This is the region for Crepes (and very thin crust pizza, for some reason they go together), but they are most certainly not of The Magic Pan variety like most crepes in the US. In France a Savory Crepe is ALWAYS made with buckwheat (Blé Noir) which is a totally different taste and texture from the delicate white flour (Froment in French) which is only used for Dessert Crepes. Nowadays you can even find or ask for your Dessert Crepe to be made with Buckwheat, which is fantastic with Caramelized Apples for instance, I like it with anything! The crispy lacy kind of crepe is best for me, with any Scallop preparation I am happy, and one with pears and chocolate for dessert, heavenly!
You will find me much more ambitious when I make dinner at home, quite often these days, alternating between trying different fish dishes (most of which I have no idea of the equivalent for at home) and local meats. The fish is so very fresh, really right off the boat so that is has quite a strong smell, and a texture that can't be beat, and nothing like what I am used to. The meat and fowl all have a specific pedigree! The seafood is so amazing it really almost cooks itself, you just have to make some heat available to it ; ) With a simple sauce, like a beurre blanc with anything at all, coriander seeds or lemon or vinegar, and it's fantastic.
The meats take more practice since everything is fed and grown locally, and the level of moisture is much less, so things cook totally differently. Some things much faster, others slower, it's all very odd. Side dishes of sauteed leeks or caramelized endives or Tomates Provencale or this fantastic Tomate Tarte Tatin my friend Camille introduced us to, or my go to dish of duck breast with any kind of sweet and acidic sauce, fig or black currant works beautifully. The other night we made a duck stir fry with Onions and Hoisin Sauce and fig jam (the jams here are mostly fruit and hardly sweet at all) with sauteed endives and roasted carrots with Ras al Hanout in about 40 minutes total.
I have made dinner for friends three times since we have been here I decided to make "exotic" dishes for them instead of my brand of classic French cooking, to surprise their palates a bit and also so my cooking isn't compared with what they already know, which is a French cultural tendency, which probably happens when you are making anything fairly familiar to anyone in the world.
The first dinner I made for friends who go to India, and like spicy food, I made a green curry (with Thai curry paste I brought from LA) with Monkfish and scallops, kohlrabi and carrots. I loosely follow this recipe from Bon Appetit which I have been using for the last year or so, with tons of variations. I did make a classic french dessert, a Clafoutis with Rhubarb, since I am curious about Rhubarb, and my audience was pleased even though I was bored. I promised myself only to make creamy and/or chocolatey desserts from now on, since they are really the only ones that excite me, both to make and to eat! I think I started to bake when I was a little girl, so I could eat the things I craved, and I still have exactly the same inclination! I mean, Pierre Herme is all the way in Paris, and I am here! But I will be in Paris next week!!!
The other night we were having new friends over for dinner, and I know that she cares deeply about food. In fact when she invited us to a "simple cold dinner" on a Sunday night (it's very rare to be invited over by brand new friends here ) she told me that she had a Michelin 1 star restaurant in Paris with several friends about 20 years ago, eek, what an audience. Another cultural difference here is that the host is supposed to make whatever s/he wants and the guests have to be good sports no matter what! My American habit of asking guests what their predilicitons are is met with a bit of confusion. Great!
At first I wanted to make classic French seafood dishes for our new friends, but this is when it dawned on me to make things that would be fresh and new to them, as well as well known by me ; ) So I made Scallop Ceviche with a bit of Passion Fruit in the citrus mix, with the totally amazing velvety sea scallops we have here, which was absolutel luscious and an unexpected texture even for me! Then I made a fish dish with a plain firm fish called Cabillaud so it would hold together, since it is steamed with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and fresh ginger on top, then drizzled with oil and crispy garlic, and this went over really well. Pierre and I started making this dish when we first met from Mark Bittman's Fish cookbook, and is still great!
I have totally screwed up some dishes too, at least I had the sense (unusual for me) to cook familiar things for friends and save the first timers for us, like a classic Potato Gratin (duh?) so I could gracefully throw it in the garbage! What happened? Well I skimmed 3 or 4 Julia Child recipes for Potato Gratins and conflated them fast and loose in my usual style. Well if I had read them through (like I did the next time) I would have learned that a gratin made with cream (so abundant and delish here I always have some on hand) cannot be cooked at too high a temperature or it boils and curdles! Cream low temp milk high temp. Since I am ever the Quick and Dirty Perfectionist, milk usually wins (also delicious, we only buy organic here, like at home there's a pesticide problem but that's another story).
I swore that I wouldn't do a cheese course every time I made a nice dinner here but it is almost impossible to pass up a lovely raw goat cheese or a nice smelly Pont L'Evec with some crusty bread and an strong green salad, the lettuce here really tastes like you are eating leaves! Then I made Robert's Brownies from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert and served them with Pistachio Ice Cream, a very American plate, and absolutely delightful for French pals. I added several drops of Thyme essential oil to the herbal tea after the meal which is so aromatically satisfying and great for digestion. In fact I am going to make some for myself right now!
Do ask any questions, I know there are things about food here on people's minds!!!