France: The Week in Paris

October 15th, 2017

Garlic-Rosemary-Baguette-2v
There is no better way to start a blog post on Paris than with French bread.  Baguettes are available in every Boulangerie in France and it seems that every other person that you see on the street has one tucked under his/her arm.  This was my attempt at duplicating it a while back.  You can find the recipe here.  We are back from our two week trip to France and are slowly easing back into our normal time zone.

Place Vendome

On a drizzly day in Paris, we walked from our apartment near Notre Dame Cathedral in the 5th Arrondissement to the Place Vendome in the 1st Arrondissement.  We were with our French friends Laurent and Carole.  Place Vendome is home to the Paris Ritz Carlton where Lady Diana was staying before her unfortunate accident.  The Ritz is temporarily closed for renovations.  All of the high end jewelry stores are also on the square.

Palais Royal

We also visited the Palais Royal.  The inner courtyard was transformed in 1986 by a controversial art installation known as Les Colonnes De Buren.  The artist, Daniel Buren, envisioned a conceptual grid of varying heights of black and white striped columns.  Many thought that the whimsical columns clashed with the classical architecture surrounding them.  But today it appears that people are enjoying the whimsy.  There was even a bride and groom posing for their photographer on two of the taller columns.

Carole Palais Royal

Our French friend Carole also posed.  I couldn’t enhance the previous picture because it was on another camera, but this was from Instagram on my iPhone.  Love the options for enhancement on Instagram. Love Carole’s French elan.

Luxembourg GardensOn a sunnier Fall day we spent some time in the Luxembourg Gardens.  The Luxembourg Palace was commissioned by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of  Henry IV.  She designed the gardens to conform to designs from her native Florence.

Notre Dame Cathedral

David got up early one morning and walked the several blocks to Notre Dame with the intention of climbing to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral to commune with the gargoyles.  I am pleased to report that he made it to the top.

David at Notre Dame

The 400 steps winding upward were a challenge but he was proud that he made it.  Not bad for a 70 something guy.  The views of Paris were awesome.

Shakespeare and Company

We enjoyed visiting the iconic Shakespeare and Company.  This bookstore has been around for decades and was a hang out for some of our most illustrious American authors.  Browsing the books was enjoyable and we also appreciated the staff who Googled information for us.  It is such a friendly place.

Paris Flower Market

After leaving Shakespeare and Co. we crossed the bridge to the island of Ile de Cite to walk through the Flower and Bird Market.  It is always a tranquil place in the busy city.

Eiffel Tower

We ended a day with a river cruise on the Seine.  J’aime Paris.  There will be more about restaurants in my next post.

Pain D’Epices – French Spice Bread

September 23rd, 2017

Pain D'Epices

We leave for France on Tuesday.  It has been a long time in the planning.  In honor of our upcoming trip, I made Mimi Thorisson’s Pain D’Epices.  It is a humble spice bread that is good in so many ways.  Serve it warm smeared with butter, top it with hummus for an appetizer, or spoon on your favorite jam. It can be anything that you want it to be. It is both sweet and savory. The following are some of the places that I am considering visiting in Paris.

Le Petit Chatelet

We will be staying in the Latin Quarter on this trip.  We previously stayed in the 7th Arrondissement near the Eiffel tower. I am very familiar with that area of Paris.  The Latin Quarter is in the 5th Arrondissement on the Left Bank.  There are so many historical points of interest there. Our apartment is a block from the Sorbonne, the famous Paris University specializing in the arts, humanities, and languages.  But it is also close to Shakespeare and Company. The original bookstore was opened in 1919 and was a refuge for many early American writers like Hemingway and Ezra Pound. The current location is close to The Notre Dame Cathedral.  Le Petit Châtelet is next door to Shakespeare and Company.  Even though it is in a touristy area, the restaurant is authentic and charming with a delightful view of the cathedral.

le-caveau-du-palais-salle-cote-bar-place-dauphine-341ab

Le Caveau du Palais is in a quiet pocket on Ile de Cite.  The restaurant is what the French call charme fou, utterly and incredibly charming.  It is on Place Dauphine, a tranquil triangular park. Outside seating is a pleasant option while watching elderly men playing Pétanque in the adjacent park.

Le Caveau du PalaisIt would be a pleasant place for lunch.

RobertetLouise_RibSteaksintheFireplace

With Gingham curtains at the windows and the smell of wood smoke in the interior, Robert et Louise has been a Marais destination for generations.  Specializing in steaks cooked over a wood fire, it would be a good choice on a cool evening for French comfort food.

chez-la-vieille

But for our special night out, we have chosen Chez la Vieille.  “La Vielle” literally means old woman.  The restaurant was started by French cook Adrienne Biasin who had a strong French temperament.  When it closed in 2012, Chicago born chef Daniel Rose (of the popular Paris “Spring” restaurant) decided to re-open it.  It has been redesigned but retains many of the old school dishes like blanquette de veau.

I will try to post to the blog while we are traveling.  But I will definitely be posting pictures to my Instagram account.  Hope you follow me there.  Au Revoir.

PAIN D’EPICES (Mimi Thorisson)

5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup almonds finely chopped
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup lavender honey
1 large egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan with butter

In a large bowl, combine the flours, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  Add the honey, melted butter, and egg yolk and mix well.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Unmold and let cool at least slightly before serving.  This is good at room temperature.

Printable Recipe

 

Planning for France

September 11th, 2017

Wardrobe 1

We are looking forward to our trip to France at the end of the month.  Planning a wardrobe that I can take in a carry-on bag has been a challenge.  Since we have to change planes in Spain before flying to Marseille, I decided that I did not want to risk lost luggage.  Besides, I like the idea of simplicity.  I will be taking 2 pairs of jeans and 2 pairs of black slacks to go with the above tops. On the plane I will wear a light jacket with my comfortable travel clothes.  We will be in France for two weeks. On the first week, we will be on a Viking Cruise.

Cruise MapThe cruise will be on the Rhone River traveling from Avignon to Lyon.  We are looking forward to visiting Arles where Van Gogh painted many of his works of art.

Arles on CruiseVan Gogh's Painting in Arles We have spent some time in Avignon on previous trips so have decided to do an optional shore excursion to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Constructed in 1316 as a summer residence for the Avignon Popes, the area has thrived as one of the world’s most celebrated wine producing regions.  The excursion includes a tour of the chateau ruins and a wine tasting in one of the area’s wine cellars.

There will be several more stops along the Rhone River before we arrive in Lyon.  I am looking forward to getting to know more about this gastronomic and cultural community.  If only we had enough time to visit Restaurant Paul Bocuse.

Veranda Suite Viking

We have booked a Veranda Suite for our trip.  One of the advantages is free laundry service so that I will have clean clothes for our trip to Paris.

Paris Apartment 2017 1

Our Paris apartment is in the Latin Quarter very close to the Sorbonne.  I am still working on the details of our week there.  I will keep you posted.  The planning is almost as fun as experiencing a travel adventure.

My thoughts are with Florida and all of our friends there.  We have two of our Florida friends staying with us this week.  Our weather is supposed to be windy and rainy starting this afternoon.  Hopefully we will not lose power.

The Chef’s Table At Rezaz

September 21st, 2014
Reza Setayesh 2

Photo Courtesy of Rezaz

Asheville North Carolina is a mecca for fine dining.  One of the top hot spots in town is a Mediterranean restaurant called Rezaz (pron. “ray-zuhs”), located just blocks from the entrance to The Biltmore Estate.  Chef/ owner Reza Setayesh has traveled and trained widely resulting in a worldly palate.  His emphasis in the dining room is on Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, but at his Chef’s Table anything goes.  He loves to give free rein to his culinary expertise.

Rezaz Group photo

When Sam ( My Carolina Kitchen ) and her husband Meakin invited us to join them, along with BIL and SIL Stuart and Sandy, for  a chef’s table dinner we immediately accepted.  Meakin arranged for us to enjoy a 5 course French Provencal dinner with wine pairings.  The kitchen was warm and inviting on a rainy night.

Rezaz Pandelier

A nice touch was the pandelier overhead.  It is a metal sculpture made from saute pans used during the restaurant’s first decade.

Rezaz dinner 1

We were fortunate to have a highly trained waiter to explain all of the chef’s dishes to us.  Our anticipation was rewarded with the following courses.

Rezaz Plate 1

The first course consisted of three seafood preparations.  At the top left is a Smoked Salmon Rillette served with a toasted baguette and sliced radishes.  Bon Appetit has a similar recipe here.  Next to the salmon is Moule Curry (Mussels in a curry sauce with breadcrumbs).  At the bottom is a Trout and Crab Galantine ( A Trout roll stuffed with crab) with arugula pesto.

Rezaz Plate 2

Our second course was a Pan Seared Sushimi Grade Cobia (Swordfish) a la Provencal, Sauteed French Gnocchi, Seared Scallops and Summer Vegetable Ratatouille.   My, oh my, this was delicious.  Summer on a plate for sure.

Rezaz Plate 3

The next course was one of my favorites.  It was a Duck Leg Confit in a Cherry Gastrique Sauce.  The duck was moist and crispy from cooking in its own fat.  With it were Yukon Gold Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach.

Rezaz Plate 4

The next entree course was a study of three lamb preparations; a Grilled Lamb Chop, Lamb Navarin (Stew) and Lamb Gigot (Roast with French thyme and wild rosemary).  It was served with a Parsnip and Potato Mash,  and an Arugula Pesto.  It was wonderful, but we were getting full.

Rezaz Plate 5

For dessert we had a Summer Berry Clafouti and a Lemon and Berry Sorbet with a Touille Cookie.  The sorbet was so refreshing and the clafouti was just the right size.  Next time I make one, it will be a bright mix of berries like this.

car

As we drove back over the mountain from Asheville to Lake Lure we were sated, happy and thankful that we could spend such a lovely evening with friends.  It was a truly memorable experience.

 

Julia Child’s Scalloped Potatoes

June 24th, 2014

Julia Child's Scalloped Potatoes 1

 

This is familiar territory for me;  a cast iron skillet, warm lighting for the shoot (forget that natural light when it is late evening), decadent potatoes with a history from Julia Child and a heady scent in the air.  I made this as a side dish for the steak that David was cooking on the grill.  Each time that he returned to the house from the deck, he said “Man, it smells good in here”.  Sometimes tried and true recipes are all you need. And I was tired of baked potatoes with my steak.

Julia Child's Scalloped Potatoes 2

 

Cooking the potatoes in an iron skillet seemed rustic and smart.  Cast iron holds the heat so well.  Julia Child’s Gratin Dauphinois, or scalloped potatoes to us, has stood the test of time and is still one of my favorite scalloped potatoes recipes.  I did make some changes to the recipe.  I used russet potatoes instead of boiling potatoes and I used Gruyere cheese instead of Swiss.  I also added fresh thyme to the casserole.  My thyme plant is thriving this year.

Julia Child's Scalloped Potatoes 3

 

Steak, decadent potatoes and a cool crisp salad.  What a wonderful dinner.

JULIA CHILD’S SCALLOPED POTATOES (GRATIN DAUPHINOIS)

2 pounds russet potatoes

A fireproof baking dish about
10-inches in diameter and
2-inches deep

1/2 clove garlic
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup boiling milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8 inch thick.  Place in a basin of cold water.  Drain when ready to use.

Rub the baking dish with the cut garlic.  Smear the inside of the dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Drain the potatoes and dry them in a towel.  Spread half of them  in the bottom of the dish.  Divide over them half the salt, pepper, thyme, cheese, and butter.  Arrange the remaining potatoes over the first layer, and season them with salt, pepper and thyme.  Spread on the rest of the cheese and divide the butter over it.  Pour on the boiling milk.  Set baking dish over heat and when simmering, set in upper third of preheated oven.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk has been absorbed, and the top is nicely browned.

Printable Recipe

 

 

 

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.