“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Quoted from John Lennon
Our last day in Paris was a quest to accomplish as much as possible in an inconceivably small amount of time. The day started bright and early at seven am, at which point I was woken up to jump in a taxi to Notre Dame for Easter morning Mass. It was a wonderful experience to the Easter service in such a historical location. After mass, my friends and I navigated our way through the hoards of people and eventually wandered many miles to the Eifel tower. We had the ambitious goal of making it to the top so that we could see the amazing city views, however we were very dismayed to find an intimidating line that would have taken all day long to get through. We opted instead to have a nice little brunch and then spend some time sprawled out on the grass in front of the tower.
Throughout the entire trip, I was determined have a croque madame. The sandwich is one of my favorite meals back in America so I knew that I had to try one in France for a comparison! The croque madame is a simple sandwich, with creamy béchamel, ham and gruyere cheese usually served open-faced on a baguette and broiled in an oven until the cheese bubbles up and crisps. The Final touch is a fried egg thrown on top. I like to dig in with a fork and knife and make the perfect bite of doughy bread with salty ham and gobs of stringy melted cheese soaked up in runny egg yolk. The restaurant we chose to eat in was a small café at the base of the Eifel tower. While the sandwich was good, I have to admit that the dry toast and flavorless filling was woefully disappointing.
Dinner was a much more satisfying experience than lunch. In the evening, my friends and I took a nighttime tour of the city by boat. In an effort to experience the views to their fullest potential, we decided to sit outdoors on top of the boat rather than sit below deck, behind windows in a cramped room. The sacrifice in this was that the weather was frigid and as usual, I had miscalculated when packing my suitcase. By the time we had finished the two-hour tour, I could no longer feel my fingers or toes and was shivering to the bone. We stumbled from the dock up to the main street and rushed into the first restaurant we could find- a steakhouse, bingo. That night, we all ordered the exact same meal, a highly anticipated steak frites with béarnaise sauce. This time I was not disappointed and I savored every last bite of medium rare filet. However, while the steak was delicious, it is the appetizer that has stayed in my memory. That night I tried frog legs for the first time in my life. I had heard descriptions that frog legs “taste like fishy chicken”, a seemingly unappealing description, so I was not expecting to fall in love. However, I was surprised and delighted to find that the dish was amazing! The frog legs were lightly battered and came with a refreshing lemon aioli for dipping. Frog legs are indeed very similar to chicken wings, but they are more delicate, with smaller bones and a light flesh. The only comparison I drew between fish and frog legs was the tender, flaky texture of the meat.
My adventure in France was short-lived but memorable. I had a fantastic time and I feel lucky that I was able to see so many beautiful and historic sights. I feel lucky that I was able to sample several famed French culinary dishes. I feel lucky that I was able to explore and learn. However, none of these experiences would have been half as good without the people that I was with. I mostly feel lucky that I got to explore this city the way it should be done, with friends who are as crazy about eating as I am.
On this particular day I was really starting to run out of groceries and only happened to have a few potatoes, some garlic, mayonnaise and a lemon at the dorm. It happened to be a Monday, which meant I had four hours of class to sit through. The night before I watched the movie Julie and Julia and for the life of me, all I could think about that Monday was the scene when Julie made Julia Child’s recipe for artichokes with hollandaise! I was craving some artichokes. They’re in season during the springtime so I figured the artichokes would be fairly inexpensive. In the end I suppose I was mistaken for even thinking they would be readily available! Unfortunately, when I get my mind set on something, I really cannot stop thinking about it until I get to eat it, so I ended up walking to four different grocery stores after class until I finally found one with artichokes in stock AND I happened to get the very last one! I proceeded to go home and make artichokes with a garlic lemon aioli dipping sauce and homemade pommes frites on the side. I cannot begin to explain how comforting and satisfying that meal was after the amount of work that went into making it.
Oops! There is a chunk of the sandwich missing because I was just so excited and in such a hurry to eat it that I forgot to take a picture first! I made this sandwich in a rush before class. It was delicious and I want to make it again! The sandwich tasted like pizza because of the flavors I added. I also think that all sandwiches are made better if you add a fried egg on top
Herbs de province
Salt and pepper
One fried egg
I tossed the arugula in garlic aioli as if it were a salad dressing and then generously piled all the ingredients on the bread. After that I broiled the sandwich to melt the cheese and make it hot. I topped it with a fried egg and there we go. Served open faced of course because that makes it look just that much better.
As I said before, when I think of comfort food, most of the time that immediately makes me think of french food. Since the weather has been getting colder I’ve been wanting hearty flavors, and of course lots of melted cheese…At the beginning of this week my roommates and I had another family dinner! This time I made something “simple”, large sandwiches. They were SO delicious! I have actually been wanting to make another ever since because it tasted so good. I went all around arthur Avenue going to the specialty cheese shops, bakeries and butchers to get the ingredients I wanted. I had to fight a man (of course I’m too friendly to literally fight…which is probably why I lost the battle) to get the last baguette and I ended up getting a country italian loaf instead. The loaf was a little thicker and harder than I had wanted but it was fine. I had also liked that thin top roast so much from the week before that I got more slices this time. Then at the specialty cheese shop I got a nice big hunk of brie cheese. The resulting sandwich was a brie and steak sandwich with mushrooms, arugula and garlic aioli. The arugula was an excellent touch because I liked the peppery accent it gave to the combination. However it was really the garlic aioli that made the dish!
Thinly sliced top round
Country italian bread
Fresh chopped rosemary
I seared the steak while I simmered the mushrooms with all of its ingredients then layered the steak and brie on the bottom half of the sandwich. I broiled the bottom half to melt the cheese then added the mushrooms and its wine sauce on top. I spread the garlic aioli liberally on the top half of the bread and put the arugula on top of the mushrooms. The arugula mixed with the aioli a bit which was great. I had anticipated that because then the aioli had a double purpose of a condiment and a “salad dressing”.