Vegetable heaven

June 26, 2011 at 5:39 AM | Posted in Paris 2011 | 2 Comments

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a 10-course vegetarian tasting dinner with wine pairings hosted by Clotilde Dusoulier and Braden Perkins of Hidden Kitchen. It was a truly memorable meal.  A few highlights of the evening…

Amuse-bouche of melon and lightly seared ricotta

Caper and mint cappelletti with fennel and tomato water, paired with 2010 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet, Sevre-et-Maine "Les Gras Moutons"

Tied for my favorite--roasted asparagus with tofu, pine nut butter, and chipotle powder, paired with 2007 Domaine Gilbert, Menetou-Salon

Grilled zucchini with miso labne, fried spelt and rice, and chanterelles, paired with 2009 Domaine Soufrandise, Macon-Fuisse, "Le Ronte"

Palate cleanser of watermelon and shaved fennel with--surprise!--balsamic vinegar mixed with agar-agar, dropped into frozen olive oil to turn it into caviar-like pearls

Sadly blurry--poached eg with fava bean hummus, purslane, herbs, and shaved pecorino, paired with Domaine Champalou, Vouray, "Cuvee des Fondraux"

 

Smoked polenta with grilled cherry tomato, radish and celery, mustard greens, black olive powder, paired with the only red wine of the evening--2009 Domaine Granges aux Belles, Anjou "53"

 

The other dish tied for my favorite--burrata (amazing milky mozzarella with a creamy center) with eggplant, pepper relish, and pickled watermelon, on a cornmeal cracker

 

Wild berries in a corn shell with sweet corn pudding, hibiscus powder, and edible pansies, paired with a really nice dessert wine--2009 Pierre Bise, coteux du Layon Beaulieu

 

Chocolate ganache, toasted and ground cacao nibs, fresh almond, toasted almond sorbet

The mignardises (little sweets) at the end did not photograph well, but they were delicious and all handmade–dark chocolate peanut butter cup,  Earl Grey tea-infused marshmallow, and  salted butter caramel. And Clotilde sent everyone home with a bag of homemade granola for breakfast today. What a fun night!

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That’ll show them!

June 18, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Posted in Paris 2011 | Leave a comment

In the wake of an e. coli outbreak in Germany (which was eventually traced to sprouts, but for which cucumbers and tomatoes were initially suspected), the price of tomatoes and cucumbers in France dropped up to 80% in the past weeks. Farmers and producteurs found this so outrageous that they decided they would rather give away the produce than sell it at such a reduced price. I saw an ad in a newspaper saying that farmers would be giving away tomatoes by the bushel outside of the Ecole Militaire opposite the Tour Eiffel on the Champs des Mars, and visions of tomato sauce and panzanella and pan bagnat started swimming in my head. A whole bushel of tomatoes! So, along with two friends and armed with two reusable shopping bags each, we got to the appointed site at the appointed time and saw big white tents and crowds. As we got closer, we saw that everyone was walking away two cucumbers and a small box (about a pint) of cherry tomatoes–not the bushel each we’d been envisioning (and that everyone else had been envisioning, based on the other attendees with multiple shopping bags). I had eaten all the tomatoes after 3 hours.

This tower of vegetables was the most exciting part of the outing. That and the overwhelming French-ness of building a tower of lettuce and giving away vegetables as a protest.


Tour of my humble home

January 30, 2011 at 5:48 PM | Posted in Paris 2011 | 5 Comments

Even though I complain about the diminutive dimensions of my apartment, it is growing on me. It’s quite Parisian…if by Parisian you mean tiny, kind of cold, with a “coin de cuisine” (literally, a place to cook…a much more accurate descriptor than “kitchen”), a little balcony perfect for chilling bottles of Pellegrino when the fridge is full and it’s cold out (or, if you smoke, stepping outside for a cigarette so you don’t have to go down and up the 7 flights of stairs), and a “canape-lit”–much nicer-sounding than “sofa bed.”

Its amazingness could really only be expressed in video…so voila!

 

Paris, Take Four

January 22, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Posted in Paris 2011 | 3 Comments

Hello! Welcome back!

I’m now in Paris for my fourth and longest stay–over six months! It’s hard to believe that I’ll watch the city go through three seasons before I leave.

I’ve been here for about three days, but have slipped into life here pretty easily. My French has improved vastly thanks to the class I took this past fall, which makes a huge difference, both at work and out and about in the city. I have lots of friends at work and outside of work, which makes the transition much easier. And now that I have a solid repertoire of “bonnes addresses” (special places), it’s been fun to revisit them.

There’s so much to talk about–from the exercise class I joined at work to the fact that the clementines are so fresh that they still have their leaves, but my biggest surprise so far has been my apartment. I guess I didn’t realize quite how small 17 square meters (about 150 square feet) was when I signed on to take this place, nor did I take into account that the elevator up to the seventh floor might be broken at any given point–and that getting into an elevator that is only operational about 20% of the time isn’t the most confidence-inducing experience, so I usually just take the stairs.

Times up the stairs today: four and counting

But it makes me feel better about the fact that I live above an amazing French-Japanese patisserie and can pick up yuzu and green tea macaron prior to making the trudge up the stairs.

Sadaharu Aoki (the patisserie) is a very dangerous neighbor

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