Monday Mélange: Tastes of Home

I’m convinced that I have heightened senses. Walking down the streets of Paris, I always knew when a bakery was nearby due to the indescribably intoxicating smell of butter. Smells bring back memories for me; whether it’s the chalky smell of fresh paint that reminds me of the number of apartments my family moved to in Manhattan or the sweet musky smell of the Redwoods we would visit in San Francisco, smells bring me right back to places and moments.

I surprised my family this past weekend for Easter. My mom made all of my favorites (some of which I shamefully requested). These tastes – along with many others – bring me right back to being a carefree kid again, something that grows more and more comforting as I grow up.

P.S. PLEASE excuse the poor photo quality. I barely had time to pull out my iPhone for these photos before I dug in!

1. Tiramisu – Ahhhh. Little pillows of lady fingers that have absorbed coffee liqueur. Clouds of mascarpone and whipped cream. Chunks of chocolate on top. Bliss? Bliss.

Tiramisu | netflix & nutella

2. My Mom’s Hash Browns – I added these to my blog about a year ago, but nothing can compare to the ones made by the creator herself. They’re slightly crispy, still tender, oniony, paprika-y…you get the picture. They’re delish.

Hash browns | netflix & nutella

3. Cheese Soufflé – Cheese. Goat, cheddar, brie, Boursin, parmesan. If it’s cheese, it makes me happy. That’s all there is to it.

Cheese soufflé | netflix & nutella

4. Anything from Corner BakeryThis spot has been a favorite of ours since the beginning of time. The chocolate chip scones and brioche are to die for (as is the raspberry almond bar below). So is the corn and barley salad I get every time I come home. It has a little bit of a bite to it and has a scallion vinaigrette that’s so light and perfect for summery days.

Corner Bakery | netflix & nutella     Corn and barley salad | netflix & nutella

5. Gigi Salad – This delicious mix of shrimp, onion, string beans, bacon and roasted red pepper brings joy to my mouth in every bite. The name maybe reminds you of the Leslie Caron character, but to me, it’s the salad my mom makes every spring and summer that I can’t get enough of.

Gigi Salad | netflix & nutella

*The blood in my veins: My Mom’s Tomato Sauce. Something that – if there’s any justice in the world – should be jarred and on shelves one day. (I’ll work on it.) Since I was driving and not flying this time, she gave me a vat to bring home. I (not so willingly) shared with my friends in a first-night-back-chicken parm dinner to show them how spoiled I was growing up.

Chicken parm | netflix and nutella

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Bordeaux and St. Emilion: Tastes

As promised, here are some of my favorite things I tasted in the French wine country.

First off, we went to a huge indoor market in Bordeaux where my friends and I needed a little something to hold us over until lunch. Croquettes were our option which the lady in the photo below freshly dished out into a plastic to-go container.

We then wandered through the outdoor part of the market, which we learned is a privilege passed down through generations. World War I left many widows, so the city tried to help them earn money by allowing them to go into the indoor market, then only for distributors, buy some items, and resell them outside. Now, only their relatives have the right to sell on the street, but it is something the city will soon end since the need is low.

Croquettes    Market

In the same indoor market, I found this cheese vendor. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

30 years!

Our tour-leader bought us mini Cannelés Bordelais. They’re a bit crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle (the texture for which the unique mold was invented), and have a licorice-rum taste. There is a story behind these dense little cakes: winemakers in the region use egg whites to ferment their wine, therefore having an abundance of unused yolks. They gave them to  nuns, who came up with this very temperamental and difficult recipe.

Mini Canelé Bordelais

Though we didn’t get to eat there, we went into one of the best restaurants in Bordeaux to watch how they prepare some of their meet delicacies. PS The woman on our left was our adorable tour guide.

Meet

After that, we stopped for lunch and to have our first bottle of Bordeaux in the region. There were various foods like a pâté, another meat delicacy with parts of a pig not used for the pâté, and some intestine. Though I forced myself to try some of the dishes, I mostly stuck to the camembert and chèvre.

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Wine from lunch

Wine from lunch

Later that night, we went to a wine bar called Wine More Time. Though white Bordeaux is not my favorite, the atmosphere of this bar was very chill, drinking on top of stools in front of wine barrels.

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The next day in St. Emilion, we had a brief tour in the morning followed by time by ourselves for lunch. My friends and I sat outside, at salads, pizzas, and more, and had this delicious bottles of wine, one of our favorites from the trip.

Wine at lunch

Wine at lunch

St. Emilion is famous for a different style of macaroons. They are made with egg whites, sugar, and almonds, and are fluffy beyond belief. They come in a box on the parchment paper they were baked on because they are too fragile to take off and package. I bought a larger one and split it with my friend. Definitely worth it.

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DSCF1888Lastly but certainly not least, we did a wine tasting. We walked through various vineyards and reached Chateaux La Fleur Picon, a vineyard that makes Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.

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We learned a bit about how the wine was made, all by the same man whose family has been making the wine for 9 generations. They make one vintage a year, and we tasted both 2009 and 2010. The newer of the two was a bit more acidic but tasted just like the kind of wine my mom would love. The 2009 was smoother. Confession: I bought 3 bottles.

La Fleur Picon

All in all, it was a beautiful 2-day break in the wine countryside, and made me realize how much I want to move to Northern California some day and run a vineyard with horses à la Dennis Quaid in The Parent Trap. A girl can dream, and until then, I got a small dose during my trip to Bordeaux and St. Emilion!