Monday, June 14, 2010

Some French Guy, a pizza knife and pesto

Je vous présente- I'd like to introduce you to- Some French Guy.  He came in a little green pouch (the same color as his striped pull) and was given to me by my advisees at the end of the school year.  In this photo, he is jauntily hanging on to both his baguette and the Eiffel Tower.  See his black beret and matching moustache?  My only complaint about SFG is that he is too quiet.  I cannot even ask him for the proper word en français.  Sometimes le bon mot just doesn't come to mind as quickly as I need it to and le petit monsieur is no help whatsoever.  But he is cute, so I will keep him and carry him around with me for good luck - la bonne chance.
He was in my purse this weekend when we made a quick trip to the mountains to visit my family in Spruce Pine.  We spent the night in Boone and visited the campus of my alma mater, Appalachian State University.  Go Mountaineers!  Here I am with Yosef, our mascot.
He is happy about our recent back-to-back-to-back football championships.
We ate at a restaurant named Char on Howard Street in downtown Boone. The owners call it a "modern, American restaurant."  We sat on the deck with a great view of the mountains and part of the ASU campus, sipped beer (a pale ale with a hint of blueberries) and ate calamari (panko crusted, lightly fried, served with basil aioli).  The Ex-Ex (he asked me to change his name) loves calamari, but the little guys with the tentacles made him a bit squeamish.  Pas moi!

It was delicious.  Vraiment délicieux.  This restaurant is a keeper.
We also shared a pizza at Mellow Mushroom.  We chose The Magical Mystery Tour.
Pesto base, mozzarella, spinach, feta, button and portabella mushrooms and jalapenos.  I confess that I removed the jalapenos.  I don't really care for them and I didn't want to mess with the pesto-mushroom flavors.  It was really good pizza.  We had a great view of the mountains, too.  (A lot of power lines, but hey, what can you do?  Mountain folks need their electricity, too.)
And now back to Some French Guy.  Thinking about the MM pizza, made me think about the pizza knife I got at the market in Arles in March.
I bought it just because I thought it was interesting and it matched the set of steak knives that I also bought.  But it works really well, due to the rounded blade.
They are so colorful!  They carry the name Laguiole on them.
And they have a bee on the top.  Inox means stainless steel, in French.

I strongly suspect that my little set is a knock-off, but I really don't care.  They make me happy.  When I am in Arles again next spring, I plan to buy the matching forks and spoons.

Next time I am ready to make pizza, I am going to try to make my own Magical Mystery Tour.  Forget the tomato sauce and go with pesto.

Basil Pesto
(makes 1 cup)

2 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
1/3 c. pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine basil and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add garlic and pulse until smooth.  Add 1/2 c. olive oil in a steady stream while food processor is on.  Stop and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add cheese and process until well-blended.  Season with salt and pepper.  (Start with a pinch of salt and adjust to suit your taste.)

You can freeze pesto for up to 3 months.  If you plan to do this, do not add the cheese.  Transfer it to an air-tight container, cover with about 1/4 cup more olive oil and seal.  When ready to serve, thaw and add cheese.

This is good on bread or on pasta instead of tomato sauce.

But if you happen to be in Arles on a Saturday morning, go to the market and don't leave until you find the couple who sell pesto- pistou vert.  They have lots of other spreads that are all delicious, but their pistou vert is the best.  I brought three jars home with me.  I did give one to the BFF.  I am able to share sometimes.

Bon appétit, Some French Guy and Yosef!

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