It all started there decades ago: We were driving back from Salon de Provence where we had spent sometime with my maternal grandparents and we were heading home which was in Tours at that time. There is a big obstacle in the way, a very wide mountain range called Le Massif Central - The Central Range could be a translation. There was no freeway at the time and only a road on each side of the Rhone river, one called the Nationale 7, now doubled by the A& freeway and the Nationale 6 on the west side of the Rhone. We drove down via Roanne and the N7, but on the way back, the traffic was horrendous with trucks and other vacationists, so Dad decided to go via the N6 instead and rather that heading to Roanne again, he decided to explore another route...
Once he was on that road and Mum had calmed down a little about the change of plan(!) he stopped to look at a map (a real one, no iPhone then...) and decided we could reach the charming Lamastre in time for dinner. He then checked the Michelin guide and decided that we would stay and eat dinner at the Hotel du Midi. There was obviously no telephone nearby to reserve and we went on the odd chance that we would find a room and a table...And we did!
And what a dinner we had! I can't recall what we had as a starter, but we surely had one, and then we had the specialty of the region: Poulet aux morilles et à la crème - We probably had some cheese but I certainly remember the dessert: Fresh raspberries with guess what? More crème fruit!. Mum and Dad obviously enjoyed some wine, but again nat the time it was beyond my care!
So when my children asked me what I would like them to cook for my birthday dinner last night, I thought it would be nice to try to make that recipe as a tribute to my late father, but also because I knew I could get some beautiful morilles (morels) from my friends at Commissary Kitchen...
In essence, the recipe is a glorified Chicken Fricassée with lots of shallots and garlic, as well as plenty butter and cream and a good dose of Chardonnay. It was cooked in the versatile Australian frying pan, which is conveniently located under a good light, so we could easily record the process for your benefit! So here it is without further delay...
My Birthday Dinner - Ceviche of scallops for starters!
My Birthday Dinner - Poulet aux Morilles - Chicken fricassee with Morels
My Birthday Dinner - Fromage et Dessert!
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading through my birthday celebrations....But there is more cooking on the way as I got a new set of "casseroles" as a present and I have been recently appointed as the exclusive Architectural Sales representative for a new brand of kitchen appliances from Italy!
Choco Cannelle, a nice play on words and a tribute to iconic French seamstress Coco Chanel, is a French Patisserie tucked away in the back of beyond North Ryde, a popular suburb of Sydney West. Forget the impossible to find location though, and with the help of your recently acquired tablet, you will be lead to one of the best "cake shop" in Sydney. Jean Francois Perron was first introduced to me a few years back, as he was delivering his gorgeous creations to Maitre Karl. His father taught him the trade at a young age and he started this current business in 1996, after a long carreer at various famous restaurants around the World.
No bread here, unlike at Victoire and Labancz, just cakes!
The croissants are a very close second to Michel's at C'est Bon, as crusty, but a wee bit less buttery, but definitely in the same league.
The "palmiers", one of my favourite accompagnement with afternoon tea are extremely well executed, so good that they were gone before the photographer in me woke up to the task, so no photo just yet, I am afraid...
Another Food Market: Fox Studios Sydney and the start of my quest for the "best croissant" in Sydney.
Rebranded "The Entertainement Quarter", the grounds of Fox Studios have had an up and down kind of life and fame, and I rarely visit.
However, it is the center of the film industry in Sydney, made famous by a number of films finalised there by Animallogic, the famous visual effect company involved in a number of famous films including Babe, The Matrix, Moulin Rouge!, Hero, 300 and culminating in the 2006 release of Australia’s first digital animated feature Happy Feet and by the presence of AFTERS, the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, where my son is currently enrolled to become a cinematographer.
He wanted to drive himself to school this morning and I was the lucky designated co-driver, with a 6.00am start of the day to match! But hopefully you know me well enough now that I would try to make that an opportunity rather than a chore...
So, here I am chasing a good cup of coffee and a some substenance at the market which is on every Wednesday and Saturday and it is under shade, so weather is less of a worry than at the Growers Market in Pyrmont!
It really starts at 8.00am and most people were still setting up, but I found a nice little stand of pastries and was quicly attracted by a pile of croissants under "cloche". As soon as I ordered one, and the cloche was removed, a beautiful waft of buttery smell hit my nose and hunger was immediately replaced by lust!
I had inadvertantly come across one of many ventures of Michel (and wife Elisabeth...) who also owns Strudel in Drummoyne and my recent discovery of "C'est bon" in Rozelle (infact "c'est tres bon"...), an affordable alternative to the overpriced Victoire a few doors up, and across Victoria road from another of my joints: Pierre Labancz.
Michel also started what is now a very ordinary chain of cake shops: Michel's Patisserie. Unfortunately only the name is left from Michel's previous empire - at a time where he was using a TON of butter a week for our pleasure!
There is certainly still an inordinate amount of butter in his croissants today. And so it should be!
Actually, I need to organise a breakfast party to compare croissants from Choco Cannelle, Labancz & C'est Bon...
This morning, coffee was courtesy of Toby's Estate, a "valeur sure", and a perfect match to Michel's delights.
The rest of the market was quite a disappointment: my friends at Willowbrae Cheese were nowhere to be seen, although there was another nice cheese stand (see photo), a good vegetable stand with produces from the North Haven region (Ricardo's Tomatoes that we met at "A Slice of H(e)aven a year ago - I bought some lovely asparagus). Also, not to be missed, the "saucissons" and "terrines" from Jean-Marc: I had to stop chez Pierre Labancz on the way back to buy one (actually two!) of his lovely multigrain baguettes and couldn't wait any longer arriving home: I brewed myself some coffee and cut some saucisson and baguette (see photo below...)
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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