Le Troyon

Update, spring 2004 : Le Troyon is now closed, but the same team now runs Caïus at 6 rue d’Armaillé in the 17th (01 42 27 19 20).

[Very surprisingly, Le Troyon does not give out little address cards like most restaurants do, so I don’t have a picture for this entry!]

Last Monday, my parents invited Maxence and I to dinner at Le Troyon, Maxence’s favorite restaurant in Paris. This was our fourth time eating there, we had raved about it to my parents, and they were eager to try it. The setting is elegant but intimate, and the service is professional yet friendly. They have a three-course menu that runs at 33 euros and changes every day but for some signature items.

As is the style in a lot of Parisian restaurants, the menu is hand-written in chalk on blackboards, that the waiters carry to each table for diners to read, propping it up on your table, or balancing it on a chair or a shelf close to you. I like the dynamic of that, because people squint, they turn their necks, they comment on the spelling, wonder about a word that they can’t quite make out, and is it “cul” or “col“, and they’re all looking in the same direction, instead of being isolated behind their own menu.

When you are ready to make your choice (or not, as is more often the case), the waiter will stand next to the board and answer questions, decipher the handwriting, describe dishes, give advice, discuss the choice of products. I love that part because that’s when I get to enquire about what this or that is served with, and how is it prepared, and do you recommend it, and will I like it, and does the chef like it, and where do you buy the bread, and what’s a good wine pairing, and how’s the business going, and can I work here? Until I feel everybody’s getting impatient and I just shut up already.

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Lemon Thyme Crème Brûlée

Lemon Thyme Crème Brûlée

Ever since we bought the Oxylaser Blowtorch I’ve been pining for an opportunity to use it. My sister Céline has (at least) as much of a sweet tooth as I do, so I decided to make us Lemon Thyme Crèmes Brûlées for dessert on Saturday.

I found a disturbing number of very different crème brûlée recipes out there, calling for widely discordant oven temp, cooking time and quantities of eggs/cream/sugar. They starred various ingredients for flavor, and I was tempted by several combinations : rosemary and vanilla, cinnamon and orange flower water, as well as a version that included chunks of honey spice cake! As is often the case, I ended up using several recipes for inspiration, choosing the ones I figured should work, and sort of blended several into my own version. For flavor, I decided to use lemon and thyme, which I had on hand and sounded like a promising duet.

Mini Cookbook of French Tarts

And without further ado, my friends, let me share that recipe…

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Porcini Walnut Risotto in the Pressure Cooker

My sister Céline is currently living in Frankfurt, Germany. She is to come back to work in France at the beginning of next year, which makes me deliriously happy, but until then we have to make do with the weekends she comes to spend with us. This Saturday, after the traditional afternoon of shopping together, Céline came over for dinner. She is very appreciative of my cooking, so it’s always a pleasure feeding her.

As a main dish, I prepared a porcini walnut risotto in the pressure cooker. I always start from a recipe I picked up on the Cooking Light Forums some years ago, and tweak it to include whatever ingredients my risotto happens to star.

Each of us was served a little mound of risotto, on which I ground black pepper and sprinkled parmesan, with a green salad on the side. Alternatively the risotto could be deposited on a bed of salad in a shallow bowl, or circles could be used to shape the rice neatly, but this was just us, so I forwent the fuss.

Risotto is always a very satisfying dish, and here the creamy rice was particularly well complemented by the soft porcini and the crunchy walnuts. The three of us polished this off nicely but, had we had any leftovers, I would have made risotto cakes the next day, sautéed in a little olive oil in a skillet, in the manner of Italian arancini.

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Le Salon Du Chocolat

Le Salon Du Chocolat

A Chocolate Trade Show – has anybody ever heard of a better concept? The Paris one takes place every year in late October, when the weather gets a little chilly and Christmas is getting near and people need to warm their hearts and stock up on chocolate goodness. Passionate as we are about our chocolate, Marie-Laure and I just had to attend, and we decided to go to the late opening on Friday.

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Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Last weekend, as Maxence was walking up the rue Lepic, he was lured into one of the many inviting charcuteries (a charcuterie is a store halfway between a butcher’s shop and a deli). The boudin antillais was tempting, so he bought four small ones. Boudin antillais (a twist on boudin noir) is a specialty from the Antilles, the French Carribeans. They are blood sausages, made with bread, peppers, milk, onions, rum, various spices and, well, pork blood.

It took me a while to try blood sausages. In fact, I tried my first only two years ago, in the form of crunchy ravioli filled with blood sausage, pinenuts and apple, a signature appetizer at the excellent restaurant Les Dolomites, in the 17th arrondissement. If you can get over the main ingredient of boudin, the reward is the unique taste.

So boudins antillais went on the menu for lunch on Sunday. Maxence said we needed purée (mashed potatoes) with this. As incredible as it may sound, I had never prepared homemade mashed potatoes before. From dried potato flakes, yes, but from scratch, no. Having just read “The Man Who Ate Everything” by Jeffrey Steingarten, in which he devotes a whole essay to his quest for the perfect mashed potatoes, I thought myself well-armed to tackle the task.

We walked down to the rue des Martyrs to buy some bintje potatoes, the variety French purée recipes recommend. Back home, I opened the book to Jeffrey’s recipe, but thought he made it sound much more daunting than it should be (the double-cooking, the exact water temp, sheesh!), so I decided to be my ingenuous self and just follow my instincts, following the process outlined below.

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