Book/FoodClub: Adam Gopnik’s “Paris to the Moon”

3 Aug

We had a lovely summer evening on my deck for our July 30, 2014 Book/Food Club gathering. We read Leslie’s choice of Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, which delighted all of us. It made me want to visit Paris more than ever. Keep saving your pennies, Related-by-Food-Sisters – nous y arriver!

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Photograph by Marlena Wyman

Paris to the Moon offered an abundance of food options for our meal. Paris is, after all, renowned for its haute cuisine, and Adam Gopnik did not neglect any part of its cuisine. I chose to shop for many of the menu items at the Italian Centre Shop, which is in my neighborhood; Edmonton does not have a French Centre Shop that I am aware of. There is a French Quarter Farmers’ Market, but the emphasis is on Farmers’ Market, which simply takes place in the French Quarter of Edmonton. It is worth checking out nonetheless.

Our menu for the evening consisted of:

  • Multigrain boule; “a rough, round peasant bread”, the type of which was made by David Angelot at the restaurant Arpège, as mentioned in the book
  • White baguette (bien sûr!)

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Pat à la table. Photograph by Marlena Wyman

  • Three soft French cheeses: Brie, St. Andre (the Book/Food Club favorite) and Pepper Boursin (which isn’t made in France any more but was originally)

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Moi à la table sur le dessus de la chaise pour photographier le repas. I am wearing the Chickens in Paris apron that my sister Janice gave me. Photograph by Marlena Wyman

  • Slices of roasted chicken, turkey and beef
  • Herbed liver sausage, which I substituted for the foie gras mentioned in the book. The Italian Centre has foie gras but I could not bring myself to purchase it because of the foie gras controversy.

Book Club loved the chapter of the book titled The Balzar Wars, about the protest to keep the Balzar Brasserie (“the best restaurant in the world”) from having its soul taken away by the new owner – the big-business Flo Group. A sit-in was organized. “We had to be sure to hold on to the tables for the entire evening. ’Eat but eat slowly’ was out motto. Why not order foie gras on toast, she suggested, that could be spread very slowly.”

  • Fresh cherries; a reference regarding the sad dismissal of the Balzar’s waiters (garçons): “’A handful of cherries’, he said softly. ‘They gave them a handful of cherries for a lifetime of work’”.

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Leslie à la table. Photograph by Marlena Wyman

  • Raw carrots, peas and cucumber, fresh from my garden. These were not mentioned in the book, but my garden is beginning to offer a cornucopia of fresh garden produce. Garnishes were nasturtium flowers, scarlet runner bean flowers, basil and parsley (all from my garden).

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Dorothy à la table. Photograph by Marlena Wyman

  • Just add wine: Baron Philippe de Rothschild Merlot, Pays d’Oc, France
  • Just add other beverages : non-alcoholic apple cider and sparkling Perrier mineral water

Dessert consisted of French pastries:

  • Mille-Feuille
  • Paris Brest (according to Wikipedia, Paris–Brest–Paris was originally a 1200km bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris. The Paris–Brest, a French dessert made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream, with a circular shape representative of a tyre or wheel, was reportedly created in 1891 to commemorate the race.)
  • Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears with raspberry sorbet and yogurt, garnished with blackberries, frozen red currants and mint.

Adam Gopnik mentions cassis sorbet more than once in the book, but I was not able to find cassis sorbet in Edmonton.  However, Sunterra Market, which is also in my neighborhood, had raspberry sorbet and fresh red currants (cassis). I bought one small carton and froze the berries. Freezing them on the stem sweetens them a bit, but they still have a lovely tartness that contrasted nicely with the sweet wine sauce and the very sweet French pastries.

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Photograph by Marlena Wyman

The poached pears were the one item on the menu that I actually cooked for the evening.

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Photograph by Marlena Wyman

Here is the recipe. It is very simple and delicious with a big visual impact. Pears can also be poached in white wine, but why bother? I found this one on Recipe.com

Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears 

2 cups dry red wine

¼ cup sugar

Juice of one orange

1” x 3” strip of orange peel

1 stick cinnamon

2 whole cloves

4 firm, ripe pears

Mix all ingredients except the pears in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Peel pears, leaving stems intact. Slice 1/2 inch off the base of pears to create a flat bottom. Gently place pears in liquid, cover, and simmer, turning every 5 minutes, until pears are cooked but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from saucepan and set aside. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the liquid until it is thickened and slightly syrupy, about 15 minutes. Pour sauce over pears and chill at least 3 hours before serving. I served the poached pears with raspberry sorbet and a dollop of yogurt, and garnished with frozen stems of red currants and fresh mint leaves. Délicieux!

Vous voir la prochaine fois, mes amis et ma famille!

Posted by Truly Scrumptious

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4 Responses to “Book/FoodClub: Adam Gopnik’s “Paris to the Moon””

  1. The Erratic Cook August 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    What beautiful food! And eating outdoors makes it even better. Yum

  2. cradics August 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    Two words…ummm yummm!!!!

  3. swankola August 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Delightful! But no moon food?

    • Truly Scrumptious August 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      One of the cheeses I served was a round cheese, and as we know, the moon is made of cheese.

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