Dear Readers,

19 04 2010

A lot has happened in the last week.  Tuesday morning I arrived at work to see the chef with his arm in an immobilizing sling.  He’d dislocated his shoulder – AGAIN (this is the third time, I think) – playing American football.  Which is clearly my fault, as the inventor of the sport and the person who set up the team in Paris and forced him to play.  Anyway, he informed me that since he couldn’t use his arm, he’d be taking the week off, leaving me to do all the work with only a stage to help me out.  (At least this one has a good work ethic, unlike some.)  So in addition to having to pack up my apartment at night, my days were much longer and more stressful than usual.  The icing on the cake was that I had to cover his shift on Saturday, too, which meant that I had to get up at 3:30am on moving day, go to work, come home, finish packing, and then move into a new place.  Fortunately, Nick and I had a great number of friends helping us out with the move, and many hands truly did make light work.  So many, many thanks go to Joe, Laurence, Scott, Ana, Arnaud, Nicolai, Celine, and Jesse for making moving day go so smoothly.

The phone/internet/tv switchover didn’t go smoothly at all so I am currently without reliable service for at least a week.  I hope you’ll bear with me and another possible post-less week.  I promise to be back as soon as possible with a farewell tour of my old neighborhood, photos of the new kitchen (once it’s ready to go – I’m helping the landlady shop for appliances today), and, of course, more recipes.


Originally published on Croque-Camille.


Fribourg d’Alpage

12 04 2010

I believe I promised you all a cheese post featuring the most delicious cheese at the Coulommiers festival.  It wasn’t a Coulommiers or Brie-type cheese that stole my heart that day.  No, it was a huge wheel of mountain-grown Gruyère-style cheese named Fribourg d’Alpage.

Nomnomnom (I don't usually say things like that, but this cheese is that good.)

It seems that I have inadvertently packed up the notebook containing my tasting notes for this cheese, but I suppose that’s just as well for two reasons: one, it gives me an excuse to eat some more right now; and two, it’s such a complex cheese that every time I taste something different.  While previous tastings focused on the nutty, rich characteristics, this time it almost tasted piquant.  Also, the longer I keep it, the more pronounced the crunchy flavor crystals become (you know, like in an aged Parmigiano-Reggiano).  I suppose the flavor development could be happening because of my old friends, the cheese mites.  (I am now wondering if they are transferable, as in, could I buy some crappy Comté from Monoprix, wrap it up in some paper with a mite-riddled rind, and in a few weeks have something worth eating?)  At any rate, Fribourg d’Alpage is a flavor bomb.  Earthy, grassy, nutty, salty, with a hint of tang and a finish that leaves you salivating for more.

My attempts to find out more about this cheese on ye olde internette have yielded nothing written specifically about Fribourg d’Alpage, but many results citing Swiss Gruyères and Vacherins d’Alpage.  What I have gleaned from these is that it is a cow’s milk cheese, the milk coming from cows that graze on the mountains in the summer, producing a rich, flavorful milk.  The cheese is then aged at least 12-25 weeks to produce a semi-firm wheel.  Naturally, the longer it sits, the firmer it will be.  I honestly think this is one cheese best enjoyed completely on its own.  Really, it needs no accompaniment.

I’m just in time to send this over to the International Fête du Fromage, hosted by Chez Loulou.  The delicious round-up is posted on the 15th of every month, so be sure to stop by on Thursday for lots more cyber-cheese.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

Saying Goodbye to my Kitchen

9 04 2010

We move into our new place a week from tomorrow.  As of now, I don’t know how the new place will be equipped when I get there.  (I do know that it will be fully equipped at some point, but on moving day there may not be, for example, an oven or stove.  Or fridge.  Or dishwasher.  Or washing machine.  Ack.)  We’ve been making an effort, of late, to reduce the number of things we will have to move – finishing off jars of mustard, using up the last of the parchment, and so on.  But before the packing up begins in earnest, I wanted to share a few photos of what is pretty much the best kitchen I could hope for in a tiny parisian apartment.  I’ve tagged notable items in the photos on Flickr, so if you want to know more about what’s in the pictures, click them and you’ll go to my Flickr page.  You can also find all the photos here, in one set.

The view of the kitchen (including bar corner) from the couch.

 The shelves, as seen from inside the kitchen.  (Look in the back - there's the couch!)

Can’t get the captions to work on this one, but here are the shelves.  (Look, in the background – it’s the couch!)

Nick put these hooks in, and I love them! You wouldn't believe how much drawer space this freed up.

  Read the rest of this entry »

Eating Locally

6 04 2010

The weekend before last, our neighbors Celine and Jesse invited Nick and I to accompany them to a cheese and wine festival being held in Coulommiers, about an hour’s train ride from Paris.  (Why is it that we’ve lived in this apartment for two years and only just now make friends with the neighbors?  Granted, they only just moved in this year, but still it’s a bummer to have to move now that we have friends in the building.)  Anyway, we all had a great time at the festival, tasting wines, cheeses, and an awful lot of sausage considering it was a cheese festival.  One of the coolest things about this particular fair was that many of the companies represented came from the immediately surrounding area.  We tasted hard apple cider from Île-de-France, which was good enough that we bought a case, and were amused to hear that many French people don’t accept their cider because it’s not from Normandy or Brittany.

One of the last tables we visited was selling bags of locally-grown legumes and flour.  I couldn’t resist, and bought a bag each of brown lentils, green lentils, and freshly milled flour.  I explained to the salesguy that I was really interested in cooking with local ingredients, and that I like knowing where my food comes from.  Upon hearing my accent, he asked me where I was from.  When I responded “Les Etats-Unis,” he quickly replied (in French) “Well, you’re not very local, are you?”  Touché.  I explained that I live in Paris now, and he threw in a free bag of split peas.  Hooray!

split peas from Brie

I love split peas, in part because split pea soup is so easy to make, yet so filling and tasty.  So a few days later, I boiled up the peas with a smoky Alsatian sausage (also purchased at the festival – and not exactly local, but still only 2 hours away on the TGV) and some carrots and leeks (which came from the Loire Valley via my CSA).

Read the rest of this entry »

Around Paris: 3rd: Jacques Genin

2 04 2010

I’ve been trying to write this post forever.  Like since early 2009, shortly after the place opened.  I went as soon as I had a chance, and tried not to touch anything in the pristine shop.  I bought a sleek brushed steel box of nine chocolates for ten euros, and of course gobbled them up  savored them all before thinking to take any pictures.  (For the record, though, their pralinés are some of the most amazingly smooth I’ve ever tasted, and I find the tea ganaches a tad too subtle for my tastes, but are very obviously of the highest quality.)

Jacques Genin storefront

Jacques Genin’s unassuming storefront on rue de Turenne, in the northern Marais, belies the modern luxury on the inside.  The shop is one enormous room, with a staircase spiraling up to the workshop.  Behind the stairs are several tables, at which you can sit and enjoy house-made pastries like the sublime lemon tart or made-to-order millefeuille with a pot of exotic or vintage tea.  Along the windowed street-side wall is a cash register flanked by a pastry case and the array of chocolates.  Right by the door – to catch you coming or going, I guess – is a counter devoted to Genin’s celebrated caramels.  I managed to resist until my most recent visit, when I sat down for tea and sweets, and was brought a free caramel with the bill.  Let me tell you, those caramels are perfection.  Chewy, buttery, and rich with dark caramel flavor, they are an absolute delight.

So by all means, come for the chocolates, but consider staying for the tea and pastries, and don’t leave without a bag of caramels.

On this day in 2008: Le Bastringue (Still one of the best lunch deals in Paris!)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

%d bloggers like this: