Holiday Gift Guide: Bringing France to You and Others

Hello, Emily here, from day 29 of the 2nd confinement (lockdown) in France. I never thought you could miss the city you live in, but I miss Paris. Physically she remains present and although stores are allowed to reopen tomorrow, restaurants will remain closed, the streets are quiet and the soul of the city is sleeping. The old Latin motto of Paris is ‘Fluctuat nec mergitur’…

Hello, Emily here, from day 29 of the 2nd confinement (lockdown) in France.

I never thought you could miss the city you live in, but I miss Paris. Physically she remains present and although stores are allowed to reopen tomorrow, restaurants will remain closed, the streets are quiet and the soul of the city is sleeping. The old Latin motto of Paris is ‘Fluctuat nec mergitur’ which roughly translates to ‘tossed by the waves but never sunk’ and wow, has 2020 done some tossing. 

During the second lockdown we have been restricted to a 1km (about half a mile) radius from our homes with a permission slip needed (that you fill out yourself) to go out for essentials (food, medical appointments, etc.) or to exercise. While my little radius included some of my favorite places, most of the city has been decidedly off-limits. 

Over the past 4 weeks we made the most of our allocated hour of ‘exercise’ each day in the nearby Jardin Du Luxembourg, letting the dog do her daily investigating, and letting our kids play in the fresh air. When possible, I also enjoyed a solo walk along the banks of the Seine, whose calm current reminded me that the history of France is filled with challenges that have been overcome. 

I never realized how much of the city I took for granted – perhaps a fitting metaphor for 2020? A quick stop at my local terrace for a coffee or chilled glass of wine, and a quiet exchange with the impeccably dressed waiter. The cultural institutions, who remain shuttered, their beauty and history waiting patiently to be frequented once again (although you can visit many online like the Louvre, Versailles, Centre Pompidou or the Musée d’Orsay). And the small boutiques and independent bookstores that I visit as much for the conversation with the owners as the books. But most of all, I am excited to return to the specialty food shops spread all over town, which were beyond my 1km ‘border.’  Continue Reading Holiday Gift Guide: Bringing France to You and Others...

Cassoulet Toast

I’m a big fan of traditional Cassoulet. And I’m not alone; a repeated question I get is “Where can I get a good cassoulet in Paris?” The short answer is: To the Southwest of France. Sure, one can pick up a jar of Cassoulet from Castelnaudary, or make it, which I sometimes do. For those who want to tackle the project, there’s a recipe in…

I’m a big fan of traditional Cassoulet. And I’m not alone; a repeated question I get is “Where can I get a good cassoulet in Paris?” The short answer is: To the Southwest of France. Sure, one can pick up a jar of Cassoulet from Castelnaudary, or make it, which I sometimes do. For those who want to tackle the project, there’s a recipe in My Paris Kitchen. But not everyone wants to spend a few days gathering ingredients and sauteeing and simmering them together, then baking, then reheating the behemoth in their oven.

While it’s one of my top favorite dishes in the French food canon, sometimes I don’t want to wait, and remain wary of the jar. So when I saw a recipe for Cassoulet Toast in Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. Cookbook author Susan Spungen is one of the top food stylists (she famously styled the food for Eat, Pray, Love and the Julie & Julia film), who noted in the headnote of the recipe that she originally wanted to include a Cassoulet recipe in her book, but decided it was too formidable to hoist on home cooks, so came up with a recipe that captures the flavors that we love about cassoulet; the rich, velvety beans, the caramelized aromatics, and the tender duck confit, all on a slice of crisp, country-style bread.

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November Book Events with Michael Ruhlman and Elaine Sciolino

This Friday, I’ll be in conversation with award-winning writer Michael Ruhlman at Archestratus books in Brooklyn on November 1st, from 6:30 to 8:30 to celebrate the release of his new book, From Scratch. Michael’s opus to home cooking extols the virtues of mastering basic cooking techniques, which means doable recipes for the perfect roast chicken, as well as traditional cassoulet, the ultimate BLT (with home-cured…

This Friday, I’ll be in conversation with award-winning writer Michael Ruhlman at Archestratus books in Brooklyn on November 1st, from 6:30 to 8:30 to celebrate the release of his new book, From Scratch.

Michael’s opus to home cooking extols the virtues of mastering basic cooking techniques, which means doable recipes for the perfect roast chicken, as well as traditional cassoulet, the ultimate BLT (with home-cured bacon, for those who want to give that a go), Thai curries, and chocolate profiteroles. There will be time for a Q+A with Michael, whose opinions and observations are always interesting, and sure to provoke some lively discussion. (I promised him that I would pepper him with challenging questions about everything from authenticity, to making crème anglaise with cream.) For more info about the event, and to sign up, visit the Archestratus bookstore website.

On November 12, Join me in a chat at the Chelsea Market in New York with Paris resident Elaine Sciolino to celebrate her new book, The Seine: The River That Made Paris, which follows the famed river’s path, which intersects, organizes, and defines the city of Paris.

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