Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eating à la française March 2014

This year's student trip took us -IronWoman, our 19 eighth grade charges, my French 2 students, and me to Paris, Rouen, Villeneuve-lez-Avignon and Arles.  We spent four days in Paris, one day in Normandy visiting the D-Day sites, two nights in Rouen, one day exploring the city, then down south via the TGV to visit our pen pals.  The kids were with families in VLA, Pujaut, Les Angles, Rochefort du Gard, Roquemaure, and Sauveterre.  We spent a day in Arles, visiting the town and the market, and one day exploring Villeneuve-lez-Avignon.  It was an amazing trip.  We had the best weather possible, not a cloud in the sky and temperatures between 45-60 F every single day.  M. Le Mistral put in an appearance the last day of our trip.  I think he missed me and wanted to make sure I hadn't forgotten him.
I thought that I would take you on our trip through the food we ate.  At least through the food I ate.  We ate all of our breakfasts and dinners together but, while in Paris and Rouen, the kids were given a bit of freedom some days to choose where they wanted to have lunch.  And they ate with their French families, of course, and I wasn't there to take photos.  (Hopefully, they did though.)  I was busy doing my own eating and picture-taking!

Let's start with breakfast.
The spice/gingerbread in Rouen was really a treat.

Pain aux raisins.  My absolute favorite.  First morning in Paris.

And last morning Chez La Brune (formerly known on this blog as Mme P).  We went to three or four different bakeries before we found them!  Persistence does pay off.  Doesn't this look amazing?  Trust me, it was.

Lunch time.
I am crazy about mussels, les moules.  With frites, of course.  First in Normandy at a restaurant at Omaha Beach.  We discovered it a couple of years ago and I love this place.  The wife drags the husband out of bed to come take orders.  He takes his time getting those orders and we take our time eating.  No big rush.  With a view of the English Channel and Omaha Beach right across the street.

For our first lunch in Paris, we ate a crêperie near Le Panthéon in the Latin quarter.  One of the kids didn't want the dessert chocolate crêpe so one of the boys asked me if he could find a homeless person to give it to.  He found this lady on the steps of a church.  They are sweet little critters, my students.

An appetizer salad with goat cheese for lunch in Paris.

Our amuse-bouche in Rouen.

The main course.  I shared this with My Favorite Parisien.

Up close and personal.

I love sandwiches, too.  Baguette, butter, fromage, jambon.  What's not to love?

Street eats.  Fouace.  New to me.  Brioche-type bread, lightly sweetened with orange flavor.  Found at the Thursday market in VLA.  

La Brune loves it and she shared with me.  A true friend.

Cheesecake from Sacha Finkelsztajn in the Marais.  Yes, it was as good as it looks.

Tea time Chez La Brune.  Meringues dipped in chocolate.  Fouace.  Nougat.  Lavender, almond and honey tartelette from a bakery in Arles.  Ahhhhh.

Dinner is served.
Ravioli in cream sauce as appetizers at Le Bistrot d'en Face in Paris.  This was hands down the kids' favorite.

Another amazing appetizer- leek tart.  Presentation is quite important, wouldn't you say?

Apéritif time Chez la Brune.  Olives from the Villeneuve market.  Saucisson from the Ardèche.  Chèvre from La Cabriole, La Brune's brother and sister-in-law's fromagerie.  I got to visit with the new baby goats.

Brandade à la Brune.
I learned to make this during my sabbatical.  It is a Provençal speciality made with salt cod.  Delicious served with boiled potatoes, salad and lots of bread.

We also made coucous at La Brune's house.  Vegetables, meat, spices.  Served over the grain.  A north African dish that is very popular in France.

Mediterranean moules frites.  These were better than the ones I had in Normandy.  Saltier.

And the pot au feu La Brune and I made for our farewell dinner party the night before I left.  She knows how much I love this dish.  (Note the home made mayonnaise on the side.)  Mustard is also good with this.  I am talking the Dijon-style spicy mustard.  IronWoman now knows to eat it sparingly!

In a category all of their own, of course.
La Brune and I made a tarte aux pommes my first night there.  She made the crust, I was in charge of brushing the crust with apricot preserves, cutting and arranging the apples.  Generously sprinkled with cinnamon because we love it.

Tarte au chocolat in Paris.

More tarts.

Fondant au caramel from Le Bistrot d'en Face.  I love caramel.  Served with vanilla ice cream.  (I am still working on this recipe.  I tend to bake it too long and the warm caramel doesn't gush out when broken open.)

And last but not least, baba au rhum.  My first.  I've heard about this dessert, but I had never tried it until Mlle de Tavel brought it to the dinner party.  She loves to bake and this is her dad's favorite dessert.  She has been perfecting her recipe for years.  She finally hit on the right recipe to please her "Papounet" as she calls him.  This is a light, sponge-type cake.

She shared the recipe.  And gave me permission to share it here.  She's a princess.  

Papounet's Baba au Rhum

(If you do not have a scale to measure in grams, you can convert the measurements on the internet.  I used this website traditional oven.  I have a small scale and use it quite a bit, though, since I have a lot of French cookbooks and recipes.)

100 g flour (about 4/5 c)
100 g caster sugar (abut 1/2 c) This is basically white granulated sugar that is ground to a more fine consistency in a food processor- super fine, but not powdery.
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 pack of baking powder (2 teaspoons)

Butter a baking dish.  (You can see that Mlle de Tavel uses a ring-shaped pan.)  I would probably lightly flour the pan, too, just to make sure it doesn't stick.
Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together.
Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Gently add to the yolk-sugar mixture.
With a spoon, gently stir in flour mixed with baking powder.
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared baking dish.
Bake for about 30 minutes at 375˚F.  Test with a toothpick or knife for doneness.  
Allow cake to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then remove from pan.

While the cake is baking, make the rum syrup.

Rum Syrup

2 cups water
125 g brown sugar (about 5/8 c)
3 dl rum (about 1 1/4 cups)-  Papounet loves his baba very rummy so this is a strong measure- feel free to add less

Heat everything in a small pot.  Remove from heat as soon as it starts to boil.  As soon as the cake is baked and out of the pan, pour the syrup all over the baba.  Use it all.  The cake soaks it up!  Mlle de Tavel then refrigerates her cake for at least 4 hours.  
Serve with whipped cream or custard, if you wish.

I've also seen recipes (there are a lot of them out there!) that use orange flavoring in the batter.  

Bon appétit et bon voyage, La Brune and Mlle de Tavel.  See you very soon!  À très bientôt!

1 comment:

Richard Goodman said...

You are killing me with these photos!!