When I first started “blogging” back in 2007, I had a blog called “Bitten & Smitten” that was dedicated to food. It was one of those blogs filled with stacks of fruit-laden cornmeal pancakes, cheap champagnes, and my favorite street food from across the world. In my defense, this was before Instagram, Pinterest, and facebook albums with more than 60 photos. There were very few words, mostly because it’s really hard to describe my food-ventures without repeating “scrumptious” and “mouth watering” ad nauseam. But I loved it. Mostly because I love food– plain and simple. Today, I wanted to talk about the I lengths I’ll go to taste the perfect meal—even at the expense of my nearest and dearest.
Montereau, France March 5, 2010
We had just arrived in Montreux-Fault-Yonne, the small riverside village between the Yonne and Seine River, about an hour north of Paris. Mom, Dad, Steph and I were taking a quick weekend trip from Edinburgh to visit my favorite French family- Ranu Pishi, Philippe Uncle, Julien and Mme. Capron. Every couple of years we descend on this bucolic village and have feasts like you can’t imagine. Seriously, one Christmas we had a 12 course Luncheon with 10 different wine & cheese pairings, and three desserts. I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) move for days.
We are able to partake in such gastronomic adventures because of unrelenting generosity of my family and their unparalleled hospitality. My aunt, Ranu Pishi, is without a doubt the kindest and most amazing person I have ever met. She has a full-time job, has a never-ending slew of international guests, takes care of her family across multiple continents, AND she still makes sure that she has stocked the fridge with the cheese that she noticed that you liked when you were five! It is a true testament to how much I revere my aunt that I will gush about her even though I know you will read this blog post and then realize that I am horrible person when it comes to food.
We had just finished a “lite” lunch- duck paté, Mme. Capron’s homemade pickles, grilled fish, rice and four large baguettes—and Ranu Pishi was running to the grocery store. Now grocery shopping in Monereau is unlike anything in the US. Every morning, someone goes to la boulangerie for fresh bread for breakfast and the le marché (farmer’s market) for fresh fruit. In the afternoon, there is a separate trip for the evening meal. One stop at the fromagerie (cheese shop), then to la charcuterie (pork butcher) or la boucherie (butcher shop) for meat and then to the supermarché for the rest of the “fresh ingredients.”* I learned from a young age that accompanying Mme. Capron, Ranu Pishi or Philippe Uncle on these trips meant that I would get a nice pâtisserie at the end. Not that I needed much incentive, grocery shopping is how you felt the pulse of the village, and kept up with the local news. How else would you know that Mme. B’s son graduated or that Mme. C’s cat caused havoc in the rose garden etc? Not ones to miss out on the action, Steph, Mom and I tagged along with Ranu Pishi to the supermarché.
As we wandered through the aisles , we happened past the meat counter. In the window display was a small sign that read “lapin.” Mom and I looked it each other. Could it be, we could try the meat delicately described in Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence or in Julia Child’s cookbook? We turned around and ran towards Ranu Pishi and nicely coercived her into agreeing to make the French delicacy. She being the incredibly patient and caring aunt agreed immediately. The only problem is that she did not have the right recipe. Thankfully, the nice boucher suggested that we follow one of the “grey haired ladies” as they would be sure to know. So that’s what we did.
Yes, you are reading correctly. Ranu Pishi, Steph, Mom and I stalked the aisles until we found the right “grey haired lady” who without batting an eye, told us the right way to cook the lapin.
As a result we got this:
Full Meal: Fresh Baguette. Crepe with Bacon, Port, Paté, Lapin in White Wine Sauce with Noodles, Mushroom and Bacon, Chocolate Opera Tart and Coffee Tart and the best red wine: 2004 Gevrey-Chambertin. Here are some more photos:
Ranu Pishi and Philippe Uncle checking on the Lapin
Steph in front of the fromagerie
View of the Yonne River from the living room
Mommy and Ranu Pishi