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January 2020 Newsletter

Welcome to 2020. Let's just put last year behind us, shall we?... and move on. That's how I feel when I eat citrus; I feel like I'm getting a clean start on something new and refreshing. I know many of you abstain from drinking in January, I recommend a glass of vivid tangerine juice, like I had this morning, which is a great way to wake up - and put last night (which involved two dinner parties and not getting home until hours after midnight) behind me.

I turned another year older during the last week of December, and let me tell you, I now understand why when old people grouse and gripe about things changing so fast. The French aren't always keen on changes either, and France has been through a rough patch with transit strikes that started in early December, which are continuing into January. (Note: January 9th is a general strike day in France, so a lot of services will be out of commission that day, not just transit.) This strike is likely going to be the longest strike in the history of France, elbowing aside one in 1986/1987 which was 28-days long.

We were invited to stay with friends in the French alps for the holidays but we celebrated here, which wasn't all that bad!

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For the holidays I made the Champagne gelée, shown above, for dessert. It's one of my very favorite recipes (from my book Ready for Dessert) and goes quite well with all the beautiful citrus available at the local markets. All those blood oranges, clementines, mandarines, grapefruits, citrons, and kumquats will continue to keep our spirits bright, right through winter.

My SAD (daylight therapy) lamp also helping too, for whatever reason. I didn't quite believe in them at first, but a few years ago I was on a tv show that was filming during the winter, that was shot at NBC studios in New York, and the cooking staff worked downstairs in a darkish room.

In the corner was one of those lamps and when I asked, "Do those really work?" someone replied, "We don't know...but we all want to work next to it." That clinched it and I have a Beuer one, which I think are only available in Europe. And I do think I feel better from using it. So if you feel a little triste (sad) in the winter, you might want to plug one in, too.

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A few other things made me feel good lately:

-This podcast with Fine Cooking magazine that I did.

-I got an advance copy of my next book, Drinking French, and it looks great!

-Baked nearly a dozen Persimmon Breads, that I make every year for holiday gift-giving. This year I think I set a record at making a dozen of them.

-I posted videos on my Instagram page of a visit to a 100-year old halvah factory.

-Was happy that not one, not two...but three amazing sponsors stepped forward to assist me with my book tour in March and April. Dates haven't been set yet (everyone at my publisher goes on break the last 2 weeks of December) but those will be posted on my Schedule page as soon as they're confirmed.

Okay, that's it for now. There's a lot in this newsletter, including some recent dining spots I've enjoyed in Paris, a bit to panic about regarding the new tariffs being proposed on French wines and cheeses, and a little more news about my upcoming book. À votre santé!

- David


Drinking French is almost here!

Drinking French book cover

Early reviews are in for Drinking French, and they've been great! There's this one from Publisher's Weekly and this shout-out, that leads off What's You'll Be Eating and Drinking in 2020, on the Daily Beast.

I got an advance copy and I'm thrilled with how the book came out. The 160 recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs by Ed Anderson, who spent several weeks with me in France, capturing the spirit of the drinking culture, from corner cafés to classic cocktail bars, including the oldest cocktail bar in the country. I hiked up the French alps to learn about vermouth and spirits made from mountain herbs, and traveled down to the Mediterranean, uncovering vintage regional apéritifs, including one that gets its unique flavor from being aged by the salty seaside, and even checking out a mustard-fueled cocktail in...where else?...Dijon.

Drinking French is now available for pre-order and if you do, you'll be the first to get a copy when it comes out on March 3rd.

So yes, order it now! : )

Drinking French can be pre-ordered at your local bookstore or using direct links to the book, or my books, at these independent and online booksellers...

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kitchen Arts & Letters / Indiebound / Book Depository (free int'l shipping) / Kitchen Larder / Powell's / RJ Julia / Omnivore


Quick Bites from Paris

The team at Mokonuts, one of my favorite restaurants in Paris, has opened Mokoloco. Fresh sandwiches are made on housemade bread, such as the boulette de bœuf, a large meat patty smeared with an umami-rich anchovy sauce, and homemade pickles. Choose between three sandwiches and/or side salads at the counter, then find a seat (if you can! at 1:15pm, the place is packed...) Moko's famous cookies are also on offer for dessert. Open 11:30 to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday. Tip: Go before 12:30 or after 2pm, if you can, to avoid the local lunchtime rush.

Italian food has taken off in Paris. Not many people know this, but the French are the largest consumers of pizza in the world. I'm not a huge fan of Neopolitan pizza: I tend to go for thinner, crisp-crusts, but probably if you go to Naples (which is on my ever-expanding list of places to go), it's another experience.

Magnà is introducing Paris to iterations of the soft Neopolitan pizza. Like many places in Paris, they call themselves "street food," even though the food isn't served on the street. But the friendly staff makes it a pleasure to eat inside, although the rotolo rolled-up 'pizza' is messy to share. The folded portafolgio is easier, but more bready. (I preferred the rotolo.) Finish with an excellent Italian coffee.

I met Ruba Khoury when she was the chef at the still-excellent Ibrik café. Now she's opened a cocktail bar, Dirty Lemon, on a burgeoning street in the 11th arrondissement. The cocktails are very good...but the food, oh, the food! Ruba's Middle Eastern roots are evident in her plates of creamy hummus with eggs and caramelized onions & fried oysters with spicy mayonnaise and burnt lime. The "dirty" fries (shown), are some of the best frites in Paris, topped with tender lamb confit: It is a meal in itself. The kitchen is open until 2 am, so if you arrive in town and are jet-lagged, it's a great place to grab a bite...and a drink.

The Jambon-beurre sandwich isn't exactly trendy (although at Cédric Grolet's new bakery, people are lining up for hours for his €13 (and up) sandwiches. But the jambon-beurre remains a beloved icon in France, and elsewhere. If I grab a sandwich, that's usually what I'll get. At Caractère de Cochon, you can choose from dozens of hams for your Jambon-beurre, from jambon de Paris to country hams from Italy, France, and Spain, and the charming owner (who speaks English and French) will make a baguette sandwich out of it. And what a sandwich it is!

Shortly after I arrived in Paris, a Japanese restaurant I walked into on the rue St.-Anne, told me that I couldn't order a tofu dish that was on the menu. My language skills weren't good enough at th time (or, I wasn't confident enough) to ask why not, until I had eaten and was leaving. It was then the waiter told me, "French people don't like tofu."

Times, and tastes, have changed and Japanese food is much-appreciated by Parisians (hence the lines at the ramen shops, day & night, on rue Sainte-Anne nowadays.) Abri Soba is an offshoot of the impossible-to-reserve Abri (although the Katsu sandwich service on Saturday lunch is walk-in only) and features soba (buckwheat noodles) served with a variety of options. It's very casual, and walk-in only. Arrive early and have a well-made cocktail at Les Passerelles, the bar at the Parister hotel, where the specialty of the house is French whisky. Pierre is one of my favorite bartenders in Paris and you'll be in good hands.


100% Tariffs on French Goods Coming?

I'm not just a fan of French drinks (see above), but also foods, and there's a proposed tariff pending of 100% (...yikes!) on French foods and beverages, from cheese and olives, to wines, that are imported into the U.S. It's startling to think about how much more those foods will cost in the States, and lest people think it's a bunch of upscale gourmands eating French cheeses and sipping wines, a drop in consumption of these goods will affect warehouse workers, truck drivers, shippers, restaurants, and other small business owners.

Wine writer Jon Bonnéwrote an excellent letter which you can read here to the U.S. Trader Representative, which explains the issues that are at stake quite well. It's interesting reading and you can express your opinion on the U.S. government website using this comment form before January 13th, especially those of you who like Comté, French rosé, and champagne, as much as I do.

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Recent Recipes and Posts on My Blog

Bookmark this Christmas in Paris list for next year, although most of the events are still going on in January!

This Corn Flour Bread (above) from Poilâne brings a taste of the legendary Paris bakery home to you. Another fyi: It's gluten-, wheat-, and dairy-free.

Quick Mincemeat adds the glorious flavors of mincemeat - candied orange, spice, and brandy - to pies and fruit crisps, with zero fuss...and no meat.

A list of my favorite links and what I'm reading from around the net.

Like icy-cold martinis? Shake things up with a Shaken Martini.

Can't make it to the alps? This Salzburger Nockerl will bring snow peaks (or meringue) to you.

Dial up your cocktails with Homemade Orange Bitters.


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