The Hanky Panky

Hanky-Panky Cocktail

Ever since I made the decision to read more books (remember those?), I’ve been diving into some of the backlog of good reads around here. (Well, once I plowed through a formidable stack of New Yorkers…) Every conceivable space in my little office (slash/guest room) and kitchen has stacks and stacks of cookbooks, many of which are bookmarked, with recipes highlighted that I want to try.

I’ve been considering opening up a test kitchen, to get others to help out, because my enthusiasm is tempered only by my ability to cook and bake everything, and clean up, then share everything with folks far and wide. #stress

However there’s only one of me (which a number of people are probably happy about…), and so, so many of them – that for the time being, I’m just going to have to be content to get to all the books and recipes when I can. However when it comes to cocktails, all bets are off.

Hanky Panky Cocktail

And one book that I’ve been revisiting often is Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh (aka: Dr. Cocktail), a fun-filled cocktail book that focuses on long-lost libations.

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Roasted Strawberry-Miso Ice Cream

Roasted Strawberry Miso Ice Cream recipe-7

I was always on the frence about fruit-based ice cream made with eggs. Yes, you got that right. I wrote “Frence,” which is my subconscious speaking (or writing), most likely because I’ve got both France – and fresh strawberries – on the brain these days.

strawberries

After rhubarb, strawberries are the first sign of spring at our markets. And while there are plenty of different types out there, I wait for the glorious day that the apple vendors from Picardie arrive at my market with barquettes of fragrant red berries that are so ripe they’re red all the way through when you slice them in half. Another bonus is that when you buy two baskets, they give ya’ a deal on the second. So, of course, I pick up two.

Roasted Strawberry-Miso Ice Cream

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Les Provinces and Café des Abattoirs

Cafe des Abattoirs

My perfect day in Paris is one that starts at the Marché d’Aligre. I’d get there first thing in the morning, around 9 A.M. as the flea market vendors are unloading their trucks, scoping out treasures as they unpack them. (Before the rest of humanity descends on the market.) I’d rifle through the boxes of knives, cast-off kitchenware, and perhaps score a vintage Le Creuset gratin dish, before doing some food shopping, bringing home the bacon.

smoked bacon

I’ve been going to this market for over ten years, and it’s still one of my favorites. For a while, there weren’t any stand-out dining options at the market, which was a shame, because you’re surrounded by all this food at the one of best markets in Paris, but few places were serving them. So I was happy to see that in the last year or so, a number of eateries have opened where you can sit down and enjoy everything from Portuguese pastries to steak-frites, a market staple dating back to the days of the old – and sadly displaced – Les Halles.

Boucherie Les Provinces

One place in particular that I was interested in trying was boucherie Les Provinces, a combination butcher shop and restaurant. While I had my head buried in boxes at the flea market, avoiding getting stabbed by vintage French forks, an SMS popped up on my phone from my friend, asking me where the heck I was. So I hightailed it over to meet her for lunch.

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Le week-end à la campagne

Meaux - Paris

The first true weekend of spring just happened here. Well, there may have been some nice days when I was gone, but the weather was fairly glorious the last few days. And being a holiday weekend in France, off we went to the countryside (campagne), enjoying the clear blue skies.

painting

Drive just about an hour from Paris, the air clears and you just want to roll down the car windows and take a deep breath. (Well, it’s a little more refreshing once you’ve exited the autoroute.) There are trees, wild grasses, fields of wheat, oats, rows of barley, sugar beets and colza growing, and flowers, wild and otherwise.

rose

We did the trip not just to clear out our heads, but to help clean out an old country house, rifling through what remained, before toasting a few glasses for the final farewell. It was wistful and bittersweet. But changes are often unavoidable, and each is un passage.

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Oven-Roasted Asparagus

oven-roasted asparagus

Recently I’ve come out as a non-steamed vegetable eater. I worked with an amazing Asian food expert who hated Japanese food, saying it wasn’t sexy, pointing the blame on a reliance on steaming. He also said they eat pollywogs, which he followed by saying, “Who eats pollywogs?”

Well, I don’t. At least not intentionally. (Although I’m sure I ingested some pond water in my youth, growing up next to the woods.) But I do like my vegetables, and after a lengthy winter of waiting, asparagus have finally showed up at the market – big time.

Oven-roasted asparagus

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London and Paris Book Events

My Paris Kitchen

– Next week I’ll be doing a chat and book signing on Monday, June 2nd, in London, in conjunction with the folks at Toast. There will be snacks, treats, nibbles, and – yes, cocktails! Sign up here.

– And on Saturday, June 7th, I’ll be at WHSmith in Paris from 3:30 to 5pm signing books as well. No need to sign up. Just stop by!

Chambelland Boulangerie (Gluten-free)

Chambelland boulangerie

I’m not gluten-free, but I am a bread-lover. (fyi: I also like boulangeries, too.) And am happy to come across any kind of bread packed with grains. But I don’t think all bread needs to have wheat in it. Other grains and starches – from buckwheat and rye, to cornmeal and rice flour – all make excellent breads, in the right hands.

Chambelland boulangerie

In addition to being The City of Light, Paris is also The City of Bread, yet another boulangerie has opened. But Chambelland is making breads without gluten. And the one I bought, riddled with seeds, was terrific.

Chambelland boulangerie

The dense quarter-loaf was made with a combination of buckwheat and rice flours. The baker told me they’re milled in a dedicated moulin (mill) in the south of France. Because these kinds of flours don’t lend themselves to free-form loaves, the breads are baked in molds. And for those missing the traditional baguette, while you won’t find them here, the various breads offered are baked in slender molds, because everyone – even those avoiding gluten – deserves crust.

Chambelland boulangerie

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q & a

Rocky Road

I just returned from a four-week book tour where I met a lot of people. Everyone was incredibly nice and it was a treat, although because of the nature of the events, it wasn’t possible to spend lots of one-on-one time with anyone – including myself. However, I tried to answer as many questions as possible. The most frequently asked questions were; “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?” and, curiously, “When you are leaving?” I’ll assume the last one was people just being polite. (I hope!)

Another popular question was about mes bonnes adresses in Paris, or favorite places to eat. While I update the list on the My Paris page regularly, and there are more complete descriptions in the Paris restaurant category on the site, I suspect people thought I was holding out on them. (I swear, I’m not! – well, maybe one or two…but I have my reasons…) I was also interested in how many people were coming to Paris in the near future, which may explain the rise in airfares this summer, which are preventing us from going to Cape Cod and having a lobster, steamer clam, beer, and corn-on-the-cob fest.

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