Monday, February 26, 2007

Wowzers - I just had the best sandwich of my life! Who can recall that scene from twin peaks where Jerry & Benjamin Horne devour butter and brie sandwiches from France. Now picture me sitting in drizzling rain, across from this food cart in the shadow of the Chateau de Chantilly. This was a Jamon et Burre sandwich on a Baguette. WE'RE TALKING HAM AND BUTTER, PEOPLE. The French have been keeping this little baby a secret. When you think french you think cheese and wine but not HAM AND BUTTER. Team lunch is turning into Ham and Butter lunch - I'm sorry but Bart and Buddy you will have to start eating meat again

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I havent thought about bagels in over 3 weeks...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Few Notes on the French...

1. They eat chicken mcnuggets with a knife and fork

2. They use pink toilet paper

3. They have dessert and espresso coffee with every meal

4. They dress up fancy

5. They hold their nose and make a funny sound (pwa-pwa) when something smells bad

6. They don’t smoke as much as everyone says

7. They’re not afraid to dress up in black face

I love continental breakfast!!!!

Jams and bread and coffee and hard boiled eggs and yoghurt and danish and fruit galore.

Sorry for more chocolate Bart...

But another Haute Savoie specialty is Meringue. I ate this bad boy like an apple. It is a ball of dried meringue with a layer of chocolate ganache in the middle and covered in glossy dark chocolate. OMGood!

Also ordered my first authentic Fondue while sitting Alpside. The pot was for two but I managed to finish her off. Turns out there are strict rules to eating fondue. Secure (and I mean secure) the bread to your fondue fork. Dip the bread into the cheese and twirl the fork to ensure no cheezy strands follow from the pot to your mouth. If you drop the bread into the fondue you are issued what is called a Gage or punishment from the table. It could be anything from kissing a dining partner, running around the house naked, or as Maxons and Virgile demanded, luging down the hill with them.
Woooo hoooo I'm in the French Alps and light headed from the altitude. Thankfully I have plenty of cheese and bread to keep me grounded. Seems every local specialty is made of (guess what) cheese, bread, potatoes and ham. Above you can see me modeling a Tartiflette - amazing casserole made of a mixture of potatoes and bacon, with a whole round of Reblochon cut in half and laid across the top.

In the Middle-Ages, farmers in the mountains of Haute Savoie used to pay their taxes with part of their milk production. They did not fully milk their cows so as to lower their level of production. Once the tax officers came to measure the milk produced and left, the farmers went back to milk the cows again. The milk they got was much richer and was used to make Reblochon! Reblochon is aged in cellars or caves in the mountains. The cheesemaker turns the cheese every two days and washes it with whey in order to speed the aging process.
Just to let you know -

This is called a Fagot du Pain

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Thankfully picking up the wee-one is helping shed the pastry pounds.

Nathalie brought home a deevine box o choc from La Maison du Chocolat. The dark chocolate bon bons had slight floral notes to them. The milk choco ones were fabooo as well.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gateau au Choc de Sophie

6 oeufs (eggs)
90 grammes farine (flour)
250 grammes chocolate noir (dark chocolate)
250 grammes de sucre (sugar)
2 sachets de sucre vanille (vanilla sugar)
250 grammes de beurre (butter)

Mix everything with a blender. Cook at 160 degrees celsius for 10-15 minutes. Gateau should be undercooked in the middle.

Nathalie's fantastic friend Sophie was literally sweet enough to share this recipe with me. Even in Euro measurements you know this cake is easy and so so delicious.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Lady & the Unicorn

Two days ago I visited the Musee Cluny and sat in one of my favorite rooms in Europe. I am not one for medieval art but the 6 tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn are so beautiful and serene.

In the tapestries a noble lady, a unicorn, her servant, a lion and a monkey depict the 5 senses plus one - A Mon Seul Desir (To my only desire) or Love. I thought taste, in which the lady is eating candy out of a dish held by her servant, was particularly appropriate.

Every time I touch a Parisian pastry I feel as though a majestic unicorn is by my side & there is a little monkey at my feet to eat the crumbs.
Valentines Day Edition

No real pastries today but I did happen to lunch at a restaurant famous across the world - McDonalds. I just haaad to try french mickey-ds for myself.

Turns out:
- Chicken McNuggets are not as plump and moist as the American ones
- Fries are not as salty (not a good thing)
- Coke was delish but came without ice and was definitely not filled to the brim

p.s. I could not find out where the napkins and straws were. They were cleverly hidden in a garbage looking container.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pastries Aside

Paris is filled with far less dog poo than I expected. In fact I'd say the streets of New York are suffering from a far greater poo epidemic. Something to think about.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Crepes au Nathalie

100 grams flour
30 centiliter milk
60 grams unsweetened butter - room temperature
3 eggs

Warm the milk. Slowly mix warmed milk and flour together. Add butter. Separate egg whites. Add egg yokes. Whip egg whites till firm. Fold in egg whites. Add a dash of salt.

Cook the batter in a non stick pan over medium heat for two minutes on each side. For savory crepes, substitute regular flour with buckwheat flour.
Welcome to my macaron post featuring the loveliest photo Ive ever taken. This is a raspberry macaron from the fabulous patissier Pierre Hermé. He opened his first boutique in Tokyo, Japan in 1998 to great fame. His first Paris shop finally arrived in 2001. Called the "Picasso of pastry" and "The King of modern pastry", it is his belief that pastries should be free from flavor clutter and not rely on "sugar as the salt."

The macaron was not too sweet, as promised. Raspberries probably had more sugar than the cookie itself. It was almost too pretty to eat but I devoured everything right down to the sugar dew drop on the rose petal & smiled the whole time.

Shout out to Nathalie for whole-heartedly supporting my pastry obsession. She bought me a wee choco cake from Jean-Paul Hevin. I think she keeps the pastries coming because she gets to try them too! This cake was truly delish - not too sweet (as all things in France are), surprisingly moist & featured a romantic poem silk screened in chocolate. I dare not translate goes

One in two
This is you;
We this you me;
We two this one,
Hearts-of-we, this is, god sky in;
Itself if a day, alone and alone;
Enfer d'effroi!!!
Never! She is my queen, and I am his king

Feel free to comment with a correct translation...

Would you say the french are more famous for Baguettes or CREPES!? Had the yummiest crepe avec sucre on a dusk walk home. Here is a vid of a very cute (cant really see him) old man makincrepes. Nathalie promised to give me a classic crepe recipe so we can allll try them at home. Expect that next.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Monday I was treated to a devine lunch at Cafe de Flore.This is a Paris establishment, having been at the heart of many great movements since its opening in about 1887. Its name comes from small divinity sculpture which was on the other side of boulevard St Germain. From 1918-1930 the cafe served as meeting place and for the dadaist and surrealist movement. In 1939 Café de Flore, with the aid of Jean Paul Sartre, birthed the existentialist movement. I doubt Nausea was named after the Café de Flore food. Names like Brigitte Bardot, YSL, Giacometti, Hemingway, James Baldwin, Roman Polansky, & Pepe the female monkey rack up throughout the years. Check out their website for the full story

But the real point of this post is the Croque-Monsieur. I ordered it on recommendation by Nathalie but almost turned it down for welsh-rarebit. The croque-monsieur is a hot ham and cheese sandwich with broiled cheese, usually gruere) on top for that extra bit o flavor and crunch. The origins of it's name are unknown but the croque bit is definitely all crunch. Next time (if the welsh-rarebit doesn't get me) I'll try the Croque-Madame - same sammy served with a fried egg & bechamel or mornay sauce on top.

Turns out I live right around the corner of the home of Poilane. A little more history about the great man - Lionel Poilâne (?? 1945October 31, 2002) was a French boulanger (artisan baker) and entrepreneur whose commitment to crafting quality bread earned him prestige throughout the world. His father Pierre Poilâne started a baking business in 1932, creating bread using stone-ground flour, natural fermentation and a wood-fired oven. Lionel took over the bakery in 1970, continuing the traditional methods. Poilâne is most famous for a round, two-kilogram sourdough country bread referred to as a miche or pain Poilâne.

Poilâne mastered his single product and trained his apprentices in the physical baking process, which he believed to be the most important aspect of his vision. He believed as much of the work as possible should be done by hand, by one person taking responsibility for their loaves from start to finish. Lionel Poilâne laid the basis of a concept he called "retro-innovation"; combining the best of traditional elements together with the best of modern developments. The only deviation from his father's original formula was machine kneading, saving hours of work for his bakers.

On October 31, 2002, Lionel Poilâne was killed when the helicopter he was piloting crashed into the Bay of Cancale off the coast of Brittany. The passengers, Poilâne's wife Iréna and their dog, also died in the crash. Poilâne was survived by his daughter Apollonia who now runs the enterprise.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sunday brought my first day off. Took a 5.5 hour walk from the apartment in arrondissement, 7 all the way up to Monmartre and back. Of course I found a few patisseries along the way. Stumbled upon Stohrer which bills itself as a Patissier, Chocolatier, Glacier & Traieur. It is one of the two oldest patisseriers in Paris, famous for its catering, pastries, chocolates and ice cream. It was founded in 1730 in the reign of Louis XV. Stohrer features murals painted in 1864 by Paul Baudry, whose works include the Grand Foyer of the Paris Opera. This is where I found my first french donut and man oh monsieur did i enjoy it. Savored its sugary fried goodness when I got to the top of Monmartre.

Soooo on Saturdays all of Paris waits in line at their favorite boulangerie to stock up on bread and other good things for the weekend. The lines drive out the door and onto the sidewalks. This past Saturday Nathalie, her nephew Maxons, Lucien and I visited Poilane. Poilane was set up after the French Revolution in 1789 in the basement of a 17th century monastery. At the same address Lionel Poilane started making bread in 1932, according to traditional methods. Nothing has changed since. Poilane bread is prepared an dbaked exactly the same way today: natural fermentation, manual techniques, 100-ton wood-fired brick ovens. We bought a beautiful loaf of their famous sourdough bread, a slice of flan for me, and a apple tart (which I unfortunately didnt get to try.)Flan was fabooo - a lot firmer than your mexican restaurant flan and with a flakey crust. And im still sucking down slices of bread whether it be with butter and amazing french jams or caviar spread and creme fraiche.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bonjour madames et messieurs,

C'est moi, Baguette Jessica. It took a lot of yelling and screaming but I am finally here in the land o france. The baby did not seem to relish business class seats as well as I. Now we are holed up in an amazing apartment in the 7th arrondissement. My time outside of the apartment has been limited to a stroll down the block with Lucien and a visit to the fabulous Bon Marche. The few pics i have can bee seen here FLICKR