Thursday, June 23, 2011

Restaurant Celebrity Chefs: Why Chef Ludo Lefebvre is my Favorite

When getting ready to finish reading Blood Bones and Butter the other night, I got to thinking about the idea of a celebrity chef. I was deep in the part when Hamilton is spending a full month in southern Italy with her husband’s family. With the written admissions that her marriage doesn't ever quite fit and after some previous poking around online, I know they end up less than together. So the whole time I’m reading about how much she loves being a part of the Fuortes family I am wondering if at the moment I was thinking about it she is gearing up for a month long vacation with her 2 sons to visit their paternal relatives in Italy- leaving Prune in the hands of her chefs and staff.

This got me thinking about what happens when a chef transitions from an executive chef or restaurant owner into celebrity. It is the very fact that they made amazing dishes to put a restaurant, and then their name, on the map in the first place, but then as their celebrity grows and the demand for their appearances at events, book signings, on television, etc, grows equally, they are cooking in a restaurant less and less. Some celebrity chefs, mostly TV chefs and now some bloggers and food writers, were never really known for restaurant cooking; like Ina Garten and Giada DeLaurentiis. But what sense does it make that the more celebrity that is demanded of a restaurant chef, the less cooking they actually do? The celebrity turns into more restaurants, which in turn makes it impossible for them to ever cook at all the places under their name, and more books, which requires time to write outside of the kitchen in that limited amount between closing after the dinner shift and opening for prep the next day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Locavore Way WINNER!

Before I announce the winner I want to say Thank You to everyone who participated in my first giveaway!! Everyone contributed very thoughtful responses and I was happy to see so many of you content to stay just where you are. There were some technical kinks which I am working on fixing for the next giveaway. I will be sure to open it up to multiple means of entry from the start for the next one. Hopefully there will be another giveaway towards the end of the summer, so keep reading! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PARIS Part III: Les Déjeuners et Les Dîners

As a student in Paris I only ate in restaurants when my parents came to visit. My breakfast and dinner during the week were included in my foyer (dormitory) stay and on the weekends I mostly got by eating baguettes with cheese for breakfast and lunch and crepes for dinner down along the Seine (you'll remember my foyer was located on Île Saint-Louis). So upon return, I was most excited to be able to eat at sit-down restaurants and finally order proper French fare (not the suspicious French cafeteria food I was served for dinner Monday through Friday). In the good company of Jocelin, Eddie, and my Scottish friends Chris and Paul all the meals I enjoyed in Paris were memorable and delectable. 

It all began my first day when I enjoyed a memory-jogging Nutella crêpe from the crêperie window on Île Saint-Louis. A hot custardy batter cooked to perfection and filled with melting globs of chocolate-hazelnut spread was a welcome first meal, admittedly too many hours after my arrival. The first bite immediately transported me to all the nights I meandered along the south bank of 'my island' nibbling a crêpe for dessert or as a weekend dinner. It was just like I remembered.
My late afternoon snack was followed by a classic bistro dinner at Chartier. A few guidebooks and David Lebovitz had recommended Chartier as an affordable place to enjoy traditional fare in a typical French brasserie setting. We began with a smooth meaty terrine:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PARIS Part II: Les Macarons

The fact that I am writing an entire post devoted to the macarons I had in Paris needs no introduction if you've been following The Culinary Librarian blog, Facebook page or Twitter for the past year. I did my best to try the top-rated macs in Paris during my trip this spring. I did pretty well and tried a variety of flavors- even a very surprising savory macaron. 

I have listed each macaron shop with the address in Paris. The city is divided into 20 neighborhoods, called arrondissements. Each zip code will tell you what neighborhood the address is located in based on the last two numbers. For example, the first boulangerie ends in "05" telling you it is located in the 5th arrondissementEnjoy! I certainly did. . .  

Le Premier
Daniel Pouphary (La Parisienne)
28 Rue Monge, 75005
Jocelin and I enjoyed pistachio and raspberry flavors for our first macarons. La Parisienne is the boulangerie I mentioned in my first Paris post. I always stopped by this place on early Monday mornings when I had my French literature course. Those little pain au chooclat helped keep me awake through the two hour long lecture. 
It is very common to see macarons in the neighborhood boulangerie. Typical flavors include raspberry, pistachio, vanilla and coffee, a limited selection compared to shops that specialize in the beloved treat. Macarons are all over the city and are rarely poorly made. Next time you're in Paris don't hesitate to pick up a mac with your daily baguette! These two below were some of the best I tried my whole trip. 

Le Deuxième

Monday, June 13, 2011

PARIS Part I: A Parisian Homecoming

More than two years after returning to the US from my semester in Paris, the opportunity to go back came in the form of a week-long vacation with great friends. I had a mix of excitement and anxiety leading up to my trip, concerned my French would be too rusty and that I might not remember how to get around. Once I took out my suitcase and started packing, all that apprehension melted away. . .
I arrived at CDG in Terminal 2 which I know very well after bringing my father to the airport after a visit and leaving from Terminal 2 at the end of the semester. After getting my bag I knew just where to go to get on the RER B into Paris. Once settled on the train I was on my way with an indelible smile across my face; ready for vacation, ready to start a sort-of homecoming.

Now, when I was studying abroad I was in Paris for four months I used a NaviGo (a month-long unlimited metro card) for getting around the city. Unlike Metrocards in NYC if you have a NaviGo you have to put your picture and name on it. Metro riders can be fined if they don't have a picture on their NaviGo or if they don't have a cancelled one-way ticket from entering the subway. In four months time I never had a ticket or my NaviGo checked for validity.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Giveaway!: The Locavore Way by Amy Cotler

Some readers have told me they have been unable to comment on the post-- if you have been having trouble, too, please send me a message on 
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OR email me your response: theculinarylibrarian[at]

I will extend the contest to Sunday at 4:00PM EST! 

As promised, now that I have reached 400 followers on Twitter I am doing my first giveaway! One of you will win a copy of Amy Cotler's The Locavore Way. Just in time for the height of Farmer's Market season you will have an amazing resource for the best ways to find and enjoy local ingredients.
The Locavore Way at the green market

Cotler's book is a powerful petite volume full of tips and tricks for finding the best local produce and getting the most out of it when you bring it home. I purchased the book last summer during my trip to Portland and it has helped me relearn how to shop and eat locally. Cotler includes great lists such as: "15 Ways To Become a Locavore," "Ways to Make the Most of your CSA Bounty," and a full list of local fruits and vegetables in "Play With Your Food." Many, like the one below, are perfect for copying and posting on the fridge as a reminder to eat and shop locally.

Beginning with a history of Farmer's Markets, U-Pick stands and CSAs, Cotler gives a great overview of today's options with an appreciation of how we came to them. While reading through the book you will find yourself becoming a greater proponent of locavory and learn new ways to seek out the produce growing nearest to you.