February 27, 2011

A Drive Uptown


A drive under the oaks along beautiful St. Charles Avenue.


Feb 26, 2011-11

Feb 26, 2011-5

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February 23, 2011

New Orleans Vernacular


Clover Grill Sign

Cayenne Pepper in Giant Jars

New Orleans has a vernacular and a flavor all its own.
A rich gumbo of music, people, architecture, celebrations, food and history. It's impossible to describe, really. All I can say is that you must (and should!) experience it for yourself.

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February 21, 2011

Photo du Jour - l'Épicerie


Most small villages in our area have the vestiges of an old café, an old boulangerie and an old épicerie. Sometimes they're still open for business and sometimes their faded shutters are closed up tight and the building is left to deteriorate.

This little épicerie is now closed, but happily the owners have made the effort to preserve its quaint, vintage facade. Pin It

February 19, 2011

Tomato and Cream Sauce and a Tribute to Marcella Hazan

Pâtes Fraiches

"There is no such thing as Italian haute cuisine because there are no high or low roads in Italian cooking. All roads lead to the home, to la cucina di casa - the only one that deserves to be called Italian cooking."  - Marcella Hazan

Big squares of fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli found their way into my shopping basket the other day so when I got home I immediately cracked open Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking to look for the perfect sauce recipe.
Over 650 pages of information, recipes and advice are packed into this wonderful book. It is by far the most trusted Italian cookbook in my entire collection.

The Fundamentals and At Table chapters alone make it an invaluable resource. Need a definition for insaporire? Don't know what Bottarga is? Curious about the different varieties of Radicchio or Ricotta?
Marcella has all the answers.
My copy is about 15 years old. The spine is broken and its pages are splashed and splattered with tomato sauce and red wine. Definitly the signs of a well loved cookbook!

Also, her recipe for Bucatini all'Amatriciana is unparalleled - the most sublime mélange of pancetta, onions, tomatoes and two types of Italian cheese. I make a batch almost every week.

I love Marcella. She has a down to earth style and an unwavering devotion to regional, traditional Italian cuisine. She is truly a classic!

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February 17, 2011

Charcutepalooza and Why You Want to Win the Grand Prize

Kate's Kitchen

At first I was very excited to participate in Charcutepalooza, a meat-filled year of "salting, smoking and curing" that is the creation of Mrs Wheelbarrow's Kitchen and The Yummy Mummy

Since moving to France I've learned to make simple things like frozen yogurt, red wine vinegar and fromage de chèvre, so I thought it would be fun to try my hand at making pancetta, bacon, duck prosciutto and all the other delicious charcuterie projects planned for the coming year.

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February 15, 2011

French Doors

Green Door

Door in le Castellet

Cognac Trip

French windows, shutters and doors are pretty much irresistible if you ask me.

They can be freshly painted in vivid colors or primitive and falling apart. They can be quiet and understated or even staring back at me.
I love them all.

Blue Doors

French Vineyards


Paris Blue

The Doors Have Eyes


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February 13, 2011

La Fête du Fromage - Lingot de Cocagne

Lingot de Cocagne

I love living in France.
Though I do sometimes whine about all the bureaucracy.

And even though I'm now a French citizen and thought that my days of dealing with French bureaucracy were over, it still rears its ugly head from time to time. 

Then I taste a French cheese like Lingot de Cocagne and all the tears and frustration, all the hours spent sitting in offices only to be told I'm in the wrong place and should be at the other offices across town and all the Euros spent on fuel driving back and forth to Béziers just to sort out minuscule errors by fonctionnaires are immediately forgotten.
Erased from my memory. Gone...

Sometimes a cheese can be that good.

Lingot de Cocagne

The fromager sold me a piece that was perfectly ripe; slightly oozing just under the rind and firm and chalky in the middle. Affinage usually takes 2-4 weeks so I imagine this piece was at the 4 week stage.
The flavors are a well balanced combination of soft mushrooms, hazelnuts and salt, and the icing on the cake - Lingot de Cocagne is 100% organic!

The farm that produces this unpasteurized sheep's milk cheese is located in the south of France near Albi in the Tarn region.
It pairs perfectly with a dry white wine.

So thanks to this amazing cheese, memories of soul-crushing French bureaucracy have simply faded away.

Until the next problem arises, of course.

related links:
Brebis de Cocagne
Brebis d'Or

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February 11, 2011

Photo du Jour - Château de Nérac


Tucked away in the rolling green hills of the Lot-et-Garonne, the small town of Nérac seems an unlikely place for a history so rich in extravagance, extramarital flings and religious wars.

Nérac saw several hundred years of glittering splendor and at its pinnacle the lavishness of its royal court matched the courts of Paris. During the late 16th century King Henri IV brought numerous lovers, eminent nobles and distinguished writers, musicians and poets here, creating a golden era that lasted until 1599.
Henri's wife, Queen Margot, finally got tired of his extracurricular activities and had their marriage annulled. Shortly thereafter Henri packed up the court and moved it to Paris, thus ending the good times in Gascony.

What remains of the Château, including its graceful Renaissance gallery, can be visited year-round.

another view Pin It

February 9, 2011

Where to Buy Cheese in Paris

Fromagerie Laurent Dubois

I'm really not trying to show favoritism, but after spending a week at the award winning Fromagerie Laurent Dubois in Paris in December, getting to know the owners, staff and incredible array of mouth-watering cheeses while working both in the front of house and down in the caves d'affinage, I feel like I should have an opinion about the place.

And I can tell you in all honesty that Monsieur and Madame Dubois and the staff at both of their shops are incredibly passionate and quite happy to share their knowledge with you, whether it be helping you to select a small wedge of perfectly aged Comté to enjoy on your own, or by putting together an entire cheese board for you to share with your guests.

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February 6, 2011

Lunch in Gascony


Heading to the Kitchen at Camont in Gascony for lunch today.
Bon dimanche!

Relais de Camont

Kate's Garden
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February 3, 2011

Photo du Jour - Pletzels in Paris


I'm addicted to onions.
And for an onion addict, a toasted Parisian pletzel slathered with a generous amount of salt butter is pretty near perfection. Pin It

February 2, 2011

Photo du Jour - Immaculate

Winter Vineyards

A freshly pruned and very tidy vineyard above our village.

One of the things I miss most this time of year is the color green. Winter in a Mediterranean climate zone can be a bit stark. And cold! Pin It