22 Jul Traveler translates Parisian treats when she’s at home
Hemingway once said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.”
Having been fortunate enough to spend a week in Paris this summer, I’d have to agree.
Perusing Patricia Wells’ “Food Lover’s Guide to Paris” for restaurants near the apartment we were renting, I found Ambassade D’Auvergne, where we dined on our first night there.
The drama of their traditional tableside whipping of aligot, their signature side dish consisting of potatoes, cheese and garlic, is alive and well. My roast chicken with more cream, cooked to perfection and delicately sauced, arrived adorned with peeled fingerling potatoes so tenderly sauteed they melted in my mouth. The wineWells recommended, Chanturgue, a pinot noir from vineyards near Clermont-Ferrand, whispered of berries and paired perfectly with the earthy morel sauce.
Walking to a nearby brasserie recommended by Rick Steves in his Paris guidebook proved a great choice on our second night. I savored every bite of the Brochettes du Boeuf Grille aux Herbes atop a bed of the provincial vegetable ratatouille, bursting with fresh seasonal flavors, and every sip of the Cotes du Rhone.
No self-respecting food enthusiast makes the trip to Paris without stopping at La Grande Epicerie, the gourmet grocery in the Bon Marche.
My nervous excitement got the best of me as we inched closer to our destination. Wandering through the ground floor of the Bon Marche, I approached a cosmetics clerk and blurted out, “Je m’appelle Anglais,” meaning to ask her if she spoke English and instead telling her my name was English. Feeling foolish and reacting to her dumbfounded response, we quickly turned and left the building only to find La Grande Epicerie directly across the street.
Oh, to have unlimited time and money in La Grande Epicerie. I could have spent the whole day there drooling over gourmet delicacies from around the world. Our best find was the macaron cafe, a crisp coffee-flavored French macaron filled with melt-in-your-mouth coffee cream.
The next day included a visit to the Musee Rodin and lunch at their museum cafe. My husband, Mike, ordered the plat du jour which included a square of their gratin dauphinois, a side dish of thinly sliced potatoes layered with cream and cheese and baked into a heavenly heap.
A highlight for all of us was dining at the Eiffel Tower on day six of our trip, where we enjoyed fine food, spectacular views and exceptional service. It was here at 58 Tour Eiffel, their first-floor restaurant, that our fruit salad dessert featured pitaya, a white fruit with tiny black seeds, which tasted much like a mild flavored watermelon.
Our waiter told me pitaya comes from Thailand and finally wrote down fruit’s name after I repeatedly asked for the spelling of the word.
All good things must come to an end, and suddenly it was our last day in Paris. Feeling obligated to sample something spectacular before we left, we returned to La Fougasse, a favorite boulangerie close to our apartment, for one last pastry.
We were not alone in our quest. The line of loyal customers wound down the block this Sunday morning. I ordered a Choux Chantilly avec Framboises which was truly out of this world, kept the signature doily it arrived upon and vowed to replicate the recipe to the best of my abilities upon my return. Au revoir!
CHOUX CHANTILLY AVEC FRAMBOISES
Here is my version of the charming Choux Chantilly avec Framboises tasted first at La Fougasse.
1¾ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
In a chilled mixing bowl with chilled beater, beat cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Remove to a pastry bag and chill in refrigerator until ready to assemble.
1 cup water
½ cup butter
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, heat water and butter until butter melts and mixture boils.
2. Add flour all at once and whisk together until dough forms a ball.
3. Remove from heat and beat in eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined.
4. Stir in sugar.
5. Pipe or spread about three tablespoons choux pastry onto greased baking sheet to make shells.
6. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Then decrease oven temperature to 375° and continue baking until golden brown.
7. Remove from pan and cool on cooling rack.
1. Slice each pastry shell in half horizontally with a small sharp knife.
2. Pipe Chantilly creme into bottom of each shell.
3. Top creme with fresh raspberries and place pastry shell lids on top.
4. Sift powdered sugar on top and garnish with fresh mint leaves.
RATATOUILLE COMPOSE1 eggplant, sliced in thin rounds, then cut in quarters
2 small zucchini, sliced in thin rounds
1 small yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sugar
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
8 empty 8-ounce tin cans, labels removed, opened on both ends, washed and dried
1. In a medium heavy saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat.
2. Fry eggplant in a single layer until browned. Turn and fry other side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
3. In the same pan, saute zucchini in a single layer until browned. Turn and cook other side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
4. Continue cooking vegetables, one kind at a time, adding olive oil, as needed, and keeping separate until ready to assemble.
5. Sprinkle cooked vegetables with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
6. In a small mixing bowl, combine tomato paste, dried thyme, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
7. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray and spray insides of can rings.
8. In each ring make single layers of eggplant; zucchini; yellow squash; seasoned tomato paste, just to cover; tomato; yellow pepper; and onion and then top with layered zucchini slices 9. Bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes.
10. Using a spatula, remove ratatouille stacks, still in rings, and place on plates. Pull rings when ready to serve and garnish with thyme sprigs.