samedi, mars 24, 2007

A different kind of busy

It's funny, but in the last couple of months, most of my weekends have consisted of a daytime filled with rest, recuperation and clerical work, followed by approximately 6-8 hours of intense clubbing all night. On the other hand, this weekend has kept my daytime hours very very busy, so not surprisingly I've done very little in the way of going out and partying. Although I didn't hit a club this weekend, I nonetheless managed to be quite busy.

In the morning, I headed over to the grocery store nearby and picked up some culinary goodies for later that night. I was going to a colleague's potluck party that evening, so I needed to bring something. I bought another 1 kg bag of vitelotte/purple/blue potatoes and all of the ingredients necessary to make my purple potato salad and my purple mashed potatoes. I busied myself cooking up a storm until 16h00 rolled around, when I had a meeting with the new students.

I gave the students a tour of the building, a short lecture on various rules & regulations about the building, a tour of the neighbourhood and some help buying their metro passes. After that, I headed home and put the finishing touches on the food and headed out to the party.

The party itself went well, although I was one of the only people to bring savoury dishes. As a result, we had about 20 pies and 3 savoury dishes. Oh, and maybe 6 different kinds of cheese. I'm not complaining about it, mind you. Cheese and dessert sounds just fine to me.

Strangely enough, when I went to grab my jacket and head home, someone had called my phone 3 times without leaving a message. Strange, really. I spent the rest of the walk home wondering to myself who had been calling me.

vendredi, mars 23, 2007

The Great Arrival

Today was the day that all of the spring quarter students arrived at the residences. Although things went more smoothly than the last few times, it nonetheless ate up my entire day. The building staff had developed a system where they would call me on my cell as they finished checking-in a new batch of students. They would give me their room numbers and then I would go and meet them in their rooms to take care of the various "welcome" rituals. Unlike in past instances, the students arrives at 30 minute intervals all day, which meant that I never had more than 30 minutes of continuous undisturbed time to do my own work.

Nonetheless, the day went well and everybody got settled in. The students had the luck of arriving on a Friday, which meant that we have all weekend to take care of the mandatory tour of the building, neighbourhood, and the purchase of métro passes.

The rest of my day was pretty unexciting. I was planning on going out that evening, but I began to feel pretty crappy toward the end of the day and decided that I needed to take some time off and prepare myself for the coming week (aside from the orientation of the new students, I also have taxes to file, grants to apply for, and 4 visitors coming to see me in 2 weeks).

jeudi, mars 22, 2007

Luis & DJ eat again

OK, this was less planned than the last dinner with DJ, and I am proud to have invented a new dish in the process. I call it The Luis, out of pure hubris. When I die, I will live on in recipe form.

I bothered DJ for a dustpan and ended up inviting him up for dinner (which sounds like a hilarious premise for a porno, now that I think about it; "Is that a dustpan in your hand?" [cue porn guitar]). He went out and bought some wine (great wine, by the way DJ!) and bread and milk, and I set about throwing together The Luis (see below). With our apéritifs, we had baby pink radishes with this awesome smoked-salt butter. As DJ can attest, you could smear this butter on cardboard and it would be delicious. It's that good.

After a mountain of salade frisée, we had The Luis, and then seared tuna fillet (finally!). At this point, we were so full we were ready to burst. We skipped the cheese course and the dessert, which is just as well, since I was already later for a date with friends for drinks over at Bastille.

I headed out to meet the same friends that I had seen last Saturday, who had also brought another pair of friends. We had a few rounds of drinks at a bar on rue de Lappe (near Bastille) called Sister May. After a great night of chatting and comparing favourite music bio-flicks, we made plans to meet again on Friday and headed our separate ways home.

The Luis: mashed purple potatoes and green leek soup


The Potatoes
  • About 500gr of purple / vitelotte / "all blue" potatoes, whole
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, sliced in paper-thin half-rounds.
  • 1/2-cup of butter for potatoes, 2 tbsp. for onions
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (optional)
  • splash of sweet vermouth or sherry
  • 1/2-1 cup of milk
  • 1/2-cup of creme fraiche (or sour cream)
The Leek Soup
  • 2 large leeks with the greens still on
  • 1/2-cup of butter
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • One onion, chopped finely
  • 1-2 cup(s) of stock or water
  • 1/2-cup of milk
  • 1/2-cup of crème fraîche (or sour cream)


The Potatoes
  1. Rinse potatoes but DO NOT peel them. Without their peels, purple potatoes go grey in water.
  2. Put is saucepan or stock pot, cover with water and boil until tender (easily pierced with a fork)
  3. In the meanwhile, slice onions and put them in saucepan with butter over medium heat. Cover (you can also add sage and/or oregano for flavour here).
  4. When the onions are beginning to brown to the bottom of the pan, deglaze with vermouth and reduce heat.
  5. When potatoes are ready, drain, cut into cubes, and return to pot along with butter. (You can remove the peels if you don't like them, but the results are tastier and more vibrantly purple if you leave them on.)
  6. Mash potatoes roughly with spoon or whisk (or use a ricer if you prefer a smooth mash).
  7. Add 1/2-cup of milk and 1/2-cup of creme fraiche, stir briskly into potatoes. Keep on adding milk until the mixture is creamy but not too thin.
  8. Add onions with pan drippings and mix through
The Leek Soup
  1. Cut up leeks into small chunks and place in pot with butter over medium heat to sweat. Make sure you wash the leeks well! They pick up grit very easily. Also, trim off the ends, but make use of the more mild green ends as well for a better-looking soup.
  2. Chop onions and add. Sautee the entire mixture until reduced and soft.
  3. Add garlic.
  4. When garlic has mellowed, add 1 cup of stock and simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.
  5. Add milk and creme fraiche. Blend with wand mixer or stand mixer until smooth.
  6. Add more stock if too thick.


  1. In a deep bowl, take purple potato mash and spread in a thick layer around the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  2. Pour leek soup in the middle
  3. Serve.

mercredi, mars 21, 2007

Mushroom soup for the soulless

Don't worry mom, I'm just kidding. I just like the sound of that title.

Anyway, following the purchase of the AMAZING 2 kilos of oyster and hedgehog mushrooms yesterday, today was definitely a mushroom soup sort of day. The soup was kind of improvised, but I included a recipe at the bottom anyway, since I liked the results. Anyway, after preparing the soup and eating a huge batch of it along with a veritable mountain of salade frisée, I was too full to eat the delicious filet of tuna I had waiting for me in my fridge. So, with heavy heart, I put the tuna off till tomorrow.

Mushroom Soup as Improvised by Luis


  • an ASSLOAD of mushrooms (in this case, assload = 4 generous handfuls)
  • lots of butter (about 1/2-cup to start and another 1/4 to finish)
  • a couple cups of water and/or stock
  • one onion, sliced (optional but tasty).
  • salt, pepper and/or other spices (go lightly; mushrooms are already delicious


Essentially, you sweat the crap out of the mushrooms, add butter to sautee them in their juices, and then add water/stock and blend.

  1. Chop mushrooms into chunky slices and place into pan over low heat. Cover and leave for about 10 minutes
  2. When the mushrooms have given up most of their liquor, turn up the heat, add the onions and butter, and sautee.
  3. Once the mushrooms have been cooked all the way through and the onions have reduced, add about 1 cup of the stock/water and mix. Then, transfer to a saucepan or stockpot and add the remaining stock/water. Simmer over medium heat for a few minutes, adding any spices you'd like
  4. Blend with a wand blender or in a stand mixer.
  5. serve.

mardi, mars 20, 2007

DJ and Luis eat stuff, but also drink a lot

You see, I went to the market at place des fêtes this morning and tripped across a vendor that was selling beautiful oyster mushrooms at 2€/kilo (insanely cheap) and hedgehog mushrooms for 3€/kilo. For 5€, I had enough mushrooms for days' worth of soups and stir-frys and such. So, of course, I emailed DJ and announced to him that we were having mushrooms that night.

I had already invited him over to eat the Mung Bean Dal (Indian soupy bean preparation) that I was planning to make tonight, so this just added another course to the evening's festivities. I had also picked up a huge pile of beautiful mâche (lamb's lettuce), which we grazed upon like cattle. When the salad greens are as good as they can be here, all you need is a quick wash and a bit of oil or vinaigrette. I can totally see how "salade" here can be a meal substitute.

I pre-soaked and boiled up the mung beans and then left them to simmer while I prepared the curry base. This time around, I tried doing the spice-tempering thing (I had bought a bunch of whole spices at the Indian grocery store that day). In a rather hot pan with a bit of oil, I threw in some whole cumin, lovage and black mustard and toasted them until the seeds began to pop. I think I had the heat on a bit too high, but thankfully none of the seeds came out burnt.

Shortly after that, I added chopped onions and tomatoes, letting them cook down for a bit. Once the tomatoes were beginning to fall apart, I added a tablespoon of garlic and ginger each (crushed and/or chopped). Afterwards, I added a bit of raz el hanout ("head of the table", a spice mix usually used in Moroccan cooking) and then mixed it with the beans. I added some water and let the whole thing boil together for a while.

A bit later, I added nearly 1/2-cup of butter and almost 1-baguette's worth of stale bread (in cubes). The butter helped to make the soup more velvety and the bread thickened the soup quickly and gave it a more rib-sticking consistency. After a few more minutes for everything to come together, I hauled out my handy wand blender and made a purée. It was delish (although I realized afterwards that I hadn't added any salt yet).

But the big event that night was the mushrooms. I enlisted DJ's help to clean and slice about 1/3 of the mushrooms from both batches (i.e. about 300grams of each). I put them all in a dry pan over low heat and covered them until they rendered all of their liquor. Then, I turned up the heat and sautéed them in their own juices, with a bit of margarine to help things along (sorry, I ran out of butter). Near the end, I added a sprinking of flour to thicken things and a handful of finely chopped cilantro. Again, delicious. In retrospect, the juice of 1 lemon would've been a nice way to cut through the creaminess of the dish.

So we ate like kings and stuffed ourselves silly, but we also drank quite a bit. We had cognac as an apéritif (even though it's more a digestif), then a bottle of Blanc-Typé wine from the Jura region (tasted like non-sweet sherry), then a bottle of bordeaux (forget the domaine), and then several additional servings of cognac as a digestif. If it says anything, we started eating around 8pm and DJ didn't leave my apartment until 4am.

lundi, mars 19, 2007

Body by Poutine

I've mentioned poutine on this blog numerous times, I think. If you haven't come across it before (and you're too lazy to click on the link I just gave you), it's traditional junk food / comfort food / haute cuisine from Québec, Canada. Essentially, it's a big plate of fries, sprinkled with fromage beaucronne (cheese curds, very fresh), and hot gravy ("sauce brune"). Gravy melts through the cheese, and then you eat the whole mess and pass out.

A friend of mine confessed to never having tried it before, so I dragged him off to The Moose tonight. He ordered the traditional poutine + montreal smoked meat, and I ordered the "Italian" poutine--just to try something new. It turns out that I'm not thrilled about messing around with the poutine recipe. The substitution of marinara sauce for gravy was rather disappointing, although I'll give them points for the mess of vegetables. Either way, we ate until we were horribly full, drank some beer, and then headed back home. Mission accomplished!

dimanche, mars 18, 2007

La grande galère @ Freak 'n' Chic

After sleeping in VERY late, I did a fair bit of work and then headed out with DJ for a couple of beers in the early evening. I was planning to attend the Freak n' Chic night, which required me to be there much earlier than usual. As I had mentioned in the post for my last visit, the Freak n Chic sunday night events are designed as a "work-night" club. Essentially, the club starts at 19h30 instead of 0h00, and ends around 1h30 instead of 6h00. That way, you can go out, party, and still be at work Monday morning.

Freak n' Chic: Cabanne, Marc Antona and Dan Ghenacia @ Le Zèbre de Belleville

Here's all three of them: Dan Ghenacia on the left, Cabanne in the middle, and Marc Antona on the right.

?h??-23h00: Cabanne

So, I arrived at the club around 21h30, which still seemed terribly early. However, the place was already fully packed. There was a lineup of maybe 20 people, but the line wasn't moving at all. After a while, it began to dawn on those of us in the line that they were only letting people in as other people left: the one-in-one-out situation. Argh!

As we waited in line (and as people did their best to jump ahead of each other and cut in line with their friends), it began to rain lightly. Then it began to snow. Then it began to rain heavily with high winds. Then it began to HAIL. During all of this, I was standing in line outside in nothing but a light zip-up sweater. It wasn't until 22h30 that I got to the front of the line.

When I finally got in and realized that Cabanne was spinning (I hadn't taken a close look at the flyer) I felt like the struggle had been worth it. As you might recall, I missed Cabanne last Friday at Batofar. However, Cabanne was only spinning for another 30 minutes, so I did my best to take advantage of the opportunity to dance to the end of his excellent microhouse set. I did manage to get a few pics, at least.

23h00-0h00: Marc Antona live

When I wasn't trying to figure out which Amercian comedian he looked like (it was bugging me all night!), I really enjoyed Antona's set. It was minimal but with pretty fat bass, and much more techno-y than the Cabanne set before and Ghenacia's set afterwards. The bar was PACKED when I had gotten into the club at 22h30, and it was still insanely packed now. In fact, up until the moment I left, this place was packed wall-to-wall. Whatever they're up to, they clearly have managed to draw a dedicated crowd.

0h00-1h30: Dan Ghenacia

Ghenacia, who is the resident of this night, spins great tech-house, but I was just too tired and fed-up with being stepped on by tall French people. After about half an hour of trying to dance, I headed back out and caught the last métro train back to my place. Ah well, next time I'll arrive early and stay all night!