My French Heaven

ALL ABOUT FOOD, FRANCE AND JOIE DE VIVRE

What if you were your own guest for the day?

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The great thing about Winter is that I get to spend more quality time with my friends and enjoy even more of my favorite comfort foods (onion soup anyone?). Thedown side though is that I don’t get to welcome as many guests. And although I never get bored (not in my nature), I do miss having real Foodies to feed and play around with… And so last Saturday, in need of some extra fun, I decided to put together aFoodie Day just for me!

A great Foodie day is always designed with the following in mind:

  • It has to include a great deal of eating and a healthy dose of drinking (I’m using the word “healthy” here as the word “reasonable” always makes me gag).
  • It has to be surprising and exciting
  • It has to be authentic in every way

When I have guests coming over for Foodie Days, I always make sure I get to know as much about them as possible before hand so I can tailor the experience and anticipate their every need. In this case, I (me, myself) was the guest. So I just had to think of some of the things that I love most in life and I was well on my way to create the perfect itinerary. The things I love the most besides my family are my friends, great food, photography and cars. Et voilà!

So first, I drove to Bergerac for the annual antique car show. I met some interesting characters there, including a biker looking dude who actually drove in in a superb Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. I proceeded to have a portrait session with him and his Spirit of Ecstasy (the silver girl on the hood).

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Then I drove back to St Emilion for a photo session at one of my favorite restaurants “Le Tertre”. The owners had just finished renovating the dining room and wanted some photos for their website. So I joined business with pleasure and ordered some of my favorite things from the new menu. Haaaaaa, getting paid to eat… What a life one leads… I had the most exquisite seared foie gras followed by roasted pigeons with truffle mashed potatoes, then cod and a citrus soufflé with tangerine sorbet for dessert.

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I spent the following few hours walking around the vineyard taking pictures of the farm hands pruning the vines. Had fun scaring some chickens along the way… Quite relaxing!

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The day ended at my friends Jamie and Jurina. Jamie is a car nut like me and a very talented automotive upholsterer. A client had brought in his Ferrari that morning. So of course we couldn’t resist, and since I had my camera with me, we parked the car in the nearest field and had yet another exciting photo session. I felt 15 again. We also shot the old Simca in the barn… Jurina had put together a delicious buffet for dinner with lots of seafood, cheese, rillettes and cheese rolls. I will share my recipe with you soon. We had such a delightful evening together, sharing recipes and car stories by the fire…

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So here you go! I dare you! Be your own guest for a day! Go on an adventure! Life is short they say…

My Japanese Heaven – Part 4 of 4 – How sushi actually made me cry

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OK, I’ll make this short (kind of):

The Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo is the largest one in the world. I was lucky enough to visit it in November before it is moved to a new location (this year or the next I think). I’m saying this because I think that the old warehouse it’s in very much contributes to its incredible atmosphere. And although, as you’ll see in the pictures, it looks really old and dirty and dark, I have never visited a fish market before that didn’t even smell like fish. I mean, it does, but it smells like really fresh fish… The best time to visit it is at 9am when it opens to the public. By ten thirty everything is kind of over. You can make reservations in advance to be there at 5 or 6 in the morning for the tuna auction, but I really didn’t see the point of that. My niece who lives in Tokyo and always has foreign guests staying with her had told me that friends of theirs who visited before had been treated very poorly at the market. They were shouted at, even had dirty fish water thrown at their feet. So I was quite worried about the experience I would have, especially since I wanted to take so many pictures… The experience of it was quite the opposite of what I had been told. I showed up at 9 sharp and had the most incredible experience. I was even offered tea and had a long talk about France and wine with one of the merchants… The secret? Be polite, smile and stay out of the bloody way!!

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Next stop that day was Kidoguchi (tel 03 54673992), my nephew’s favorite sushi restaurant in town. Let’s just say that the experience was so amazing that it made me tear up. I am not joking when I tell you it was the most refined dining experience I have ever had! You guys know how much I appreciate, admire and love craftsmen and women; people who are passionate about what they do. Well, even though I have had my share of fine dinning experiences in my life, this one was just that much more special. The textures, the freshness of each ingredient, the perfectly crafted sequence in which each piece was served… Truly amazing. Comparable to a religious experience. In addition to that, the Sous Chef is the son of a diplomat and speaks the most perfect English. This made the experience even more special as he was able to explain each part of the traditional sushi meal: what he was serving, when and why, etc… The problem is that I am a sushi nut, and because of this experience, I will never be able to appreciate a sushi meal again outside of Japan…

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On my last day, Alice (my adorable niece) had booked a private cooking class for the two of us. We had asked for a tempura theme. We met our host Yuka (Yuka’s Japanese Kitchen) at the metro station and she took us shopping for the ingredients first. That was the most interesting part for me as she was able to describe each and every ingredient in the shop (OK, almost each ingredient). You see, I am a fan of Japanese food, but the cooking culture is so different from mine that I needed to understand the basics first… We learned how to make the tempura sauce and miso soup from scratch… Truly fun and inspirational!! Thanks Alice!!

Alright. Now that we are done with the Japanese interlude, I will be back very soon with some good traditional French dishes for you guys to try… Bonne soirée mes amis!

My Japanese Heaven – Part 3 of 4 – Kyoto in the fall

No bla bla today. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. I’ll just say that Kyoto is a very very special place indeed and its people a delight to be around:

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