Thursday, 31 October 2013

Photo du jour: 31 Octobre 2013


These colorful squashes, which I picked up at the market, are everywhere in Paris at this time of year, mostly used in flower arrangements and displays. They are collectively known as 'coloquintes' ('colocynths' in English). Prized in the Ancient World, today they are mostly used for decoration since culinary uses are limited—they are most effective as medicines—but they look amazing as a table centre for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or any autumn occasion. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013


I have become very conscious of my presentation when cooking recently, and really feel that I have moved up a notch in the last couple of months. That was until yesterday, when I attended a demonstration with Chef Iman Bogen at the Cordon Bleu School here in Paris. It was a real privilege to watch Chef Bogen in action. I think you will agree, his plates put the haute in haute cuisine.

Crème de topinambours aux cèpes et dés de canard fumé
Côtes de veau mijotées en cocotte aux petits légumes et champignons

Moelleux d'amande et mûres tièdes, sabayon pistache

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Weekend round-up

Busy weekend on the food front and one of two firsts. On Saturday evening, I was finally persuaded to try escargots for the first time. I say for the first time, since there will definitely be a next time as
they were delicious. Served in their shells with parsley and garlic butter, you winkle them out with a toothpick and eat them whole. Rather like mussels.

I also learnt how to cook 'galettes sarrasin', a popular food in Paris, known to the rest of the world as savoury crȇpes. In France the salty variety are made with 'sarrasin' flour, made with buckwheat, and which lends them a beige colour and distinctive taste. They will have a blog entry of their own very soon.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Gontran Cherrier

La basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre

Yesterday after work, I took a quick trip to Montmartre to visit the main shop of one of the most fȇted bakers in Paris, Gontran Cherrier. Extremely gifted, Cherrier has long been a part of Parisian life, but has recently achieved national fame as one of the judges on the popular TV program La Meilleure Boulangerie en France (The Best Bakery in France). His three shops in Paris have been joined by one in Singapore and one in Tokyo. It doesn't hurt that he looks like a rock-star, either.

It was very quiet when I arrived at the shop in  the Rue Caulaincourt. I took a coffee, a patisserie and a seat by the window, and within minutes the place had filled up parents and children on their way home form school, popping in for le goûter, the French equivalent of afternoon tea.

I tried his tarte aux pistaches et agrumes (pistachio and citrus fruit tart): segments of sweet orange, and sour pink grapefruit, lying on a verdant springy mattress of pistachio and almond, in a walnut-coloured bedstead of pâte sucrée—the most even and delicate I have ever tasted. Chapeau M. Cherrier. I will be back.

Gontran Cherrier, Rue Caulaincourt

Tarte aux pistaches et agrumes

Butter ratings:
Gontran Cherrier, 22 rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris, France

Friday, 4 October 2013

Le déjeuner du laboureur

Since I have been up working since the crack of dawn, I decided that I deserved a good lunch. I went to the fridge and gave it a good clear out and made a meal of the leftovers: roast chicken, ceps, some fabulous Livarot cheese, and of course, baguette. It was sort of a ploughman's lunch with a heavy french accent. And for dessert? Well, I discovered some wonderful 100 per cent magenta rhubarb at the market this morning, and had a lesson in how to pronounce it from the stallholder—'Rhu' like 'la rue': one of the most difficult sounds in French. So, freshly baked rhubarb crumble and vanilla ice-cream for pudding. And for those of you that think that's not very Parisian, watch this space. What a treat!

Livarot cheese, baguette, roast chicken, and pan-fried ceps (clockwise from left)

Rhubarb crumble

Thursday, 3 October 2013


I was at the market today looking for something to make a salad, and I saw these beautiful fresh figs. So, I took them home and made this salad with mozzarella, prosciutto and an amazing lemon, olive oil, and honey dressing from a Jamie Oliver recipe. And the result was ... pukka!
I know, I know ... I am falling back on the Italian cuisine again, but it's what I am used to. I promise to try harder with the French next week.