Three Very Good Things: Color-Coded Sandwiches, Persimmons, and Gianduja Sablés

{This is part of a new series in which I share three delicious things from the past week. Please feel free to tell me about your own 3VGT in the comments below, or to post them on your blog.}

My three very good things for the week are as follows:

~ Color-coded sandwiches from Gontran Cherrier’s bakery. I’ve already told you about Gontran, who’s both a talented baker and a friend of ours, and who runs a wonderful bakery in my neighborhood.

Every time Maxence and I go, we have to restrain ourselves and pick up just a few of the items that are calling our names, but we can never resist the sandwiches, assembled on house-made black (squid ink), green (arugula juice) or red (paprika) buns, and garnished with super fresh and cleverly combined ingredients. We eat them perched on stools by the tall windows before we go off and run the rest of our errands.

~ My first persimmon of the season. Although I only discovered persimmons in my early twenties — thanks to the loveliest of coworkers in California — I am absolutely enamored with them and their intensely aromatic, bright orange, slippery flesh. They’ve just started to appear on produce stalls in Paris, and we ate our first over the weekend. (You do know to make a wish whenever you eat a fruit for the first time in the season, right?)

~ Gianduja sablés from La Pâtisserie des Rêves. Thanks to Louise, who runs the excellent blog Raids Pâtisseries, I am now hopelessly hooked on these crisp butter cookies, topped with a layer of soft hazelnut and chocolate paste, and thinly coated with bittersweet chocolate.

Three Very Good Things: Buckwheat Praliné, Pasta with Hokkaido Squash, and a Red Collapsible Lunch Box

I recently had the opportunity to meet the lovely Stephanie — the no less lovely Aran introduced us — and I am therefore a new reader of her blog, “where practical meets pretty.” She wrote about gratitude lists in a recent post, and the first comment underneath that post was by Mary, who talked about her weekly round-up of Three Beautiful Things.

I loved the idea, as I am definitely one to find gratitude and joy in small things. In a flash I decided it would be wonderful to start a (weekly-ish) Three Very Good Things series, in which I’d share three delicious things made, tasted, and/or experienced during the week.

Here’s my inaugural Very Good Trio. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments section, or on your own blog if you’d like to adopt the idea too!

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C&Z Anniversary Get-Together: Important Update

Verjus Due to an unforeseen administrative snag, the C&Z Anniversary Get-Together has been rescheduled to Friday, October 21. The venue has not changed: it will be held at Verjus, the wine bar that my friends Braden and Laura (of Hidden Kitchen fame) are just about to open. We’ll be there from 8pm, but feel free to drop by whenever you like. I apologize for this change of date, and hope to meet you there!

Verjus, 47 rue Montpensier, Paris 1er, +33 (0)1 42 97 54 40 (see map).

Best of 2010

I hope you’ve enjoyed a warm and cheerful holiday season, that you’ve shared laughter and good meals with the people you care about, and that you’re feeling full of energy and dreams for 2011.

May this fresh new year bring you joy, serenity, fulfillment, and really good skin. I look forward to another year of meeting you here on Chocolate & Zucchini.

Before we kiss 2010 goodbye altogether, I don’t want to miss my chance to reminisce on what it has brought me, thereby establishing my traditional “best of” list*.

Most memorable trip

The most salient memory I will keep from 2010 is, without a doubt, the trip I took to Japan with Maxence. I can even say it was the best trip of my life, and I wish I could bottle up the euphoria I felt for two weeks straight — and also wrap up in a magic doggie bag every single bite we ate, so I could savor them over and over again.

Most rewarding baking project

For the first time ever, I baked a galette des rois to celebrate the Epiphany, the traditional January holiday I wrote about here and again here. It was a success that far outweighed the (moderate) work involved, and I encourage you to try your hand at it too: the official date is this Thursday, but l’Epiphanie is customarily celebrated anytime in January.

Favorite breads

Ever since I found James MacGuire’s instructions for pain au levain in an issue of Art of Eating, it has become our weekly loaf of bread, and I now make it (almost) with my eyes closed.

I also baked a number of batches of these tomato burger buns. They accompanied us through a fabulous summer of near-weekly cheeseburgers — many of them vegetarian, since I discovered with glee that they sell portobello mushrooms at the greenmarket.

Favorite new cooking utensils

My new/old pressure cooker is definitely getting some mileage on my stove: I use it several times a week to cook legumes, grains, soups, and stock.

I have also acquired a used electric coffee grinder (a model very much like this one) that I have repurposed as a spice/seed grinder, to whizz things like flax seeds, cardamom and lemon zest.

And although it isn’t a cooking utensil exactly, we are delighted with the sparkling water fountain that my sister and brother-in-law gave us for Christmas, which allows us to turn still water to sparkling at the push of a button (“abracadabra!” optional).

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Paris Event Reminder

Are you in Paris this weekend? Would you like to meet? Good news, we have two opportunities to do so!

On Saturday, October 16, join me at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France from 11am till noon, for a discussion on food blogs (in French) as part of a series of talks called Les Samedis du Savoir. (The event is free and open to the public.)

And on Sunday, October 17, please come and have a drink with us as we celebrate the 7th anniversary of Chocolate & Zucchini at Café Charbon; we’ll be there from 7pm (109 rue Oberkampf in the 11th, see map).

I hope you can make it to one or both of these occasions, and I look forward to meeting you in person!

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