3 Very Good Things

Three Very Good Things: Honey Pistachio, Farmhouse Bread, and Single-Cow Butter

Pistachio honey

{This is part of a series in which I share three delicious things recently tasted and enjoyed. Please feel free to share your 3VGT list in the comments below, or on your own blog!}

My latest “three very good things” are as follows:

~ Pistachio honey from Sicily

Maxence and I recently chanced upon a gelateria* in Paris’ seventh arrondissement. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t lessen the pull of gelato one bit, and as we sat down to our little tubs of vanilla (for Maxence) and chocolate sorbet (for myself), I noticed a shelf stocked with miscellaneous jarred goods of Italian origin.

Among them, a Composto Miele e Pistacchio from Sicily, described on the little label as a mix of 85% honey and 15% pistachios. These being two of my favorite things yet seldom seen together, I promptly bought a jar. We tried it on toasted sourdough the next morning, and were smitten with this creamy, golden spread, the flavors of honey and pistachio melding together in a most titillating way.

The only problem is that it is disappearing fast, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to get more: the lady who served our ice cream informed us that the gelateria would be closing soon, and the company that makes the honey, a Gioiello di Sicilia based in Milo, Sicily, has a limited online presence: the website listed on the label no longer exists, and their facebook page is dormant.

So what I plan to do instead is make my own: I’ll mix some of the creamy springtime honey I bring back from the Vosges with a bit of the pistachio paste from Terre Exotique I’ve been saving for just this type of worthy purpose.

* VasaVasa, 41 avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris, +33 (0)1 47 05 84 30.

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Three Very Good Things: Squash and Coffee Soup, Lo Bak Go, and Honey Lemon Tea

{This is part of a series in which I share three delicious things recently tasted and enjoyed. Please feel free to share your 3VGT list in the comments below, or on your own blog!}

My latest “three very good things” are as follows:

~ Red Kuri Squash Soup with Arabica Whipped Cream

I was just in Valence for a work project, and had the opportunity to dine at one of Anne-Sophie Pic’s establishments: not the three-star gastronomic restaurant, but her chic bistro, simply called Le 7 (after the highway that runs alongside it!).

We had a wonderful evening and ate very well, and I was especially taken with my first course, a velvety soup of potimarron (a.k.a. Hokkaido or red kuri squash) served with a scoop of whipped cream spiked with Arabica coffee.

I had heard about another vegetable/coffee pairing that Pic does, partnering beets with Blue Mountain coffee, and this one works just as well, shaking up the sweetness of the winter squash with a measured touch of bitterness. Coffee is an underused ingredient in savory cooking; shouldn’t we all do something to change that?

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Three Very Good Things: Bumble Bee Dumplings, Excellent Vegan Food, and Old-School Chocolate

I want to express my sincere thanks to all of you who took the time to share recommendations for my stay in Stratford and Toronto. I spent most of my time in Stratford and very little in Toronto, so I feel another trip is in order to explore the city and try many more of the tempting places you wrote about. But I did make it to Chinatown, to the Kensington and St-Lawrence markets, and to the Distillery District (all in one walk-intensive afternoon).

And even though I spent little more than a day in Toronto, my picks for this week’s Three Very Good Things are all drawn from the city:

~ Bumble bee dessert dumplings at Lai Wah Heen. I had a very good and very fun lunch at this upscale dim sum place, located inside the Metropolitan Hotel, and we ended our meal with these deep-fried, mochi-like dumplings, filled with a green tea paste. Adorably shaped, too, as I’m sure you’ll agree. They tasted like Japanese wagashi, only deep-fried, and the interesting plating touch — that sprig of curly parsley, those loose strands of grated carrot — makes me laugh in retrospect.

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Three Very Good Things: A Fennel Salad, Not Enough Kale, and Pedal-Powered Chocolate

I am writing this installment of the Three Very Good Things series from Canada, where I’ve been for a week now, as the Gastronomic Writer in Residence for the Stratford Chefs School. I’m having a wonderful time, the weather is unseasonably balmy, squirrels are running around everywhere, and I am eating very well. Here are a few highlights from this past week:

~ A salad of shaved fennel, frisée, and slim artichoke wedges, topped with fresh herbs and crispy prosciutto.

This exceptionally well-balanced and well-dressed salad was served at the “restaurant lab”, where second-year students of the chef school cook and serve dinner every weeknight. It was served as an appetizer-sized portion, but I could have eaten a bucket of it.

~ Kale, kale, and more kale. Kale is an elusive ingredient in France: it is grown essentially as an ornamental plant (I’m told the name is chou vert demi-nain) and not commonly sold as a vegetable. So I took the opportunity of being in Canada, and having access to a well-equipped kitchen in Stratford, to get organic dino kale from The Gentle Rain, the local health food store.

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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.

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