Paris Grocery News 1/28 Thursday, Jan 28 2010 


Maybe we’re just missing the warmth of the bright yellow sun, but lately we’re obsessed with Mimolette and its cousin, Pavé du Nord, two ridiculously orange cheeses from the north of France. We admit, it took some tasting to fully appreciate the Mimolette: first of all, it looks like a cantaloupe from Mars, and all we knew was that it was Charles de Gaulle’s favorite (generals not generally being our preferred source for food advice). The texture is, as the French would say, un peu bizarre: when cold, it takes an effort to slice through, and it is so dense that you often end up with only shavings. The flavor seems muted at first, but as it melts on the tongue, deeply savory and nutty notes come through. It’s as though a glamorous, Vespa-riding Parmesan picked up a proper English Cheddar on the road from Lille to Rennes, and they rode off into the sunset together. Yes, it may have taken some time (and arm muscles) for us to fall under Mimolette’s spell, but now we can’t stop thinking of ways to use it in recipes both retro and innovative.

Clotilde Dusoulier, of Chocolate and Zucchini fame, has a fantastic use for the inedible rind of Mimolette, in her Broccoli Mimolette Soup. The rind adds a nutty edge to the soup while it simmers that lasts after you discard it.

While the Pavé du Nord has the same rich taste, its more tender texture makes it an excellent melting cheese. We love it broiled over tomato slices on rustic brown bread. And a Mac & Cheese made with either results in an unpretentious, incredibly savory gratin.

Mac et Mimolette

Topping
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1/4 tsp piment d’espelette
1/2 cup lb coarsely grated Mimolette or Pavé du Nord (1 1/2 cups)
1/8 cup coarsely grated Cantal

Pasta and sauce
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/6 lb coarsely grated Mimolette or Pavé du Nord (1 cup)
1/6 lb coarsely grated Cantal (1 cup)
1/4 pound elbow macaroni or farafalle

Melt butter, then stir together with bread crumbs, piment and topping cheeses in a bowl until combined well.

Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes, then whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses, salt and pepper to taste.

Cook macaroni in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain macaroni in a colander. Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to a buttered shallow baking dish. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes. Serves 4.

Also new at Paris Grocery: Vignette Wine Country Sodas and Lillet Blanc and Rouge!

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Paris Grocery News 1/22 Friday, Jan 22 2010 

Steve and Sharon have been playing hooky at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, charged with the unenviable task of sampling hundreds of gourmet products to bring you the best of the fanciest food. While they recover from this backbreaking work, we at Paris Grocery have stepped in to show you some of our latest and greatest. But, ne vous inquietez pas (don’t worry), The Spanish Table portion will be back in full force next week.

For more Paris Grocery news, find us on Facebook. We heart our fans!

Pyrenées dreamin’

The Thursday afternoon hustle and bustle at Paris Grocery was pleasantly interrupted by Olivier, from Corsican Cheese Cellars, who came bearing gifts. The gift was in the form of Carine, a Pyrennoise by origin, who is dedicated to helping international markets discover regional artisans. Though many know the Pyrenées region as the rugged backdrop for some of the Tour de France’s most vicious ascents, fewer people have discovered the profound gastronomical heritage of the region. The convergence of French, Mediterranean, Basque, Occitan and Catalan cultures result in a rich and varied cuisine de terroir. Because this region is often overlooked, there is still a handcrafted ethos behind each wheel of cheese that comes our way. As we’ve sampled cheeses, chocolates and wines from all over France, we find ourselves drawn to the subtle depth of these Pyrenean treasures. The clean mountain flavors bring to mind the farmer who crafted them, and we can easily imagine how these cheeses are a daily presence on the tables of their communities. We are thrilled to have three new cheeses from this region and hope they will become a part of your daily table, as they have become of ours.

PARIS GROCERY CHEESES

Valle d’Aspe, Chevre

This aged goat cheese epitomizes an authentic chèvre from the French Pyrenees. Complex and delicate nuances: fruity, tangy, and a little salty. It finishes with an irresistible caramelized nuttiness.

Le Somport

A deliciously mild and creamy raw cow’s milk cheese from a cooperative of small producers in the French Pyrenees. The cheese is not pressed, allowing for a rustic, non-uniform texture. Nutty flavors with hints of fruit on the lush finish.

Ossau-Iraty

A classic! A raw sheep’s milk cheese from the French Pyrenees. Hints of mingling herbs and fruit, with mellow nutty undertones and a creamy, buttery finish. Excellent with a black cherry confit.

Back in stock: Truffle Salt and individually-wrapped salted butter caramels from Brittany!

NEW FRENCH WINES

2007 Chateau Picau-Perna St-Emilion

Recently designated as the #1 Bordeaux under $20 by The New York Times, this St-Emilion is an exceptional value in French wines. Equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and spiced with 18% Cabernet Franc, this wine is refreshingly fragrant and balanced, with the ability to age for several years. Juicy and with appealing earthy notes and hints of wet stone, it pairs beautifully with braised meats and lentils.

Domaine des Gatinauds Pineau des Charentes Blanc

Charente, the region where Cognac is produced, is also the home of a delicious fortified wine known as Pineau de Charentes. The Rivière family has been producing Cognac and Pineau on their estate since 1804, and have received many awards. Made from a blend of unfermented grape must and young Cognac, it is light and sweet with pleasing notes of nuts, dried fruits and oak spice.

Paris Grocery News 1/14 Thursday, Jan 14 2010 

The Spanish Table bid adios to 2009 by flinging open the pantry doors and throwing a party last week. In theory it was a small staff and friends party, but turned into a Bacchanalian feast with wines flowing and plate after plate of party foods. In a nod to our new sibling Paris Grocery, Spanish and French bites were served, including Galette des Rois and Cassoulet (recipe follows):

Serves 20 or more, depending on the appetites

8 oz D’Artagnan smoked duck bacon
8 oz Zoe Meats Bacon
16 oz Toulouse Sausage
8 Oz Fabrique Délices Bistro Sausage with herbs de Provence
3 onions, studded with one clove each
6 carrots
3 lbs dried Emergo white beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
14 oz duck fat
5 lbs pork shoulder roast
Two (app. 1 lb) Fabrique Délices smoked duck breasts
1 large onion, sliced
18 cloves garlic, chopped
3 pounds canned crushed tomatoes
3 teaspoons pebrella
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups bread crumbs

Tie the clove-studded onions and carrots together in a double layer of cheesecloth and put with the beans, sausage and bacon in a large, deep, heavy bottom casserole. Cover with water at least 3 inches above the top of the bean mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the beans are almost tender, about 1 ½ hours. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the onion and carrots in the cheesecloth. Transfer the beans and meat to a bowl, cover loosely with foil and set aside. When cool, slice the sausages and cut the bacon into bite size pieces.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the pork shoulder in a shallow roasting pan until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove and when cool enough, cut into cubes. Cut the duck breasts into bite size slices.

In a large casserole, heat 3 tablespoons of the duck fat over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and garlic and cook gently until the onions are translucent and golden. Add the canned tomatoes, pebrella, and cooked beans. Stir in about 2 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid, transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 250 degrees. Remove from the oven and stir in the parsley.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Add the meat, stir to combine and sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Drizzle with the remaining duck fat, and cook until the crumbs are nicely browned and the cassoulet is very hot.

WINE

2005 Chateau La Grange Clinet, Cotes de Bordeaux ($13.99) 62% Merlot and the rest a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this is one of the best, ever, vintages for this property. Peak ripeness led to beautiful grapes, and a sleek wine showing freshness and great balance. Awarded a Gold Medal at the Concours Général Agricole de Paris with these laudatory comments: “fruity, well balanced, ample”. Exactly the type of wine you’d be served in a French bistro, it pairs beautifully with game hens and charcuterie.

FROMAGE

Charolais Affiné: From the granite plains of the Charolais region in Burgundy comes this beautiful raw goat’s milk cheese. Affineur Herve Mons achieves a harmonious balance of saltiness, sweetness, and acidity in this aromatic cheese. A must-try! $16.99/each

Cantalet Doré: One of the oldest French cheeses, Cantal was reportedly enjoyed over 2000 years ago in ancient Rome. Named for the mountains of the Auvergne region, this AOC cheese is often referred to as the “French Cheddar.” When young, it has a mild, buttery flavor that develops into a pleasant bite. $15.99/lb

Fromager des Clarines: Made in the mountainous region of the Haute-Savoie, this cow’s milk cheese by fromager Jean Perrin displays earthy, white truffle flavors. Rich and unctuous, this cheese tastes best at room temperature- served along with some sparkling wine! $17.99/each $3.99/quarter lb

Les Orphelins de Fromage : Help us find a home for our smaller pieces of cheese. Indulge in just a bit of your favorite cheeses, or give something new a try. Adopt a cheese orphan today!

MEAT

Rillettes: A rustic pâté made from meat that’s been poached in its own fat, simmered in spices and juices, then shredded and stored in some of that fat. Pounded into a delicious spread, it’s traditionally served with cornichons and mustard, along with some crusty baguette!

Alexian Duck Rillettes, $11.99 Rougié Goose Rillettes, $12.49 Also new to Paris Grocery: Andouillette Sausage Back in stock: Duck Leg Confit!

epiphanies and eurekas Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

Seasons are absence.

When we sip our mugs of chocolat chaud, we dream of lemonade on sun-bathed porch swings. When we breathe in warm earth and ripe tomatoes, our stomachs grumble for winter squash. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. But I think it is only temporary absence, a leave-taking with the promise of return, which keeps our hearts and hopes tuned in to what is missing. It is both knowing that we cannot always enjoy it, and that we will see it again someday, that lets us take such deep and fragile pleasure in spring greens and Thanksgiving turkey and the company of far away friends.

We celebrate these seasons, these comings and goings of each year and of each life, with different traditions, and I was lucky enough to witness several of these in France. Among my favorites – because really, how can you pick only one? – was the Galette des Rois. I grew up celebrating Three King’s Day with a Rosca de Reyes and Ibarra hot chocolate, and was delighted to encounter this French twist on the same holiday. January 6th kick starts the season of Galette des Rois, huge circles of puff pastry rising a mile high and enveloping a sweet almond filling with a hidden fève. These burnished pastries are shared among friends or coworkers, and the person who finds the little figurine in his piece is crowned king for the day. The “king” must then use his princely status to provide a galette for the next week, and so on, the buying and eating and sharing and laughing and eating continues for the month of January.

The crowns that came with the Galette des Rois

It was only fitting, then, that I make two Galette des Rois (also known as Pithiviers) for The Spanish Table’s Three Kings Party. I prepared one dough from scratch and made another one using Dufour’s frozen Puff Pastry. Dufour uses only butter in their puff pastry, and that made a huge difference both in taste and texture. It was bigger and better than any frozen puff pastry I had ever used, and indistinguishable from the homemade one that took hours of labor.

The Galette des Rois were ravaged at the party, despite their humble arrival in a pizza box. But I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the filling, especially since some of it leaked out during baking. There was also a certain amount of grumbling by friends about filling the kitchen with delectable scents only to whisk the final product away from under their noses. So I went back to the mixing bowl.

This time I used almond meal instead of grinding my own almonds, and tested a different brand of puff pastry found at an upscale supermarket against the Dufour brand. Once again, Dufour kicked ass and the other galette was left looking a little like the kid who forgot it was picture day at school. The almond meal was finer than what a home grinder can produce, and gave the filling the perfect consistency. By mixing the almond meal with sliced almonds that I toasted and ground, the filling was firm but with a heady almond fragrance that complemented the rum.

Enjoy this airy and decadent dessert. The days are getting longer and I’ll be knee-deep in blueberries and cream before you know it, wondering what happened to my winter stews and New Year’s resolutions, loving every bit of today even as we yearn, you and I, towards tomorrow.

Galette des Rois
Adapted from Le meilleure de la France

2 sheets Dufour Puff Pastry, thawed (see note at end)
one stick butter, at room temp
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp lemon or orange zest
3 tbsp rum
7 ounces almond meal/flour
2 ounces sliced almonds, toasted and finely ground
1 tbsp flour
another egg, lightly beatened
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Beat the butter, adding the sugar slowly and beating until light and fluffy. Add in the egg, then the zest and the rum. Mix in the almonds and the flour, making sure the batter is mixed thoroughly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Roll it out so it makes a 12 ½ inch square. Cut out a circle and transfer to a baking stone or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t try to roll the square into a circle, as the dough will try to shrink back into a square shape and not rise as much while baking. Roll out second pastry sheet in the same way.

Spread the almond mixture, which should be stiff, on the dough in the pan to ¾ inch thickness, stopping and inch away from the edge of the circle. Brush this exposed inch with the beaten egg. Place the second round of dough on top and press around the edges to seal. Brush the top of the galette with the rest of the egg. With a knife, trace curves starting from the center of the pastry to the edges, creating a spiral pattern.

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. The pastry should rise and be golden. Let cool, overnight if possible, dust with powdered sugar and partagez !

Note: If you prefer a slight thinner pastry with a higher ratio of filling to crust, you can use only one sheet of puff pastry. Roll out the dough to cut out two 9-10 inch circles, and use about 2/3 of the filling.

Paris Grocery News 1/8 Friday, Jan 8 2010 

Paris Grocery is now carrying an expanded selection of Zoe Meats charcuterie:

Artisanal Ham: A lean and flavorful single muscle ham that gets laid out flat in the applewood smokehouse. An eclectic ham that boasts no nitrites and is great as a breakfast ham or used in croque monsieur! $11.99/lb

Coppa: A traditional coppa, made without red wine during the curing process as some modern coppas are, allowing the flavors of the pork and salt to shine. $19.99/lb

Finocchiona: This subtle masterpiece features whole fennel seeds, black peppercorns, salt, and garlic, with a little orange zest, smoke, and pink peppercorns for a sophisticated flavor profile. $18.99/lb

Salami: This uncured salami is made with sherry, garlic, and black pepper. It has a bold, full flavor and a delightfully juicy texture. $14.99/lb

Spicy Coppa: This dry-cured pork shoulder with cayenne peppers and cracked red peppercorns has a warm heat that sneaks up on you. Its unique flavor and silky texture complements other meats on a charcuterie plate. $19.99/lb

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