Monday, 29 June 2009


Back in April, before leaving for Paris, I posted about what to eat. Early summer brings vegetables to southern Ontario but there is not much fruit. This year some water logged over ripe strawberries are the only choice until the local stone fruits arrive. The first to plant to fruit in my garden is the gooseberry bush. I don't have to worry about anyone helping themselves because most people aren't familiar with gooseberries and their tart taste sends them scurrying.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Surviving Summer

Sunday was the first official day of summer and pretty much on cue summer arrived in Toronto with a vengeance, 30C and humidity. I like the heat I grew up with it but it's the humidity that is debilitating. It is exhausting moving through air as thick as molasses and constantly sweating. I never expected Toronto to be so humid - where are the palm trees and tropical flowers?
I sit at my computer the windows wide open to let in the cooler morning air and the fan blowing gently to keep it circulating. This works until about 2pm when the cool morning air is exhausted and the sticky air from the street invades the house and my computer is hot to the touch. This would be the idea time for a siesta but I am not good at napping so I attempt to catch up on some reading and think about a gin and tonic - the perfect summer drink beverage. The one pictured here is made with Hendricks gin, distilled in Scotland. As it says on the bottle this is "a most iconoclastic gin - it's not for everyone". Well it is definitely for me I love its taste and drink it with the recommended cucumber slices - it makes the humid Toronto summer bearable.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

What I love about Paris - Sundays

I love Sundays in Paris. In my quartier it is the big market day and my butcher, boulangerie, organic green grocer and small supermarket are all open so I go shopping for Sunday lunch.
I grew up with Sunday lunch. After church we would share lunch with family and friends a tradition all but lost in the Anglo-Saxon world that still thrives in France. By 1pm the market and stores are closed and everybody returns home for lunch. Not a sandwich but a proper meal - first an aperitif perhaps with olives and sausage, then an entree, main course, cheese and dessert, while wine and conversation flow. After lunch a postprandial stroll in the park, like the Luxembourg gardens pictured here, is a popular choice. Luxembourg offers a range activities; tennis for the energetic, boules for the less so and often a local band for those seeking musical entertainment. For the children there are horse rides, playgrounds and a lake where they can sail the wooden sailboats with nothing more than a wooden stick to set them en route.
All this contrasts with the craziness of North American life where Sundays are no longer distinguishable from the rest of the week.
Let's all make a resolution to stop for lunch, a real home cooked lunch, on Sunday and slow down our lives down.
This will probably be my last Sunday post.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Parisian Peonies

I arrived back in Toronto on Sunday to be welcomed by my husband and this wonderful bunch of peonies. Strangely, just before leaving Paris I was walking along the Rue Royale past one of the most amazing florists in that city, and in the window was a huge vase filled with probably 200 peonies exactly this same salmon pink colour. My husband had chosen well, Paris didn't feel quite so far away. To keep it close, I plan to post my list of things I love about Paris, this will cheer me up until I return in October.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

London Notes

I was in London this week doing some promotion for Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes and I spent a lot of time on Marylebone High Street. This is a great street that feels Parisian, it's a popular London location for many French or French-style stores.
La Fromagerie is my favourite, a treasure of a store. If I lived in London it would have to be with in walking distance asit has everything I love, raw milk butter, cheese, charcuterie, wine, coffee and fresh fruit and vegetables. Next door is the Ginger Pig where I could shop for meat.... ahh perfect.

Also on the street is Daunt Books a wonderful Edwardian bookshop filled with natural light from graceful skylights and with oak galleries perfect for browsing. Although they specialize in travel books they have a good selection of all subjects including cookery. When I wasn't eating I'd be here.

So if you happen to find yourself in London you must simply put aside time to walk along the high street. Start at La Fromagerie with some breakfast and plan to return for lunch with a glass of wine then you can wander further afield and explore Regent's Park.
After all that exercise you'll have the perfect excuse to return to La Fromagerie for a spot of afternoon tea.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Beef Fat

I am off to London on Monday to talk about FAT and I have discovered that suet (veal/beef kidney fat) is in short supply. I'm shocked. I think of England as being the home of suet - steak and kidney pudding, jam roly-poly, steamed pudding, mincemeat and so on. Perhaps that is the problem - these are all winter dishes not popular when the weather warms up.
I am not making any of these classics, the suet is for a fruit cobbler, fruit topped with suet biscuits or, as I can finally say since I'll be in England, scones, instead of butter as the fat I use finely grated suet. This was one of my discoveries while writing Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes.
I made scones using all sorts of fat and the suet scones were my favourite -rich but light.
Another favourite beef fat is marrow and roasted marrow bones are easy to make at home. I used to buy my bones cut into pieces cross-wise, now I ask my butcher for large pieces of femur cut lengthwise, just look at these beautiful ones my Paris butcher M Joël Lachable prepared for me.

Simply soak them overnight in salted water to remove the blood then roast them in a very hot oven and serve with fleur de sel and toast. The advantage of cutting the bones this way is that it they cook more quickly and it's easier to remove the marrow, no need for a fancy marrow spoon just a teaspoon or even just your knife.

Of course when I served them I totally forgot about taking a photograph, I was desperate to get at that marrow while it was still warm. However, here is a photo of the same dish at one of my favourite Paris restaurants Ribouldingue. You can read about what else I've eaten there in a previous post.

Mine looked just as good. If you love bone marrow try making this at home. The hardest part is preparing enough warm toast.