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Everything posted by Abra

  1. Thanks so much for this report, Prawncrackers. We'll be in Reykjavik just for 36 hours in July and you've given me lots of great ideas.
  2. Thank you for that v gautam. I've printed out your recipes and will work my way through them. I appreciate your erudition.
  3. Thanks db, the Columbia looks really good!
  4. I've never been to Florida, and always joked about staying a Florida virgin all my life. But now, I find that in mid-October I will be spending one night each in St. Petersburg, St. Augustine, and Cocoa Beach. What shouldn't I miss? We'd be looking for the best of typical Florida fare, not stuff I can get in Seattle or any big city.
  5. Abra

    Pork Burgers

    I just made pork burgers last night and they were excellent. I ground pork shoulder, tossed a handful of peanuts and a cut up shallot into the grinder. Then I mixed in a splash each of soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, and sesame oil, plus an egg. The only thing that would have made them more delicious would have been cilantro, but I didn't have any. My husband ate them on a bun with Thai sweet chili sauce, and I had them on a salad. Yum!
  6. Interesting and counter-intuitive. I'll try it this week.
  7. I made the Catalan Estifado of wild boar, except that even though we're inundated with wild boar here, I couldn't get any when I needed it, so I used beef. The only other thing I changed was that I cooked it over a three day period, chilling and reheating, as so many of Paula's recipes suggest. When I put it on the table for French guests without saying what it was, the first one to take a bite said "oh good, boar." It's a succulent dish, and I froze the leftovers which were just as good two weeks later. So even if you can't get boar, don't hesitate to make this one. I used paleron of beef, which is a very lean cut that eventually shreds into filaments - I'm not sure what the US equivalent would be. But you want a meat that's pretty lean and pretty tough, to be as much like boar as possible.
  8. Really? You might come to Uzès? Since I live there you'd think I'd be partial to it, but I do have one other recommendation. This past September we spent 5 weeks in St. Antonin Noble Val, and did a ton of day trips to Gaillac, Cahors, Albi, Castres, Cordes sur Ciel, and lots of neat places. I thought at the time, and I still do think, that it's the best possible place for day trippers. Let me know if you want to know more about that. As to Uzès, September is still quite full of tourists, so no worries about it being dead. There are some reasons you might not love it though. For one, it's not a gastronomic region. Almost every time I go elsewhere in France I realize that the foods and wines available elsewhere are more interesting than what we have here. The market is nice, but actually not really special. For example, the Sunday market in tiny St. Antonin was far superior. We always have trouble finding someplace to eat out that's anything like as good as what I cook at home. There's only one chocolatier here and he's really not that hot (there's a nice one in Beaucaire, though.) As for day trips, there are Nîmes and Avignon, but not a lot of small villages in the area that are truly interesting. Of course, if you do come here I'll do everything possible to help you have fun, but really, I'd go for St. Antonin. Have a look at French Letters for last September and early October to get a feel for what it was like there. It's weird, but I think Uzès is a nicer place to live than it really is to visit, especially if food and wine are a big part of your agenda.
  9. If it's whole, I just hang it from a hook on the wall!
  10. Wow, Andie, that's a really convincing set of experiments! I might have to ask for one for Christmas.
  11. Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France, hands down. I've cooked from that more than any other cookbook, and I often cook for French friends from it. They're universally blown away that an American can cook such authentic French food.
  12. Well, it's two years later and we actually are going to Alsace for this Christmas (we ended up in Barcelona the year I started this thread). We've rented an apartment in Strasbourg for a week, so I'll be able to cook, but of course we'll be eating out as well. I want to spend a day in Colmar, so Markk, if you see this, I'd love to get connected to Le Faudé! Does anyone have any more recent suggestions or additions to what's already been mentioned above? I do have the list of what's open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, by the way.
  13. I don't have one, but a lot of people here in France use their Thermomix to make soups.
  14. Abra

    Most Underrated Food

    I'll second the celery root, and add parsnips.
  15. I just got my book and am looking forward to diving right in.
  16. We were in Bordeaux last week and ate at La Tupina, La Brasserie Bordelaise, and La Belle Epoque. La Tupina is expensive, and no, I wouldn't call it spectacular, but it's very nice. I think you're paying for its fame, but the quality is still high. Just don't go there expecting anything flashy. La Brasserie Bordelaise is everything you'd hope to find in a casual, authentic place filled with locals. They barely even have a sign, and seem to make no effort to attract tourists, which is a good thing, in my book. La Belle Epoque is probably the most beautiful place to eat in Bordeaux,and the food is great too. The prices are shockingly low for the quality of the food. Pictures of all three are here.
  17. Abra

    fresh ham steak

    I wonder whether this is rouelle de jambon. Is it quite large, with a round slice of bone in the middle? If so, I just made one following the advice of my butcher, which involved marinating it overnight in a mixture of oils and herbs (no acid at all) and then grilling it. It was delicious.
  18. We had an absolutely gorgeous lunch yesterday at La Récréation. It's smack dab in the middle of nowhere, so it's definitely a destination restaurant, and it's only open between March and the end of October, but if you can roll with that, it's very worth your time to go there. The cooking is refined but rich and hearty, classic and inventive, the menu is generous and the prices spectacular for what you get. There's an extensive list of local Cahors reds. In fact, if I were to quibble about anything, it's that the most interesting things on the menu yesterday weren't really good matches for the intense Cahors wines, but I think that was just the luck of an ever changing menu. The service was impeccable and super friendly, in short, it's everything you would expect after reading the book, and more. Pictures of our lunch are here on French Letters.
  19. Cuisine et Vins is my favorite of the French cooking magazines, although I think it's likely that the Vie Pratique Gourmand, which is available every two weeks in supermarkets by the checkout, is more representative of daily family cooking.
  20. Abra

    Reputation Makers

    Tri2Cook - nope, I really don't, because I pretty much never rework dishes. If I make something wonderful once, I might make it again just for us, but I really don't serve guests the same thing twice. PaulRaphael - you really ought to include the link to your poached turkey technique. That's quite special!
  21. Abra

    Reputation Makers

    Well, I hate to disagree right off the bat, but my reputation as an outstanding cook is not based on any one, or any two dishes. It's because people know that any time they eat at my house they'll have something excellent, and they'll never have the same thing twice. I'm not bragging, them's just the facts.
  22. I wasn't exaggerating in the least, and I can't imagine why anyone would think that I was. Of course, where you live changes your perspective. I live half an hour from Nîmes, and believe me when I tell you, Raymond has a monopoly on brandade there. The potato-less brandade is in fact very nice, and anyone who would like to learn more about the authenticity of this version can read this. The fish lady here used crème fraîche instead of milk, to make it a bit creamier, and I really like the way the flavor of the cod is not dulled by potato. The Camargue is all about bull too, so I think you're going to have to try it. To make a little virtual visit to the Camargue, you can look hereand here.
  23. Abra

    Quick Mayonnaises

    I like the idea but I'm wondering how it works. Do you make the mayo while the fat is still warm, so that it's liquid? If so, doesn't the egg cook? And then, as others have asked, doesn't it solidify in the fridge, or do you just use it immediately?
  24. I think people around Nîmes feel that brandade Raymond, a local brand made in Nîmes for well over 100 years, IS the real thing. Personally I find it acrid and stodgy, but it's in every supermarket in the area. Last week in the Sunday market I asked the fish vendor if she made her own brandade, and whether it contained potatoes. She said yes and yes. When I said too bad, because I don't eat potatoes, she offered to make some for me without potatoes, which I'll be picking up this morning. I'm really looking forward to getting it! Depending on your point of view about this, when in Nîmes you might also want to eat bull meat. It's served as steak or stew, called gardiannne de taureau. It's a lot like regular beef, only leaner. If you eat it in Nîmes during the bullfighting season it very likely comes from the ring.
  25. I hate to say this, but brandade is on every single menu in Nîmes and a lot of it isn't very good, because it comes from a jar. My preferred way to find a good one is to go to a fish shop or a fish seller at an open air market and ask if their brandade is fait maison, if they've made it themselves. If yes, buy some. Actually that advice goes for restaurants too. It's a very simple dish, really, but a hassle to make, which I think is why so many resort to using the pre-made stuff.
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