Now readers in the United Kingdom have their own UK edition of The Perfect Scoop.
It’s so new, even I don’t have it yet—so you’ll scoop me, too.
The Perfect Scoop is now available online or from your local bookseller – just in time for summer!
A Swiss local in Lausanne was the first to tell me about Café Romand, “It’s one of those places where – and how do you say it? – those men who are very pretty, that sometimes dress as women, go. You would like it!”
I’m still trying to figure out what that means because no one’s every called me “pretty”, and my only experience wearing women’s clothing was trying on my mother’s Emilio Pucci pumps (how could I not?) when I was around eight years old.
Every year at Christmas, I make the dessert. With a bakery on every corner in Paris, there’s not a lot of impetus for the locals to make a resplendent dessert for the traditional dinner. It’s not that people don’t bake, but with the small city kitchens and all the other stuff that limits time around the holidays, it’s just as simple to head to the corner bakery and pick up a cake or tart. Or, of course, ask David to do it.
Because of my unique position as the in-house baker, dessert usually falls on my shoulders and if I presented a store-bought dessert, I would likely get run out of town on a rail. (When the trains aren’t on strike, that is.) So this year since I got a bit pressed for time as the holidays approached, I decided to make something refreshing which could be made well in advance, and made an ice cream bombe. I always thought that a bombe glacée was a fairly well-known French dessert, but Romain had no idea what I was talking about and got a little frightened when I told him I was going to make a bomb for Christmas. So I didn’t push it and just said I was making three different kinds of ice cream in a pan.
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.
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.
When I was in Ireland, after a wonderful dinner at an old country inn, I was served a big bowl of Brown Bread Ice Cream. I had heard about this unusual ice cream quite a while back and like Grape-Nuts Ice Cream, which is something apparently enjoyed in New England (although I was born and live there for eighteen years and never saw or tasted even a lick of it), I was intrigued by the idea of bits of dark crunchies embedded in scoops of cool, creamy ice cream.
One bite, of course, and I was hooked and wanted to make it when I got home. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it, and I sent a message to the inn inquiring about the process, but after a few weeks of checking my Inbox every three minutes, I just couldn’t wait any longer and decided to come up with one on my own.
Continue Reading Brown Bread Ice Cream…
Every time I go to Provence and the Côte d’Azur, I keep remembering that I want to share Fenocchio ice cream with you. But I’m not all that good at sharing, when it comes to ice cream, so I hope you’ll forgive me for keeping this all to myself for a while. But after tasting more than my share of their ice cream down in Vieux Nice, the old part of the city of Nice, I summoned up the courage to ask if I could step behind the counter and into the kitchen for a look behind the most famous ice cream maker of the region for a little bit of a look, and a few licks.
Fenocchio is a family-owner and operated business that has been making ice cream since 1966, and their production facility is up on the hill in La Gaude, overlooking the Mediterranean. So to get up there, you’ll have to take a bit of a drive up a few rather steep roads.
I sometimes think about stepping back into the restaurant world. I miss being around all that energy and cooking alongside others instead of toiling in the kitchen all by my lonesome (…and with you, of course). But it’s nice to bounce ideas off of others and do more involved presentations, plus I’ll admit, I miss having a team of dishwashers on staff just as much—or even more.
I love what the new generation of pastry chefs have been doing. There’s lot of fresh talent out there, and I guess I should just continue to leave things (and the pots and pans) in their hands and be happy to remain a stay-at-home baker.
I was thinking of having “If you change the ingredients in a recipe, results will vary” tattooed on my forehead, but there wasn’t enough room. (Although if my hairline keeps receding at this rapid pace, it may happen sooner than you think.) When I used to teach classes, folks were always wanting to tinker with recipes, especially ice cream, replacing the cream with what-have-you. Or to replace the sugar with something else. I’m not sure why, because I spend an inordinate amount of my life developing and testing recipes to get them just right.
Unless I’ve personally tested it, it’s pretty hard to give my nod of approval and tell what will and what won’t work in recipes, especially when it comes to swapping out sweeteners and dairy products since their counterparts behave quite differently than one might think. Ice cream, of course, depends on cream to give it that particular texture and flavor. But I do like and use non-dairy alternatives at home on occasion and saw no reason why I couldn’t churn up a batch of ice cream without a drop of dairy.