Category Archives: Eating

Fromage Friday: Brillat Savarin

It’s BACK! Sure, there is a lot of good cheese to be eaten in the United States, but on that side of the Atlantic “fancy” cheese is more expensive and seems frivolous. In France, I feel like a criminal every time I walk past a fromagerie without buying something. That means I feel like a criminal every 15 minutes, but so be it.

The return to glory involved the 17ème arrondissement’s Alléosse fromagerie and about five kinds of cheese, but the only one I’d never had before was Brillat Savarin. The cheese comes in a square about the size of your fist, but a quarter of it is more than enough to last a few days because it’s a   “triple crème” cheese. This means that cream is added to the usual milk mixture when this cheese is being created. It also means the cheese is about 75 percent fat. One sliver of this bad boy meant I had to put some of my other cheese slices back on the plate at lunch (l’horreur!!!); I was just WAY too full. Yes, I said it. I found a cheese I can’t really eat.

According to my reader-friendly cheese book, this cheese was created by Pierre Androuët, FATHER of the master of all things French cheese, in 1930. He’s also the author of my less-than-reader-friendly “Dictionary of World Cheeses.” Good work, Team Androuët.

Brillat Savarin

Made by: Fromager/Affineur (meaning they actually mature the cheese) Alléosse, rue Poncelet. The line was 10 people long. I take the advice of travel writers and get in lines whenever I see that many people waiting.
Hails from: The northwest of France. Mostly Normandy.
Background: Not a handmade cheese, and so creamy that my aunt squeezed a piece and said it actually felt like butter. It’s a fresh cheese in that it only needs to age a few weeks, but it’s by no means light. Whoa mama. It’s also fairly strong tasting. I had been expecting something like Brie, but it’s much richer and tangy-er in flavor. Holds its own, for sure!
Can I eat the rind? You can, but it’s not necessary.
Serve it with: Veggies. Fruit. More veggies. Scant amounts of bread. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but this is not the kind of cheese I could handle eating with prosciutto or ham.

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Pistachio O o O

I’m back in France! And eating unpasturized dairy! But until next Friday rolls around, you’ll have to read posts about what I did in the United States.

Just like the “every country has its fried dough” theory, most cultures have their chosen nut products. America has peanuts and pecans, a lot of African countries use ground nuts in soups and stews, and much of Europe fills everything with hazelnuts. In Turkey your chocolate comes with pistachios, Greeks lean on walnuts heavily for their pastries, and when  I think of pine nuts, I think of Italy.

But I’ve only ever consumed peanut and almond butters in the salty spread category. Pistachio butter’s time had come.

Caution, guys.

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Late Summer Tomato and Chevre Galette

This post is a lie. Yes this is more of a tart than a galette, but must importantly… it’s not the end of summer. I REFUSE TO SUCCUMB! Even though the leaves on the maples along the trail and starting to show red around their edges, the crickets are the only sound in the late summer morning air, and the tomatoes are fat and fire-truck red, I insist that this season can last forever.

But just in case, I’m gonna cook lots of things with tomatoes and corn.

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Speculoos City

Most cafés in Northeast France serve a Belgian Speculoos biscuit with every tea or coffee you order. While you can find Speculoos throughout the country, it’s more at home in Lorraine, which shares a border with Belgium as well as the holiday of Saint Nicolas, when bakeries produce giant Speculoos cookies in the shape of the good saint. Whenever I was served a coffee in another region of France and received a chocolate chip cookie, it was a bitter disappointment.

The cookie is a basic spice cookie, which sounds plain but is completely addictive. I’ll prove it!! The flavor is so popular at the moment that you can buy gazillions of speculoos-flavored treats: cereal, pudding, toasts, spreads, and pastries. The spread is at least as deadly as Nutella. I don’t drink espresso all that often in the States, but some clever friends knew that when I did I would feel sad without that Speculoos on the side, and bought me a cookbook to make them at home, along with a ton of other dishes (speculoos pie crust, speculoos tiramisu with chevre and figs, apple/almond speculoos soufflés!) made with the flavor . Continue reading

Kimchi Adventures

BRING ME THE KIMCHI

The massive grocery store a half a mile from my parents’ house has had a rough life. It’s been a Giant, a Fresh World, and an All Green. Recently, it reopened as “FoodValu,” which is the third incarnation of “huge Asian and Mexican superstore with only half the store dedicated to regular American processed stuff.” Continue reading

Bmore Diaries: Pitango Gelato… AFFOGATO

Bastille Day in Baltimore dawned dark and pouring rain; actually kind of fitting for a girl who is trying to get back to the very rainiest and foggiest part of France. By 10 a.m. the clouds had rolled away, leaving a fresh breeze which lightened up our French-speaking picnic at Fort McHenry. A friend from New Jersey came down to meet me afterward and we made our way along the harbor in search of coffee, beer, or ice cream.

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Cooking for the Week: Chicken Tagine with Apricots

Never again.

Just over two months off my flight back to the States from France, and I’m well entrenched into the 50-hour a week American work schedule. On a good, full day up by 5:15 to run, out the door at 7 a.m., walk back in the door at 7 p.m. But I refuse, REFUSE, to sit down at lunch with a lunchmeat, sandwich bread and chips meal.

Niçoise salad Sunday

That means Sunday is a busy day, as well as Monday nights and basically any other moment where I have free time. Sunday is the only time that I have a full day to dedicate to playing in the kitchen, so I often make at least two dinners, and a side or some kind of breakfast. Korean cucumber and edamame salad, asparagus and shrimp salad, or southwest bulgar salad. I also search for modern crock pot recipes, like black bean soup or this infinitely tasty tagine. My biggest crock pot rule is that I do not pre-cook anything but onions and garlic. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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Squash Season! Zucchini Lasagna

This summer is brutal. Every afternoon this week I baked like a hamburger patty on the sidewalk. When the rain finally poured down Thursday night and dropped the mercury, I was able to turn on the oven to use some of the zucchini overflowing on our counter.

I am not a huge fan of Americano lasagna. Too much beef, too much cheese, too much pasta–I generally feel like I have a gigantic brick in my stomach if I eat any of it. This recipe takes out the pasta and a lot of the cheese, so it won’t taste anything like “lasagna,” but it was so tasty that I didn’t even have time to take a cross-section picture… because it was gone before I got home!

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Why Crate and Barrel sells pie weights

It’s Bastille Day! The 1789 day French civilians and others stormed the Bastille and it freaked everyone out, even though there were only seven prisoners and more rioters were killed than anyone else. Vive la revolution!

I celebrated this historic day by making a very non-French quiche and eating it with a bunch of French speakers outside of Fort McHenry. I didn’t have enough time to make the pastry dough from scratch (though apparently I am one of very few women who even attempt one), and I turned up my nose at the idea of adding beans to my pie crust while toasting it, because I’d never done it before.

On the right, first not-so-great attempt.

Pride always comes before a fall.

The pie crust turned into a mountain. I convinced myself I could still just pour the filling in, and created an oven disaster that validates Crate and Barrel’s $7 pie weight, though from now on I’ll just be sticking with reused dried peas or clean pebbles, à la français. Attempt two came out cute and clean, though to be perfectly honest both tasted delicious.

I was aiming for a decidedly non-French quiche; a ricotta, arugula and lemon recipe. A quiche typique of ham, cheese, eggs and layered pastry dough always leaves me feeling like a human log, and this was a fantasic and EASY variation.

Even if you do it properly and make the pie crust, it can’t possibly take you more than 20-30 minutes of active work to make, and then all that’s left is to receive compliments from the resident French quiche experts at the picnic.

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Where Have All the Strawberry Farms Gone?

Mt. Airy U-Pick Strawberries in Davidsonville, Md.

Long time ago…

Maryland west of the Chesapeake Bay might seem like an overflowing land of townhouses and car dealerships, but just 10 years ago there were still a lot of small farms and you-pick operations. Every year the number of farms that will allow me to run wild on their property diminishes, and I cry real tears at the thought of not being able to pick 15 pounds of PERFECTLY ripe berries.

Our family has always gone to the farm to pick fruits–getting all dirty and damp, each of us boasting that we’ve found the perfect, biggest, best morsel. The few short weeks of the strawberry season mean strawberries on cereal, salads, sandwiches, and tried-and-true Bisquick drop biscuits with heavy whipped cream.

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