Digging through the archives for inspiration

Noilly Prat is the company's French brand of v...

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It’s that time of year again when I decide to visit some old friends.  By friends I mean recipes.  Ah yes, those favourite recipes that are stained and torn from overuse.  I have a box filled with recipes that I’ve cut from various magazines and newspapers.  All these plus an assortment of cookbooks complete with photos can put a smile on my face.  And yes, a photo of something yummy does serve as inspiration.

With this in mind, I’m looking ahead to Monday’s menu.  D and I have celebrated the 25th of every month since our first date.  As Monday is our 37th month together, as well as our 1-month wedding month-iversary — did I really just type that? — we’ve planned something other than the usual run-of-the-mill dinner.  As usual, D is in charge of the apéro and libations; I’m in charge of the meal and dessert.  In deciding on what to eat I always start with dessert first.  This is practical (to me) as 1) I’m doing the work and 2) dessert is a very key part of any menu; there just has to be dessert.

I’ve decided to go back to one of my favourite recipes: Chocolate Cream Cake.  It’s pretty simple to make and it smells oh-so good when it’s baking.  (The recipe is listed under my FFF – Favourite Recipes here.)  As for our main plat I decided on coq au riesling.  (A little surprise for D:  I’m going to try my hand at making some spaetzle.  We’ll see how it goes.)  I could have asked D what he wanted but his usual response of  “whatever you make baby is fine with me; it will be delicious” doesn’t really help.  A quick check of my recipes revealed that I had everything I needed except parchment paper (for the cake) and mushrooms (for the plat of course).  A quick trip to Carrefour was scheduled and off we went.  D also took this opportunity to add to his bar.  Lillet, Noilly Prat, Grand Marnier, plus various bottles of ‘crème-de-sais-pas-quoi’ made it into our shopping cart.  D was feeling inspired.

A lot of my friends have asked me whether I find living in Nice/France different from living in Toronto.  The short answer is “yes”.  The long answer is perhaps too long to be explained but perhaps I can sum things up by giving two examples: the postman and the baker.  Yeah, I so want to say “the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker…”  I digress.  We met our postman yesterday afternoon after returning from 2nd in less than 24 hours to Carrefour.  Yes, we met our postman…and he knew who we were.  The conversation went something like this.

Postman: he looked at us and said, “Mr & Mrs B?”

Us:  Yes, that’s us.

D: You recognized us.

Postman: after looking at us both, from head to toe “well, not by sight.  But yes.”

The three of us stood there laughing.  What a hoot.

Then there was the conversation with the baker.  We’ve already chatted with him several times and really he’s quite a pleasant man.  And who wouldn’t be, surrounded by all those croissants, pains au chocolat, millefeuille…  Anyway, he knew that D had been away — that came up in conversation last week — and Saturday, when we went for our campaillette (yummy bread!), it came up again.

Photo courtest of papydiesel (PhotoXpress)

Baker:  Good morning sir, madame.

Us:  Good morning.

Baker:  Oh, so you’re back sir.  Just to let you know that madame was here crying every morning without you.

Us:  (laughter)

Baker:  Il faut faire attention m’sieur.  Qui va a la chasse perd sa place!  (Beware sir.  He, who goes hunting, loses his place.) 

Us:  (more laughter)

Seriously, conversations like this don’t often happen in Toronto but they sum up the differences I think.  First, I didn’t have a regular baker/bakery.  Second, I know my postman by sight.  Moreover, here in France, if mail is addressed to someone other than the current resident it doesn’t get delivered.  In other words, m’sieur Postman won’t be filling our mailbox with stuff for the previous tenant.  Me likey.

Yesterday was also the day I first used my olla de barro para pollo or my brique à poulet or my chicken brick.  How dead easy it is to roast a whole chicken with one of these bad boys.  We bought the chicken brick at Habitat and gave it a test run.  After cleaning it and letting it dry, I rubbed the inside with some garlic as per the instructions.  Then, I put a little olive oil on the chicken, some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and some seasonings.  Then I popped the little hen into the brick.  Right into the oven they went for 1.5 hours.  The result?  Yummy, juicy, golden-skinned roasted chicken!  Oooh, oooh, oooh…delish!

That was Saturday though.  I was on a bit of a high.  Today, I have to admit that it’s been a bit of a struggle.  We had two self-imposed early morning starts.  Yesterday morning and this morning we woke up via D’s BlackBerry alarm.  We haven’t used an alarm clock since returning home earlier this month so it was strange… and it was early.  But, as I said, it was our choice to get up at the crazy, unthinkable hour of 6:55 am (Saturday morning) and 7:55 am (this morning).  We woke up early to watch the Formula 1 qualifying and race.  Plus, D and I logged about 10 km between walking to the Carrefour, the market, Nice Etoile, and the bakery.  Now, all I want to do is just sit here and do nothing.  Except I can’t.  I have dinner to make tonight and really, the apartment could do with a quick brooming.  And I had planned on making the cake tonight…

D is dancing now — if you call his weird movements dancing.  I love him but he cannot dance!  I think he sensed my fatigue and has decided to make crêpes for dinner tonight.  Hmmm, this is my husband and best friend…and he’s telling me I have the evening off.  That is inspired thinking D!

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Categories: everyday stuff

Author:Tanya in Transition

I am a woman in transition. I left my job of 13 years to find happiness and self-fulfillment...in France!

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6 Comments on “Digging through the archives for inspiration”

  1. October 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM #

    I love the intimate nature of living in France as well, people are really friendly & if you go to a shop more than 3 times you become a regular & are treated quite well – could have something to do with living in the South as well, wonder how folks feel in Paris. Anyway, I love the ‘banter’ with the baker, etc, makes you feel really “at home” 🙂

    • October 26, 2010 at 11:13 PM #

      Thats’s exactly the word: intimate. I totally love it. It’s such a difference from my previous life…I do think it may have something to do with the weather and the location here in the South.

  2. October 26, 2010 at 11:00 AM #

    I’m a recipe junkie too! One of my favorite parts of the day is looking in the fridge and pantry to see what I’ve got and then searching through on my recipe notebooks and cookbooks. Cooking helps to keep me sane since I live in the middle of nowhere.

    I bet that chocolate cream cake came out good!

    • October 26, 2010 at 11:15 PM #

      Oh yes, it is absolutely yummy. I decided to pair it with fromage blanc just to break up the sweetness. Gonna have a slice now! 🙂

  3. November 10, 2010 at 10:24 AM #

    Okay Tanya, fill me in on this chicken brick thing. What is it, how does it work? I’ve never heard of it. I don’t have a personal relationship with my postman (mostly because I never receive mail) but I do with the lady at the shoe store down the street!

    • November 10, 2010 at 1:58 PM #

      LOL. I’m trying to stay away from stores in general as I really don’t need another pair of boots, another top, skirt, etc…

      As for the chicken brick, it’s a strange shaped little item that we picked up from Habitat. It looks like it’s made of clay (hence the brick part) and is split down the middle into two parts. All you do is preheat the oven, rub a little olive oil on your chicken, add salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs/spices, pop the little birdie into the chicken brick and roast for about 2 hours. The chicken brick makes a lovely, golden chicken with moist meat. No basting, no turning, nothing more needed. It’s absolutely foolproof!

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