We are just back from a fantastic holiday – almost three weeks in York, Paris, and London. It has been great fun exploring places we've never been and discovering new things in places we already knew and loved.
We took the train from London Saint Pancras Station through the Chunnel to Paris. It took just over 2 hours, traveling at 337kph - over 200mph! It was smooth and comfortable and, honestly, exciting to zip under the English Channel, as we both remember the miracle of this engineering marvel commencing when we were young adults. It is much nicer than taking the ferry or hydrofoil.
Paris. Ah, Paris. I just love this city and its wonderful people. It is one go the most beautiful cities in the world. I have had only the best experiences with people being kind, welcoming, and helpful. And where do I start with the food?
Some of my favorite markets are here - the Rue Mouffetard has been at the top of my list for decades both for its amazing food quality and picturesque ambience. On this trip, however, we discovered a market new to us - actually two markets in one - nearer our apartment. These are the Marché Beauvau and the Marché d'Aligré, just east of Place de la Bastille.
The Marché d'Aligré is a street market (in Rue d'Aligré) of produce stands selling every imaginable fruit, vegetable, flower, and herb. It is open only in the mornings, although six days a week. The other market is at the south end of the Marché d'Aligré, the covered Marché Beauvau; it is open the same six days a week in both mornings and afternoons, although it closes for the midday meal.
What we found in the Marché Beauvau was an incredible selection of butchers, cheese vendors, sausage shops, fishmongers, spice shops, specialty shops, and more. More than I had ever imagined. The choices were truly stunning.
I entered the market thinking I wanted meat for our Christmas meal - beef or pork, perhaps - but, when I found the seafood vendor, La Marée Beauvau, I changed my mind quickly. I bought the most beautiful Saint Jacques (scallops), in their shells with their coral, and some gorgeous salmon. We enjoyed the scallops on Christmas Eve on a bed of lightly curried, creamy leeks (recipe to come!), and then the salmon on Christmas Day (recipe follows).
For this leg of our trip, we rented the most charming apartment situated in one of our favorite neighborhoods: the Marais. Its only flaw was that it was a 5th floor walk-up (6th floor for those of us in the States) and we were a bit out of shape for the 105 stairs to climb every time we came home. In the end, this was a bonus for our health! It is in the corner of a quiet square - Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine - which is mostly traffic-free. There are at least five cafés that open directly onto this little square, and no fewer than six wine shops within a few feet of our apartment door!
For our salmon, I decided to pair the dish with a Provence red for this week's posting on the Provence WineZine. The wine store I visited had two reds and two whites from the region, so I chose by label design and price (just like I do at home!) and got one of each for the holidays.
We had the white with the scallops, and the 2012 La Chapelle red from Château Romanin with the salmon. To read more about this pairing, visit the Provence WineZine.
While in Paris, we shared Christmas cheer with our friend Marie-Lise, who lives in Paris, and later with Marie-Claire, who was in Paris visiting her family for the holiday. Having our traditional quiet Christmas dinner alone - just the two of us - was exactly what we both wanted, but sharing time with these friends really made it a very special holiday week. It was the first time we had seen Marie-Lise in 19 years - what a gift that was! While we have seen Marie-Claire often in Tucson, those times will be fewer and far between now that she is onto a wonderful new adventure in Phoenix.
This was a very special Christmas for us, and I wanted to share it with you.
Bonnes fêtes to all!
Saumon à la Crème d'Oseille
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
2 bunches sorrel, coarsely chopped, about 3 cups
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup crème fraîche
salt to taste
In a small saucepan, sauté the shallots in butter until they are soft and clear. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chopped sorrel leaves and blanch for 30 seconds; drain and transfer to iced water immediately to stop the cooking. Drain well and add to shallots. Add lemon juice and crème fraîche and season with salt. Using a stick blender, purée the mixture until smooth. Place a round of parchment directly on the surface of the sauce to keep it bright green, and set aside.
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
olive oil, as needed
2 salmon fillets, each about 6 ounces, skin removed
In a small bowl, mix the mustard, salt, and pepper. Add just enough olive oil to make a paste. Place the fillets skinned-side down and divide the paste between the two, rubbing into the side facing up.
Place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add some oil. Place salmon in the skillet, mustard-coated side down. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until golden-browned. Turn, reduce heat, and cover, allowing salmon to cook all the way through - another 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
To plate, reheat the sorrel sauce (don't let it come to a boil) and divide among two plates. Top with salmon and serve.
Braised French Breakfast Radishes
20 French breakfast radishes, cleaned and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sweet wine
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Sauté the radishes for about 5 minutes, until they begin to lose their crispness. Add the wine, water, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Boil until almost all the liquid is gone and the radishes have a nice glaze – about 5 more minutes.