Sunday, March 29, 2009

How To Eat Raclette

A little souvenir from France for y'all... A video on how to eat Raclette

The video will look even more appetizing if you watch it in HD full screen and let it load fully before you watch it. Enjoy!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eat Like a Parisian

When my friend Anna from Cookie Madness asked us advice on a restaurant in Paris, I immediately turned to my brother David for recommendations. He's been living in Paris for more than 10 years and is a fine gastronomer. As a matter of fact, I think he's influenced me greatly on that part! 

He put together a list of his favorite restaurants in Paris for me. He made sure to combine places that have an interesting decor (but always very good quality food) with places off the beaten path - tres parisiens! I can assure you that you won't be disappointed with any restaurants in the list below! They are affordable and you will have a true French food experience without being chichi. 

I have linked all these restaurants to their websites (for those who have one) and included their hours of operation. Bear in mind that:
  • a lot of restaurants in France close on Sundays or Mondays but not all of them. 
  • In big cities, restaurants stay open late (up to midnight or more) but it depends. 
  • Restaurants start serving dinner in the evening at about 7pm. Most French people go later, around 8.30 / 9pm or even later, especially in Paris.
  • Service is included in France so tipping is not required.  If you do want to add a tip, just leave 1 or 2 euros, but it is not an obligation at all.
  • Do order "menus". They include an appetizer (une entree), an entree (un plat) and dessert or cheese for usually a VERY reasonable price. I'd say for 20 euros, you can get a very decent meal! The menu usually gives you the choice between 2 to 4 appetizers, 2 to 4 entrees and 2 to 4 desserts. It depends. But take my word for it and ORDER A MENU! Restaurants usually offer from 2 to 4 different menus to choose from, from the cheapest to the most expensive.

La Fermette Marboeuf

Near the Champs Elysees. The interior of the restaurant is decorated art deco style. Gorgeous setting but noisy.  Open until 11.30 pm.

Located in an old railway station. Elegant old-world charm. Open everyday, Sunday included, until 2 am.

Oldest cafe in Paris with an "old Paris" feel. Near Saint Germain des Pres. Open until 1 am.

Very authentic decor. Very traditional French food. Open until 12.30 am, except Sundays (11 pm)

One my brother has told me a lot about. Cheapest menu will cost you $25. Closed on Sundays. 

Le Coude Fou

Very Parisian, very traditional, good food and good wine! Open until 2 am.

Beautiful setting. Historical Parisian brasserie

Another historical restaurant. Used to be a favorite for blue collars at the turn of the 19th century because it was cheap. Still very cheap today, they offer very homestyle French food like endive salad, shredded carrots with vinaigrette or leeks and vinaigrette. (I have never tried it myself but would be really curious to try it out next time I'm in Paris!)

Very good meat restaurant near Les Halles. "Louchebem" means "butcher" in the old Paris slang.


My brother told me to go check out their cheap but delicious couscous. 

C Comme Cochon

Traditional food. Their pork shanks cooked in hay is a must. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chicken Crawfish 30th birthday

I have not forgotten about you all! Juan and I are back in the US now but I still have so much to share with you from our trip! I don't know where to start. I actually was not feeling good towards the end of our stay (I must have caught a cold), thus the slowdown in my blog entries. Pardonnez-moi!

Juan celebrated his 30th birthday while we were in France and my parents organized a big family get together for him. It was one of these long meals that my family does at least 2 or 3 times a year: a long aperitif, a very long lunch with 4 or 5 courses, a walk around my village and usually some board games bonding time - Belote anyone?

When my Mom asked me what we should serve for this occasion, I remembered the 20th birthday lunch she organized for me way back then... My parents had ordered a big dish of Poulet Aux Ecrevisses from an excellent local restaurant. They truly know how to make this dish wonderful. I thought Juan's birthday would be the perfect occasion to do just the same again.Why not make it yourself you wonder? Our family gatherings involve close to 3o people so we sometimes shamelessly decide to spend more time with our guests rather than in the kitchen. (We did bake a lemon tart, a very chocolaty cake and a flan though).

Poulet aux Ecrevisses or Chicken Crawfish is a dish from my region, in which the sauce is the star. A combination of white wine,tomatoes, cayenne, cream, slowly simmered with crawfish and farm raised chicken. C'etait exquis!!! We served it with rice, to soak up all the juices.

Pictures speak a thousand words so I leave you here...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 9: Cremieu's Market

I love going to the market when in France. Around my region, there is one every day of the week in different small towns around my village. Today was Wednesday so the market was in Cremieu, a gorgeous medieval town. The market is set under a 14th century old market hall, the exact same spot where Juan and I celebrated our wedding a few years ago.

The weather was cold and rainy today, which gave the market a little charm but we didn't stick around for too long. Just enough time to buy some local honey, a scarole salad for lunch and a few clementines. My Mom and I didn't feel like cooking much so we bought a local dish called diots au vin blanc, which is a regional sausage cooked in white wine along with potatoes or polenta. Oh I can't tell you how good these were... Such a perfect meal for this kind of weather!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 5: La Raclette

La Raclette is - another - typical dish from my region. It's a full meal of melted cheese (raclette cheese), boiled potatoes and regional deli meats: hams, saucissons... The kind of dish that will send you straight to bed because of how heavy it is!
Yesterday was the first time we were able to have dinner with both my brothers and my parents at the same time since we've been back. The weather was cold and snowy - perfect for a raclette!

There's a special machine that we use to melt the cheese: un appareil a raclette. We place it in the middle of the dinner table, plugged in and each person puts a slice of cheese in a little non stick mini pan. The mini pans are then placed under a heater that melts the cheese in less than a minute. It's a very cheap and common thing to have in a French houselhold, especially in my region. I wish I could bring one back to the US (damn you, European plugs).

If you think these photos look delicious, just wait for the video (coming soon)...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 3: Lemon festival in Menton

I've been fighting jetlag for the first time in my life since in France. Not fun when you should be sleeping and you've been tossing and turning for the past 7 hours. I'm hopeful it will get better as the days go by though.

We took advantage of what seems to have been our last day of somewhat warm and sunny weather by going to the city of Menton, right at the border of Italy, after Monaco. They were celebrating Le Festival Des Citrons (the lemon festival), in an array of thousands of lemons and oranges. Quite a sight!

We did not want to miss tasting some Mediterranean fish. We stumbled upon a wonderful little restaurant nestled in a tiny little square around a fountain. For a very decent 20 euro menu, I enjoyed a salad served with goat cheese, warm lemon and honey vinaigrette and balsamic reduction, grilled rascasse (scorpion fish) served with a tomato concasse and a fantastic ratatouille. The fish was out of this world -somewhat meaty, crispy skin. Divine! To top it all, I finished the meal with a perfect homemade lemon tart.

I have a feeling I'll be telling you about the raclette dish I will be enjoying tonight (perfect for snowy weather!) in my upcoming post...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 1: Sights of Antibes

The streets of the old Antibes are rudimentary and narrow -but quaint. After more than a year away from my home country, all the charms and characteristics of my surroundings seem to just pop out like a black dot on a white wall: the old entry doorways, the shop signs and displays. I couldn't stop smiling -and taking pictures.

We randomly happened upon La Villa Fontaine, a very old home nestled in the Saffranier neighborhood, where painter -and French Fork reader Ann Elizabeth Schlegel has been invited to stay by the city of Antibes to paint. Here's a snapshot of the little walk: