Saturday, January 7, 2012

A feast of tarts! Homeschool mom's dream!

 Here we are, back home in Seattle after the most amazing trip of my life. (the kids agree-theirs, too!)
Ok, let's get just to the point, the FOOD in France was beyond delicious.
   We ate croissant every day- I mean- when in France do as they do! I'm not referring to the croissant we are used to here in Seattle, I'm talking about the light, flaky, buttery yumminess of a croissant. A slight hint of salt, as well as light mellow sweetness. Are you salivating yet?
I am. It's just not the same here. I am on the hunt for croissant and baguettes that even fall in the realm of 'good' here. I'm now officially a snob of some foods and beverages. I admit.
  Espresso... being from Seattle, you'd think we would be a shoe in for a good shot of espresso. The rich creamy texture, somewhat frothy on the top. Low acid, full flavor. I'm now much more of a snob when it comes to a good shot of espresso. I have had some good coffee here...but it's harder to find.

 I now share the satisfaction of a good cup of coffee with my teenage daughter. She quickly adapted to the rich creamy shots of espresso, having never been a coffee drinker. She found enjoyment in what she always thought was horribly bitter. She started with espresso, and now, at home, can't find the 'right flavor'....I understand her dilemma. We commiserate together, and search for that simple pleasure.

 As we try to accept that we are home now, and things are the way they are here, we try to re-create the flavors at home. We want to continue to eat the foods we so enjoyed while we were in France.
We don't want to let the trip slip away, only hazy memories. Food really can capture a moment in time and inspire memories. So we cook, or more accurately... she bakes. 
   Baguettes are definitely in a category all alone. She keeps trying. Although the loaf is good, it has not achieved baguette status, but will make great sandwiches. She tries again. I love that she can just keep trying, and not get discouraged.
 The entire inspiration for the trip was a 4 day cooking class in Agen, with Kate Hill and Kate McDermott (Art of the pie-Seattle). It was like being in the presence of not just one Julia Child, but 2 Julia's. Just like we've been told, it is true....the food was prepared as food should be... With love and BUTTER. 
 The essence of food.    Slow food. Real food. Farm to table. The traditions and direct relationship of people with the land are things I knew in my heart, but somehow I have a much deeper understanding now, thanks to the Kate's.
 We learned all manner of kitchen wisdom from the Kate's....salted butters, lard, cream, cheeses, foie gras, flour... all the way to butchery. The hot water and cold water crust recipes, as well as the tart recipe have proven to be the most used recipes in our repertoire right now, and I could not be more delighted! Sweet and savory options....Fear not the crusts, and go forward.
Johanna has been experimenting with her new love...Baking. Every mom's dream, a child who makes entire meals and dessert. To feed the whole family. 
 To perfect the tart was the first goal. And try as many times as we need to get it right. Scrumptious!!!

 How lovely to open the fridge and see creme fraiche on the shelves, drawers full of Swiss chard in bright rainbow colors, red onions in piles in a bowl waiting for their turn to be caramelized. Pine nuts, kalamata olives....these are not foods I tire of easily. I feel great comfort and satisfaction in having them around, knowing we will combine them to create a savory feast.
It is true, once you taste something so good, there is no turning back.

This is a common thread in my life. I am living a life that is full, joyous and abundant. I have faced fears and am gaining my strength and courage in myself, there is no going back.  I will continue to seek balance. We are meant to enjoy life, there is but one loaned to us for such a short time. Eat well.