Catch-Up: Caramel and Assorted Snippets from Paris and Beyond
First a word about La Maison du Biscuit. I learned about them a few years ago at the Paris Agricultural Fair. Their booth was close to the entrance and I stopped by because, even though it was clear that their cookies were commercial, they looked so very good. And they were good. All of their cookies are made with butter and while all of those that I sampled were delicious, the financiers and the palets normands were particularly good. So good, that after we bought a couple of boxes, we started ordering them online to be delivered to Paris at the start of our stays. Since then I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one who admires their cookies — mention their name to Fench cookie-lovers and they’ll all remark on the financiers. The caramel cookies are new, and while the ones made with Bordier butter are only available at the Bordier shop, I see that you can order the cookies made with ‘regular’ butter from La Maison du Biscuit online (from France).
Because I was able to find eclats de caramel d’Isigny au beurre sale au sel de Guerande (caramel pieces/chips made with creme fraiche from Isigny and salt from Guerande) at G.Detou in Paris, and because Bordier butter was at hand, I made my own caramel cookies at my own maison du biscuit — my Paris apartment. I used my recipe for sables (page 131 of Baking From My Home to Yours), substituting salt butter for unsalted and adding 1/2 cup of the caramel bits (which I chopped). I know the bits are hard to find here, but I was thinking that maybe HeathBar Brickle bits might work.
Here’s caramel in another guise. This was the dessert special one night at Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir, one of my favorite bistros in Paris. It was billed as a Club Sandwich au Caramel and featured very thin layers of sponge cake spread with chocolate ganache and served with caramel ice cream. And yes, it was as good as it looks and sounds.
And now, in no particular order, here are a few of things that I loved from our time in Brittany.
A crepe spread with Bordier seaweed butter from Breizh Cafe on the water in Cancale. (You can also get these crepes at the Breizh Cafe in Paris.) This is the butter that Kerrin Rousset and Pierre Herme both suggested I use to make seaweed pinwheels — if only it were available in New York City.
Here’s the cheese plate (sorry for the fuzzy picture) served at Olivier Roellinger’s seafood restaurant, Le Coquillage. Roellinger has a passion for spices and he pairs each cheese with a spiced jam, chutney, syrup or vinegar. There are purists who say you should never have anything with cheese except bread, but my guess is that haven’t been treated to Roellinger’s matches. I’d call them inspired.
And while I’m dreaming about our time at Olivier Roellinger’s, I want to show you this incredible ‘room service’ dinner. We stayed at Chateau Richeux for New Year’s (the first year in more than a dozen that we didn’t stay home in Paris and make dinner for friends) and, when I called to reserve our room, I’d been told that while the chateau was full, the restaurant would be closed. However, if we wanted to have dinner in our room, the kitchen would happily prepare a tray for us. Well, here’s one of the three trays that were delivered. Starting with the covered bowl — sorry I didn’t think to remove the lid — and going clockwise, there were potatoes from the Roellinger garden mixed with haddock; small bowls of white bean soup; teeny shrimp to eat like popcorn; lobster with mango; langoustines, fabulous langoustines, perfectly cooked langoustines to eat messily and dip in mayonnaise; petals of scallops with ginger; cocoa-nib coated foie gras; smoked salmon; and an amazing crab with coconut, coconut milk and lemongrass. Not seen: the cheese tray.
Here seen, the dessert tray with the most perfect marshmallows I’ve had in a long time and the loveliest wine-poached pears, both so nice after our meal. Not that we didn’t take a nibble of everything else …
Finally, this picture taken in the center of St. Malo, which I’m posting not so that you can see me pretending to be Santa, but so you can see what Santa is carrying in his sack: Not toys and iPhones, but food of all kinds. Ah, the French …