Monday, January 23, 2012

La mousse au chocolat

I have learned how to make perfect mousse au chocolat.  Mme P is well-known for her mousse and she let me in on her secrets last week.  We were invited to dinner at the Allemand house in Villeneuve-les-Avignon (VLA to those in the know, I discovered).  We couldn't go empty handed so that gave us a reason to make a bowl of chocolate heaven.
In Mme P's kitchen, she has a wonderful cabinet that belonged to her husband's grandparents.  She refinished it and the handy husband put slate in where glass had been before.  Perfect for shopping lists, reminders, and for writing up recipes.

The teacher/chef at work.
6 eggs
70 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
200 g dark chocolate (use the best you can find/afford-- the Nestle's she uses is dark 52% chocolate; European chocolate is just plain better than our stuff unless you go high end; they have higher standards for theirs)
pinch of salt

Eggs from hens raised outside-- they are stamped.
The best chocolate, according to Mme P--

I most certainly brought some home with me! 
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Do not let it get too hot.  Stir it with a metal spoon, not a wooden one.  Take it off the heat as soon as it is almost melted and continue stirring until completely melted.

Separate the egg whites and yellows.
Beat the whites, with a pinch of salt, until stiff peaks form.
(I love her robot.)
Mix the yellows and the sugar.
Then add the melted chocolate.
Then delicately add the whites, about 1/4 at a time.  Fold them in very gently.
Lick the spoon or the whip, just to be sure it is as good as you know it is.
Or let your assistante américaine do this for you.
Such sacrifices.
Yes, I licked both.  I admit it.  Can't deny it anyway.  There is evidence.  Photos were taken.

Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours before serving.  We left it in the large bowl and put it in smaller verrines or glass dishes before heading to chez Allemand.

Bon appétit, la mousse au chocolat et Mme P!  À bientôt!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chez Fauchon

ACIS treated us to dinner at Fauchon this year.  Oui, Fauchon of the famous chocolates near the Madeleine church.  The place where I have practiced lèche-vitrines or window-licking, as the French call window-shopping, in the past.  Did you know they also have a café?  I didn't.  Our last night in Paris, after hours, we were whisked upstairs, barely having time to drool over the goodies surrounding us.
We were treated to champagne and appetizers.
Fauchon's bubbly comes from Champagne so it really is champagne.
And of course I love the pink.
Among the little hors-d'oeuvre, we were served pumpkin soup, with the smallest spoons I've ever eaten with--
It was très bonne, la soupe.
We sat down to eat, me next to my Paris roommate, Lynne,
with Angélique (in the red sweater above), and Thierry, who will be my group's tour manager during our March trip.
I think that we are going to get along famously.
Menus were waiting for us at our places.

And dinner began with Poêlée de girolles et cèpes, oeuf cassé, crème à la truffe
Sautéed mixed mushrooms with truffle cream
The main course-- Suprême de pintade doré minute, pommes de terre "Grenaille de Noirmoutier", légumes verts, jus salmis
Breast of guinea hen, baby potatoes, and green vegetables

Salad and cheese course--
Salade mélangée et fromages affinés:  Tête de Moine, Saint Marcellin, Sainte Maure
Mixed leaf salad served with a selection of cheese
I ate a second helping of the chèvre... I traded with Thierry.

And dessert...
Moelleux tiède au grand cru de chocolat Guanaja, coeur fondant framboise, glace vanille turbinée minute
Warm chocolate fondant dessert, with melting raspberry centre and vanilla ice cream
It was as good as it looks.  I resisted licking the plate, but I didn't waste a bite.
Wines were Sauvignon Domaine Laroche de la Chevalière 2010 and Bordeaux La Chapelle 2010 par Antoine Moueix.  Our water was either calme or agitée.
Before leaving, a trip to bathroom was in order, just to check it out (this is a weird hobby of mine in fancy places).
What is not to love about a pink toilettes?
On the way out, I snapped a few photos of the goodies.
And then a few window shots--
No purchases were made.  They closed up shop as soon as we left.
(I bought my little tin of chocolate at the airport on the way home.)
Our ride back to the hotel took us past the lovely ferris wheel, la roue, that is put up at Place de la Concorde for Christmas and New Year's.
It was a lovely, delicious evening. 

Bon appétit et merci, ACIS et Fauchon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I am in France!

If only I had practiced with this lovely little iPad before I left... I couldn't get connected in Paris. I was not about to pay for Internet at the hotel. Seriously? Hotels charge these days and times? So, I thought to myself, WWHD? Can't guess what that means?. What would Hemingway do? I decided to stop worrying about the Internet and gadgets and I scribbled in my cute little All About Moi notebook whenever I had a minute and just wander around a lot. I was staying near Montparnasse, his old neighborhood, after all. Lots of photos and details will follow. C'est promis! Now I am safely installed chez Faany, in her beautiful farmhouse in Pujaut. I spent the day with her at school, with a two hour lunch break in the middle of it, meeting her students and letting them practice,their English on me. I also met the 25 students and two other teachers who are coming to see us in a couple of months. Now it is time to get dressed for dinner out, preceded by a look at The lovely evenings lights of Avignon. Wow, the things I must do for my job! C'est vraiment terrible, n'est-ce pas?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tomorrow! Demain!

As I scramble furiously to get ready to leave, I still had to make time to gaze at La Tour Eiffel.  As I taught my last day of classes for a week, I still found time to scribble notes to myself in my adorable journal the BFF gave me for Christmas.  I cannot believe she found this little book.  We have a joke dating back to when she and Mo came to France to visit me in 2007.  Mo wanted to take a photo of La Tour Eiffel.  She placed the BFF and me in the photo and we, being the girls that we are, started trying to make sure our hair looked just right.  Mo commented that we didn't need to worry about what we looked like, the photo wasn't about us, it was about La Tour F-L.  So, after that, we learned to asked if the photo would be about us or not.  I mean, why bother about what you look like if no one cares?  Therefore, the BFF gave this little journal to both of us.  Because it is, after all, all about moi.  That is, all my little notes.  The notes as of right this moment include a packing list, ideas for gifts to bring home, questions to ask, directions to my Paris hotel from the airport, addresses and metro stops for a couple of places I plan to visit, etc.  I've been given orders to write down everything I do while away.  And of course I will do just that so that I can remember it all!  It will require periodically stopping and sitting in a café because who can write and walk at the same time?  While gazing at the Frenchies, the buildings, the monuments, the sidewalk (to make sure the shoes stay clean!), the shop windows, and all that?  Pas moi!  I am up for the task, though.
Now, home to pack the suitcase, an agonizing task for moi...  I am really bad at packing.

Bon appétit, la Belle France.  Je te verrai vendredi matin!

Monday, January 9, 2012


After running around Paris like a crazy lady, chasing after the Eiffel Tower for three days, including
a Sunday, I will be off to Provence for four days.  I will take the métro
not a bike

to the Gare du Lyon
where I will board the TGV, bound for Nîmes, with its crocodiles and palm trees.
An interesting mascot, n'est-ce pas?
There is a story behind it.  I can't quite remember it, though.  Julius Caesar's Nile campaigns?  It's the city's contemporary coat-of-arms anyway.  After lunch in Nîmes, I will head over to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon to meet up with Mme P.  She will be my host for three days.  Plans include two days at school with her classes (I am taking over penpal letters and little gifts from my students for hers), a day to goof off (I proudly taught the Frenchies that English expression last spring!), and cooking with Mme P in her kitchen-- oui, chef!
I will be as happy as these cows and sheep! 

And oui, I will taste their cheese.  Gladly.
Maybe on this bread called vigneron?
Maybe this fromage de Provence?
Perhaps a visit to the market for some dried lavender?
I know there is some sort of surprise planned... and I will bet it involves a lovely dinner.  Oooooh, I can't wait!

Bon appétit, la Belle France!