Day of the gourmand and the French dna

Wiki says – A gourmand is a person who either takes great pleasure in food,
a person given to excess in the consumption of food and drink, a greedy eater,
or a ravenous eater.

What I didn’t tell you – on my last visit to France, I endured


Baguette mornings and some evenings,

I worked through these


I suffered these


Come to Mama!

But I need to bring up in today’s blog something of the French dna that I have
observed during my visits to this country. As many of you know, the French is
going through a wake-up call after the events of the past week … the horrific
deaths of the editor and staff of their satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo,
at the hands of terrorist gunmen.
Their September 11.

I’ve never met a French I didn’t like. A bit of an exaggeration, but …
in my halting, sometimes stammering French, they’ve responded, engaged with me,
in their halting, sometimes stammering English.

The French are a proud people. Proud of their heritage, history, culture, and arts.

The French work. Tirelessly. The proof is in their bread –

Meet Ridha Kadher, the winner of the best baguette for 2013.
Out of 203 Parisian bakers, he won €4,000 and earned the honour of supplying
baguettes to the Elysées Palace, the presidential residence, for a whole year.


When asked for a photo after our chat,
he gladly posed for one but not before asking his wife to join him.



Mr. Kadher, with roots from Tunisia, came to France as a young boy,
and started baking at fifteen, working side by side with his brother.
Indeed, he has come a long way. He now owns his own boulangerie,
Au Paradis du Gourmand.

His secret is « hard work and his mother’s recipe, a 24-hour ‘rest’ to allow the dough
to absorb water and hydrate for his traditional baguette, (5 hours for a regular one) ».

via RKadher

Au Paradis du Gourmand,
156 Rue Raymond Losserand,
75014 Paris France,
+33 9 62 30 47 13

Photos (1)-(7) ©vmanzo-w

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Pasta heaven

Feeling under the weather the past few weeks and culminating
with bed rest for a few days,
I dreamt not of gum drops and icicles, but of pasta! in any shape or form.

Enter 2015, and I find myself at Bar Primi, pasta heaven, for brunch.

Shared order of the day -

To start … Ricotta bruschetta, drippings of italian honey and hazelnuts


Egg crostino, chunky crab meat in garlic crema and arugula


Breakfast spaghetti, with kale, pancetta, topped with poached egg


Very attentive waitstaff in plaid shirts.

Yes, I noticed. Sorry, no photo. Deliberately.

Yes, I’ll be back.


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When gifted with basil, what to do


I was picking some greens at the CT4MB garden when Mike, of next-door Colonial Nursery NJ, came over with a bunch of freshly cut, eager-to-please basil. With his engaging smile and an offering I could hardly refuse, it looked to me a bouquet of flowers. Simple pleasures.


So back to the question – when gifted with basil, what to do? The first thing that comes to mind is presto! pesto – an easy way out to an elaborate preparation of a meal which I almost always am inclined to do these days.


With pasta. On summer-grilled, fresh corn – finger-lickin’. On flatbread – fantastic! On your next chicken sandwich – divine.

That’s it. Here goes -

No-fail basil pesto

Prep time: 30 minutes Yield: Makes 1 cup


4 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed

1/2 cup pine nuts

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese

Salt/black pepper


Rinse basil leaves in water, pat dry with paper towel and chop coarsely.

In a food processor or blender, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, and pulse a few times.

Add cheese and pulse some more.

Pour olive oil in a steady stream while the blender is on. If too thick, add more olive oil.

Salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Store in an airtight glass jar for a week in the refrigerator or freeze for three months. (Note: add a thin layer of olive oil on top to maintain its color.)

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Eggs en cocotte 3

The Weekend. Eggs en cocotte and toast

Looking forward to a long, lazy weekend, a simmering one at that. I’m feeling … breakfast, slow, leisurely, and satiating. What comes to mind? Les oeufs en cocotte. Simple and easy. Very much a French dish, coddled eggs baked in ramekins.


Eggs en cocotte and toast

Time: 30 minutes. Serves: 4



2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs

4 teaspoons heavy cream

Gruyère cheese, shredded

Sea salt

Black pepper

Herbs – your choice of freshly minced rosemary, dill, sage, thyme, or parsley

Buttered toast



Preheat oven to 375°F.

Crack an egg into each buttered ramekin, careful not to break the yolk.

Sprinkle evenly with gruyère, and mixed herbs.

Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle cream on top of egg.

Repeat with the rest of the ramekins.


Eggs en cocotte 1


Arrange the ramekins in a deep baking pan and pour boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins as in a bain-marie.

Place in the middle of the oven and bake until the egg whites are set.

12 minutes for runny yolks, 15 minutes for soft-cooked yolks.


Eggs en cocotte 2


Eggs en cocotte 4



This calls for crusty bread, freshly brewed coffee, and today’s papers.

Half hour later, energized and ready to face you, World!



1. We can add any combination of the following – caramelized onions, minced herbs, shredded cheese, chopped mushrooms – at the bottom, after buttering, the ramekins.

2. Go a little fancy and add a few drops of truffle oil before baking; or go all the way fancy, add a sliver or two of truffles.

3. http://www.cordonbleu.edu/news/easter-2014-recipe/en

I choose to go simple and elegant, and savour the sunny runny yolk. And that crusty buttered bread. I choose to go back to my childhood, Saturdays with my Papa, preparing his version of what I now know as les oeufs en cocotte. Misty-eyed.


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