Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's time to move the list forward

Well, here we are, February, and I am officially facing how I am going to move forward on this list. I have 464 of the 1001 tasted and confirmed on the list and now it is time to start checking off others.

A couple of opportunities are coming up for me to move the list forward and I am going to capitalize on them. The first is that I am having some "single and fabulous" friends over on the 14th of February and I think that this will be a great opportunity to find some great cheeses and sweets to serve. I might also look to find some of the veggies that I can use as an appie. The second thing that has come to my attention is that I am completely debbie downer these days for a number of reasons, not limited to the weather, hard economic times, not having a win at work in a while, life generally sucking a bit, it being February...... need I go on??? I think that it is time to start a monthly dinner of some sort. Lord knows I have enough things to try, I just need to find them and try them. I think that I must put the first one in the calendar for the end of February and get on figuring out what random meat I am going to try as the centre piece of the meal and where on earth I am going to find it. The third thing that I am going to do is get in contact with TK, my sisters Indian friend and have her amass the things that she said she would contribute. The list was:

Section 6: Aromatics
10. Fenugreek
21. Curry Leaf
41. Galangal
51. Amchur (green mango powder)
52. Black Lime powder
59. Telicherry Pepper
63. Ajwain
77. Asafoetida
87. Panch Phoran
6. Holy Basil (Tulsi, Indian Stores)
29. Pandan Leaf (in Sri Lankan stores)
70. Anardana (dried pomegranate seeds or powder from Indian stores)

Section 9 Confections
65. Jaggery Indian Sweets
17. Rasgulla (milk balls, soaked in a sugar syrup)
24. Kaju Katli (made w/ cashew nuts, kinda like marzipan)
26. Pista barfi (made w/ pistachios)

That should help get some of them off of the list. Maybe the dinner in February will have an Indian theme? I'll have to do some research on the "Aromatics" and see how I can use them.

Well I am now getting more excited about it! At least this debbie downer now has a plan for February!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog

I love the New York Times. I read it everyday online, especially the Dining and Wine section and the Style section. Today the most e-mailed article on at NYTimes.com was "Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog." It's worth the read. I'm not sure that the recipe looks like anything that I want to try, but I like the article. 2 lbs of bacon around 2 lbs of sausage around cooked bacon, it is a heart attack in pig.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cyrille et Christelle Lorho Fromager Affineur - Strasbourg, France

This is the most amazing Fromagerier that I saw the whole time we were in France. It was tiny. Half the size of my closet it was always packed with people and run by a husband and wife. The cheeses were amazing and you could not help but want to spend time in their just taking it all in. In the true style of French cheese shops, you have to know what you want, as they seemed to be not so helpful on the question front. Anyway the pics are only a slight view into this treasure of a jewel box of a shop.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Strasbourg Butchers

I was constantly struck by the freshness of the produce and the commitment of the French, Germans and Swiss to eating the rawest ingredients possible. It is rare in Toronto that you go to a butcher and can visibly see some remaining feathers on the chicken from where it has been plucked, or the head with the feathers still attached to your Christmas turkey. There is something more "real" more "farm to table" about this kind of commitment to food. It was very grounding and a good reminder of where our food comes from. Here are some of the pics from our favourite butcher in the heart of Strasbourg. Vegetarian warning: lots of dead animal flesh ahead!
I am so happy that you can see the actual feather leftovers. For some sick reason I love them.

Christmas Turkeys. It is interesting to not that unlike the Butterballs that we get here, how lean they are and how natural they look. Even the organic, grain fed birds that we get in Canada look far more filled with cellulite than these delicious looking birds (forget the attached head and feet. Committed as I am to absorbing the farm to table mentality, even my mother and I agreed that we wouldn't be able to handle that!)

Everything "en Croute", from Beef Wellington to Salmon. Notice the fab ham in the upper left corner. Yummy.
More prepared delicacies for the table including all sorts of pates and saucisson. mmmmm.....
What would any shop in France be without Foie Gras???

Friday, January 9, 2009

La Boutique d'Antoine Westermann - Plats cuisines Epicerie fine Vins

I was sure that there was a link on the web to this most fabulous food and wine shop. My father and I popped in one day as I peered in and saw that it was not only a twinkling jewel in the window, but was the most exquisite cavern in the basement. The store was simply breathtaking. It had an open staircase that lead from the upstairs mecca of prepared foods, caviar, mustard's, spices, salts, culinary tools, to a "sous sol" of wine, specialty oils and a very special, albeit small, selection of french hand painted bake ware. I picked up some truffle oil here for a song for myself and for my most favourite friends J and L as a special treat. I can't wait to make the most fabulous scrambled eggs with just a hint of truffle!

The front window from the inside:
The centre of the staircase and the fabulous pepper grinders. Had the pink one not been 79 euros, it would have come home with me. It was very close, but in these hard economic times, I had to show some good judgement!
A view from half way up the stairs
Into the cavernous beauty of the Sous Sol and all of the delights it held!
The lovely french mustard's, chutneys and jams, as well as the bake wear. You can also see the beautiful stone walls. I could have spent hours down here! Oils and dried pasta waiting for me to buy them!
The wines at the other end of the basement. It was very dark, which does not come out well in this picture, which just lent to the charm of the whole store.
When I returned upstairs, I really thought that I had died and gone to heaven. The prepared foods were unbelievable, and only in France would they have all of the things that you would need to have caviar prepared and ready to eat - blini, creme fraiche, egg yolks chopped, red onions chopped, caviar of many varieties...... my mouth is watering just looking at the pictures again.
A close up of the varieties of caviar
Blinis ready to go. I wish we could get these here. I would be serving caviar tonight if I could!
Other fabulous treats, waiting to be taken home and eaten.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fresh Start for a New Year? Let's Begin in the Kitchen

I am slightly addicted to the food blogger, chef, online celebrity - Mark Bittman of the New York Times. He has written a new article today that I thought was quite good called "Fresh Start for a New Year? Let's Begin in the Kitchen". Helped me to reflect on what I had in my very sparce pantry and fridge. With my focus on cooking more at home I am looking for ways to make my kitchen more user friendly. (I'm hoping that it will encourage me to cook!)

As a little plug for Mark Bittman, I just bought the new edition of his "How to Cook Everything" Cookbook, and I love it!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monoprix Adventures

I absolutely love exploring grocery stores while I am away, especially not high end ones. I had fun one afternoon, schlepping around the Monoprix in Strasbourg and walking up and down the aisles. I would be in so much trouble if our local supermarket carried 40+ types of foie gras! just amazing. It all looked so yummy!
No-name Foie Gras:
And more Foie Gras:
and still more types of Foie Gras.....

The cheese aisles always amaze me in french grocery stores. So much variety and so large:

Les Petits Macarons in the frozen food aisles? Have I died and gone to heaven?

It was New Year's Eve, and like everywhere across the world, the underagers were out in full force deciding what libation they would drink for the evening.
Instead of fruit roll ups, kids could take crepes to school!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Farmers Market in Strasbourg

I absolutely love Farmer's Markets and did not know that my sister does also. I can spend hours walking up and done the aisles, taking in the fresh produce, watching people pick the perfect radish in the perfect shade of pink to go on their table that night. Travelling is one opportunity to do that, that opens the door to explore the foods of the local producers and really get a sense of what they are doing and what innovative things they are growing and making. What a better place to do it than in France. The first Saturday we were away we spent the morning at the Marche, and it was fabulous. I think that my parents were less than thrilled with the amount of time that my sister and I wanted to spend inspecting the fresh goats cheese, looking at the newly slaughtered pork, and game birds and interacting with the local shoppers. I could have spent all day and hundred of euros there!!!! Here are just a few pics from our day and some of my comments:

In the prime spot in the Market was this gentleman and his wares. He has a bunch of different things, including a small selection of veggies, and fresh baked breads, but most interesting for me were the four ages of fresh goat cheese that he had - one day old, one week old, three weeks old and hard goats cheese. He was super busy, but I wish I could have asked him how long he had been at the market to get this spot at the south entrance to the market and if he raised the goats from which he made his cheese. I wish that we had bought some of the vegetable soup as it looks so good in this pic - yummy! We had the one day old goats cheese on fresh mache lettuce for lunch that day - stunningly delicious!

There were tons of butchers and stalls selling all types of varieties of meat and meat products. I particularly was attracted to the numerous stalls that sold only Saussison Sec of all sorts of varieties. We indulged in Duck and Pork Saussison Sec which were out of this world. I thought the the photograph with them in the baskets, fir tree branches for festivities was gorgeous and captures the simplicity of the market.

We ate a lot of pate on holidays and I thought that this was a particularly beautiful pate en crute at one of the stalls. I became re-obsessed with the French Baby Radishes that you see on the left. Their colour, delicious flavour, cuteness and beauty was irresistible. We bought them a number of times over the course of the holidays. I was also intrigued by the vegetable beside the radishes that is greenish. It is a cross between a cauliflower and a broccoli. I had it at a restaurant that I ate at and quite enjoyed. I have no idea what it is called, but it was quite interesting

I think that this is lavender, however am not sure, regardless it was all over the market and beautiful.I hate nougat, but the variety that was offered was awesome.....
Cheese, cheese and more cheese. There were so many cheese stalls. As I have so many pics of cheese shops that I visited, I have posted only a few cheese pics here. I figure you will get enough of them in the next little while!

The fish mongers had so many interesting and varied types of fish. It was so cold outside that I think the fish didn't even need the ice they were sitting on!!
So Francais! About 3 minutes later these 2 little girls were ripping the end of the baguette and eating it, while their parents shopped. So adorable.