After leaving Beaune, we were Poland bound. Needing to arrive by the 15th of February, we had to make haste (having dilly dallied in wine country for longer than anticipated). However, I required one more stop to fulfill a deeply rooted curiosity – Strasbourg, France. And it just so happened this stop also took us through France’s Alsace wine region, albeit briefly.
By Chef Dad
When we originally mapped out our route through France, we had planned to spend a bit of time touring Dijon, but we never made it. Instead, we stopped in the beautiful little town of Beaune, right in the heart of the Burgundy wine region. We checked into an adorable little hotel, Hotel Le Home, where our host Mathilde greeted us with much enthusiasm and guidance for our visit. I’m glad for her advice, which helped us pack a lot of activity into a little more than one day in town.
By Chef Dad
As we make our way through Europe, it’s fascinating to learn about cultures that have survived despite the fall of their sovereign empires, and while we were sad to leave Spain, we could stay in Basque Country for just a bit longer. Somehow or another, the Basques have managed to maintain a language, culture, and fair degree of political autonomy for about two millennium in this little corner of Europe along the Bay of Biscay between Bilbao, Spain and Bayonne, France.
First a brief update – Mr. N’s show is going very well. His performances blow me away – every time. For those of you that don’t know the story of Medea, Medea is betrayed by her husband Jason (of Jason and the Argonauts fame) and she is filled with rage that culminates in the murdering of her two sons. Mr. N is one of those sons. He plays his role spectacularly and makes me wince and tense each and every time he calls out “Mother!” just before he dies.
I tell you, even though I know it’s not real, it is not an easy thing to watch. It’s an incredibly well-done show that is thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and powerful. He even had his first review printed in a local stage review. The reviewer said of Mr. N and his stage brother, “…deliver performances that are wise beyond their years as Medea’s children.” He is thrilled.
And today we are off to Miss A’s gymnastics performance. She is all a flutter about it. She’s been dressed and ready to go for hours, and has literally been climbing the walls! I’m not kidding. She has learned how to scale a doorway – and not by feet on either side of the frame – but rather by gripping one side of the door frame like a koala and climbing her way up to to the ceiling. It’s a good thing she has a place to go and get this energy out!
Now back to our French adventure. If you guessed that the kids’ favorite French food was crepes you would be correct! We tried a variety of foods from mussels and macaroons, to cheese and of course chocolate (well, them, not me). As you can imagine, everything was delicious and it’s hard to truly pick a favorite, but the one thing the kids kept coming back to again and again, were crepes. They were fast, available everywhere and the toppings were unlimited. So today we bring you French crepes.
We started by blending together flour, milk, water, eggs, sugar and salt. We let the batter sit at room temperature for about an hour before pouring it a bit at a time into our greased and hot skillet.
We sprinkled a little sugar on either sides as the crepes cooked – just as we watched them do in Paris. While we didn’t have all the fancy crepe equipment the creperies do, our skillets worked just fine.
Although smaller than the crepes in Paris, we were still able to fill these with similar ingredients. I never realized how easy these are to make and am surprised we’ve never tried them before. I can guarantee we will be making these again.
We filled our crepes with our favorite ingredients from our trip. For Miss A and Mike that would be Nutella and bananas. For Mr. N and I, it was lemon, honey and cinnamon. We threw on a bit of confectioner’s sugar for good measure as well.
The crepes, not surprisingly were a hit. The kids gave them 3-1/2 spoons. Mike and I came in at 3 spoons. They were good, but not quite as good as in the City of Lights. I mean honestly how could they be! But while our kitchen isn’t in Paris, we are sure to be making these again. Perhaps with savory ingredients for the next go-round.
And as promised here are some more images from our time in Paris. Despite only having three full days and cramming quite a bit of sightseeing into the day, we did manage to find time to lounge about in parks, linger over meals, play at parks, picnic and simply be together as a family with no outside interruptions. It was a precious time.
We’ll be back soon with highlights and recipes from our next European destination. Have a great week!
Well, tonight is the big night for Mr. N. Opening Night. He’s been rehearsing non-stop (with the exception of school) for nearly a week. They are ready. He is ready. I am a bundle of nerves and excitement!
So since we haven’t had the opportunity to be in the kitchen in the past month, I thought today I would share some of our pictures from our recent adventure to the City of Lights, our first stop on our spring break vacation. It seems like only yesterday. The pictures still bring back the wonderful moments and memories of our trip. I can feel the emotions all over again. I hope that never goes away. It was a trip to remember – for each of us.
The kids did a fabulous job on the overnight flight. They managed to catch about four hours of sleep on the plane, an hour in the taxi and then stayed bright and happy for a 15-hour day of sight-seeing and walking about. Since our flight arrived early in the morning and our apartment wasn’t available until the afternoon, to help with our time change adjustment, we planned a day outdoors and moving. We must have walked four or five miles that day. (Of course, drinking cafe au lait and snacking along the way!)
Since this was Mike and the kids’ first trip to Paris, we planned to see a lot of the renowned tourist spots – the Louvre, the Eiffel, a canal tour (as recommended by Charles), Sacré-Coeur, the Champs-Élysées, Notre Dame, a bus tour of the Paris lights at night (which we all slept through as it was at the end of a long first day) and the Arc de Triomphe. As you can well imagine, I took more than one or two photos. So to simplify this post a bit, here’s a slideshow of our sight-seeing adventures.
We also managed to still have a lot of time for relaxation, dining and playing. I’ll share those pics in our next post along with a recipe for the kids’ favorite food from Paris. Can you guess?
As for highlights from this beautiful city, well, for Miss A it was the sidewalk games along the Seine as well as parks and gardens. I have to say, she was quite taken with this city, even exclaiming at one point, “I am made for Paris!” At the end of the trip she also noted, “I would go to Paris eight more times. I like it A LOT!” (Not nine more times…just eight.)
Mr. N loved Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel and the gardens as well. My ever-cautious boy, he was a bit concerned by all the scam artists, particularly after witnessing one woman who was aggressively grabbed by the folks that tie a bracelet to your arm. She was definitely scared and in a bit of a panic, which really concerned Mr. N. Mike too, as my ever-gallant husband, actually went to her rescue. Scammers aside (which we explained to Mr. N aren’t limited to Paris and tend to target tourist-heavy areas and how it’s nothing to worry about…just use common sense), Mr. N did enjoy Paris immensely and says he’d go back for sure.
Mike and I, well, how do you choose a highlight in Paris?! The gardens, cafes, the blooming trees (especially since we left snow!) and just about everything that makes Paris one of (if not the) greatest cities in the world, it’s impossible to choose. While we only had three full days in this beautiful city, we have no regrets. We did and saw everything we had hoped and had a glorious time doing it. We are so grateful for having had this opportunity and we won’t soon forget it.
Well, we have finally reached the end of our French cooking adventure. It’s been a nice little tour through a bit of our heritage. We started with our coq a vin, dined on some delicious leeks, sampled some lovely sables with a delicate mousse, kicked it up a notch with some ratatouille and of course quieted things down with our souffles. As for our last French recipe, we received a special treat – a tin of French Lentils du Puy from the lovely Eva at kitcheninspirations when we met up in Canada earlier this summer.
Lentils du Puy are a highly regarded lentil and hail from the Le Puy region of France. Knowing these were special lentils, we’ve been waiting for just the right recipe to inspire us. Then after finding some tart cherries at the farmer’s market, I knew where we were headed – a Lentil and Seared Scallop Salad with a Cherry-Pom Vinaigrette. The recipe starts with the vinaigrette for which we used the tart cherries, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and a special bottle of pomegranate molasses courtesy of Barb at Profiteroles and Ponytails who you may recall, we also met in Canada.
We pureed the cherries and a shallot. We then mixed in the vinegars, molasses and some seasonings. After a bit longer in the food processor, we pushed the mixture through a sieve. We mixed the dressing with a bit of oil and placed the vinaigrette into the refrigerator to cool.
I was nervous the strong flavors would overshadow the scallop, but it too worked providing a soft texture and flavor to the meal. It was a definite hit with both Mike and I coming in at a solid 3 spoons.
I was also a bit apprehensive about how this meal would go over with the kids. Well, as you can probably guess, we had mixed reviews. Miss A, not a big fan of salad just yet, was not too impressed. She liked the lentils and ate her scallop. She even picked out the bacon and cheese. The spinach and dressing were left behind. I suppose she prefers her salads deconstructed. It was 2 spoons for her.
This was a flavorful and bright way to serve the lentils, especially in the summer. We enjoyed it so much in fact, that we served it as a side salad (minus the scallop) to Friend Sue and Richard for dinner the following weekend. It went very well with the gluten free meatloaf that Friend Sue made for the evening. Perhaps she’ll let me share the recipe soon. It was a winner for sure! Until then, here’s the recipe for the salad: Lentil and Seared Scallop Salad with Cherry-Pom Vinaigrette
I should mention that if you happen to have several extra cherries lying about after making the vinaigrette, it never hurts to toss them in a crisp with some other fruits hiding in the fridge. We made this Cherry, Blueberry, Peach crisp for dessert that evening. I think you can safely assume this one was 4 spoons all around. Sadly, I don’t have a recipe as I just threw it together for a basic, but delicious crisp.
Well, that successfully concludes our French cooking summer. It’s been a delicious little adventure and it was quite a bit of fun to delve into our own family history. But it’s not all French in our blood. We have quite a bit of English as well, and Mr. N recently channeled his inner Brit to play the Archbishop of Canterbury in a student version of Excalibur.
Perhaps we should think about revisiting English food as well, but first we have our birthday meal wrap-ups, a stateside adventure and then once school starts we’ll be selecting our new country for the next round of international cooking. I think we’ll be heading back to the Middle East. Enjoy your week everyone! Cheerio and au revoir!