Results tagged comte from David Lebovitz

Poilâne

pain Poilâne

I don’t think about this so much anymore, but one of the reasons I moved to Paris is that I could, whenever I wanted to, go to Poilâne and buy myself nice chunk of pain Poilâne. Just like that. Although I’m from San Francisco where there are quite a number of excellent bread bakeries, there’s something special about the bread at Poilâne – it has a certain flavor, just the right tang of sourdough, dark and husky but with an agreeable légèreté that makes it the perfect bread for sandwiches, to accompany cheese, or as I prefer it, as morning toast with little puddles of salted butter collecting in the irregular holes and a thin layer of bitter chestnut honey drizzled all over it.

Pain Poilâne

A week after I moved to Paris, a friend and I were invited to lunch with Monsieur Poilâne and his wife. Both were lovely people and Monsieur Poilâne was animated and still excited about the bakery he’d owned seemingly forever, which was (and still is) considered the best bread in the world. (I’ve never met a bread baker who didn’t use Monsieur Poilâne’s pain au levain as a reference point for excellence.) He took out a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote down a list of places that he wanted to take me, which I thought was odd – yet rather generous – since the man had just met me.

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Quay Restaurant

ewe's milk ice cream

Since it’s my blog, I can do what I want. So I’m going to start with – what else? – dessert. At one of the opening dinners for the visiting chefs who came from around the world for the Crave Sydney Food Festival, four Australian chefs got together and made dinner for us. Tasting menus can be hard because for one thing, they’re a lot of small dishes and it can be hard to appreciate things when blitzed by a bunch of different foods and styles of cooking. And for another, by the time you get to dessert, your taste buds can be wiped out from the multitude of things that came before. And believe it or not, some people even wave off dessert. I know, weird.

But when this dessert was set down in front of me and I dug my spoon in, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but found a dreamy dish of ice cream made from ewe’s milk spread over a layer of caramelized walnuts and macarons, a bit of prune, and Pedro Ximénez sherry. It was a delightful contrast, the crunchy, nutty base with a layer of cool ice cream. And on top were scattered shards of pulled caramel, chocolate, and vanilla milk skin that you kind of broke off as you wished, to customize and change the taste of each spoonful.

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Bleu de Gex

Bleu de Gex

The last time Peggy Smith, co-owner of Cowgirl Creamery, came to Paris, we did some cheese tasting and shopping. We’d worked together at Chez Panisse for many years and she’s one of my favorite people—ever, and I wish she’d come visit more often. As we roamed a salon de dégustation of cheese, looking around at all the astounding cheeses from France (as well as a couple of beauties from Ireland, England, and Italy as well), I said to her; “What is the one cheese you would tell someone from the United States that they absolutely should try while in France, which is not available in America?”

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Why You Should Drink White Wine with Cheese

white wine & cheese

Some time last year, I pretty much stopped buying red wine. France was always la France, feminine, and I find white wines much more nuanced and interesting, like women. Whereas (depending upon where you live) men are tough and brutal. And in my own special way of reasoning the unreasonable, the longer I lived here the more I found myself gravitating toward the lighter, cleaner flavors of the vins blancs of la France. I also realized that I felt better when I woke up the next day if I stuck to whites. And since I have to wake at least once a day, that’s a reasonable consideration.

white wine bleu cheese

There’s the old adage about “if it grows together it goes together” and keeping in line with the French concept of terroir (roughly: shared territory), something like a Selles-sur-Cher, a tangy, yet delicate goat cheese from the Loire goes quite nicely with brisk Sancerre, Muscadet, or a Sauvignon blanc. Which, by no coincidence, come from the same region. Slightly pungent Langres from Burgundy partners well with bracing Chablis or unoaked French chardonnay. The milky-creamy cheese is rich enough; no need to blast your palate with a full-on red. (Although I’m wondering if my argument reached its first hole since some people are more concerned with the wine rather than the cheese. So I guess I’m not one of them.)

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Comté Cheese Ripening and Tasting

comte cheese truck

After spending a few mornings in the steamy, warm confines of the fruitières, where cheese making begins, I visited several of the fromageries, which are what they call the caves de affinage; the cavernous cellars where the cheeses are ripened.

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Comté Cheese Making

Comté wheel & tools

I was recently joking that when I’m forced to wake up very early in the morning I’m not sure if I should feel sorrier for myself, or for the people around me. So when my friend Jean-Louis, who works with the people who make Comté cheese finally gave in to my incessant pestering to join him for a visit, I was excited when after three years, he finally said “Oui”. Actually, he speaks very good English. So he said “Yes”.

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Hirsinger Chocolate

Jura chocolates

I wasn’t expecting to find a great chocolate shop in the Jura, a region of France known best for its exceptional cheeses, namely Mont d’Or, Comté, and Bleu de Gex. But a friend had arranged a visit for me since he knew I loved chocolate, and I was surprised (yet happy) to see such a sleek store run by a master chocolatier in a lesser-known part of France, where I was visiting.

sesame chocolates French chocolates

It’s a bit unusual to find sophisticated pastries in the smaller towns in the countryside. One of the main reasons is that, as you can imagine, they’re expensive to produce because of the work involved and the ingredients. So many of the chocolatiers and pastry makers set up shop in Paris. But Édouard Hirsinger the forth generation of chocolatiers and pastry makers in his family, who’ve been in business for over a hundred years in the charming little town of Arbois, seems to be doing pretty well right where he is.

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Paris Holiday Meet-Up and Booksigning

This Friday there will be a get-together at La Cuisine cooking school in Paris. Joining me will be my friends Alec Lobrano, author of Hungry for Paris, and Heather Stimmler-Hall, author of Naughty Paris—and we’ll have copies of our books to sign as well for holiday gift-giving.

I’ll have copies of Ready for Dessert and The Perfect Scoop. If you’d like a signed copy of The Sweet Life in Paris, you’re welcome to bring one along, as well as any of our books that you have previously purchased

The fête will take place this Friday, December 10, from 6-8pm.

La Cuisine is located at 80 quai de l’Hôtel de Ville. (Map)

There’ll be wine, chocolate (of course…), cake, cookies, and a big hunk of Comté cheese from my friends in the alps to nibble on.