Friday, August 31, 2018

Stohrer, The Oldest Pâtisserie in Paris

We went on a Food Tour while we were in Paris. One of our stops: Stohrer, the oldest pastry shop in Paris. When I first saw Stohrer listed as a must-visit bakery, I thought, well, that doesn't sound very French. Here's the story: Nicolas Stohrer learned his trade as pastry chef in the kitchens of King Stanislas I of Poland, in exile in the East of France. When the King’s daughter, Marie Leszczynska, married King Louis XV of France, she brought her favorite pâtissier with her to Versailles. Five years later, in 1730,  the enterprising Stohrer opened his own shop on 51 rue Montorgueil, where it has remained to this day. That's 288 years! Can you imagine all the history this pastry shop has witnessed?!
Rue Montorgueil was not very far from our hotel, so we visited several times. Each time it seemed there was a different creation in the front window.
It's beautiful inside. I was looking around, trying to soak in all the treats and the walls and mirrors when our tour guide suggested we look up:
In a bakery! An intricately painted and gilded ceiling painted by Paul Baudry (who also decorated the Paris Garnier opera house).
We did not try the famous Baba au Rhum, a yeast pastry soaked in a lot of rum, brushed with apricot jam, and garnished with candied cherries and angelica. Our guide said it was probably a bit too early for one because it's quite a boozy treat! One story is that Chef Stohrer invented this pastry to use up some dry Polish brioche. Another is that when King Stanislas settled in his exile in Luneville in eastern France, he found the local kouglof cake to be too dry so his chef imbibed the cake in a syrup laced with a herbal liqueur. Whatever its true origin, Stohrer became a specialist of this treat, and when he set up his pastry shop in Paris he started using rum to soak it and it became a sensation.
I wanted one of everything.
Our tour guide made us practice saying kouign amann and he selected this as one of the treats for us to try. We ended up buying another on a visit a couple days later:
Flaky pastry with lots and lots of butter and sugar.
Eclair - our guide said the caramel was his favorite, so we tried that one.
Above and below, some larger delicious looking treats:
If you visit Paris, I strongly urge you to visit Stohrer. So much history, beautiful inside, delicious pastries, and when we went back without our French speaking guide, they were patient with our French. Mostly we pointed and tried to say it and held up our fingers for how many we wanted, but still. Really nice.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

We've been eating a lot of tomatoes and peaches from the farm market. We also made a peach pie, as we do every year around this time, and it was delicious.
Last weekend we saw Aladdin at the Benedum. It was a good show. Our dinner out that day was at Sienna on the Square, one of our favorite places. Here's what we enjoyed:
Fried Green Tomatoes (whipped goat cheese, pepperoni jam, green tomato relish)
Arugula Salad (heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, basil vinaigrette)
Watermelon Gazpacho (jalapeño, mint, olive oil)
Mafalde Bolognese (veal, pork, beef, tomato, milk, onion, carrot)
Daily Special: Lobster Risotto with Seared Scallops and sauteed broccolini
Peaches & Cream Dessert (peach and ginger panna cotta, peach puree, shortbread cookie, basil)

Everything was so darn tasty. I had a little bit of pasta leftover for lunch the next day - I love leftover Saturday dinner for Sunday lunch.

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled lamb, grilled zucchini, tomatoes & basil, corn on the cob
  • Dessert: Peach Pie

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Orange Is the New Black Season 6. It definitely got better after the first few episodes. There are just so many characters to follow, and not all the characters were in this season. It'll be interesting to see where Season 7 goes given some of the events at the end of Season 6.
  • We watched The Greatest Showman. It takes a few liberties with what really happened, but it was still enjoyable.
  • I watched The Finest Hours and it was good.

What I'm Reading:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Fromagerie (cheese heaven)

Our second stop on the Food Tour was a fromagerie. I was so excited to go to the cheese shop! So excited to taste cheese! And I now have a new favorite cheese:
Saint-Nectaire. It's a semisoft, washed rind cheese from the Auvergne region of France, a grassy and volcanic area. It's made from the milk of Salers cows that feed on the rich, volcanic pastures, it is AOC awarded, and takes six to eight weeks to mature on rye straw mats (so it was also called rye cheese), imparting a peculiar pungent smell to the cheese. The creamy, silky cheese melts in the mouth to reveal flavors of hazelnuts, hay, cellars, mushrooms. It's maybe a tad less creamy than brie. Thus far we have not been able to find it here, which makes me sad.
Our guide bought some Saint-Nectaire, brie, a blue cheese, comté, and mimolette for us to try plus some saucisson and we had our baguette from Kayser Boulangerie. We piled all our little packages atop a barrel we rolled outside to use as a tabletop (with the cheese shop's permission).
We started with the comté - really good and easily found here in the US (we found a block at Costco). It kind of reminded me of gruyere.
The mimolette - a young mimolette. I much prefer the young mimolette to the aged mimolette, which is what SP loves. It is difficult to find here in the US, something about the cheese mites. The younger mimolette is smoother and creamier while the old mimolette is very, very hard, it just flakes apart. Later on in our trip, at a different fromagerie, SP bought more Saint-Nectaire and an aged mimolette.

At this point, I was tired of juggling the camera and eating and trying to remember everything so I gave up photos. The blue cheese was good, but the older I get, the less I like blue cheese. The brie was excellent. It was Brie de Meaux.

Now for cheese heaven photos - so many glorious cheese options:

I can't wait to go back and get more of my favorite cheese.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Eric Kayser Boulangerie

Our Paris Food Tour started at Eric Kayser Boulangerie. Our guide bought a baguette for us, for with the cheese & saucisson we would later taste on the tour. It was a yummy baguette and we snacked on it back at the hotel that night, with the leftover cheese.
I could stare all day at bakery goodies. There is one thing I did not try while we were in Paris that I really wish I would have tried:
Chausson aux Pommes. Apple Turnover. I love apple and flaky pastry but just never actually ordered one. Look at that beautiful half moon turnover. Next time.

The above photos are from the Petits Carreaux (16 rue des Petits Carreaux) location. A few days later, we were walking around the Orsay Museum area, feeling a bit hungry, and we happened upon the Bac location (18 rue du Bac, Musée d'Orsay 75007 Paris). We stopped in and shared a snack:
A Tarte Chocolat Noisette Tart, a square of Quiche Lorraine, and a pot of tea (tea not pictured).
The quiche was yummy. Lots of cheese and bacon (lardon) chunks. It was a pretty big piece so I'm glad we shared.  
The chocolat noisette tarte was so good I didn't want to share. Chocolate & hazelnut. It looks like it should be obnoxiously sugary and dense but it wasn't. It was actually rather light. Not overly sweet. One of my favorite treats in Paris. I know. I say that about a lot of the treats I tried. I cannot pick a favorite, they're all favorites. I'll never be able to try anything new because when we go back, I have to gobble up the same things I enjoyed on this trip.

Note to SP: Notice I said when, not if.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ricotta-Mozzarella-Lemon Pizza

We made this pizza for dinner quite some time ago, I've just been a lazy blogger. It's really tasty. And really cheesy. We wish we'd had the time to make our own pizza dough because the pizza dough we bought at the store was less pizza doughy and more bready. The recipe is in Giada's latest cookbook Giada's Italy but I found it on Food Network, too.
Ricotta mixed with lemon zest & oregano, spread atop the crust, and topped with mozzarella.
We had some issues with transferring the pizza between the counter and pizza paddle and pizza stone. So it ended up kind of crescent shaped.
The basil, grated parmesan, and red pepper flakes (if desired) are sprinkled on at the end. This pizza was yummy. Lots of cheese and lemon and basil flavor. And easy to make.

Recipe here. Not pictured is the side salad we ate with the pizza.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

It has been another quiet week, which is good. Last weekend we met some friends from FL who were in town and had dinner at Pork & Beans. Of course I had the yummy potato skins with pork belly and the amazing grilled cheese & brisket sandwich. Yum. After dinner, FL friends went to the Pirates game. We walked up to Market Square and went to Millie's for dessert. I love the Vietnamese Coffee ice cream and couldn't resist the waffle cone. It was huge. I was full from dinner, so I couldn't eat it all. We got a small bowl to help transport the ice cream cone home. As soon as we pulled in the driveway, SP rushed the ice cream inside, like it was a person in dire need of medical attention at the ER. I finished it bit by bit over the next two nights. SP chose the Salted Chocolate Chip flavor but didn't get a cone, just a bowl, so he finished his at Millie's.

Today we ate strawberry #6 from the strawberry plant. Yes, since June the plant has blessed us with 6 strawberries. They're delicious, red & juicy, but for 6 berries, it was hardly worth the cost of the plant and the effort. We bought an indoor/outdoor baby gate for the deck steps to try to keep the groundhog from climbing up and eating our plants. The deck pots have not done well this year. The basil has been light green/yellow and the mint is dead already, the tomatoes crashed over and are now growing on the deck. It's been very disappointing. Plus, out front, we planted 3 zucchini plants and have had just one zucchini. Usually by now we've had a ton of zucchini. We are on our second cucumber, from seeds we planted 2-3 years ago. The garden had been odd, and disappointing, this year.

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled burgers
  • Grilled sausage from Ricci's with grilled peppers
  • Grandma's Tomatoes & Cucumbers in Vinegar
  • Dessert: Pizzelles

What We're Watching:

  • We started the 6th season of OITNB. So far, we're underwhelmed. It's slowly getting better.
  • Sharp Objects ends this Sunday & I'm looking forward to finding out who killed those girls. I'm thinking it was crazy mom.
  • Trial & Error ends tonight. We both really like the show and are hoping for a season 3 next summer.
  • We watched The Hitman's Bodyguard and laughed a lot. 

What I'm Reading:

  • I read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It was very good. Heart breaking & heart warming. I also read her book The Nightingale and liked it a lot - maybe I should read her other novels?
  • No new magazines, yet. It's about time for them to start arriving.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

It's been a week since the last Thursday Thoughts but I cannot think of anything much to write. Last weekend we saw Thoroughly Modern Millie (loved it) and then dined at Butcher and the Rye. Sunday was chores and cooking. Not much has happened this week, which is nice when you're a homeowner still being annoyed over having to dry out your basement carpet from a hot water tank leak.
What We're Eating:

  • We used the grill rotisserie attachment to make a whole chicken. So it's chicken every night for dinner. Chicken served with tomatoes, green beans, and tortellini pasta salad.
  • Dessert: pizzelles, leftover ice cream

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Peaky Blinders and I'm ready for Season 5.
  • We started watching the latest season of Silicon Valley. Two episodes to go. 
  • Worst Cooks in America is back. We still enjoy the show and giggling over the worst cooks. Like the guy who was using the wrong side of a super sharp knife to cut meat and wondering why it wouldn't cut!
  • We watched Murder on the Orient Express. It was a good but not great movie. 
  • We also watched some Rick Sebak shows called Nebby: Tales of Greater Pittsburgh. There were 4 shows recorded, I think. Meat, Authors, Route 88, and Vintage Mixer. 

What I'm Reading:
I haven't had much interest in reading, which isn't good for the library pile of 3 books due in the next 5 days. Fortunately, the magazine pile is just half a magazine left. My lack of interest is probably because of allergies and eyes being watery and itchy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Butcher and the Rye

Last weekend after seeing Thoroughly Modern Millie (our favorite of the three summer CLO shows we saw), we went to Butcher and the Rye for dinner. We have always really liked B&tR even if we only get there 1-2 times a year. One reason we like it so much is the cocktails.
On the left is SP's Wild Kind (Old Forester 86 bourbon, smoked honey, ginger, lemon, habanero, peychauds bitters) and on the right is my Salinger's Sling (Bulleit rye whiskey, Grand Marnier, demerara, house coffee bitters). He loved his Wild Kind. It was a little too smoky and spicy from the habanero for me. I much preferred my drink.

We ordered some of our usual dishes and some new to us dishes (the menu has changed since we last dined here). Here's what we ate:
Spring Pea Vichyssoise (bacon confit, buttermilk, pea shoot).
Smoked Salmon Rillette (chopped egg, crispy caper, parsley).
Brussels (brown butter, dill, parmigiano reggiano, preserved lemon aioli).
Around this time, it was time for SP to order another cocktail. He chose Central Park Smash (Smirnoff vodka, watermelon, jalapeno, lemon, honey, angostura bitters).
Mac and Cheese.
Sunday Gravy (tomatoes, lamb neck, olive oil, ricotta, warm country bread).
Dirty Pasta (ground duck, rigatoni, sage, brandy, pecorino romano).
Scallop (blue crab risotto, asparagus, mushrooms, capers).
Decaf coffee with cream & sugar.
Cherry Cobbler with vanilla bourbon ice cream.

We still like B&tR a lot. Our server was terrific. Our cocktails were great. Our food was tasty. But we were a little sad that some dishes we really enjoyed are no longer on the menu. For SP, he was sad about no Crispy Pig Wing (Thai chili sauce, pickled mango salad, peanuts, cilantro). For me, it was the Cauliflower (roasted farro grain, romanesco, baby carrots, pine nuts, brown butter, harissa yogurt). I really, really loved that cauliflower dish. I also missed the Hand Pulled Burrata. 

We're pretty sure there used to be daily specials, but this time, there weren't any daily food specials, just cocktail specials. SP was a little sad because he almost always found a special he liked (octopus, oysters, crudo, escargot are some of the ones we've had in the past).

But we'll still go back because I really, really, really the Sunday Gravy and Mac and Cheese and SP can't get enough of the Brussels. 

Butcher and the Rye Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato