Results tagged fromage from David Lebovitz

Caillé

caillé

The yogurt aisle in any French supermarket is the largest, longest, most well-stocked aisle in the store. (Wine, I think, runs a close second.) While there’s a disconcerting number of dubious treats there (coconut macaron or lemon madeleine-flavored yogurt anyone?) the simplest varieties are wonderful.

I’m hopelessly boring, but I like whole milk plain yogurt, which is my afternoon snack. I eat it with dried fruits, a tipple of berry syrup, or just slicked with honey. Luckily yogurt here comes in handy 4-ounce portions, the perfect size, and I don’t miss those hefty pots of purple, super sweet, gelatin-thickened gloop, which barely resembles what yogurt even is.

In between all the yogurts here, you’ll find a few oddities buried in there.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi: The Good, the Not-Too-Bad, and the Sorta Ugly

tray  of gnocchi

I thought I’d better get this one out of the way right off the bat, at the start of the year. This recipe was languishing on my kitchen counter, resisting publication until I could resist no more. (And if you saw my kitchen counter, you’d know a piece of paper takes up about 25% of it, so I’m especially eager to get it out of the way.) I wasn’t sure if it was up to snuff since I can’t claim exactly 100% success, although the end result was pretty darned good.

But Carol warned me I’d better write it up, and I’m a bit scared of her after what she did to that pig’s head. Although truth be told, she can blame any failures on Tom or Grant. Here, it’s just me, myself, and moi.

Plus I needed the counter space.

'taters

1. The Good

I’ve been meaning to mix up a batch of gnocchi for a while, since I don’t think there’s any better way to fight off the chill of winter than a big bowl of carbohydrates swimming in melted butter.

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Gougères: A Recipe for French Cheese Puffs

gougères

One thing I learned during the last few days of the past year could be summed up in four words: Don’t ever turn fifty.

Do whatever you can do to avoid it. I’m still reeling from the trifecta, the one-two-three punch of Christmas, my Birthday, then New Year’s Eve, the last of which put me way over the top. And now that I’m in my declining years, recovery is much harder than it was just a mere week ago. I’m going downhill, fast, my friends.

The first thing I thought when I woke up this morning, my head clouded by a combination of Krug champagne, Château Lafite Rothchild 1964 and 1969 (not that I know the difference, but since the ’69 was in a 4-bottle, a gigantic double magnum with a funky-looking label…I knew we were drinking something special) was right from the “What on earth was I thinking?” file.

I was wondering why I invited five people over for dinner and drinks tonight.

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Noël

bûche de noël

I couldn’t let the year end without a little reportage about Christmas this year. You heard about my last-minute scramble to find the World’s Most Expensive Pastry Bag, which is now safely stored away in my Safe Deposit Box for next year.

cheese Christmas dinner

There’s a joke that the only bad thing about Paris is that it’s full of Parisians. I’m not going to comment on that, but Paris pretty much empties out, and is glorious time to stay in town. Also Christmas is taken pretty seriously around here. It’s considered a close, family holiday and even though the big department stores have spectacular window displays, Christmas hasn’t been overtly commercialized and kids are content when la grande-mère hands them a bag of fresh clementines, and don’t throw tantrums if they don’t get the latest version of the impossible-to-get video game. At least in my French famille.

The only tantrums being thrown were by me, making my Bûche de Noël, which I’ll get to in a bit.

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Goat Cheese Custard Recipe with Strawberries in Red Wine Syrup

When I moved to Paris, I moved a whole ton of stuff with me. Plus one yellowed scrap of paper. It was a recipe that I tore out of some newspaper eons ago, for Goat Cheese Custard.

goatcheesestrawberries

I had high hopes for the recipe, enough to schlep it with me across the Atlantic and look at it wistfully every once in a while, guarding it for almost a decade, until I finally got around to making it this week.

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Beaufort d’Été

When I was in Méribel avoiding the steep slopes waiting in line at the cheese coopérative, I wasn’t alone: the joint was seeing more action than all those gasp-inducing ski runs.

beaufortete.jpg

And just about every person ordered a nice hunk of Beaufort. And since they were in front of me in line, being France, of course each person had to have a 5 minute conference with the saleswoman about how to cut it, where they wanted it cut, exactly how much to lop off, if the other hunk on the shelf was better than the one they were getting, did they have another one in the back?…etc…etc…

The person in front of me scared me a bit when he requested a chunk that were as huge as a baseball mitt. It barely fit on the scale!

Naturally when it was my turn, it took me all of 1.3 seconds to tell her what I wanted and I ended up with a nice-sized piece as well—albeit of a more modest size—and could barely wait until I got home and dug into my chunk.

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Boat Cheese

Tomme de Brebis

After dinner at a friend’s apartment this weekend, they rolled out a sizable wheel of cheese to eat before dessert…which since moving to France, has become my favorite course of the meal. But usually you present one or a few selected cheeses, not a big round.

Nevertheless, they slapped it down in the middle for the table where the host took a hunting-type knife, started hacking off shards of it, and passing them around the table. As we started eating, all of the sudden the whole table went completely quiet. (Which is a real rarity in Paris.)

We all looked around the table, and everyone’s eyes lit up; “C’est incroyable!”

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Cantal

It’s pretty overwhelming visiting a fromagerie.

After years of trying as many French cheeses as I could, I’ve settled on a few favorites that I go back to over and over, which include moist, piquant Roquefort de Carles, which I like drizzled with chestnut honey, little rounds of tangy chèvre and ash-covered Selles-sur-Cher, and nutty Comté from the French alps, which if you taste one that’s been aged 30 months, I assure you you’ll never buy any other affinage (ripeness) of Comté.

When people ask me which cheese to buy, though, I turn the tables on them, asking them what kind of cheese they like. Do they like dry, sharp, nutty, or powerful cheeses? Thankfully because there’s so many choices out there, there’s no right or wrong answers. Only what you like. Unfortunately, I pretty much like them all.

Ok, scratch pretty much…and let’s just say I like..er..love them all.

cantalblog.jpg

But I rarely visit a fromagerie with a laundry list of cheeses I want to buy.

Instead, while waiting every-so-patiently in line, I crane my neck around madame in front of me and use that time to see what looks the best that day. Often the fromager will leave the most popular cheeses, like brie de Meaux, within easy reach of her since invariably just about everyone wants a wedge of that. Especially if it’s so oozingly-ripe and pungent that just lifting the big, gooey wheel is virtually impossible. Camembert du Normandie is another cheese that’s popular, but I’m always sure to get one that’s not industrial, since the artisanal and AOC ones are invariably more delicious.

(I don’t understand why anyone buys the crummy ones when the excellent ones are so easily-available. But I guess the same holds true in the states: people choose American-singles over the decent cheddar that’s widely available. Tant pis, as they say…)

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