I am going to cheat a bit today... because for one, I am on a pretty big work deadline, and two, I'm still recovering from last weekend.
Last Thursday, my friend from FSU, Vishan, who is now studying painting at West Dean in England, came down for a long weekend in Paris. We both have been on similar journeys this past year, and we've been keeping up with each others' progress of adapting to life in a new country. It was really comforting to finally have someone from back home who understands my issues with cold weather, and even though there's not really a language barrier between the US and England... I learned there were a lot of things in Vishan's case, that just don't translate.
Luckily for us, it was a beautiful weekend (with the exception of a slight drizzle), and we made sure to take full advantage. There are so many things I want to blog about, but I am actually going to start at the end and work backwards... You'll see why.
So, should we start with Sunday morning then? Ugh, it was not a pretty sight. The night before, I let my FSU side run wild... and ended up face-in-a-plastic-bag in a cab on the way back to our apartment. Where did it all start? Well, Saturday morning we got up bright and early and headed to the market across the street from my apartment. I wanted to show Vishan what a real, local, French outdoor market looked like.
We strolled past each stand at least twice, all the while the vendors greeting us with a cheerful, "Bonjour monsieur-dame!" Artichokes and strawberries were making their seasonal debut, and I could literally feel Spring in the air. We walked past the rotisserie stand, where chickens and rabbits were ever so slowly turning on the spit... their delicious fat and juices melting into the vats of onions and potatoes below. I took a deep breath in, my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I said to him, "This is why I love France."
It was already a gorgeous day, so what better than to do as the French so love to do, and picnic in the park? We bought an entire lapin roti (rotisserie rabbit), some bread, cheese, and grape leaves, and made our way to Montmartre.
We parked ourselves on a bench in front of the Sacre Coeur, and spread out our market goodies.
The rotisserie rabbit was absolutely to die for... the skin as crackly and crispy as lechon, the fat - glistening and rich like duck fat (aka liquid gold), and the meat was as tender as a perfectly roasted chicken. A perfect trifecta. I don't know why anyone would be afraid to eat rabbit. I know, I know, it's like eating Thumper or Bugs Bunny, but seriously people, this was amazing.
We made quite a little spectacle of ourselves - going all Andrew Zimmern on the rabbit - eating the liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart... all which were so graciously left inside the animal while it roasted.
Rabbit lung, by the way... not so tasty. It's not so much the flavor, but the texture that made Vishan make this face:
People were literally staring at us like we were freaks, especially since Vishan was pretty dressed up to be gnawing away at a rabbit carcass.
After we finished devouring our
kill catch purchase, we walked around Montmartre, went back to the Musée Guimet (another blog post), and ultimately landed at one of my favorite pâtisseries, Gérard Mulot.
They by far have some of the most gorgeous pastries I've ever seen... and they taste just as amazing.
With no room inside to sit, we took the pastries back to the apartment to enjoy them in peace, while I whipped up this tasty little tart:
So see, I am cheating a bit... it's not a tartine, and I didn't exactly eat it today, but hey - it was yummy, and I wanted to share!
*P.S. - It all went downhill from there... lots of wine... lots and lots of wine.
Goat Cheese, Zucchini, and Roasted Red Pepper Tart
1 pâte feuilletée or puff pastry (I used a pre-made & pre-rolled dough to make it easier on myself)
200g fresh goat's cheese
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices.
1 small red bell pepper
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Remove the core and seeds from the red bell pepper and cut in half length-wise.
Place the two halves of the red bell pepper on a baking sheet, skin-side up, under the broiler until the skin begins to char, about 10-15 minutes.
Once the skin has turned black, take them out of the oven, place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap for about 10-15 minutes.
Once cooled, peel the skin off of the peppers (do not rinse) and slice into 1/4 inch strips. Set aside.
*You can do up to this part a day or so in advance.
Preheat oven to 400°Fahrenheit (200°Celsius).
On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper over the zucchini and toss with your hands to coat. Re-arrange into a single layer and add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the baking sheet.
Roast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, just to allow the garlic to begin to soften. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
*Do not turn off the oven.
Remove the garlic from the peel and chop into a fine mince.
In a bowl, mix the goat's cheese, Herbes de Provence, and roasted garlic until thoroughly combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
On a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper, place the puff pastry in the center of the pan. Spread goat cheese mixture in a thin layer, leaving about an inch border around the edges.
Arrange the zucchini slices on top of the goat cheese mixture, and fold the edges of the puff pastry over top of the zucchini. Arrange the slices of roasted red pepper on top of the zucchini.
In a bowl, whisk one egg with a little bit of water, and brush it over the top of the puff pastry. This will give the pastry a nice brown color when it bakes.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serves 3-4.