August 2014 Newsletter I've been doing a little more dining out lately. And with the terraces of Parisian restaurants open, and the rosé pouring more

       
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August 2014 Newsletter

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I've been doing a little more dining out lately. And with the terraces of Parisian restaurants open, and the rosé pouring more freely, well...why not? However I don't go out to eat as much as people think because I really like to cook at home.

My editor came from California last week and I made her lamb tagine (from My Paris Kitchen) and butternut squash couscous, although I used moghrabieh, which are slightly larger pearls of pasta than what I normally use.

I served it with a spicy, garlicky condiment I'm going to share on the site shortly, and finished it up with baked apricots and cherries with ice cream. It was a warm night and perfect for serving spicy North African fare. We had a nice time and she nudged me about another book (!)

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I'm doing my best this summer to eat as many apricots and cherries as I can. And there is a producteur (grower) of tomatoes from the Drôme at my market who had spectacular cherries as well. But the cœur de bœuf tomatoes (shown above) they had were excellent. And they must have thought I was shopping for a restaurant or something, the way I was stockpiling them.

The red tomatoes were the kind that when you sliced them open, the insides – all the way through – were deep, crimson red – not a trace of unripeness in them. The green zebras (also shown) were excellent, and slightly acidic, as well. They were perfect partners. They looked nice together, too. (Which is another reason I kept stocking up on them.)

My default tomato dish is a salad, starting with tomatoes sliced or cut into wedges. Additions may include tiny sliced red onions, capers (I used mine from Pantelleria), pitted Niçoise olives, fresh basil (obligatory), cubes of feta or goat cheese, good olive oil, and fleur de sel (sea salt). I also seem to have a surplus of Saba (cooked grape must), a cousin of balsamic vinegar, that I like. But I don't use the supermarket balsamic, which I'm not a fan of (too sweet!) Some purists don't even like vinegar on their tomatoes. But since I'm eating it, I'll put what I want on it. Thanks.

Even better, when done, I toast some leftover baguette then use the pieces to sop up all the juices from the salad. Whew! I'm getting hungry...

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All-New Paris Pastry App

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After several months of behind-the-scenes work, it's almost ready. A brand-new version of my Paris Pastry app. Yes, it was tough work visiting the pastry shops, making sure the quality of the places I'd listed was up to snuff, and added a whole bunch of new places in Paris as well. I revised the Top 25 Favorites as well. (Which will be included in the free "lite" version of the app.)

When it's ready to go, we're aiming for early August, it'll be launching at a very special price on my blog for a very limited time. So keep an eye on my site. (So don't say you haven't been warned...) I'll also announce when it's ready on Facebook, Twitter, and on the Paris Pastry Facebook page, where updates are posted, along with additional Paris pastry shop news.

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Paris Restaurant News

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L'Abeille

I was interested in dining again at L'Abeille in the Shangri-La hotel, where I'd had a lovely meal when it first opened, and was excited to go back on a warm summer evening, to dine by the window over looking the garden. Unfortunately there was one of those July thunderstorms that kept the windows firmly shut. But no matter. We were happy to concentrate on the food.

We began with a burrata custard (top right), with bits of seasonal tomatoes, olives, and herbs, that was so beautiful, that when a picture landed on my Facebook page, I was deluged with recipe requests. My guess is they pureed burrata cheese from Puglia, and set it with some gelatin, panna cotta-style.

Rouget (middle picture, above) were beautiful filets of fish with a cavalcade of ingredients down the center of the plate, which included basil-braised prawns and caramelized onions. My spider crab came under a dome of foam (above, and below), was excellent, with an aromatic lemon verbena emulsion, seaweed jelly, and crumbled rye bread - it was one of the most spectacular dishes in Paris. The waiter had to tell me not to eat the actual dish!

My wild pigeon roasted with spices and anise, and caramelized turnips, was very good, although a huge portion. I could barely finish it all. But I knew dessert was coming...

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Unfortunately as night fell, so did the light. So my pictures didn't turn out so good later in the evening (or maybe it was the wine pairings?), when the port, kirsch, and sweet wine from South Africa appeared. After an amazing fennel granita with crunchy fennel, to refresh our palates before dessert, French cherries were put to good use in a cherry tart "Tatin" with elderflower ice cream on a waffle, and a box came out with chocolate and little mignardises of chocolate ganache with yuzu, tiny fruit jellies, and wispy chocolate puffs. It's not the kind of meal one goes out for every night, that's for sure, But it was a lovely evening with a great staff, at a hotel I wish I could move into. (They have a nice bar as well. So if you go, it's worth stopping in for a cocktail, too.)

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Wadja

Some good friends who I worked with at Chez Panisse were in town and were told by a local chef that Wadja (10, rue de la Grande Chaumière) was a good spot, located on a side street in the 6th, near Montparnasse. And word must get around with the chefs because the first thing we noticed was that a couple that runs a very popular Paris wine bar, as sitting at the bar. First courses were sardines and crème fraîche with lemon sorbet (above, right). The sorbet could have less sweet, more acid, but it was a refreshing and inventive first course nonetheless. My main course was lamb, and out came a huge hunk of shoulder meat with vegetables, mint, and feta. It wasn't as light as my friend's meal, but somehow, I managed to put it all away.

Four of the five desserts we had, either had basil, or rosemary in them, which was curious. My pineapple sorbet was excellent, strewn with threads of basil leaves and hazelnuts, and a taste of one of my dining companion's strawberries with Normandy cream and rosemary revealed that while a good combo, sometimes it's better to leave the herbs for the savory courses. But boy, is that Normandy cream good!

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Clown Bar

I met a friend from Provence on a warm summer night at Clown Bar (114, rue Amelot, 11th), happy to find a place open. It's gotten a lot of press since a new team and chef took over, from Saturne restaurant. I always loved the magnificent circus-themed tiled interior (it's right next to the Cirque d'hiver, or "Winter circus", where the circus takes place indoors) and the resurrection has made it a hot spot in Paris.

The breaded, deep-fried nuggets of bulots (sea whelks) were excellent, served with a wee bit of spicy mayo. Note to restaurant cooks: Make sure there is enough sauce on the plate to go with the amount of nuggets. They were good and my new favorite bar snack. Our chinchard (a small fish, similar to mackerel) came as a small heap in the middle of a larger bowl with diced cucumbers and red currants. The tartness of the fruit was a nice contrast to the fish, they didn't quite marry with the dish. Perhaps if they were pickled?

My friend had the veal sweetbreads which came smothered in foam; people keep asking me why so many chefs in Paris are still obsessed with foam, and while it doesn't bother me, it is a good question. It was fine, but my roasted pigeon with grilled onions was much better. Portions are "tasting plate-sized," so if you have a big – or even decent – appetite, just be sure to order three courses if you go. Or extra bulots.

Our lemon meringue tart came with meringue that wasn't brûléed (bottom, right), which I don't know if it was on purpose, or by accident - all I know is, please say this isn't a trend. And the raspberry puree somewhat overwhelmed the fine, warm chocolate cake with a thin, crisp wafer resting on top. (Which is usually the problem with pairing raspberries with chocolate.) We'd ordered one of the least expensive wines on the list, a Greek wine from Santorini (Ardani, €39), and dinner for two clocked in at €111.

Clown Bar is certainly the new, hip place in the neighborhood and that was obvious from the chef-types hanging out at the bar, with sunglasses on their heads (um, it was 10:30pm), shirts studiously untucked, and unlit cigarettes dangling from their lips. Speaking of which, we sat outside, which was a good thing, since the inside was an inferno. Parisians aren't as fond of fans as they are of cigarettes, and the couple next to us chain-smoked during the second half of the meal. So like most places in town, dining on the terrace is only an option is that doesn't bother you. Even though I'm used to it, by the end of the meal, I felt the need to go out and get some fresh air, even though – paradoxically – we were outside, presumably where fresh air usually is.

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Paris Links, etc.

-Coming to Paris in August? Here's a list of restaurant openings and closures. (Paris by Mouth)

-Both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris now offer free WiFi – yay! (La Tribune)

-See something on the streets of Paris that you want cleaned up? Report it on Dans Ma Rue. (And yes, they do come and clean it!)

-A new low-price, all-business class airline between Paris and New York is launched. (La Compagnie, site may not be available in U.S. yet, via](http://www.secretsofparis.com/)

-Need to storage luggage somewhere in Paris? (Such as, if you need to check-out of your rental apartment.) You can store it at the train stations, or at City Locker.

-The French government decrees that restaurants can denote dishes on the menu that are made with "fresh" ingredients. (Eater)

-Will the Picasso Museum finally re-open next month, after a 3-year delay? (Guardian)

-Will parks (and open spaces) be the next non-smoking places in Paris? (Daily Mail Online)

-Head's up. August 2nd Air France strike affect. (RFI)

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Hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer - including the tomatoes and luscious summer fruit that are bursting forth at the markets!

Some recent posts and recipes that were popular on my blog:


-Trips to Corsica and Hyères.

-Make a great Vietnamese Rice Bowl salad, perfect for summer!

-An update on A L'Etoile d'Or, the great chocolate & candy shop in Paris that closed due to an explosion.

-Use those summer fruits in a delicious Apricot and Cherry Tart with Marzipan topping, or make a juicy Cherry Compote.

-Or get "adult" with a Cherries in Red Wine Syrup, and savor (and save) the season with jars of Apricot Jam.


I might be taking some time off, so if you don't hear from me for a bit, I'm enjoying some Franco-American downtime : )

- David

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My new book is out. Get it now!

My Paris Kitchen hi res
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