Category — Travels
Last week we exchanged our usual view for the one above. We stayed in an apartment right around the corner from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We went sightseeing and we shopped, but that was just to have something to do in between meals. As always, the city lived up to its reputation for great food. Just about everything was delicious, from the superlative bread (and amazing butter!) to the luscious slow cooked meats, and the incredible pastries and chocolate.
For our first dinner, we ate at La Fontaine de Mars, a classic bistro, where the Obamas ate on their visit to Paris. I started with pumpkin soup topped with sauteed foie gras. The buttery meat juices added another dimension to the smooth creamy soup. A rich stew of duck legs in red wine was the main course. For dessert, I opted for an old favorite, Floating Island, poached meringue on a sweet creamy pool of vanilla sauce.
The next day we had dinner at a favorite bistro, La Regalade. It is always crowded, but I it is one place I have to go when I am in Paris. Their coarse country pate was as good as I remember it, and I loved the crackling crisp pork belly with lentils and celeriac puree that followed. For dessert it was a perfect Grand Marnier Souffle. On Sunday we explored the stands at the outdoor market on Avenue Woodrow Wilson. The vegetables and fruits were hard to resist…
…and so was the seafood. There were stands selling shrimp, scallops and many varieties of oysters. These oursins, or sea urchins, were tempting.
If you think all butter tastes alike, I wish you could try this kind from the Normandy region that I tasted at Drouant, a classic old restaurant that has recently been done over. I liked the butter so much, I took it’s picture. BTW, our lunch was excellent. I started with 4 little vegetable appetizers, including a tiny cup of jerusalem artichoke soup and 3 fresh salads: beets, curried carrots, and fresh coco beans. The main course was perfect roast chicken, thick cut French fries, and a green salad.
One day, we had an all-chocolate lunch at Jacques Genin, an elegant tea room and chocolate shop in the Marais District. The mille feuille is a specialty and each one is filled to order so that the buttery puff pastry layers stay crisp when sandwiched with the creamy filling. We ordered one filled with chocolate caramel ganache along with a pot of hot dark chocolate as thick as melted ice cream to drink. Was it too much chocolate? Yes! And it was soooo good.
March 12, 2012 7 Comments
Last week Charles and I taught cooking and wine classes aboard the Crystal Serenity on a 12 day cruise around the Eastern Mediterranean. This magnificent cruise ship, which has often been named the best in the world, has everything you could want — great accommodations, activities, classes, entertainment, a spa, restaurants, bars and amazing food. I say the food was amazing because I read somewhere that during the course of one voyage, as many as 10,000 meals are served!
November 10, 2011 No Comments
Tuesday morning in Vaison, Sunday at L’Isle sur La Sorgue, the farmer’s market every evening at Vallerons — each day in Provence is a market day where you can buy anything from tapenade and olives, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to roast chickens, ribs and quail. It was hard to resist buying too much.
Fortunately our rented house had a well equipped kitchen and with so many good ingredients available, it was easy to put together great meals. In fact, we all agreed that our home cooked or assembled meals were the best we ate. Every evening, we drank an apero poolside and watched the sunset.
Then we had roast pork, green bean salad with vinaigrette, Provencal potato salad with olives, thyme and red onion, and a multi-colored tomato salad. Followed by a course of some local cheeses with cherry conserve.
The local bakery supplied an apricot cream tart.
I read a lot, took long walks in the countryside, and visited some pretty medieval towns. I came home feeling restored and inspired. Two days later and back in New York, we had an earthquake and Saturday brought Hurricane Irene, but so far, nothing has dimmed the glow of my summer vacation.
August 29, 2011 No Comments
In Italian,” finire a tarallucci e vino” (literally, to finish up with cookies and wine), means to say that there was a happy ending. At the Tarallucci e Vino restaurant at 15 East 18 Street near Union Square in NYC,we were happy not just with the ending of the meal, but everything else from appetizers to dessert.
We had the tasting menu, so we got to try a number of different things. My photos don’t really do them justice, so I’ll just post a few of the best ones. Above is a roasted sea scallop with wild mushrooms and a poached quail egg.
Among the starters were these fried sage leaves stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella. I like to stuff zucchini blossoms this way, but this inspired combination means that I can make them even when the blossoms are not available. The sauce was nice and fresh, but the crunchy sage and tasty filling really didn’t need it. Many more good things followed.
Did I mention the bread basket? Charles could not stop eating the flatbread flavored with squid ink, rosemary and olive oil. I know it sounds odd, but take my word for it, I was glad he ate it all so I could not. There were also warm little baguettes and olive rolls.
We’ve long been fans of Tarallucci e Vino and weekend mornings often find us there enjoying one of New York’s best cappuccinos and a perfect Italian-style cornetto. On our recent trip to Abruzzo, we met Lorenzo, who is the manager for all 4 of the restaurant’s branches. He invited us to come by for dinner to the 18th Street location and we were glad we did. It’s one of New York’s best kept Italian restaurant secrets. The place was cozy and the atmosphere lively. Charles had only good things to say about the wine list and in honor of our last trip ordered the Cantina Frentana Coccociola, an unusual white wine from Abruzzo, and the Emidio Pepe 2003 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which was superb.
August 1, 2011 1 Comment
Last week, Charles and I spent a few days in Rome, then headed to Abruzzo. Here is my Roman favorite dish his trip, the Spaghettoni alla Carbonara at Roscioli. The bits of guanciale were chunkier than usual and had been fried until crisp around the edges. The sauce was perfectly made, with just eggs and cheese and lots of black pepper. Perfection!
In Abruzzo, we stayed in the area known as the Costiera dei Trabocchi where we were the guests of the Cantina Frentana winery. Trabocchi are wooden platforms built for fishermen that are now used as restaurants. For a better look at them, see my blog on the i-Italy website. Not surprisingly, the star attraction in this area is very fresh seafood.
The last one above had tiny little lamb meatballs tangled in spaghetti alla chitarra, fresh pasta made on a chitarra, a wooden frame strung with thin wires used to cut sheets of fresh pasta into long square spaghetti.
Cheese, of course, was only served on pasta with meat sauce. A plate of long, skinny fresh green chilies was passed with every pasta.
July 16, 2011 No Comments
This fall, join Charles and me aboard the beautiful Crystal SERENITY for a 12 day cruise from Athens, Greece to Istanbul, Turkey. The Crystal Serenity has been voted the number one cruise ship in the world by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler. As part of Crystal’s Wine & Food Festival Theme cruises, there will be cooking classes and wine tastings on board in addition to sightseeing, relaxing and having a great time together!
For more information about this cruise, go to http://www.crystalcruises.com/VoyageDetail.aspx?CID=1322&RK=MED
March 14, 2011 No Comments