1.07.2017

Joyeux Noël, Paris Style

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!

~ David

Saumon à la Crème d'Oseille

Sorrel Sauce
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.

Salmon
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch salt
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.

Serves 2.

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
pinch salt
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.


21 comments:

  1. It all sounds so wonderful - What else is there to say but bon appetit!

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  2. "Ah Paris", as they say! And for good reason. GREG

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    1. It definitely is for good reason, Greg. So very special a city!

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  3. What gorgeous gorgeous photos and what a lovely holiday you have had. It is years since I was in Paris - maybe it is time to visit again

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    1. It was truly lovely, Paola - and, after 19 years, we both agreed we need to go back more often!

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  4. I, too, traveled to Paris over the holidays and could not agree with you more! I must try staying in the Marais, i travel with a furry friend (shih tzu, Maggie) so I need to find a dog-friendly accommodation.
    And the other thing I MUST try is the sorrel sauce with salmon...thanks so much for the recipe!

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    1. Thanks, Linda - the Marais is wonderful and I do know quite a few of the Paris Airbnbs were accepting of pets.

      I am now on a daily search for sorrel here in Tucson - probably won't be available for a another few months, but I can wait.

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  5. Beautiful post Happy New Year to you and Mark.

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  6. What a lovely trip! Your pictures are amazing! I chuckled at the walk up description. That would do me in!

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    1. There was no chuckling for us, Inger, each day as we walked up those 105 steps! One day, I did it 4 times int eh space of an hour! I survived but there were times I questioned if I would!

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  7. Sounds like you two made lots of special new memories on your trip! Beautiful pictures, David! Your salmon looks perfect and I can't wait for your scallop recipe :)

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    1. Marcelle - I only wish I could get scallops in their shells here in Tucson! But the scallop dish will be on its way soon!

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  8. Is there any place more lovely than Paris…I think not. Love salmon and sorrel, they are a perfect match.

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    1. I agree, Karen - Paris is incredibly beautiful and romantic. I can never get enough...

      Can you find sorrel in Florida? I just discovered one of our Tucson farmers is growing it for the first time this year!

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  9. What a gorgeous post! The last two times we were in Paris we rented an apartment, as well. It honestly can't be beaten. And I agree, the stairs in some of those buildings are a killer!

    Right now we're in Sucre, Bolivia, and the house we're renting is a ten minute walk from the centre of town. The downside - a very steep walk up a hill every day just to get home. And being in high altitude doesn't help!

    I'm inspired by this salmon. I have some local trout sitting in the fridge and may do something similar to what you have. That's if I can find some mustard!

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    1. I would love to hear how that trout came out, John!

      I really don't like hotels anymore - apartments are best fro me for so many reasons, the first of which is having a kitchen in which to cook! The other reason is that I never like spending a lot of money on hotels, so I end up in cheap places near the ice machine or elevator. Never a problem with apartments!

      I need to catch up on all your posts from the past couple of weeks. That is what Saturday morning is for...

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  10. i'm thinking about foie gras, beouf the coute for Christmast dinner ala france

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    1. Dedy - it is nice to see you back online! I have to catch up with your recent post, but was glad ot see it in my inbox.

      We did have foie gras (seared with a red currant compote) on Christmas before the salmon. It was lovely. Maybe next year we will have the boeuf en croute!

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  11. Oh how I wish I had celebrated Christmas In Paris. Maybe next year! Thank you for sharing David. I will try the sorrel recipe with the salmon because I have sorrel in my garden.

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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