Picture Gallery

Picture Gallery

New feature on Chocolate & Zucchini! I have created a picture gallery to showcase the photos I take to illustrate the entries. It also serves as a visual archive index, as clicking on each picture will take you to the corresponding post. A link has been added in the “About” section on the left nav bar.

The digital camera I use for my pics, as I have been asked a few times, is a Nikon Coolpix 950. We bought it in 2000 and this model is not sold anymore, but I recommend the Nikon brand wholeheartedly.

On an unrelated joyous note, Maxence turns 25 today! I’m sure you will all join me in wishing him a very happy birthday. Joyeux anniversaire petit chou! :)

How the Fuck Do I Prepare Eggplant? and Other Search Phrases

How the Fuck Do I Prepare Eggplant? and Other Search Phrases

Thanks to Maxence’s excellent home-hosting skills, Chocolate & Zucchini lives on a server in our apartment, cuddling up against muCommander. I like knowing it’s safe and warm, purring when I walk by it in the corridor.

The added bonus of home-hosting, beyond the thrill of DIY and autarky, is that we have full access to the logs, which makes for endlessly mesmerizing stats. My favorite part is the section that tells me which search phrases have led people to C&Z (mostly through Google). I don’t know why it fascinates me so much, but it certainly goes right in with my passion for overheard conversations and glimpses of people caught through windows when I walk down the street.

Happily, most of the search phrases are right to the point : people looking for recipes, information on food or techniques (zucchinis, persimmons, and blow-torching being particularly popular), or restaurant reviews (La Famille and Rose Bakery win the day).

My favorite, hands down, is the deliciously straightforward “how the fuck do i prepare eggplant?”, but here is a little florilège, a selection of the best search phrases so far.

Continue reading »

The Cookbooks To End All Cookbooks

The Cookbooks To End All Cookbooks

Introducing the most beautiful cookbooks of all times : Le Grand Livre de Cuisine d’Alain Ducasse and his little brother Le Grand Livre de Cuisine d’Alain Ducasse – Desserts et Pâtisseries, both generous Christmas gifts from my parents.

Alain Ducasse, for those of you who may not be familiar with the character, is one of the greatest (and probably richest) French chefs of this era. A creative genius, he owns and operates restaurants in New York, Monaco and Paris, and also runs a cooking school. I can’t imagine how busy his life must be, but he reportedly manages to take part in all the decisions – large or small – that concern his business.

And these books you see here, ladies and gentlemen, these books contain The Knowledge. In it, Ducasse shares the recipes he has elaborated and perfected over the 25 years of his career. Targeted at professionals, the first volume has over 700 (yes, seven hundreds) savory recipes, while the second one offers the key to more than 250 desserts and pâtisseries.

Continue reading »

Confiture de l’An Neuf

Confiture de l'An Neuf

[New Year Jam]

Just a couple of days ago, I happened to be around La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the quite huge gourmet food store attendant to the store Le Bon Marché. This kind of place works like a magnet on me, and although I was laden with different heavy items to carry, I still went in to browse around. This is really heaven for food lovers, but I didn’t stay long : there is only so much cumbersome aisle space negociation even I can take, as filled with tempting things as said aisles may be.

I did, however, have time to pick up the cutest jar of jam in history, with its little red polka dot hat and white knot. Christine Ferber is known as “la fée des confitures”, the jam fairy. I have mentioned her before, and how she makes fruit jams the old-fashioned way, in her little Alsacian village of Niedermorschwihr (pronounced whichever way suits your fancy). I have bought a couple of jars of her creations in the past, one Nougabricot (Apricot jam with honey and bits of almonds and pistachios) and one Framboise-Chocolat (Raspberries and Valrhona Guanaja chocolate). Both were memorably succulent.

Continue reading »

Chez Catherine

Chez Catherine

A couple of weeks ago, Maxence and I celebrated our seventh dating anniversary. To mark the occasion, we had decided to treat each other to dinner at a gastronomic restaurant. Our friend Baptiste happens to be a very good source for top-notch dining recommendations, a trait he gets from his father : let it be remembered that he’s the one who introduced us to Le Troyon. He was duly asked for counsel, and his answer was, without so much as the shadow of a hesitation : “Chez Catherine“.

Catherine Guerraz is considered one of the top French women chefs these days, along with Flora Mikula and Hélène Darroze. Her restaurant, off the avenue de Friedland close to the Champs-Elysées, is rumored to have very narrowly missed a Michelin star in the 2003 Guide Rouge.

After much anticipation during the day, we arrived at 8:30 and were led to our table. The restaurant has three rooms, warm and welcoming, with unusual brightly colored paintings on the walls (by an artist named Jean-Noël Duchemin) and red velvet banquettes all around.

Continue reading »

Get the newsletter

Receive a free monthly email with a digest of recent entries, plus exclusive inspiration and special announcements. You can also choose to be notified of every new post.