Butterscotch Bars

It’s been an interesting year, hasn’t it? I’ve been on a bit of a bender lately, getting rid of (or at least, reducing) paperwork that’s been piling up and holds little interest for me. I have so much that I had to buy more paper (as in, paper file folders) to store all that paperwork in which seems redundant, but living in a place where paper…

It’s been an interesting year, hasn’t it? I’ve been on a bit of a bender lately, getting rid of (or at least, reducing) paperwork that’s been piling up and holds little interest for me. I have so much that I had to buy more paper (as in, paper file folders) to store all that paperwork in which seems redundant, but living in a place where paper still rules supreme, and digitizing takes as long as filing, I’m stuck filing and storing.

One change in the world of paper has been food blogs, which started out for many as being places where you could “store” and share your favorite recipes. But I’ve noticed over the last few years that food blogs have become a lot slicker, more polished, and often “aspirational.” While I’m jealous of those who have the talent, and patience, for writing for search engines, and arranging flowers on top of multi-layer cakes, I really just enjoy cooking and baking.

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France Reopens to Americans (and Others) June 9th

After over a year, France is opening its borders to most travelers, to a group that includes North Americans. I wrote about some of the developments in my June newsletter but some points have been clarified in the last few days. France announced a “color system” in which your requirements for entry will depend on what country you are from. There are three color groups;…

After over a year, France is opening its borders to most travelers, to a group that includes North Americans. I wrote about some of the developments in my June newsletter but some points have been clarified in the last few days. France announced a “color system” in which your requirements for entry will depend on what country you are from. There are three color groups; Red, Orange, and Green (more here and here) but for the Orange group, which includes North Americans, if you are fully vaccinated, you can come to France. If you aren’t fully vaccinated, you must have a compelling reason to come, and the requirements are stricter, plus you’ll need to quarantine for 7 days and have a PCR test after arrival.

The type of proof of vaccination has yet to be confirmed but you should print out what you have or bring your vaccination card, along with any other documents you have that relate to being vaccinated. Later this month, France will offer a “health pass” of some sort, which has yet to be determined. (More on that below.)

According to the US Embassy in France, here are the current requirements for Americans and others in Orange zones:

“Proof of vaccination (currently only the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are accepted). Travelers must also be fully vaccinated, which occurs two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca, and four weeks after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson; AND Either a negative COVID PCR test conducted within the 72 hours prior to departure or a negative COVID antigen test performed within the 48 hours prior to departure.”

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Top 10 Cheese Shops in Paris

It’s been a while, but Paris is opening up to visitors again on June 9th! I wrote about some of the details in my recent newsletter (and some tips you might want to know if you plan to come) but although some food shops in Paris have been doing brisk business with the locals, many are happy to have visitors back. And not just for…

It’s been a while, but Paris is opening up to visitors again on June 9th! I wrote about some of the details in my recent newsletter (and some tips you might want to know if you plan to come) but although some food shops in Paris have been doing brisk business with the locals, many are happy to have visitors back. And not just for economic reasons; many shopkeepers like the mix of people who come into their shops and many foreigners are genuinely curious and want to learn more about the foods of France, and owners of small shops are usually happy to engage with them as they are proud of what they carry, especially in the better cheese shops, or fromageries.

Jennifer Greco is a life-long Francophile and French food and wine enthusiast with an especially strong passion for French cheese. After moving from the U.S. to the south of France almost two decades ago, she has steadily been tasting her way through each and every cheese produced in France, a project that started one day on a whim and has developed into a full-fledged infatuation. To date, she says she has tasted just under 400 of the approximately 1500 fromages made in France. (Charles de Gaulle underestimated his cheese-making compatriots when he said “How can you govern a country which has 246 types of cheese?”) 

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Seedy Furikake Crackers

I’ve been out and about, here and there, but one thing that seems to follow me around is furikake. “What? A Japanese seaweed-based condiment?” you might say. While I do tend to tote French salted butter, fleur de sel, and Dijon mustard along with me on my travels, I’ve always loved furikake as well, and find myself craving it more and more these days. In…

I’ve been out and about, here and there, but one thing that seems to follow me around is furikake. “What? A Japanese seaweed-based condiment?” you might say. While I do tend to tote French salted butter, fleur de sel, and Dijon mustard along with me on my travels, I’ve always loved furikake as well, and find myself craving it more and more these days. In all honestly, I get a little antsy when I don’t have some around, which happened last time I tried to restock in Paris and couldn’t find any.

There are different types of furikake. Some contain bonito (fish flakes) or dried shrimp, and others have bits of desiccated egg. Some are relatively mellow and others have a pleasant funk to them. In the last few years, “funky” has been a dicey word to describe certain foods, but to me, at the risk of cancellation, funky isn’t a bad thing. Some of my favorite foods, like fish sauce, kimchi, and Camembert could be described as “funky” (just as songs like Funky Nassau, Uptown Funk, and Play That Funky Music use “funky” to complement, and compliment, their respective subjects) so I’m fine with having a funky-friendly blog.

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Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie is one of my favorite desserts of all time. It was one of the options in the cafeteria line at my elementary school and the one I always grabbed and put on my tray, next to my codfish sticks, boiled potatoes with parsley, and butter sandwiches on dense Pepperidge Farm-style white bread, which they served in half-portions, each rectangle slipped into a…

Boston Cream Pie is one of my favorite desserts of all time. It was one of the options in the cafeteria line at my elementary school and the one I always grabbed and put on my tray, next to my codfish sticks, boiled potatoes with parsley, and butter sandwiches on dense Pepperidge Farm-style white bread, which they served in half-portions, each rectangle slipped into a brown waxed bag. (The other option was peanut butter.)

I still remember finishing lunch and diving in with my fork to that wedge of golden sponge cake filled with rich, vanilla custard. In a world that seems hopelessly in favor of milk chocolate (which I’ve come to appreciate), there was a deep-dark chocolate glaze on top, which may have been my first taste of bittersweet chocolate. And one I never forgot.

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Tahdig

Ever since I heard of Tahdig, I’ve loved it, even though I’d never tried it. The idea of a plate of rice with a brittle, crackly crown appealed to me. It wasn’t until I was in Dubai with my friend Anissa Helou where she ordered a plate of just the crunchy shards of rice, I made a statement that it may have been the best…

Ever since I heard of Tahdig, I’ve loved it, even though I’d never tried it. The idea of a plate of rice with a brittle, crackly crown appealed to me. It wasn’t until I was in Dubai with my friend Anissa Helou where she ordered a plate of just the crunchy shards of rice, I made a statement that it may have been the best thing I ever ate. There’s nothing wrong with speaking in superlatives, which is hard not to do about Tahdig. Enthusiasm is a good thing. It’s taken me over ten years to try making it at home, but I finally did. And I’m happy to report that now, I can have Tahdig whenever I want. And so can you.

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Drinking French Booksigning in Brooklyn, NY

  It’s been quite a year! While my 2020 book tour was upended by a global pandemic – who’d a thought we’d ever be saying things like that? – I can finally able to have an event. If you’re in New York City, I’ll be at Slope Cellars in Brooklyn on Sunday, May 9th from 2 to 3:30pm signing copies of Drinking French. FINALLY! So…

 

It’s been quite a year! While my 2020 book tour was upended by a global pandemic – who’d a thought we’d ever be saying things like that? – I can finally able to have an event. If you’re in New York City, I’ll be at Slope Cellars in Brooklyn on Sunday, May 9th from 2 to 3:30pm signing copies of Drinking French. FINALLY! So stop by and get a personalized copy.

Slope Cellars is also proudly offering a Drinking French Bar Box featuring a selection of apéritifs and spirits so you can make some of my favorite drinks in the book. Included is a bottle of Citadelle gin from France, Dolin red vermouth made in Chambéry, the French alps, a bottle of small-batch Forthave spirits red bitter apéritif, and Old Forester Bottled-in-Bond rye, for making Boulevardier and Toronto cocktails from the book, as well as a signed copy of Drinking French. So you’re welcome to pick up a Drinking French Bar Box with a book included or just a personalized copy of the book.

See you then!

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Spiced Kefta

Persian food, like many of the foods from a region that’s often broadly referred to as the Middle East, takes cues from a variety of influences and cultures as people traverse borders and bring their delicious foods with them. Which is why the food in America is so diverse; people have gifted us with foods from their homelands, such as tacos, sushi, pizza, beer, and…

Persian food, like many of the foods from a region that’s often broadly referred to as the Middle East, takes cues from a variety of influences and cultures as people traverse borders and bring their delicious foods with them. Which is why the food in America is so diverse; people have gifted us with foods from their homelands, such as tacos, sushi, pizza, beer, and bagels. Similarly, France has been blessed to have beans for cassoulet, chocolat chaud (hot chocolate), and croissants.

As a cook, I like dipping into various cuisines and cultures and lately, I’ve been working on Tahdig, a Persian rice dish that’s cooked on the stovetop until the bottom gets crusty, which can take an hour or longer, and requires some patience. Once done, you take a leap of faith and turn it out onto a plate so the crispy part (the tahdig) forms a golden, crackly crown on top of a bed of fragrant, saffron-infused rice…if you do it right.

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Canistrelli

The last two cookies I’ve made on this site have been American-style, i.e.; on the larger side, with lots of flavors and other stuff going on. I like those, but I also like “quiet” European cookies, which are often simple, sometimes somewhat plain (like French sablés, or butter cookies), that let you focus on one or two flavors. Canistrelli fit that profile. Originally from Corsica,…

The last two cookies I’ve made on this site have been American-style, i.e.; on the larger side, with lots of flavors and other stuff going on. I like those, but I also like “quiet” European cookies, which are often simple, sometimes somewhat plain (like French sablés, or butter cookies), that let you focus on one or two flavors. Canistrelli fit that profile. Originally from Corsica, Canistrelli are flavored with anise and made with wine, and sometimes chestnut flour, which gives them a husky taste, but it’s not easy to find unless you live in Corsica.

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Upcoming Events – Live and Online!

Leaning into the world of live, online presentations, chats, and interviews, I’ve got several lined up in the next few weeks. Some are free and others are ticketed. Please check the time zones where you live and confirm with the websites or venues to confirm times (because it’s a challenge for me to keep track of multiple time zones), and you’re welcome to contact the…

Leaning into the world of live, online presentations, chats, and interviews, I’ve got several lined up in the next few weeks. Some are free and others are ticketed. Please check the time zones where you live and confirm with the websites or venues to confirm times (because it’s a challenge for me to keep track of multiple time zones), and you’re welcome to contact the venues for additional information or registration assistance. Looking forward to seeing you!

April

April 17 (tomorrow!): I’ll be in conversation with my friend Reem Kassis about her new book, The Arabesque Table from 2-3pm ET. I made the Halvah from Reem’s new book (which was amazing) and I’m looking forward to delving deeper into the subject of the book with her. To register for this free chat, click here.

April 19: One of my favorite guests from Instagram Live Apéro Hour is back! Join us as she makes one of my very favorite cocktails from her bar in Paris at 6pm CET/Paris time (Noon ET, 9am PT)

April 20: I’m back with the San Francisco Baker’s Dozen, from my old stomping ground, with an online baking demo taking place 9:45am PT. It’s free for members. Register here.

April 26: Join me for a live seminar on French Apéritifs: History, Context, and Culture online with Context Conversations, 5pm ET. Register Slope Cellars talking about French apéritifs and spirits. He’ll also share one of his favorite cocktail recipes. 4pm ET.

[Context is offering a special link that will give first-time customers Upcoming Events – Live and Online!...