Borgers with No Borders.

our lives, our loves — through our earthly adventures.

Archive for the category “Foodie-Goodies”

Home is where …

Home is where the heart  ensaymada is.

After spending two months of our summer vacation in Manila — which we consider to be our REAL home — we were faced with “la rentrée” blues.  Not that we were complaining to be back in Paris — but just reveling at the wonderful time we had at home with family, starting with all the food indulgences we embarked on and … well, ending with that.

I must have been terribly homesick because two weeks after we returned, I found myself writing on my Facebook status:  “I would do anything to have an ensaymada and a gallon of Chef Tony’s Popcorn right now.”  And what do you know?  Glorious FB does its magic… and soon enough, I had over twenty comments and tons of “Likes.”  It was comforting to know that other people who were not in Manila could identify with this sudden urge to eat ensaymada.  It was more than an urge.  It was an impatient craving, and one that would not wane.

Enter my dear high school classmate, JF, who lives on the other side of the world:  in America, where, I believe, you can find anything your heart desires.  She whets my appetite even more and tells me about a friend of hers who lives in California, who makes the best-ever tasting ensaymadas in the whole wide world.  Two days later, I find myself writing this much-acclaimed ensaymada maker, asking her if she would please send me some via DHL.  The cost was not an issue, knowing that it would cost me more to see a psychiatrist to manage this urge than to actually satisfy it myself.

So I met my Ensaymada Goddess who so lovingly humored me by actually finding a way to ship it to me!  Then, suddenly, the heavens opened — and I swear — I saw those God-like-sun-streaks pass from the clouds straight into my window … just as I realized that my hubby was actually going to NYC… and would be back in four very short days!!!  (Times like these remind me that there REALLY must be a God!)

Before I could spell ensaymada, I made a paypal account payment, emailed Chari (the Ensaymada Goddess) a hundred times to give the hotel address, arrival date, departure date, and all other information that would guarantee that the precious shipment would make it to NYC in time to make it to Paris.  Chari got everything perfectly done … including getting an insurance, yes… an insurance! … to make sure it landed in the right hands at the right time.

Of course, during all this frenzy, my hubby had no clue about what was soon to arrive in his hotel room.

Very sheepishly, I sent him an email saying:  “No need to bring me something from NYC (like he does in all his trips).  Just bring home the box that will be delivered to your room on Monday.”

Monday comes along… and I get this text:

HUBBY:  Received your “pasalubong” (present from a trip) but it is quite a decent box and I don’t know how to fit this in my suitcase.  Remember, I’m taking a motorbike transfer from the Airport when I arrive.

Gulp.  My ensaymadas were treading in dangerous waters.

MY REPLY:  Darling, just throw the box and put them all in a plastic bag, then squeeze them all into your suitcase.  I don’t mind if they get squashed.  Pretty Puuullleeeezzzz?

No answer.  Couldn’t sleep a wink.

Wednesday morning, hubby comes home from the airport and hands me a big shopping bag with a huge box inside.  He said, “This is a present for you from the Filipino guy at the airport who has become my friend.”  Apparently, through his travels, he met this very kind Pinoy at the airport who has become a friend… and as he was leaving, he had mentioned to the guy that he was bringing home ensaymadas for me.  The Pinoy goes, “Your wife loves (understatement) ensaymadas?  Wait here!  I’ll be back.”  And in an hour, he was back at the waiting lounge with this big box of something for me.

I shook the box a bit, smelled it … and ransacked it only to find… not Chari’s ensaymadas… but someone else’s ensayamadas!!!  Just MORE ensaymadas than I had ever hoped for!  Pinoy Kind Man apparently had a sister who owned a bake shop in NYC, not far away from the airport.

Now if that is not serendipitous… I don’t know what is.

I think I must have jumped and skipped at this point.

Stunned (but still with a sharp mind), I stared at my hubby and said, “… But where is the box that I asked you to bring home for me?”

And he revealed … these two ever-so-lovely boxes, daintily wrapped in goldish ribbons, slightly squished but not losing an ounce of its familiar grandeur.

In a flash, I was in the kitchen, zapping Chari’s ensaymadas for 15 seconds, watching the butter, the cheese, and the sugar slowly melting into a sumptuous oozing blanket of plain and unadulterated goodness.

One bite.  And suddenly, … I felt like I was home again.

Order yours now, cause I ain’t sharing.

Chari’s E-Mail:  charis.kitchen@yahoo.com
Mobile:  (U.S.) 626 7555014
She is also has a Facebook account (Chari’s Kitchen) which you can find here

Rungis: Food Tripping

On April 9, I crawled out of my bed at a very ungodly hour.  Three in the freakin’ morning, when the whole of Paris is either fast asleep, or still partying.  For people my age, it would be the former.  But I woke up (thanks to two alarm clocks set!), took a wake-up shower, downed two cups of coffee, and jumped into a taxi I hired for a 4:15AM pick up.

Along with a few other mothers from ISP, I joined a tour to Rungis, the world’s largest wholesale market for fresh produce.  This was where the old and famous “Les Halles” was relocated.  Officially opened in 1969, spanning 600 hectares of land, strategically located close to Orly Airport (7 kilometers from Paris), and at the intersection of France’s railway system.  This is where the restauranteurs, hoteliers, and gastronomic gods purchase their goods.  So while the rest of Paris is either sleeping or partying — there is hard-core work going on in Rungis, where the action begins at 12 midnight, and ends at 6AM.

The tour was totally amazing.  The whole area was almost like a town in itself — with buildings dedicated to each produce.  In fact, we had to take the bus to move from one to the other:  Seafood, Game, Fruits, Vegetables, Cheese & Dairy, Flowers.  Truly a feast for a chef — and for me, a feast for my very hungry eyes.  Fortunately, the tour ended with a yummy breakfast at 9:30AM — which then allowed me to go back to my bed after, to dream about all the insatiable things France can offer.  To me, and to the rest of the world.

The Rungis Tour reminded me of two things:  (1) That I was indeed lucky to be here in the Food Capital of the World; and, (2)  That my French still sucks big-time, I understood only about a quarter of what the French tour guide was rapping.

Sharing with you snipets of the trip.  Watch out for the skinned rabbits (lapin) and Miss Piggy peeping from out of the box.  🙂  Salivate at the foie gras, the agneau de lait, and the sumptuous cuts of beef.  Probably a must-watch for those who need that extra push to turn vegetarian.

Rungis Tour Operator:  (in French only)

Tangram Voyages
2, Les Grands-Champs 54330 Saxon-Sion
Tel: 0892 700 119
E-Mail: Tangram-voyages@editour.com

3 Best Things about my Holidays in Paris

This must be the second time in the last TEN years, that I have spent Christmas with my DH.  Christmas is always quite busy at his work place… and I end up running off with the kids to go “home” — where Christmas is the biggest event of the year.  The decor, the christmas carols that start playing in September, the gift-giving, the frenzy.  For me, it beats no other occasion in terms of spending time with the family… and having an excuse to eat like it was your last Christmas.  🙂

DH gave me a whole year’s notice (since Dec 2008) to warn me that I was staying put this Christmas.  And so, like a good girl, I stayed in Paris — and was thrilled because my dear sister came all the way from home to visit me.  🙂  That is like Mohammad coming to the mountain.  And I love her for that.  (Her spending Christmas with us is, of course, the very very bestest thing beyond this list of 3!)

It was not so bad though… my first Christmas in Paris.  And here are 3 good reasons why:

1.  Eating Christmas Log cakes never meant much to me … until Paris.  Here, they take these logs very seriously.  They are called les bouches de Nöel which turn out to be a design competition of who comes up with the fanciest, most chic, most memorable Christmas Log of the Season.  Mind you, they don’t quite end up as logs anymore (I mean, how creative can you get with a log?) — but some do manage to retain the general shape with great success!  And with designers like Kenzo or other grand chefs teaming up with grand chocolatiers and patisseries… you can imagine what price you could end up paying for these designer logs!  One that I saw reached a whopping EU280 — enough to buy me a handsome pair of boots!  🙂

If you don’t believe me, check out  some of the most spectacular logs this year right here.

Here is the one we happily ended up with, and set on our dinner table.  I thought it was pretty special, delightful for my 5-year old, and surely gastronomically pleasing for my DH’s meticulous palette.  It even turned out to be quite reasonably priced too!  It was one of Lenôtre‘s interpretations of le bouche de Nöel.

2.  The next wonderful thing about spending the holidays in Paris still has something to do with — yeah, you guessed it.  Food!  Well, ok.  They didn’t say “T’is the Season to be Jolly” for nothin’, right?   Christmas Holidays AND Food AND Paris.  Could not get any better.  Turns out, apart from the christmas logs — the French also make a big deal out of the Epiphany.  Alack!  Another new discovery for me!

On the feast of the Three Kings (or the Epiphany), again, most patisseries and chocolatiers whip out their own rendition of the “Galette du Roi” (The King’s Cake).  In the old days, tucked into the galette, was a little bean (these days they use ceramic cars, toys, cherries, or whatever small thing that seems exciting to discover within a cake).  Whoever finds the “bean” gets to be King or Queen of the Day — and he wears the crown that comes free with the cake!  How fun is that?!

So.. who ever said that eating would cease on January 1?  Non, non, non — bien sûr!

We were lucky enough to have been given a Galette du Roi from one of my favourite patisseries (Carette).  The flakiest layers of pastry, filled in with frangipane (almond paste) with crusts crumbling down as you bite into it, coffee in hand.  Heaven!

I found the bean not only in one Galette but in the two galettes that we had at home!  Guess that means I’m having one heck of a foodie year, don’t you think?  🙂  I passed on my crown to my little prince… which he happily accepted.

3.  The third best thing about being in Paris during the Holidays is… THE WEATHER!  It is so freakin’ cold… you would have no inclination to get one foot out the door!  And this could be a good thing, you know.  For one, I was able to cook quite a bit — proud to have managed making Paule Caillat‘s most revered  Tarte aux Pommes au Sucre Roux. Her pate sucree, goes against all the normal rules of pastry-making… and yet ends up as the most delicious, buttery, sinful crust you will ever taste.  (My stumbling block was the center of the tarte… when I didn’t have enough thinly sliced apples to construct the center beautifully!)

Anyhow, quite proudly, my Tarte aux Pommes was inhaled by willing family guinea pigs in two sittings.

Hmmmm.  So it seems… that all three points have something to do with FOOD after all!

Voila, mon amies!  Holidays well spent… my first Parisian Christmas.  🙂

With this, of course, comes the many resolutions.  I’m thinking… should I write it down here for all to see?  Maybe not.  Just know that two, in my long list of about five, include:

– cooking Julia Child recipes alongside (cyber-ically speaking) my old college friend (who lives in the U.S.) once a week. We are currently working out the rules and guidelines of this serious affair… but you will surely hear all about it in the blogs to come!); and…

– paying more attention to this very neglected blog of mine.

So join me, cheer for me, and inspire me to stay true to at least these two resolutions!

Here’s hoping you all have counted your blessings in the past year… and have started a new slate for the Year 2010.

Bonne Annee 2010!

Credits: JPhillips 2 Many Photos template, TReed's X-Treme Acrylic Alpha

Foodie-Not-So-Goodie #1: L’andouillette

I always considered myself an “easy” eater.  I can eat everything — except oysters.  Or so I thought.  Last night, my brother’s friend from San Diego came to Paris for a few days with his family… and we arranged to have dinner together. Being an ex-hotelier, with a vast background in Food & Beverage, it was quite a feat to decide where to bring him. His choice: either a typical French Brasserie or a good Moroccan restaurant with great merguez sausages.

We ended up in Julien, a beautiful old brasserie with a floral glass roof created between 1925-1930.  One cannot get any more french than this.  Escargot, Confit du Canard, Crêpes Suzette… the works.  We scroll down the menu and find that they are serving Andouillettes AAAAA.  Now, I have tried to order this at least 2 times before, in various other french brasseries, and each time, the waiter said, “Uhhmmm… non, non, non.  Mayy-bee?  Iz bettr? … You shooz somtin els?”

Each time, I believed the waiter and went on to order something else!

But not this one evening of celebration with my brother’s Grade-2-best-friend, Mr. F&B Man.  He was actually dying to have les andouilletes!  So I thought, well… if he is practically LOOKING for it all over Paris, and is just DYING to have it… then it must be good!  I also took notice of the 5 A’s beside the fateful word “Andouillettes.”  I figured — hmmm, that probably shows how premium this Andouillette must be!  He gets not only one Grade A, he gets 5!  So, voila!  We will have two of les andouilletes, s’il vous plait.

Chat, chat, chat… and suddenly, yay!  Our food! The waiter ever-so-gently lays the plate in front of me, and I see him from the corner of my eye, almost looking like … “Well, let’s just see how THIS goes!”  And just as I examine the plate before me, I get this whiff of… undescribable odour.  Like something I smelled once too often in the slimy metro stations of Paris.  Absolutely foul, offensive, and down-right repulsive.  Yep.  It was my bloody andouillette, nicely propped on a bed of french fries.  My order, plus my “seatmate’s” order  … the stench just doubling up in strength!

GAK.  I discreetly turn my head away from my plate to gasp for some air.

My daughter is happy with her Confit du Canard… and I try to be a good example by eating whatever it is that I order.  So, I try to be mature about it, and nonchalantly slice the sausage.  Unlike what is normally characteristic of most sausages, this one didn’t cut neatly into one slice.  No sir-ee!  When I sliced THIS sausage, the insides sort of crumbled, and on to my plate rolled these tiny little pieces of chitterlings.  Yes, chitterlings.  Otherwise known as:  diced lumpy pieces from the intestines of a very stinky pig.

I maintain my composure and quickly shove the chitterlings into my mouth, just like any mature adult would do.  Why prolong the agony, right?

Double GAK!  A real one this time.  I must have turned pale because I put my hand on my mouth, thinking that I was literally going to throw up!  I am not exaggerating.  This was N.A.S.T.Y.!!!  It tasted just as bad as it smelled!  Geeeeeeeeezzz, Louise!!!

I looked at my brother’s friend, Mr. F&B Man, and he was happily chomping on his andouillette — savoring every chunk, every flavor, every scent of it — just like it was an old friend.

I swallowed hard, very hard, and … just like a mature lady… I looked for the closest waiter and said, “Monsieur, un Confit du Canard, s’il vous plait.”

Believe it or not, Mr. F&B Man took my little piece of untouched andouillette… and wiped his plate, and mine, squeaky clean.  Now.  That’s what I call Superman!

P.S. Remember those 5 A’s?  Google will tell you that it is an acronym for “Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentiques.” In English:  The Friendly Association of Authentic Andouillette Lovers.  Are you freakin’ kidding me???  I know what Club I’m not joining!

Another P.S.  Just to complete our education on l’andouillette:  During the colonial times in the U.S., hogs were slaughtered in December, and the preferred cuts of meat were reserved for the master’s use.  The remains, such as fatback, snouts, ears, necks, bones, feet, and intestines, were then fed to the slaves.   Cheap food, right?  The wealthier masters (to me, smarter!) though considered these inards so inedible that they were buried as garbage!

Uh-oh.  Garbage? I won’t even go there.  Nor the Swine Flu.

Morale of the Story: The Waiter knows best.

Next time you see something like this, pinch your nose and slowly walk away… just like any mature person would do!  🙂

andouillette

Foodie-Goodie #1: Saint Honoré pastries

Some nights ago, we hosted a dinner at home with two nephews of my DH and a very good old friend, AR — who was once the chief in charge of the fine dining restaurant at the Eiffel Tower.  My dear nounou-turned-cook was a tad bit pressured, knowing that she was going to subject her Asian cooking to one of the best chefs in town… but we were not worried.  AR is a very nice man who has a special place in his heart for discovering Asian cuisine!

He was happy about the Malaysian fare we prepared:  Malaysian Chicken Curry, Spring Rolls, Vinegared Salad (aged for 2 days), and my favorite match to the curry:  dried, fried, and crunchy “dilis” (tiny fishies!) and red native peanuts.  For the French, though, desserts are best when they are not home-made.  At least that’s what I read somewhere.  Your dinner guests are flattered when you take the trouble of (and spend the money on)  purchasing enticing les petites gateaux from the finest patisseries around town.

So that’s what we did.  I walked down to one of the best patisseries called “Carette,” established since 1927.    Yummmm!  A bit pricey in comparison — but well worth every cent.  The people behind the counter must have thought I was a looney because I came, bought 6 pastries, left … then came back 8 minutes later, to get another 4.  I figured 6 pieces might not be enough for 6.  It is always reassuring to have a little more than you need.  In pastries, and in life — in general.  🙂

And this is when I discovered the best of the lot.  Among the Tarte 2 Citrons, the Opera, and the Tarte Framboises…the Saint Honoré was my personal favourite.  (But then again, anything that has generous amounts of cream will be my favourite!)

Saint Honoré is meant to be bought — not for the faint-hearted-wanna-be-home-based-pastry-chef!  It was named after the French patron saint of bakers, Saint Honoré (surprise, surprise!).  Its base is a flaky pastry dough, filled with thickened pastry cream.  On top of the cream filling is a layer of cream puffs, filled with custard, and dipped in a thin caramel.  And of course, on top of the little cream puffs, is yet another dose of more cream — flavoured with fresh vanilla!  Get it?  Cream, cream, and more cream!  Yummmm? O.U.I.

The last piece which I had for lunch today (left-overs must be eaten, right?) just deserved a parting shot (before taking its place on my hips).  Et… voila!

Saint Honore

Saint Honore

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