What we've been eating (and drinking)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Living in Paris has given me many opportunities to try so many new foods to both eat and cook with. But, I tend to stay true to my roots which means that a craving for nachos will have me searching Paris high and low for refried beans and cheddar cheese. And, I always keep my kitchen well-stocked with all the foods and spices that I find easy and familiar to cook with, like tortillas, rice, chili powder (I make chili or taco soup nearly once a week), pasta and barbecue sauce. Sometimes I wish I was more experimental in the kitchen, and I often wonder what's being served up on the tables of other families in Paris.

I am lucky (and so is Gui) that I have a decent grasp of cooking, and I find myself trying to merge my cooking habits with those of Gui - well, his mom, at least. When Gui and I were living in Long Beach, he burned pasta while attempting to make some sort of carbonara-type dish, and that's when I decided he didn't really belong in the kitchen. Plus, he doesn't mind doing the dishes (which I detest), so it's kind of a culinary match made in heaven between the two of us. But, his mom, now, his mom can whip up some serious grub. Terrine d'asperges, roasted chicken with caramelized apples and a mean stir-fry rank high among my favorites of her culinary specialties.

Last Sunday, Gui and I managed to roll out of bed early enough to get started on what would become a day of intoxicating chocolate. Despite having taken part in another first in Paris the night before...

...(yep, a bit of absinthe after a few rounds of drinks before), we still made it to the Salon du Chocolat for our own little gourmet version of a chocolate "brunch". It didn't take much more than the lure of fancy chocolate samples to convince me to wake up before noon on a Sunday morning, and I didn't regret my choice after spending a few moments in the exposition hall.

I'm not usually very comfortable asking someone to sample a product knowing full and well that I'm not going to purchase their goods afterwards, but I eventually got over it and set off shamelessly sampling to my heart's desire like everyone else was. I was kind of upset that some of the better-known brands weren't offering any samples, which to me signified a slight arrogance in their product. It's true, I don't know how it all works, but I'd imagine, as a business, you involve yourself in such a venue to gain exposure for your products, especially new ones you're trying to usher into the market. But, the great thing is that almost everyone there was happily offering dégustations of their goods, and I found myself falling in love with new and old chocolatiers and their divine creations.

Our greatest discovery at the Salon, though was of the savory type. As good as the mango Baileys, cappuccino mousse-filled chocolate, and myrtille-flavored chocolate square were, we couldn't get the chicken molé poblano out of our heads after trying a spoonful on a piece of baguette. My mom makes an amazing molé, but hers is reddish-colored and made with peanut butter. I've (kindly) asked her to make a batch of her chicken molé and Spanish rice when we come visit in December because it's definitely on my short but growing list of comfort foods. The molé we tried at the expo was a Mexican specialty, and not completely unlike my mom's; it was made with chocolate instead of peanut butter, which produced a rich, delicious, black-colored sauce that made Gui and I go crazy. We ended up buying some of the last few spoonfuls of the pre-made sauce, rustically packaged in plasticwrap-covered plastic cups, making the complicated dish easy to reproduce the next day. For me, though, the best part of reproducing the meal was that I finally perfected my mom's Spanish rice - no small feat, mind you. It turned out fluffy and flavorful and reminded me why I'll never get tired of eating the stuff I've been fed since childhood.

Mom's rice cookin'!

The end result was DELICIEUX!

Our chicken molé dinner (but, I forgot the sesame seeds until we'd already started digging in!)

With sesame seeds. It was so good!


Zelda said...

Oh my goodness, after reading this, I'm starving! All the delicious cholocate...the mole!

Oh, and your rice looks amazing :)

L said...

I remember when B made rice for the first time: he made it like you make spaghetti.... Not to mention the time he made tagiatelli...that was still crunchy. Did you see any brands that sell unsweetened chocolate? I've never found any baker's chocolate in France for recipes. Even the "pure" chocolate always has sugar as an ingrediant.

Josephine said...

Sarah: I wish I could have been there. I would have felt as if I died and gone to "Chocolate" heaven! yummy.

On the mole part, in Mexico they do put chocolate and peanut butter in their mole, but I have a real problem with chocolate in my mole. Besides, Grandma Suniga gets all the credit for teaching me how to make mole. Thank you Grannie Good Wish.

Love, Mum

lulu said...

Chocolate dégustation? That is a pregnant girls dream. Thanks for taking me there on a calorie free journey.

Did you try the olive oil chocolate truffe? that actually sounds good.

miss you

Fned said...

Hi Sarah! You're so lucky to have culinary talents... I literally once put a frozen pizza in the oven... with the wrapping plastic STILL ON!!! I guess you could say I'm the perfect definition of the "castastrophe dans la cuisine". But lucky me, Hubby is the cook in our home, and like Guy I don't mind doing the dishes afterwards, so I completely get you on the match made in culinary heaven thing!! LOL

Your pics of the Salon du Chocolat look great too! I remember going for the first time back in 2002 when it was still held in the Bourse de Paris (the little round building next to Les Halles). Funny enough I had the same reaction you did: plenty of chocolate makers weren't giving out samples either and I found that quite cheap of them!!! Guess things haven't changed much since!!! :D

P.S. And your mom is right: Mole in Mexico is made with dark chocolate... and real peanuts... and 27 other somewhat secret spices!!! I should know: I come from Puebla, home of the world famous Mole Poblano!! (which I don't really like btw.... :s)

Anonymous said...

are you kidding me?! is this going to be there when Ry and I come?

TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.