Thursday, 31 December 2009

Le “Best of”

It has been, by any estimation, a difficult year. Thankfully, though, there have still been opportunities to take pleasure from shopping for, preparing and eating good food. A few of my favourites...

Pastry Assessing on a number of criteria, Le Figaro rated the tarte au citron at Jacques Genin’s Marais shop to be the second-best in Paris. Having not visited any of the close competitors, I can’t make an authoritative judgment. But I was delighted by the elegant, minimalist shop, the intense care shown in selection and packaging and the stripling of lime zest. Genin’s unctuous chocolate ganache tarte was its technical equal.

Restaurant I’d like to think I pipped the critics in discovering Cafe dei Cioppi, an improbably fantastic Italian kitchen-with-chairs serving simple, ingredient-driven dishes like burrata and grilled-vegetable salad, saffron risotto and pumpkin and sausage lasagne. The wines by the glass are unusual, the crowd stylish but not overbearingly trendy and the location, barely more than 100 metres from my front door, unbeatable.

Fruit and veg It will be more than six months before they’re again available at the market, but I’m already anticipating more experimentation with one of my favourite recent discoveries, courgette flowers.

Ingredients A small sachet of juniper berries has been enlivening homemade gravadlax, braised red cabbage and meaty ragus, while bouquets of chervil, pretty enough to put in a vase, have lifted countless everyday dishes like omelettes or leek and potato soup. Fresh Fallot mustard, aromatic and not too hot, has been a relevation, worthy of eating straight from the spoon.

Day out The best burgundies are well outside my budget, but 18 euros paid for a day’s bicycle rental and a map of the Route des Grands Crus. Heading south from Dijon, I passed through the villages and vineyards of Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee and Gevrey-Chambertin before lunch, managing three courses and two glasses before a flat, 20 kilometer glide back into town.

Recipe I’m still not sure exactly what elevated my first-ever boeuf bourguignon from satisfying to sublime, but I’m happy to give full credit to the folks at (sadly departed) Gourmet for showing me the way.

Book How did MFK Fisher manage to write about food—and life—in such a spare yet evocative way? My anthology of her writings hasn’t been absent from the bedside table since I bought it last winter.

Wine Drinking Meursault, a fantastic white burgundy, is always a special treat. Having a particularly good glass of it sent over by a fellow patron in a Dijon wine bar was an occasion that I hope to remember for a long time.


כנרת said...

Dear Shira,

Thank you for the great year's summery. Some of your recommendations are already in my little black book of things that needs to be tried soon.

I wish you a much better year.

Shira said...

Kinneret, many thanks for your kind wishes and happy new year!

Javajem said...

Happy new year Shira! I look forward to reading more of your dining adventures in 2010!