Friday, August 29, 2008

The 100 list

The Omnivore's Hundred list was created by food blogger Andrew at Very Good Taste.  It's a compilation of 100 things "every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life". Items highlighted in green are ones that I have eaten. Items that are underlined have a link to Wikipedia.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile 

6. Black pudding (homemade by my grandpa)

7. Cheese fondue (uh hello, every Winter!)

8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari (the best was in Italy)

12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (I prefer PB&B – B for banana)

14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (My Grandmother makes a great peach one)

19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (oh I love Baklava)

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (well I had clam chowder sans the bread bowl)

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (I tried coke float but not root beer float. Not a big fan of root beer)

36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (I discovered that when I was a student at UT)

39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs (and really good ones)

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (yes at the fair)

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette

71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail (handpicked by my grandfather)

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (I have once, yes. It's sad)

90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (We even have a Spam festival here in Austin)

92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

****** UPDATE******

Today I tried  a Hostess Fruit Pie for the first time (so I added it to my check list above). When Juan realized I had never tried one, he stopped at the corner store and bought one. Verdict? I'm at a loss for words... I'll let you guess if I liked it or not. But I guess I'm happy I tried something as American as pie / Hostess Fruit Pie! Next challenge? TWINKIES!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tea, Milady?

I asked Juan the other day: "Do you think I behave like a lady?". You see, I admire a sophisticated, graceful, ladylike woman. I don't think I am downright feminine in the way I behave or dress all the time - but I don't think I'm a tomboy either. I love to be elegant and stylish but I can also swear like a sailor.

One thing that I absolutely love doing, is having afternoon tea. I love to be surrounded by beautiful china and sometimes yummy petits fours or petits gateaux

I have been used to having afternoon tea thanks to my beloved grandma, Mamie, who has been religiously doing it for decades, every day at 4pm. When I was growing up, I would try to meet her as often as I could when I was on vacation. It's a pleasure that I would not miss for anything in the world. Still now, every time I am back in France, she calls me and asks: "je te prepare une tasse pour le the, ou pas?". 

Mamie always serves Earl Grey tea in the old tea service of her restaurant, L' Hotel Moret. And she always has a few cookies such as langues de chat, madeleines, palmiers or petits beurre. It's always served with a bit of gossips here and there along with some warm and fond memories of her life. 


I would like to share with you a fantastic recipe for scones. They are out of this world. Sandy, yet still moist and buttery. I love them just as is or with a little bit of butter or better, clotted cream. 

Cranberry Scones (recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine) 
Makes about 12 scones

4 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt
1 1/2 sticks of cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 large egg
1 cup of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375. Whisk together the flour, the sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and blend with your fingertips, until it looks like coarse meal. Add the cranberries.

Whisk together the egg and the cream. Then fold into the flour mixture until the dough comes together.

With your hands, press the dough on a floured surface, in a 1 inch thick roughly shaped rectangle (thickness is important. 1 inch = 2.54 cm). Cut out rounds with cutter. I also cut out squares, using a tupperware box, that I then cut in 2 triangles. Arrange on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. 

Gather dough together and cut out more scones. Repeat the cream brushing and sugar sprinkling.


N.B: If you live in Austin, Texas and enjoy drinking tea like me, do go to The Steeping Room.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Top 5...

I'm often asked: "so what's your favorite French dish?". And I usually gaze in indecision, eyes wide open, as if I had just been asked what the meaning of life was. Tricky question... There's so much to choose from!  After pondering and some meditation, I decided to break down my thoughts into different food categories over time. So voila, in no particular order,  here's my...

 Top 5 French Comfort Foods:

  1.  Le Gratin Dauphinois: Scalloped potato dish from my region, creamy and absolutely delicious.
  2. La Raclette: a dish of melted cheese, potatoes served with deli meat like saucisson –a type of salami- or ham and cornichons.
  3. A simple salad with butter lettuce and a sharp garlicky vinaigrette served with sautéed new potatoes (the tiny ones).
  4. Le Boeuf aux Carottes: a beef stew with carrots.
  5. A bowl of café au lait, a croissant and a fresh, still warm out of the bakery, crispy tartine of butter.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

To the left of the Food Pyramid

The taste of foie gras is an acquired taste. At least that's how I feel, as I particularly disliked it as a child (notice I used the past tense?), when it was served every year for Christmas. Unlike regular pâté that you can slather liberally in big pieces on some fresh bread, foie gras is not spread, rather laid as a small piece on a slice of toasted white bread or a somewhat sweet bread like brioche .
One. Small. Bite. At. A. Time.
I sprinkle some fleur de sel over it and wash it down with a Sauternes. And of course, because it's not fatty enough (foie gras in French means "fat liver". You won't find it on the food pyramid. It's off the charts), I also like to spread a very thin layer of good quality butter under the foie gras.

After Juan and I opened the jar of foie gras my brother gave us a few months ago, we had to finish the royal leftovers. And so we did, in an explosion of wonderful flavors.

I made a quick shallot confit by sauteeing shallots in butter until tender and soft. Then I added cider vinegar and fig vinegar, sugar, lots of freshly ground pepper, dried thyme and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I let that simmer for a while. I served it warm, but it’s excellent cold with cheese. After slicing my leftover foie gras and lightly dusting it with flour, I sautéed it quickly on each side. I transferred each slice to a plate and with the duck fat left in the pan, I sautéed a thinly sliced apple, that I also seasoned with lots of freshly ground pepper. I served the foie gras on a warm toasted slice of brioche.

Sounds healthy, doesn't it?