Wednesday, December 28, 2011

oh my, croque madame!

I love (love, love, love) croque madames. The french sandwich is composed of four of my six favorite foods: cheese, ham, bread, and egg (the missing two are chocolate and wine, but I think it's good that they were left out in this case). I had one for about every 3rd meal when I was in Paris earlier this year.

I have always considered the croque madame something to be ordered at a cafe. I'd never really thought of making one myself. Now that I have, I kind of want to whack myself on the head and say, "what were you thinking?" I've been seriously missing out.

Strangely, it was Swiss food that was the impetus for my try-to-make-a-croque-madame-at-home idea. My brother is visiting me in Zurich and yesterday for lunch we had a very traditional Swiss meal: raclette. Like fondue, raclette is one of those active meals where you do a little work at the table to enjoy the food. Ours came as giant plates of grilling materials: his with mini sausages, mine with farmer's ham, and both with mushrooms, tomatoes, pickles, mini-corn, and cocktail onions. And of course a generous number of cheese slices, to be melted one at a time in the cutest little square pans that heat under a small grilltop (on which you can grill the various bite sized treasures). All to be enjoyed atop the little baked pommes de terre (potatoes) that were kept warm in a small burlap sack.

You may wonder how this got me thinking about a croque madame. Honestly, it was the combination of cheese and ham. On top of a potato, it made me think of breakfast (raclette would be a great hangover meal). And somehow from there, my mind went to the croque madame. So when we were at the grocery store later, I made sure to pick up some ham in addition to the Gruyere that is consistently on my shopping list (I've been eating a lot of cheese here in Switzerland!).

This morning, when looking up a few recipes, the croque madame seemed a bit involved. But it actually comes together pretty easily. And it was amazingly tasty. I kind of want to make one again right now just thinking about it. I've also been fantasizing about raclette-inspired additions, like grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, and tomatoes... But for now, here's the standard version, which I implore you to try:

Croque Madame
Serves 2

2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
4 oz. gruyere - 1/4 c. grated and the rest thinly sliced
ground nutmeg
salt & pepper
4 slices rustic white bread
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2-3 slices of ham
2 eggs

First, the bechamel:
Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring to combine. Whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium-high until milk begins to boil. Add grated Gruyere and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer until thickened, 6-8 minutes.

Next, the sandwich:
Meanwhile, heat oven broiler on high. Place 2 slices of bread in baking dish. Spread 1 Tbsp. of mustard on each. Top with ham and sliced Gruyere. Place under broiler until cheese begins to melt.

Remove from oven (leave broiler on). Top with remaining 2 slices of bread. Spoon a generous amount of bechamel sauce over each. Return to oven and heat under broiler until they're bubbly and brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven.

Finally, the egg on top:
While your sandwiches are browning, melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add eggs, being careful not to break the yolks. Cook until the whites are fully cooked but yolks are still runny.

Carefully top each sandwich with an egg. Take a bite and close your feel like you're in a Parisian cafe, no?

Friday, December 16, 2011

garlic shrimp pasta in white wine butter sauce

Sometimes, we learn lessons the hard way. Yesterday, my lesson came via 44CFH ($47) shrimp.

I was treating myself to some fancy food shopping at the gourmet grocery store on the bottom level of the Globus department store. I knew it would be expensive: I bought marinated artichoke hearts, a beautiful jar of green olives, pulchritudinous prosciutto (is it ok to anthropomorphize prosciutto? I believe so), and some other great treasures. When the resulting bill was higher than I expected, I just assumed that everything was just a little more expensive than I had realized, factored in the bottle of wine, and simply thought, it's good I don't grocery shop here on a regular basis!

It wasn't until I got home and was unpacking my bag that I discovered my mistake. I should have realized that the 8,90 per kilo price on the shrimp was much too economical for Globus and for such beautiful seafood. But I swear that's what the sign said. The sticker on my shrimp, however, said 89,00 per kilo. I bought a half kilo. Yikes!

The only thing to do in a scenario like this is resolve to make the best shrimp dinner ever (after shaking my head a few times in disbelief at my naiveté and apparently lacking arithmetic skills - I guess it's good that I get paid to do complicated math and not the simple stuff). This worked out, as I was already planning something special. During my trip to Athens last week, I picked up some black (sepia) pasta colored with cuttlefish ink. Fancy pasta, meet the world's most expensive shrimp.

So, did I pull off the best shrimp dinner ever? Not quite. The flavors were great (and the garlic-butter smell that filled the apartment was amazing), but the shrimp ended up a little tough from overcooking. This is one of those dishes I'd like to make again - I am confident the slightest changes would turn it into the best shrimp dinner ever. Normally I'd try again with modifications before posting, but I'm not about to repeat my expensive shrimp folly. Rather, I've noted the modifications I would make in the following recipe. I'll give it another try after I'm back to the land of affordable crustaceans.

Garlic Shrimp Pasta in White Wine Butter Sauce
Serves 4

3 Tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
about a pound of big shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 c. white wine
1 Tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
about 2 cups dried pasta*
rustic bread
*As mentioned, I used black (sepia) pasta, but I was unable to detect any ink flavor. Some people find the black color off-putting, but I find it interesting. In any case, feel free to substitute your favorite pasta of choice. 

Cook pasta according to directions (when done, drain and set aside). Modification: cook only until al dente and finish cooking in the tasty butter-garlic-wine sauce.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden. Add shrimp and sauté 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and simmer an additional minute. Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pasta and cook until heated through. Modification: this overall cooking time was too long for my shrimp, which made them tough; instead I'd cook the shrimp one minute per side in the garlic butter sauce, then add wine, pasta, and parsley and simmer it all together just until shrimp are no longer pink.

Serve in bowls with crusty rustic bread that will help you get to every last drop of the butter-garlic-wine sauce, which I promise you'll want! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

pumpkin, pancetta, and sage pasta

There is one thing I have learned in the past week: pumpkins are expensive in Zurich. Or to be more specific: pumpkin flesh is expensive (as I've only bough pieces of pumpkin, not an entire gourd). I let myself be sucked in early in the week by the container of pumpkin cubes: no rind or seeds to deal easy: 11 CHF ($12). And it wouldn't really have been a proper Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, right? No canned pumpkin for pie was to be found (my fault for grocery shopping on Thanksgiving day - I apparently missed the last can sold at Globus by a matter of minutes). My favorite gourmet grocery store Jemoli stepped in to save the day (for a price) with their store-made pureed pumpkin: 18 CHF ($20!!!).

The blow of the price was softened by the fact that the dishes made from the pricey pumpkin were both delicious. I've often said that pancetta makes everything better; I stand by that notion. The saltiness of the pancetta plus the sweet pumpkin and savory sage was a super tasty combination. I should warn that I really like sage. There is a lot of it in this dish. If you don't love sage as much as I do, you may consider reducing the amount that you include. Happy Thanksgiving week!

Pumpkin, Pancetta, & Sage Pasta
Serves 4

3 Tbsp. olive oil
sea salt
white pepper
3 cups of pumpkin: peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup diced pancetta
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
about 20 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped (plus a couple for garnish)
1/2 lb. pasta: I used fresh spinach ricotta ravioli
1 handful of walnuts, toasted
1/4 c. parmesan, grated

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pumpkin with olive oil and a generous amount of salt and white pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for 40-50 minutes until tender. Set aside.

Cook pancetta in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add butter, sage, and roasted pumpkin. Reduce heat to med-low and allow to continue to cook together while you cook the pasta.

Cook pasta according to directions. When it's done, remove by slotted spoon and add to pancetta-pumpkin pan. Toss gently. Serve topped with toasted walnuts and parmesan cheese. Garnish with reserved sage leaves.

Friday, November 18, 2011

super schokolade cookies

Superschokolade: German for a whole lot of chocolate. Or Swiss, more precisely, as the chocolate in question is a whole lot of Lindt. I used a combination of Lindt weiss (white chocolate), milch extra (milk chocolate) and noir intense (dark chocolate, 70% cacao). The resulting cookies did not disappoint: they are crisp out of the oven, but now a day later have developed a pleasant browney-like chewiness. The multiple levels of chocolate tastes and types makes for one very robust, sweet, cookie. I think I've made a new best friend in the guy who lives downstairs, as I payed back his generosity in sharing his wifi password with me in cookies.

Super Schokolade Cookies
Makes 3 dozen

1 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
10 oz. high quality chocolate* - 4 oz. coarsely chopped to be melted and 6 oz. chopped into 1/4" pieces, to be stirred into cookie batter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla**
*I used a whole milk chocolate bar (half melted, half chopped), a whole dark chocolate bar (half melted, half chopped), and half of a white chocolate bar (chopped).
**The vanilla extract here is crazy expensive - 12 francs per bottle! - so I substituted vanilla sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Melt 4 oz. chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Stir to combine. Remove from heat. Mix in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. Mix in remaining chopped chocolate.

Form heaping tablespoons 3" apart on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake 15 minutes. Allow to cool on pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

big shell pancetta mac and cheese

The weather has turned in Zurich this past week: a wintery cold to accompany the Christmas decorations that are suddenly everywhere. The trees that were brilliant shades of red and orange when I arrived are now bear. It's the sort of weather that makes me want to have something baking in the oven. This time, I opted for bubbly, cheesy comfort food: mac & cheese...with pancetta (because everything is better with pancetta).

I didn't mean for the shells to be so big. It's hard to tell from the pic without perspective, but the cooked shells are about the size of ping pong balls. They seemed to quadruple from their dried size after spending some time in boiling water. Though unexpected, this worked out very well, as it meant the noodles were not only covered with cheese, but also filled with it. I can't really complain about that.

Speaking of cheese, the particular combo I used this time was novel for me. I typically make mac & cheese with sharp cheddar. No orange cheese is to be found at the local Coop here in Zurich, however, so I tried something new. I found myself unable to move away from cheddar completely (after finding a white version unexpectedly at the grocery store - my backup was fontina, which I was strangely unable to find), but I did add some new-to-cole's-mac-&-cheese cheeses: gruyere (so Swiss!) and parmigiano reggiano.

The top-heating oven in my apartment is perfect for dishes like this, as it guarantees a golden brown crust (now that I've figured out the trick to prevent burning from the top: place the dish on the lowest rack and leave the top rack in the oven to shield the dish from direct heat). If you don't get a brown crust after cooking for 40 minutes in a conventional oven, try broiling at the end (but watch closely to prevent burning!). If you like that crisp top as much as I do, I recommend baking the mac & cheese in a large dish to maximize the crispy browned top to gooey inside mac & cheese ratio.

Overall verdict: this was a really tasty mac & cheese that will definitely become one of my new staple versions (or at least for those occasions where I'm looking for a classic variety vs. butternut squash mac & cheese, which still ranks as my fave). Enjoy!

Pancetta Mac & Cheese
Serves 4

1/2 lb. shell pasta
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. diced pancetta
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of white pepper
a pinch of nutmeg*
1 c. milk
~2 handfuls white cheddar, grated
~2 handfuls gruyere, grated
~1 handful parmigiano reggiano, grated
*I used microplaned fresh nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until it begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add onion and garlic. Continue to cook until onion is transparent, an additional 3-4 minutes. Add flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to coat. Add milk. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until milk reaches boiling. Reduce heat to med-low. Add cheeses and stir until melted and fully combined. Add cooked & drained pasta; and stir to coat.

Transfer to baking dish. Bake 40-45 minutes, until top is golden.

One year ago: red chart risotto

Friday, November 4, 2011

gemischte pilzen risotto

In case it wasn't clear from the picture, auf Englisch, this is a mixed mushroom risotto. I've been continuing to have fun exploring Zurich grocery stores and markets. The other day, one treasure I brought home with me was a box of magnificent mixed mushrooms. I couldn't conclusively identify a single one, nor would I have been brave enough to buy any of the varieties on their own (what would it taste like? how would I cook it?). In fact, I first reached for the plain old button mushrooms. But then my eye caught the combination pack: somehow the cornucopia made the foreign mushrooms seem less intimidating than they might otherwise have been. Into my basket they went.

I consider risotto one of my favorite dishes to make. It is time consuming (lots of active stirring), but not particularly difficult. Once you have the basics down, it's a super pliable dish, a blank canvas on which to paint. I enjoy pondering the possibilities, particularly when inspired by a great ingredient. In this case, that ingredient was clearly my box of mushrooms. 

Being unfamiliar with exactly what I was dealing with, I wasn't sure whether to add the mushrooms at the onset of the risotto making process (or would they become tough?) or near the end (but then would the flavors have a chance to meld?), so I decided to hedge my bets, adding half at the beginning and half later in the cooking process. This worked out really well, as it resulted in both great flavor as well as good texture, the mushrooms added later providing some toothsome meatiness. Lemon awakened the dish, bringing a bright taste of sunshine to the earthy mushrooms. 

This, in my opinion, was a standout dish that I will definitely make again.

Gemischte Pilzen Risotto | Mixed Mushroom Risotto
Serves 4

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
a handful of mixed mushrooms, chopped
another handful of mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 c. arborio rice
1/3 c. white wine
4-6 cups hot stock*
the grated rind (about 2 Tbsp.) and juice (about 3 Tbsp.) of one lemon
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1/3 c. parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. butter
parsley for garnish (optional)
*I used 2 cubes of chicken bouillon mixed with about 6 cups of water

Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add the more finely chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until they begin to soften. Add rice and stir to coat. Add white wine. Cook, stirring, until fully absorbed by rice.

Add hot broth, a couple ladles at a time, stirring constantly and allowing to fully absorb between each addition. When you have about 4 broth additions remaining (this should be around 30 minutes into the cooking process), add the roughly chopped mushrooms. When you have about 2 broth additions remaining, add lemon rind, lemon juice, thyme, and parmesan cheese to rice. Continue to stir and add broth until none remains (test rice for doneness and add additional stock or water if needed). Mix in the remaining tablespoon of butter. 

Ladle risotto into individual bowls, garnish with parsley if desired, and be prepared for whomever you're serving to be impressed!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

my zurich kitch

I had an afternoon of playing in the kitch yesterday. The view out of my kitchen window shows fall in full swing in Zurich. I decided to revisit two somewhat involved recipes that seem fitting for the season: passaladiere and roasted butternut squash soup with fried leeks (click links for original posts with recipes).

The oven-that-cooks-from-the-top is presenting some challenges. Namely, the tops of things are cooking much faster than I'm used to. Strategically placed foil is helping, but I need to learn to account for this before the things I'm baking begin to turn black. For my evening meal, this meant that the onions on my passaladiere were definitely darker than caramelized. I am also finding that my lack of measuring devices means that I'm relying on my estimation skills - this part actually seems to be going pretty well so far (pizza dough without measuring flour or water? kein problem!). Cooking in a new kitchen in a new country is challenging, but I'm happily learning and improvising!

Autumn in Zurich: the beautiful view from my kitchen window.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

beginning with breakfast

I have arrived in Zurich. I will be here for the next two months, in a studio apartment in the middle of town. One thing I am truly excited about: my apartment has a kitchen! In terms of this blog, this means a halt to the restaurant-food-in-foreign-city posts and a return to here's-what-I've-made-in-my-kitchen posts. I welcome this change.

So far, I'm quite excited by the prospect of cooking in another country. It presents some interesting new challenges.

First, the kitchen. It's tiny. I think it has everything I need, though things are in different places and some work differently than I'm used to. The oven, for example, sits on top of the fridge and heats in Celsius degrees from the top. That actually makes a little more sense to me (everyone outside of the US uses the metric system and why have both an oven and a range that heat from the bottom?); I think that with the fan, I can use it as one would a convection oven. The stovetop has two small burners, wedged between the fridge and the sink. The only countertop space to speak of is the "bar" on the side (a ledge below the window), which is also meant to serve as my dining room table and desk. This means I must be efficient with my prep space!

Then, there is the grocery store. I had my first adventure there yesterday. The local store is called Coop and it's conveniently located just down the street. While it was mostly pretty straightforward, the fact that everything is in German and not all of the ingredients I'm used to are available (or at least find-able) keeps things interesting. I like this sort of interesting, as it forces me both to learn and to improvise.

The first meal I'd like to write about is the breakfast that I cooked this morning. I had been to the store already and had purchased without a specific morning meal in mind, so possibilities abounded. The first question I had to answer was: savory or sweet? I was unable to decide, so I made an eggy version of each. It was kind of like real breakfast plus dessert breakfast. The perfect start to my first Sunday in Zurich.

Baked Eggs with Fancy Ham, Spinach & Mushrooms
Serves 2

2 slices pancetta, sliced into 1/4" strips
a handful of button mushrooms, roughly chopped
a handful of spinach
4 eggs
a splash of milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (or at least I think that's about what 200 degrees Celsius works out to...).

Cook pancetta and mushrooms in a skillet until mushrooms are tender.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and milk together in a bowl. Set aside.

Add spinach to skillet where pancetta and mushrooms are cooking. Cook, stirring, until spinach is just wilted.

Transfer meat & veggie mixture to a greased 6-inch baking dish (I used an oven safe pot greased with olive oil, since that's what I had available; you could also do this in two 3-4 inch ramekins). Pour egg mixture over the top. Put dish(es) in preheated oven.

Cook for 10-15 minutes, until eggs are cooked through (probably adjust time down if cooking the servings separately). For me, at about 12 minutes, the top was nice and browned, but as mentioned, my oven heated from the top. To get this with a regular oven, you may have to turn the broiler on for a couple of minutes at the end of the cooking time.

Let sit out of the oven for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to release the eggs from the sides and bottom of the pan. Cut into pieces to serve.

Sweet Banana French Toast
Serves 2

2 Tbsp. butter
2-4 Tbsp. water
1/4 c. sugar
2 bananas, sliced
2 eggs
a splash of milk
4 slices rustic bread

Heat butter, water, and sugar in a small pan over medium heat (start with 2 Tbsp. water and add more as needed during cooking process to reach desired consistency). Once sugar has dissolved in the butter-water mixture, add bananas. Let this continue to cook until bananas have started to break down. Reduce heat to low to keep hot while you cook the french toast.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a slice of butter and distribute in pan.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Dip the bread, one piece at a time, into egg mixture to coat each side. Place the 4 eggy bread slices into the hot pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Serve french toast topped with banana mixture.

One year ago: mom's split pea soup

barcelona food

Tapas, tapas, paella, tapas.

This pretty much sums up what I ate during my 5 day exploration of Barcelona. I am not complaining. While nearly everything I tried falls into the good-to-outstanding range, the standout food item for me was octopus: so tender and flavorful. I ordered it nearly everywhere I went.

My single complaint having to do with food in Barcelona is that the vegetable dishes for the most part were uninspired and did not seem particularly fresh or ripe (roasted peppers and leeks with tuna were two standout exceptions at dinner one night). This was surprising to me given how outstanding the seafood was (without exception). The tomatoes in one dish appeared anemic; the kiwi at breakfast was nowhere near ripe. This was a reminder of the benefits of eating local (and a good reason to eat more seafood!).

I ate at a number of tasty places but only took pics at one - a wine bar/tapas restaurant that I found myself in one afternoon. The leisurely 90-minute meal was the perfect prelude to a siesta. The pics are below. I also included some from the St. Josep Market, where - similar to my meals - seafood trumped produce in both abundance and beauty. Enjoy!

Late lunches for the packed restaurant all came from this tiny kitchen.
A local dish made of crisp potato, a poached egg, and langosteen. There is a special way to stir it all together that the waiter is demonstrating here. 
Beautiful beef.
The St. Josep market.

Because it isn't Barcelona without some Gaudi: the Sagrada Familia.

Monday, October 24, 2011

paris aventures alimentaires: jours 9 et 10

Today, I explored Paris by foot. J'ai beaucoup marche. The culinary highlight was La Grande Epicerie Paris, the grocery store that's attached to the high-end department store, Le Bon Marche. It was the fanciest grocery store I've ever been in and I took no shame in snapping lots of photos of the beautiful food. Here are some highlights:

Epiceries de fantaisie.
An entire aisle of beautiful sucre!
You can't tell from the photo, but each of these spice canisters is about a gallon in size.
De fruites de mer. 
Fancy French meats! 
More fancy meat. 
An aile devoted to all things truffle and pate.
Mon dejeuner: tasty fish soup (soupe de poisson) at a street-side cafe.
So as not to skip jour 9...yesterday was a pretty lazy Sunday (some recovery time was needed after a bit too much imbibing the night prior with some friends from French class). I did make a trek across town in the afternoon to have tea with Aurelie, who was my market tour guide last weekend, and her husband, Eric. They live in a beautiful apartment in the 17th arrondissement. She had made a delicious assortment of sweet snacks to enjoy, including some lemon poppyseed madeleines that I am going to need to learn how to make.

Today was my last full day in Paris. I have fallen in love with this city and am already dreaming about when I can come back. If you're interested in non-food pics, check out my photo album here.

Next up is Barcelona. Stay tuned for more tales of culinary adventures. Leave me a comment if you have recommendations on what to see or eat!

One year ago: lemon herb roasted potatoes
Two years ago: pear bread

Saturday, October 22, 2011

paris aventures alimentaires: jour 8

Biggest success of the day: buying figs from a market vendor...entirely in French! The conversation went something like this:

Bonsoir madame.
  - Bonsoir! Je voudrais un demi kilo de figues, s'il vous plait.
Oui. Voila. Trois trente, s'il vous plait.
  - Voila. Merci!
Merci! Bonne soiree.
  - Bonne soiree!

Not only did I understand how much I had to pay him, but I also gave him exact change. That may not sound like a lot, but it's the first time it's happened for me, so I was pretty excited about it.

Today was a lovely Saturday in Paris. It started out cold and foggy (38 degrees on my morning run!), but burned off to a beautiful blue sky and sunshine for my afternoon at the Musee Rodin. I sat on a bench in the garden with a nice view of the museum and sketched for a bit. After the museum, I wandered and found myself a cafe in the sunshine. There, I enjoyed a croque madame (that was served with a nice, sharp mustard...I think it may have had horseradish in it?) with a glass of rose from Provence and finished my drawing. J'aime Paris!

Rodin's The Three Shades
Rodin's The Thinker
Musee Rodin, from the garden.

My interpretation of the Musee Rodin.

Friday, October 21, 2011

paris aventures alimentaires: jour 7

My last intensive French class was today. Je suis triste! My French, while much improved, still leaves quite a bit to be desired. I plan to keep practicing.

I embarked on a Parisan adventure this afternoon with a couple of friends from class, which among other things, included une cafe sitting outside at a cafe and my first crepe of the current Paris trip, avec jambon et fromage. Tres bon!

Though chilly, the weather today was beautiful and is supposed to stay that way through the weekend. Here's my view of the Eifel Tower from my apartment:

paris aventures alimentaires: jour 6

Sadly, I just passed the halfway point of my current Paris trip. Though the time seems to be racing by, I am content with the volume of experiences that I've been able to pack in so far (intensive language classes, museums, parks, churches, amazing food). 4 more days of exploring are ahead of me...

Today, I embarked on a very fun and novell adventure: Paris grocery shopping. I enjoy grocery shopping in general (I'm one of those people who takes an hour or more to do it because I like going up and down every aisle, taking it all in); it's even more enchanting in another country, where the shelves contain treasures not previously encountered. Different brands, different items (I think I spent 10 minutes staring at the wall of yogurt trying to make a choice! yes, I even took a pic). J'adore.

In an attempt to practice my French, here is what I returned from the grocery store with:
  • le pain ... bread
  • jambon ... ham
  • camembert ... cheese from Normandy (2 euros for a round that would have cost $8-9 in CA!)
  • yaourt aux fruits ... fruit yogurt
  • oeufs ... eggs
  • jus d'orange ... orange juice
  • les champignons ... mushrooms
  • raisins ... grapes
Beautiful food.

Speaking of beauty, here are a couple of pics that I took yesterday at the Musee de l'Orangerie, which has definitely earned a place on my list of favorite museums. It's known for its two large, round rooms that display eight of Monet's Les Nympheas (Water Lillies). The rest of the collection includes more big names: Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, Matisse. The current exhibit focused on Spanish painters (a great segue into my trip to Spain next week!). No pics allowed in the current exhibit, but here are a few from the permanent collection. Enjoy!

Should have included the placard in my pic so I would know who painted this... :-)
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