Posts filed under ‘Travel’
April in Paris ! I was fortunate enough to visit Paris in April and enjoy the amazing sights, sounds and fabulous food in this vibrant, exciting city ! April is a luscious time of year to visit Paris; masses of tulips, cherry blossoms, daffodils and apple blossoms abound in the gardens and parks.
Although our visit was somewhat short, we saw many of the beautiful, historic sites in the heart of Paris, including the Louvre; Musee d’ Orsay on the Seine;the chill bump inducing, awe-inspiring stained glass windows of the Sainte Chappelle; Notre Dame; the Arc de Triomphe, and of course the Eiffel Tower.
On one of our many strolls through the streets of Paris, we discovered a friendly and accommodating, quaint restaurant that served some amazing food including onion soup. I could not get their recipe, but my friend Rose, who was born and raised in France, gave me hers and it is very similar to the soup we were served at this quaint restaurant. I am not sure, but I think the restaurant was the Cafe de la Bourse. I know it was one of the restaurants where we had a wonderful experience and great food!
Rose’s French Onion Soup, or as she says “Soup a L’Oignon” .
4 or 5 large white onions , sliced thinly.
1/2 cup butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
6 cups beef stock, preferably home-made
1/4 cup good cognac
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 rounds of
toasted French bread. Butter both sides after toasting
Grated Gruyère Cheese, about 2 cups
Cook sliced onions in butter in a large saucepan, with the sugar; cook very slowly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook , covered, about one hour.
Just before serving, add cognac and spoon into earthenware bowls over toasted French bread rounds. Top with lots of grated Gruyère cheese and melt under the broiler.
This serves about 4 as an appetizer.
Nova Scotia in the fall is one of the most beautiful and scenic places I’ve ever had the good fortune to visit! As we drove the Cabot Trail with breathtaking views of oceans and bays, mountains, forests and waterfalls, we sampled exquisite local seafood dishes at every opportunity!
Searching out the most rustic and unassuming restaurants, our contest to see which prepared the best seafood chowder resulted in finding a very charming eatery (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name and have lost my notes from that trip) housed in an old log cabin. They served large bowls of chowder MOUNDED with shrimp, scallops, fish and lobster! The mountain of seafood, surrounded by a tomato-garlic based sauce, towered at least 6 inches above the rim of the bowls! We couldn’t believe our eyes and it was, and still is, the best and freshest seafood chowder I have ever tasted anywhere!
Following is my recipe for bouillabaisse with flavors reminiscent of that restaurant in Nova Scotia, on the Cabot Trail. If you have never driven the Cabot Trail it is a treat not to miss!
I started making this in 1984 and have served it, with some tweaks along the way over the years, to my dearest friends and family with rave reviews!
This is somewhat time-consuming and requires constant attention but is well worth the effort, not to mention the expense!
Bouillabaisse for Eight
2 lbs. grouper filet, or other white fish, cut in small portions
Fresh mussels, at least 4 or 5 per person
40 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 lbs. cooked lobster meat, big chunks please!
4 slices lemon
4 slices orange
pinch of cinnamon
A healthy pinch of saffron or 1 tsp. turmeric
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Fresh garlic, to taste , chopped
Freshly ground black pepper. I use a lot!
Salt to taste; to me, the seafood and tomatoes have enough natural salt but you may want more.
Small sprinkle of cloves
2 large sweet onions, chunked up
2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup tomato sauce or ketchup
Handful chopped parsley for garnish
In a large pot , saute onion in olive oil till transparent. Add the chopped pepper and garlic and cook for a few minutes, till you smell garlic strongly. be careful not to burn the garlic, it will be bitter if you do.
Add all other ingredients, except seafood and simmer on low until all flavors are nicely blended and you can smell the orange slices, maybe 10 to 15 minutes. *If at this point you feel you need more liquid, add more broth but remember this is not a soup and should have more seafood than sauce.
Add grouper and cook for 5 minutes
add shrimp and mussels and cook, covered, 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Be careful not to over cook! Nothing worse than overcooked seafood!
Add lobster meat and briefly heat through.
Remove orange and lemon slices and serve topped with some of the parsley along with some dense, crusty bread and the rest of that white wine.
As my aunt Mary would say,”It’s so good, it’ll make your tongue slap your back teeth out!”. Now that’s good!
I hope you will enjoy this taste of Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail !
Ten days of relaxed bliss, crystalline turquoise waters, soft white sand beaches and that wonderful, salty sea air———ahhhh, the Abacos! My late partner Bill and I stayed in an old wooden house on the ocean that gave you a whole new respect for the term”rustic”! It was riddled with Woodpecker holes ( we didn’t know this until we arrived late on a Sunday night—too late!). Sugar ants wondered what we were doing in their house, so any groceries had to be kept in the minuscule refrigerator or hung in bags from the rafters.
Noisy Woodpecker visits during the afternoon nap in the back bedroom were a little disconcerting, but harmless after the first scare! We decided to call the place “Woodpecker House”.
Our visit was great fun, though, with long walks on the beach in search of shells and beach glass to add to our collections. Curly tail lizards, very curious and almost tame, always kept us company while lounging on the deck with our evening martinis. Bill was petrified of them, so naturally, they wanted to give him special love and attention! I thought they were cute and enjoyed trying to feed them leftover bits of food.
We first sampled peas and rice, a staple of that culture, on one of our many excursions via golf cart ( pretty much the only means of transport!) into Hope Town proper. A friendly native lady was cooking peas and rice in a ramshackle clapboard hut and convinced us , easily, that we needed to have some for lunch. It was savory, creamy and delicious!
Here’s my take on Bahamian Peas and Rice with a southern spin and reminiscent of Hoppin’ John eaten by all self-respecting southerners on New Year’s day to bring good luck and prosperity! The flavors of the Abacos and Georgia come together, rich and luscious!
The original recipe uses Pigeon Peas and brown rice and has as many variations as there are cooks! Try your own!
You will need:
Olive oil; 1 sweet onion, chunked up; 1 medium jar chopped pimento, drained; 8 or more ounces cooked pork, cut into bite sized pieces; 4 tbsp ketchup; 1 tomato, chopped; 2 cups fresh or frozen black eye peas, cooked with salt and pepper and some of the pork for flavor , than drained; Garlic powder to taste, 2 sprigs fresh thyme( you can use dried); salt to taste; lots of freshly ground black pepper; a 10 oz. can coconut milk; 3 cups water; 3 cups chicken stock; 2 tsp browning sauce; 3 cups uncooked long grain white rice; Worcestershire sauce.
Heat oil in large pot and saute pork briefly to get some of the flavors into the oil, remove pork and cook onion till transparent.
Add Pork back to the pot along with ketchup, tomato, peas, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.
Stir in coconut milk, water, broth and browning sauce; bring to a boil and add rice. Simmer covered on low heat for 45 minutes.
Serve in bowls with a splash of Worcestershire sauce on each serving along with some Bahamian sweet bread. This is and a wonderful and nutritious one dish meal!
I hope you will enjoy this story and taste of Hope Town!
I am always inspired by travel and the culture, art and artists of other countries. A few years ago, I was blessed to be able to participate in a 12 day art and architectural tour of Tunisia in North Africa. It is a country of great contrasts from a most rustic way of life on the Algerian border to the modern Hotels and casinos on the Lybian border.
One of the most interesting visits was to Village Ken in Sidi-Khlifa. I have never seen so much creativity, and dedication to the arts, in one place; it was truly amazing and inspiring! This village ,or city of the arts ,was the dream of Tunisian artist Nejib Belkhodja and architect Slah Samaoui built it according to the artist’s drawings. Ken in Arabic means ” Once upon a time” and this school is dedicated to re-teaching the disappearing ancient crafts and all techniques and art forms that express the Mediterranean, Arab-Muslim and African cultural heritage. Nejib Belkhodja introduced abstract art to Africa and was tireless in promoting the arts there.
“Artistic creation is what links the multiple fibres of a …….cultural personality. This is a place (that) restores our faith in humanity. Love, friendship, art and architecture flow through this village like water.” anonymous
Glorious masses of Bougainvillea cover the pristine white stuccoed walls which are constructed with only “local materials and ancestral know how”. Music, textile weaving, architecture, pottery, furniture making and the fine and performing arts are just a few of the creative genres taught here with an emphasis on old, traditional methods.
Village Ken remains one of the most inspiring and uplifting experiences of my life and I hope to visit again some day and perhaps spend some time studying the arts there.