Posts Tagged France
This year I returned to Paris again and headed straight back to my friend Paule’s cooking school. Even though I ran a cookery school myself for several years in Brisbane I still find attending another cook’s classes stimulating and there is always something new to learn. Every time I have gone to Paule’s school I discover not only new recipes but entirely new techniques.
The class started off with an escorted tour to the food shopping district close to the former Le Halles market. Paule’s business name is not named Promenades Gourmandes for nothing. Paule was one of the very first people to organise walks and shopping trips to the best food arrondissements of Paris.
The famous family pie crust. A very different technique of making pastry that I have documented in earlier posts. If you want to know more about a different and easier way of making pastry do look up her website, or better still put in a request if you are going to Paris.
The starter menu for today was goats cheese and shallot tart but of course the French would have a better name Quiche au Chèvre et Échalottes Confites.
The fabulous Lacanche stove.
The Le Creuset cocotte is an indispensable piece of equipment in Paule’s kitchen.
You don’t see the range in various sizes so often in Australian kitchen shops but you would easily be able to order one at a cook’s shop. I took these photos in Paris’s Galerie Lafayette where they offer cocottes in several sizes.
At the end just before serving the ratatouille in goes a little crème fraîche, a little something extra that most cookbooks don’t include.
The Tournedos de Saumon – fillets of salmon were coated in herbs and wrapped in slices of smoked salmon. The foil held the shape whilst it was being cooked. I was quite impressed by this dish and re-created when we went down to our rented farm-house in Provence.
Paule serves the most stunning best cheese always. On the board are Crottin de Chavignol, Saint-Marcellin, Brie, Saint-Nectaire and Comté. This year I learned that the crunchy taste in hard cheese are the fats in the milk that crystallise. Another tip this one is alarming for those that think it is the soft cheeses that are highest in fat, it is in fact the harder cheese that has more fat. You will also learn as we did the ideal wine to drink with cheeses.
I did not get a photo of the higher inflated version as it came out of the oven. It had settled whilst we ate the other courses.
Here’s a pic of us on a wine tour in Beaujolais. I cannot wait to return to France and return to Paule’s kitchen.
Normally I am wary of eating in the Parisian brasseries because you often get rather old fashioned food at high prices. But with our friend’s recommendation we decided to go there for lunch. It was not too crowded and we were not rushed so we had time to take in the 1920’s design that was refurbished in 2006. This brasserie actually began as a beer making enterprise in 1836 so I duly ordered a biere and those who know John will appreciate that he had the Brasserie Georges labelled water.
Fortunately we took advice but if you had no recommendations and only looked at the website first, the sheer size of the room could be off-putting. Although it is a very large restaurant most of the seating is divided into sectional areas and with intimate booths so it does not feel too impersonal. Amazing effect considering it seats about 450 people and can feed up to 2000 people per day.
We opted for the Menu Presqu’ile a set menu, with a couple of choices in each category. Here is my entree of salmon and poached egg under a blanket of hollandaise. The thick slices of red onion are a touch rustic.
We both like chives fortunately and John had plenty on his lentil salad entree, dressed with red sherry vinegar and if I am correct a little bit of buttery mayonnaise in there as well and more chunky slices of red onion. A huge serving so I gave John a helping hand. Although we paid a set menu price, to give you a ballpark, the lentil salad was 6 euros and the salmon below on the normal menu was priced at 18 euros.
The waiter to my right was making Steak Tartare at the table for four women. The Steak Tartare comes with chips and salad for 17 euros. No wonder this place is so well patronised. Good honest food to match the prices.
Elsewhere the popular dish being ordered by Lyonnaise stalwarts was Choucroute – heavily laden plates containing kassler, smoked sausages, smoked belly of pork, knuckle of pork and all the sauerkraut you could eat.
And to my left another waiter making Steak Tartare for two men, as I watched him mix the ingredients I was beginning to wish I had ordered it.
But that is for another time. Here is my dessert of île flottante aux Pralines Roses de St Genix or œufs à la neige (eggs in snow) interchangeable names but essentially it is poached meringue floating in a crème anglaise and the Lyonnaise touch is to serve it topped with the classic pink praline. I couldn’t have been happier.
Lyon is a mini Paris in terms of its engagement with contemporary art. This visit we looked beyond the usual tourist galleries and found the locals art scene. The contemporary art gallery here is known as MAC Lyon and some of the works are from its collection ‘Pour Mémoire, acquired from its own art Biennal, the last was in 2011. It was also showing a large body by two artists, Daniel Firman and Phillipe Droguet. Photos were allowed but of course without flash so some of the white walls appear to be sepia in tone. The 12th Biennal de Lyon takes place 12 September 2013 until 05 January 2014.
Returning to Paris after touring through other countries in Europe, we gave ourselves one more week there to enjoy our favourite city. We went to see the blockbuster show for 2011, the major Manet exhibition at Musee D’Orsay. We pre-bought our tickets online to save lining up but once inside the museum there was still a snaking queue before we could enter the show. Well I reluctantly admit it was worth the hassle of waiting – just to see up close Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1863 – Luncheon on the grass …..the woman’s skin is so incandescent made more compelling by its size, larger than I expected.
Edéenne is the moniker of a jeweller originally from Quebec who now lives in Paris. A show of 120 exquisitely crafted pieces of jewelry in a show entitled “Unique”. Such a feeble name for a jewellery show but that should not diminish the output of this woman. What a coup to be asked to show in this wonderful French museum. Her publicity says that she works in the tradition of the 19th-century jewellers, who favored the beauty of materials over their intrinsic value. Edéenne is showing seven collections, each with a different theme.
Each collection was exhibited differently. I was not allowed to take photos which is a pity as one collection was so clever, each piece was sitting in the base of a terracotta garden pot. The flower that was the inspiration for the jewel in one of the pots. The jewellery is viewed by shining a small led torch down into the pot. My favourite was the hydrangea inspired ring that was set with tiny blue and mauve sapphires. Another I loved was the head of an animal, a deer I think it was, with its mouth open wide and its throat contained a gigantic stone.
Edéenne’s work is very much in the style of the jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels and Cartier particularly from the time when the Duchess of Windsor was busy commissioning and buying their jewels. Edéenne told us she has recently flown to Japan to deliver a special commission, adding she does not have a shop as she works primarily on commissions.
Still looking at this beautiful jewellery exhibition we managed at times to get sidetracked looking at the vast array of Légion d’Honneur awards, they alone are worth a visit anytime. Apart from the significance of the awards and how and why they were bestowed on people, the art of designing and making them is a study all on its own. An audio guide is available in English and free of charge, you just swap your driving licence for a loan of one. For Napoleon’s enthusiasts like I am, there was quite a bit to see and some of his fine chains of office, medallions all finely jewelled and enamelled.
GREAT QUICHE – For the nicest quiche pastry it is hard to beat Rose Bakery where I had a quick lunch. It is owned by an English woman – her name is Rose…. and her French husband. Some years ago I ate at their first bakery in Paris that is still operating out of gash in the wall up in the 9 e and now they have opened another tiny place in the 12 e. I chose one of the eggplant and roasted tomato square shaped quiches at their second Paris bakery in the 3 e as it is just around the corner from the apartment. I was amazed to see their business card lists one in Tokyo, one in Seoul and London so methinks it is fast becoming a cult. I like the glass and metal design of the entrance of the one I had lunch in.
BON MARCHE – I went food shopping in the wonderfully abundant Bon Marche gourmet food department store but a floor walking supervisor type person told me in no uncertain terms, wagging his finger at me not to take photos. I wasn’t the only person taking photos, I just happened to have a more visible camera. So frustrating as I always see such wonderfully decorated cakes in Paris and cannot resist keeping a photo to remind me of how sophisticated Parisian patisserie can be. So as much as I would love to show you the photos I took I have to respect their policy and won’t show them on my blog.
L’OPERA CAKE – John returned to Angelina’s near the Tuilleries for his hot chocolate drink fix. Since Dalloyau was not too far from us he called in there to see if they match the standard set by Angelina’s. it was the best excuse for me to try the famous Opera cake, a coffee soaked almond sponge cake, layers of coffee buttercream, chocolate ganache and chocolate glaze. A treble clef or flakes of gold leaf are generally used for final garnish. The Opera cake actually dates back to 1903, when Louis Clichy premiered it as the ‘Clichy’ at the Exposition Culinaire in Paris. Many years later, Parisian pâtisserie Dalloyau reintroduced and popularized it as ‘L’Opera.’
We took this photo so you could see the hot pink interior.
ANOTHER CHOCOLATE REPORT – We made a special trip to see the chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux in rue d’Assas in the 6e, how could I have missed it before. I chose the lovely faux crocodile skin box size I wanted and had it filled with anything that was covered in dark chocolate. There is even some crocodile skin pattern chocolates in there. Around €31. I know last time I raved about Pierre Marcolini chocolates but there is no rule that says I can’t flit from chocolatier to chocolatier, they all need my support. When I return to Brisbane I am going to invite my regular commentators on my blog to a chocolate tasting of the contents.
The very last meal out was at a new restaurant in the 11 e, an area not far from Bastille and we were smitten, and will return. I will write a separate post about Septime Restaurant soon.
Kitchens in Paris are not at all to my liking, they are far too small for all the work you have to do in there but I try to get by and work with what I am given. As someone who loves to cook and particularly to shop in exotic places it is so disappointing to find kitchens that are so cramped and ill-equipped. There is an art to squeezing in everything that is essential but practical bench space is always at a premium. We keep some essentials in Paris for our annual visits, a storage box on wheels that is kept for us by our apartment rental agency owners. As far as we know no one else asks or imposes on them to do this in between visits. Maybe we are only the fussy ones.
What was really clear about this apartment is that it is not set up strictly for rental. We could see it is lived in by the owner who vacates temporarily so she can rent it out for extra money. We did accidentally meet her and we gathered she was living with a friend whilst we were living in her apartment. This explains why there were very personal bits and pieces in the kitchen including good quality sea salt from the Camargue area of France. The dried spices you can buy at the nearby Monoprix supermarket.We bought the oil and vinegar, a bottle of French olive oil and a bottle of French wine vinegar are usually the first items to go on my shopping list when I arrive. This kitchen has an eclectic array – spotted coffee mugs, I do like the green glazed bowls, a little chipped but it adds character. An old blue thermos flask, a green and black spotted jug. You feel like an intruder but aren’t other people’s kitchens interesting?
The rustic baking dishes are like mine at home.
Fortunately this time along with a small French Press coffee jug was a small espresso machine. Alas I did not get to use this cast iron casserole, just a bit big for the two of us this time. Normally in my home kitchen it would not be a problem, in this I would make Beef Bourguignon, invite friends or simply freeze the left overs for another time. The cooktop set into the bench was a Rosieres with four electric hot plates and was very serviceable but the oven could be improved, it was one of those small above the counter ovens you can buy in any electrical department. I used to warm the plates on the top as the casing was so thin.
Even though I go for simple white plates and contemporary kitchen ware I do have a soft spot for dishes like these, they seem very French don’t you think. I wonder what the next kitchen holds for us in Paris next year.
We left a little piece of our love in Paris, in the form of a padlock that we attached to railing on the Pont des Arts. But will it be there – next time – we have to go back and see.
For years the newspapers report that ‘love-struck couples’ have been fastening padlocks to the railings of the Pont des Arts, engraving them with their initials, adding a few sentimental words and then tossing the keys into the Seine river below to symbolize their eternal love.
Earlier this year many vanished overnight. The municipal authorities said romance had to be dispensed with and removed the locks. Newspapers have reported that most people have said that since Paris is a haven for lovers, why would the authorities want to ruin the reputation.
Some locks have survived the recent cull but ours probably won’t, I understand some of the more interesting locks were not removed but as ours is so plain, it will probably disappear. We just found an unused lock in our drawers at home and John went to some trouble to have it engraved in Berlin. We kept it simple just our first initials and the date. We should search for a more distinctive one for next time.
I told John it is tradition to throw the lock in the Seine, he was not so keen, but was he going to revisit to remove it, I don’t think so. Before he could object any further I threw it in.
Posted by tastetravel in Uncategorized on May 19, 2011
We had not heard of this artist but he has obviously made an impact in Europe or at least in France to be given a large exhibition at the Pompidou. Maybe by posting this on my blog he can get another audience down under and further afar.His installation is fascinating and executed in a variety of materials that shows over a period development of his art practice in ideas and medium.
The work in glass is a collaboration he undertook with Murano glass blowers. He persuaded them against discarding the glass that was ‘wounded’ a wound that will always resurface no matter how you try to continue to work with the same object. He wanted the wounds to be part of the design.