Results tagged vanilla from David Lebovitz

Salon de l’Agriculture

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Every year, beginning in mid-February, thousands of farmers, wine makers, cheese makers, sausage makers, and an arks’-worth of animals, makes it way to Paris for the annual Salon de l’Agriculture. The salon began in 1870 in a country that was, and still is, justly fond of its agriculture, which is celebrated on tables, in steaming cauldrons, on picnic blankets, in restaurants, and ready-to-slice on cutting boards, all across France.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

The best of France converges on Paris and last year, there were nearly three-quarters of a million visitors, filling up the massive, grand halls of the Porte des Versailles, on the edge of Paris.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

There are exhibitors from twenty-two countries in addition to France, as well as foods from tropical French regions. And four thousand animals are trucked to Paris from the provinces to bring the taste – and smell(!) – of the country, to Paris.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Like many agriculture fairs, there are competitions, too, honoring everything from the liveliest livestock to the best wines in France. But to me, it’s really an astounding place to enjoy the best of France in one hectic visit. However, it’s impossible to see it all in one day unless you have the stamina of one of those massive bulls in the pens, or the men who stir (and stir and stir and stir) the giant pots of cheese and potatoes.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

 

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Gooey Cinnamon Cake

Who was more thrilled than I to find that Deb thanked me in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for lugging a big sack of French cocoa powder to New York City for her? But just after I read that in the acknowledgements, my head started reeling, thinking that others would start asking me to bring them cocoa powder as well.

foil-lined panFrench butter for gooey cinnamon cake
golden syrup and corn syrup for gooey cinnamon cakegooey cake batter in pan

That one time I did it, fortunately, I managed to avoid a catastrophe as I can’t imagine anything worse than opening up a suitcase and finding a kilo (2#) of cocoa powder had exploded in there. (It would knock the time that I had a jar of molasses open in my suitcase from that top spot.)

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L’Épicerie Breizh Café

Breizh salted butter caramels

Sometimes I think I am living in the wrong département of France. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be able to walk out my door and get a baguette Parisienne or a sachet of les macarons, libremente (freely). But Breton food is all the flavors I crave: buckwheat, honey, sardines, oysters, fleur de sel, seaweed, and sparkling apple cider. Oh yes, and butter.

Bordier Butter

The popular Breizh Café in Paris has expanded into the space next door, creating an épicerie, featuring the best products from Brittany.

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Butterscotch Sauce

butterscotch sauce

Marion Cunningham was a big promoter of American food and cooking, which included some of the peculiarities of our style of eating. There was a funny story recounted by Kim Severson way back in 2001, that when Marion came to France, she insisted on having a cup of coffee before dinner at a three-star restaurant. Which, of course, perplexed the waiter. But Marion always insisted on doing things the right way (or at least, her way) and once she told me that she went to teach a class in making pie crust at the Ritz in Paris, and she brought along a can of vegetable shortening, which prompted the French chef to take a look into the can, and ask her – “What is this sh*t?”

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Pineapple-Coconut Macaroons

pineapple-coconut macaroons

By now, just about everyone is familiar with Parisian macarons, those little almond meringue sandwiches pressed together with a creamy filling, which are now available far and wide. But if you go to neighborhood bakeries in Paris, you’ll find another kind of “macaroon” – Rochers à la noix de coco, which, because the French are fond of abbreviations, is often shortened to rochers coco.

They’re a similar take on American-style coconut macaroons, which are said to have gotten their moniker when almonds (which are the base for traditional Italian and French macarons) were hard to find at one time, so coconut was substituted in their place.

pineapple-coconut macaroons pineapple-coconut macaroons

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Brownie-Brown Sugar Parfaits

When I lived in San Francisco, the baking community was a very friendly group and we all mingled easily. One of the people who I particularly admired and liked was Emily Luchetti, who was also a pastry chef and cookbook author. Her desserts were known for their stunning simplicity, which highlighted bold flavors as well as local ingredients, and whose recipes walked a balance between home-style and sophisticated. And even more importantly, she tends to like two of my favorite things – chocolate and caramel – and she uses them frequently.

Emily’s newest book is The Fearless Baker, a book of 175 easy-to-make desserts that won’t intimidate anyone. I asked her if she would be interested in doing a guest post, and when she suggested something combining…you guessed it, caramel and chocolate brownies, I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you. Please welcome this guest post by Emily Luchetti. -david


A common dilemma for chefs who participate in out-of-town events is what mise en place to take and what to prepare on site. Making dessert for 500-1000 people at a walk-around tasting away from your familiar work place takes logistical and advanced planning. If I have a couple of events within a month of each other, prepping the same dish is easier the second time around. I have a much better idea of how to pack it all. Since different audiences are at each event, it’s not like I am serving identical desserts to the same people. (It only took me 20 years in the business to figure this out!)

My dessert for offsite events this winter/spring was Brownie Brown Sugar Parfait. Originally I created it for the opening menu at Waterbar in San Francisco. It is perfect road trip dessert. There are 4 components brownies, caramel sauce, toasted pecans and a brown sugar pastry cream that’s lightened with whipped cream. Most of it can be made ahead of time and put together later in Connecticut at The Mohegan Sun Casino, or in Miami at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

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Sydney Dining

Sydney Opera House

If I ever get back to Sydney, I may never leave. And not just because it takes the better part of a full day to get there, or to recover from the jet-lag, which Australians know about all-too-well…since for them to go anywhere, it’s a considerable journey as well. But what I found interesting was whenever I told any locals how great their city was, they’d say, “Yeah, it’s pretty great.” Most of the time when you talk to people who live somewhere, they’ll invariably have something to grouse about.

I liked walking around the small, but urban center of the city, with its tall buildings, shopping centers, and compact Chinatown. And I enjoyed putting on my walking shoes (and socks) wandering the various neighborhoods, which are eminently walkable and you can chance upon little cafés brewing up excellent coffee, sleek design shops, and ethnic restaurants with food that will blow your support hose off.

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Smitten Ice Cream

strawberry ice cream with white balsamic vinegar

Whenever I land in San Francisco, I invariably arrive with a number of places to visit that I want to tick off my list. As I’ve learned from previous experience, it’s just not possible to go everywhere – especially when you have to wait up to 45 minutes for a bus to come, making a round-trip to an ice cream shop a full afternoon event.

I was joking that I need to move back to San Francisco just to see – and eat – everything that I want to see and eat. And adding on to that are the places that everyone kindly recommends that I visit as well. But no matter how many places I do manage to get to, invariably a number of messages come in, beginning with “Oh, but you should have gone to…”

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