So I have returned from my week-long jaunt around the Western Caribbean on the enormous Allure of the Seas and I have plenty to share on that one, but let me finish up here first since I am sure you have nibbled your fingernails down to nubs waiting for the final chapter to this.
The next morning, everyone got up and out the door fairly early to begin their trek to Versailles without me. On the way out the door, my aunt jokingly asked if I would have dinner ready for them when they got back. “Really…Even here I have to cook for you?” At home it is my house that hosts holiday dinners, family gatherings, etc. so I am always the designated ‘chef du jour’ and to be honest, I love it. I love to cook and try new things. I view cooking for my family as an excuse to use them as guinea pigs so I get to try all sorts of interesting thing. I guess its been okay so far…they keep coming back!
However, the luggage company had said anytime between 10 and 2 and as an American that is used to US cable companies, I expected that to actually mean around 3:30. I envisioned calling for Chinese take out since we had nothing in the apartment except palmiers and coffee. Imagine my surprise when my luggage was delivered at 10:30! Well hell…now I have no excuse for not cooking dinner!
So off I went to find something to cook. Talk about an abundance of riches! Market shopping in Paris has got to be one of the most unbelievable experiences I have ever had. First though, let me tell you that before I decided to go out to the 11th to visit Richard Lenoir, I made a quick trip to a local grocery store. The difference between US and French grocery stores was amazing. Yes, they have frozen, canned and convenience foods just like we do. The difference is nearly all of the ingredients were things that actually occurred in nature and that I could pronounce. Also, the utter absence of “sugar-free,” fat-free,” and other “healthy” (read chemically enhanced) foods was amazing!
But I wanted to see the open air market, so off I went. Richard Lenoir begins at the Place de la Bastille and runs roughly northward. On any given Sunday the market is bustling with folks. I was a bit surprised at this. I live in the South and one of the reasons I shop on Sunday mornings is because everyone else heads to church. I figured the same would be true in the city of Notre Dame, but nope. The market was hopping with heathens just like me!
I had no real menu in mind, I figured I would walk around and see what looked good…EVERYTHING looked good!
Succulent roast chicken that looked like the skin would be to die for. This was particularly tempting because roast chicken is my Achilles Heel…I cannot get it right. I can whip up a delicate fish with saffron scented butter sauce or a earthy porcini dusted beef filet, but I cannot for the life of me roast a whole chicken without turning it into chicken jerky or cutting into it and finding chicken sushi. I have followed Julia’s recipe to the letter…its just not in the cards for me. But moving on, I did not get the chicken this time.
Scallops…Oh how I love scallops! Rich and buttery, they come in their very own serving dish as if the sea gods knew how great they would be to eat! However, in France they are sold in the shell, with the coral attached (which I love!) and I was not sure how well that would go over with the rest of the folks eating dinner.
As adventurous as I am as both a cook and an eater, I knew sea urchin was out. I also did not want the apartment to smell of seafood for the rest of the trip so sadly, lobster and crab were out as well.
I decided to start with a traditional charcuterie plate figuring everyone would have something to nibble on at least, and if I messed up dinner at least we wouldn’t starve! Plus…look at those olives and the bread! How could I resist!
Salad fixings were next. The lettuces alone had me swooning and the peppers? Wow. The thing that struck me as so different from US grocers was the way all of the food smelled…it was just so much more.
Unfortunately, by this point my hands were full of food and I could not take any more pictures. For dinner that night we did indeed have a charcuterie plate, as well as a mixed green salad, gorgeous filet of beef with a red wine and mushroom sauce, roasted potatoes, and sauteed haricot verts. It was a fantastic meal and I loved every minute of shopping for it as well as cooking and eating with family.
Now…if only I could get to Versailles!!!