Monday, October 31, 2016

Chateau of Cheverny : The manor behind Tintin's Marlinspike Hall.

May 1942, Hergé was about to send Tintin on his 11th adventure and inquisitive Hergé frisked through the encyclopedia Larrouse and travel brochures for inspirations. There in one such brochure he stumbled upon a castle that would be the future home of Captain Haddock and Tintin, acquired by Professor Calculus. He called it the Moulinsart in French which came around by flipping over the name of the Belgian village Sart-Moulin. In the English speaking world the manor is known as Marlinspike. The manor according to the Tintin series was built by the illustrious ancestor of Captain Haddock, Sir Francis Haddock (Chevalier François de Hadoque in French) and was introduced for the first time in the volume ‘The Secret of the Unicorn’. That was fiction, but in reality the manor exists, and it does in France, in the valley of the river Loire, and it was the travel brochure of this chateau that inspired Hergé to create Moulinsart or Marlinspike Hall. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

L'Alsace : Perfect for dinner when shopping on Champs Elysees

I had some shopping to do, so I headed to the posh avenue of Champ Elysees to do the needful. After a little bit of running here and there and doing the errands I checked the time in my watch. It was 8pm, time to head to a restaurant for dinner. The street has quite a handful of restaurants like two pizzerias Cafe Roma and PizzaPino and just beside them is the L'Alcase, which is mainly based on Alsatian food and some other bits of French and German gastronomy to suit everyone's taste.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Meat balls in sauce tomates à la crème.

It was the weekend and we had some friends visiting us. I spent a lot of time preparing the Gnocchi for them (you can check my blog for the recipe) and thus I ran out of time to prepare a side dish. The minced meat that I had bought from the morning market came to my rescue. It is a hassle free dish but extremely delicious and goes well with wine (preferable red). Here is the recipe. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Home-made Gnocchi with Pomodoro sauce : A traditional Italian dish

Gnocchi is a very traditional form of Italian pasta and is basically a dumpling prepared by rolling out the dough and then cutting it in small bite sized pieces. The secret of gnocchi lies thus in its dough. The small pieces of dough are then boiled in water to give Gnocchi its final form. Gnocchi has been a traditional Italian dish since the Roman times, when the legions brought them to Italy from the Middle East. The present day Gnocchi dough consists of boiled potatoes which became prevalent after the introduction of the potato to Europe in the 16th century. Gnocchi ‘pasta’ can well be bought at a nearby supermarket, owing to the industrial brands making them available in different countries across the world. But these commercial counterparts are in no way even close to the original home-made traditional Gnocchi both in taste, texture and form. So here is how you can make your own home-made Gnocchi. Once the bite sized potato filled dough dumplings are prepared you can also follow the recipe given below of a dish you can prepare from Gnocchi. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

A weekend walk traversing unique landmarks in the heart of Paris.

I have realized that during my routine weekend walks through Paris, the locations and places that I traverse are quite unique, interesting and of high touristic importance. On numerous occasions I have presented these Parisian sights to my visiting friends and family. How about just jotting down one such quotidian walks and through Paris, present a few of the numerous enigmatic but fascinating landmarks of Paris.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Saga of French Cheese : 1

France is famous for its cheese and Charles de Gaulle had once said that the country that has more than 365 types of cheese is ungovernable. So I decided to make a series of blogs and try to list as many as possible of those “more than 365 types of French cheese”.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Grilled Salmon with leek and chives

I must say that I love fish and I love fish simply grilled with some tacit flavors grazing the surface. And when we are at fish, salmon is my favorite. So last Sunday I got myself some fresh Atlantic Salmon from the morning market of our neighborhood. In France there is a saying that the months ending in the ‘r’ sound (Septembre, Octobre, Novembre, Décembre, Janvier and Février in French) are best for fish and sea-food. So as the fall started, it was perfect for me to try my hand out at Salmon. Here is my simple recipe of Grilled Salmon with leek and chives. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Chocolate tour of Brussels : 7 best Belgian Chocolatiers

After having visited Brussels for a third time, I think I am in a position to write about all the sweetness in its gastronomy. I have lived in Paris and in the Netherlands and Brussels was very accessible lying half way between the two. But I have never been to Brussels for a vacation yet, being there for visa related issues on the first two occasions and this third time for Mitra's conference. However I did not miss trying out the chocolaty and 'speculous' delights this city has to offer. OK, what am I talking about? Let me explain....

Chocolate is a specialty in the gastronomy of Belgium. With 500 chocolatiers and 2000 chocolate boutiques in Belgium (around one for every 5 500 residents) in 2012, the Belgians consume around 8 kg of chocolates par person each year, a rate which is one of the highest in the world. Belgium produces 172 000 tonnes of chocolate each year and the Belgian quality is symbolic throughout the world. At the time when Belgium was part of the Spanish Netherlands, the port of Antwerp was already stocked with cocoa from the Spanish Empire. The first traces of cocoa in Belgium were found in Ghent in 1635 and at the time, cocoa was only appreciated as a luxury drink for the royal family and aristocrats. It is believed that in 1679, the mayor of Zurich, Henri Escher, after relishing his first cup of hot chocolate in Brussels, decided to export the recipe to Switzerland which gave birth to the Swiss chocolate, now a major competitor of the Belgian chocolate. In 1857, Jean Neuhaus opened a pharmacy in Brussels with the idea to wrap his medication with a layer of chocolate to hide the bitter taste. Thus the first Belgian chocolatier was born. Several production centers grew throughout the country and in 1831 Adolphe Meurisse opened the first chocolate factory in Antwerp and Antoine Jacques sold the first chocolate bar. Pralines are by far the most famous of the the Belgian chocolates and apart from chocolates Belgium is also the proud inventor of Speculoos. The Brussels waffle dipped in chocolate is another delight which cannot be missed when one is in the city.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Breizh Café : One of the best Creperies of Paris.

A galette or to be more specific a Breton galette (originating from the Brittany region of France) is a thin pancake made with buckwheat flour usually with a savory filling. Buckwheat is not related to wheat rather is related to sorrel, knotweed and rhubarb. The seeds are rich in complex carbohydrates and being non-grass it is a pseudocereal. In France, a restaurant specialized in galettes and crepes is called a crêperie. Now I would love to tell you about the place that serves the best galettes in Paris, the Breizh Café (the Brittany region is colloquially known as Breizh in French).

Monday, October 3, 2016

Melon with mint : A perfect healthy dessert

Want to have a dessert but afraid of the calories, try a healthier option, the Melon or Cantaloupe salad. Refreshing and flavorsome, yet with high nutritional value the fruit is cultivated all over the world and can be found in various sizes and colors. It is believed that the fruit originated from India or Persia and was cultivated in Egypt around 2500 years ago. The European version of the fruit was cultivated by monks of the 15 century in the Italian region of Cantaluppo which gave its modern name.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Nuit Blanche 2016 : L'Eveil by Erwin Olaf

The Nuit Blanche (White Night in French) is a night long art event where different art installations are put up at important locations, museums and art galleries of Paris and they remain accessible throughout the night to the public for free. The concept of night time arts festival was introduced by Jean Blaise, a French artistic director in Nantes, and it came to Paris when he was invited by the then Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë to organize the first event in the city in 2002.