November 29, 2006
Intense home cooking + intense giant salad
"It's like when people used to make wine by stomping on grapes!"
- This is how not to make bread crumbs
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]
- chestnut and green team macaron
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!
- ice cream!
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
- Le Relais Gascon
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.
- salade gascon
...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.
- chocs and eclairs
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.
- Sara + Pat's stash
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.
- éclair innards
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.
- Sara, blurry Pat et moi!
"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.
- food food food
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.
72 rue Bonaparte, 6th
Metro: Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Germain-de-Pres (4), Mabillon (10)
Le Relais Gascon
6 Rue des Abbesses, 18th
Metro: Pigalle (2, 12)
Posted by roboppy at 11:29 PM
I'd just like you to know that I was irrationally excited when, after having browsed the archives of this blog for like an hour, I realized a new entry was up. Wait, make that rationally excited because AWESOME FOOD PICS AND COMMENTARY OHGOD.
So yeah, I love your blog. I am a fellow female carb-o-holic foodie, so I am pretty much just DROOL whenever I visit. If you are in the Morningside Heights area of NYC (or hell--anywhere else, I will travel far and wide for good food), you should totally email me and I'll show you some good restaurants--no one up here is interested in running around the various restaurants/bakeries/etc. of Manhattan, whereas I'm like, "Dudeee! Let's totally go out and try out this random food place!!"
Anyway, love the blog, keep up the good work!
I cook broccoli that way too! I'm totally unoriginal...school has been so awful that I've been "steaming" broccoli and either eating it with chicken or over a baked potato. Creative...not me, especially with a bizillion tests to take. So I
your paris posts make me want to go to paris again asap. my last trip was way too touristy. i didn't research enough on macaroons!
My mom actually steams vegetables like you do. I thought she was the weird one when she did that a few years ago.
I really want that potato salad with the foie gras! Even though it's a salad, I'm supposing it's a misconception to think it's healthy. But to the heck of health, as long it tastes good.
Need dry bread crumbs? Use a cheese grater.
Oh, god! They were SOOOOOOOOOO good those macarons!!!
Unluckily on sunday I wasn't able to bring my husband back to Pierre! He said it was too much for him...
He doesn't yet realize I can leave him and marry Pierre... And became fatter and fatter, but happy with all his deserts!!!
We had fun too!!!
Robyn, finally! I had just about exhausted trawling thru your archives and wondering when your new post will be up. (What should I do for distraction as I have no TV...) The green tea-chestnut macaron ohhhhh, I love green tea anything. And the thin fried slices of potatoes on top of that salad - I'm stuffed from a HUGE lunch of Singapore chilli crab, pork ribs, lemon chicken, stir-fried beef, giant prawns and vegetables with fried rice, but your pictures still made me drool...
I like how a lot of French food have the word "pain" hidden somewhere. "Pain" and "au", "au" being a short form for "aaaaaaaaaaugh my SENSE OF SELF-RESTRAINT".
This is probably the first time I paid more attention to Le Salade Apocalypse up there as opposed to the pastries. ZOMG TEH SALAD.
ohhh lovely! this really is the best blog in the whole bloody universe. fantastic stuff. i am so glad it's lunchtime right now :)
Jane: I'm glad I could evoke irrational excitement! YAAY!!
I never head up there for food, but if you have recommendations then I'll check it out! I'm all about the random fooding.
Jeanne: Yay, it's not just me! Broc + chicken or potato isn't so bad. One of my friends tried to just eat LOTS OF RICE due to lack of money...I don't think that was a good idea. :|
Yes, our cameras should meet! With us holding them.
Irene: If I were only here for a few days I'd probably do all the touristy stuff. :) But when I come back to visit ye know I'm just gonna hit the patisseries and whatnot.
Tina: We're all weird!
Salad = "healthy maybe". It's a misconception I can live with.
Alex: Damn, that's a good idea. Thanks, maybe I WILL grate my own bread crumbs.
bo-bo-gal: I don't watch TV either! Wee! But there is one...that no one uses.
Duurh, your lunch sounds pretty damn good. We could trade! For a day!
Adalmin: Bread is pain. Tasty tasty pain. Or tasty "peh"...I can't even spell the way it's pronounced.
It is quite a salad. Very worthy of a "ZOMG TEH SALAD" response.
Shauny: Thank you! In the whole universe you say! I want a trophy.
You replied to Jane's post above that you don't get up to Morning side Heights in NY for food. Awhile back I posted in the comments section that I had just came from NYC and went around to some of the places you mentioned in your blog. What I forgot to ask you was how did you get around to some of those restaurants because they are "HELLA FAR" on foot.
P.S if you say "hey rob" real fast it sounds like ARAB. :7p
Man oh man, why doesn't Haagen-Dazs sell the cool flavors here in the US? When I was back in Indonesia and Singapore visiting family, I saw flavors such as melon, berries and cream, green tea and red bean, etc. I mean, really! Why do they just assume that American ice cream consumers are un-adventurous?
I want goodies from Pierre Herme! I am so jealous you can just go there whenever you want . . . lucky thing!
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about my Thanksgiving. I was stuffed to the point of actualy physical pain, which has only happened maybe 4 or 5 times in my life. I blame my mothers mushroom stuffing, a sweet potato souffle with gruyere, and the pumpkin cakes with cream cheese frosting that I made.
Glad to hear you got some Thanksgiving in Paris! Your friend Val's key lime pie is making my mouth water, and those fried potato bits looks delicious . . .
I WANT A SALAD AS BIG AS MY HEAD WITH FRIED POTATOES NOW!!!
Making breadcrumbs is a lot easier if you either 1) use a food processor, or 2) toast the bread until it is dark, dark brown (but not burnt), stuff it in a ziploc baggie, and squish it.
Leaving the results in the ziploc on the kitchen counter will then confuse your housemates for hours. If you live with my housemates.
Oh the foie gras salad, Oh the fried potatoes. I think I could be happy in the southwest part of France. The Beautiful Daughter could herd geese and I cold fantasize about their detoxification organs. Oh how I would like to write a cookbook entirely of salads, the mighty to the humble. Has that been done? Of course it has. I think your salad pictures are my next screensaver.
Hello Robyn! I've been reading for a couple of weeks and am just commenting to mention that that's how we cook broccoli in my family too. It takes three minutes, and then we add lemon juice, buttter, salt, and pepper.
Your descriptions and pictures of pastries are mouthwatering, and I'm dying to try one of those salads, but I think the baguettes are the most tantalizing, as a lot of the baguette around here has a sort of Wonder-Bread-y texture. I hope we get to see another one soon!
You can also tear up your toasted baguette slices and pulse them in a food processor for quick and easy bread crumbs.
Oaky, I'm really really stupid...I can't, for the life of me, figure out the broccoli cooking method! Whatcha mean "let 'er rip"? Do you microwave it? Heat it up? Boil it? Just let it sit in the water? What what what?
By the way, Robyn, I heart your blog. Keep up the great work!
red rhino: Really?...how far? If it's less than a mile from a subway station, I can usually deal with it. :O
maria: I think on the whole Americans may not be as adventurous with flavors...which sucks. :( Red bean wouldn't catch on at least, even though we love it! Maybe people will change their minds someday...
Susannah: It's kinda scary that I can go to PH whenever I want! And I don't. BUT I COULD. ... ... ..
I was in physical pain a few years ago from Thanksgiving, sooo I understand. THE HORROR!
Mmm pumpkin cakes..
There's another key lime pie in the kitchen! Eek!
Mary Sue: Using a food processor would've been a great idea...if we had one. That would've been my first choice. :P
Ya, we didn't toast it long enough, but it did taste kinda good, like it had just been baked. But not really.
Annie: Ain't nothing better to fantasize about than DETOXIFICATION ORGANS!
There may be books about salad, but not "the least healthy salads ever". :) Someone should make that book. And it would just be a picture book, no recipes.
Hannah: Lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper are good to add. I DIDN'T ADD ANY OF THOSE. :P I should do that...next time.
Wonder Bready! NOOO! NOOOO OO O O!
Terry: That's how I would've made it...if we had a food processor. :(
Claire: HAHAA oh, is that what I wrote? Oops. No recipe writing for me. I meant you just turn the stove on so that the water boils and then turn it down to simmer for a while...until you think the broccoli is done. TADA, cooked-ness!
Thanks for the heart! I'll stuff it in my bag of love.
I pretty much used the 6 line and walked from there to most places. On the first morning I walked from 17th & 3rd to The Clinton Street Baking Co on 4 Clinton street for breakfast. map
To say I had worked up an appetite for those crispy edge / velvety innard little oblong circle Carbs-O-Delight would be an understatement. And then I walked back HA!
I guess because I opted not to buy a 7 day unlimited use Metro Card and I walked to most of my destinations it just seemed like everything was kindda far. I would get to where I was going and think, "There is no way in God's concrete jungle Robyn Lee just walked this far to eat". In the end, I spent exactly the same amount of money for individual rides as it would have cost to go unlimited and not have to decide to pay for a ride or walk a mile in Roboppy's shoes :7p.
P.S Is Mario Batali working on a side dish?
The Spotted Pig Burger was the ROXOR! \m/
Red: Well ye know, anything can be "hella far" on foot if you don't take the subway to the closest stop. ;D So I wouldn't walk to Clinton St Baking Co from 17th and 3rd...not that it's a horrbly long walk, but meh, I'm lazy (and I had an unlimited monthly metro card).
Haha, I read that Mario Batali thing before.
If I can recall correctly, I think you love sandwiches, dubbing them "sammiches." Very adorable name. Anyways, did you ever try a banh mi from Viet-Nam Banh Mi So #1? It's soo freakin good!
Also you've played a role in my search for some Pierre Marcolini chocolates (amongst two other places) after seeing your post in the Parisist. Let me just say, Pierre Marcolini makes some mighty fine chocolate.
Wonderful post Robyn!
Somehow that Thanksgiving looks very French!?
I painted that chocolate mound with the slivers of choco on it..the "Plenitude" I thought..
Your comment about ice cream vs gelato made me laugh so hard!! Yes... I know EXACTLY what youre talking about. ;-)
Tina: I love sammiches yes I dooo. I think I've tried a sandwich from Viet-Name Bahn Mi So once and...yeah, it was good! But for some reason I didn't eat them very often. Hm.
Hooray for a chocolate hunt!
PB: Thanks! I suppose the dinner couldn't help but be a little French. ;)
Lea: Yaay, I'm not alone!
I've never bought bread crumbs, but mostly just because I never plan far enough ahead to buy bread crumbs for a recipe. I love your blog and as a fellow appreciater of eating and NYC, I'm wondering if you have any inside scoop into great deals or discounts for eating out in the city. I've looked through menupages and city search, and have not been satisfied, now I'm combing through food blogs trying to find a new resource. Help!!!
Hey ctb1010, you should check out www.diningfever.com. They always have great deals on New York City Restaurants. Right now there is one for 20% off food at AJ Maxwell's Steakhouse. I ate there with my Fiance, our bill was $96.00 with some wine and after the discount it came to $84.00, for a savings of $12.00! They have too many deals like this one to even mention check it out.
Why, why do you give only to take away? I absolutely loved the song "Lost" by "The Mary Onettes" you posted @ http://roboppy.vox.com/ I sat silently listening as the velvety strokes of music caressed my tender ears while my head bobbed up and down and my toes tapped the floor. It wasn't until I awoke from my medulla oblongata ecstasy and scrolled down and saw this--->
[quote]For some reason I am semi-obsessed with "Lost" by The Mary Onettes. Unfortunately their only release is a one 4-song ep. Mm. Maybe I'll buy it.[/quote]
Their ONLY release? NOOOOOOOOOOOO! *cry/whimper
Your mean/cruel. 4 songs and no more :7(
I can only take solace in the this, it is better to have loved and "LOST" then to have never loved at all.
ctb1010: I've never bought em either, but we had bread crumbs in the kitchen at school. It was nice to have all the ingredients you could need at your fingertips...[sigh]
I don't know anything about good deals (aside from places that are inherently cheap), sorry! Funky Diva has a good tip though.
Funky Diva: Thanks for the link; I had never been to that site before!
redrhino: Commenting on this blog in reply to another blog? Is that allowed? ;)
I'm obsessed with that song too. Arrrgh! It's not my fault they only hav a dinky ep! [sniff]
Hey haven't read any of your posts for a long time. School, trips out of the country, and other stuff keep getting in the way.
Anyway, great photos and I'm glad you had so much fun with your friend Alex. I mean, even if the food had turned out bad (but it did turn out good obviously), you'd still have fun right?
I've never been much for salads but the salads you posted up look like they could blow away whatever misgivings I have.
Thanks for the cool posts and take care!
Oh yeah, met someone lately who reminded me of you (which is kind of queer since well, I've never met you before). :)
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