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an american near paris

Living and Cooking in France and Ohio

Feasting on Huîtres in the Langue D’Oc 

When people think of the Langue D’Oc, they often think of wine (for me, that’s a crisp dry Rosé on a hot summer’s day). They usually don’t think of oysters (huîtres en Francáis), but Langue D’Ocians have been harvesting and eating oysters since at least 600 BC , and ostréiculture (oyster farming) has long been both a tradition and an important part of the economy. Indeed, many villages and towns have annual oyster festivals, the best known being the annual Fete in Langue D’Oc’s oyster capital, Bouzigues. Don’t worry if you miss the Fete, fantastic shellfish is always to be found in Bouzigues! 

Me, I look forward all year to feasting on des huitres on the beaches of the Hereault, one of my favorite regions of the Langue D’Oc.  The oysters are farmed in l’Ètang du Thau, a large of a string of estuaries that run from the estuary of the Rhône River to the Spanish border.  

The French at oysters year round, and they are particularly popular at Christmas. Mediterranean oysters are considered to be at their peak from September-May because the warmer waters of the summer months are said to produce a brinier taste. I have eaten and loved them at all times of the year. My palette must not be as refined!

I love Langue D’Oc oysters paired paired with a crisp, cold Rosé.  The French eat oysters with butter, red wine vinegar, lemon and bread (just like The Walrus and the Carpenter), and that’s how I eat them when I’m here. No hot sauce!

On my way back from la plage (the beach), I often stop at my favorite magasine des huiîtres (oyster shop) for a dozen meaty, slightly briny Mediterranean oysters.

Oysters are usually eaten raw, but there are other preparations. Pictured above are Oysters aux Bechemal. The oysters are first steamed,then topped with Bechemal sauce and a sprinkling of bread crumbs and finally lightly broiled. I lack a superlative to describe how delicious these are!

Mark Twain said “twas a brave man who first ate an oyster.” Whoever that man was, he has my gratitude!

Sexy Date History!!!


It’s not quite what you think! I was in Palm Springs, California last week (it was 115 out) and visited Shields Date Farm where dates were being harvested. I ate some incredible dates, and Dan had a date shake which defies description beyond REALLY REALLY GOOD. A program called “The Sex Life of the Date” has been there popular since 1923 (imagine how daring it must’ve been to say SEX in 1923!). Before MiMo, there was a Arabian architecture in the Coachella valley, and you can still see it and towns with names like Mecca and Desert Hot Springs. Bank tellers dressed as harem maidens, people rode camels and your coffee House waitress might’ve been dressed as a Genie. Really!

Listen to this outstanding story from a few years ago on NPR’s “The Salt” (love The Salt), and make sure and look at the crazy pictures from long ago Coachella!

Bon appétit!

Eating With a Star Chef in Barcelona

 On September 3, I’m eating with Chef Joel “Papa” Sera Jr in Barcelona at his EatWith event “Tapas by Papa.” I am beyond excited! Read all about what Joel will be preparing here. I’m taking the train from Beziers to Barcelona and staying the night there. I’m hoping to find some flamenco after dinner! Papa Sera leads culinary tours in Barcelona (I would seriously LOVE to go on one), teaches classes, own a restaurant and even appeared on MasterChef! He also just published his first cookbook Papalasophy. You can bet I will be blogging about this experience!

Here’s a great interview with this rising culinary star and the road he’s travelled.

Bon appetit!

Eat With Tess! Stay With Tess!

EatWith has truly been one of the most marvelous things that had ever happened to me, and I am so grateful to my guests for letting me do what I love.  I have even been lucky enough to have guests from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Wheeling and other far-flung spots come to Westerville just to EatWith me!  

Since I’m already an enthusiasticpart of the sharing economy and since I have the room (and since the house hasn’t sold!), I decided why not provide a place for out of town guests to stay?

 So I have! Click here to see it!

Next you eat with me, perhaps you can stay with me, too. 

Bon Appètit and Bon Voyage!

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Stock 

Did you know Julia Child’s very first show featured the classic French stew, Boeuf Bourguignon? It is one of my very favorite episodes and recipes! Watch it here. It’s so great!

Beginning in October, I am adding “Dinner in Burgundy” to my EatWith Fall/Winter offerings, and few dishes suit the season better than Boeuf Bourguignon. 

As with many classic French recipes, good stock is an essential element of Boeuf Bourguignon. Luckily, beef stock is easy to make! You end up with a far superior, healthier product when you make your own, and you will save a lot of money as well. I am going to walk you through the steps. I use a slow cooker (the best invention ever for making stock and a lot of other things!). For stock, I use my 6 qt Hamilton Beach Stay or Go cooker  because the lid clamps down tight so there’s less evaporation. You will find the entire recipe under my Recipes tab, so don’t just follow the steps! Read the recipe! Ask the meat department at your grocery store or your butcher to save marrow bones for you. They are very inexpensive. You can also use oxtail bones. I like to use a combination of the two. 

As always, feel free to ask me questions. 
Enjoy, and bon appétit!

The Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Line a heavy, rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place your marrow bones and root vegetables on the sheet. Spray or or lightly brush all with olive oil. VERY IMPORTANT! If you are canning your broth, do not use any oil! Oil can not be canned safely. Simply roast the root vegetables by themselves.
  3. Place sheet in preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Shake the sheet and roast for 20 more minutes. When you remove them, the vegetables and bones will be a deep golden brown. Your house will smell  AMAZING!
  4. Place your roasted marrow bones, root vegetables and the remaining ingredients in a 6 qt slow cooker. Fill to the top with water, cover and set on high. After one or two hours, set cooker to low and leave it alone for 24 to 36 hours. No opening the lid! Meat stocks need to cook for much longer than poultry stock. The longer you cook them, the better they will be. A note on bay leaves: there is a difference between domestic California bay leaves (typically available in the United States) and French  bay leaves. The latter is sweeter and more complex. To achieve an authentic flavor in your French recipes, use Mediterranean bay leaves. Often, they come from Turkey. That’s fine. They are still the same type of bay leaves.
  5. Take the crock out of the slow cooker, remove the lid and cool on a heat safe surface for 15 minutes.
  6. Strain the broth through a fine wire mesh sieve like this. If you don’t have one, you can line a regular colander with cheesecloth. If you want SUPER clear broth (I don’t worry about it myself), line a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth. 
  7. Nest the bowl strained broth in ice and stir frequently until broth is room temperature (about 15 minutes).  The voice of experience, make sure the melting ice doesn’t overflow and flood your counter!
  8. Cover stock and refrigerate for six hours (or longer if it’s more convenient). The fat will solidify on the surface. Remove it with a slotted spoon and discard. While this certainly makes the stock healthier, you can skip this step if you want a richer stock. The fat will reincorporate when the stock is heated. 
  9. Your stock is done! It will keep in the fridge for three days, frozen for three months or canned for one year.  Canning is definitely preferred because it best preserves the flavor. It also saves precious freezer space, AND  you can safely store it for up to one year. In a future post, I will show you how to can stock. It’s safe and easy to can. If I can can, anyone can can!

Bon appetit!


France on my mind…a France craft!

New & Old Preserved Lemon…A Visual Comparison

On the left, a jar of preserved lemon that is just past 10 months old. On the right, a jar I put up just a few days ago. Just so you know what to expect! As I said in my Moroccan Preserved Lemon post a few days ago, they will keep for a year. By the way, notice the plastic lids on my mason jars? I find them on Amazon although I’m sure you can find them elsewhere. They are BPA free and SO HANDY!

Bon appetit!

Tess

The Perfect Autumn Lunch

This what I will be making for lunch today. Tartine. Check it out. To the market I go!

Moroccan Preserved Lemons….Essential, irreplaceable and so easy to make

Today, I put up a batch of Preserved Lemons for use in my upcoming  EatWith offering “Dinner in Marrakech” (more on that later).

Preserved lemons are essential to Moroccan cuisine. Their exquisite flavor, aroma and silky texture cannot be substituted in a recipe with lemon juice. Trust. Luckily, they are very easy to make. They require a brining period of 30 days, but they will keep for up to one year. Once you start to use them, you will be hooked! I always have some ready to use in my larder. Tonight, they are bringing it in Yogurt Mint Sauce which I’m using as a bed for Moroccan Mini Meatballs. I’m still tweaking the Meatball recipe, but I promise I share will it once I’m satisfied with it!

Learn how to make preserved lemons here.
As always, don’t hesitate to ask me questions.
Bon appetit!
Tess

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