Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finally, an answer on the fond de commerce

It's been a tumultuous path....ups and downs....highs and lows...good news followed by bad news followed by good news.....followed by more waiting....and at last, we have the answer.

In the end, the boutique/café/kitchen I had hoped to set up in the 14th arrondissement in Paris is a disappointing non. It's not for lack of trying, I can assure you. I've had lots of support on the effort for which I'm deeply touched and forever grateful.

We crossed many hurdles on this little journey, but there was one hurdle that could not be surpassed, and that is to receive the landlord's approval to upgrade their facility. It's really mind-boggling to us - this thought that we offered to put in a respectable investment into the landlord's property to improve it, and to bring it up to hygiene standards for my business, something that they require in their own contract...(urgh) - and he said no to the offer.

Not only did he say no, but he said it s-l-o-w-l-y. Couldn't he have just told us that two months ago, straight away??

I suppose it's for the best. This was my immediate reaction. Who knows what future problems we may be avoiding....with the renovations work (I've heard a horror story or two), or with the unresponsive landlord himself (if we needed to ask anything from him, including trying to sell the place ourselves someday...)

OK, so I've got this great, big disappointment on my hands. And I feel like I've wasted a million years to get to nowhere....except we have gained valuable experience, and learned a few things along the way. Isn't that always what we say in situations like this??!! Well, there is a thread of truth to it!

I'm back on the hunt...looking for a good fond de commerce. There's even more on the market at the moment.....so, stay tuned, we'll see what happens next! All good things in their own time...


Monday, June 22, 2009

10pm in Paris - View from our Window

Notice how light it is ? ....at about 1o:oo o'clock at night. In fact, these photos were taken on the longest day of the year: June 21st. I absolutely love how long and drawn out the nights are at the moment.

Summer in Paris: it's where the evenings take their time, and the days get off to an early start. (The days get an early start....not necessarily the people!) When the sky is clear, and nothing but blue, Paris is as special as we all imagine it to be. Especially if the temperature hovers at a comfortable 20°C (~70°F), as it has been lately. Catch the breeze and enjoy it while you can. Terrasses are in full swing, with some people preferring full sun and others the shade. Parks are packed. Even the perky and peppy dogs are, well, perkier and peppier!

I still can't get used to seeing reflections of sunlight so late into the night because where I come from, dusk hits around 8:30ish and by 10pm, it's totally dark. On second thought, maybe, I can get used to it! Vive la difference!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sushi on the Seine

Thanks to my friend Ayako, I recently started eating maki-sushi regularly...as in more than once a week. I've always loved sushi & I would eat it from time-to-time....just not as regularly as lately. It has all been for a good cause, though: to practice the new sushi-making skills she had so kindly taught me! As we all know, practice makes perfect. I'm still happily practicing this craft! Those around me are happy, too, with all my practice sessions.

Here are some photos of this latest adventure. I think my favorite pictures are those taken on the Quai (quay) of the Seine River, where the sun was setting slowly, boats were passing by, and we had a nice quiet moment together, eating some freshly-made sushi, sipping a nice glass of champagne...and enjoying a summer evening in Paris.

Mis en place

First sushis made!

Vegetarian maki-sushi (cucumber, carrot); Must be Ayako's...it's perfect!

Salmon egg maki-sushi with roasted red pepper, zucchini and carrot

More salmon egg maki-sushi

These are also very, very good with smoked salmon and avocado. Next on my list to try is raw salmon or tuna, if I find a good quality supply. And why not crab meat or shrimp...? It seems as though the possibilities are endless. And if that's not enough reason to love these treats, they taste great, they are light & healthy to eat, and they make a perfect summer meal when you don't want to be turning on the oven. (Very important here in Paris when most apartments are not equipped with air conditioning!) Thanks again, Ayako, for sharing this technique with me. Your generosity is abundant!

Sushi, anyone? ;)


Monday, June 15, 2009

Burrata Anyone?

Burrata cheese is so good that I decided it deserved its own post. From yesterday's recipe, you know that I'm a fan. I hope you are able to find Burrata at your local store because this is one cheese worth trying. And I honestly can't see how anyone would NOT love this cheese... It's seriously good.

Here's a link to a definition, if you like: wikipedia burrata (english)

In short, it's an artisinal fresh cheese having a mozzarella-like outside with bits of mozzarella and crème on the inside. It comes from a region in Italy called Puglia....and originally, it was wrapped in a leaf of a tree coming from that region. And the leaf would actually be bright green, proving to everyone and the world that this cheese is so fresh that the leaf hasn't even started to change colors yet! OK, so today they use plastic....tant pis!

Take it out of its packaging & untie it. The shape is very odd, but just set it on its side. It definitely looks better that way. Consider it a "cheese brioche"!

Burrata is best eaten at room temperature and immediately after it's made. And, it's best shared with a few close family & friends, each having a spoon in hand. Placed in the center of the table, everyone can dig into their own little corner of the cheese pouch. And that's when all its rich, buttery, creamy goodness comes seeping out. Take a look at what's inside:

All you really need is a high quality olive oil to drizzle on top. Add a few ripe tomatoes, some sea salt....and you're practically in heaven! Enjoy!

There are several specialty Italian stores that sell Burrata. There's also a fromagerie located here that is selling it at the moment:

La Fermette de Chloe et Gabriel
86, rue Montorgeuil
75002 Paris
Cost: 23.80€/kg
One Burrata sac (shown above) will weigh ~ 200 - 300 g.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tomato, Orange, Avocado & Burrata Millefeuille

Here's a quick, delicious first course - perfect for this time of the year, BUT ONLY if you can find perfectly ripe tomatoes, oranges and avocados!

The other essential ingredient to the success of this dish is an italian cheese called Burrata. Burrata is a cow-milk based cheese similar to buffalo mozzarella cheese, but with a softer texture and taste. It's in season at the moment, according to my local fromager (cheese monger). Burrata cheese is amazingly delicate and mouth-watering good. I highly recommend you try it, if you are lucky enough to have access to this wonderful cheese.

As it goes, this idea came to mind because of my continued fixation on citrus & avocado pairing. It's loosely based on the Cocktail d'agrumes et Crevettes recipe previously posted (only no shrimp here, and instead, a nice ripe tomato that tastes like ripe tomatoes should). Yum!

Ingredients - 8 people

2 ripe avocados
4 vine-ripe tomatoes
2-3 succulent oranges
2 balls of Burratta cheese (approximately 300 g)
fresh basil
salt & pepper
lemon juice

  1. Pit the avocado and slice thinly in the horizontal sense. Cover with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
  2. Peel and slice horizontally the tomatoes.
  3. Peel and slice horizontally the orange.
  4. Remove Burratta from its wrapping and place in a flat container (since once you pierce into it, it will leak all over! Trust me, you're going to want to capture all that rich flavor...by the spoonful!).
  5. Make a simple vinaigrette (optional). I didn't use a vinagrette here, and it was absolutely delicious, but I offer that as an idea. You can spoon the vinagrette over the avocado, tomatoes and oranges before assembly.
  6. Assemble so that the millefeuille takes the shape of a tomatoe stack. Season each layer before adding the next.
  7. Top with a spoonful of Burrata cheese & a slivers of chopped basil. Season with pepper.
  8. Add an infused oil such as basil oil or chive oil to the base of the millefeuille. Serve with a baguette.

:/ dma