A favorite chocolatier of mine has finally made it to Paris, Henri Le Roux – although he’s best known for his C.B.S. caramels, which are made in Brittany, a region known for its copious use of salted butter. Whenever I’ve traveled to that part of France, I’m always delighted at their lack of restraint, and they use salty butter in everything from buckwheat galettes, to melting into large pots of salted butter caramel sauce, which they have no problem dousing on everything.
Results tagged buckwheat from David Lebovitz
Even though it’s just next door, every time I go to Italy, I wonder why I don’t go more often. Before I moved to Europe, I used to wonder why Europeans didn’t travel to other countries more often. And now I’m one of them. I think it’s because just to go anywhere, whether it’s a 45 minutes flight or a 4.5 hour flight, you still need to schlep to the airport, arrive in a new city, find your bearings, and by the time you’ve finally figured out most of the good places to go, it’s time to head home.
It also doesn’t help that when I returned from this trip, two airlines were striking at Charles de Gaulle airport, the RER train was closed for some unexpected (and unexplained) reason, prompting a few thousand of us to be bused to a deserted train station in the middle of nowhere, to wait in the cold pre-winter air until a train showed up nearly an hour-and-a-half later, well after midnight, making the trip from the Paris airport back to the city (which is a mere 23 km, or 14 miles), nearly four hours – or three times longer than the flight to Milan.
When I started working at Chez Panisse, there was something called crème anglaise on the menu…and my job was to make it. Of course, I had no idea what crème anglaise was – other than something with a funny name that I got in trouble for pronouncing wrong on several occasions. But I pretended I knew what it was when everyone was talking about making it to go with the desserts. And luckily for my career, after a few years, I probably made at least one batch everyday for the next thirteen years, and stirring up a batch of crème anglaise became second nature to me.
In Paris, a city full of spectacular pastry shops, it really takes something major to grab me by the shoulders and shake me to attention. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the other ones, but when you see something as jaw-dropping as the pastries at Café Pouchkine, you can’t help but stop and stand at full attention.
In August, most of the businesses in Paris shut down while a vast number of people take their annual holiday vacations. And in case you think that’s a grammatical error, in French one says les vacances, in the plural. So if you have a problem with that, I would tell you to take it up with them yourself, but right now most of them are unavailable at the moment.
It sounds odd, but I know several business in America that follow the same model of shutting down for a few weeks so everyone can go on holiday at the same time, negating the need for constantly changing schedules the rest of the year to adapt to everyone’s particular vacations. (Although I am awaiting the results of a medical test and it would have been nice of the doctor to let me know that he was leaving for three weeks.)
Bread bakeries, which are an integral part of French life, also close up shop for two- to four weeks. But each shop plans their vacation(s?) in conjunction with the neighboring bakeries, by law, and posts those locations on their door so you can always be assured of fresh bread no matter what neighborhood you live in.
There’s a new girl in town. And she owns a small crêperie which has been getting lots of good press in the food magazines, in spite what some might feel is a relatively obscure address.
To me, though, it’s not all that obscure because I go over there all the time, as it’s located near one of my favorite buildings in Paris, which I keep walking by thinking that one fine, lucky day, there will be a A Vendre (or A Louer) sign up so I can move into one of the fabulous retro apartments. (And as a bonus, I could have fresh crêpes whenever I want.)
I kept meaning to ask owner and crêpe-maker Sophie Le Floc’h how she came up with the name West Country Girl for her French crêperie, located in the nondescript passage Saint Ambroise. But it’s an address I’m happy to travel to, even if I wasn’t apartment-hunting, because she’s a true Bretonne and really know how to fry up a crêpe.
She offers a number of crêpes and buckwheat galettes, and like her, I prefer the simpler ones.
One of the main differences between American and French food magazines, and recipes in general, is the level of detail provided in the instructions. For example, if you were to publish a recipe in America that called for a cuillère à café (coffee-spoon) of baking powder, folks would go apoplectic. “How much is a coffee spoon?”
Then there was the infamous question a copyeditor queried me about. I wrote instructions to butter a cake pan, but apparently I wasn’t clear enough.
“Do they butter the inside or the outside of the pan?”
Another difference is the laissez-faire instructions for assembly: I’ve seen French recipes for puff pastry that simply say, “Roll the pastry six times, folding it between each turn.”
But people here seem to have no problems with that and I’m not quite sure what it means.
When I proposed an article to the Los Angeles Times about unusual ice creams, I was surprised when took me up on it. Yikes! So I went to work, inventing recipes for some new flavors, and adding a tangy twist to a frosty favorite.
So no foolin’…if you’re looking for some all-new wacky flavors to churn up, head to my article 31 Flavors? Think Outside the Carton for three new kooky concoctions.
Related Links and Ice Cream Recipes: