Cooking at home in Paris
As much as I enjoy exploring different restaurants in Paris, a trip to this beautiful city would not be complete without a visit to its markets and food shops. I love cooking in general but cooking in Paris is really special as there are so many interesting products to try and you can find so many fresh and seasonal ingredients. I especially like to use products that are easily available in Paris but are difficult to find (or are super expensive) back home. I took full advantage of all that Paris has to offer and cooked lots of meals at home during my trip and I wanted to share some of them in this post.
I came across some of the most beautiful chanterelles I’ve ever seen at my neighborhood fruit and veggie stand. Sautée in some butter and they are great in pasta dishes and make a fantastic topping for eggs.
And I absolutely love wild smoked salmon (wild salmon is virtually impossible to find in the UAE). Add some crème fraiche, chives, and freshly cracked black pepper, it’s the perfect snack or breakfast. If having wine with it, go for a Gewurz or a Riesling from Alsace or even a fino sherry.
I am actually a huge fan of all seafood and I feel like a kid in a candy store when I visit the fish market. In the winter time, you can find lots of shellfish such as sea urchins, clams, cockles, and oysters (check out my last post on Eating oysters in Paris) everywhere.
When I saw the scallops still in the shell, I couldn’t resist – I got some to prepare for that evening’s dinner.
The fact that these scallops had their corals attached was a real treat. The adductor muscle, which is the white part of the scallop is delicious on its own but the flavors of the coral are out of this world!
I roasted them in the oven still in the shell with a garlicky parsley-butter mixture. Super simple yet super delicious!
I got a great wine to pair with this dish: a bottle of Premier Cru Meursault-Blagny. It’s called Pièce sous le Bois and is produced by Domaine Sylvain Langoureau. This is a full-bodied Chardonnay from the Blagny hamlet of the Burgundy region in France. When it comes to buttery dishes, I always prefer to match textures and opt for a full-bodied Chardonnay, which can also take on buttery characteristics to mirror the food. I didn’t have any at the time but this recipe would be even better with some slivered almonds sprinkled on top. The almonds would make the pairing even better as Meursault often has nutty notes. I’ll definitely add the almonds next time…
Because there’s a lot of fat in this dish, I wanted to keep the wine a bit on the fresh side – hence the 2014 vintage. However, you can equally opt for an older vintage as time will make the wine richer and more unctuous and this would also go superbly with the buttery scallops. Whether you go with young or old is just a matter a preference… However it’s important to note that not all Meursaults are drinkable young. Some need a few years in the bottle before drinking and opening them too soon would be a waste. This bottle of Meursault-Blagny had enough acidity to make it really enjoyable despite being very young. And if you like a mature Meursault, you’ll need around 7-10 years of bottle aging, sometimes even longer. That may seem long but a mature Meursault is truly a beautiful wine and I think the proverb “good things come to those who wait” especially applies here. So if you come across a bottle in a shop or have the patience to age some yourself, it’s definitely worth the money and/or time.
An important thing I want to bring up about this pairing is the garlic. Garlic is one of only 4 ingredients in my scallop dish and it can be really difficult to pair with wine as its potent flavor and aroma can easily overwhelm most wines. But I recently stumbled upon the pink garlic from Brittany, which is much more delicate than regular garlic. And rather than including actual pieces of garlic in the dish, I crushed the cloves and flavored the melted butter with it and removed it before putting the scallops in the oven. Garlic is definitely present in the dish but it is subtle and this subtlety allows the dish to work well with the Meursault-Blagny. I really love this Breton garlic and brought a nice supply of it with me to the UAE.
On the other hand, if your dish features strong garlicky flavors, it’s better to go with an aromatic wine that’s also high in acidity – like a sauvignon blanc – and avoid oaked wines. Obviously the longer you cook the garlic, the less pronounced the flavors and aromas and the easier the dish becomes to pair with wine.
Another food that I can’t resist when in Paris is fresh foie gras! I was lucky enough to be staying right off of Rue Daguerre in the 14e arrondissement, which is one of my favorite streets in Paris. This street still has small, specialized shops that were so common in Paris before the proliferation of supermarkets.
One of them is a shop that focuses on foie gras and other specialties from the Périgord region of France.
So I got a whole duck liver, which weighs 1 lb … because why not?
I simply sliced the liver, scored it, and then pan seared it. I also made a red currant and rosemary compote, which added sweet, tart, and earthy dimensions to the dish.
What we couldn’t finish of the liver, I decided to make into foie gras au torchon. I’ve always been intimidated by this but it turns out it is quite simple, though it takes about 4 days to make. I really liked how this turned out and I will definitely be making it again.
The classic pairing with foie gras is sweet wine, such as a Sauternes. But if not in the mood for a sweet wine, it will also pair nicely with a rich chardonnay. But with foie gras, it’s better to opt for an older Meursault. So we tried a 2010 by Albert Bichot (I actually would’ve preferred an even older vintage had I had one on hand – at least a 2008 – but c’est la vie. Though not as mature as I would have liked, the 2010 still worked well with the foie gras).
If you don’t have an old Meursault, a Condrieu would also work very nicely. Even a St. Joseph or a Madiran (check out my post on Madiran with fresh foie gras for more information on this pairing) are great choices if you want to avoid whites all together.
Of course, I can’t go to Paris without frequenting the amazing cheese shops! I went to Fromagerie Quatrehomme quite a few times. This is such an amazing shop that even if you only need 1 cheese, you’ll end up coming home with a lot more. Case in point is the photo below: I only went in to buy the wedge on the right… 50 euros later…
A real special cheese that’s in season in the winter months is Mont d’Or – a raw cow milk’s cheese. What makes the Mont d’Or special is that it’s baked in the oven and becomes delightfully ooey gooey! Because it is quite rich, it is only popular in the cold winter months.
Get some crusty bread to serve with the Mont d’Or and you’re all set. Luckily, there’s a Moisan bakery right off of Rue Daguerre. I love Boulangerie Moisan – not only is everything delicious but also organic and really fresh. They bake throughout day and I’ve gotten piping hot breads just out of the oven plenty of times.
You can pair a few different wines with this cheese but my favorite is champagne. Mont d’Or is mostly served for special occasions and pairing it with champagne makes it even more special while the acidity of the champagne helps to cut down on the richness of the cheese so you can keep on eating 😉 I got a bottle of non-vintage Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée. I love their rosé champagne and the white did not disappoint. Delicate bubbles, nutty, with a hint of toastiness.
If not in the mood for champagne, you can also opt for a white from the Jura region of France.
And of course, we can’t forget about dessert! We had a fabulous bûche from Cyril Lignac, made with coconut, almonds, banana-passion fruit compote, and chocolate.
And it is also candied chestnut season and I love these chocolate covered ones from Pierre Hermé.
While at Pierre Hermé, I also had to try the Flocon Ispahan. It is a macaron based dessert made with rose, lychee, and raspberries. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost…
It was a lovely trip to Paris and from now on, I definitely plan on spending more time here in the winter. Such amazing food… And you can’t beat the gorgeous Parisian sunrises, which happen after 8am in the winter so no need to set the alarm 🙂
For lots more pictures of food and wine, check out my Instagram account: @thatperfectbottle