Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day One Ninety Three - "La Retour" Part One & A wrap up meal

I sit here writing this to you all on train two out of three before two taxis, two planes and then two more subways, all of which will happen over the course of today and tomorrow, somewhat exhausting to think about! But hey my current train passed the golden towns of the Cote d'Azur, the vineyards and lush greenery of Provence and Southern France...not bad!

I got to thinking what would be the best way to sum up my time in France, through a recipe? Through one of my beloved Loire Valley cheeses? Through a new cheese adventure in Corsica or on main land France? Well unfortunately I just couldn't decide because all three of those concepts could barely begin to sum up the past two weeks - full of adventures, good times with friends and family, cooking, relaxing, running, reading and more in such a special place!

So I thought I'd tell you what my perfect simple home cooked meal that characterizes the South of France would contain:

It would start with a glass of Vin Gris from the region -- crisp, light, refreshing, and delish. To complement your wine, you would start with some roasted and salted almonds to get you in the cooking mood. You'd no doubt have some classic French chansons playing in the background. For our meal, I'd suggest making a hot and then a cold salad of course accompanied by cheese, michettes and fresh bread.

For the cold salad, you definitely need some nice mâché and fresh basil as the greens. Then you need some thinly diced carrots (because French carrots are just fantastic!), some diced cherry tomatoes, and some diced up yellow pepper. I'd top this with diced up fresh mozzarella di bufula and homemade croutons sauted with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, shallots, and herbs. This should be dressed with a homemade vinaigrette composed of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maille mustard, a little bit of lemon juice and some soy sauce. The perfect
fresh light salad showcasing the delish produce found in this part of the world.

Now on to our roasted medley of veggies for our hot salad. As zucchini blossoms are in season you must use some of them with zucchini ribbons. At the marche provencal in Antibes, you can find quite the variety of zucchini, I'd suggest getting a few different kinds. This needs some diced up fennel, garlic and shallots. I like to keep this simple with a little bit of herbs and some olive oil, allowing the delicate flavors of the veggies a time to shine!! I'd roast this low and slow till the zucchini are tender and somewhat golden. This is to be topped with a homemade light pesto composed of fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, roasted almonds, a handful of grated Parmesan, a dollop of fresh ricotta, some sel de mer and some frshly ground pepper.
Lightly toss your roasted veggies with this and top with some extra freshly grated Parmesan.

Enjoy your hot and cold dishes with a crisp simple Picpol de Pinet, nice and light for hot summer days!

In terms of cheese, I'd choose a great Roquefort for that piquant blue kick; the fantastic aged semi soft sheep's milk cheese from Corsica (the name of which is currently escaping me, but fret not I will report back with it tomorrow); and lastly a nice chevrot for that aged Loire valley goat cheese that you all know I love!

I'd serve this with a nice crusty French baguette and a few michettes say the ratatouille, zucchini, roquefort, and chevre ones.

I'd round out the meal with a few homemade French macarons, preferably a coffee, a raspberry and a pinenut and a nice glass of white port.

The perfect meal to sum up my favorite tastes and flavors of the south of France.

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