French Winter Dishes

Last month, when the temperature in Paris began its descent below 50 degrees, I saw the first appearance of “fondu” for dinner. Since then, I’ve had it just once more as, according to my host mother, one should really only eat this dish once a month lest your arteries clog and you can’t fit into your Moncler winter coat.

Raclette is a traditional Swiss/French regional dish, and also the name of the cheese that can be used. Legend has it that it’s high-caloric value would keep you warm, which is necessary in the French Alps from where this dish originated. In other words, from a nutritional perspective, if you don’t live in the mountains you really have no business eating this. But from a culinary and hedonistic point of view, why the heck not. 

The dish I had started with with Mont d’Or (advertised as “the authentic cheese of the mountain”) that comes wrapped in a “belt of bark” and will go into the oven to be melted. The melted cheese will be spooned over a sliced open baked potato, accompanied by some charcuterie (sliced meat) and maybe some small pickles on the side.

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http://www.thailandtatler.com/wine-and-raclette-at-amari-atrium/

 

If it sounds familiar that’s because it bears close ressemblance to its unrefined American cousin the bacon and cheese potato chez Wendy’s. Of course, every ingredient that composes the traditional Raclette is superior in quality than those found at in a fast food joint, but that still didn’t stop me from thinking I had definitely eaten this “dish” a few times before, despite a different presentation (a steaming potato cradled in a styrofoam and plastic container, inside a brown paper bag and handed to me from a drive-thru window.)

I was also a bit surprised to hear that a dish I had been eager to eat and as well as recreate, boeuf bourguignon, did not live up to my expectations. Maybe if I tried it in a top notch restaurant or cooked it following Julia Child’s recipe down to every last detail, including boiling bacon, I would find that I actually love it. I had no idea until recently that this dish was made with “noix [de joue] de boeuf” (as in the cheek of the cow). After my initially incredulousness, I didn’t even mind that the meat came from such an unlikely source. My problem was that this cut of beef closely resembles a slice of marble cake in which the meat and fat alternate to create a maze, making it difficult to cut, consume and enjoy.

I also had a fig and foie gras macaron yesterday from Pierre Herme. It’s only out for the holiday season, and not a complete waste of money if you want to try a unique combination flavors.

 

xx

S.

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Par Gourmandise!

Today for lunch I ventured up to Montmartre to try something new. I paced back and forth in front of the display of sandwiches and pastries for ten minutes before choosing.

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No, that’s not a burnt bun but a Squid ink bun with smoked salmon and ham. You can find this and other buns & baguettes composed of unique ingredients chez Gontran Cherrier.

The verdict: Tasty and unique, although nothing outrageous. But for 5,95€ I expected it to be more filling than it was.

After lunch I went over to Tuileries to wait in line for a table at La Maison Angelina for a cup chocolat chaud à l’ancienne.

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The verdict: The hot chocolate was definitely chocolatey and good quality, but I personally found it so sweet and rich, rendering it undrinkable. I might not even mind drinking a thimble of the mixture if just for the experience of it all I wasn’t paying 7,50€ (the smaller of the two carafes serves one person or 2 cups of the hot chocolate). It was a special experience to be invited in to this restaurant, with it’s early 20th century styled decor and glowing holiday lights. However, if I ever manage to crave hot chocolate before May, I’ll be heading over to my “regular spot” on Rue de l’Ecole Medecine for a small cup of bitter hot chocolat.