
de leur faire le plaisir d'assister a une projection en avant-premiere du film
Â«Julie & JuliaÂ» de Nora Ephron
en version originale sous-titree
There's to be a preview screening of Julie & Julia and I'm invited!
Malheureusement, I'll be back in New York when everyone gathers to view the film. But I was flattered to be invited and sad not to be able to see the movie (which I'd seen in New York) in the city Julia so adored.
...Continue reading I've Got Mail: Julia in Paris
What you're looking at is the sign announcing the latest exhibit outside the Fondation Cartier. Can't see it for the graffiti? That 's just the way it's meant to be. The show is called NÃ© Dans la Rue (Born in the Street) and it's about the birth of graffiti in New York City. And it's a spectacular show!
I'm a real fan of the Cartier Foundation. It sits close to the edge of Paris in the 14 the arrondissement, not far from all the Montparnasse haunts Hemingway made famous (you can see a show at the Fondation, have lunch at Le Dome and call the day perfect!) and you can't miss it even if you're whizzing by in a taxi: it's a modern glass cube building designed by Jean Nouvel, who's latest building in Paris is the Musee Quai de Branly.
...Continue reading New York in Paris: Graffiti + Grom
Michael and I got to Paris this afternoon to find that the view outside our windows had changed. The Theatre de l'Odeon was still there -- thank goodness -- (it's the colonnaded building to the left) but the large empty plaza in front of it had been turned into a cafe. I'd read that the cafe was to open, but had completely forgotten about it until the taxi pulled up to our apartment.
The Place de l'Odeon is a quiet, almost Italianate plaza just steps from the Luxembourg Gardens. During the day, the plaza is normally empty. A few people who work in the publishing houses across the street might come to sit on the theater's steps when they're taking a break; tourists stop to check their maps; and, when it rains, there are always huddles of people happy to find shelter in the theater's impressive arcades. But generally, things don't pick up until just before curtain time, when the crowds, arrive all dressed up and making click-clack sounds on the cobblestones. I've come to love this moment as well as the hour when the theater lets out and the merry sounds of amiable chatter fill the night air.
...Continue reading Bonjour, Paris
When you live in a small town as I do part-time (Westbrook, CT, population about 6,600 and growing), you can really see your tax dollars at work: a new school, the re-paving of a country road, the opening of a nature trail and the fireworks at the beach to celebrate Independence Day. In fact, most of the towns along the Shoreline have fireworks displays and any restaurant, inn or household that's got a view of their town's celebration usually has a party.
We're a couple of miles inland from Long Island Sound, so we see nothing and hear everything, but we've got good friends in Madison who throw a fabulous fireworks party for about 50 people and we're lucky enough to be included in the fun. And the food. And it's the food for the party got me thinking about burgers.
...Continue reading Burgers: Fourth of July Fare
I can't remember when it was, maybe 12 or 15 years ago, that New york chef, Daniel Boulud, called me and said "I've got wonderful white asparagus from the Loire Valley and I want you to taste them. Come have dinner!" It was an invitation I didn't refuse and it was a dinner I've never forgotten. In fact, it's one I think of every year at this time, particularly if I'm in Paris, where a dinner like Daniel's would be considered a tour de force, but it wouldn't be so very unusual: When it's asparagus season in France, everyone celebrates!
This is the time of year when you can be sure that your friends will be serving asparagus when you come for dinner and that every restaurant you go to will have at least one asparagus special. The asparagus in the photo were a special at one of my favorite Paris restaurants, Le Bistrot Paul Bert. They were served just warm with a sauce gribiche - about more, further on.
...Continue reading Asparagus: Now's the Moment
Can you see the guy in the green shirt all the way at the back of the crowd? The one who's surrounded by people hanging on to his every word? That's my friend, David Lebovitz, and this is the best picture I could get of him, and I only got it by standing on my tip-toes and shooting with my zoom lens. Even though I got to WH Smith, the Paris bookstore where David was reading from his new book, The Sweet Life in Paris, 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled start, I couldn't get any closer. The place was jammed! And I couldn't have been happier for David, who made his entrance by sweeping down the grand staircase like a movie star. Fitting, I thought, since David is one of the shiniest stars in the blogosphere and a rightfully trusted cookbook author (keep reading for one of his recipes).
...Continue reading David Lebovitz's Sweet Life in Paris: The Book (A Recipe, Too)
When your field is cookbookery, as Julia Child used to say, you spend most of your time cooking, cooking, cooking and then writing, writing, writing, and in between you feed people because you love to share food with friends and because you must -- it's not just that there's always more food than you can possibly have en famille, but because it's fun to invite people to eat with you and it's also important to see how your food plays to an audience. And while I'm usually the one backstage doing the cooking, the other night I had a front-row seat in the theater to be served some of the recipes that my friend, the cookbook author and cooking teacher, Patricia Wells, was working on.
I'd go miles and miles for Patricia's food (fortunately, I don't have to, because we live close enough to one another in Paris to borrow the proverbial cup of sugar) and I'd go even further if what she was cooking had black truffles, which it did last week, and which it did at Christmas, when we were together in Provence, and which it might again the next time we're together, since Patricia's working on a book that is all about the tuber melanosporum, the gorgeous black truffle that grows in Provence. And few people I know, know truffles better than Patricia.
...Continue reading Chez Patricia Wells: A Dinner with Friends and Truffles - Lots of Them
I've never thought of Parisians as patient and I've certainly never thought of them as the kind of people who'd wait in line for much, but the other day, there they were, waiting in line for elegant macarons from Pierre Herme, and then, there they were again, waiting for a pita stuffed to within a millimeter of bursting with falafel and all its messy fixings.
The falafel worth the wait was from L'As de Fallafel, the most famous, most written about falafel joint in Paris - which might not say much to some of you, but then that's probably because you've never walked down the rue des Rosiers and seen just how many falafel places there are!
Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: while everyone from David Lebovitz to Lenny Kravitz has sworn allegiance to L'As de Fallafel (I can't get used to the double "l"), in all my years of eating around in Paris, I'd never had falafel there, or anywhere else in the city, now that I think about it. I know it's silly -- and now I know it's wrong -- but I just didn't think of Paris as a falafel kind of town.
...Continue reading Falafel: Worth the Wait, Even for Parisians
Today, all over France, it's le Jour du Macaron, Macaron Day -- yet another reason to love this country -- and everyone, including my lovely neighbor Rosine, wanted to join in the fun. Rosine came for tea this morning toting a bag of macarons from Gerard Mulot's pastry shop down the street (those are the macs in the photo) -- it would be the perfect way to start any day, but it seemed the only way to start today.
Le Jour du Macaron was begun about three years ago by Pierre Herme, he who has so many sweet ideas. And while it's a fabulous pleasure for macaron lovers, it's something more important as well: it's a day to contribute to La Federation des Maladies Orphelines, a charitable organization that helps support rare illnesses that need research funding. Members of the Relais Desserts, an organization of top pastry chefs, share some of the proceeds from the sale of their macarons with the Federation. It's hard to imagine a more delicious example of a win-win sitation.
Of course, every pastry chef has his or her own way of celebrating ...
...Continue reading Paris: It's Macaron Day!
We arrived in Paris yesterday to briliant sunshine and crowded outdoor cafes. The forsythia were in bloom and the fountains were on -- in other words, it was perfect. Of course, I love Paris under any and all conditions. To me, it's the most beautiful city in the world even when it rains in sheets or when the sky is so heavy you have to duck. But Paris when the sun shines is a dream.
And speaking of dreams, I woke up this morning with meringue on my mind.
Last night, Michael, my husband, and I had dinner with La Belle Helene, at a restaurant in the fifteenth arrondissement called Jadis (208 rue Croix-Nivert, Paris 75015; 01-45-57-73-20). The meal was both really good -- we all agreed we want to return -- and really surprising (the ideal duo).
Take, for instance, the warm bittersweet chocolate souffle (that's it in the photo) ...
...Continue reading Meringues: Was I Dreaming?
As I wrote on Leite's Culinaria this Valentine's week, when David Leite asked me to guest-blog a Postcard from Paris, I'm often perplexed when friends who are traveling to that magical city ask me what they should do to make their trip romantic. I never really know what to tell them because, to my mind, just being in Paris is the most romantic thing you can do. My standard answer to the query is usually, "Do nothing, walk the streets, sit in a cafe and then do nothing again but be in the city and watch everything that unfolds before you." Om.
But it's Valentine's Day, and it might be chilly, and just telling people to stroll didn't seem like it would make much of a guest post, so I thought about Paris -- my favorite pasttime after actually being there -- came up with a baker's dozen of things to do that I find romantic and sent it to David. Then after he posted it, with beautiful photographs by Alona Martinez, I thought of a dozen more!
So here are my 25 ideas for making Paris even more unbearably romantic than it already is. If you've got more ideas, please add them.
...Continue reading Paris: 25 Romantic Things to Do in the City of Love
Today, in the nooks and crannies of the blogosphere, wherever the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers are, it's World Peace Day. As I think I explained when it was my turn to choose the TWD recipe (I chose the French Pear Tart), Tuesdays with Dorie is a group of more than 400 baking bloggers who bake something from Baking: From My Home to Yours each week and then post about it on Tuesday. Started by Laurie Woodward, the group has been baking for more than a year, which is surprising on its own and makes it even more surprising that a member of the group didn't choose World Peace Cookies earlier. I say this because at last check there were, incredibly, 463,000 links on Google for the cookies! But in a world that needs as much peace as it can get, better late than never ...
The cookies, for those of you who don't know them, are chocolate sables, French shortbreads, but, because they've got more brown sugar than white in them, they've got more chew than most shortbreads. They've also got a generous amount of dark chocolate chunks and enough fleur de sel, moist, coarse-grained French "finishing" salt (i.e., salt to be used in teensy quantities as a spice or condiment), to make them noticeably salty and completely addictive, in the way so many good things with salt are.
...Continue reading Tuesdays with Dorie: World Peace Cookies
These days, no matter where I am -- and in the past week, I've been in Paris, New York City and Westbrook, CT -- there's been snow, real snow, the kind that sticks and sends little kids outdoors to make snowballs and the rest of us to the kitchen to make soup.
...Continue reading Snowy Days and Hot Soup
Don't you agree that it's impossible to look at this picture and not smile?Â Just seeing the glasses and knowing that in an instant they'll be filled with champagne is enough to make your heart sing.Â The only thing better than champagne is champagne with people you love, which is just what I had last week when, only a day after we arrived in Paris, our dear, wonderful friend Christian Holthausen whisked me away along with my husband, Michael, and our friend, Helene Samuel, to Reims, to visit Maison Heidsieck, the winery where Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck Champagnes are made.
...Continue reading Champagne Days with Christian, Piper and Charles
Yesterday, returning to our "old" Monoprix (rue de Rennes, near Place Saint Germain des Pres), we discovered a huge swath of shelf space devoted to that all-American favorite, the chocolate-chip cookie.
Next to the Pepperidge Farm cookies (which may or may not have always been there -- I never noticed them before, but then I'm not a storebought-chocolate-chip-cookie kind of girl), were an assortment of what I'm sure are new housebrand cookies -- Monoprix chocolate-chip, chocolate-chocolate-chip and even "bio" or organic chocolate-chip -- as well as cookies from heavy-hitters like Cadbury and La Mere Poulard, a brand best known for popularizing the all-butter shortbread-like galette that they serve at their restaurant on Mont St. Michel.
...Continue reading Les Cookies: The Parisian Chocolate-Chip Craze
In the best of all possible worlds, on the best of all possible days in Paris, I wake up very early, spend the morning and early afternoon writing and cooking and then take myself and my work out to a cafe.
Cafes are the perfect place to read, write, edit, think and have the fun of being out and about without being part of the action. I find cafes so appealing that often, when I'm having trouble with my work, I use cafe-time as the carrot, the reward that encourages me to write at least enough to last the length of a leisurely coffee or maybe even a glass of wine and whatever nibbles the cafe serves alongside.
...Continue reading Paris: Cafe-Sitting
The other day, Pierre asked if I'd tasted the Tarte Sarah. It was just a quick mention, but it sent me to the shop and I'm delighted it did -- the Tarte Sarah is, as the French say, une petite merveille (a little marvel). The elements are a pate sablee crust, a passion fruit gelee, a Matcha green tea cream and tiny pieces of cooked chestnuts. It's a stunning combination. The green tea and chestnut duo is inspired, but my guess is that it would be a little flat and get a little dull after a few bites on its own, which is why the sharp, bright, tang of passionfruit is such a brilliant addition.
You're probably saying, "I never would have thought of that." For sure, it's what I said. But then, neither of us has to think of it -- we've got Pierre.
Sure it was just before noon, and sure I had to get the stuff I'd just bought at Monoprix into the fridge and sure I had a million work things to do and not enough time to do them in, but when these guys asked if I wanted to join them for a drink, I couldn't say no. Which explains how I found myself just a block from home with a full glass of premier cru Gevrey Chambertin in my hand chatting with my new friends. The man in the blue apron works at Polidor, the historic restaurant on the rue Monsieur Le Prince, his buddy was on a job a few doors down and the reason there was drinking in the street was the grand opening of Polidor's wine shop. I sipped and chatted and sipped and chatted and then thanked my host and said I had to leave. "But you haven't finished," he almost gasped. I explained that I'd really enjoyed what I'd had, but that I had to get back home to work. "Work? But it's noon and that means it's lunch time. You're not going to work during lunch are you?" he asked. When I didn't get a denial out quickly enough, he sighed and said, "You Americans. You have to learn to take time for life." With an argument like that, what could I do? I took up my glass again, we took up our conversation and, you know what? When I got home, work and life looked better.
Last night our friends Patricia and Walter Wells became the first people to have a meal in our dining instead of in our kitchen. The new kitchen is working out wonderfully, so wonderfully that no one ever wants to leave it. The other day I had the dining room table set, but we ended up, once again, around the kitchen counter. So it was really nice to play grown-up-for-the-night and settle down to dinner in the room that is meant for just that.
...Continue reading Walter Wells: A Good Man Around a Chicken (Recipe Included)
I made escabeche again over the weekend and again I fileted the sardines myself, an exercise in dexterity and self-improvement. After tucking the dish into the fridge for its long chill, I came across a recipe for rouget in a French magazine that included the following instruction: To filet the fish, cut the skin along the dorsal bones and lift away the filets; the operation is delicate, but you can give the job to your favorite fishmonger, who'll find it a pleasure to do this for you.
Charming, isn't it?
This afternoon, after touring Paris Fermier, a type of nationwide farmers' market, we'd bought too much stuff to drag it all home by bus, so we hailed a taxi. When we entered the cab, the radio was on, but it was barely audible in the back seat. Then the show's host announced that the next segment would be about the wines of Bordeaux, and the driver pumped up the sound the way a kid would up the amps to heard Justin Timberlake. Ah, Paris.
" ... and I'd like six eggs, please, to make a cake," I told the eggman. And, even though I'd asked for medium eggs (moyenne) because they correspond best to the large eggs I use in America, monsieur pulled a six-pack from the shelf and said, "Sorry, I've only got gros (large) and they're extra-fresh -- it's not worth paying the higher price if you're going to bake with them."
It seemed almost shocking to hear this in the land of haute cuisine and designer ingredients, but you'd be hard pressed to find a knowledgeable French person who'd disagree, because extra-fresh is not merely a marketing expression, it's a real everyone-knows-what-it-means term in Gallic eggland.
...Continue reading Eggs and The Eggman: Fresh and Fresher
Eighteen years ago, Jean-Luc Petitrenaud, food writer, television personality and authority on la cuisine francaise, had an idea: dedicate a day each year to teaching French school children about one of their country's greatest treasures, food. He called it La Journee du Gout, the Day of Taste, and he enlisted chefs, farmers, restaurateurs, writers and artisans in his adventure, directing them to go into their neighborhood schools and give classes of all kinds. The following year, the program was extended to a week, La Semaine du Gout, and it's been that long ever since.
...Continue reading La Semaine du Gout: Food and Kids All Week Long
This morning, I finally got to Pierre Herme's shop on the rue Bonaparte. While this is normally my first stop on my first day, my first, second, third, fourth and even fifth days in Paris were filled with bureaucratic stuff that didn't include a single sweet adventure. But that's all behind me and it looks like I'm cleared for indulgence and can whip ahead and make up for lost time -- and gateaux.
...Continue reading Chez Pierre Herme: An Ispahan to Start the Day
In searching for a photo this morning, I came across this one and had to smile at the memory of when it was taken:
The actual date of the picture says July 31, but a quick check with Michael, my husband, and Joshua, The Kid, proves that my camera was jet-lagged and that, in fact, it was taken August 1, our first full day in our new apartment in Paris.
...Continue reading When Chaos Reigns, Cook
...Continue reading My Paris Kitchen: Then and Now
Off to the airport.
If you can stand it, here's the latest installment of "Aren't Food Folks Swell". (Just let me know when you're tired of hearing about how nice everyone is in Paris.)
Pictured above, the evidence I present to prove, for the millionth time, the generosity of chefs. It's an almond-orange tuile and it's the first thing I baked in my new oven in our new apartment, and the reason I was able to bake it, even though my kitchen still looked like the inside of a storage bin and almost everything I needed to bake was packed in boxes bound with the stickiest tape I've ever come across, was because I had this little container of dough in the fridge, a gift from Yannis Theodore
...Continue reading The Kindness of Chefs: A Continuing Tale
Thirty years ago, when my husband and I were building a kitchen (he was actually building it; I was just supervising and changing my mindÂ atÂ inconvenient times), we decided to splurge and hire someone other than Greenspan & Greenspan to paint the apartment.Â Following a friend's advice, we hired two Frenchmen, whose names I no longer remember, but whose seven - count'em - week stay in our apartment will never be forgotten.
...Continue reading Food on the Move
How did we ever accumulate so much stuff? And do we really need all of it?Â Too late for such questions.Â We moved on Thursday and the moving men (about whom more when I've got time) packed everything includingÂ a dust kitty or two.Â They were so incredibly efficient that there wasn't an instant to raise a hand and call out "stop!" or to make a last minute decision about that chipped coffee cup that was no longer useful but that I was saving because I lovedÂ the color.Â EverythingÂ moved with us and now it's all got to be unpacked.
...Continue reading Moving: It's Madness!
Monoprix is my lifeline in Paris, the store of first-resort for everything from mascara and espadrilles to Monsieur Propre (aka Mr. Clean) and bananas.Â It's part drugstore, part housewares store, part clothing store and part supermarket, and every part is really very good (not so surprisingÂ when you know that Monoprix is part of the Galeries LafayetteÂ group).Â And it's open until almost midnight --Â a necessity for lots of us (how many times have I been 1 egg short when I've wanted to do a little late-night baking) and a rarity in this town.
...Continue reading Paris Priorites: Monoprix
As many of you know, I've been a Pierre Herme fan (okay, the president of his fan club), for years and years, in fact, since aboutÂ 2 minutes after I met him in 1993.Â At that time, he was the chef-patissier at Fauchon and had just created a cake that had the food, art, design and architecture worlds buzzing:Â La Cerise sur Le Gateau, or The Cherry on the Cake
...Continue reading BEHIND THE SCENES AT PIERRE HERME:French Macarons and More
Well, today the Cafe Salle Pleyel burgerÂ got big-time coverage -- it's the star of Jane Sigal's extensive story In Paris, Burgers Turn Chic.Â It's a really good story and, after you read it, you should take a couple of minutes to view/listen to the accompanying audio/slideshow as well - the pictures are swell.
Now here are the two best parts of the story:
...Continue reading Cafe Salle Pleyel Burger: The Burger of The Times
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.Â Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
I'd just bought a kilo (about 2 1/4 pounds) of sardines and I'd hoped that madame, the fishmonger, would filet them for me.Â And she would have -- if I'd only wait 30 minutes, please.Â Because it was a warm, sunny, perfect Paris day, and because I'd no more shopping to do to fill in the time, I said I'd filet them myself.Â Madame gave me a quizzical look -- read doubtful -- and, because she was too polite to say, "I bet you've never done this before and don't know what you're in for," she said, "You know, you've got a lot of sardines and it will take you a while to filet them."
"Well," I said, "I really do have to get back home, so I'll take them as is.Â But," I asked, "would you just show me how to do it?"
...Continue reading Give A Man A Fish ...
Last night I had a dinner party with lotsÂ of wine, as you can see, and this morning I had to tossÂ the empties into the recycling bin, located in the courtyard in full view of all of my Parisian neighbors.
There isn't a time when I do this that it doesn't make me think of differing attitudesÂ (or at least what I perceive of as differing attitudes) between my French and American neighbors.
In our New York apartment, the recycling bin is in a common back hallway.Â WheneverÂ I toss a bunch of bottles into the bin, I have the same thought:Â "What willÂ the neighbors think when they see soooooooo many bottles."Â Â
In Paris, as each bottle crashes to the bottom of the bin and breaks, I imagine my neighbors looking out of their windows, seeing me, l'americaine, and saying: "Bravo!Â She's getting the hang of life here."
I had a great lunch at Racines, 8 Passage des Panoramas (Paris 2; 01-40-13-06-41), a wine bar with exceptional food/ a bistro with exceptional wine, and I had it with great people, the bloggers, Meg Zimbeck and David Lebovitz.Â And at some point during the lunch, I had to giggle -- and snap a picture
...Continue reading Bloggers Who Lunch
I'm in Paris now and each time I passÂ the cafe La Palette or stop in to have a coffee, I think of the time, several years ago, when my husband, Michael, and I had lunch there under the trees and finished with the simplest tart imaginable.Â La Palette's strawberry tart wasÂ nothing more than aÂ cookie crust, brushed with strawberry jam, topped generously with strawberries and served with a little pottery bowl of thick creme fraiche.Â
At La Palette, I think what they do is bake the tart and leave it unfilled.Â When an order for tart comes in, they cut a wedge of the crust, give it a gloss of jam and spoon over the cut berries.Â It's a brilliant way to keep the crust crisp in a cafe and it works just as brilliantly at home.Â Because you don't assemble the tart pieces until you're ready to serve them, you don't risk having the crisp crust go soggy.
This week, the bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie made the La Palette Tart from Baking From My Home to Yours,Â so you can see almost 200 versions of it on members' blogs.Â Here's what it looked like when I had it at La Palette the first time
La Palette is at 43 rue de Seine, in the 6 th arrondissement.
It was almost hard toÂ fly out ofÂ New York last night - it had been one of those glorious you-know-summer-is-on-its-way days and everything that wasn't already in bloom in Riverside Park was promising to bloom the instant you turned around.Â I knew it wasn't going to be like that in Paris, since my friend Helene had already sent a message that read, "Pack pullovers - it's winter here!"
...Continue reading Good-Bye New York/Bonjour Paris
...Continue reading The Paris Ten: Must-Tastes
The only thing wrong with Alec Lobrano's new book, Hungry for Paris, is that, after 418 pages and 102 stories (and solid information) about restaurants, you're starved for more.Â Read the book like a novel - the writing is superb and each restaurant "review" is more short story than traditional critique - and when you reach the end, you might want to start all over again.Â For sure, you'll want to go to Paris, follow in Alec's footsteps and eat your way through the city.Â The book is a little gem.
...Continue reading Hungry For Paris
It has to have been about 10 years ago that Pierre Herme created the Ispahan, a dessert composed of the now iconic trinity: rose, litchi and raspberry.Â His first Ispahan was two rose-flavored macarons sandwiching a rose cream studded with fresh litchis and raspberries, the whole topped with a fresh red rose petal.Â Since that time, not only has just about every pastry chef in Paris created something rose flavored, Pierre himself has created at least a dozen desserts, jams and pate-a-fruit (fruit jellies) using the combination.
...Continue reading Rose Fever - Paris's Got It
What you're looking at are some of the 143 traditional baguettes that were brought to the bakers' union on Ile Saint-Louis in Paris to be judged for this year's 'best baguette in Paris' award.Â According to a French reporter writing for Via Michelin, 14 of the breads were disqualified for not meeting the standards for a baguette, which specify that the bread must be 70 cm long (27 1/2 inches), weigh between 250 and 300 grams (about 9 to 10 ounces) and contain additive-free wheat flour, water and salt.Â
As you'll see when you read the article, the judges are as passionate about bread as the bakers (in some cases, far more passionate) and it's a good thing they take their jobs so seriously because the winner of the Meilleur Baguette de Paris is charged with supplying the daily loaf for the President of France (and, we assume, his gorgeous new wife, Carla Bruni).
...Continue reading Michelin Names Their Favorite Breadbakers in Paris
I know some of you think I travel around the world taking pictures of cute guys, but really, really, I only take their pictures if there's a reason, usually a food-related reason, and, as you can see, this guy's holding a tin of cookies.Â But here's what's so terrific about him and his cookies:Â he's an election monitor (today Parisians are voting for arrondissement mayors) and he gives ccookies to all the little kids who get dragged to the voting booths with their parents.
...Continue reading Cookies in Unexpected Places
Wouldn't these be fun to have on Easter morning?Â They're from chocolatier Patrick Roger, whose shop window on the Boulevard Saint Germain is definitely ogle-worthy.
If you're a Paris regular (or if you've read my blog for a while), you may already know Helene Samuel because she's the bright mind behind Delicabar, the restaurant in Le Bon Marche department store, and Cafe Pleyel, the very chic spot (with the great hamburger) in the newly renovated Salle Pleyel concert hall.Â What you might not know about Helene is that she's generally cool, meaning hip, but also meaning level-headed - even when she's emailing or texting.Â In other words, she seldom uses exclamation points and never sends her messages with any of those high-priority symbols.
Knowing this, you can be sure that the instant I saw her name, a red flag and the subject line:Â IMPORTANT NOTICE, I opened the message immediately.Â Â I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this:
"When you arrive, do not buy cheese - I've got some for you."
...Continue reading Yet Another Reason to Love Paris: My Friend Helene
Remember when I wrote about having red wine with oysters in Paris?Â Well, Eric Asimov, chief wine critic of The New York Times, did and he decided to try the combo himself.Â The results of his taste tests are described today in A Rule Just Waiting to be Broken.Â
Eric, who loves oysters and really knows and loves wine, tells about pairing his oysters with four red wines (one of them the Marcel Lapierre Morgon I had with the pictured oysters and rillettes at Le Comptoir).Â It's a great story - Eric is an unfailingly engaging writer - and it will give you a sense of why the pairing might work ... or might not.Â
Click over, it's a good read.
Now that it's pretty much accepted that white wine is good with cheese - about 5 years ago the sommelier at Le Grand Vefour told me that after a huge tasting, he and his team decided that white wine is better than red with cheese in 70% of the cases - we've got a new tradition on the line: oysters and cold, crisp white wine.
...Continue reading Oysters! And Red Wine????
It was particularly nice to be in the Boulevard Raspail market this morning.Â The sun was shining -- at one moment it was so bright that I was squinting through my sunglasses -- the temperature was mild and it seemed like everyone at the market was in good cheer.Â
Certainly the butcher who was sipping a coupe of Champagne between chops to his chickens was in high spirits.Â After I shot this, he asked me if I took the picture because of the chickens and, when I confessed that it was the glass of champagne that had caught my eye, he grinned, put his hands up in the air and said, "C'est la fete!"Â Â And it really did feel like a party.
...Continue reading A Champagne Break - or another reason why Paris is so wonderful
A couple of days ago, my friend Laura Shapiro (she who wrote the terrific biography of Julia Child) sent me an email saying, "I hope you're having a wonderful time and hearing French Christmas Muzak everywhere and eating the meringue mushrooms off the buche de noel, which is certainly what I would do if allowed."
Well, of course I'd pick the mushrooms off the buche and munch them greedily, but this year there are no mushrooms to pull off the logs - at least not on the logs of Paris's best-known patissiers. This season's logs are sleek, shiny and very sophisticated. (Not at all like the adorable plump snowman from Dalloyau above.)
...Continue reading Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noel
I've got a special place in my heart for chestnuts.Â I associate them with my mother, who'd roast them late at night; I think about them when I think of Paris - hot chestnuts wrapped in newspaper and bought from a street vendor are ace handwarmers when you're browsing the outdoor flea markets in winter; and I have chestnuts to thank for my friendship with Pierre Herme, the famous Paris pastry chef.
...Continue reading Three Wonderful Things: Chestnuts, Pierre Herme and a Tart
Helene Samuel, the genie behind Delicabar Snack Chic in the Bon Marche department store has created a new, equally chic spot, Cafe Salle Pleyel, in another mythic location, the newly renovated Salle Pleyel concert hall. The girl knows how to pick her places.
The Cafe Pleyel is what the French would call a confidential address, meaning it's one insiders know about. But while it's confidential now - it's on the second floor of the Pleyel building and there is no sign on the street - it won't be for long: Le Figaroscope just wrote about it.
...Continue reading Cafe Salle Pleyel: Listen Up
I'm fascinated by supermarkets (I know you're not surprised) and always make them one of my first stops when I land in a new place. I feel I can really get a bead on a place by wandering a market's aisles, particularly the ones where the convenience foods are stocked. Naturally, in France, convenience foods include cassoulet (in a tin or jar), foie gras, microwavable dinners from famous chefs (if you can't get into le Grand Vefour, maybe one of Guy Martin's dishes will make you feel better), rolled-out ready-to-go all-butter pastry and this beurre de cuisson, or cooking butter.
...Continue reading Clarified Butter French Supermarket Style
This summer, when I had dinner at Pierre Herme's, we had ice cream for dessert and, as our after-dessert dessert, we had macaroons, which came to the table in this fabulous round box, the top of which also has a hole in the center, making it a Macaroon Lifesaver (which, and I don't think I'm speaking for myself alone, is often just what we need, isn't it?). At that time, the box wasn't in production - we were getting a sneak preview - but this afternoon, when I went into the shop, there it was. And with it, the perfect-for-the-season macaroon, the Marron et The Vert Matcha, a chestnut macaroon filled with Matcha green tea and marrons glaces (candied chestnut) cream. Coming later this month: Infiniment Vanille, an all-vanilla macaroon, and Pistache, a pistachio macaroon with a white chocolate and pistachio cream.
Maybe macaroons don't make the world go round, but they certainly make the round world a sweeter place.
Maison Lenotre turned 50 and it's celebrating its Juliblee Year with a series of creations called Jubilantes, any one of which would make any birthday a happy one.
Among the treats that executive pastry chef Guy Krenzer and his team are introducing are two new macaroons: one is whisky and tonka bean, and the other is chocolate with orange zest. The chocolate macaroon is called Camille and is named for the young apprentice who invented it. I love that an apprentice is given the chance to make this kind of contribution and get this kind of recognition from a legendary house - bravo, Lenotre.
...Continue reading Lenotre Bakes Itself a Birthday Cake
All good bread can sustain and comfort us, but for so many reasons, Poilane bread can make us dream. There is something romantic about the bread, the way it is made (it is shaped by hand and baked in woodburning stone ovens), the way it looks (dark, rough, imperfect but elegant), the way it feels in our hands (substantial and reassuring) and the story behind it (the story of Lionel Poilane, who didn't want to become a baker like his father, but who did and who, in the process, became a world-famous champion of wholesome, authentic artisanal bread).
...Continue reading A New Pain Poilane: This One's Peppery
It seems as though there's always a salon or a trade show going on somewhere in Paris and, not only do lots of them have to do with food, so many of them are open to le grand public, meaning us ordinary mortals. This weekend, Paris hosted the fabulous and always packed Salon du Chocolat (see Paris Breakfasts for a great tour of the event) and the smaller, less well-known and far less crowded Salon Paris Fermier, where farmers from all over France come to show and sell their products - in bulk to restaurants and stores, of course, but also to hungry and appreciative visitors, who might want just a sack of apples, a leg of lamb or a couple of slices of ham to bring home for an afternoon snack.
Last night, having just gotten to Paris and surviving the transit strike and the news that the money we'd wired to our bank hadn't arrived, we went to meet a friend for dinner at La Ferrandaise, a bistro named for a cow (see Bossie above) and decorated with nothing but pictures of cows (see Bossie above). The first time I went to La Ferrandaise, located just across from the Luxembourg Gardens, I thought both the name and the bovine decor were a little odd; now, won over by the food, I find them endearing.
...Continue reading La Ferrandaise: Rare Beef and Rarer Ice Cream
I know I must have had my camera with me this morning. Obviously, what I didn't have was my with-it-ness because I missed a great photo op. I was, as I usually am on summer Saturday mornings, at the Lyme Farmers Market. I had just bought swordfish, Littleneck clams and a lobster (what a treat!) and was surveying the lines at the other stands, deciding on my next move, when Carol Dahlke came walking across the fields, headed in my direction. Carol is due to give birth to Baby James any day now, so she usually leads with her belly, but today she led with an object I recognized immediately: a red and white box from Pierre Herme!
...Continue reading Of Macaroons, Memories and Missed Opportunity
Because I try to be the best friend possible, when people ask me if I'll eat a macaroon for them when I'm in Paris - and people ask all the time - I always say "yes" and I'm always good to my word.
These are the kinds of macaroons I'm expected to sacrifice my girlish figure for. (The picture is from Pierre Herme's window)
...Continue reading French Macaroons: A Tale of Three Cities
He who hesitates is lost. Well, I'm not exactly lost, but I was certainly beaten to the posting punch by my friend David Lebovitz. I'd been getting organized to write about the great day I spent with David touring his market, le Marche d'Aligre, probably the liveliest in Paris, but he actually pulled it all together. To read about our day, click over to David.
For a few footnotes, stay put.
...Continue reading Getting to Know the Marche d'Aligre with David Lebovitz
Velib rolled out almost two weeks ago and the Paris genies who set up the citywide bicycle program are probably cartwheeling merrily around their offices - what they've done is great!
People are riding around everywhere at every hour and they all look really happy. (Except maybe the 18-year-old student I saw who got a ticket for going up a one-way street the wrong way and couldn't cry her way out it. Tears usually work here, but this poor kid had the bad luck to run into a cop who was completely unmoved by them.)
And all the bikers have The Mark of the Veliber, even if some of them are oblivious to it.
...Continue reading Paris: The Mark of the Veliber
Last night, as I was flipping through a stack of French food magazines, I came across this advertisement for Lay's Potato Chips. The headline reads: "A New Recipe for Happiness," and the ad goes on to say that because the kinds of fats we eat is a concern these days, Lay's Chips now have less mauvaises graisses, or "bad fats." For sure it wasn't this copy or the suggestion that Lay's Chips can happily accompany a chicken, roast beef or barbecue that grabbed me, it was the not-so-small print at the bottom of the page that made me stop. It reads:
...Continue reading Snacks: Just Say "Non"
If you were having dinner chez Pierre Herme, the world-famous pastry chef, what would you expect to get for dessert?
Bet that whatever you guessed, you guessed wrong.
When we finished our dinner, the table was re-set for dessert with brightly colored glass plates and adorable little sporks (spoons with one forkish side). Then the chef brought out a big tray stacked high with:
Boxes of his ice cream!
...Continue reading At Home with Pierre Herme: Time for Dessert!
A French friend once told me that the way to hold an opened bottle of Champagne was to stick a silver (or silverplated) spoon in it. Since my friend had never steered me wrong, that's what I did and I was happy for lots of years.
Then some know-it-all told me that the spoon thing was an old wives' myth. He shrugged dismissively when I mentioned that my spooned Champagne seemed to have fizz a day later, and he insisted that the only thing to do with bubbly wine was to drink it up quickly - admittedly, not a bad idea, or to seal it with a cap made especially for that job - also not a bad idea. So, I bought a cap and I used it and it was fine, perhaps finer than the silver-spoon solution, but I couldn't really tell because, just like with the spooned leftovers, we sipped the stoppered stuff only a day later.
...Continue reading Champagne: How to Keep the Fizz
On Sunday, July 15, Paris begins its grand bicycle program and the whole city seems to be getting ready for it. On a walk along the rue Saint-Honore, I came across this poster urging everyone to get on a bike.
...Continue reading Bicycles in Paris: Two Days to Go
I am finally home in Paris having been to:
- and points in between and beyond
These were five incredibly jam-packed days and I've got tons I want to tell you, but first I've got to unpack my mind - no small job, especially since I leave again Tuesday morning, this time to go to Bordeaux and the Pays Basque!
...Continue reading Paris - At Last!
My friend Kerrin just sent me this photo. It was taken in a hypermarche, a super-big supermarket, outside of Paris and my guess is that, had Kerrin had a wide-angle lens, she could have shown us an equally long wall of canned tuna too. Even in the not-so-big Monoprix grocery near my apartment in Paris, the selection of canned fish is generous enough to keep you in that aisle for a while, reading labels and deciding among sardines with hot peppers, mustard, lemon or basil, smoked or not, whole or filleted. I always keep a stack of sardine cans in the pantry, they're my rainy-day emergency munch, perfect for when I'm on deadline and glued to my computer. A squeeze of lemon, a couple of slices of tomato, a little salad and some bread and butter and all is right with the world
...Continue reading Sardines: Not so much on this side of the pond
Do you remember when I was riding around Paris on a bicycle? Among the comments to my cycling post was this one from Mmm:
You've given me hope: a trip to Paris as a weight-loss regimen, pedaling aerobically from patisserie to patisserie!!! If you want to do a trial run of "Dorie's Patisseries-de-Paris Weight-Loss Tours," my schedule is such that I can be there on fairly short notice.
Hard to imagine, but the ruling elite in Paris beat me to it. In announcing that in their new program, Velib, Paris will have thousands of bicycles available throughout the city starting July 15 - buy a type of Muni-Meter ticket, pick up bicycles at any of the designated stations, then leave them at the drop-off spot nearest your destination (the first 30 minutes are free!) - the following line appeared in the press release:
Application forms for the annual card will be available starting June 13 at Paris District City Halls, 300 metro stations and 400 pastry shops throughout the city.
How fabulous! Soon we'll be queuing up for macarons and meter tickets. Another reason I love Paris.
When I bought a collapsible shopping cart in New York so that I could walk my haul home the 20 blocks from Fairway and Citarella rather than put eggs, fragile fish, crusty bread and rare olive oil at risk in a taxi, my friends teased me about reaching the age when I needed a "granny cart". Cut to Paris, where I bought a singularly unattractive but very efficient shopping cart and my friends said nothing. After all, there's nothing to say when all you've done is follow the national traditional.
...Continue reading It's in the Bag: Say Good-bye to Plastic
Talk about 15 minutes of fame - first Ari of Baking and Books interviewed me, now I'm featured chatting about my life in Paris on Everett Potter's Travel Report. Everett, a columnist for USA Weekend magazine and a writer with terrific style, has been to just about every corner of the world and parts of the world that don't even have corners and he tells all on his blog. It's a terrific read with lots of practical info as well as a dash of stuff to dream about.
Paris is one of the world's greatest walking cities - I'm convinced that's one of the reasons French women have such terrific legs - as well as one of the toughest: cobblestones are unkind and countless staircases can make your knees go weak. So I was plenty apprehensive coming here this time with a bum foot. Something happened to my foot and all I could do was hobble a few feet before I'd have to give up - not fun.
...Continue reading Bicycling in Paris: Profiles in Courage and Brioche
So I am in Paris! I wasn't supposed to be, but something came up and I had to be - I know, worse things have been known to happen - and this morning I took a stroll through the Saturday morning market at the rue des Carmes, that's in the fifth arrondissement, metro stop Maubert-Mutualite. (I love that addresses here are always given along with the nearest metro stop - so practique.)
...Continue reading The Market at Rue des Carmes and a Recipe
Flipping through a French Elle magazine this afternoon, here's what I found: An article about butter! It says that recently, "les food addicts" have been chasing after good butter (sound familiar?) and it declares The Five Commandments for Perfecting Your Butter Attitude.
According to Elle magazine, we should:
...Continue reading More Better Butter: Advice from Elle Magazine
These are the handmade English muffins that Michael Healy, a long-time American-in-Paris, sells every Sunday at the organic market along the Boulevard Raspail. Raspail, one of only two organic markets in the Paris system of weekly street markets, should be on your must-visit list even if you don't have a local kitchen.
...Continue reading The Muffin Man of the Boulevard Raspail Market
I recently got an email from a food friend asking if I knew anything about Australian friands. I was pretty sure I knew zip, but I was intrigued by the word because I knew it in French. Kind of. I knew the word friandise, which refers to a small delicacy - think petit four - and I thought I knew the word friand as another name for a financier. I planned to do a little research, but before I could pull down a single book, I found Australian friands in the May issue of Bon Appetit. I felt just like I did when I was a child, when as soon as I'd learn a new word, I'd see it or hear it.
...Continue reading Friands from Oz, Financiers from France
Take a look at this woman because, while you may be seeing her here first, I think you'll be seeing her lots more in many more places. Her name is Claire Damon and she's 29, talented, soft-spoken, rosy-cheeked and the only woman to have her own pastry shop in Paris. And what a shop it is. Hardly your corner bakery, Damon's des Gateaux et du Pain, which lives up to its name and sells both cakes (and tarts and cookies, too) and handsome handcrafted breads, is sleek, sexy and very sophisticated. If you know Pierre Herme's shop on the rue Bonaparte, you'll have an idea about Damon's, since they were both designed by Yann Pennor's and both look more like luxe jewelry shops than patisseries.
...Continue reading Claire Damon, New Girl on the Block
If hearing about these places makes you think of some of your favorites, I'd love to know about them - unless, of course, you think they're too confidential.
Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a fanatical runner, going out every day, whether it was hot, cold, snowing or pouring down rain, clocking miles and hours and arranging my life around my runs. And then I stopped. At least my body did - my mind kept going. Long after I gave up the sport, I'd have running dreams and, of course, I never forgot the lay of the land - I could tell where every dip and hill was in Central Park as well as how the road curved and where the purple forsythia bloomed, and I still can.
...Continue reading Breathe In, Breathe Out
I've got a kind of fetish with Paris metro tickets. Over the years I've come to think of them as good luck charms, so instead of tossing out the used ones, I tuck them into my pockets. Silly as it is, when I'm miles from Paris, stick my hand in a pocket and feel a ticket, it makes me smile - always.
And, odd as it sounds, I buy a 10-pack of metro tickets the day I leave town. I make the 11-Euro purchase knowing I won't use the tickets then, but convinced that getting a carnet (the name for these packs) is the same as taking out an insurance policy guaranteeing my return to Paris.
So far it's worked like a charm - I've been coming back for years!
I think my friend Mark Bittman (he of How to Cook Everything and Minimalist fame) and I started a new trend last night. At 6:30, when everyone else in Paris was beginning l'heure d'apÃ©ro (the cocktail hour), we created l'heure des huÃ®tres (the oyster hour), a pause in the day to sip, slurp and schmooze.
...Continue reading Maxing Out with The Minimalist
I'm just back from the Sunday organic market and, although I said I wouldn't buy anything because I'm not around for meals the next few days, I still came home with a basket heavy enough to make me huff and puff my way up the stairs. Of course, I didn't buy anything that could make a "real" lunch, but I bought enough treats to make me happy for the rest of the week.
Here are a few of the things I just unpacked:
...Continue reading Sunday Market
This morning, I left for the market on the Boulevard Raspail wearing a turtleneck sweater, a little polartec vest and a short jacket. Within a block, I'd unbuttoned the jacket; soon I bundled it into my market basket, and minutes after that I unzipped my vest. It was warm - at least in the sun - but when the sun moved behind the clouds, I was chilly and the women who'd worn their fur coats seemed enviably comfortable.
It's that funny time of year when you can catch a glimpse of the first forsythia blossom over the folds of your wooly muffler or find yourself at an outdoor cafÃ© not sure whether you want a hot chocolate or a cold beer.
...Continue reading The Flux of February
Paris has a reputation as a city for lovers and it's my sense that Parisians feel a civic responsibility to make sure that their town lives up to that rep.From the waiter who just about coos in your ear when he's asking if you want regular or decaf and the book clerk who helps you find the latest novel by leaning over your shoulder, to the siren on Paris's jazz radio station who only says TSF, quatre-vingt-neuf-neuf but is as dangerous to men as the Pied Piper was to children, le tout Paris gets a gold star for burnishing the city's storybook image. And today, Valentine's Day, I'm giving everyone an extra star for extra-good work, especially the pastissiers, chocolatiers and fleuristes in my neighborhood.
...Continue reading Valentine's Day in Paris
It's GREAT to be back.
Many years ago - really, many, many years ago - my husband and I were in a taxi in Burgundy on our way to have dinner at Lameloise, then a restaurant with three Michelin stars.bbI started chatting with the driver and he asked if I knew what I was going to order for dinner.vvI had read a little about the restaurant and knew the specialties, but certainly hadn't decided what I'd have. "Take the chicken in pig's bladder (poulet en vessie)," the driver counseled, "c'est magnifique."
...Continue reading Cab Cuisine
No sooner is the Bûche de Noël, the traditional Christmas log cake, removed from pâtisserie shelves, than the Galette des Rois, or King's Cake, takes its place. The holiday that brings us Galette des Rois, Epiphany, lasts only one day (January 6), but pastry shop windows will give pride of place to the cakes until almost the end of the month, and with good reason--the galettes are delicious and the custom attached to them is great fun. Click here to read more about these Galettes...