Monday, January 23, 2017

Paris Bookstore Map, La Fete de la Coquille

Bear insisted we get oysters & scallops on Sunday at the annual Brittany Fete de la Coquille Saint-Jacques in Montmartre.

First stop, a half dozen freshly-opened Breton oysters (8€).

Note they are served with a little knife. Use this to loosen the oyster from the shell with a scrape or two at the muscle on the left side...the white roundish bit. Then free the rest of the oyster going round the edge lightly. Tilt and swallow. That's it. No squeeze of lemon or sauce required. Not if you want to get the full briny flavor of Brittany. Never use a fork to cut up the oyster. SVP! Please.

There was lobster bisque. Brittany is a great source of France's seafood and I've yet to go.

Bretons were whooping it up. The band was playing. People were singing.

Plenty of Champagne and Sancerre flowing. Its not just for birthdays and anniversaries PBers.

This year I bought a pound box of scallops. 25 for 25€ and so worth it.

I'm mad for scallops and I've always wanted to paint them. Testing 1-2-3. First do a really good pencil drawing.

Then get loose and go to town. Draw loosely with a brush the shadow shape, in this case I used a plastic Aqua-waterbrush.

Build outwards, adding the different layers and textures.

I added in the orange coral surrounding the scallop for color.
This is the first time I finally cooked them right. Having 25 on hand makes you fearless. 
1. Get a frying pan really, really hot on high heat with a chunk of butter and a bit of olive oil, so it zizzles when you throw in a drop of water. 
2. Be sure to get your scallops out of the fridge for at least 20 minutes to room tempurature. Salt and pepper. 
3. Toss them into the hot pan. They should brown quickly in a matter of minutes. 
4. Throw in some capers and a good squeeze of lemon into your now browned butter. 
5. Serve with a green veg like spinach or brocalli. 
Do not let the scallops wait for the veg. Just the opposite. Voila. Easy peasy.

This month's PARIS BOOK SHOP MAP, went out 📬 on Saturday. The French are bookaholics. No question. 

There are endless specialty bookstores and book events. Salon du livre is a huge don't miss at Porte de Versailles in March. Its for the public, not a trade show only.

Have you been to the bookstore in Hotel de Sully? A well-kept secret.

Tucked away in an archway at 62 rue Saint-Antoine, 75004 just across from Metro staion St. Paul.

Also known as the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, they publish beautiful books on France and Paris of course.

A goldmine of stunning books. They have monthly tours (in French) to various monuments (10-19€). I'm going Sunday to see the appartments of the Duchesse de Hotel de Sully. Full report to come.

Shakespeare and Company generously donated loads of bookmarks to put in the map envelopes and i made some too.

Do you love coquille saint Jacques? You can get one of these watercolors + a 33-page scallop recipe book when you subscribe to Paris letters and maps

Thursday, January 12, 2017

La Galette du Coeur...La Galette des chefs 2017

I've been missing in action of late felled by a nasty cold I caught staying up past my bedtime (8:00 pm) on New Year's Eve. Plus ODing on the l'Epiphanie galette des Rois. How else to figure out how to paint the thing? I went for the 3rd year in a row with Solli to the annual charity galette fete at Saint Germain de Pres last Saturday sniffling and sneezing.
Some things are worth getting out of bed for.
I was not alone in my excitement. Red Riding hood showed up too.

There is the inspection of the galettes of course. Pierre. Herme does a lemon galette.

Karamel did of course caramel.

Très elegant from. Hotel Raphael.

Square shaped with hazelnuts instead of the almonds - very appealing.

I settled for a plain jane classic almond franipane galette and dolled it up with a coating of passion fruit/apricot confiture plus toasted almonds. A quick reheat in the oven = divine.

I did the same to Picard's DIY individual small galettes. Look at this year's feves (hidden favors). Sweet little porceleine animals.

Somehow tasting one or two galettes is not enough. Isn't it fortunate that you can find them all through January at some boulangeries and patisseries.
I was longing to try Gerard Mulot's stunning pistache/noisette. Very nice.

You will not believe some of the concoctions Paris pastry chefs come up with. Framboise-pistache. Tonka beans. Even savory galettes. I almost bought a spinach cake. Here Christolphe Adams creates an eclair/galette. His mini eclair feves were awfully appealing (25€).

I loved the scrawled lettering, 'l'Epiphanie' in his newspaper and drew it on quite a few galette watercolors.

Maybe I got a little carried away.

What I learned from all this painting and tasting is...stick with the classic glalette au amande. You can never go wrong being a purist. No matter how many creative hoops Parisian pastry chefs jump through to outdo each other, in the end you'll know a good galette from a so-so galette with no distraction from exotic flavors or odd shapes. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
Thank you for reading and supporting Parisbreakfast by buying Paris letters and watercolors. HAPPY NEW YEAR again!