Archive for July, 2010

Joi de vivre!

I hardly know where to begin.  We got back from our one week stay in Paris just one week ago and I’m already plotting a return trip as soon as possible.  The museums were amazing, the architecture extraordinary, the churches inspiring.  But the food – oh the food was heavenly.  And I’m not talking about eating out in fancy restaurants.  We actually only ate dinner out twice.   I’m talking about the everyday food that you can get at local boulangeries, pattisseries, charcouteries, poissoneries, bucheries and fruit stands.  Every morning we feasted on fresh croissants and baguettes slathered with sweet butter, berry confiture and Brillat Savarin (a luscious, creamy, sweet and salty cheese.)  My favorite lunches were just some of the rustic pate from the charcuterie, a bit of cheese, some grainy mustard and a baguette.

The markets were like art shows with the fruits and vegetables

carefully displayed to show contrasting colors and textures.

The variety of cheeses was, literally, endless.   The first photo shows a display at the farm market in Maubert Mutuality and the second one is a little cheese shop on the Ile de St. Louis.

Each little cheese was like a jewel with its own personality and the promise of rich and pungent rewards.  You could spend month here just sampling the different goat cheeses and getting a sense of their different characters.  I’m willing to take this on if there are no other volunteers!

We went to the Galleries Lafayette to look for a souvenir T-shirt for my son, Joseph.  We had lunch in the 6th floor cafeteria where you can choose from an endless salad bar to full course dinners.  I loved the wine dispenser in the middle of the food area.  You could fill a small carafe for around 2 Euros while the cold bottles of water were 3 or 4 Euros.  You have to love a country where the wine is less expensive than the water.  On the ground floor of the store is, without a doubt, the most extensive and extravagant specialty food store I have ever seen.  Meats, cheeses, sausages, pates, candies, cookies, breads, pastries of incredible artistry, seafood (you can buy the oysters to take home or they’ll open them up right there and serve them to you on a plate with fresh lemons),  crackers, jams and honey, spices, teas and coffees – it just goes on and on.  I could have spent the entire week in this one part of the store.  Just look at some of the pastries in one of the displays:

Yes, they take their pastries very seriously.  After I took these snapshots, the woman at the counter told me that photos are not permitted.  I guess some of the designs are proprietary.  I, for one, would never attempt to duplicate any of these gems any more than I’d try to make my own jewelry.

We’ve often talked about having a QED COOKS culinary trip to Brooklyn or even Italy.  But now I think Paris has got to be in the running! So much to see, so much to sample.  Vive la Paris.

CANADA GOLD

During this year’s trip to Niagara on the Lake we spent one whole day sampling just some of the culinary delights the region has to offer.

In the morning we came upon a pig roast set up in a farmer’s market at the nearby strip mall.  chef John arrived with his own customized truck and set up his efficient gas fired pig roaster.  It takes just under four hours to roast a 35 pound pig to crusty perfection.  When the roast is done, they lift the spit to an upper position and just carve the meat right onto the built in trays to keep it warm.  

From there we headed to the Upper Canada Cheese Company in Jordan.

They are making two kinds :  Comfort Cream soft ripened cheese and Canada gold, washed rind cheese.  The first is like a French Brie and the second is a really “stinky” cheese that has wonderfully complex flavors and pungent aromas.

And finally, we found our way back to Whitty Farms where they make the most delicious Butter Tarts in all of Canada.  And I keep asking myself, “Why don’t they make these in Pittsburgh?”  they have all the buttery sweet goodness of a pecan pie with a buttery crust that is more than half the pleasure of these tender treats.  Visit their website for information about what’s fresh from their fields.  But the butter tarts are ALWAYS fresh.  http://www.whittyfarms.ca/