KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Deux Ans et Demi en France!
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Check, Please! Bay Area Season 2: Episode 7
Drink by the Book
Links Around the Bay
Fatted Calf's Heritage Red Wattle Smoked Pork Chop...
A Chocolate Conundrum
St. George Spirits & Hangar One Vodka Open House
Check, Please! Bay Area Season 2: Episode 6
Mountain View Farmers' Market
Cook by the Book: The Improvisational Cook
Trick Or Treat?
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Deux Ans et Demi en France!

Autumn harvest from the market ~ potimarron, squash, pomegranates, persimmons and little green kiwai

How six months morphed into thirty months is more than my little brain can comprehend. When I set out on this culinary adventure with one duffel bag, three pairs of shoes (including my cooking clogs) and my precious set of knives, my goal was to survive six months then move to New York to cook in a kitchen there. I had no intention of staying and actually my biggest fear as I boarded the plane was whether or not I'd be able to make it the entire six months.

Arc de Triomphe, my first picture I took on my first day in Paris, 4 May 2004

I was in tears the day before I left at my friend M & B's house. She said: "What are you afraid of?" I sniffled: "That I will fail and have to come home early." Her response: "So what?" Sage advice in hindsight. At the time it was the worst outcome imaginable and I threw myself on the bed, inconsolable. Two and a half years later, much to my amazment, not only did I not have to come home early, I've managed, by the grace of God and some remarkable friends who championed my journey, to survive and thrive in this City of Lights. I can't believe how much time I wasted worrying and agonizing over something that never came to fruition though I believe a healthy dose of humility is always beneficial to keep life in perspective.

So how to celebrate such a momentous and seemingly impossible accomplishment? With a big dinner of course, surrounded by some of those friends who cheered me along from the moment I landed. Friends I met my first week in Paris, friends that helped me find work, one as I was boarding the plane to move back to San Francisco, and new friends discovered in this wacky food blogging world.

I was so delighted with my last dinner of duck and figs that I thought I'd stick with it and try a recipe I found in the UK Food & Travel willed to me by a friend who moved back to Washington. So off I went to visit my blue-eyed butcher Serge for six beautiful duck magrets (breasts) and then to my little Place Monge market that has been a source of joy, inspiration and a feeling of belonging since I arrived.

First stop was Bernard and his bio produce stand for sweet potates (patates douces), persimmons, potimarrons (cross between a pumpkin - potiron - and chestnut - marron) and other funky squash for the centerpiece, along with herbs, tomatoes, and of course the supporting actress in tonight's show, a flat of figs.

Next stop was Momo and some olives for apps, then Jean-Marie and his foie gras stand. Across the way to Philippe for some fabulous cheeses and then les fleurs automn for the mantle and table. Bernard also showed me some now treats he had - a kiwai (kee-why), which is the ancestor to the ubiquitous kiwi. These little kiwai were no bigger than the tip of my thumb and I was instructed by Bernard to just pop them in my mouth, skin and all. They have a smooth soft skin, not fuzzy, so easy to eat and not so surprisingly they tasted just like a...kiwi sans hassle and mess of peeling them! So I draped a few branches of these over my potimarron, squashes, persimmons et al and created an interactive centerpiece that everyone could nibble on throughout the meal.

So now it was time to cook. My friend Marleen had come down from England for the celebration and offered to help prep. I immediately took her up on it, tossed her an apron and we got chopping. About two hours before people showed up I put in a frantic call to my friend Jeff to come help as I was painfully far behind with visions of my guests falling asleep in the living room waiting for dinner. Thanks to four extra hands, we served dinner on time and everyone had a happy glow from the champagne and foie gras. Voila le menu...

Deux Ans et Demi en France!
Two and a Half Years in France!
Samedi, 4 November 2006
chez Laura

Pommery Champagne Brut Royal
Pate aux Armignac
Saumon Fumee sur Brioche avec Citron Creme Fraiche

Chateau Larcis Jaumat, St Emilion Grand Cru 2004
Magret de Canard "Laque" avec Sauce aux Figues
Patates Douces avec Sauge
Haricots-verts et Eschalots avec Sauce aux Creme-Noix Epicee

Sauterne de Chateau Haut Bommes 2002, Gironde
Assiette des Fromages

Chateau de la Dauphine 1989, Fronsac
Gateau Chocolat Moelloeux
Glace Vanille Fait Maison

Mignardises de Patisserie Pinaud

Et voila les recettes...

Lacquered Duck
* adapted from Food & Travel, UK Edition, October 2005
this recipe is for 4 people. I bought huge duck breasts that served two people easily so adjust your recipe accordingly

- 4 duck magrets (breasts)
- 2 T coriander seeds - crushed
- 2 T fennel seeds - crushed
- 200 ml light soy sauce
- 4 oranges - juice & zest (I used clementines for this and the fig sauce. They are sweeter and so beautiful and abundant right now)
- 4 cinnamon sticks (or a few shakes of cinnamon, forgot to buy the sticks)
- 8 star anise (I substituted a few shakes of quatre epices or allspice here since I was too lazy to trek across town in search of star anise.)
- 4 T honey
- 2 T brown sugar
- pinch cayenne (I put too much and it had a heck of a kick and though no one kindly pointed it out, quite a bit of water and wine was consumed :) )

1. crush fennel and coriander seeds in a morter and pestle or a blender or mini cuisinart.

2. measure out the rest of the lacquer ingredients

3. zest and juice oranges

4. combine all the lacquer ingredients, simmer and reduce by half

5. while the lacquer is reducing, score and render duck fat in medium heat saute pan, pouring off the fat as it accumulates

3. place duck breasts on rack, skin side up, in roasting pan

4. pour the lacquer reduction over duck

5. repeat about 8-10 times until it is glazed

6. if the lacquer gets too thick, add 200 ml water + 1 tbsp sugar and continue glazing

7. place in a 425F oven (no. 7) and cook for approximately 15 minutes (depending on size of the magrets)

The fig sauce was the same recipe from my Vendee figs recipe here.

The sweet potatoes I tossed in the duck fat that I'd reserved from the last time I'd make duck and sage chiffonade (cut in ribbons) and roasted for about 45 minutes at 400F.

I decided to try a variation on my standard green beans with lardons (bacon), spiced nuts and roquefort. I didn't want flavors to compete with the duck so I leaned a little lighter in flavor this time. I blanched the green beans, and finished cooking them in a saute pan with chopped shallots. In a separate pan I added 250 ml of cream and my spiced nuts (nuts tossed with salt, pepper, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, tumeric and roasted) and let those flavors meld. When the beans were done i poured the spiced nut cream sauce over the mound of green beans and tossed. It sounds heavy but there wasn't a lot of sauce and it just lightly coated the green beans and accompanied the duck perfectly.

The salmon-brioche apps I learned when I worked at Farallon. It is simply toasted brioche with smoked salmon laid on top, cut into bite sized squares served with a tiny dollop of creme fraiche mixed with lemon zest and lemon juice.

The chocolate fondant recipe is highlighted in my Chocolate Conundrum post. I wanted pure flavors to serve with a stunning Bordeaux I'd received as a gift on my 2-year anniversary in Paris (any excuse to have a dinner party!) so pure chocolate, pure vanilla, and pure fabulous red cabernet sauvignon.

The chocolate fondant cake was a bit more fondant than cake but I nestled it with a scoop of home made vanilla ice creamand served with the 1989 Chateau de la Dauphine Bordeaux. It was quite a crescendo to an evening of convivialite. Here's to two and a half more!

Bon appetit!


If you're interested in reading more about this delicious journey, please check out my recently published book, My Keyboard for a Cutting Board - Life in a French Kitchen v1.0.

"Part luscious food-porn and part letter home from abroad, Laura's first book is both engaging and compelling, telling the story of her initial experiences cooking in France after leaving a corporate cubicle job in Silicon Valley. Culled from her blog, and letters she actually wrote to friends and family, it shares her story - including descriptions of food that make the mouth water, and far less appetizing descriptions of things like the shoebox apartment she rents, that could fit inside one room of her former residence in the Bay Area." -Melissa Bartell, Bibliotopia


Blogger Alhya said...

joyeux anniversaire!! happy birthday!! two years, wouaaahhh! congratulations!! and your post was very good to read!

11/12/2006 12:32 PM

Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

merci beaucoup alhya! je ne peux pas le croire! j'aime ce pays :)

11/12/2006 12:58 PM

Anonymous LPC said...

Hey Laura! That was one delicious dinner! You are such a great cook. Everything was wonderful - you can cook for me anytime. :-)
I'm reading your book and love the stories and kitchen tales. You are one living example of someone who has a dream and has gone out to realise that dream.
DH and I are happy to celebrate with you. Bz, G

11/12/2006 3:22 PM

Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

thanks so much ginny - it was really fun having you both here. merci pour tes mots gentils. so glad you are enjoying mon petit livre. gb, laura

11/13/2006 3:01 AM

Anonymous Corine said...

Joyeux Anniversaire. France is lucky to have you!

11/25/2006 5:14 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
Tasty Food Sites
Chowhound SF
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
Leite's Culinaria
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Eater SF
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
The Amateur Gourmet
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
Food Books
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
by Lisa Yockelson
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
by Thomas Keller
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.