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Bon Appetit

June 5, 2012

 

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you most likely already guessed the real reason why I dreamt about going to France – the French cuisine! All that delicious butter, cream, and white flour! Trust me when I say I indulged plenty. I am surprised my clothes did not burst at the seams, just a few jean buttons popped. Smile 

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One of our favorite dinner spots was a brasserie a block away from the hotel called La Terrasse. Their menu was full of delightful options which kept us coming back night after night. Ok, I admit, we are totally lame and ate there 5 nights in a row. We became the regulars along with an older gentleman who would dine with his newspaper every night around 8pm, but I just had to try everything on the menu. The butternut squash soup alone had us hooked from the start.

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Chicken ratatouille and tarte au chocolate on day 1.

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Fried goat cheese salad and tart tatin— one of the traditional French desserts. It resembled a baked upside down applecake soaked in caramel syrup with vanilla ice cream or cream on top.

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Mr. Lawrence, the apple pastry connoisseur, found it a bit too sweet, but nevertheless we had no problem finishing it.

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Veal stew with flourless chocolate lava cake on day 2.

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So French salad (foie gras, smoked salmon, cured duck breast, green beans) on day 3.

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And finally duck confit and sweet egg custard (it had a fancy name which I don’t recall) on day 4.

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Day 5 was a repeat of day 1 because it was just that good.

Restaurants in Paris don’t open for dinner until 7:30. Late dinners are very common so even around 11pm you can often spot folks sitting down for a meal. That meant that we needed a substantial snack in the afternoon to hold us over. Luckily, bakeries, fromageries, local markets and bars were not hard to find. After all, food is higher than religion in France. The perfect snack we could not get enough of was fresh bread, cheese (I introduced Eric to fresh chevre), and of course wine (occasionally we’d substitute append beer but only if Hoegaarden was on tap Smile).

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Without a doubt, the baguettes and croissants in Paris are fantastic . My favorite croissants were underground in the metro stations. The freshly baked smell lured me in like a rat to cheese. But it was not until Chinon that I got to enjoy authentic French pastries like cream puffs and Napoleon cake. This was a special treat for my birthday.

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Napoleon cake is what I call the fluffy pastry next to the strawberry cake. It’s the type of cake my grandma used to make for special occasions. My grandma would put her heart and soul into this very demanding and complicated recipe which translated into a mountain of a cake, sometimes even two. Dozens of layers of baked fluffy pastry held tightly together with the heaviest, thickest, richest of frostings. The French Napoleon that I had was quite different. The frosting was light and airy which allowed for the layers to still be fluffy and crumbly.  I won’t even attempt to put into words how incredible these pastries were. I’ll let the pictures tell that story.

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And this is where I gave Eric a crazy eye for asking to have a bite.

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I did end up giving him a couple of bites. I am a loving wife after all (and he kind of paid for the pastry and the trip).

Birthday dinner was exquisite. Based on the recommendations from the hotel, we headed to one of the top spots in Chinon. We knew it was a great spot because the owner started turning folks down half an hour after we arrived because it was so busy. I started with foie gras ravioli. For the main course I had duck breast, ratatouille and scallop potatoes.

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Cheese platters are a common dessert option. The owner appeared with a giant tray of a dozen various cheeses, which I obviously assumed was all for me, being from the country of oversized portions. He politely smiled and explained that he’d cut a generous piece of the ones I chose.

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We also tried baked camembert with apple.

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Happy Birthday to me! Thank you baby for the most memorable birthday of my life (hmm…on the other hand, the red bike I got turning seven might have you beat). You’ve set a pretty high bar for next year Smile with tongue out

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