This Week At The Market

sourcherriesparis.jpg

Griottes
Like many things in French, there can be several names for the same thing. Chicken breasts can be blanc de poulet, suprême de poulet, or poitrine de poulet. And there are 7 different ways to say “because of” (a cause de, grace a, car, parce que, etc…) When people ask me how long it took to learn French, I tell them that even the French don’t know how to speak French! They’re always learning more, consulting their dictionaries and checking their verb guides. Some French business people actually go back to school to improve their language skills. (Hmm, on second thought, I can think of a few Americans who could use a couple of language lessons too.)

Griottes, for example, are sour cherries. Yet there’s also Montmorency which are slightly smaller cherries, but can’t they just call them all sour cherries for bakers who are trying to learn the language?

So I bought a nice little sack of them to make Adam’s Sour Cherry Frozen Yogurt. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that sour cherries are available, I suggest you take advantage of them. They don’t last very long and should be used within a day of purchase. Most of the time, they’ll look kinda funky, somewhat dinged up, and a bit dark, which is normal and since most Americans stopped making fresh sour cherry pie (and the French don’t make pies), they can be hard to find.

Many year ago, trying to figure out what to do with the surplus, an enterprising man from a company called American Spoon Foods decided to dry the excess, hence the proliferation of dried sour cherries. I bring hoards back to Paris when I return to the states. We’re just beginning to see them here, but they’re pricey. My French friends love ‘em and I use them for special occasions. If you ever want to bring a gift to a French friend, or to me, I recommend dried sour cherries.

I also like caramel corn (thanks M.N.!)

butterfretoy.jpg

Salted Butter
Holy s@%#t!
Life doesn’t get any better than this. Look at all that salt! Every pore of this hunk of butter is oozing salt. To those of us who’ve been trained to use only unsalted butter, we forget how much better salted butter tastes. A chocolatier friend who just visited New York City to meet with investors who wanted him to open a chocolate shop, came back to Paris and told me he didn’t know if he could do it since the butter was so lame.

This is called beurre salé, and whenever I see those big streaks of Breton salt embedded in a mound at a fromagerie, I always end up taking a slab home. The smell is incredible. I can only describe it as similar to the smell that comes from when you melt butter on the stovetop, and there’s that lovely sweet-cream, dewy scent.
I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow! In fact, maybe I’ll dig in right now.

tapenadeparis.jpg

Tapenade
I used to make my own tapenade, thinking that my own…um, well…something doesn’t stink. That my homemade tapenade was always better. But I’ve been buying mine from a great olive vendor and it’s excellent. I eat it simply spread on bread, like a baguette tradition from Eric Kayser, a favorite bakery of mine.

brugnonparis.jpg

Brugnons
Brugnons look like white nectarines, but are considered a cross between a nectarine and a peach, which originated in France. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about how they were hybridized, but I’ll leave that up to other foodies to argue. All I know if that they sure are good. They taste like a full-flavored white nectarine but are more complex and not as sweet, with a rather nectar-like taste.

oliveoilparisallicante.jpg

Arbequina Olive Oil
I’m gonna channel Rachel Ray and say… yum! (sorry). I was visiting one of my favorite huileries in Paris (Allicante at 26 Blvd Beaumarchais), and tasting a few of the new olive oils that she just received. This Arbequina olive oil from Spain was sensational; super-fruity, buttery, aromatic…everything a guy could want in an olive oil.

So yesterday I made a salad of tomatoes, roquette, flat-leaf parsley, and ricotta salatta that I got from the Italian épicerie, which my French friends had never tasted. If you’ve never had it, it’s a dried sheep’s-milk cheese similar to feta, but without all the salt and milder. I love it in the summer and crumble it recklessly over pastas and salads. Or bake tiny fingerling-like potatoes in it. I can’t wait to play around with my new oil.

haricotbeurre.jpg

Haricot Beurre
Although people seem to associate French with haricots verts, I can’t resist their paler, and sometimes more curious, cousins.

Categories:

Food Markets

26 comments

  • Wow! In the 50s when my dad used to take us back to where he grew up in Maine, we always returned to New York with a cooler full of what he called “dairy butter”. He got it from small remote dairy farms where it was churned and pushed into one-pound wooden molded blocks by the farm wife.

    For the next several months he doled it out in precious little shavings. I remember the intense color and the flavor was utterly unlike any butter I knew. It approached the flavor of a mild cheddar.

    I thought it was an acutely eccentric thing that only my dad knew about and that a handful of rustic farmers had invented the liberal use of salt as an antidote to the lack of modern refrigeration. But then I’ve only recently discovered that the unusual shape of my great aunt’s bread (two round balls that, when baked in a loaf pan produced something that looked like hiney cheeks) was a French Canadian tradition that her ancestors probably brought from France. I guess there were deeper traditional roots there than I ever appreciated or explored while they were live. Domage…

  • How I envy you–having access to all of these wonderful foods. Love everything you wrote about today. The yellow beans occupy my garden in the spring. Can grow them again in the fall here in the desert.

  • That salted butter looks amazing! I had been buying only unsalted butter for years, since I started cooking, but recently have been buying good cultured, salted butter from my farmers’ market (made by Ronnybrook Dairy) – so, so good. It also sweats a bit, but it’s not as yellow. It nonetheless improves everything it touches.

    David, I made your salt-roasted peanuts the other day and posted about them at Tiny Banquet Committee — they are delicious; thanks for the recipe!

  • This weekend the sour cherries finally arrived at the farmer’s markets here in Pennsylvania, and I have been greedily scooping them up in order to try your cherry jam recipe. I didn’t realize they had such a short shelf life, though – thanks for saying so, else they might accidentally have gotten shoved to the back of the fridge. A sad fate indeed!

  • I’m so anxious to get over to France now. 1 1/2 days seems too long!!! I can’t agree with you more about the butter. The best butter I ever had was in France. Actually I was pretty much raised on margarine (although butter was put into some of the baked goods). Going to France to be with my fiance’s family was such an eyeopener (and tastebud experience extrodinaire). I found what you said funny about the French not speaking French well. My fiance and his father are ALWAYS ranting about the horrible French spoken in this day and age.

  • Salt and butter are arguably two of my favorite food groups.

    And please, do not channel Rachael Ray. Ever. Period. ‘Nuff said.

  • Hello David, loved the post. It’s all those special ingredients which make food shopping/foraging so enjoyable and victorious. Regarding sour cherry pie; I’m a big pie baker, but I’ve never tasted it before. I have access to sour cherries, and think I will improv a pie. Any suggestions in terms of how sweet or sour the finished pie traditionally is? Is it just the fruit, with some sugar and binding, or are there other key ingredients? Thanks.

  • David, have you seen the recipe Barbara (of Tigers and Strawberries) posted for Shiksa Blintzes? They look amazing and have a sour cherry topping…mmmmm….

    http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/2006/07/08/the-shiksa-does-blintzes/

  • David? Two questions:
    a)are sour cherries also known as “crab apples” – they look so similar…
    b) then best salted butter in the world comes New Zealand and is marketed under the name “ANCHOR” Have you tried it?
    ANCHOR butter is pure, from 24/7/365 outdoor free-ranging herds of cows who graze only the finest grass. Normandy and many other French unsalted and salted butters, and butter in the US, too, taste sour and are pale immitations of real butter. And for the “poster” who compared her Dad’s hoarded butter to tasting like cheddar chess – honey! that sounds like rancid butter – it sure ain’t fresh. Butter has a very short shelf-life and is not improved by being frozen for months! Eat it fresh on a baguette 0r similar. I should know – I ran a Jersey dairy herd in the Taranaki area of NZ 40 years back.

  • I loved your post, but may I say that in french, no one ever said “poitrine de poulet” for “blanc ou suprême de poulet”. I think someone made you a wrong translation, une traduction “litérale” de l’expression anglaise. If I had a better english right now, I can say a lot about this subject!

  • Marie: I’ve seen them called that at the voilailleur (which is probably not a word either). But I’m not going to criticize your English, which is clearly better than my French : )

    DDF: Have not been to New Zealand, but now I have a reason. Sour cherries are smaller than crabapples, but I’m not an expert on anything with crabs.

    TBC: Glad that recipe was a success! It’s one of my favorites too…and so easy! Love that.

    Rainy: Hiney cheeks? Are you sure you’re talking about bread, or jeans? Sounds yummy, though.

    Gooseberry: Much depends on what you’re going to do to them, but they do behave very differently than sweet cherries. Super juicy. And, of course, far less sweet.

    April: Just to let you know, you can freeze pitted sour cherries beautifully. Shame to let any go to waste if you have too many.

  • When I used to eat dairy products, my very favorite butter in the whole world was Vermont Butter and Cheese Co’s Cultured Butter with Sea Salt Crystals (http://www.vtbutterandcheeseco.com/culturedButter.html) I lovingly referred to this as “butter in a basket” and would often bring it to potlucks and dinner parties along with crusty artisnal bread. People fought over this butter and often thought it was a soft cheese. After dinner at one party, the host and hostess were missing. We found them in the kitchen with thick slices of bread slathered in this butter. They didn’t eat dinner so they could eat more of this butter. The dinner they had prepared involved a lobster dish, foie gras and saffron risotto, but they wanted this butter more. After that I started bringing two basket butters to parties, one to eat and one as a hostess gift.

    It is fairly available in specialty shops and I highly recommend it.

  • Crab-apples are not the same thing as sour cherries. They are small, hard, and tart little cherry-sized apples that are in season during Autumn. The taste is not too sublime in my opinion. My mother has a crab-apple tree in her backyard, but when I was a child, we never found the little fellows too useful for anything but jam, and not very often.

    Thanks David for the tip on freezing the cherries! Cheers!

  • Sour cherries/crab apples: thaks David and April – April my Mum used to make crab apple jelly, never jam. (US jam=jelly but NOT in NZ) Crab apples jelly like quince jelly or red currant jelly is delicious with game or deer meat (venison=red deer; roe deer etc) and with wild hare and rabbit. But making the crab apple or other jelly is hard work and requires lots of straining and geting both thr quality of the fruit and the sugar and the temperature just right so that it will set -David knows all about this – he’s the expert (but not on crabs which have nothing to do with apples!)

  • David and Sara,

    Thanks for your suggestion on this kind of butter. I’ve never heard of it before. I’m going to search in NYC, I have to be able to find something like it somewhere.

  • Geez! Had to make a 30 mile round trip home today for lunch so I could have another bowl of ginger white chocolate ice cream and fruit. We had guests for dinner last night and I was able to get away with serving hot dogs because I had that for dessert.
    On another note-can you recommend any olive oil stateside? Your description of what you tasted made my mouth water. I’ve never had good quality olive oil, I don’t think.

  • A dear friend of ours had the words “suspected diamond smuggler” stamped on her passport many years ago when she tried to bring a pail of the special sour cherries her mother had requested from France into the US. So sad, and all those cherries lost.

  • I would sell my firstborn (if I had children) just to taste some of that butter! It sounds heavenly.

  • Another lucky stroll on a market – I haven’t been to a propoer one ever since we went to the Borough together!
    I love griottes, my mum used to put them into a tray-baked cake laden with dark chocolate: there’s nothing better than the sweetness of a rich chocolate cake and the tartness of sour cherries. I have never seen them around here, unfortunately.
    Ah and beurre demi-sel! I could write poems on the subject (if I was literarily gifted and English was my mother tongue). There’s nothing better than a fresh baguette (or some real good, preferrably Austrian, fresh dark rye bread) generously spread with salted butter. I ONLY have beurre breton at home, because it doesn’t taste like the insipid-tasting, pale butter they produce in other countries. Luckily we can get it at the local supermarket…

  • I congratulate you for the interesting collection of ingredeints and a tip or two on their culinary use.

    {What appealed me is the availability of sour cherries that you were lucky enough to spot in the local market.

    They are harvested in July and you get them usually canned or frozen. But this reminded me of the sour cherry jam that my granny used to make.

    However you can use sour cherries apart from desserts. They prove to be an exciting mix to your summer salad.

    I suggest you toss it up with red cabbage, lettuce, oranges, asparagus and ripe olives.

    You can also use it for home-made beverages and then you can be sure that you are pacling in a lot of antioxidants to your drink.

  • Sour cherries are in our markets now, here in NY. We had a Montmorency tree in our yard when I was growing up; true wealth, if I had but known it at the time. We made jam and preserved sour cherries in syrup as well making lots of baked goods, and my favorite sour cherry borscht. Now as a city-dweller I pay $6 or more a quart when I get them at the Greenmarket, so jam is not to be thought of — but I get enough for the borscht, some pies, a sour cherry-almond streusel cake…

  • I wish the farmers markets out here were more like your’s. We never have fresh dairy products or all kinds of interesting fruits. I’d really like some of that salted butter. I never have that anymore, but now I’m craving some.

  • I implore you to stop taunting us with pictures of salted butter from Breton. You’re killing me ;) Just out of curiosity, any clue which Spanish arbequina olive oil you bought?

  • Brett: It’s Sotaroni brand, from Torrevella, in Alicante, Spain.

    And it goes amazingly well with chocolate too!

    Oh, and The Ma, I don’t know much about California olive oils. The only ones I know are McEvoy, which is kinda pricey, and Pope Creek Ranch.

    Perhaps if other readers have suggestions, they can post them here.

  • http://www.rarewineco.com/Olivefront.htm

    The Rare Wine Company in Sonoma imports olive oils from Tuscany. The link above has a catalogue of their offerings from the 2005 harvest as well as some information about olive oils.

    I think if you have a local gourmet store, they often have olive oils opened that you can test. I know Williams Sonoma has some, but I’ve never been that impressed with their selection, especially vs. price. My favorite light oil is Spectrum Organic, relatively inexpensive and it is really subtle. If you want flavor and punch, my favorite “almost too good to use” is Prunatelli or Podere San Guiseppe.

  • David, you have so many comments on here that you probably wont see that little old me has left you one. I just wanted to say you’ve got nice cherries and I like your curly little bean.