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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

La Bonne vie à Paris

As you may recall, Ted and I had our 25th wedding anniversary over the summer.  For years, or at least for the last couple of years, we have been talking about how to appropriately celebrate such an important event.

Nice present.  Check.

Celebratory dinner out. Check.

France.  Vérifier deux fois.

Yup.  We went to France for our 25th anniversary and it was très magnifique.

I have to start by saying that Ted is an excellent travel agent.  He has been planning our trips, without the aid of a travel agent, for years.  He's planned trips to such far flung destinations as the Amazon and Angkor Wat.  He's planned musical tours of the deep south.  Ted has planned college visiting trips, and he has planned camp visiting weekends.  He is our own personal tour guide.

The Rosenthals are a touring family.  While other families may elect to spend a week on a beach somewhere, our family is up and out with the sun, taking in the sights and tastes of wherever we are.  Even if it's a beach.  As you might imagine, this has lead to a lot of complaining from the kids about vacations not being well, vacation-y.

But here's the good news.  The kids didn't come with us.  Charlie is living and working in New York, and Kate is at college in New England.  As a result, we were free to tour to our heart's content.  But the funny thing is, we didn't.  Ted and I have been to France many times, so this time we did some light sightseeing and sort of... hung out.

And it was divine.  We ate (too much) and drank (way too much).  We saw beautiful art (never enough) and stopped into far too many shops.  Needless to say, it was très fantastique.

One of my favorite things we did was go to a street market in Paris.  The French are all about their ingredients, and nowhere is that more evident than in their gorgeous street markets.  The produce is absolutely delectable.  The fruit is more vibrant, and you can almost taste the vegetables they're so stunning.  The cheese, well... it's France.  Need I say more?

So, I'm going to start my little overview of France with some pictures from the market and a couple of recipes inspired by those magnifique ingredients.

Bon appétit.

Recipe:  Pasta with Bacon, Rosemary, and Very Ripe Tomatoes 
Melissa Clark, Cook This Now, 2011


3 ounces bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large, bushy sprig fresh rosemary
1 fat garlic clove, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 very large tomatoes (or 3 medium, a mix of yellow and red is nice), cored and chopped
8 ounces pasta shape of choice
Soft herbs if you want this to look pretty


Bring a pasta pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until brown, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the grease in the pan. Add the rosemary, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook until garlic is lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let the sauce simmer until the pasta is cooked. Season aggressively with more salt and black pepper.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain.

Serve the sauce on the pasta and toss with the bacon and herbs if you like.


Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Walnut Oil
Melissa Clark, Cook This Now, 2011


1/3 cup walnuts
3/4 pound haricot verts, trimmed
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional taste
1 1/2 tablespoon walnut oil
3/4 teaspoon chopped tarragon


Preheat the oven to 350.  Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet.  Toast until gold, 7 to 10 minutes,  Let the nuts cools, then chop them coarsely.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Drop in the green beans and cook until bright green and just shy of being crisp tender, 1 to 2 minutes.  Plunge into an ice bath and then drain well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Whisk in the walnut oil and the tarragon.

In a bowl toss together the walnuts, reserving a few for sprinkling on top, the green beans, and dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Serve at room temperature with the reserved walnuts sprinkled on top.

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