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Everything posted by Druckenbrodt

  1. We are going on holiday to Naples next week with three small children who, like their parents, can't get enough Mozzarella (or fior di latte or scamorza for that matter...) We're thinking of visiting a Mozzarella farm, ideally near Salerno since we'll combine it with a trip to the ruins of Paestum. Has anyone done anything similar and have any recommendations? Know of any Mozzarella farms operating as agriturismos (agriturismi?) Does anyone have any favourite Mozzarella producers we should look out for in the shops? Any other suggestions of things we should be looking out for at this time of year? Grazie!
  2. Thanks so much for the sound advice and kind encouragement everyone. Apologies for not reporting back sooner - have been in the 'trenches' juggling tax returns, deadlines, and daughters, including a baby who won't sleep before midnight. So. Last weekend I remembered that far from being in a sourdough desert, our local market has a really great bread stall selling delicious pain au levain. The lady who runs it looks a bit like a witch - complete with warty nose and arms as big as thighs. I faffed around a bit before finally getting to the point - she looked at me askance throughout, as if to say why on earth would a customer try making their own bread, which would so obviously be inferior to hers - and her answer was a resolute 'non,' although she did offer to ask her baker if he had any advice to impart… I will see her again today. In the meantime: we finally have lift off. Miraculously, considering how neglectful I've been. If there were social services for sourdough, mine would be taken away from me. I had abandoned my starter (2nd attempt) at the point of my first post, but had been too depressed to throw it away. It had been sitting above the radiator for a few days smelling strongly of acetone. Then my boyfriend, who has been completely unaware of my internal crisis, had a moment of curiosity and told me my starter smelled yeasty. So I chucked most of it away and divided the rest into two starters, one fed with white flour, the other with whole grain rye. I also followed Norm Matthews's suggestion and put the tiniest smidgen of fresh cultured yeast in the rye starter. I've been feeding both with milk, mainly because I keep forgetting to buy bottled water, and if I leave it out to stand overnight my boyfriend has a tendency to pour it away. Still, it's very hit or miss when I get round to feeding it. Certainly not twice a day, more like once every 24 hours. And there were a few days of total neglect. Despite this, the last two days there has been energetic bubbling, and yesterday finally, after a morning feed, it more than doubled it's growth by early evening. They still smell a bit of acetone though. Is this a bad thing? Will it affect the taste of the bread? Would you add grapefruit juice to a starter that's already doubling, as a way of getting rid of the acetone smell? (But the smell is from the yeast, no? Not the 'bad' bacteria?…)
  3. Thanks for the replies everyone. I agree there's perhaps too much mystique around the starter, and it was in that spirit that I set to with my first attempt, in the spirit of George and Cecilia Scurfield in their - otherwise - very reliable little book 'homebaked'. Their advice is simply to mix a few tbs flour with warm milk and let it sit for a few days... I have tried to resist getting obsessively drawn into all those sourdough forums but I do feel a little sad whenever I glance at my second attempt jug of pasty stuff sitting on the shelf above the radiator (temperature is 20 celcius so surely not too hot?) I was feeding it twice daily and It did start to bubble excitingly and expand (though not quite double) a few days ago but then I fed it and it never bubbled again, and now gives off whiffs of acetone or at best cider, which I fear is not a good sign. I shall now go forth and try and find someone else's levain to multiply. The next problem is finding a baker who does sourdough near me, and finding time to get there, so it may be a while before I can give an update on my adventures. I live in Pantin, just across the Périférique from the 19th, which is not a sourdough hotspot. There is a rather nice bakery on the rue de Crimée, near the Buttes Chaumont, which has wood fired ovens and which I'm sure does pain au levain. The only thing is the woman who runs the shop is quite rude and rather annoying...
  4. Not sure if it's just the weather, or my German roots coming out, or the fact I have three small children who love baking and 'scientific' experiments, but I've got this urge/curiosity to start making sourdough bread, specifically rye bread, which I just love. After two, admittedly not very scientific, failed attempts to make a starter, I'm now reluctantly considering the idea of giving up on doing it all on my own and trying to get a levain from somewhere. Has anyone here ever tried persuading a French bakery to sell them some of their own levain? I can imagine they might feel that's a bit like giving away trade secrets, and so I feel a bit nervous about what seems a rather cheeky request...
  5. When I was growing up in Northern England, my parents used to take us puffball hunting, and we've got great pictures of each of us kids holding one of the giant things. That was quite magical and now I think about it, hard to believe. How on earth did my parents know where to find them? We lived at the bottom of a heathy hill and in the late summer there were always bilberries (a bit like blueberries, but much smaller) to pick. They grew amongst the heather and those of us in the village who were bilberry pickers were quite competitive and never failed to boast about our high-yield spots (whose locations were closely guarded secrets.) My mum always used to make elderflower champagne, but the bottles had a habit of exploding in the cellar, so then she switched to elderflower cordial. It's become an essential ritual for me now every May to make several batches. My partner thinks it's an eccentric obsession. My three-year old thinks it's the most delicious thing, so the tradition will no doubt continue!
  6. Reading this thread, I can't help thinking of the story of the search for a vaccine for polio, and how researchers couldn't figure out why kids growing up in, literally, dirt poor neighborhoods were less vulnerable than middle class kids from homes that benefitted from modern sanitation; the rich kids had not had a chance to build up their immune systems in the same way. A couple of years ago I came across this article in the New York Times which I have to say has reinforced my instinctive view on germs, although the idea of my kids running around with worms is not something that excites me! Anyway, I think this is a great piece to add to the discussions on this thread, if anyone has the time to read it. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html?scp=1&sq=germs%20food%20worms&st=cse It's probably a coincidence but my three-year old, who never got a chance to eat dirt because I was 100% vigilant, is the asthmatic one who gets every bug going in the neighborhood, while my 15-month old, who eats dirt all the time because now with two hyperactive kids I'm only 20% vigilant - a recent 'highpoint' in her diet was discovering her eating dried out vomit in a playground, and apparently enjoying it judging from her grin - is the picture of health who's never caught a bug, never thrown up or had the shits. It never even occurred to me to be worried about germs in my kitchen sink. It always gets washed out with warm soapy water. Admittedly we don't eat meat so that reduces some factors for worry. And if I have to clean dog turd off my kids' shoes I'll use bleach on the sink afterwards, and I have a special scrubbing brush that's hidden away out of reach for such chores. Frankly I'm much more concerned about pesticides, artificial fertilizers and other chemicals and their potential for harm. One of the many reasons why I have reluctantly joined my partner in his vegetarian ways is the thought of all the crap they feed and inject industrially farmed animals with - quite apart from the sadistic way in which they are also treated.
  7. Thanks for the replies everyone. Sounds like it's something of a tradition with certain 'ethnic' cuisines and not much of a trend outside of New York. I suppose it would also be tricky to define - I agree that perhaps a 'noodle' restaurant wouldn't count - otherwise by the same token you would also call a pizza joint a 'single ingredient' restaurant. I guess I'm thinking of a place where the chef is passionate about a particular thing, e.g. truffles, and includes that on everything on his/her menu.
  8. I was curious to read a recent article in the NYT about single ingredient restaurants experiencing a trend in New York. It seems that they are mostly quick lunch/comfort food type places. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/nyregion/29onefood.html I've also read somewhere that the single ingredient restaurant has been singled out (ha ha) as a key culinary trend for 2011. It sounds like a fun concept and I once had an incredible meal in Tokyo in 2005 in a restaurant that specialised in Tofu dishes - all the more extraordinary since I had heard about, but never tried, the myriad varieties of tofu and the delicious things that can be done with it. There's also a restaurant in Paris that specialises in apples, which I believe is party financed by a French apple growing association... Anyway I was wondering whether the single ingredient thing is primarily an American thing, whether it really is a trend, and whether anyone has come across any other restaurants dedicated to a single ingredient elsewhere in the world, whether they dined there, what they thought of the concept and whether it worked?
  9. I should also add we'll be about 20, and since I also have a fifteen month daughter who needs entertaining, I'm especially attracted to simple, hearty, not overly complicated stuff!
  10. We're heading off next week to a big gathering of friends in a house in the South of Le Marche, on the edge of the Sibillini mountains. I've volunteered to be one of the cooks. Is anyone familiar with the region at this time of year? Would absolutely love any tips on exciting seasonal treats that we should be making a beeline for in the markets, or favourite recipes involving local ingredients. I'm feeling hungry already...
  11. Am looking for a single flame wok burner available in Europe and wondering which the best manufacturers are? We're looking for something to sit next to an induction hob. Miele and De Dietrich both do dominos rated at 6,000 watts. Am wondering if there are other manufacturers we should also be looking at? Are there any decent brands which aren't as expensive as Miele? Are 6,000 watts even enough for proper Chinese blast furnace cooking? Any thoughts would be most appreciated!
  12. Just wondering what brands people have had good experiences with? Have just received an insurance payout of €800 euros so that's approximately our budget. We had a De Dietrich but it was a bit iffy with the electrics. Are there any brands people swear by? I heard somewhere that most induction cookers are made by two or three companies, and then packaged and sold under different brand names... Is this true? Any thoughts would be most gratefully received.
  13. Thank you for all the feedback everyone. Not sure what I think now... Maybe our De Dietrich wasn't installed properly... and our Bartscher is just a crappy brand... and maybe have just had a lot of bad luck... still feeling not entirely convinced though!
  14. I have a dilemma and was curious to know whether other egulleters have had similar experiences. Having always refused to live anywhere where you couldn't cook with gas, we moved into a flat without a cooker about a year ago and bought a Bartscher portable one ring induction cooker to tide us over until we'd decided on/ordered our real hob. It was the first time we'd used induction and it was a revelation which turned is into complete converts. When we had guests our favourite party trick was 'guess how long the water takes to boil' and we'd stand around and marvel like it was the 1960s and we were discussing the moon landings. The only disadvantage seemed to be the price... Anyway we decided to save up for a De Dietrich cooktop which was amazing until the electrics cut out. We returned it to our supplier who had it repaired and then the same thing happened again. This time our French delivery service managed to completely destroy it (another story) so we're back to square one trying to figure out what to get. Meanwhile, our Bartscher cooker died about a year after we bought it (again, it just didn't switch on) we took it back to our supplier who replaced it, but the new one, which theoretically has a lowest wattage of 400 watts (which apparently should give a heat of about 60 degrees celcius), seemed to only want to do furnace style cooking. (It was the same model as our previous one which had been OK.) We took it back, got it replaced, and the new one is just the same. You can forget trying to cook anything that needs to be on a gentle heat, like rice (incinerates it if you leave it on for more than five minutes) but even not so 'sensitive' stuff seems to only get the blast boil treatment. Maybe both of these brands just aren't all that reliable (although I thought Bartscher was German, which normally is a 'guarantee' of reliability) or maybe we've just had a run of bad luck. My boyfriend is still convinced induction is the way forward, but I'm starting to get cold feet. I'd be very interested to know if other forum users have encountered similar problems.
  15. It's my mum's 70th and we're hoping to organise a suprise birthday party, ideally somewhere simple and unpretentious but good. There'll be a crowd of 20 - 30 converging from across Europe. We have been thinking about the River Café in Bridport which has been a bit of a family special occasion place for years and years, but my mum is very aware of 'how expensive' it's become, and she'll just end up worrying about what it will cost us instead of enjoying herself. Maybe we'll go for that anyway but I thought it's worth investigating potential alternatives. For example The Broad Street Restaurant in Lyme Regis sounds promising - has anyone been there recently? My parents live in Ilminster so the other consideration is somewhere not too far away. I've been living in France for the last four years so am very out of touch; any thoughts and ideas would be tremendously appreciated.
  16. Great posts everyone! Keep 'em coming! Will be adjusting my de 'Particulier a Particulier' search accordingly... So far I think Ordener/Poteau gets my vote...maybe it even gets a 10/10. I have thought it was a tempting looking neighborhood when I've passed it in the past (as it were). I would add the overall standard of food shopping in the 18th is pretty impressive anyway, even away from the town hall. I found a very nice little green grocer with an impressive range run by a Chinese family on the rue Clignancourt not so long ago (at the top of the hill) No Belleville fans here?
  17. This is really just an excuse for people to name their favourite food markets! (Or to be more honest, a cheap attempt to get others to do my research work for me...) I'm currently flat-hunting and ideally want to settle in the 10th - partly because it's handy for Eurostar trips back to London, but more essentially because I can be near my favourite food shopping street, the rue du Faubourg St Denis (not quaint, a bit grimy, not expensive, and with so much to explore, and lots of great green grocers; I can't live without easy access to good fruit and veg.) There's also the covered Marché St Quentin nr the Gare du Nord (also good for stocking up on German beer and poppy seeds) and another small covered market off rue du Chateau d'Eau, so I think the 10th rates about 9/10 in terms of my criteria. (Er, which are; not too expensive; a bit cosmopolitan - any nationality/ethnicity; good selection of fruit and veg; perhaps with good non-fancy 'local' cafés nearby...oh and since I'm indulging my fantasies here, a newsagent/kiosk within walking distance and perhaps also a florist. The latter two are not essential however.) Anyone care to boast about their 'hood - and share its secrets?... Where are the best (or even just good) little neighborhood markets? I'm not necessarily thinking of the famous ones like the organic one on Raspail, but the little hidden secrets you wouldn't even know about unless you lived next door? In hungry anticipation...
  18. I don't know about Sri Lanka, but in Pakistan it is very common to find vegetables and lentils swimming in grease. And cooked to a tasteless brown mush. Maybe that's the problem with the restaurants you tried - too authentic?! My favourite places have always been those which strike a balance between totally authentic and totally Westernised. That's why I like the Indian food in London - it's aimed at people with Western tastes, but knowledgeable about Indian food, so you can't pass off any old crap to them but at the same time they expect a slightly higher quality of food than what one would get back home! ← That's a funny perspective which I hadn't considered! Maybe you're right... I have never been to India or Pakistan but I once had the good fortune to meet some of the chefs from the Taj group in London and eat their food and it was WONDERFUL, but perhaps in that Western way as you suggest? Perhaps 'authentic' isn't always what we really want...
  19. Thanks for the ramble Druckenbrodt, I hope you have more of them and wish you luck with the flat. ← Thank you Felice!
  20. Dans mes bras ! Seriously I think the problem with the overall quality of the La Chapelle-gare du Nord South Indian/Srilankan food is simply that it is not made by very good cooks. For instance excellent rasgullas are (were?) made in the lower part of rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, in a Pakistani joint that (so friends tell me — I have to go check) no longer exists. I could not find one rasgulla in the upper part of the street that was even remotely half good as those. The neighborhood is particularly good for food shopping (goat meat, endless rows of pickle jars, bananas cut from the stalk, turmeric face cream...) and not that great for eating out. I tend to stick to meat rolls, idli and sambar, ghee roti at Ganesha Corner, potato dosa at Dishny. But, sorry if I repeat myself: did you try the vegetarian place facing Dishny on rue Cail? ← can't find the appropriate smiley to go with your post!... I'm not sure if I have tried the vegetarian place opposite Dishny... may wander over there later today...
  21. I'm borrowing a friend's flat at the moment, in the heart of the Sri Lankan neighborhood round La Chappelle/Gare du Nord - Ganesha Corner is about 50 metres from their front door. We're currently homeless (sounds melodramatic...cue sitars) while looking for a new flat. This has had the unforseen advantage of getting us more acquainted with different neighborhoods while we move from hotel to holiday let to friends flat to hotel again (repeat cycle. add another dose of washing powder to brighten up dossier). The funny thing is the first time we stayed in this patch, I thought THIS is where we want to live! All those shops playing Indian pop music, smelling of incense, and selling boxes of mangos (including the small hard green ones), four different types of aubergine, proper fresh okra, unidentifiable leafy plants with a passing resemblance to spinach, etc etc. I couldn't resist the urge to snack on samosas and dosas either, and wondered how my friends resisted doing the same. Now, however, I'm not so enamoured anymore. The food shops are great for ingredients but I find the cooked stuff incredibly greasy and disappointing. Who wants dal swimming in fat? Ganesha corner is fun and good value but you have to go and lie down in a quiet place after eating there. I know this is all simple street food and it's not pretending to be anything fancier, but it would be a whole lot tastier without all the (sometimes rancid) oil. Also every restaurant offers exactly the same dishes. From the large numbers of Sri Lankans who eat in the restaurants here you'd assume this is the one place where the community is cooking for itself, rather than bobo 'tourists' who've velib'ed over from the Canal St Martin. But then, I haven't had much previous contact with Sri Lankan food so perhaps they're partial to grease?...( hard to believe.) I know Indians love cooking with spinachey type vegetables but there's nothing ever remotely green on the menus round here which I also find sad. But then, given Sri Lanka is such an important tea growing region, you'd also expect to find good quality teas in the shops here too, rather than the ubiquitous farings dust PG Tips (not that I'm complaining, being a Brit brought up on farings dust. Just something I'm curious about.) This is a rambling way of asking why can't you get decent ethnic food in a neighborhood where 90% of the local population seems to come from the same country? The normal 'ah, the French prefer it if we introduce a lot of cream, and if all the vegetable dishes are equally brown and pureed' argument surely shouldn't wash. Re the Passage Brady: I've only ever eaten in one restaurant there and that was enough to put me off all of them. Finally, I refuse to wholly subscribe to the idea that the 'cheese course' type Indian meal is really what the French want even though that's what everyone always says. (This panders to annoying stereotyping of French culinary narrow mindedness as much as the other equally annoying myth about the superiority of day to day food in France) If genuine food enthusiasts only had the opportunity to taste really good (or even just respectable) Indian food, how could they not think it was delicious and appreciate it for what it was? I mean, if you're honest, and open minded, and like great flavours, what's not to like?! You don't even have to eat the really hot stuff. (Or do these people only reside in the republic of egullet? And if so, any idea about how to rent a flat there?) One final thing - lime pickle always seems to be good however. Oh how I love lime pickle. Apologies for the late night ramble.
  22. Love your reviews! But can't for the life of me understand who in their right mind would want to consume cider, wine and cheese in the final 10k of a marathon!! That's like agreeing to do the last bit as a three-legged race in knee deep sand after first stopping to donate a litre of blood. I ran the Paris marathon too this year and found the heat overwhelming especially at the end. I managed a PB but lost more than 5 mins off what I was on track for in the final 15k alone. Sounds like you did well on the carbo hydrate re-loading following the race. I ate a whole tub of ice-cream when I got back to my flat - which I'd been fantasising about for about a month while I was trying to get leaner and faster. Then I had a cold beer. Then I had to go and lie down for a bit...
  23. What a great first post! That's like foodie equivalent of telephone sex (erm, I would imagine...) I'd forgotten how good ice cream can be. If only my BF was a fan... or if only he'd stop hogging the deep freeze with all his photographic film. Or if only we had a kitchen with enough space for an ice-cream maker... Might just have to buy that book anyway!
  24. Druckenbrodt

    Broccoli leaves

    Hmmm... They don't seem to be like purple sprouting broccoli leaves which I'm pretty familiar with because my father has grown them for years and years in his vegetable patch. They seem bigger and 'rougher'. Also I bought them in Paris where I live (and where you can't buy purple sprouting broccoli for love nor money, which is a mystery to me, since PSB is surely one of the most delicious vegetables ever to grace a kitchen garden.)
  25. Druckenbrodt

    Broccoli leaves

    Thanks for the feedback everyone - some tasty ideas here! Are they a bit like spinach in the sense that you need to blanch them/squeeze out the bitterness before moving onto stage two? How much of the stalks can you use? Are they the same things as 'broccoli rabe'? They're definitely bigger and tougher (and without the sprouty bits) of what we call 'purple sprouting broccoli' in the UK.
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