Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

A visit to France immediately elicits thoughts of food.  The pairing is as inevitable as France and wine, visions of stars dancing in heads, little bistros in Paris, bouillabaisse in Marseille, Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas in Provence (or rosé when it’s too hot), and, of course, croissants and pain au chocolat.

The good news is that you can find wonderful food (and better prices) in the hinterlands of France.  In tiny Mélisey (less than 2,000 inhabitants) in the Vosges and closer to German and Switzerland than to Paris or Provence, you can find memorable meals at Café Auberge, familiarly known as Chez Mimi after, I believe, the wife of the couple who owns and runs the restaurant.

The space is small (although there’s another room), but has the feel of a good bistro anywhere in the country.  As you can see, in addition to meals, there are other delights on offer.  Cheeses, chocolate, and coffee are just three and many offerings are regionally produced.

© janet m. webb

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Last year, my s-i-l and I discovered the enchanting town of Plombières-les-Bains (Plombières of the baths, referring to the thermal baths that have been there since Roman times.)  We’ve been there a number of times, generally just in time for lunch by some strange coincidence, usually at the same restaurant, Brasserie Montaigne.  On this day, however, it was closed, as were a number of shops.  There seems to be no set day that restaurants and stores are closed, although many are on Wednesday.  So we were on the hunt for another place to eat.

Just off of the main square, we found the Hotel du Commerce and although it seemed deserted, we inquired inside and found that the restaurant was open.  The owner, a droll man who enjoyed talking to us in French, English, and German (although not at one time), also served us. We sheltered under the umbrella to escape the heat and enjoyed our meal (food, so to speak, for another post) outside, just off the narrow street, the perfect place to get a shot for Challenger’s Choice on Sally’s blog today.

I’m sorry to report that this will be the last time Sally hosts the Mobile Photography Challenge. It’s been a wonderful time and I’ll miss it greatly!  Thanks, Sally for the many wonderful months and years!!

Just so you don’t think you’re being neglected, I’ll be busy and out of fast internet range for the next few days. Hope your week gets off to a great start.

© janet m. webb

 

Some Saturday mornings during college, I would walk downtown (I went to college in a small town) and get a fresh glazed doughnut (not donut!) at the bakery.  It was so delicious and with my metabolism, I never had to worry about the calories.

However, during high school, my first job was waiting tables at a cafe and doughnut shop.  I would come home from work exhausted and reeking of the smell of the grease in which the doughnuts were fried.  Later, after college, I worked for a time in a health food store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (yes, they made and sold doughnuts there, ironically,)  I’d arrive in the morning to see the doughnuts draining and although the smell wasn’t as intense as at the cafe, it was enough to put me off eating doughnuts for quite some time, just as in high school.

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In 1976, M*A*S*H’s Corporal Klinger says, “If you are ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo’s got the greatest Hungarian hot dogs”, putting Tony Packo’s on the world map.   But the Toledo, Ohio icon actually had its beginnings back in 1932, when Tony and his wife Rose opened their sandwich and ice cream shop at the beginning of the Great Depression with a $100 family loan.

© janet m. webb 2017

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Do you want real Parmesan cheese? Don’t buy it in a can.  Cheese isn’t the only thing in that can.  There can even be cellulose (not cellulite, mind you), a safe additive that’s allowed to avoid clumping, in it, as this 2016 article from Bloomberg reports.  I grew up knowing nothing but the cheese (or “cheese”) in those cans.  The real thing is as far from the canned variety as my Nebraska home was from Italy.  And the real thing is called Parmigiano Reggiano.

Every aspect of “The King of Cheese” is strictly monitored.  As the Bloomberg article states:

Of all the popular cheeses in the U.S., the hard Italian varieties are the most likely to have fillers because of their expense. Parmesan wheels sit in curing rooms for months, losing moisture, which results in a smaller yield than other cheeses offer. While 100 pounds of milk might produce 10 pounds of cheddar, it makes only eight pounds of Parmesan. That two-pound difference means millions of dollars to manufacturers, according to Sommer.

Each of those cheeses has to be turned daily and wiped to get moisture off, a dangerous job now done by machine.  Real Parmigiano Reggiano must have a variety of markings on the outside including these obvious and distinctive ones:

Stenciling band, placed entirely around the wheel, which has:

  • pre-punched dots bearing the inscription PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO acronym DOP and the inscription CONSORZIO TUTELA
  • identification number of dairy
  • production month and year

Here’s what a real big cheese looks like. (I especially like this one as it has my birthday on it!)  Grate it yourself for an incomparable taste.  If you find it on sale, freeze a chunk and grate as needed.  And toss the can!

© janet m. webb 2017

We were all kneading our pasta dough.  One after another, people began getting ready to make whatever type of pasta we were making.  I was frustrated.  My dough still wasn’t ready.  Loretta Paganini, of the eponymous cooking school in Chesterland, Ohio, saw my frustration.  She said she was told she should be a pastry chef, as her hands were always cold.  Cold is good for pastry, not as good for pasta.

Although it takes a bit of time, pasta isn’t difficult to make.  Filled shapes take more time than those just cut, such as linguine.  Although little Italian grandmothers may roll the dough out with a rolling pin, it’s much easier to use a pasta machine.  And by the way, noodles are a type of pasta, not pasta itself.  Here’s the recipe I’ve been using since I learned to make ravioli, along with some photos from my ravioli-making day and the link to Loretta’s Italian grandmother’s walnut sauce.

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