I’ve just got back from a long weekend in Paris visiting a friend and I am not only full of brie and love for my friend, I’m also extremely excited about spreading the news about all of the amazing food I’ve tried this weekend. It’s a bit of a long post, but every course deserved a mention!
Thursday – We intended on reviving after my travel from Exeter to Paris with a little light apéro (I don’t think either of us ever thought it would be particularly light, but I can pretend). I’m not going to list all of the drinks consumed over the time spent in Paris as I’m more interested in explaining the food, but you can safely assume that most of the following meals had a drink or two to keep them company.
Along with a large sliced crusty baguette, my hostess, the lovely Polly, piled the table with cheeses: brie and comté (aka gruyere de comté), meats: jambon and salami, a massive bag of salted pistachios, shallot oil (delicious, mild, almost sweet/nutty and perfect for dunking bread in), duck rillette, gherkins (never eaten before but now converted to the tangy crunchiness, perfect for cutting through the fatty duck) and a set of the most delicious pastes I’ve ever eaten. I’m hoping Polly will correct this list when she sees this as I’m about to get them completely wrong (I was so caught up in all the heavenly flavours I can’t remember which ones arrived together!). What I can say for sure is that the most incredible taste was the fig and demerara paste (they were all made on a base of garlic confit). As far as my overwhelmed taste buds can recall, there were also: olive, fig and cognac, green olive and chilli, mint and chili… one with ginger… eek… and I’m out… Polly?! Apparently a confit of garlic (used as a base for all of these pastes) is better for some recipes than raw garlic as it’s much milder so doesn’t overwhelm any other flavours.
Later that night we went Turkish with a type of tasty pork and bean casserole, some form of flat meatball casserole which had thick slices of potato in which had absorbed all of the sauce, huge pittas, and boxes of wheat cooked in stock, simple but delicious.
Friday – The day started with a huge slice of quiche lorraine with dressed salad as I was determined to try as many classic French foods as possible. Huge, moist, packed with ham, delicious. Pol had beef carpaccio which looked great but I was enjoying the quiche too much to steal any, apparently it was very nice. Later in the day we each had a blood orange sorbet wandering the city and finished the day off with the same spread as the Thursday. I should have tried something different but read Thursday’s list again and tell me honestly you wouldn’t have wanted it twice.
Saturday – Woke up starving, probably the fault of walking all over Paris and eating every two minutes, so Polly, her french fella and I went for a massive feed at a local restaurant. We all tried every item that arrived at the table so it’s quite some list coming up, I swear it wasn’t ALL mine. Starters: Jambon and melon which was tasty and refreshing as expected, smoked duck was super tender and tasty with its egg and salad, and a toasted goat’s cheese salad which was gorgeous with the toasted baguette which accompanied. I had a bit of food envy over the toasted goat’s cheese, not for the last time of the weekend. For mains, the fella had really tender lamb, Pol and I got steaks covered in butter and shallots, with a huge bowl of chips. For those of you who haven’t already experienced french fries in france, they are dissolve in the mouth but crunchy, salty, fluffy delights… if that doesn’t make me sound too enthusiastic about chips… I then managed to fit in a crème brûlée (I don’t think any of you need telling how good that would have been) and stole some of Pol’s crème anglaise.
Because of the light lunch we decided to eat out on Saturday night and again, in the name of research, I made sure to check out everyone’s food (exchanging tasters of mine of course!) so I could get it on here for you. I tried St Jacques (scallop tartare) for the first time, and I have to say liked it much more than expected as it was only very mildly fishy and extremely soft. It came with a carrot and rocket salad which apparently worked well but the consensus was that they would have been even better seared and covered in chilli. I started with mille-feuille courgette and goats cheese which was really creamy and rich. Mains were amazing, a couple of us had chargrilled chicken and apricot skewers with wild rice, which were a really nice surprise so I’ll be trying them at home soon, and the other main of the table was quail with pistachios, raisins and red cabbage. The red cabbage was so good that it kickstarted the game of ‘how do we think they made it?’: we decided there was a little garlic and onion in there, probably red wine, some cream and possibly some bread crumbs, and then it was probably baked. Whatever was done to that red cabbage, it must have done something good in a past life to deserve it because it was the most interesting part of the meal.
Sunday – We had salads for lunch. This was only acceptable as they came in bowls I’d normally make cake mixture in, perfect… Pol’s had toasted goats cheese on toasted baguette with crispy lardons and a tonne of
dressed salad, mine was equally awesome (if not slightly more so) and contained slices of potato, an egg, delicious jambon, cheese and dressed lettuce and tomato. Neither of us could do them full justice but Al almost completely finished his (even though it had gizzards of some sort in!) plus a side order of cheese with a black cherry conserve. I wish I could have fit more of it in but did have a taste and can confirm they went really nicely together.
I then flew back, sobbing all the way, but looking forward to trying to recreate as many of the things I’d tried as possible. Hopefully this will remind you of foods that you love which you haven’t cooked for a while or inspire you to try out something new, let me know if so!