Monday, April 26, 2010

Food Glorious Food

Let me name the ways I adore food.. starting with foods I first experienced in France. I am heavily influenced by my love of France, and the food I first ate in France ten years ago - this is probably my Top 10 meals/dishes - although I may get further than that...

1) - the most authentic, gorgeous couscous, studded with chickpeas and vegetables with lovely, rich brothy spciy meat juices and lamb (bones left on for added flavour)

2) - lush paella .. yellow-heavy with saffron, juicy prawns, mussels, sweet peas, peppers and chorizo.

3) - cassoulet- food of the south - rich toulouse sausages, thick garlicky tomato sauce with soft, yeilding white beans (again, bones left on for added flavour)

4) - chocolate dipped croissants - these sounds revolting but were absolutely awesome ! A whole croissant completely dipped in sweet, dark chocolate and surprisingly non-sickly.

5) - chicken baguette - just down the road from the flat we lived in there was a 'take-away' with a difference where you could get a freshly-baked baguette, loaded with chicken that was griddled in herbs and loaded with french-style mayo. Bliss.

6) - L'Entrecote ( - this was, back in the mid-90s, simply my best meal, this chain of retaurants was not yet in the UK (there is now a branch in Marylebone, London altho.. I haven't managed to get there yet... see the link above). Basically, starter: plain lettuce in a dreamy mustard dressing, peppered with walnuts, main: steak cooked to your choosing in a 'special' sauce (cheesy/herby/buttery) divine sauce with fantastically crispy, skinny french fries. Dessert: profiteroles or chocolate moussse. This is basically the whole menu, there is no other choice... and it is wonderful. I managed to get to the branch in Paris a few years back and was NOT disappointed. I would definitely recommend this one..just check out the photos on the site above to see what I mean - OK ! Moving on...

7) Chinese (French style) - Chinese food in France is quite different to here, my favourite though (which you can also buy in the supermarket in France) is Nems. I have just searched for this on google and learned that these are North Vietnamese spring rolls made with rice paper. They are served with a famous North Vietnamese dipping sauce called Nuoc Mam cham which is basically a sweet and sour yet spicy sauce. 99 % of the time there is grated carrot in this little saucer of sauce. In France the nems you buy in the supermarket even come with the sauce.

I seem to be always, even now, short of cooking supplies in France, back in the day when I was there as a student, we had only 2 electric rings, no microwave or griddle so cooking was pretty basic. Nems was one of the items that was easy to rehead and serve with a salad. I must try and make my own one day.. the rice paper wrapper makes for the lightest, crispiest spring roll. This really is delicious.

8) Rabbit - I'm not a major fan of rabbit, in fact I have never cooked it, but I did eat it once in France in a rich, meaty mustard-tinged sauce cooked by a friend of mine - it was very good.

9) Quick - always a good family joke is how slow Quick (the fast food giant in France) actually is... instead one of the best meals you can get in France will be in the supermarket cafeteria, where you should be able to get a good steak, paella or couscous, dauphinois potatoes, a choice of several vegetables, pizza, a selection of mixed starters, alcohol, a selection of mixed desserts. Need I go on ? And it is usually very popular, backed to the brim with people from midday onwards and reasonably priced.

10) Goat's Cheese Salad - This is one of my very favourite dishes, little rounds of french bread, with little rounds of goats cheese on top, grilled until yieldingly melting.. served with crisp lettuce leaves, juicy ripe tomatoes and a good salad dressing .... does it get any better than this ?

Bon Appetit !

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