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”.
Results tagged milk from David Lebovitz
Over dinner on my final night in Ireland, one of the other diners who is Irish said to me, “I just came back from Paris…”, and he hesitated for a moment, and continued “…and the food wasn’t very good.” It’s probably unimaginable a few years ago that someone from Ireland would be criticizing the quality of French cooking. But it shows how far Irish cooking has come.
I was recounting that story to someone over lunch yesterday back in Paris, who assured me that I was fortunate to have eaten so well during my trip. So of course, there’s good and not-good restaurants in every country, but over my dinner in Cork, Ireland, diving in to a pan-seared dry-aged steak, a pile of freshly sautéed spinach, and crisp French fries made from real potatoes and cooked so each one had a deep-brown crust, I had to say that in addition to the multiple Irish coffees, the rest of the food I had in Ireland was fresh, well-prepared, and surprisingly good.
Popular legend has it that Irish Coffee was invented in San Francisco, but, of course, it was invented in Ireland at the Shannon Airport. Which was the first place transatlantic flights landed when planes started flying across the ocean, their destination being Ireland. I’m sure the trip took a lot longer than it does now. But it easy to see why the Irish Coffee was popularized 5000 miles away, although going to the source is the kind of adventure I’m always up for.
And when you’re in Ireland, and an honest-to goodness Irish lad, whose mum is a cheesemaker) offers you a drink, even if it’s barely 10:30 in the morning, one could reason that since it’s coffee-based, then it’s fine. Which I did. However when I saw that giant jug of Irish whiskey come out, and tasted my first sip, it was easy to see why Irish eyes are always smiling.
There is an interesting emergence of things that are ‘green’ or écologique, in Paris. Words like commerce, responsable, équitable, éthique, durable and solidaire are being seen on more and more products in supermarkets, and even on some restaurant menus these days. Paris has two popular organic markets and discount grocery stores are now offering products like bio (organic) crème fraîche, butter, and pasta. And the city even has an official to preside over sustainable development and ecological initiatives.
(Although no one has asked me, I’m sure quite a few trees could be saved if there wasn’t so much paperwork to fill out, photocopy in triplicate, classify, then re-classify, around here.)
The forward-thinking action that got the most press internationally was the Vélib’ bike program. The program still has a few kinks to work out, though, most notably the costs and excessive vandalism: a recent article in Paris Magazine estimates that the annual upkeep for the program is €20 million and if the roving bands of repairmen were to stop fixing them, there would be no operable bikes in Paris within ten days.
As a user of the program, I think it’s pretty great, considering that they had to reconfigure a good portion of the city, and some attitudes around here, to accommodate it. Yet in spite of the obstacles, it has survived the initial grousing by drivers and other naysayers. And the bikes, along with various other initiatives that have been applied by the local government, has helped to reduce pollution in Paris by approximately 30%.
You might have passed chervil by when shopping, thinking it was a wimpy version of parsley. The wispy, thin leaves don’t look very tempting. And you might be tempted to overlook it, unaware of its powerful aroma that it lends to certain dishes. But if you’ve never had it, add a handful of chopped chervil to a salad. You’ll wonder why you don’t pick up a bunch more often.
Which was a position I was in last week, when for some reason, I saw nice bunches at the producteur stand my market for just one euro each, and decided to ask for them to add one to my basket at the last moment, before I paid. When I got home and unpacked everything, I was a bit stunned to see how huge the bunch actually was.
(I think I get special treatment, though, because I bring them cookies.)
The other night I was sitting at Le Garde Robe, minding my own business, trying to get down a glass of natural wine. Being seven o’clock, naturally, in addition to being thirsty, I was starving, too.
And the lack of food (and sulfides) must have started affecting my brain because I started thinking about how I often hear tales from visitors, such as when they told a Parisian waiter they didn’t eat meat and shortly afterward, were presented with a plate of lamb. Or they ordered a salad, that was supposed to come with the sandwich, and was actually just a single leaf of lettuce. Hoo-boy, and yes, I’ve made a few gaffes of my own, too: I once ordered a glass of Lillet (pronounced le lait, which isn’t well-known around Paris) and the perplexed café waiter brought me out a long, slender glass of le lait (milk), presented with great panache, on a silver dish with a nice doily. Of course, everyone was staring at the grown man who ordered a tall glass of milk. And I don’t think it was because of the starched doily.
Anyhow, I was scanning the chalkboard at Le Garde Robe, looking at the various charcuterie and cheese on offer, and noticed filet mignon, and thought, “A steak is a funny thing for a wine bar to serve, especially one that doesn’t serve hot food.” Until I remembered what it is in French. And if everyone wasn’t already staring at the idiot at the wine bar, nursing a stemmed glass of milk, I would’ve kicked myself for thinking that’s a big, juicy steak. Which it’s not, in France.
1. Mixing Up the Mignons
Mignon in French means “cute”. And to my pork-loving friends and readers, that can only mean one thing: pigs. French people think cows are attractive.
Technically this gelato isn’t ‘polenta’ ice cream, but it’s made with corn flour. But when I was in Torino, Italy last year, a local gelateria was making what they were billing as a ‘polenta’ gelato, using farina bóna.
So if you want to argue with an Italian chef, you’re welcome to. After tangling with puzzling bureaucratic paperwork for a disproportionately-large chunk of my days lately, I’m happy to just accept what people say, and no longer question the how’s and why’s. (Like when I got a customs bill for an unsolicited delivery last week that had a tax on the tax. To preserve my sanity, I’ve stopped trying to make sense of those kinds of things anymore.)
Plus “Flour Ice Cream”, somehow doesn’t have the same appeal.
I was happy, at long last, to get around the making gelato from this unusual ingredient that I picked up during the Slow Food event I’d attended. Unlike the derision* that similar events like this draw elsewhere (which was why I always avoided going), Monsieur Skeptic went with an unusually-open mind and was thrilled to discover so many unusual and nearly-extinct food products that the Slow Food Foundation is working to keep alive.
Farina bóna is deeply-roasted corn, ground into flour, which was produced in villages, such as Vergeletto, in Switzerland, which had just 90 inhabitants.
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.