Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Chocolate

Hello everyone! So Easter is only a few days away and despite me not being in any way religious I am relatively excited because of the chocolate. I always get a Lindt Golden Bunny and this year shall be no exception. To get you in the chocolate mood I am posting pictures of the some of the beautiful artisanal chocolate I saw in France. Last year I was actually in Belgium for Easter for a choral competition and there was some amazing chocolate on display for Easter there. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera then but hopefully these ones will suffice :)

Cute Play on Words-Paques is Easter'in French

Christina, x

St-Denis Food Market in Paris

Hello everyone! One of my favourite things to do is to stroll around a food market and I am always on the look out for them when I am travelling. One of my Couchsurfing hosts recommended the St-Denis market in Paris. The market is located in the ethnically diverse St-Denis suburb which is reflected in the amazing variety of food stalls there-a Portuguese food stall to a stall selling the most amazing collection of beautifully smelling spices. What impressed me the most about the market was how much misshapen fruit and vegetables were on sale at a low price. A lot of them weren't very pretty but they were sold at such a cheap price that people were still snapping them up-by cheap I mean 2kgs of pears for €1.50. Why can't we see more of this in other places? If people are willing to buy them at a lesser price that's surely better than wasting them?

The market also had an amazing atmosphere, stallholders would shout about their great deals and there was this great frantic energy to the place.

Another thing I noticed was all the different types of meat on sale-beef tail, beef hearts etc. Nothing gets wasted. In Tristram Stuart's book 'Waste' it is outlined that one of the problems of the increasing demand for meat in the world is that meat isn't an efficient use of resources but also a problem is that people only want to eat prime cuts of meat and this means the rest of the meat gets wasted. I must admit that even I get a little squirmish at the thoughts of eating skirts and kidneys which is just silly really especially considering once I was lashing in to tripe in Spain like there was no tomorrow because I didn't know what it was. We need to revert back to eating all parts of the animal and wasting nothing, we need to get over ourselves and stop being so picky. I guess I should start by eating skirts and kidneys with my dad next time he has them, what will you try?

Christina, x

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Gelato in Paris

Hello everyone! As I have said before I love ice cream but can be quite snobbish about it. My favourite type of ice cream is without doubt gelato. When I spent a month travelling around Italy I ate gelato ever day and it was amazing. Also as gelato is made with milk instead of cream you can kinda convince yourself that you are being somewhat healthy.....
A friend of mine who lived in Paris recommended an ice cream chain called Amorino (website here). One day I was strolling around and stumbled across one so I decided to try it. I ordered chocolate and orange and pistachio flavour.

It cost €3.50 which is a lot more than you would pay in Italy but I think it was worth it as it was some of the best gelato I've had in ages. The orange in the chocolate was just enough to give you a nice orange flavour but not over powering. The pistachio also was nice and earthy. Italians told me that a good pistachio should be a nice pale green colour, any one that is too bright probably isn't that natural or good and the Amorino one was pretty pale. Both were very creamy and overall very good. I have made gelato before and since I am loving pistachio at the moment (more pistachio here) I may try make pistachio gelato soon :)

Christina, x

A Little Bit of the Caribbean

Hello everyone! As I mentioned before I was surprised by the amount of ethnic restaurants that I stumbled upon as I wandered around Rennes in France (read about by Tibetan vegetarian meal here). For our last supper my friend looked up vegetarian restaurants online and a restaurant that kept coming up was called 'Black Temple' (website here). It wasn't actually vegetarian but more vegetarian/pescatarian friendly than most French restaurants. When we arrived there were loads of people milling around and we soon discovered that it was the restaurant's 8th birthday, good news for the restaurant and good news for us as it meant we got free drinks :)

It was a nice fruit cocktail and in typical Caribbean style it was laced with rum. The restaurant itself was really nice and bright and my friend even commented that it was like we had left Rennes and went to Jamaica.

To start we both had samosas and accras (similar to samosas), some were filled with vegetables and the others with chicken. I really liked the chicken ones. They came with a really good spicy chilli sauce. I actually love spicy food and this dip was really good.

For the main course I decided to treat myself and get scallops. They came in a creamy coconut curry. They were a lot smaller than the scallops I am used to but still lovely even though overall I prefer the larger ones as I think they have more flavour. The curry was nice and creamy and especially good when I added a little of the afore mentioned chilli sauce.

Overall it was a nice tasty meal in a fun atmosphere and the free drink didn't hurt either. It wasn't expensive either as my two courses came to €16.  I actually have never cooked Caribbean food but I am definitely tempted to try it now, I guess I could always drink some rum for inspiration......

Christina, x

Couchsurfing Meals-Part 2

Hello everyone! So as I mentioned before I was Couchsurfing in Paris and it allowed me to enjoy some lovely food. One of my hosts was a very good cook and he cooked a very nice typical French meal for me, some other surfers and his friends. Of course by a typical French meal I mean there was a lot of meat involved but as I had been sticking to my flexitarian ways for the trip I was able to indulge.

 To start we had pork rillettes on toast with a nice salad. Rillettes is similar to pate and very tasty and being similar to pate it obviously goes very nicely with toast. The salad with some baby pickled onions was also really good. I have come across salads with pickled onions in France before and they do add something so I must try eat them more at home.

For the main course we had something I've never had before-duck sausage. The duck sausage was really good, and it came with potatoes and beans. The beans were my favourite part of the meal, they were very similar to the beans you would get in a cassoulet, they were cooked with some fat from Iberico ham and this really added a nice flavour. I am going to try and cook beans like this soon using something other than Iberico ham for flavouring, especially with all the cold weather we are getting it is a great warming comforting meal. To add even more meat to the meal the potatoes were fried in goose fat does add great flavour to them and is also great for roasting potatoes in.

For dessert we had an apple cake which was nice. To compliment all of the meat we drank beautiful red French wine. I have just recently started drinking red wine and I am definitely coming around to it. We then finished off the meal in style with some real champagne. What I really liked about the meal was that everyone ate slowly and savoured their food. In Ireland I sometimes get frustrated when I spend ages preparing a meal only for people to eat it extremely quickly and not really appreciate it the effort that went to it. One of my favourite Michael Pollan food rules is 'Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it' (more on food rules here). I think if we all were a little bit more mindful and appreciative of the food we eat we would be less likely to waste it and to eat too much.

Christina, x

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Pretty Patisserie

Hello everyone! I know I already posted about some of the beautiful patisserie that I indulged in while in France but as I was looking through my pictures I just saw so much pretty food that I wanted to share. Also I have been inspired to try elevate my own baking to a prettier standard and to be more creative. I am going to try make a special birthday cake for my friend's party this weekend, I'll let you know how it goes.....

Christina, x