"It's like when people used to make wine by stomping on grapes!"
Alex was referring to our hands-on approach to making bread crumbs, which entailed tearing apart semi-toasted baguette slices into what we hoped would become crumb-like bits. Instead, we ended up with what could've been labeled as either steroids-enhanced bread crumbs or really bad croutons. It looked like we were preparing bread to throw to pigeons.
"I was wondering why you wanted to make them instead of just buy pre-made bread crumbs," I commented as we half-heartedly ripped our baguette into little chunks.
"...You can buy bread crumbs?"
...Oh shit. Alex had that tone of voice that implies, "Why the hell didn't you tell me that?", along with a crazy wide-eyed look that said the same thing. But it was hilarious. At least, I thought it was hilarious. I went into a few random fits of nearly tear-discharging laughter as we fruitlessly tried to make our bread resemble sandy crumbs and not soft croutons.
"It'll taste good!" insisted Alex.
"Um...yeah, o-kay." I'm pessimistic by nature.
Luckily, Alex was right. After getting nowhere dipping our eggplant rounds in beaten egg and then in our "crumbs" (of course they were too large to stick), we just dunked the egg-dipped eggplant slices into the pan of hot olive oil and hoped for the best. The resulting velvety soft eggplant was more than edible, it was...dare I say, tasty. Thank. God. Out of boredom/desperation I fried up a handful of our mutant bread crumbs dunked in egg to end up with some kind of fried bread omelette.
"What the..." Alex peered at my handful of lumpy egg goo as I slid it into the pan.
"I...um. I just want to try it."
"Okay. That's all yours."
It was weird, but also tasty. Frying truly saves all. (Except for my soul, which cannot be saved by anything.)
And now, on to the second course.
Alex whipped up some alfredo sauce made of of heavy cream, white wine and Parmesan cheese to go with his spinach pasta for our main dish. I cooked broccoli for the vegetable accompaniment since Alex had no experience in that sector of culinary prowess. My broccoli cooking method is to put a bunch of cut up broccoli in a pan of water and let 'er rip. It's like steaming without the steaming tray. Or boiling with very little water. I can't be the only person who does that, right? Our pasta dish was a success, although not as laughter-inducing as the eggplant. Because we didn't screw it up as much.
I happily bought some goodies from Pierre Herme earlier that Saturday knowing that I could share the joy/calories with someone else. The Surprise Plénitude split cleanly in half (by way of a sharp knife, not magic), revealing the layers of chocolate-and-caramel goodness in side. Do you really need me to tell you that this was beyond awesome? The crisp, thick chocolate shell, runny caramel, chocolate mascarpone with bits of salted chocolate, chocolate macaron base, combined for some mega-sensory pleasure overload?
I'll give you a virtual tissue to wipe up your drool with. [tissue]
We also shared four macarons. I chose vanilla, caramel and pistachio since those were my favorite flavors, but also picked chestnut and green tea since I hadn't tried it yet. Although I love chestnut, I somewhat loathe green tea as a dessert flavor since, to my untrained palette, tea implies that tastes like dirty water. Or dirty desserts. However, I can happily say that the green tea in this macaron is something even I could love because it just tastes so...real. It's different from other green tea desserts. Really. Even though there's just a tiny splodge of green tea cream in the macaron it still makes a, "Whoooaaa...what did I just eat?" difference. Once again, PH makes macaron magic. I'm going to add chestnut and green tea to my "favorite flavors" list.
I wonder what his version of a chocolate chip cookie would taste like. [eyes glaze over]
Time for the fourth course!
As we were about to pay for our alfredo supplies during a last-minute stop at the supermarket before dinner, Alex realized that he needed ice cream. Needed, as in biologically for optimal function of human organs. We glanced over the freezer section and after about a split second of intensely thinking, "Which flavor do I get?", he grabbed "Vanilla Caramel Brownie." Not a hard choice there, methinks.
Lacking an ice cream scoop, we ended up digging out huge chunks with a large spoon. It gets the job done, yo. While the ice cream was tasty, it just made me long for incomparably delicious gelato. It's like having a best friend for most of your life and then later finding another friend who's better and knowing that the first friend was good in his own right, but just not as good in comparison and OH GOD, THAT FIRST FRIEND IS FOREVER DOOMED BY THE NEW, SMOOTHER, CREAMIER FRIEND...
...you know exactly what I'm talking about.
We went to Camille's (one of Alex's friends) cozy apartment for some random anime watching in the form of Metropolis. It probably made me more depressed that it was supposed to for reason that I won't get into (because it would take a while to explain and then you would know too much about my mental problems). I enjoyed the film more than not. Except for the subsequent overwhelming feeling of embodying a mass of human weakness that is somehow unfathomably heavy and barren at the same time.
Yeah, that's it.
As we waited for the metro a young woman (early 20s I would've guessed) who looked animated and tired at the same time (it was almost 12:30 AM after all) wandered over to where Alex and I were sitting. She reached out to shake each of our hands.
Later Alex told me that after finding out that we were both okay, she laughingly remarked that she was the only one who wasn't doing okay. As the subway pulled into view she made a hitchhiker's thumb to the driver—he responded with a beep beep of his horn.
It was funny.
best salad ever + more dessert
Earlier on Saturday I met up with one of my blog readers Sara and her husband Pat, who were visiting Paris for a few days from Milan. Upon recommendation from Dave and Tony, I picked Le Relais Gascon to meet for lunch.
Even though they have a variety of French specialities on their menu (from the southwest, I would assume), my eyes went straight for...the salads. Huh? Yes, this place is known for their salads, which are definitely not your typical combination of greens and other colorful vegetable-like matter. Each salad bowl is a monster that stomps on all previous ideas of what a salad should be like.
...A tasty monster covered in a layer of thinly sliced garlic fried potatoes. But that's not all.
Since Sara and I have similar gluttonous minds we both ordered the salade gascon: "green salad, tomatoes, smoked magrets (duck), goose liver, fried potatoes with garlic." If they had laid it out on a plate with the salad ingredients on one side and the potatoes and poultry matter on the other it would've looked like "a tasty heart cloggy dish plus some salad." Smooshing them together in one giant baby bathtub-sized bowl resulted in "the best salad ever." I found out that I'm not a fan of smoked duck, but the rest was heavenly. All that crispy garlic-infused potato. Oh baby. A generous slab of fattened goose detoxification organ. Plenty of greens with a light, creamy dressing. In a giant bowl.
After filling our bellies with "salad" we went straight to Pierre herme for dessert. Pat looked amused that we would wait in line (a small line!) just for desserts. Obviously he had never eaten their's before. PH does not wait for you—you wait for PH.
We brought our stash to Jardin du Luxembourg and set up a mock table with a few chairs meant for the chess players. I forgot the name of the domed chocolate cake, but it was very chocolatey, so much that one bite was enough to shoot chocolate goodness throughout my whole body. Although it was awesome, I preferred the rectangular Plaisir Sucrés (biscuit dacquiose aux noisettes croquantes, praliné feuilleté, fines feuilles de chocolat au lait, ganache et chantilly au chocolat au lait) with its combination of crunchy-creamy-light-crispy in one multilayered bite.
Even though I don't especially like éclairs, I do love vanilla. The high filling-to-pastry ratio did not disappoint, although I would've liked it better if the light vanilla bean-specked cream filling came in a giant bucket and there were no pastry (although I guess that wouldn't be an éclair, it would just be...the best bucket of vanilla goop ever). The pastry was glazed with a surprisingly very sweet vanilla frosting. A bucket of that might give you diabetes. It'd be really tasty though.
"I can die happily now," sighed Sara after she polished off her macarons. She and Pat had bought a box of seven macarons to bring back to Italy, but think they may have eaten it and gone back to PH the next day to buy some more macarons to bring home. ;)
After PH we went to La Grande Epicerie, which was a bit too packed with human bodies taking up every square foot of the store for me to feel like browsing. I left Sara and Pat to battle the others in the food lover's emporium, went back home, and then soon went out again for the aforementioned "eggplant frying experience gone somewhat wrong" start of a four-ish course meal.
I had a great time meeting Sara and Pat (and, o-m-g, Sara is also a Gilmore Girls fanatic, teehee!). Once again, food bonds sugar-crazed people from faraway countries together in dessert-filled harmony.
I spent my entire Sunday in my apartment surrounded by excessive amounts of food. And people. Adelyn has a full write up plus better photos than what I took (and better writing than what I'm willing to knock out), so READ HER BLOG DAMMIT. I was thankful to have her there since due to my introverted-ness I knew I wouldn't have been able to chat up with any of the people there (perhaps 50 visitors over the afternoon). (Of course, I was also happy to see Adelyn in general; we hadn't eaten together in ages!) I'm sure many people had absolutely no idea who I was or why I was at the party. In the middle of the party Valerie and I told one of the guests that we lived there.
"...Ohhh, that makes a lot more sense now."
If you saw who else was there, you'd understand. Not many Chinese (me) or Latino (Val) people. It's not as though it wasn't diverse either, but ...ye know. I guess if my family had a party it'd be attended mainly by Asian people. Not that they would ever have a party. Har har har!
I didn't actually stuff myself to death so I have no reports of post-Thanksgiving gastro-intestinal pain, unlike many other accounts I read in the food blogosphere. I ate one plate of "normal" food and maybe two plates of dessert. So much pie, man. Pumpkin and pecan are the shizz.
Le Relais Gascon
6 Rue des Abbesses, 18th
Metro: Pigalle (2, 12)