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Friday, June 24, 2011

French Fast Food—Fresh and Tempting!


Leave it to the French to come up with a chain of fast food eateries where both the food and the setting are so attractively stylish that you’ll want to snap a photo!  Cojean, a 10-year-old company, has established its branches primarily on Paris’ Right Bank in the fashionable arrondissements where business people and others can pick up a quick midday meal. The dishes are prepared with ingredients that are fresh, healthy, seasonal, and definitely tasty. 

My friend, Sidne, a young American lawyer, met me for lunch at the Cojean located on Avenue Delcassé right at the exit of the Miromesnil metro stop. Although she had only a few minutes to spare, we managed to sample a good assortment of offerings. The salads were especially tempting. A chicken, fresh pea, and avocado one dressed in an arugula and Parmesan dressing and another prepared with quinoa, fava beans, and radishes won high marks from both of us. I also tried a cold tomato and zucchini soup scented with Parmesan, which was good, but

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris

Although I’ve been coming to Paris for years, I had never attended a cooking class at the city’s famed Cordon Bleu until a few days ago. I took one of the 3-hour demo classes, given in French but translated into English by a skilled young interpreter.

In only a few short hours, Chef Bruno Stril, a seasoned veteran of the school, chopped, diced, sautéed, simmered, and roasted ingredients, turning out a cornucopia of dishes, all with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Great Tour in Paris and a Pair of Patisseries!

This past week my husband and I were lucky enough to have been the lecturers for a Paris tour for Amherst College alums and friends. The themes of this early summer trip were art, history, and food.

Highlights included a tour of the Paris (Garnier) Opera house with a rare backstage visit, trips to the Louvre, the Jacquemart-André, the Nissim de Camondo, and the Rodin Museums, and a walk through the Invalides where Napoleon rests. Another day we took a stroll through the Marais on Paris’ Right Bank, stopping at the gorgeous La Place des Vosges.

Naturally we managed to spend plenty of time enjoying la cuisine française. Our group had a fabulous wine-tasting dinner at the Left Bank Il Vino restaurant, and spent a day traveling to Reims in Champagne where we indulged in a delectable midday feast at the Michelin-starred Le Millénaire, followed by a Champagne tasting at a nearby vineyard. At the Jacquemart-André Museum we even lunched under a Tiepolo ceiling. We also had a cooking class at the Cordon Bleu!

In between all of these activities, many of us found time to sample sweet treats at Left Bank patisseries. My two favorite pastry shops were short walks from our hotel. Pierre Hermé is located on rue Bonaparte right near the famous Eglise St. Sulpice and La Pâtisserie des Rêves is on the rue du Bac.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An Old Favorite Still Pleases

 A simple-to-make mushroom pâté, which I first sampled more than 30 years ago, looks and tastes just as good today as it did way back then. I served it twice this past week, once at the graduation party that I wrote about in my last post and again this weekend when we had house guests.

This is my “go to” appetizer because it’s takes only a few minutes to prepare, can be made ahead, and has an incredibly delectable taste. As an added bonus, none of the ingredients are hard to find or costly. You sauté chopped mushrooms, green onions, and garlic in butter, then simmer them