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Friday, December 26, 2008

I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas

It will be of no surprise to anyone that in our house, food plays a big part in our Christmas celebrations. There are a few that come from my childhood, but most of those involve dishes that made an appearance at the Christmas Dinner table, and at no other time of the year. Dishes like "Golden Glow Salad" and "Potatoes Romanoff" will forever remain part of my Christmas, but will NEVER appear on any table I set. There is no place for Jell-O in my Yuletide.

Fortunately there are many new food traditions we have adopted and are hopefully passing on to my children. In the spirit of the season, I'd like to share a few of them here.

Good Beer: While there is always room for wine at the dinner table, beer is my drink of choice between meals. The good folk at Firefly have a terrific selection of craft brews from North America, as well as a wide variety of European brews. I love the Belgian beers, and often pick up 1/2 a dozen of the 750ml bottles. Pair this with a selection of cheese (Stilton and Compté are favorites) and you can hunker down during any winter storm.

Chinese Food: We're not talking some of the fine Chinese meals I've enjoyed with my good friend Lee. Christmas Eve dinner in my house has been Chinese delivery ever since I can remember. Beef Broccoli, Sweet & Sour Pork, Egg Rolls ... and of course the leftovers that accompany them. We have a favorite local joint that makes a killer Ma Paul Tofu and a Ginger & Spring Onion Chicken (bone in!) that has thankfully taken the place of the day-glo orange Sweet & Sour Pork.

Wife-Saver: Back in the late 70's, I was introduced to something called the "Wife-Saver Breakfast Bake." Essentially a savoury bread pudding, this dish was a staple at our Christmas morning breakfast table. My version features corn-bread in place of the Texas toast, bacon from J,N & Z Deli, and Gruyere instead of Cheddar. The original is good as well, but I'll be making mine with corn bread from now on.

The dish is assembled the night before, and left to "blend" in the fridge overnight. Christmas morning, while the rug-rats are opening their gifts, you simply pop the dish in the oven for an hour and relax with an eggnog latté. For the health-conscious you can also add a fruit salad.

Smoked Turkey: Easily my favorite new Christmas tradition, the smoked turkey actually made its first appearance on our dinner table a few New Year's Days ago. We didn't host Christmas that year and so we were without any turkey leftovers. Being of the "smoking brotherhood" the natural choice was to smoke. The results were beyond my expectations - perhaps my favorite recipe, next to Pastrami.

This year, my brother and his wife hosted the family dinner and asked me if I could contribute. I agreed, thinking it would be a simple process during the lazy days before Christmas, However, our recent snow-storm(s) changed that happy dream by complicating travel and fire-making. What the cold temperatures did do however was make brining the turkey much simpler. I brine for 24 hours in a mixture of apple juice, brown sugar, salt, cloves, ginger and bay-leaves. Because the brining period is so long, the challenge is keeping the temperature low enough for the duration. Nothing a cooler in a snow-bank can't solve.

I smoked the turkey on Christmas morning. The process is a little different than other smokes I've done. For one, the water pan in the smoker is left empty. This allows the temperature to get up to 325F which reduces the smoking time to about 3 hours. The other benefit of an empty water pan is drippings ... SMOKED turkey drippings which make a pretty amazing gravy.

But the undisputed star of the show is the turkey itself. The meat is moist and tender throughout. Even the traditionally dry breast is juicy and often mistaken for dark meat (I help this along by placing some back under the skin before I smoke). Your favorite turkey wine will pair nicely, but the added depth of flavour provided by the cherry smoke also works well with a Pinot Noir.  As an additional benefit, we'll take the carcase and simmer it with a couple onions and some carrots to create a rich smoked turkey stock. Turkey soup never tasted so good!

So while we dig ourselves out from all this snow and try to figure out what we're going to do with all the leftovers, I'd like to wish you the Merriest of Christmas's, and the peace and joy of the season to you and yours.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Handle a Snow Day, Vancouver Style

If you've ever been to Vancouver, you know we're not exactly a winter city. Oh sure, we're hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, but apart from freestyle skiing, all the snow-related events will be held in Whistler, about 90 minutes north of Vancouver. So when we actually receive a bit of snow, we find ourselves at a bit of a loss.

Such was the case on this, the first day of winter. The snow started to fall about 9 on the evening of the 20th, and continued through the night. We awoke this morning to about 6cm of fresh snow, and then watched as it piled higher throughout the day. A few brave souls drove, but downtown, your feet were your best option. The lack of traffic, and the sound-dampening effect of the snow produced and eerie quiet downtown. And while the economy may not have needed another reason for shoppers to stay home, the weather certainly seemed to add a lightness to their spirit.

So where's the food in all of this?  Well, after a day of trudging around in the snow, one works up an appetite.  So on this first real snow day of the year, grab a favorite bottle and some snacks, light a fire in the fireplace (or put on the DVD of the same) and watch the snowflakes fall.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Can Brine With A Little Help From My Friends

I owe a lot to eGullet. The food-centric web site taught me much of what I know about food today, and introduced me to a number of like-minded food lovers with whom I still share friendships (and the occaisional glass of wine).  One of the first threads that caught my attention on eG was The Great Pastrami & Smoked Meat Experiement. I encourage you to read it. Chef Fowke really gets into the whole process. Even if you never plan on making Pastrami, or Montreal Smoked Meat, the discussions are quite interesting.

Last year (just before the Cookie Exchange) I found myself with a spare brisket, a couple bags of charcoal, and the need for an extra item to serve at the party. Not that I needed an excuse to do some smoking, my own Pastrami Experiment was born. I was able to consult with Chef Fowke during the process as well, so the results were pretty good. This year, with some better planning involved, I undertook Pastrami Part II.

The hard part about making pastrami is the brining. Not that brining in and of itself is all that difficult, it's finding a way to keep the briskets cold for the required week of brining that's a challenge. Enter Chef Wyles of the Hamilton Street Grill. The brine was made in his Yaletown kitchen and brisket were kept in his walk-in cooler. Of course, a couple visits over the lunch hour were required to check on their progress.

The pastramis left "The Hammy" on Friday morning, the wonderful aroma of pickling spice eminating from inside two "I Love Yaletown" shopping bags. I'm surprised the neighbourhood dogs didn't follow me home!

Smoking pastrami's only takes about 6 or 7 hours (for 2 x 10lb briskets) so I decided to stay up and smoke the night before the party. Before placing the meat in the smoker with French oak and apple wood, each brisket is rubbed with a mixture of 1/3 cracked black pepper and 2/3 crushed coriander ... another amazing smell!

This is a finished piece is from the flat part of the brisket ... I had to do a taste test after all! The other fatter end was much more succulent and juicy. The smoke ring (the bit of red around the outside edge) is about 1/4" deep. Deeper would be better, but I think the brining might inhibit it a bit. I let the meat sit overnight to "rest", allowing the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat.
I think my favorite part of making pastrami is slicing it. Watching the thin strips of meat pile up onto the plate reminds me of the deli, and provides ample opportunity to taste test. This slicer is also a connection to my past, as it belonged to my mother. Although a vegitarian towards the end of her life, she would be happy to know the appliance was being put to good use.
A plate full of meaty goodness. The final results were much better than last year's. VERY moist and tender. Serve it cold or warm (use a steamer, not the microwave) with rye bread, grainy mustard and horseradish. The extras freeze brilliantly ... if there are any.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Visions of Sugarplums ...



A few years ago, J. and I started hosting a cookie exchange, because as much as I love to eat baking, the actual baking takes more time than we have during the holiday season.

If you've never heard of a cookie exchange, it works like this:
  1. Invite some friends to a Cookie Exchange Party.
  2. Have each family bake one dozen cookies for each family coming to the exchange. Ideally, each family should bring a different type of cookie.
  3. On the day of the exchange, each family takes away 1 dozen from each of the other families. The extra dozen is to be shared at the party.
  4. Knowing that all your Christmas baking is now complete, use the rest of the time at the party to eat, drink, and be merry.
Merry Ho Ho!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka

I had really hoped to provide you with more information about dining options in the Ridge-Meadows area. Sadly, the best I've come up has been a diner, and my son's cooking school. Last night however I think I found a winner.

In fact, the boys and I have driven by this establishment a number of times. We almost went in once, but the concept seemed so odd and the recipe didn't really jump out at as as being anything other than a potential train-wreck.  Last night was different for some reason. And so we found ourselves sitting in the Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ & Sushi Restaurant in Maple Ridge.

Yup. BBQ and Sushi. Apparently this is not all that odd. A little bit of thought will bring you to the realization that there are a lot of Japanese on the Hawaiian Islands. So while the menu at the Waikiki doesn't have any spam, there are many items here that are typically Hawaiian.

Loco Moco for example.

Loco Moco is a hamburger patty on top of rice, surrounded by gravy and topped with a fried egg. Our particular version of Loco Moco even had some pineapple and pickled daicon as a garnish, and as the boys and I stared at this concoction it occurred to me that our previous decision to avoid this place may have been the correct one. Ryan took one for the team, and since he didn't keel over in pain, Matt & I followed. It wasn't awful, but there was nothing here to inspire visions of Don Ho either.

Things did improve. Quite a bit in fact.

I asked our server what she would recommend, and was a little disappointed when she pointed to the Spring Rolls. To me, Spring Rolls are about as Hawaiian as ... well ... the blond-haired blue-eyed server that suggested them. "But they're really good," she insisted. And to her credit, they were.

Nicely deep-fired so they weren't too greasy. The pork and veggie filling was almost creamy (I suppose this is how Hawaiians like their Spring Rolls?) which gave a nice contrast to the crunchy exterior.

Matt and I each ordered the ubiquitous "Combo Platter." You choose two items from a list of about 10 (which included the aforementioned spring rolls, dumplings, short ribs, "Volcano" pork/chicken/beef, and others) and they come with salad, rice and fries. I had Volcano Pork and Short Ribs (like Korean Ribs, which are cut across the rib bones), Matt had the same Pork and the dumplings.

Give the dumplings a miss. But everything else was really quite excellent. The Volcano Pork is thinly sliced pork flash fried with a spicy rub/sauce. If I had a minor quibble it would be that there was a little grainy texture left on the pork from the rub. But the flavour more than made up for it. A little heat, with an almost Spanish seasoning. It was really tender and had Matt and I hoarding it from Ryan. The short ribs were equally tender, but with very little seasoning.

The combos were accompanied with a small portion of really crispy but quite greasy fries. I only bring them up because they seemed such an odd accompaniment ... but were so damn tasty! I'd go back for an order of fries and Volcano Pork alone. There was also a small dish of chili-plum sauce which was tasty with the Spring Rolls but not much else.

Dinner for 3 set us back $55 including tax and tip. Apparently they do a roaring take-out business as well.

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Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ & Sushi
22783 Dewdney Trunk Rd
Maple Ridge, BC
604) 466-3131

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Change is GOOD!

I had this domain from my "professional" site, and recently decided the company I work for is doing a great job of hosting pictures of my work. Since I'd already paid for the domain until 2011, I figured I'd put it to good use.

So, if you came here looking for kitchen ideas, Paradigm Kitchen Design is where you want to go. You're more than welcome to visit here as well.

The picture? It was an art exhibit we saw in Seattle on our way to Café Presse. Seemed appropriate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Being Piggy in the Emerald City

We had tried. Seriously. At least 3 times before this trip we had made honest but unsuccessful attempts to visit Salumi in Seattle. Sometimes we missed their regular hours. Another we visited when they were on holidays. It seemed a visit was just not in the cards.

For those who don't know about Salumi, it is a tiny hole-in-the-wall salumerie run by Armandino Batali, father to chef Mario Batali. The cured meats are so amazing they're legendary even without Mario's family connection.

This store is a temple to all things porcine: prosciutto (he also offers an excellent lamb prosciutto), smoked paprika sausage, sopressano ... the full list can be found HERE. The day we were there they even had pork skin crackling! Salumi also features on any given day a selection of 10 sandwiches, as well as deli-meat take out.

So it was on this trip that we actually made it to Salumi, and it was open!

You are greeted at the door by 3 things: a chalk board spelling out the days menu choices, the intoxicating aroma of cured meats and GARLIC, and a line-up. Don't let the line-up put you off ... it moves quite quickly. But be warned, you should have your choice made well in advance of reaching the counter. They move quickly here, and indecision doesn't help your cause.

Porcetta with onions & pepper on baguette.
Smoked paprika salumi and Gorgonzola on olive bread.
We took lunch down to the piers beside Ivars (on Alaskan Way) for an impromptu picnic. Without going overboard with superlatives, the porcetta was one of the best sandwiches EVAR! I'm not sure if it was the shredded pork or the copious amounts of garlic and olive oil spread on the bread ... but I'm sure I really don't care. It was amazing. The smoked paprika was also good, but nowhere near as messy and gooey and scrumptious.

A warning for Salumi visitors: Call ahead if you just want to order deli meat to go. Lunch time line-ups for the sandwiches prevents staff from doing a lot of cutting. Another warning: get there early for lunch. Many of their daily specials sell out early.
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Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
309 Third Ave South Seattle, WA
(between Main and Jackson, across from Seattle Lighting)
Restaurant Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11am-4pm


Thursday, November 6, 2008

What Are You Gonna Be When You Grow Up?

If I could go back and re-do my career choices, knowing what I know about myself now, I would work in the kitchen. Without a doubt. It's too late now to make a career change (YES, IT IS), so the cooking in my life remains a hobby. A wonderful hobby. But it won't ever be my career.

However, I have kids. And I can love vicariously through them.

My eldest graduates this year, and made a terrific discovery last year. There are many schools in BC that offer trades training as the curriculum for the last year of high school. There's metal fabrication, hair dressing, mechanics ... and culinary! Yes, my son is spending his last year of high school chopping, sauté-ing and baking his way to his Dogwood (high school graduation in BC).

The school he attends operates a fully operating kitchen out of the school, and opens it's kitchen to the public Tuesday to Friday. Over the last 3 weeks we've been treated to Pasta Carbonara, Salmon Wellington and Beef Burritos. There's also a choice of starch and veg ... all for only only $7. Add salad bar for $2.50 and desserts for under $2 and there's an inexpensive meal for 2 for under $20.

Now, I might be biased, but the food has been really excellent. At the beginning of the year, little things were missed ... seasoning was off, food was a bit under temperature ... but as the year progressed these kids really started to hit their stride. Last week, we arrived to a huge lineup and before we could get to the kitchen, they sold out of food. We missed out on Schntizel, but Chef was able to find us some Lamb Currey and roast potatoes.

In Metro Vancouver, many of these programmes are taught in conjunction with VCC. Graduating students receive credit ofr post secondary eduction. Check out the high schools in your area. You might find the next Rob Feenie, Jeff Van Geest or Andrey Durbach in development. Or you might find my son. Either way, you'll be well fed.


Monday, October 27, 2008

What I Took From France

The last post on our French trip ... and it typifies two things I love about this country, and Paris in particular.

We live in such a young country, so it's really tough not to be impressed by how old Europe is. In Vancouver, a home that was built in 1912 is a rarity, and is classified as heritage. In France, it would be considered nicely broken in.

What I really enjoy is how many establishments, be they food, clothing or otherwise, have been around, well, forever. Marie-Anne Cantin has been selling her amazing cheeses on rue Cler since 1950, Poilâne has been baking their famous bread since 1932, and on rue Montorgueil, Stohrer has been operating as a traiteur and patissier since 1730. The latter also lays claim to the best eclairs in Paris, and after one visit I won't argue. Although in fairness, more research is needed ...

In Vancouver, we love our restaurant patios. The moment there's even a hint of sunshine, we're clambering for any deck space we can find. I would suggest that the French have us beat in this department.

True, in Paris the city seems to allow them to set up a table on any sidewalk, even to the detriment of pedestrians. Many, including the Café Flores in St Germain des Pres (where one goes when Deux Magots is overcrowded), have even been permitted to encroach on road space.

The epitome of the Parisienne experience for me is parking my butt in one of those surprisingly comfortable rattan backed chairs at a sidewalk café and ordering un express or better yet un express or un pastis and watching the world go by. Provided you don't do this during the lunch or dinner rush, there's no hurry to vacate the table. This little pause allows you to regroup, plan the rest of your day, catch up on Le Monde or just ... breathe. If there is one French custom I could bring to Vancouver, this would be it.

Even many of the city's monuments provide opportunities to dine al fresco. At the Musée Rodin, there is a café in the gardens. While not "gourmet" it is not badly priced, serves beer and wine, and comes with one of the nicest backdrops in all of Paris.

While not strictly legal in Parisienne parks, picnicking is yet another way to take advantage of the scenery. We've enjoyed many bottles of Bourgone and wedges of Comté on the banks of the Seine, but this trip we had what was probably my favorite picnic in Paris.

The location: Cimeterè Père Lachaise.
The food: Banh Mi from Saigon Sandwich.

It was a perfect combination of surreal surroundings (we were steps from Chopin's grave) and food that was not entirely "French." Yes, I'm aware of the French-Viet Nam connection, but the Asian food scene in Paris ain't nothing when compared to Vancouver. Still, the sandwich was really good, and reminded me, albeit a little too much, of home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The $45 Negroni

Have you ever run into one of those holiday moments when you knew you were being ripped off, but you didn't care? When you knew there was no possible way something could live up to the hype (or the price) but you slapped down the plastic anyway?  The Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel in Paris was that moment for me.

The Hemingway Bar is the stuff of legend, and takes advantage of it. Each and every drink on the menu is 28 Euro. No doubt, a steep price, but in all honesty, they ain't using bar brand booze. Without a doubt, this was the best Negroni of my life. And before anyone feels bad for us (highly unlikely I know) we made a serious dent in the "free" bar snacks they provided.

Would I go back? Hell yeah. The chance to pretend I have more money than brains and sip a fine cocktail in luxury is too good to resist. I might even bring a book to read.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Morroccan Shredded Wheat

Paris is not Lyon.

In fact, Paris is different from most of France in the same way London is different from the rest of the UK. It's large enough to become a place unto itself, with it's own customs and traditions and an experience that leads you to wonder where you were the week before.

Such was our experience as we left Lyon and moved for a week to Paris. We stayed in the Marais, right across the street from the Museé des Arts et Metiers. Our first goal, just like it was in Lyon, was to locate a good market.

Now there are many terrific markets in Paris ... one of the best sources being THIS LIST from Chocolate & Zucchini. What you'll probably notice (at least I did) is that most of the markets are situated in the outlying arrondissements, which presents a problem if you're towards the centre of Paris..
Fortunately for us, the Marché des Enfants Rouge was only a 15 minute walk away. Literally "The Market of the Red Children" (so named for a orphanage that was once in the area that dressed the tots in red uniforms) is one of the oldest markets in Paris. In addition to being covered (nice during the rainy season) the market features food stalls that offere everything from Moroccan tagine, to Italian specialties and even sushi!

We almost didn't find the Market on our first visit. The doorways are a little tricky to find, but the sounds and smells of the busy market easily gave up its location to us.

We loaded up on the basic fruits and veggies, as well as cheese (great cheese shop!) and wine. But it was the Traiteur Morocan stall that really caught our eyes ... or noses. The smells of tagine roasted lamb and veggies was distracting me from my shopping ... and the charismatic owner easily convinced me it was time for tea.

Their mint tea, I was told, was the best in all Paris and I would be missing out on one of the great pleasure in life if I passed it up. The mint was picked fresh that morning and steeped with sugar until the owner deemed it was ready. In fact he stopped one of his co-workers from serving me twice. "It's not right yet," he insisted.

The tea was accompanied by these breakfast cereal looking treats. While these may look like Shredded Wheat, I can assure you Nabisco has never made anything as sweet as this. Flavoured with honey and rosewater they were the perfect foil to the minty-est tea I've ever had. It was a perfect "good morning."

Now, about that tagine ...



-------------------
Marché des Enfants Rouge
39 rue Bretagne
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8:30-1PM and 4PM-7: 30PM
Friday, Saturday- 8h30AM-1PM and 4PM-8PM
Sunday: 8:30AM–2PM
Metro: Filles- Calvaire or Temple

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Qui Ne Saute Pas?

I love football. I love it so much in fact I try not to call it "soccer."

So it was with great joy that I discovered we would be in Lyon on a weekend where Olympique Lyonnais would be playing at Stade de Gerlande. Tickets were purchased and on Saturday, September 27 we joined the Bad Gones at the match against AS Nancy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time in the Belly

It has been said (by those outside Lyon as well) that Lyon is the "belly" of France. The number of restaurants here is staggering, as is the amount of great chefs it has produced. Alain Chappelle, Jacques Pépin, and Daniel Boulud all come from the area and spent time cooking here. Easily the greatest is Paul Bocuse who's name adorns Les Halles, the "main" indoor shopping market in Lyon. Think a high end Granville Island Public Market.

Even though we did spend a lot of time cooking, a trip to Lyon would be nothing without some dining out. Even our first night was spent in a small place called L'Epicerie - Bistrot à Tartines.

Tartines are not, as I once thought, anything like a tarte tatin. In fact, I discovered this in the Bistrot that evening.  A tartine is a piece of bread with a topping. Any topping ... cheese, meat, veggies. J's was a sort of chicken salad, and mine was boudin noir on top of stewed apples. Very simple, but really the essence of cusisine in Lyon.  The tartines, a bottle of Côtes du Rhône, and dessert, set us back about $25.

One of my favorite aspects of the French culinary scene is how well they do chocolate and pastries. To that end, Lucy steered us towards Bernachon. In my not so expert opinion, Bernachon is the best chocolatier in Lyon, and the best I have tried so far in France. They not only make everything in house, they roast their own cocoa beans. The result is a chocolate so rich and nutty that it is delicious enough on its own.

Bernachon has a salon de thé next door which serves a light lunch, but who's kidding who? You're going there for the chocolate. Just about everything in the store is available in the salon, but according to a couple locals we spoke with, there are two must-try items:



L'Éventail au Chocolat (Chocolate Fan)

Le Presidente

The epitome of Lyonnaise dining is the bouchon. A bouchon is not about haute cuisine, it's about good, basic food often cooked by the owner and his family. The food is mostly pork based, although duck and beef do make an appearance. Lucy and her husband Loic took us to Le Garet, and the best meal I had this trip. The dinner featured the typical Lyonaisse dish, the quenelle. Amazingly light in taste, but incredibly rich, it was served in a wonderful crayfish sauce. Surprisingly however, this was only the second best dish of the evening:  Pig Salad!

Les Cochonailles is essentialy, sausage (made with some veal as well), cured snout (the flat looking stuff on the right), trotters (on the bottom) and tripe (at the top). The dark pile in the middle is lentils. The tripe, trotters and lentils were served with a creamy vinaigrette.

Les Cochonailles (thanks Lucy!)
What this picture doesn't show is how the salad came to the table on a tray with 5 large bowls, each containing one of the parts of the "salad", and you could have as much as you liked. Other parts of the meal were like this, including the cheese course, which saw an entire wheel of cheese make its home at our table, and my dessert, a simple dish of cassis sorbet came with a bottle of Marc de Borgogne, and the bottle sat at the table until I was finished with it.

The room was packed with regulars (our neighbour ate there at least once a week) and our waiter continually dropped by to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. That alone stood out as the "quality check" rarely if ever occurs in a French retaurant.

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Les Halles Paul Bocuse
102 Cours Lafayette 69003 Lyon, France

L'Epicerie
2, Rue Monnaie 69002 Lyon, France

Bernachon
42, Cours Franklin Roosevelt 69006 Lyon, France

Le Garet
7, rue Garet, 69001 Lyon, France

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Heart Is Where the Food Is

The city of Lyon, France, may not have the "bling" of Paris, but what it lacks I could easily live without. Lyon was stop #1 for J and I on our recent 2 week vacation. This was our second trip to France (Trip #1 was chronicled extensively HERE on eGullet) and it was our hope that as seasoned travellers, we'd be able to delve a little deeper into the French culture ... which of course means food.

Whenever we travel abroad we stay in apartments rather than hotels. This gives us the chance to live more like the locals. We explore the neighbourhood we've moved into, check out markets and such. In Lyon, our partment on Place Jacobin was only 4 blocks from Marché St. Antonie. Everyday the market lined the riverside with a terrific assortment of produce, cheeses, meats, seafood... everything you could hope for in a market.

Probably my favorite part of a French market is the variety of prepared foods. Don't feel like cooking? We have that covered! Roasted chickens on incredible rotisseries that are built into small trucks.

Many resourceful roasters would also place potatoes in the bottom, allowing them to roast and soak up all the chicken drippings! Traitteurs offered a myriad of premade dishes ... potatoes dauphinoise, ratatouille ... cous cous salads and roasted bell peppers ... paté and terrines ... gateaux et baguettes!  So even though the opportunities are there to cook like a chef, there is also the opportunity to let the pros do it for you.

Being on holidays however often means sleeping in, so if I were to tell you we shopped here every day, I'd be lying. Many days we missed the best parts of the market, but we always manages to plan ahead and wake early on those days we REALLY needed food. Even if we were late, a small something from the pre-made vendors usually found its way home with us.

My friend Lucy (you can visit her blog by clicking the link over in the right column) was a huge help in preparing for this trip. Her blog told us about the markets and other stores in Lyon that we'll be visiting in future entries. Mid-week, she took us to the "Producer's Market" in Place Carnot. All the food here is sold by the producers themselves. Want to know what that rabbit you're about to cook had for its last supper? This is the place.

One of the other reasons we take apartments is the kitchen. I can cook ... and in Lyon that means an amazing opportunity. During the week I had gathered some wonderful Roma tomatoes, herbs (from Provence ... no joke) and some amazing chevre. Combined with the porkiest sausage I have ever eaten I whipped up a nice little pasta dish which we enjoyed with a bottle of Cote du Rhone.
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