Travels

Best Eats in Lille, From a Local

Lille

Travel season is upon us, and I want to make sure you see and taste the best France has to offer! When it comes to Paris I’ve got you covered, but there are many other cities with exciting and delicious things for you to experience. So I’ve asked a team of French bloggers from different cities to share their favorite spots, and I am offering them to you in this new series.

In Lille, Izabela recommends…

Izabela Lille ConfidentialTo walk us through Lille, I’m happy to introduce Izabela Jeanneau, author of the blog Lille Confidential. She has dilligently tested all of her recommendations, and lives by the motto “Only the best!” It’s the only trilingual (!) blog in the region, available in French, English, and Dutch. Though Izabela is Parisian by birth, she considers herself an adopted Lilloise since moving there in 2009 by way of Singapour, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta and Luanda. Izabela prides herself on her unique perspective on Lille as a cultural and food capital between Paris, London, and Brussels.

In addition to her blog, I recommend you follow Izabela on Twitter and Instagram. (The photos in this post are hers.)

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Best Eats in Bordeaux, From a Local

Bordeaux

Travel season is upon us, and I want to make sure you see and taste the best France has to offer! When it comes to Paris I’ve got you covered, but there are many other cities with exciting and delicious things for you to experience. So I’ve asked a team of French bloggers from different cities to share their favorite spots, and I am offering them to you in this new series.

In Bordeaux, Bénédicte recommends…

Benedicte Baggio-Catalan of my little spoonFor our first destination, I’m happy to introduce Bénédicte Baggio-Catalan, the author behind the French blog My little spoon. Bénédicte is originally from La Rochelle, but she fell in love with Bordeaux in 2002. She created her blog in 2008, in which she shares seasonal recipes for daily cooking and for entertaining. She is currently working for the Cité du Vin, a new venue devoted to wine that will open in Bordeaux very soon.

In addition to her blog, I recommend you follow Bénédicte on Facebook and Instagram. (The photos are hers unless otherwise noted.)

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Terroir Products: What to Eat in the Jura

Montbéliard cows, just chillin'.

Montbéliard cows, just chillin'.

This is a guest post written by Anne Elder, my wonderful intern, about the recent class trip* she took to the Jura. The photos are also hers. Take it away, Anne!

When I drive through France, the roadside signs always make me feel like I’m about to meet a celebrity, bearing names of towns I only know from the perspective of my tiny Paris kitchen, and the labels on my favorite foods.

I felt that very excitement traveling through the Jura, a French region that’s just south of popular oenophile destination Burgundy, but one that is oft overlooked by tourists. It is a lush mountainous region near the Swiss border, where the land lends itself to the production of many delicious terroir foods.

The concept of terroir is pervasive in French cuisine (and increasingly in America, too), dating back centuries.

Eating a produit du terroir means you are indirectly tasting the ground in (or on) which it was made — tasting the soil, the climate, the craftsmanship. This notion ranges from cheese, and how the hay eaten by the Montbéliard cows impacts its flavor, to wine and how the precise fusion of soil and climate and skill meet to grow grapes that are pressed into such a complex beverage.

Jura is a goldmine when it comes to seeking out terroir. Equipped with rain boots and notebooks, my classmates and I were determined to learn how to taste France. We drove over hilltops, past rows of sapins (spruce trees, which are cut down into boards where the cheese will be left to age) and stayed in a gîte, a no-frills guest house.

During our five days there, we were afforded the opportunity to see the cheese production from the farm to the aging cellar, taste wine still ripening in oak barrels, and sample many more local recipes and products cooked by gracious hosts.

If you are able to travel to Jura on your next trip to France, here are the terroir products you must not miss.

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Minimalist Kit for the Traveling Cook

Minimalist Kit for the Traveling Cook

I am going to be traveling these next few weeks, doing some simple cooking in a couple of rented kitchens, and I’ve had enough hair-pulling experiences with crappy, dull knives and flimsy plastic spatulas to be stashing a few key utensils in my luggage this time.

Because I am also traveling with a toddler and a baby who need their own minimalist traveling kit — including such essentials as toy diggers, special blankets, and stuffed monkeys — I really need to make my kit as trim as possible, and have elected to bring along:

~ My paring knife, freshly sharpened: rented kitchens are notoriously lacking in this regard, and since half of cooking is cutting, trimming, slicing, dicing, chopping, and paring, this qualifies as an absolute must-bring. I will be following this tip on how to wrap knives for traveling.

~ My vegetable peeler because, again, anything that’s supposed to be sharp is going to be dull in a rented house, and a dull vegetable peeler is worse than no vegetable peeler at all. Also, a good vegetable peeler allows you to cut vegetables into tagliatelle and papardelle to make all kinds of pretty summer salads such as this zucchini noodle salad.

~ A pair of locking tongs because it’s rare (especially in France) to find it in a home cook’s utensil drawer, yet I rely on it heavily for handling ingredients, for stovetop cooking, and for grilling. As a bonus, it doubles up as a toy for the toddler, who uses it to catch imaginary fish.

~ My Earlywood scraper made of bloodwood, sturdy and smooth with a thin and sharp edge, and a fantastic multipurpose tool that can be used for stirring, cutting, lifting, and scraping. I have written about Brad Bernhart’s handcrafted utensils before, and they’ve become cherished items in my kitchen that get used every single day (including his latest creation, the adorable coffee scoop, which I use daily to serve my paleo granola).

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San Francisco Highlights

San Francisco View

Maxence, Milan and I have recently returned from a positively idyllic, two-week stay in San Francisco, for which we swapped apartments with our friends Heidi and Wayne.

We had a blissfully relaxing, inspiring, and delicious vacation. It was crazy good to be back, catch up with friends and family, and meet some of you lovely readers at my Omnivore Books signing. And now that I am starting to crawl out from under the pile of work that awaited me on my return (not that I’m complaining), I would like to revisit some of our favorite eats and share my best San Francisco recommendations with you if you’re game.

Smitten ice cream

~ Thriving on a diet of (almost) one ice cream a day — mostly from Bi-Rite Creamery on Divisadero (outstanding walnut maple banana ice cream sandwiches); but also from Smitten in Haighs Valley, where the ice cream is freshly mixed and churned in liquid nitrogen before your very eyes (pictured above: TCHO chocolate, and maple brown sugar squash); and, on a slightly less refined, but no less enjoyable level, from Easy Breezy in Noe Valley, where the organic frozen yogurt and toppings are self-serve (dangerous!) and you pay by the weight.

Kale salad

~ Eating kale of all kinds practically every day, and especially loving the red kale salad I made a couple of times with avocado, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds (pictured above).

~ Sampling the best carnitas burrito ever from La Taqueria, thanks to a recommendation from my friend Emily (who is also, unrelatedly, my lovely Pilates instructor in Paris).

Morning bun

~ Starting the day with the buttery, cinnamon-y morning bun from Tartine.

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