Tuesday, November 6, 2012

RC2: Culinary Travels

I don't think I was ever a super picky eater, but there were a few things I disliked growing up:
  • Fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole Tomatoes 
  • Avocado
(Food police Mom/Dad, feel free to weigh in with my other infractions.)

But, as the story usually goes, I grew up and learned to like all of the above.  (True story: Will embarrassed me into liking fish. It went something like this: "You grew up in the Monterey Bay and don't like fish?????  You are weird.")

Now, I can think of very few things I still dislike (not a fan of mayonnaise or beets), and I'd say I am a pretty adventurous eater.  French cuisine is famous for snails (escargot), meat chilled in gelatin (aspic), ground molded meat (terrine, pate), duck liver (fois gras), foods cooked in fat (sous-vide)...and I was a bit hesitant.

We eased in slowly, though.  Some coq au vin (my version of the recipe, here), some roasted chicken...creme brulee and chocolate profiteroles...(I gotta learn how to make those, by the way.)

Croque Madame (gotta recreate these at home, too!) and steak frite:

Plenty of picnics featuring baguette, cheese, and prosciutto or salami sandwiches with red wine.

We consumed lots of goat cheese.  That's a fried goat cheese round below.  Will's pork chop in the back was one of his menu highlights.

With some more familiar French food under our belts (pun!--ha), we jumped into the unknown.

Voila!  There are the escargots.  Verdict--I loved them.  They reminded me a little of mushrooms, and that green sauce is some pesto-garlic liquid gold.

In the back: Oeufs Au Vin Blanc
Below in the back: fried fois gras with candied onions. It was surprisingly tasty!  Front: roasted goat cheese on gingerbread toast.

Unpictured meals include Provencal-stuffed rabbit, garlic lamb, and beef terrine.

My favorite dinner of the whole trip was the traditional Swiss dish: homemade raclette at my cousin's house.  
Traditional raclette is cheese broiled under that contraption below and scraped over boiled potatoes with mini pickled cucumbers and onions.  Our gracious hosts served us both traditional ingredients and lots of modern options: pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and sweet options--pears and pineapple.

Look at that melted cheese!

And a sweet version: pear raclette. 

They wrapped up dinner with espresso, Grand Marnier, and Swiss chocolate.  It was perfect. 

Back in France, we visited a winery and bed-and-breakfast.  At the winery, we tasted several of their Cote de Rhone reds.

And the winery's bed and breakfast served us an incredible five-course meal at their restaurant downstairs.

Amuse-bouche of mini gourmet ham sandwiches and tuna.

Unpictured: wild boar terrine and monkfish piccata.

Below: scallops in a coconut-lemongrass emulsion:

Wild duck thigh and leg:

Unpictured: cheese plate with so many choices that we were overwhelmed.  And we had no clue what most of them were!  Lots of (good) stinky cheese.

Dessert: chestnut soup with hazelnut chocolate meringue, and salted caramel apple mousse.

Check the "Adventurous Eater" box next to my name!


  1. Looks like you guys ate like kings! Would love to try that raclette someday.

    1. I know someone who could make that raclette wish a reality :)
      They were great hosts!!

  2. These pictures make me hungry. The duck was one of the best things I've ever eaten. Since we saw hunters the next morning a few hundred yards away, I know it was fresh and local!

  3. As a charter member of the Food Police Department, I must mention one other little incident with "seafood". Related to resident poctopi, at local aquarium. Inappropriate language used in a public place, among other infractions.



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