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I Heart Neufchâtel

neufchâtel heart

Neufchâtel got a makeover when it crossed the Atlantic, to the states, where it’s used to refer to low-fat cream cheese, which bears no resemblance to true Neufchâtel, a cheese that certainly doesn’t fall anywhere near that category.

The cheese is from Normandy, a region that few would argue produces the best cheeses in the world. Camembert, Livarot, and the especially creamy Brillat-Savarin are some of the more famous Norman cheeses, but I’m also happy that Neufchâtel is included in that privileged group.

Neufchâtel is available in industrial or fermier (“farm-produced”) versions. All versions are made with cow’s milk, although sometimes it’s made with raw milk, others are made from milk that’s been pasteurized.

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Spanakopita Recipe

flaky spanakopita

The most commonly-asked question for a certain cookbook author, aside from “Can I replace the corn syrup?” by a longshot, is: “Can that be frozen?”

So the fellow in question wrote an ice cream book, knowing that I—I mean, he would get a break from being asked that question.

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Paris Favorites: Eating, Drinking and Shopping

A number of folks consult the site for information about Paris, but it’s always best to get some second opinions. So I asked a few friends and in-the-know colleagues about their favorite places around the city, and I’m happy to share them with you.

paris

Included are links, when available, for complete addresses and additional contact information. Hours change and places close in Paris without notice so it’s best to call first before visiting. For restaurants and wine bars where food is served, reservations are strongly advised.

If there any Paris favorites that you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments. I’d love to hear about them.

lucques olives


Favorite Outdoor Market

“Paris markets are one of my favorite subjects. I can go to the same market every day of the year and still always find something new. I regularly visit the boulevard Raspail market, a “regular” market Tuesday and Friday, organic (and expensive!) on Sunday. The fish merchants there are incredible on all days, and I adore the poultry people at the Tuesday and Friday market. I love testing one fish market or cheese stand against the other, grading them on each purchase. For 20 years I lived near the rue Poncelet market and still have a soft spot there, especially for Alléosse cheese and coffee beans from Brûlerie des Ternes.”

“When I have time, I also love the President Wilson market on Wednesday and Saturday, where of course one finds the famed produce from Joël Thiebault but also wonderful fish, fresh crêpes, and Lebanese specialties. The market is near my dentist’s office so I always schedule a Wednesday morning appointment.”

Patricia Wells, of Patricia Wells.com
(Author: Bistro Cooking and The Paris Cookbook)

Favorite Steak Tartare

“As an American in France, getting into the French staple of steak tartare means getting past it’s resemblance to an uncooked hamburger patty. At Les Fines Gueules (2, rue la Vrillière, 1st) near place des Victoires they have cap-and-gowned the French standard by hand chopping Limousin beef (the best in France) and tossing the raw meat with white truffle oil, parmesan and sun dried tomatoes. Certainly not a traditional preparation, but an unbelievably delicious part of this American’s weekly diet.”

Braden, of Hidden Kitchen

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Le Dimanche

When I moved to France from San Francisco, I worried about what every San Franciscan worries about— “What am I going to do without burritos?”

roast chicken

For those who aren’t familiar with San Francisco-style burritos, these bullet-shaped tummy-torpedoes are rice, beans, salsa, and meat all rolled up in a giant flour tortilla and eaten steaming hot. I don’t want to antagonize the burrito folks, but being a purist, I never, ever get cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or the worst offender—lettuce, all of which make a burrito about as appealing as a rolled-up newspaper left out for a week in the rain.

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Mini-Tongs

Whenever I go to San Francisco, I stay with a friend of mine who generously offers to put me up as long as I’m in town. It’s fun, especially since she likes to hit the off-price shops and her kitchen is filled with lots and lots of kitchen tools.

Since she knows I live abroad, where many of them aren’t available, if I express interest in something she’ll invariably say, “Oh, go ahead and take it. I can get another one easily.”

3tongs

After a bit of obligatory mock-protesting on my part, I grudgingly accept it, and in it goes, right into the suitcase. On my last trip, I noticed she had a pair of mini-tongs in her drawer, which were not only adorable, but fit too-perfectly in my hand.

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Outlaw Carrots

carrots

The European Union just overturned regulations that will allow fruits and vegetables that aren’t technically picture-perfect, to be sold alongside their more attractive counterparts. But the laws are still place until next July. I had no idea there was such a directive in effect, and I’ve been innocently part of a conspiracy, participating in, and abetting, illegal behavior.

According to EU directives, things like carrots must be “..not forked, free from secondary roots.” Since I found that out, I’ve been much more careful about what I bring home. When I picked these out at the market, my carrots didn’t seems to have any of those kinds of hideous deformations (imagine that…forked roots!…ick!), but when I unpacked my haul, I noticed that the specimen above found its way into my market basket. Accidentally, of course.

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Honey, Made in Paris

miel de paris

Americans have a funny relationship with honey. To many of us, it’s that sweet syrup in the jar with the feather-topped woman, or the gloopy stuff stuck inside the crevasses of a plastic bear.

In France, honey is a Big Deal and there’s boutiques like Maison du Miel, and vendors at the outdoor markets, which sell nothing but honey and honey-related products. (And believe me, you’d be surprised how many there are.)

Various types of honeys are said to have healing properties, although I don’t eat them for my health: I’ve learned to enjoy the many different varieties available in France, and I switch them around and use a particular kind, depending on what I’m baking or simply for eating.

In Paris, there’s a few ruchiers (beehives) in the city, the most well-known being in the Jardin du Luxembourg, whose honey is available sporadically. But few folks know that in our National Veterinary Museum, there are hives as well. And the good news is it’s almost in the middle of Paris.

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#5: Goumanyat

One of the first places I went to in Paris when I was setting up house, was Goumanyat. My friend David Tanis took me there, who is a chef and lived in Paris part-time. And as I roamed through the neat shop, poked in the wooden drawers and sniffed in the jars, I was thrilled to find such a treasure trove of spices and comestibles to stock my petit placard.

saffron

Yet the real star of the show at Goumanyat is saffron, which they stock in every conceivable fashion. Of course, there’s a huge glass urn of wispy saffron threads, which one can use to flavor a tagine or even a batch of ice cream. But saffron also shows up in many other guises here, sometimes in places where you’d least expect it.

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