In and Near Chablis

gougeres pastry

For a variety of reasons, we decided to extend our twenty-four hour vacation by forty-eight hours. Actually, there were only two reasons: One was that there was a massive heat wave last week in Paris that was roasting us, and everyone else in the city. And two, a friend who lives outside of Paris – who has a pool – invited us to come.

French pool

So we drove out of the city, away from the unshaded pavements, the barren open-air markets, and the locked-up storefront, to breathe in some fresh air and float carelessly in a calming rectangle of cooling water. We were in the Yonne, part of Burgundy, which also meant Dijon mustard, gougères, and Chablis.

glasses of chablis

On arrival, we tumbled out of the sticky heat of the car and hopped into the pool right away to cool down, then our friend called us to the table with a vegetable tart she’d whipped together; a simple pastry dough with a smear of Dijon mustard, sautéed zucchini and onions, then topped with cheese and baked. Basta. Score one for simple French food, and the women who make it!

zucchini cheese tart

As we ate and drank chilled wine, our friend asked us if we wanted to head to the market in Chablis the next day, which got an enthusiastic “Oui!” and we woke the next day and hit the charming small town that the famed wine is named from. It’s funny because a lot of people from outside of France are conditioned to think white wine=Chardonnay, most notably the oaky California kinds. And they don’t associate Chablis with Chardonnay. So they’re always perplexed when in France, I tell them if they want Chardonnay, order Chablis.

charcuterie

It’s like a herculean leap of faith for them to get them to do that, and I usually get a skeptical look – as if the whole world is going to collapse if they don’t get exactly what they ordered. (After I mistakenly once ordered a whole plate of steaming tripe, I kind of share their pain. But white wine and tripe are two different beasts and what good is visiting France if you’re not going to try some wines that are different from what you have at home? Plus, if you order wine by the cépage, or grape variety in France, very few people will know what you’re talking about. I love Chablis and when you’re in the region – or not – well, what not?

August sky

We strolled up and down the market, which wasn’t the best market in the world. Most of the stands had the usual year-round trilogy that you see at markets in Paris: zucchini, eggplant, and hot-house tomatoes. But when I zeroed in one on producteurs (growers) that had what looked to be nice cherry tomatoes, I snagged a basket.

cherry tomatoes

It wasn’t until later on, when I was out of the full sunlight and could see, did I realize that most of the little cheaters were picked unripe and not very good. But what was good, and reasonable, was the wine. And when we decided to stop for coffee at 11:30am, all of a sudden, seated in a shady spot under a tree, chilled glasses of Chablis seemed like a much better direction to go in than a hit of caffeine.

Chablis

We had three glasses of Chablis, which cost €7,20 – vive la France!

Chablispouring chablis
blackboardchorizo

Our friend pointed out that we needed something to snack on with our wine, so she walked back to the market stall that was selling gougères unceremoniously piled up on top of each other, in two big baskets, that I’d remembered seeing. And she disappeared into the crowd for a few minutes.

Gougères

A number of years ago, a food critic pointed out that some cream puffs that we were serving in a restaurant I worked at weren’t the pinnacle of crispness. Well, I think she’d have a conniption in Burgundy, where the grapefruit-sized gougères could qualify as burger buns, in a Franco-American mash-up. (Although Gou-burgers doesn’t sound as enticing as Cronuts, so don’t expect to see them anytime soon.)

Gougère

When she brought back the bag of warm cheesy puffs, we ripped them apart and shoved the steamy pastry into our mouths. So…so good! But – of course – when we went back to get more, we found….

empty table

…the definitive rupture de stock. But it started a crusade for gougères for the rest of the trip and we couldn’t get enough. The best were slightly deflated, thick and brown-crusted on the outside – and a little gooey and cheesy inside. We usually eat them in smaller sizes since they’re cocktail fare and no one can plow through a hamburger-sized wad of cheese bread before dinner. (Although I think I could…) But I was changing my tune on these baked cheese puffs and was happy to try as many as I could.

gougere bakery

For those who think les américans are squeamish, I was somewhat fascinated by a woman stuffing blood sausage, standing out in the hot sun. My two French friends, however, declined to go take a look with me and one said, “I don’t like to see that.”

making blood sausage

And I’ll have to admit, one look in the bloody pot was enough to make me rethink my decision to take a look as well. Speaking of stereotypes, lest you think all macarons are dainty little Parisian treats that you eat with extended pinkies, our friend also picked up some macarons from a local bakery, which we sampled when we got home.

macarons

I try not to fiddle with colors so much when editing photos. But to save your eyes from being seared (like I saved your stomach by not showing you what exactly was in that sausage bucket), I did adjust the colors down a bit. Still, if you’re feeling light-headed or need to recalibrate your monitor, feel free to do so now. Romain said, “They taste like soap.” And with flavors ranging from lavender, to something that tastes like it was ready to be added to the bath water, most of them were left behind. Actually, they went to the dogs – literally.

macaron tasting

I’m not sure what two-legged creatures would have eaten those macarons, or why they felt the need to add so much coloring, but they had me back on the prowl at the bakeries for gougères, which all seemed to carry.

organic cheese

From the market, I did bring home some wonderful local cheese, which didn’t have a name. It’s just milk, curdled, then ladled into molds.

Chablis cheeses

They were selling it fresh – or caillée (strained, on the left), where it’s similar in texture to firm ricotta and can be sliced. Or as aged cheese, which is still in my refrigerator, waiting to be cut into. It’s one of the great things about visiting different regions in France. You can find local products that are made on such a small-scale that they don’t make it out of the region. And you have an excuse to drink a lot of the wine, under the guise of being a tourist with a small carbon footprint. I bought both (of course) and the crumbly one was great on the Salade façon greque that Romain made for dinner.

greek salad

I won’t bore you with how fun it was to be splashing around in a pool, how much I want to have teenagers since my friend’s kids immediately hopped up after all the meals and whisked away the dishes to wash (and made us adults coffee, too!), or how much saliva a Great Dane can produce.

dogslicing charcuterie
charcuterie and roséeating gougères

All too soon, it was time to go home. (Which was somewhat of a relief, since I my shorts were covered with doggie jowl-juice and gougère crumbs.) But it was suggested that we stop in the market of Saint-Florentin on the way home, then head to Auxerre, a beautiful little town which was nearly deserted when we got there.

The market in Saint-Florentin is clustered around a lovely older building that’s been renovated and is now rather nondescript inside; outside are people selling jeans, dresses, shoes, and some produce. But inside, I zeroed in on a producer with bins of tomatoes. And I mean, real tomatoes, the kind that grow in the sun, not in hot-houses, bursting with the colors and flavor of summer.

tomatoes

I grabbed as many as I could and put them in a box, and even though the total was €24, there was not complaints as I was happy to have a few day’s worth of meals from these sun-ripened beauties. No one had basil – merde, but back home, I unearthed some pesto from my freezer, which made a great meal smeared over the slices. I also recommend leftover gougères to sop up the last of the pesto on the plate, if you have any lying around.

real summer tomatoes

On the other side of the food coin, it’s hard for outsiders to understand the appeal of McDonalds in France, until you find yourself in a smaller town or city and the only places to eat are serving sandwiches on pre-packaged bread. As we wandered the streets of Auxerre, I just knew there just had to be somewhere to get some real food for lunch. And while the heat was getting to us, I was not ready to give in to the golden arches. (We did that a few years ago on a road trip because it’s impossible to find places to eat on or near the autoroutes. I won’t repeat what my other-half said about the food, as it was his first time there, but it made the sausage bucket suddenly look slightly more appealing.)

Chablis wine

As we marched around the lovely city, we passed a few cafés, although it was nearly 1pm and no one was eating at any of them – which is always a bad sign – until we found one where most of the tables were occupied. (A café we almost settled on, because we were giving up hope, there was a couple slicing into croque-monsieurs that made with slices of fluffy-white sandwich bread. Uh, non, merci.)

crudites

Then we came upon the inaptly-named Le Biarritz (15 place des Cordeliers) and sat down to a lovely little pitcher of Chablis and crudités, a variety of raw vegetable salads. But it wouldn’t be France unless they were out of the dish we wanted, which happened to be the plat du jour, but the kitchen rustled up two beef brochettes with potato gratin and a great fruit salad made from real fresh fruit for dessert.

beef brochette

Now I’m home with an overload of perfect tomatoes, a nice round of cheese, and a bunch of fresh basil that I was able to scare up in Paris. All that’s missing is a pitcher of chilled Chablis, a big bag of warm gougères…and a pool.

pool!



Related Recipes

Gougères

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette (Smitten Kitchen)

French Tomato Tart

Blood Sausage Recipe (Honest Food)

Greek Salad (Pioneer Woman)

French Tart Dough

Dad’s Greek Salad (Simply Recipes)

84 comments

  • The pictures in this post make me want to be where the pictures are! I love the picture of the guy on a rubber tube floating afloat in a swimming pool – and all of the food! :) hungry!

  • My experiences with non-Parisian, non-1er-couronne-IDF McDo have always been great. Excellent service by very attractive young things (legal work age is 18 in France, ok?) and the food is super, super fresh. That, and the fact that there’s one in every town and it’s usually open when nothing else is (AND they won’t make fun of you for having dinner at 6pm instead of waiting until 7:30 when the kids are turning into gremlins) is why they’re so successful here. It would be incredibly easy for an enterprising restauranteur to replicate that model and serve even better, locally-sourced food, but I have yet to see someone who has the pockets or the will to do service continu outside of sh*tty Parisian “bistrots.”

  • Oh David, I see you are up to speed on the Cronuts phenomenon…. It is bizarre, even for New York…………I love this post……Thanks for taking us along with you…

  • Sounded a wonderful wee break from the heat of the City. Chilling with Chablis and gigantic Gougères sounds the perfect combination, although I find Chablis can be so variable and often disappointing, but it always tastes better locally. As for the macarons, I couldn’t stop giggling about you toning down the colours: soap flavours? Hm. Don’t think I’d dive in either. Give me the pool anytime!

  • Are you going to try to clone the cheese puff recipe when you return home? It sounded a bit like the Greek cheese pies I remember eating when visiting that country as a child.

  • That pot of blood reaffirmed my distain for Boudin Noir no matter how much the cousins try to convince me to try it.; No way! On the other hand, I love a nice crisp Chablis, so much nicer than our oaky Chardonnays in California. Loved the post!

    • I have tried it and if it’s a good one, then it’s quite tasty fried until crisp, in slices. However I don’t want a huge plate of it, thanks. (And yes on the Chablis!)

  • Hi David!

    I just wanted to mention that I especially appreciate your comment about enjoying the wine each region has to offer. During a recent lunch in Cassis, France, I ordered vin rose, seduced both by its unique blush color and the fact that it was a local wine. Although we had tasted rosé wine here in the States, it never appealed the way it did that day sitting wharf side in the sun. Needless to say, the wine in Cassis was crisp and delicious and somehow managed to perfect our lunch and the experience! Thank you for the lovely post; I live, as always, vicariously through you! :)

    Laura

    • Yes, it’s amazing how much you can learn by just going to a region in France and tasting whatever the specialty is of the region, whether it be wine or cheese, or whatever. The locals are usually quite happy to tell you about it and are often quite proud, in fact. I’ve learned so much just going somewhere, like you did, and trying as much of the local stuff as possible. And there’s nothing like sitting in the sun with an icy-cold pitcher of rosé, isn’t there?

  • There’s something surreal about that photo of the woman spooning blood out of a big pot with that cheery looking pig at the wheel of her van behind her. I was at Market Jean-Talon in Montreal yesterday and turned my nose up at the blood sausage. Food of nightmares!

  • I will say that the nice thing about McDo is that you can slip in and use the bathroom without having to buy something…

    Those are the biggest gougères I’ve ever seen! Mine always puff up so nicely but then totally deflate when they’re out of the oven – am I not baking them long enough?

  • I love how you talk about the market shopping fails as well as successes–it makes going to French markets feel more like something actually human beings do, and not some transcendent experience a long way away that I will never know. Thanks for that! Also, thanks for clearing up my chardonnay/Chablis confusion. (I thought Chablis was some wine that was trendy in the ’70s but then dropped out of fashion.)

    I hope you’ll be inspired to perfect a gougeres recipe to share with us…

  • Like. Great looking tart. We love to motor over to Chablis for lunch and also during the wine festival. Looks like you ate well. I love the vegetable tart.

  • “Covered in doggie jowl juice.” That made me laugh so hard.

    I thought of you last weekend when we went to Tartine. The next time you’re in town, get one of their enormous flaky Gougeres. We took one home after standing in line for a half hour (don’t go on a Saturday). Buttery, cheesy and poufy. Rounder than the ones in your photo, but possibly as good.

  • What is in the wine glass serving the Chablis…looks like some kind of herb or so….which I add to a glass of cheap rose…..make it refreshing….

  • I have been messing around with gougere recipes this summer but have not found one I like. All seem too bland. What cheese do you recommend and do you pierce them after cooking or not? I know gruyere is traditonal but might not parmesan be more lively? Mustard? Salt?

    • I like the French Gruyere, tiny bit of dry mustard and some chopped almonds….with the aforementioned Chablis….

      OMG….that’s it…. off to Wholefoods for some Chablis, cheese…..

  • Is there anything else we should know before we try to make the vegetable tart? Looks so delicious! any other comments…

  • WOW, great post. Long one, full of detail. How in the world did she get her tart pastry so thin? The few times I’ve tried, I can never get the consistency right. If I can’t buy it, I don’t do tarts. They just seem so hard to get them to come out right. And please tell me you don’t take your pictures with an IPhone because if you do, I will feel incredibly inadequate as mine never come out that crisp or clear. What do you use? No wonder you needed to cool down if you carry a heavy DSLR around your neck – but lucky us to be the recipients of your lovely and expressive photos. Thanks for your blog, love it.

  • Red cheese in England is red leister. The blood sausage in England is black pudding yuk. I was having a full English with black pud on the side. Immediately removed from my plate. Have you ever tried Israeli wines – and I don’t mean manishevitz. Very very good. Worth looking for. You complain about being 50! I’ll be 70 next year. I can’t believe it.

    • honestly guy/gals….David’s 48 hour trip sounds pretty good to me….yes, I realize people say and shout comments regarding anything with fresh blood or so, but heck, done well…love it….(I remember something called Pannas in Germany a million years ago, fresh from the slaughter house), also, Israeli wines are good, but we are talking fresh French Chablis here…..enjoy the the description and David’s trip….its food experience…..

  • yes the Yonne is a beautiful department. My husband’s family had a wonderful country home in Poinchy..a small village near Chablis. We had our fiancailles party there! THanks for your post..I hadn’t really thought about that area in a long time.

  • Say what you want about McDonalds in France, but they have the cleanest public toilets in the country– open early and late. There’s one outside Rodez in the Aveyron that was a lifesaver.

  • I’m so with you David about French Chardonnays. I keep trying to convince people about how lovely and refreshing they are. A few years back we stumbled upon the tasting room of Olivier LeFlaive in Puligny Montrachet and were treated to an afternoon of wine education, politics and philosophy with Pascal Wagner. I’ll never forget him saying (about California Chardonnays) “you cannot grow good wine where you also grow oranges!” Anyways, seems like folks here in the states are catching on as I’m seeing more and more “unoaked” Chardonnays around. Sounds like you had a lovely vacation. I can’t believe the use of those gougeres!

  • Thanks for clearing up my Chablis/chardonnay confusion also. French Chablis was the wine of choice in my family home, then I moved to the San Francisco Bay area with all the excellent wine choices and learned to love the Napa-Sonoma area as it broadened my palate even further. Then came a few years living in the Alaska outback with no wine at all! Returning outside I discovered that Chablis had disappeared with the market offering these insipid fruity white wines when I wanted crispness, a sharper ‘nose’ and a lingering bite. Now I live in a wine producing region of the intermountain west and am delighted with the small wineries offering excellent choices. Now I’m looking for a rose’ for these hot summer days; do you have any suggestions as to a label or region/country that I could try. BTW my tomatoes are ripening and look very similar to those that filled your box; sun ripened and warmed tomatoes are such a treat!

  • Your blogs are always so entertaining. Thank you! Would love a recipe for the zucchini/onion tart, s’il vous plaît.

  • Hi David,

    Can you please break down the Vegetable tart? It looks so delish! Thanks for making me laugh once again! I love your posts

    Emily

  • Diane: Was trying to find another word for “saliva” but man, those dogs (they had two) could produce!

    good enough cook: I have a recipe for Gougères on the site, which I just made this morning in the small size indicated in the recipe. You could adapt it to make larger ones; you’d just adjust the cooking time for whatever size you make.

    Robin: I think that’s the store-bought pastry that she used, which you can get at grocers in France. I make my own but most people use that. I did bring my DSLR but have a lightweight Rebel and the plastic 1.8 lens which is light and easy to carry. The photo of the woman making the sausage was taken with my iPhone, though, because I assessed the situation and wasn’t sure she’d be happy with someone snapping away while she worked.

    Vicki: Use a sharp cheese – the recipe I linked to in the post used aged Mimolette, so anything like sharp cheddar, Parmesan, or as @Karin noted, a good Gruyère or Comté would do as well.

    Phillip: I’m not a fan of McDonald’s for a variety of reasons, but it’s hard to explain to folks how and why the French have become such fans. (I know the hours and restrooms, plus the free WiFi – and prices – have something to do with it, too.) Would be great if someone in France, who was French, opened something similar to In & Out in California, serving French-inspired food that was quick to make and eat to offer an alternative.

  • Thanks for an excellent article and photos; the raw salad gave me an idea for lunch today; also love macaroons, yum. I’m with you, the colors should be more subtle and so delish that I sure would not share one with a dog.

  • The best book on regional French food is a kids picture book with recipes from the Relais de Chateau chefs and wine tips for the parents.
    Atlas de la France Gourmande
    Unbeatable.
    http://parisbreakfasts.blogspot.fr/2012/11/atlas-de-la-france-gourmande.html
    What a delicious trip! I want to run to boulangerie R.Maeder for some gougeres..
    I was thinking Auxey-Duresse white wines when you mentioned Auxerre and started to salivate. If you haven’t tried them you haven’t lived…well almost

  • Please Please provide us with the recipe for that “scandalous” gorgeous zucchin/onion tart. I would love to make it for tomorrow night. Eggs in the filling? Onions/zucchini, sauteed first? Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful French world with us.

  • Lovely!

  • I hate McDo but am also amazed at their popularity in France. We had considered picketing the site when we saw it first going in 10 years ago, in a town with few concessions to the 21st century (Belley) and a long foodie history (Brillat-Savarin). It might have something to do with the very clever way they adapted their menu to French tastes. Where we live, it is the only place for wifi in town (free or not), actually their coffee isn’t bad since I usually feel guilty enough to buy one for 1 euro (beats $4.50 here in NZ).

  • The tart with Mustard, Onion and Zucchini looks simply delicious

    Can we have a recipe please ?

    Many thanks

    R.W.

    • Robin, Wendy and Denise: There’s no recipe; I’m afraid – she didn’t use one – it’s tart dough, Dijon mustard, cooked zucchini (there may have been onions in there), then topped with cheese and baked until heated through.

  • I love gougeres, too. Your recipe is the best one I’ve tried and everyone I’ve served them to, loves them.

    Regarding the California Chardonnay, There was a time when the oak notes were apparently one of the remarkable things about a good Chard. But as is typical in the US, some people thought the oak flavor was supposed to be THE thing about Chard; the oak-ier the better! The wineries took that demand to new heights (or should I say “lows”) until the wine was barely drinkable because of the excessive oak flavors. Finally someone (a respected critic, a respected vintner? I don’t remember.) stepped forward and called for someone to break this tendency with the too abundant oak notes and too little varietal flavor in the wine. I’m sure the people made the most impact because many quit buying it! The market was flooded with Chardonnay and too many were terrible; you never knew what to expect when you bought Chardonnay. There are still some oaky Chards out there but I think the trend for the past several years has been to tone it down and balance the fruit and the oak flavors. And people (as well as growers) have moved on to other varietal wines. Tastes change. (I’m not much of a wine drinker..so what do I know? I know what I like, that’s what!)

  • can we find/buy decent Gougeres in Paris?

  • A captivating post that brought back so many memories. 23 years ago we honeymooned in Bermuda and took a wine class, taught by French winemakers. Coming from California, it was biased in an eye-opening way. We learned that the syrupy sweet awful wine I had known in the States as Chablis, really was not. And there was the lesson about California “bombs” in sparkling wine vs. the gorgeous bubbles of French champagne :-) Still chuckling about that. Thanks for reminding us all to enjoy the local wines, really wherever you go. It teaches us so much about the region’s food, history, personality. When my husband started travelling to Provence on business, he quickly wrote home to me about the refreshing Rose – we have been enjoying it ever since, including as one of your readers said, in the gorgeous beach town of Cassis. Thanks again for a lovely start to my suburban day!

  • I’m with Denise. Please provide the recipe for that mouth watering zucchini tart. My husband and I are anxious to try it. With those ingredients, what could be bad. Actually, the whole trip looked tasty.

  • I am curious to know what constitutes a Parisian heat wave.

    • The French word for heat wave is canicule and the worst one we’ve had since I’ve been in France was in 2003 where nearly 15k people perished. You can read more at that link or if you can read French, you can Google to learn more about French heat waves.

  • This is just a fan letter to say how much I adore your blogs, whether they are about food, France, your travels or whatever. They are always so informative and fun to read. I have introduced many friends on both sides of the pond to your blog.
    Yesterday, friends from near Uzes called to see if I wanted to meet somewhere for ice cream. I told them to come to my house (between Avignon & St Remy) because I had a freezer full of home-made ice cream. I recently bought a Turbine a Glacé and with “The Perfect Scoop”‘ I have been on a roll. I was able to offer them the choice of ginger, coffee, Aztec chocolate, Gianduja Gilato and yoghurt. We all talked about you and what fans we are all of you. Perhaps your ears were burning a bit. Thanks again for all the pleasures you give us. Barbara Abeille, Chateaurenard

  • I LOVE the fresh taste of Chablis…. buy it every year and have in fact just opened a bottle at lunch time!
    I also LOVE the Gougères but have never even thought of making some – maybe when it gets a bit cooler (and after I recovered from making an absolutely TON of beautiful ratatouille which will keep us happy for a long time – and fills the freezer!!) I shall venture to do that baking, it’s such a terrific apéro escorter. :) – When we have guests, I often make a veggie-tart (with a shop bought ‘bio’ puff pastry) – quick, delicious and you know what you eat. This one looks just the ticket.
    Thanks for this tantalizing post; this summer everybody here should have had a swimming pool (we took showers twice a day to keep cool…)

  • Enjoyed your Chablis blog as I do all of your blogs. I’m a fan!
    I’m wondering if you are going to publish the recipe for that delectable looking Zucchini tart that your BFF (that pool!) made ?
    Diana

  • I wish Chablis weren’t so expensive as I adore it. I really dislike the oakey flavor of American chardonnays and love that fruitiness of Chablis. It’s almost always a lot more expensive than other whites on café menus except maybe in the village of Chablis. I’m sticking to roses for the summer.

    • One of the great things about France is how inexpensive wine can be. I don’t really know how much Chablis is elsewhere but you don’t see it that much in Paris on menus (by the glass) so it likely is a bit more expensive than white wines from the Touraine, the Loire, or Graves, which you tend to see. More reason to visit Chablis! :)

  • I am new-ish to your site and to your blog, but I think you are brilliant and I have “frittered away” (perhaps a poor choice of words, but since there are dishes in the sink, piles of dirty laundry, and a few assignments that are almost past due, it might not be that inaccurate…) many hours reading your posts.
    I found you while looking for recipes for sour cherries. Feeling cheated and depressed after a bad freeze destroyed most of last year’s crop, I bought sixty pounds this year, and, well, I am tired of pie… .I appreciate your recipe for the candied cherries which is marvelous, even if I am NOT loving the five pounds I gained while eating them, hot from the pot, cooling on the counter, and cold from the fridge. Froze what was left, more just to slow me down than anything…
    Loved seeing the caramel shop in Stockholm and the photo of that adorable girl with dimples and curls who looks just like my mother, who was Swedish, and who passed away far too young.
    Most of all, I love your prose. You are my new treasure. Thank you so much for sharing your life and adventures in and around Paris.

  • On the off-chance you ever develop celiac disease and/or embark on a gluten-free diet, Chebe bread is an easy, readily available Gougères substitute! My family loves Chebe bread rolls made with any of the cheeses you suggest — and they’re easy enough to make that we have them several times/week.

  • Yeah those macarons definitely looked a little rough. Everything else looks amazing though!

  • Poor David…those summer heat waves are a nightmare. Next time, jump on the TGV and come to Bordeaux. I have a pool, a spare room with it’s own full bathroom and I will take you to the local markets and be your food guide :) I am actually a tour guide here in Bordeaux and would love to show you around. Seriously.

  • David your post has me now taking a detour to Chablis when we come to France next month. We will be in “the neighborhood” around lunch time, did you come across any nice bistros that you could recommend? Said to say the only inexpensive Chablis around here come in a box. So looking forward to enjoying a glass or two;)

  • Oh my – the pastry, the fresh tomatoes, the wine and the swimming pool – all of it is magnificent!

  • Teenagers that cleared the table without complaining? Maybe it’s a French thing, but I’ve never seen it.

  • What gorgeous scenery and mouth watering food! Thanks for another wonderful visit to France! I want to go back!

  • Re McDonald’s–My sister just visited friends in Belgium and they took a quick side trip to Paris. While they were there, the Belgians kept wanting to go to McDonalds. My sister was puzzled by their enthusiasm for it; they were equally flummoxed by her lack of interest.

    (P.S. I’m really not supposed to drink, but you make that Chablis sound like it might be worth getting a little sick…)

  • You’re totally right, David, on how inexpensive the wine in France is… I drank so much over there and now I can barely afford a few glasses of decent French glasses a week, though I know all of the best ones are still in France.

  • You had me at gougères.

  • I am grouchily just off work & this virtual trip has been the perfect antidote! Thanks!
    Ps diggin’ the swell yellow T

  • The gougeres look so good! I love making them at home. Those macarons looked really thick, I’m not surprised they weren’t good. Sounds like you had a great time!

  • I’d love to have the recipe for the Vegetable Tart.
    It looks delicious.

  • Sadly I associate Chablis with the sickly stuff my parents used to drink in the 70′s.

  • David …… What’s with the proportions in gougeres recipe? 1/2 C water & 1/2 C flour = soup. Love your site anyway

  • Hi David,

    I have a question about your sweet potato ice cream recipe which was mentioned in the pumpkin ice cream post but that thread was closed for comments.

    I used ube (purple yam) just like you mentioned in that description of the sweet potato recipe. While it tastes yummy, it is very thick and sticky. I’m afraid it will not turn out right on the ice cream maker. Should I add more milk/cream? Should I make a custard? Most recipes have about 3 cups of liquid to 1-2 cups puree. This one only has 1 cup liquid but 1 lb sweet potatoes.

    Please help before I ruin it. Thanks!

    Yams can really vary and my recipe uses a standard sweet potato, so I can’t advise on how to compensate for ube. Many of those tubers (are they tubers?) are quite starchy – like manioc, etc, and sounds like you should add more milk/cream and sure to compensate for the substitution and the additional starch, if you think it’s too thick. – dl

  • Thank you, Daveed. Until I have the chance to visit France, I’m traveling vicariously through you. That pool looks like something in Hollywood. And the bread – mon dieu!

  • I’m having floors refinished and have no kitchen access, so naturally I’m more inspired to get in the kitchen than ever! Zut alors! How great that you share your hits (Chablis, gougeres, and that tart) and misses, (blah tomatoes, soapy macarons, and sketchy cafes). You paint such a realistic picture of real cooking, eating, and traveling. Though I did want to let you know not to be fooled by the teenagers clearing your plate and making you coffee. My kids are great and all, but I think the ones you met are space aliens!

  • What a lovely break! It looks as though she used filo pastry for her tart base, no? I don’t make good pastry, so I might just nip out to the supermarket and buy some and make that tart, as I have one courgette left from my mother’s garden before I am reduced to buying them again! On the other hand, maybe courgette, onion and cheese would go very nicely on a bed of sliced, cooked baby new potatoes, rather than pastry…..

  • My problem with the gougeres (soup) was the recipe didn’t didn’t explain that the mix had to be cooked at near the boiling point until a paste developed.

    • Hi Steve, Are you following the recipe for Gougères here? Step #3 indicated to “…stir vigorously, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan into a smooth ball.” That indicates the mixture needs to be cooked until it’s a paste.

      • Yes, but step 2. says: Heat the water, butter, salt, and chile or pepper in a saucepan “UNTIL” the butter is melted. ……… Operative step here is to melt the butter, so butter melted at about 110F. Thus, serendipitously, mission accomplished and no danger of cooking the eggs as warned against in step 4. Seemed logical to my left brain. Cranking the heat to 190 – 200F requires some specific instruction ………. or prior experience in making such a dish; which sadly I had none of.

        Your blog is the greatest, and I am a hair-spllitter..

        • the Germans call it ‘Brandteig”, which means burnt dough more or less…..

    • …actually, the German translation for the pastry is “Brandteig”, which means you almost burn the mixture in the pan…..

  • not gou-burgers….bur-geres!

  • Loved this so much — especially those gourgeres. Holy cow! And reading your perspective on a place I may never get to visit isn’t too shabby, either! Definitely jealous that to escape a hot Paris, you drive to find something as wonderful as this. Somehow the desert outside San Diego doesn’t have the same pull :) Now, to make some giant gourgeres…

  • Such a wonderful read. I love France and those macaroons, not so much. The tart looks so good, wouldn’t mind a recipe for that. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before, but I LOVE your blog..

  • David, your pictures are good enough to eat! Gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

  • First of all I want to say wonderful blog!

    I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.
    I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or tips? Cheers!

  • Dog drool increases with higher salt content in dog food.

  • Hi David. I loved this post, and not only because I’m familiar with the region — and the market in Chablis, which we visited when the Tour de France rolled through there a few years ago, encountering the very same scary blood sausage women. We have a place further south in the Yonne, not far from the charming little town of Toucy. If you ever get back to the region, check out the Toucy farmer’s market, which fills the town every Saturday morning with a huge variety of locally grown produce. It’s the real thing. As regards gougères, my local bakery in Villiers Saint Benoit makes the best I’ve ever encountered — and I convinced the baker, Franck Lasne, to share his recipe with me and my readers. Ever so slightly different from yours, and quite wonderful…

  • I have always been incredibly nervous to try anything pâte à choux based but now I can’t get the idea of cheesy, warm goodness out of my head! I guess I’m heading over to your Gougères page to make that dream a reality. Now if only I could make a vacation to France a reality…