Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Paris


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How do I describe Paris?  One word. Beautiful.

I'm not exaggerating. Every, single, thing, in Paris, is simply beautiful. It's almost eerie because you think, okay, when am I going to see real life, when am I going to see a building without cute flowers on the window sill, or someone who is wearing sweats or "lululemons". Not saying I enjoy seeing people in sweats, but there definitely is something about the French... or Parisians, and the way they present themselves. It's quite wonderful actually.

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Being in Paris for a week I could only do so much. Go to the Louvre, snap a picture of the Mona Lisa, head to Champs-Élysées, snap a picture of the Arc de Triomphe, climb the hill to Sacré-Cœur and pretend to be Amélie for a day. Yes, I was a complete tourist, but it had to be done. 


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But these pictures are never really the moments you remember when you visit a city. At least for me, it's being able to experience the city like a local, the everyday life, where they eat, where they have fun, and luckly for me I had my very own Parisans to show me around. 


I can't remember all places we ate at or the types of wine we drank. David Lebovitz can tell you all the specifics, which restaurant to go to, which type of cheese to buy. I'm just going to tell you what to do... in general. And it doesn't consist of going to Café de Flore and spending 15€ on a gin and tonic. 


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First things first. Get a croissant. But don't get it at the metro station. This may seem like an obvious thing but I made the mistake of thinking all croissant in Paris would be amazing. Nope, I was wrong. My friend lives in the 10th district and there was a boulanger patissier (pastry shop) close to his flat where I would go every morning and get one. You don't have to go all the way to this district just to get a croissant, but it also wouldn't hurt to explore a little.

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Find a local cheese shop and buy some cheese. Since Lebovitz often talks about cheese I thought I should find a shop he suggested. So I headed to Pascal Beillevaire, the one he recommended, but accidentally walked into another shop thinking it was the right one. I asked the owner if I was at the Pascal Beillevaire, he shyly laughed, as if I gave him a compliment and said, "Oh, no it is farther down the street, pass the church". Then a lady waiting behind me said the cheese shop I was in is just as good and not as expenive. The owner of the shop was so nice and humble and cute, that I ended up buying cheese from him too. In fact, I bought more cheese at his shop (Fromagerie Beaufils) than at Pascal Beillevaire. Plus I had to compare their Compté. 


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Fromagerie Beaufils: 118, rue de Belleville (20th) - 75020 Paris

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Pascal Beillevaire: 140, rue de Belleville (20th)

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Next, buy a baguette and walk down the street with it. Even if you don't like bread, which I'm not sure is possible, do it anyway. You will feel so French. I'm not kidding when I say French people actually walk down the streets with baguettes in their hands. It is so French and you will feel so French. And of course, the cheese in your other hand, will even make you smell French.

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Hopefully after a few days you have made some French friends and they have invited you to watch football with them. Instead of bringing nachos or wings, bring saucisson and gateaux aperitifs, especially Chipster or TUC crackers.

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For dinner, find a cute little crêperie restaurant and have a savoury crêpe (la galette) with apple cider. For dessert, the crème brûlée is calling your name.


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(This guy looked so French, I just had to take a picture.)


And if your still hungry at 3 in the morning, a crêpe bolognaise will do. 


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Finally, the one thing you must do while in Paris,  have a Parisian picnic along la Seine. Bring a few bottles of rosé, or white or red, whatever you like. Drink and eat all night, watch people in the tour boats pass by, listen to the laughter and music that goes on in the background. And don't hesitate to talk to a guy that walks by asking for cigarettes, you may learn a thing or two from Paul. 


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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake


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It's happening.

Le Petit Ogre is heading to Paris, to eat all the croissants, pains au chocolats, macarons et éclairs au chocolat in the city. Everything I adore will be at my finger tips. Pastries, cheese, wine, fashion, art... love. All this, in one city. It must be one magical city. It must be.

What else could have inspired Hemingway's honest style of writing, or Monet's beautiful brush strokes, or even Remy's ability to create a ratatouille so delicious, it brings nostalgic memories. I mean New York was just like the movies, it was just like Sinatra, Jay-Z and Alicia describe it. So hopefully Paris will be the same...

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Now as much as I would love to celebrate the news by attempting to make croissants, I came across this irresistible strawberry shortcake recipe that I just had to try. What intrigued me about the recipe was the use of hard-cooked yolk for the biscuit dough. Unlike raw yolk, hard-cooked yolk doesn't absorb into the dough and instead floats freely with the flour.  This creates a delicate, crumbly texture when baked and is simply delightful to eat.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Shortcake
Makes 6 shortcakes (and 2 not so big ones...)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 hard boiled egg yolks, pushed through a small mesh sieve
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 pints of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
  • 1 tbsp of sugar (for strawberries)
whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl. Add the chilled butter pieces and work the butter into the flour mix with a pastry cutter or fork until you reach the consistency of course crumbs. Add the sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and the cream; gently mix until the dough just come together. strawberryshortcake1.jpg
  2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently kneed to make a smooth dough. Roll out the dough to make a 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick round. using a lightly floured 2 1/2 inch-round cookie cutter, cut out 6 shortcakes or until all the dough is used. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved tbsp of sugar. Place the shortcake on a plate lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. strawberryshortcake4.jpg
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Transfer the chilled shortcakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. 
  4. While the shortcakes cool, prepare the fruit filling and whipped cream. Place strawberries in a bowl and add the sugar. Gently stir and set aside. 
  5. Whip the cream and sugar together in a medium bowl until the cream begins to thicken. 
  6. Using a serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half lengthwise. Place the bottom halves on 6 plates and generously spoon the macerated fruit and juices over them. Top with a heaping dollop of the whipped cream. Top with the top halves of the shortcake. 
Recipe from James Beard at Food52.com


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