During the soirée weekend, one of the guests remarked on how lovely it is to sit in an actual dining room to share a meal with friends. (Modern open floor plans often eliminate dining rooms.) It reminded me that ten years ago this month, I had the lifetime delight of renting a flat in Paris (with a dining room!) and enjoying a special time with a revolving cast of friends who came through and spent time with me in this amazing city! This post I had started a decade ago, but never finished, so I’m posting it today for a few reasons. The first is that, for a long time, we haven’t been able to gather around a table with friends, but now we can! So, I’m encouraging you to plan that dinner party you’ve been procrastinating on and give the beautiful gift of a meal around a table. You won’t regret it.
Secondly, with Easter celebrations approaching, both of the following dishes–Beef Bourguignon or Moules Crême FraÎche would make a wonderful Easter celebration. Both of these recipes are available in Around the World with Picturebooks Part II in the French section. Or if that’s unavailable, you can follow Julia Child’s recipe for the Beef Bourguignon or any Moules à la marinière recipe for the mussels (but do thicken with crême fraÎche)! Bon appetite!
From April 2012: Well, as many of my readers know, I’ve been in Paris now for two full weeks, and this is the first morning we are taking a break from tourist sites. It is a dreary Paris day, with intermittent hail, consistent rain, and bracing wind that makes pounding the streets, cobblestone or not, not an inviting option today. We have stood in a number of long lines to see some fabulous sights, despite rain, and biting cold winds off the Seine. A highlight was the Robert Doisneau exhibit–a remarkable French photographer of last century who captured iconic images of French life–particularly the common man. Remarkably, despite having to wait a long time in the rain and cold for this exhibit, the girls have not complained and my traveling companions have been hearty and unflinching! There have been some truly remarkable highlights, but as cooking in Paris has been a long held dream, I’m stopping here.
My dream has been to have a flat where I could cook some traditional French dishes after shopping at the local farmer’s markets. I’ve been able to realize that now in the joy of cooking some fresh Coquilles St. Jacques, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Moules crème fraîche Normandie (my name for mussels cooked in crème fraîche from Normandy). My inspiration for the latter dish came from having had this marvelous dish after visiting Monet’s home in Giverny on a crisp October day last year, and then being given two special gifts. One was a dvd from my daughter, titled “Monet’s Table” after the book of the same name given me by a dear friend (see above). So now, with the aid of the local poissonnier (who sold me both gorgeous coquilles and moules), I have had the distinct pleasure of making them with authentic Normandy butter and crème fraîche. But don’t despair–you can now buy Normandy butter at Whole Foods. While I would not recommend making a habit of it, (it is so delicious it’s impossible to stop sampling it!) but for a special occasion it is truly wonderful! Served with crusty hot French bread with either of these two dishes will make for a worthy feast for a beautiful Easter. Joyeuses Pâques!