Parisian touch

Île de Ré Magic

ile4Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city for a peaceful retreat is one of my 1001 dreams. For those of you who know me, I'm in the constant pursuit of #foodhappiness, my personal kind of  Beaudelairish luxury calm and voluptuousness which I lately found in the magnificent frame of an island. ile6

Île de Ré is a French treasure nestled beyond La Rochelle. Its delicious oysters are bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, and so are the dogs, the blond haired kids and the surfers. Once you set foot on Île de Ré, there's a sort of predestination in the air. Yes, I was meant to be getting here.

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The ideal day at Ile de Ré starts with some open air food shopping at the renown market of Ars-en-Ré. I love to go there with my bycicle, to then make a detour in order to find out about the latest aromatic combinations in a pot conceived by Francoise Héraudeau: nearby a beautifully kept church, Les Confitures du Clocher mixes authenticity and audacity in the form of scrumptious marmalades.

The natural landscape is remarkably breathtaking while bycicling among the 10 villages that, between sand dunes, forests and grey salt harvesting make this amazing island. What a pleasure it was to feast with salty oysters and fruity wine in the middle of the fields at Les Huitres de Trousse Chemise.

I stayed in a typical house at Saint Clèment des Baleines. This village is less crowded, but all the more charming: white-washed low houses, green, blue or grey shutters, red-tiled roofs, hollyhocks springing out between the stones of the pavement, narrow, winding streets. My stay at The Sweet Home in The Village was filled with joy as I discovered that the house had it all: the white linen, the summer hats, a fireplace to warm up by, and the sweetest scent of iodine. When it came to dining out, I was in awe for the view and the friendly rudeness (set your ideas clear or your foot out) at  Frères de la Cote restaurant. The most delightfully unctous crab eaten holifully with your hands in front of the most spectacular Western sunset.

With love and oysters,

Eleonora

History at the table

There's something reassuring about institutions. Their strong identity, their inevitable attachment to traditions. When it comes to restaurants that have been around for longer than a couple of generations, what strikes me is, that beneath a sense of immaculate transparency as of the roots of each dish, there's a strong, familiar attachment to gastronomic history. It is particularly the case when entering Benoit. I already mentioned here the peculiarity of this Alain Ducasse owned parisian brasserie, once a meeting point for butchers and farmers who would mind their business in the early morning on the right side of the Seine, in the famous Halles market, part of a then infamous neighborhood now under hip rise. From après le marché to après le théâtre the distance was little, but the food, just as honest. I was invited to taste the uplifting gorgeousness of the most renowned historical dishes of France at a table elegantly settled in '30s fashion. First came the gougères. These puffy, over-gratifying cheesy pastries are divinely fluff and seat pompously at the side of my course, for the whole meal. Yes I did eat all four of them in a matter of seconds, and yes the watchful maitre de salle noticed it and promptly gave me more. And more. Oops, and more.

gougeres3I indulged in the celebrated Léopold de Rothschild's favourite crayfish soufflé. Light as air, the soufflé is obtained from the blending of yolks and egg whites beaten stiff. The legendary Auguste Escoffier, one of the codifiers of French cuisine, adds a crayfish cream and parmesan, alternating layers of shaved truffles and crayfish tails and some freshly cooked asparagus between each layer. In his memoirs, Escoffier related a story about "Old Baron de Rothschild", who, when having supper at the Grand Hotel de Monte-Carlo, didn't want any asparagus but the 'green ones' ", launching a fashion that spread all the way to London, and prompting producers to put forward the green rather than the white asparagus.

gougeres2Henri IV's wish is as famous as his white plume "If God still gives me life, I will make sure that no ploughman in my Kingdom does not have means to have a chicken in his pot”. Exhausted by decades of religion wars, robbed by armies and looters plying the country, peasants had only the strict minimum, certainly not a chicken in their pot every Sunday. To restore the image of the monarchy, Louis XVIII made Henri IV an icon, and the inventor of the Poule au Pot. This dish became a national emblem and, much to my delight, was sumptuously carved in front of my very eyes.

gougeres4Does the Charlotte take its name from the wife of the King Georges III Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who bore him fifteen children? Historians are puzzled. It was originally a bread crumb and applesauce dessert, when Antonin Carême, the ante-litteram celebrity chef was inspired to create the Charlotte with biscuits, that he called Charlotte à la Parisienne, which later became the Russian Charlotte. He chose to hide the bottom and sides of the mould with finger biscuits and garnish the inside with a Bavarian device composed of gelatine and whipped cream custard. I enjoyed it with pear and chocolate sauce. An impeccable combination for the ending to a splendid meal.

With love and gougères,

Eleonora

Martini, it's time for aperitivo

For me, transmitting gastronomical heritage is key to a functioning passing of the baton. To exist, tradition must evolve and trespass its own boundaries. I'm proud to annouce my partnership with Martini ® as their brand ambassador in France. For them, I'm introducing the concept of aperitivo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbbp3aOdLL4

In fact behind every dish there's a story I decode with anecdotes, the characters animating them, the art, the land. Whether in Paris, London or New York, with my friends and family we often find ourselves at dawn for a drink. In Italy we do too, but our way. We call this pre-dinner time the aperitivo time. We share a cocktail and we accompany it with very generous buffets of antipasti. Food is central.

So it's a journey to the heart of Italy that I propose to discover through four major cities: Milan, Turin, Rome and Naples. Come on I'll take you, andiamo!

With love and a cocktail,

Eleonora

Nubio - Veggies paradise

I'm what you would call a débutante when it comes to cutting down on meals. I love the whole idea of sitting down and become conscious with my whole system of the moment I'm living, this #foodhappiness I'm proclaiming as my motto, that comes with a grin on our face once we're in front of a dish, ready to fully enjoy it. However, it's all about how we take care of ourselves to be perfectly equipped in order to face life and its beautiful challenges. And so I did it, too. Spending a day on liquids only. As the name suggests, liquid diets mean you're getting all, or at least most, of your calories from drinks. Rumour has it that the smartest way to detox in Paris comes in a box of 6 bottles a day, and it's called Nubio.

This cure, based on vegetable juices, superfoods (which I talked about earlier here) and organic cold-pressed fruits basically helps one's body to get rid of accumulated toxins. The mineral intake of juice stimulates the elimination of toxins. Indeed, the digestion of food requires considerable energy - we feel it after a huge lunch or dinner.

I tasted these juices and, surprisingly since I'm an omnivore, I found them so flavourful that not only did I not miss solid foods (the energy value of all the juices for a day is about 1250 kcal.), but I would go back for more. So I got curious. Who's behind such an enlightened project? I figured it would be a farmer or someone linked with the agricultural world. I was so wrong. This business is led by two exquisite twenty-something girls, Claire Nouy et Gabrielle Rotger, both yoga and pasta addicted,  who've taken over a workshop in the Bastille area of Paris. There, every day, they follow the production of these heavenly bottles step by step, from the selection of the organic producers to the final client delivery by the courier. An atelier located at the heart of the 11th arrondissement, is the place where fresh juices get cold pressed daily from raw ingredients issued from organic agriculture to finally obtaint inundating juices filled with nutrients and vitamins.

The ingredients are seasonal and delicious: fruits like pear, lemon, apple; vegetables such as carrot, fennel, spinach and celery get all spiced up with coconut water,  turmeric, hibiscus, parsley, rosemary, ginger, chia seed, almond, dates and vanilla.

Nothing like such a cure gives a break to the digestive system thus helping kidneys, liver and skin altogether to eliminate toxins. A must, at the turn of every season. On #foodhappiness and its many forms.

With love and cocoa beans,

Eleonora

Pascade, la crêpe soufflée

The pascade looks like an impressionist artwork. It's in fact a big pancake, a peasant household dish prepared on the go in farms as well as in small family restaurants around the Aveyron area, southwest of France. Almost unknown anywhere else, its recipe is simple: very fresh (free-range, bien sur) eggs beaten with cereal flour. It was originally served as a generous starter with sugar, chives, etc. at that time of the day when the pots are cooking and the kids so anxious to be fed. The mixture is then baked as a non-runny omelette: flour must be compulsorily cooked. And there's no joke when it comes to French how-to in the kitchen. It can then be filled to taste, and that's where the real fun starts. But let's go back in time. In 2006, when Michelin starred master of conviviality Alexandre Bourdas opened the now renowned SaQuaNa in Honfleur, he found himself for the first time running a restaurant and when he had to think of an appetizer that better could convey his personal values, the idea of a pascade, this warm dish to be shared, so flexible when it comes to combinations, became an evidence.

"Over time I had fun cooking the lovely pascade with different toppings for family and friends, until the day when the idea came to me to dedicate a place to Pascade the same way that there are places devoted to the art of pizza or pancake".

The restaurant design is a cross between an inn and a canteen, and the raw materials used stand for an architectural metaphor of the pascade itself: hard and rustic tables between the student like benches. The result is a mixture of authenticity and tradition with contemporary clean lines. A really different place, adapted to the Parisian pace, where people can go quickly before dinner or a movie as food is served non-stop from noon to 11 pm, 7 days a week.

The other night, I found myself in the company of the lovely chef Carme Ruscalleda, which exquisite recipes can be enjoyed here. From her restaurants in Sant Pau and Tokyo, she flew to Paris, along with her handmade dried fruits filled sausages. As part of a pop up one-dish-only project, this month she created the pascade Catalana, which will be à la carte for the entire month. After accompanying the creation of the pascade Alexander Bourdas leaves the undivided controls to his cooking guests, which change at the turn of the month. In the springtime, it will be his 10 years old niece opening the doors of inventiveness to a staple of French regional gastronomy.

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With love and pascade,

Eleonora

Ragù and not bolognaise part 2

Talking about timing. I just got out from La Grande Epicerie, my personal little succulent Parisian corner, where I spent an entire morning raiding the shelves in order to concoct every detail of a project to be disclosed soon. As soon as I embarked on my bike, it started raining cats and dogs. Pitilessly. I needed to go bring some #foodhappiness on the other side of town, so I put on my best smile and went all the way from rive gauche to rive droite! The girls at Pittaya were waiting, and the alphabet for gourmets soon started. After much anticipation last week on this previous post, here it is, finally, his majesty the Ragù as a real nonna from Bologna would do it. It is essential for the meat to be grind twice, as it will thus be very tender, marrying pleasantly with the rest of the sauce.

Spaghetti sauce Ragù from Bologna (serves 6 persons)

  • 200 gr. of ground beef (grind twice)
  • 200 gr. of ground pork (grind twice)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100 ml. fresh whole milk
  • 150 gr. Italian diced pancetta/bacon
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 300 gr. tinned plum tomatoes
  • 500 gr. beef stock
  • 500 gr. spaghetti pasta
  • 40 gr. rocky salt
  • a pinch of fine salt
  • a pinch of black pepper

To start off, place the pancetta/bacon into a saucepan and cook it at low heat until it's perfectly browned. Prepare the chopped celery, carrot and onion and add them to the pan together with the oil. Once wilted, after about 10 minutes, add the meat to the pan and start cooking. Increase the heat, pour the wine and let it evaporate, while stirring gently the ingredients of the sauce.

After about 10 minutes, add the tomato puree and cook over low heat for 45 further minutes, adding the broth little by little to make the sauce thick.  At the end of cooking, fix the sauce with the milk to make the taste even more lovable.

In a big pot, let 3 lt. of water come to a boil. Subsequently, put 2 handfuls of rocky salt. Cook the pasta al dente and season with the Bolognese sauce, adding salt and pepper to taste.

pitaya10With love and tomatoes,

Eleonora

Chantilly, la crème de la crème

As my great-grandma often put it - less is more - and it does unquestionably apply to the very short train ride (23 minutes only, no joke) that painlessly got me from a Parisian cosmopolitan, hectic dimension to a secular countryside luxurious nest. The culinary most prestigious traditions embrace luxe, calme and volupté in the astounding Auberge du Jeu de Paume. Launched in 2012 in the middle of the historical domaine de Chantilly, the 5 stars retreat looked up to the Michelin sky from its very beginning, having acquired one star over the first year and a second on the next at its famed La Table du Connétable. 

As I arrived, I was welcomed to a room all Toile de Jouy and ornaments which art would resonate with Duc d'Aumale's personal collection, to be found just next door in the imposing Château de Chantilly, which picture gallery is the second most important French pinacothèque after the Louvre. The fifth son of King Louis-Philippe, Henri duc d'Aumale, became the most eligible bachelor of France at the age of 8. He did marry, but for a series of circumstances, amongst which the exhile, that left him widow and childless, this man endowed with military diposition ended up looking after the immense treasure of its domaine all alone. His art collection is today under the protection of the Institut de France (as of the Duke's last wishes) and the trust of the Aga Khan Foundation. I roamed over its corridors to find artworks by Raphael, Watteau, Poussin, Delacroix, to name but a few. The only way to visit the whole outrageous collection is to pass by Chantilly, since one of the the clauses of the legacy, still respected today, expected the artworks never to leave the property.

Chantilly does ring a bell with the most traditional of whipped creams. As reported by François Vatel, the ultimate majordomo of the seventeenth century, there was a certain lady, guest of the Duke and Duchess, who impulsively let out her enthousiasm for the flavoury cream she tasted while a guest at Chantilly. Back at the day it was customary for the aristocracy to be portrayed with monkey features as an act of self-mockery. And it's among these anthropoid cabinets that she whispered the news that would soon become a culinary tradition for the entire world.

While at the Auberge, I enjoyed a unique spa treatment called Les mille et une Chantilly where, after an exfoliating gommage applied with sugar crystals and a chestnuts oil based relaxing massage, I got wrapped in actual Chantilly cream, the epytome of skin hydration, before finishing off with a tasting of the famous cream and some hay flavoured chocolates. It was Poppaea who started the tradition of bathing in milk, Cleopatra who indulged in milk and honey baths daily and ladies of leisure of the caliber of Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of French King Henry II and Pauline, Napoleon's younger sister, who regularly took milk baths in an attempt to keep themselves looking youthful, to such an extent that the servants made a hole in the ceiling above the bath so they could pour milk directly into the tub.

jeu11And here is the original recipe for everyone to replicate at home, delicious on its own or as an accompaniment to cakes or fruits of all kinds.

Crème Chantilly (serves 6 persons)

  • 1/5 lt. double cream
  • 60 gr. caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod

Place the cream and the entire vanilla pod in a bowl, then in the fridge overnight. This way the vanilla will incorporate with the cream and the taste. Place the electronic whisk vertically in the cold bowl and play it for about 5 minutes while slowly pouring the sugar in. Once the cream becomes all flaky and fluffy, it's time to serve it.

This year will mark a series of wonderings around France in order to discover the most off the beaten track locations to truly embrace the traditions of this incredible country.

With love and cream Chantilly,

Eleonora

* Pictured above, before the post: "Le Déjeuner d'huîtres" by Jean-François de Troy, then before the recipe, a picture of actress Claudette Colbert in "Sign of the Cross" (1932)

Ragù and not bolognaise part 1

There is no such thing as a food paradox. Eating pasta garnished with either meat or fish with grated parmesan on top, for example. There are various no-go which, however, in international revisitations of my darling Italian cuisine, are taken as matter of facts. Well, with my 100% Italian bood, I'm here to tell you that no, it's no good to drink cappuccino after midday or you'll only get weird looks since Italians never have it outside breakfast hours and no, there's no such recipe as Pasta all'Alfredo, it's actually an American invention; but most of all, the word bolognaise which, in my school memoir, sound more like a noun stolen from French expressions, is not how we name our world renown meat & tomato based sauce. In fact, this word that makes my ears creak (ouch), corresponds  more to the French way of declining the female inhabitants of a city: milanaise, irlandaise, bolognaise. To be true, though, the sound of it really does come near to the spoken accent of a true Bolognese. However, may you sit down in an off the beaten track trattoria in the heart of Bologna, asking for a Bolognaise, you'll only get the host (who would do anything to make its clients happy) to go grab one of his friends who are not working hard at siesta time in order to keep you company, which you might appreciate, if you're familiar with sign languages. Chances are, the folk can't speak a word of English.

Everyone out there: We say ragù.

The word originally comes from ragoûter, that is, awakening one's appetite in French 17th century language. Originally referring to meat stewed with plenty of seasoning which was then used to accompany other dishes : in Italy , mainly pasta .This delicious sauce has two school of thoughts: one from Bologna and one from Naples.

The girls from Pitaya Agency, with whom I'm collaborating on various projects, asked me to show them how to ragù. Delighted from their considerate approach to the dish, I spent a morning with them in full #foodhappiness mood. And the result will be posted here early next week. Stay tuned!

With love and ragù,

Eleonora

*Photo credit - Arthur Fechoz

Kluger, Fabrique des Tartes

I love to meet and greet with likeminded people in the food sector, discover and learn from the places I go to. Honestly Paris never fails to impress, its vibrant food scene being a constant inspiration for me; I recently came across the very talented Catherine Kluger. A former lawyer turned tarte guru, Catherine decides to leave her legal job, in order to totally focus on the sweet & savoury art of French pies, initially thanks to the help of pâtisserie consultant Nicolas Bernardé. Whether quiche lorraine, carotte-citron confits or courgette-feta-crumble au parmesan, these tartes are a head turner, and her factory is a step into paradise. Why pies? "Because it's easy, useful and practical. Because they are part of French culinary heritage. Because, deep in our memory and our taste buds, lies the taste of a pie. Additionally, they can be easily adapted to urban nomadic life". Mrs. Kruger signed multiple deals over these past few years with French Marabout editions, publishing four books revealing the underside of her recipes, while keeping her store open and running and keep being a busy mom of three. What's more, she's been heading pop up restaurants, collaborating at hundreds of events, and she even managed to launch a Parisian food-truck. I call that the feminine French art of martyrdom.

This lady speaks to us through food, a language that we are all willing to learn. And the Tartes Kluger are, oh, so luscious. Flavour is deep, complex and utterly compelling. What's more their taste is an incredible barometer of the ingredients' authenticity. And the fact that it doesn't take any more than buying her latest book in order to reproduce some of these beauties, makes it a joy. I'm a huge fan of quiches, and I'm always on the lookout for new ways to interpret this traditional dish. For a picnic, a quick lunch, or a earthy party, these tartes are just the perfect fix. I love to have my cake and eat it too along with a warm, comforting soup. Catherine uses organic flours for the pie base and, I must admit, the overall taste does thanks for it.

For a few weeks more, until February 8th, as a result of a collaboration with natural store Sol Semilla, Katherine is snipping in her pies all kind of seeds @ her store at 15, rue Trousseau. The whole idea is to restore vitality and energy with a great powered menu. This, for me, is the magic ingredient here. We are in total healthy territory. Even if, it would be more accurate to say, superfoods heaven. And then there's the sweet version. Yes, I know we are still in the detox month for excellence, yet...every rule gets broken when things are brilliant. On with the dance.

Flan pâtissier*

For a flexible and elastic dough:

  • 250 gr. strong white bread wheat flour
  • 185 gr. very cold dairy unsalted butter
  • 25 cl. whole milk (warmed up)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar

For the cream:

  • 225 ml of whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 45 gr. caster sugar
  • 15 gr. of cornstarch
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Indian chai spices
  • 30 gr. dairy unsalted butter

Start with the dough: first of all, mix flour and salt, then add the vanilla sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces. With your fingertips, roll it delicately into the flour until it becomes nice and sandy. Keep your hands cool so not to heat up the butter: it should melt as little as possible. In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and the milk with a fork. Dig a small well in the sandy mixture, pour the beaten egg in. With the flat of your hand, form a homogeneous dough by working the ingredients very cautiously.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap forming a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. After that, flatten the dough by tapping it with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and roll out the dough until greater than the size of the mold disc. Gently pick the dough with a fork. Generously butter the mold and let the dough stick to its entire perimeter. As it is, let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven at 170°. Line the pastry with baking paper, ideally cut into circle. Place on some dry beans and precook the pie for 35 minutes at 170°. Then free the pie from its shell. Brush it with some egg wash and put it in the oven for three further minutes, in order to dry the gilding and thus make it solid before garnishing it.

Preheat the oven at 210°. Realize the custard: heat the milk, then pour a small amount of whipped eggs with sugar, spices and cornstarch. Pour this mixture into the hot milk and stir until the cream thickens. Pour the custard in the precooked pie shell. Bake it for 10 minutes at 210°, just the time for it to color nicely. Let cool completely before serving. It's better to make this dessert ideally the day before.

With love and flan,

Eleonora

* This recipe is taken from the book "La Fabrique des Tartes" by Catherine Kluger.

On togetherness

It's freezing cold in Paris. As I was cycling through its streets to meet with clients this afternoon, I couldn't accompany the illuminating city sight with the usual humming of "Sous le ciel de Paris", simply because my voice wouldn't come out, my face being literally masked out by the cold. The nice news is, though, that it only takes a few pieces of the loveliest brown bread, a basic flower arrangement (or a bunch of fresh parsley, in my case today) and a warm dish to make it all flawlessly cozy again. Tonight, let's make something that warms our hearts. Suppertime sacred togetherness. I'm all about pumpkin tortelli these days, which I made on one of my pop up events lately.

As to its origins , it is thought that the these particular ravioli pasta have Renaissance origins and have seemingly been designed after the European conquest of America because of the large amount of pumpkin available back then, that is the main ingredient of tortelli. Its heart is filled with this soft vegetable, spiced up with mustard and finely chopped amaretti (artisanal biscuits made with almonds and egg whites).

The, I'll allow myself to say it, utterly liberating ritual tied to the handmaking of pasta is one of a kind: it demands to be nurtured, wrapped, massaged and scented, just like our tired bodies would need at the end of a long, cold day. Italian writer Elsa Morante who, amongst many things, has been recognized for being at the forefront of  magic realism (a wave I very much embrace in my totally dreamy, Mary Poppins like existence) in the Italian literature, once said: "The truest love sentence, and the only one, is: have you been eating?".

With love and tortelli,

Eleonora

A brunch at Semilla

Sunday brunch time is one of those very volatile, very vulnerable moments of the week. Our energy flow is readjusting hence the choice of the meal is crucial to that roaring start of the week. I don't know about you, but when I wake up on the resting day of the week for excellence, the first thing I think of is either a scrumbled, an à la coque, or a benedicte style egg. When in Paris, Semilla is a place for indulging in sweets, freshly squeezed fruit juices, the unmissable sunday roast and, as they call it, all kinds of non egg's options: a lobster club sandwich served with toasted brioche and avocado or a very seasonal beet salad with spelt, fresh cheese and hazelnuts. On the hunt side - it being hunting season, chef Eric Trochon gets an exceptional delivery directly from the hands of his hunters friends - we tried a mouthwatering version of venison burger, moistened with currant juice, served with pak choi (the Chinese version of chard) and the quitessential new potatoes roasted to perfection.

Opened by the will and skills of trio Drew Harré, Jan Sanchez and the chef himself, Eric Trochon, this place, as other excellent ones in town, winks at bistronomie, this phenomenon très à la page that results from the contraction of bistro and gastronomy, applying to those tables combining low prices (with menus worth less than 30€), small team, small places and inventive cuisine made from good and simple products, often orchestrated by chefs trained in academic structures.

Very democratically, and here we go again with patrioctic values such as Liberté & Fraternité, also present à la carte if it wasn't clear enough, the menu comprehends a full list of the producers, often small realities, providing the food and beverages to the house. The wine, in general directly supplied from the grape scented hands of the wine maker himself, can be a Chablis Premier Cru la Forest or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, both proven to be extraordinarily reassuring tastes.

Last but not least: those of you who know me by now are also well aware of the fact that I love my mascarpone. Either worked in a tiramisu or on a limoncello based cream, you'll know that I'll quickly access to the highest level of #foodhappiness. I reached new heights, though, when tasting the remarkable pears, mascarpone and peacan nuts pie. Powerfully happy before the week's madness.

Restaurant Semilla 54, rue de Seine Paris (75006) TÉL : +33 1 43 54 34 50 MÉTRO : Saint-Germain des Prés, Mabillon, Odéon

With love and peacan nuts,

Eleonora

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Monday's declarations

What are your perfect Monday resolutions? May I get some time out of the hustle and bustle of my delicious working schedule, here ere are mine:

  • promise to only eat one sweet per day (as if it were easy, living in Paris);
  • get my beauty sleep and make it a plan not to go to bed after midnight for 10 days in order to balance my immune system;
  • practice Yoga Ashtanga/Flow/Bikram at least 4 times without, in the middle of it, finding it irresistible to go test that new recipe I dreamt about last night;
  • reserve those theatre tickets to go see Nos Femmes at Théâtre de Paris;
  • handwrite those letters to the most beautiful friends I've been blessed with;
  • get my heels back on and go back practising some Tango;
  • handmake some Madeleines in full #foodhappiness mode and pay a visit to the permanent collection at Musée Rodin.

With love and madeleines,

Eleonora

 

Septime, or the temple of gluttony

The wide royal blue door is distinctive of a certain Parisian trait which can be assimilated with a voracious joie de vivre, containing in itself a profound respect for the tradition as well as a versatile step towards the "now" (why looking towards the future when the present can be so captivating). Set in a neo-urban epicurean valley of the senses, no wonder why Septime - a trendy restaurant in the up and coming 11th arrondissement of Paris -  is right in the spotlight these days. I didn't know what exactly to expect as I inspectioned their website before my visit earlier this week; on the desktop, only a logo and an address provided. Poorly described, I thought. Well, I had to change idea: on the contrary, I was in for a treat, because the food, the drinks and the ambiance truly spoke for themselves.

As I entered, I was warmly welcomed by wine expert and restaurant associé Thèo Pourriat, who presented us with a very small list of truly exquisite wines. He emphasized on the personal relationships developed with the vignerons (wine growers), the identification of which I was already introduced to on the other side of the river, at the Ile Saint Louis celebrated cheesemonger. A real fan on fine wines but totally against getting dizzy in the middle of the working day, I also opted for an infusion fait maison. In Septime there's an actual barman dedicated to the making of these restoring potions made to accompany the daily proposed menus. For me, it was orange, clementine, tarragon, pear and Acacia honey, all raw in a boiling pot.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThe lunch menu (uncommonly changing on a daily basis), is based on chef Bertrand Grébaut's inventiveness of the moment. I got lucky with a sumptuous Utah Beach (yes, the one of the Normandy D-day) clums soup with gourds and an undescribably refined Xeres vinegar aftertaste. The daikon - oh I dig those radishes -  was deliciously accompanied with mushrooms de la Maure along with exquisite black truffles from the Perigord area (duck and goose products paradise) which I shall absolutely visit soon.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetHaving recently taken part in the Cabinet de Curiosités of Thomas Herber, with showcases of visual artists, designers and chefs indeed, Grébaut now wants to focus entirely on his Parisian food scene, where he gives work and inspiration to an international, young and food-talented crowd. "There's an Argentinian, an American and a British, but we always speak français in the kitchen, that's mandatory" - explains Grébaut, a patriot at heart as all French admirably are, as I ask him about his producers, his rare food findings (like the radicchio from Treviso in the middle of Paris, a true gem) and his sources of creativity: "Sometimes it's the chromatic scale of a dish that grabs my attention first, but then it's the work on the affiliations to make it enjoyable that I have fun with". And that was, and surely will be again, a truly enjoyable experience.

With love and tarragon,

Eleonora

Crisp mascarpone custard with candied oranges and dark chocolate

Maybe you don't want as rich a dessert as you would literally pamper in these upcoming festivities. Nevertheless, it is nice, in light of this brrrr...freezing winter, to come back home to something exquisite to enjoy at the end of an otherwise dull midweek supper before the real Christmas food festival kicks in and your jaw keeps dropping. I must have been about 12 of age when, finally allowed to enter the kitchen (as I explained thoroughly here), I was taught by my grandma how to make the real, authentic, unfussy and let me add, majestic Tiramisù. The major ingredient is the fluffy, richly flavoured mascarpone cheese. Regardless of the season, I love to be inventive using this ingredient with my own recipes. Last week I sipped a good cup of mulled wine (which recipe you can find here), and I told myself, why not enjoying it with a pairing dessert? So here it is, wrapped up in a video recipe. This is a collaboration I conducted with a French video production (you can watch the first episode here), but even if the wording is French, believe me, this cooking video speaks for itself. In case you were wondering about the exact ingredients and execution, you can find them right below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ycGs15r4Xc

Crisp mascarpone custard with candied oranges and dark chocolate (serves 2 persons)

  • 250 gr. mascarpone cheese
  • 125 gr. of room temperature tap water
  • 175 gr. caster sugar
  • 40 gr. dark chocolate
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 savoiardi biscuits (or ladyfingers)
  • 100 ml. whole milk
  • 1 unwaxed organic orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Cut the orange in four pieces. Remove its pulp, then cut the skin into fine stripes and whitewashthem: immerse them in water, remove them after 2 minutes boiling. Repeat the method for 4 times in a row (this will take out the acidity from the orange's skin). Then, let the orange strips dry on a clean cloth.

In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with 50 gr. of sugar until creamy. Then add the mascarpone cheese and mix gently. Chop the chocolate roughly with a knife, and add it to the mixture.

In a pot, pour the water with the remaining sugar. Incorporate the orange strips and the cinnamon stick. Let cook for 25 minutes at low fire.

Pour the milk in a tiny bowl, then break each biscuits in two and lightly soak them in the milk. Place them at the bottom of a mug, then let half of the mascarpone cheese mixture fall on top of them. Finally, add a few orange slices per serving and sprinkle with some chocolate chips.

With love and candied fruits,

Eleonora

A stellar lunch

Pappardelle are an egg pasta shape typical of Tuscany. The land of hunt for excellence endorses this pasta with meat based sauces, such as hare, wild boar and the association of truffles and mushrooms. I love the fact that some products can only be found in certain locations at a certain time of the year, hence making them all the more appealing and their consumption celebratory. I remember going mushroom hunting, as a kid, in the Monte Amiata area, nearby Siena. Running free into the wild to then come back home and prepare all sorts of sauces and conserves. Whereas mushrooms can also be identified by amateurs, the white truffle hunting is a unique blend of heritage and expertise. Hunts are conducted with professionals of the sector, along with dogs endowed with a special nose for all things truffly.

An ingredient very difficult to find away from Italy, I was happy to be able to have it on my table for lunch this morning, thanks to the Tiberino products. What's amazing is that, since 2007, these products are at the forefront of the food supply for the austronautes on mission aboard the International Space Station with NASA. I wonder if they, like me, opt for a “scarpetta”: after overindulging in my pappardelle with mushrooms and white truffle oil, you take a piece of bread and clean the rest of the plate off the delicious leftover sauce. Strictly with your hands. Beware of all imitations.

With love and pappardelle,

Eleonora

Pop up your life

I love pop-ups. In fact, as some of you know, I provide my food services (amongst other things) with off the beaten track bespoke pop-up events. This term alone clicks with boosting creativity, raising inspiration, twisting on cared improvisation. This ephemeral concept allows brands to be in uncategorized spaces in order to run free into new customers and opportunities. All in a limited timeframe. It's like having those 15-minutes-only in front of the audience and proving them about the feasibility of one's project. And that I find thrilling. On the forefront of this exciting experience called The Space is the very lovely Julia Tinkerbell Van Hagen who has conceived this amazing reunion idea of fashion talents in a dedicated space over 5 years ago. Since then, she's been hosting pop-up stores in any corner of the (utterly civilised and tremendously glamorous, bien sur) world you can think of, you name it.

thespace

With her in Paris these next few days, in association with Parisian PR wonderwoman Sonia Diop, an array of truly talented artisans of the fine fashion making. Their care in the details and the provenience of the textiles makes me think about its correspondance with products sustainability (the Slow Food chain) and the importance of tradition.

There are  Van Palma and We Are Leone with their handmade crêpe de soie kimonos and hats. Luz Collections is a bio and glamorous South American swimsuits line, whereas Pallome design delightful bags in jeans and cotton while Torula goes for the city accessible luxury version. Very Parisian indeed but mischievously Italian are the handmade hats signed by milliner Veronica Marucci.

Among the edible gifts, a few extraordinarily tasty gingerbreads to take home to your loved one. I got back home with a bag filled with goodies and with my purse not too hurt. Thumbs up to accessible luxury!

The Space Pop Up, December 11th-13th 117, rue Saint Honoré Paris (75001) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. MÉTRO : Palais Royal- Musée du Louvre SITE : thespace.fr

With love and gingerbreads,

Eleonora

Mind Le Zo(o)

In a time, the late '90s, when sushi in Paris could only be found at fakely high end Japanese restaurants that would even charge an addition for the wasabi sauce, entrepreneur Micael Memmi looked further. He decided to offer Japanese food in an otherwise French-food-only restaurant, Le Zo. And he was the first. Today, at the head of the Il Caffè as well, a chain of five restaurants disseminated around Paris serving Italian dishes fatti in casa, he's dazzling the city of lights.

zo1

I sat down in a room where eastern design meets western contemporary art, and had heart of burrata , beet duo and roasted yellow peppers. I couldn't believe that I found the same taste I did when travelling to my beloved Puglia this last summer on a cold December day in the middle of Paris. I literally melted for the crispy maki asparagus, a crunchy delicious starter. And I clapped my hands as I tasted a good affogato al caffè, which recipe I shared earlier this year with Anne Lataillade, author of the awarded blog Papilles & Pupilles. This guy knows his products, and knew what bistronomie (a contraction between "bistrot" and "gastronomy") is all about much before it was even a trend: "Fusion food is so '90s, we give our customers the possibility to choose whether going for a Japanese, a French or an Italian dish. In each serving, though, you'll find the beating heart of a country". And that's, simply, what my #foodhappiness is all about, too.

Restaurant Le Zo 13, rue Montalivet Paris (75008)

TEL: +33 1 42 65 18 18 SUBWAY: Madeleine, Concorde

Restaurant Il Caffè 5, av. Myron-Herrick Paris (75008)

TEL: +33 1 42 25 02 70 SUBWAY: Miromesnil, Saint-Philippe-du-Roule

 

With love and burrata,

Eleonora

Savoury Tarte Tatin

In case you were in search of  food ideas for this week's dinner time, the answer for you is only a click away. Just sit and enjoy the first extract from my collaboration with Deli'Snacky, a Youtube channel providing plenty of ideas for quick and effective meals! Did you know that the world famous Tarte Tatin, traditionally prepared with apples from Normandy, could also be turned into a savoury option? Well I didn't, until I run out of fresh fruits in my kitchen, and here is what I came up with instead! http://youtu.be/HRoqjgpNOd4?list=UUhmCpJRIGrcFnI-mtMbT4cA

Three Peppers Tarte Tatin

  • 3 peppers (yellow, green and red)
  • 1 red onion
  • 40 gr. pitted black olives
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 30 gr. fresh dairy butter
  • 30 gr. extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 gr. caster sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 40 gr. tap water

Remove the seeds from the peppers. Take a large pan and grill the peppers for about 30 minutes. In the meanwhile cut the onion in dices, and pour the olive in a pan with a little bit of butter. Let everything melt at low flame and eventually add the onions in. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then let cook gently for about 15 minutes. Now preheat the oven at 220°.

Once the peppers are ready, get them out of the pan and immediately in a bread bag. This way, the vegetables will naturally transpire and in a matter of minutes it will be far more easy to get rid of their skin. Once the skin is off, cut the peppers into large stripes. Cut the olives in little pieces too.

Warm up the sugar in a pan with half a glass of water, after a few minutes it should caramelise. In the meanwhile, have a cake mold ready and line its base with some parchment paper. Pour the caramelized sugar in the bottom of the mold, then spread the peppers and, on top of them, add the onions and the olives. Cover with the puff pastry sheet. Bite the cake with a fork and cook for 20 minutes in the oven at 220°.

With love and peppers,

Eleonora

(h)Eden(e) in Paris

I can't quite come to terms to the voluptuous beauty of Paris, how can it be so firm, just like a mother who wouldn't accept a "no" as an answer, yet so harmlessly heartbreaking from its roofs up until its roots, that is its islands to me. As a matter of fact the Romans, who won over the Gauls well over 2000 years ago, decided to provide them with the islands of Lutetia ('Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis) in order for them to be near the water, thus control any forms of commerce. The Romans, on their side, would have kept what is today known as the left bank and that's where and how the Paris, as we know it today, was born. I personally have a soft spot for these 2 floating, somptuous islands in the middle of the city of lights. I love to walk around them, the cold yet gently dry breeze of Paris accompanying my errands. And I love to discover that a legacy is kept alive giving place to evolution even. I'm talking about the oldest Fromagerie in the very heart of Rue Saint Louis en l'Ile, precisely located at number 38. In a place that was once the beating heart and soul of artisanal old Paris, suddenly closed down for the passing away of its owner and cheesemonger charmer, two young entrepreneurs have taken over as of 3 years ago. Experts in the art of selecting epicerie fine, as people call it over here, these twenty something young merchants can suggest the finest food products available on the market. And if you fancy a wine or cheese lesson for that matter, then you're in for a ride, and a treat.

hedene

That's how I came to know the most refinely delicious honey I ever came across. The name of the product alone, Hedene, rings a bell as to a few ethereal concepts: one linked with the first, most perfect garden as told by the Christian tradition and the other connected with hedonism, the argued capacity to live in strict connection to pleasure, as a good friend of Dorian Grey would suggest him at the beginning of the celebrated novel by Oscar Wilde. It appears, there's a honey to accompany any given moment of the day. The texture and smell would change and increase according to the time, season and occasion. Therefore, the acacia would be an interesting alternative to sugar in morning coffees or teas, while a taste of the pine tree would take you straight to a fable involving fairies and magic; to be honest though, the cream of the crop was the Miel Bourdaine, splendid for the festive season. I tasted it with a Comté cheese, which I've been told was produced in the Jura valley, east of France. This scrumptious cheese has been refined in the Charles Arnaud fruitière (a place where milk is processed into cheese).

If you thought that beautiful patterns were limited to textile only, think twice. This teeny tiny deli shop celebrates chocolate by providing the very well wrapped tastes of cocoa beans collected and produced in Saigon (Vietnam). I almost fainted when I had a first bite, luckily it was just before my movie night on my couch, hence I had an excuse I couldn't possibly drop to finish it. No wonder why Marou chocolate has gained many awards for its integrity, in workplace and taste buds alike.

With love, honey, chocolate and cheese,

Eleonora

Fans are my cup of tea

A fashion statement is nothing without a cup of tea. A fashion statement is indeed my cup of tea. Fashion and food are deeply interrelated. How? Well, to start with, there are certain textile designs that look just like foods. But that's just a hint. A chic fan in the middle of the winter ? But of course, it's a go-go. Early next year, chic meets foodtherapy, merging for a #fanhappiness moment. Take Eleonora Galasso, Roman to the fingertips and #foodhappiness ambassador. Go to Duvelleroy, Parisian home of fans since 1827 and still in the wind. Add a lot of greed and a little commedia dell'arte. The result: a unique culinary choreography, to discover in the heart of Paris early in 2015.

DUVELLEROY is the largest 19th century fan house, which reins have been taken in 2010 by two young women with a natural flair for fashion, heritage and craftsmanship. For almost 5 years, their fans have bloomed again in fashion shows, fashion magazines and store concepts worldwide. From this encounter is born a culinary performance in the new Paris boutique Duvelleroy where I will orchestrate a forgotten Italian pastry in 5 exclusive recipes and interpret a culinary choreography incorporating a fan.

Curious? Wait, you may soon get a Christmas present revealing a secret language. Did you know that food and fans have in common a language to be decoded? Chances are, next year fashion statement is at stake.

Stay tuned,

Eleonora

Photo Credits @shutterliving