Day 1 of the 2nd Annual Paris Culinary Tour 2014

Culinary Tour no 1 

Day one of our second annual culinary tour in Paris.

Beautiful skies and warm temperatures greeted our guests this morning as they arrived in the City of Light. After a stroll down rue de Abbesses we headed up to enjoy the calm, cool, quiet of the Sacré Cœur. Amongst the throngs of tourists the interior of the Basilica is always a welcome haven and on this visit with my sweet Mum (who is a first time participant on our culinary tour) I lit a candle for my Baba who so recently left us. It was a gift to be able to celebrate my grandmother in such a meaningful place. It meant so much to my Mum and me.

Parting ways with our guests after our Montmartre tour Sarolta and I made our way back to our light and airy apartment to get ready for our opening night cocktail party/orientation.

With our culinary tour participants we enjoyed an evening filled with good food and wine and planning for our days ahead.

Tomorrow we are off to the Bastille for a traditional bistro lunch followed by a visit to the major sights of Paris. The Place de la Concorde, the Seine, and a walk through the Tuileries to the Louvre and onward up through rue Montmartre to rue de Martyrs are all on our list.

The weather promises to be fine…

xo J

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May Food

La belle France Villefranche sur mer Biking near Aix
French flea market Escargots Saucisson
IMG_4522  Alain Ducasse dessert at Alain Ducasse
Yellow door in Aix  Asperges Blanche Rosé in Provence
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escargots  Le Happy Face Persil
Merci Lentils and bacon Near Jacques Genin

The month of May seemed to be all about travel and good food.

For the first two weeks I was in the south of France on a family vacation that saw us explore Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Villefranche and Monaco. From this beautiful region we ventured to Provence where we stayed in the charming city of Aix en Provence. We spent our days exploring on foot and by bicycle, we happily drank a number of glasses of very good, very cheap rosé, ate one very fancy meal but mostly very simple ones. Most of all we just enjoyed being together.

We got back to Vancouver on the 15th and then I got busy to leave again on the 29th. Time for our second annual Paris Culinary Tour. Lots of prepping and packing and making of lists but it all got done just in time and now we are here in Paris getting ready for our guests to join us on the 6th of June.

Stay tuned for a daily account of our culinary adventures in the city of light.

xo J

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Rhubarb Hand Pies

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I’m in the final stretch of preparing for our second annual culinary tour in Paris. I’ll be up early tomorrow and off to the airport by 9 am and as I look around my very messy house I see so many things that still need to be done. Cooking equipment needs to be packed, recipes formatted and printed and a few last minute essentials purchased. In the end it will all get done, as it always does. Breath in, breath out.

However, before I go I want to post a recipe that features rhubarb which is one of my very favourite spring ingredients. Do you think this might just be a way of artfully procrastinating regarding some more pressing tasks at hand? Honestly though, this site hasn’t seen a recipe post for over a month so I feel I am duty bound to put one up now.

The rhubarb in my garden is happily thriving and it is so very simple to grow. Sadly, rhubarb season will be pretty much over by the time I return home and this recipe, with it’s combination of sweet-tart rhubarb scented with cardamom nestled between disks of buttery flaky pastry, is just too good to hold onto until next year. The other thing I love about this recipe is that you can make these any size you wish from bite size to a full pie. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream these are the perfect spring dessert.

Now, back to packing, cleaning, organizing.

Next stop Paris!

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April Food

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April was filled with flowers. Quince blossoms, tulips, fragrant hyacinth and crimson coloured peonies. The lilacs are just starting to bloom in the back garden and the scent is intoxicating.

In addition to all the flowers there was also plenty of food. Braised beans enjoyed on cold, rainy days. Spring risottos on warmer, sunnier ones. Olive oil citrus cakes, white tipped radishes with demi-sel butter and omelettes with smoked salmon and greens. Some toast and jam thrown in for good measure. There was also a bottle or two of pink sparkling wine.

We hosted a good number of dinners, classes and parties for groups large and small here at Kitchen Culinaire headquarters. We had meetings for some exciting projects that are on the horizon and I even managed to make a quick trip to Los Angeles where I ate and drank and shopped with my beloved sister.

Now, I am just finishing my final packing and will be leaving later this evening for a much anticipated two-week family vacation in the south of France. Bike riding, rosé wine drinking, market shopping, antique hunting and general exploring are all on the menu. I’m thrilled to be off on a new adventure!

xo J

 

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Spring Breakfast Tart

 

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This weekend I am in Los Angeles spending some time with my dear sister Lisa. Over the past few years we haven’t really spent any solo sister time together and so these 4 days are very special.

Being away from home for Easter means there won’t be a big multi-course feast for family and friends.  No gigantic glazed ham, or roasted lamb with peas and favas. No big pot of watercress soup topped with crème fraîche and chives. No bubbling gratin dishes of scalloped potatoes scented with nutmeg. No rhubarb cakes with toasted almonds and cream. No eating way too many chocolate eggs.

It will be only the two of us for Easter dinner and this brings to mind that old saying “What is the definition of forever? Two people and a ham”. We could invite a bunch of Lisa’a friends and cook up a big meal, but on this trip I think we will just enjoy some quiet time together and check out a few of the restaurants that are on our list of hotspots.

However, as I tend to get a bit nervous to go too many days without cooking, I am thinking of surprising my sister tomorrow with an easy and very spring(y) breakfast tart. The ingredients are easy to come by, no special equipment is needed and it is quick and simple to make. It will likely be the only cooking I do on this whole trip.

For those of you in the thick of planning/shopping/cooking a massive family meal this weekend this little tart might just in come in handy for you too!

Happy Easter and eat a few extra chocolate eggs for me.

xo J

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Radicchio Salad with Bacon and Eggs – Sunday Lunch for Two

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A busy week lies ahead but I wanted to put up a brief post to share some highlights from the past weekend. My sweet son Max has been away on a school trip to Quebec City where he is practising his French and soaking up the culture. My sister left on Friday for her home in Los Angeles and so for the first time in a long time it was just my husband and I on our own with no classes or dinners or commitments of any kind for an entire two days.

We took walks with our dog, went to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, watched movies and enjoyed a rather romantic dinner out. On Sunday Glen ran some errands and I stayed home to cook us lunch. The weather was nice enough that I cooked with the kitchen doors wide open and let in some fragrant spring air. After the last few rather stressful weeks it was just what I needed.

I had picked up olives, cheese, greens, garlic, eggs and some beautiful purple broccolini at the market on Saturday. I had some double smoked bacon, pasta, good olive oil and bread crumbs in the pantry.

I made orrechiette with the brocolini, plenty of garlic and chilli flakes and topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese and toasted breadcrumbs. To go alongside I made the salad you see above. Pleasantly bitter radicchio with a handful of arugula leaves, some green onions, crispy bacon, Gorgonzola, 10 minute boiled eggs all bound together with a grainy mustard vinaigrette.

We ate and talked and ate some more. Sunday lunch for two.

xo J

P.S. I am pretty thrilled to have some beautiful photos of my kitchen (and my hands!) over on my friend Melissa’s site, The Bounty Hunter. Check them out here!

 

 

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March Food

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This month saw us bid a sweet farewell to winter.

Spring is officially upon us and during these first tentative days of the season there is so much to celebrate. There is the evening light that lasts until the dinner hour, a softness to the air and the very first blooms gracing the trees that were so recently bare.

March was the month to say goodbye to heavy sweaters and wooly socks, endless cups of tea and braising and stewing and marathon baking sessions to help warm up the kitchen on cold afternoons.

With a very heavy heart I must tell you that it was in March the time came to also say goodbye to my beloved 100 year old Baba. She was ready and it was time but my heart still aches with sadness. I miss her every day.

xo J

 

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Longing for Spring Artichoke Soufflés

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It is a sunny day at the tail end of winter that has me longing for spring.

This morning at Norman’s Fruits and Vegetables, the greengrocer just down the street from my house, there were some beautiful artichokes. I had some eggs, milk and butter in the fridge and a tiny wedge of Comté cheese. Some flour in the pantry. Put them all together and I had everything I needed for a lovely light lunch.

It is tricky to photograph soufflés as they tend to collapse fairly quickly. You will just have to trust me that these rose up puffy and brown and had a beautiful light and airy texture. I gobbled one up right as it emerged from the oven. A second soufflé, enjoyed later in the afternoon and fully deflated, was certainly less fluffy but no less delicious.

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