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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I’m involved in somewhat of an unhealthy love affair, with the South of France. It’s constantly on my mind, and etched in my heart.  I feel as though maybe, just maybe I lived there in a previous life.  And hopefully, someday in this current life.

st-remy

Exactly one year ago today, we were in transit to Provence from Paris (another place where I am convinced I once called home).  The moment we started winding through the rural countryside, in search of our B&B, I knew Peter Mayle and his tales of the Luberon, were not embellished one bit.  The fabled sun and mythical light, for which the likes of Picasso and Van Gogh used as a constant muse, did not disappoint in the least.   I was smitten.  BIG time.

menerbes

On our way to explore the perched villages of Gordes, Roussillon, Ménerbes and Lacoste, we stopped alongside a small side road to snap a few requisite photos. We were met by a smallish, orange colored French minivan, that apparently, had the same idea we did.  Or so we thought, anyways.  “Bonjour”, said the driver, holding a glass of wine in his hand, instead of a camera around his neck, as we had expected.  The next thing we knew, he was conducting an impromptu wine tasting for us as he just happened to have a few bottles with him from his vineyard.  He’d pulled over simply to take in the view.  My love was growing by the minute for a land where its people serve up local wine, roadside, to complete strangers!

lebaux

Though we had just missed the infamous Sunday market day in L’Isle Sur La Sorgue, I knew the Wednesday open-air market day in Saint Rémy was just around the corner.  I could not wait.  Ohhh, I could not wait!

market-day

The day arrived, and oh my.  You could immediately sense that this was not just a standard market day – this was a way of life.  The energy, vibrancy, and humor of the local people, farmers and artisans was infectious.  It felt as if everyone was there for a huge celebration of the new harvest – only this jubilee took place every single week for its lucky guests.

market-day-dried-fruit

Endless rows of colorful market stalls.  Endless bounties of sun kissed fruit, French black and green olives, deep colored spices, herbs, lavender honey and dried fruits. Local jambon, goat cheeses and 20 different kinds of pâté. Delicious, delectable smells at every turn.  My mind was running wild – scheming how I was going to get all my illegal goods through Customs.

market-day-special

The mood was so festive, so happy, so incredibly alive.  A crescendo of non-stop activity set within a backdrop of a 16th century village basking in sunshine.  I could get used to this.  I could really get used to this.

market-day-jambon

So my love affair continues…someday soon, my previous life will catch up with my current one.

market-day-fromage

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Food. Travel. Politics. Three subjects close to my heart.

After 5 days in Washington D.C., it is obvious our nation’s capitol is like no other city in America. Only in D.C. can you watch and listen to the awe-inspiring sight of the Supreme Court in action (btw, those nine lucky justices have, by far, the best diggs in town, Oval Office included). Only in D.C. can you attend a session of Congress and see your elected politicians working on your behalf (when they actually decide to show up). Only in D.C. does your cab driver have C-Span Radio tuned in 24/7.

And last, but certainly not least, only in D.C. can you freely engage in a highly-charged, blood boiling, fight-till-the-death political discussion, that is not only acceptable protocol, but rather a greatly encouraged local pastime.

Politics is truly a way of life here … But so is the food.

maine-diver-sea-scallop

The food scene in D.C. has changed quite dramatically over the past 20 years. Haute cuisine at CityZen with Chef Eric Ziebold coming from The French Laundry in Napa Valley. José Andrés, who trained under Ferran Adria at the acclaimed El Bulli in Spain, keeping its coveted spot as World’s Top Restaurant for 2009, has taken over the city with tapas-styled restaurants such as minibar and Jaleo, to name a few. In addition, with the largest population of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia, D.C. has become a mecca for authentic Ethiopian fare.

All of that is well and good, but the culinary delight of the trip centered around Old Town Alexandria – hometown of our first Founding Father, in a special little place called Restaurant Eve, with a special little thing known as a scallop. Now, this wasn’t just any ‘ole scallop. This was the big daddy of them all: a single Maine Diver Sea Scallop. Maine Diver Sea Scallops have their name for a reason. They are hand picked, one by one, off of rocks in the ocean floor by professional divers. And I’m telling ya, the difference is earth shattering! Perfectly seared in a creamy sauce of risotto, chanterelles and potatoes. I’ve never in my life had a scallop like this. I almost cried when I took the last bite.

Pan Seared Maine Diver Sea Scallop with Chanterelle Mock Risotto
From the menu at Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

The Lickity-Split menu for lunch is heaven sent. Choose any two items for dining at the bar/lounge for $13.50. An unbelievable deal!

Music Pairing: How Sweet It Is, Marvin Gaye, The Very Best of Marvin Gaye (who else but Marvin Gaye, DC’s native son and Prince of Soul).

Ingredients
scallops:

6 U10 Diver’s Scallops (2 to be used for sauce)

sauce:

  • 2 of the scallops
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, diced
  • 1 leek, diced and washed
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pint cream
  • 2 tbsp chives, minced
  • 3 tbsp butter

risotto:

  • 1 large yukon gold potato, diced small
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 lb Chanterelles, diced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Method

for risotto:

Sweat the shallots and mushrooms in 1 tbsp of butter until tender. Add the diced potato and bay leaf. Begin to add chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time and allow to thicken before adding more. Continue to cook until the potatoes are done. Finish with remaining butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

for sauce:

Sweat the fennel, leek and shallots in 1 tbsp of butter until tender. Add the scallops and wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Add the cream, bay leaf and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer until the cream is reduced by one-third. Add the remaining butter, strain and blend the sauce. Add minced chives for garnish.

for scallops:

Season both sides of scallops with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil over medium high heat. Saute both sides until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side).

Serving

In a large bowl, place a spoonful of the risotto and encircle it with 1/2 ounce of the sauce. Place a seared sea scallop on top of the risotto and garnish with microgreens.

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