Tag Archives: vegetarian

Frenchie and Puerto Vallarta

2 Apr

For a first time in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta proved to be everything I had expected.

Warm, colorful, charming and artistic.

From sunrise to sunset, the city exuded a calm and peaceful grace.

Oh and those sunsets! How could I forget them?

Alternating between old town and new town, oceanside and mountain terrain, Puerto Vallarta was everything I had pictured and imagined.

And for a first time in Mexico, it was perfect.

My Mexican friends always told me they couldn’t believe I had never gone south of the border.

My French friends just shoulder-shrugged along with a big eye roll – Quoi ? You’ve never been to Mexico?

The proximity of the country gave me no excuse.

And as I was leaving Puerto Vallarta driving to the remote mountain town of San Sebastián del Oeste, cruising on the winding roads of the Sierra Madre, climbing up and reaching new heights at 4,800 feet (1,460 m) – I thought to myself… why did I wait so long to come here?

Smells of mountainous dusty roads and green leafy trees slowing moving with the crisp air moving through.

Corsican memories coming back with wild herbs and pine-oak scents floating around and rushing through the rolled down car windows.

Hawks circling under the bright sun.

The greenish and blueish tint of the agave plants in the sun easily attract the eye.

The coffee roasting in the sun with its strong aroma released for all to enjoy while touring a coffee plantation.

Lemon and grapefruit trees with heavy branches, ready to be harvested.

Cows running through the cobblestone streets followed by what seemed to be the smallest shepherd dog with the loudest bark.

And they all obeyed the tiny dog while passing older gentlemen with straw cowboy hats resting in the shade of the church.

It is always interesting to find and eat lunch in what appears to be someone’s house.

A tiny restaurant with 2 tables. Staircase going up to the bedrooms. Some local products in display to purchase.

And la señora making food in her kitchen while her husband takes orders.

The flipping noises of the soft tortilla dough balls exchanged from one hand to the other in a slapping sound.

The clinging metal press used over and over to flatten fresh thin tortillas.

Listening attentively to the sounds of food being prepared away from customers’ eyes – I almost didn’t hear the host dropping a bowl of fresh salsa on the table with a cuidado that could only mean one thing: spicy!

The streets of old Puerto Vallarta offered the best adventures and discoveries.

Watching women make quesadillas and juices.

Tasting tequila from the small shack shop next to the bus stop and around the corner from the abandoned rusty truck.

Dipping my finger in honey samples made locally.

And stopping for a bite at the tortilleria.

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Eating lunch at the Ocean Grill restaurant is an experience of its own.

A bus ride to Boca de Tomatlán, a water taxi to the restaurant, cliffs and oceanside views, a pristine cove and delicious food.

The octopus dish was by itself a good enough reason to travel to Ocean Grill.

The secluded cove accessible only by boat looked like a movie set or something created by computer technology.

You can find it all in Puerto Vallarta.

The modern and the old.

The tourists and isolated neighborhoods.

The beach restaurants targeting foreigners.

As well as the small food places barely lit at night attracting local residents for a fun meal amongst friends.

The city allowed for my many food guilty pleasures.

Sampling fresh fruit and seafood at the food stalls.

Coconuts, melons, mangoes, oranges.

Ordering a taco to go and a freshly pressed fruit juice.

Picking out chocolate truffles made locally at Xocodiva.

Picking out samples of chorizo to try on the spot.

Smelling the bubbling pots and pans with meats and stews at street corners.

The experience at El Mole de Jovita where the black bean dip is slowly mixed with mole poured from a hot dish meticulously stirred and guarded outside for all to see was exquisite.

I could also tell you about the outdoor dinning experience at the Vista Grill with stunning views of the city and a seared tuna paired with eggplant cakes that I cannot forget.

Oh and a passion fruit crème brûlée – exoticism paired with a French classic.

It wasn’t surprising that I wanted to make inspired food from this Mexico trip after landing back in Boston.

Colors from the trip.

Flavors and fragrances.

Ingredients noted along the way.

And a celebration of spring.

I wanted something easy to make and even easier to eat.

Something I could picture myself eat on the terrace of beautiful and secluded Villa Savana overlooking the city, reminiscing about a successful vacation.

A unique place worth a stay!

Fresh with cucumbers, green with avocados, creamy with Mexican cheese and colorful with hints of pink and purple.

A small verrine – not too much.

Reenergized, inspired and ready to tackle the Big Move.

Happy to finally come back with Mexican memories and delicious thoughts about a week spent in Puerto Vallarta.

Happy Spring and happy gazpacho!

Creamy Avocado Gazpacho Verrines with Smoked Salmon

4 seedless Persian cucumbers – sliced

3 ripe avocados – pitted, peeled and cubed

4 scallions – green and white parts – sliced

1 celery talk – sliced

0.5 Granny Smith apple – chopped

0.5 green pepper – sliced

2 garlic cloves – minced

2-3 Tbsp of chopped flat-leaf parsley

2-3 Tbsp of chopped cilantro

1.5 cup (355 ml) of water

1.5 Tbsp of sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp of olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

1.5 teaspoon of sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

3 oz (85 g) of queso fresco – Mexican cheese – crumbled (plus more for assembling the verrines)

juice of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lime

2 oz (55 g) of smoked salmon – sliced

red amaranth microgreens

In a blender, mix and purée all ingredients together except the salmon and microgreens.

Taste for seasoning. Add more salt if needed.

Variations: omit the cheese if you are lactose intolerant. Remove the lime if you don’t enjoy sour. Add more water if too creamy/thick. Remove the salmon as a vegetarian option.

Set aside in a big container in the fridge to cool.

When ready to serve, prepare small glasses or verrines with smoked salmon at the bottom. Pour the gazpacho over it and top with a drizzle of olive oil, crumbles of queso fresco and a handful of red amaranth microgreens.

If you really like salmon, top the verrines with more salmon.

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Frenchie and the Move

14 Mar

It is now official!

Frenchie and the Yankee will leave Boston next month.

Big decision in the making. Not enough time to photograph the dishes created and eaten this past month.

Kind words received by e-mail asking when the next post is going to be ready.

And now is the time…

The time to tell you I will be moving to Charlotte, NC next month.

Sad to leave Massachusetts, New England and the coast.

The Boston bucket list still needs to be written down. So many places and things to go see, eat and enjoy before the last day.

Reminiscing about 4 wonderful years in the city.

And amidst the decisions, thoughts of boxes and pre-packing activities, a recipe enjoyed weeks after weeks.

A recipe born from countless evenings of debates, conversations and laughters.

Born from drained minds thinking about the possibility of a move, of another climate and area of the country.

A recipe that is so easy to make, it’d be a shame not to try it!

And the flavors! The smells in the kitchen!

Many bowls were filled and emptied with these roasted vegetables over the last weeks as conversations were flying high.

The fruity sourness of the sumac – a bit like lemon juice but milder.

Remembering Turkey while deciding to leave Boston.

Sumac paired with the sweetness of the beets, carrots and the Balsamic yogurt sauce.

So pleasant!

I will be back soon with a proper farewell to Boston.

Sumac Roasted Beets and Carrots with Shredded Red Onion and a Balsamic Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

For the sauce:

6 oz (170 g) of plain Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground Sichuan pepper

2 teaspoons of Balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp of blonde cane sugar

black gomasio for sprinkling

For the vegetables:

3 big carrots – peeled and sliced

3 medium red beets (about 2 lbs – 1 kg) – peeled and diced (matchsticks, diced, small or medium chunks – it will bring more texture to the dish. No big chunks or slices)

3 medium golden beets (about 2 lbs – 1 kg) – peeled and diced (matchsticks, diced, small or medium chunks – it will bring more texture to the dish. No big chunks or slices)

1 red onion – shredded

3 Tbsp of fennel seeds

2.5 teaspoon of sumac – ground sumac berries

2 Tbsp of chopped rosemary

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp of olive oil + more for brushing

In a bowl, combine and whisk the Greek yogurt with all other ingredients until smooth.

Set the Balsamic yogurt sauce aside – cover and chill in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 430 °F (220 °C).

In a big bowl, combine the diced carrots and beets with the shredded red onion, the fennel seeds, 1.5 teaspoon of the sumac (reserve the other teaspoon), the rosemary and sea salt.

Pour the olive oil over the vegetables and toss. Set aside.

Prepare a cookie sheet (with a lip) by  lining it with foil and brushing it with olive oil.

Place the beets and carrots on the foil. Sprinkle the last teaspoon of sumac all over, extra sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast in the oven for 20 min.

Remove from the oven and turn the vegetables around with a spoon to make sure they are not too dry.

Roast in the oven for another 10-15 min.

Serve warm with the cold balsamic yogurt sauce and sprinkle with black gomasio.

Frenchie and Los Angeles

4 Feb

Los Angeles as it has been described to me so many times before is a love-it-or-hate-it city.

Most comments and descriptive remarks I hear about L.A. tend to be negative overall – at least in my experience.

I happen to fall in the other category of people – I love it!

This time I got to stay in and experience the Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Little Armenia areas.

A radical shift from the most popular and touristy neighborhoods.

There is something about the city that makes me happy and smile.

It’s not the sun nor the weather.

It’s not the eclectic mood that resonates through the city either.

Its diversity.

Its liveliness.

The picturesque aspect of its undeniable allure.

Scenic it is!

And this is what makes me want to come back every single time.

The artsy and bohemian-like Los Feliz was a perfect new stop for me to discover.

A walkable area – I know, hard to believe in L.A.! – with hints of a moody Brooklyn, NY meets Italian tile roofs and Art Deco meets Adobe style homes.

Alluring yet still a bit scrappy.

Wonderfully luxurious yet very much bobo.

A sense of community in a city that sprawls across 469 square miles (1,215 km2).

And to fight the Boston winter blues, a fresh salad to remember coastal L.A.

Bursts of flavors with Balti seasoning, currants and a drizzled citrusy vinaigrette.

A salad to keep sunny memories alive until the next visit.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Currants

serves 4

for the vinaigrette

1 Tbsp of olive oil

2 Tbsp of grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon of Champagne vinegar

zest and juice of half an organic lime

1 teaspoon of honey

half to 1 teaspoon of mustard

sea salt / pepper

a sprinkle of ground coriander

for the salad

4 Tbsp of pumpkin seeds

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 Tbsp of Balti spice or seasoning

2 green zucchini – thinly sliced like ribbons

2 yellow zucchini – thinly sliced like ribbons

4.5 oz (127 g) of Gruyère – thinly sliced

2-3 Tbsp of Zante currants

2 Tbsp of flat-leaf parsley – chopped

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Whisk until the emulsion thickens.

In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and the Balti spice until well coated.

In a small hot pan over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until “noisy” – 2-3 minutes. When you hear them pop, put them back in the bowl and let cool.

Arrange the zucchini slices on a plate with the Gruyère slices.

Sprinkle the currants, parsley and the cold toasted pumpkin seeds.

Drizzle the vinaigrette on top and serve.

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