Monday Mélange: Plain Jane

Growing up, my dad used to call me Plain Jane. It was 100% true when we went out to eat; at any restaurant, it was pretty much plain pasta or roasted chicken for me. But when my mom cooked, I would eat pretty much anything: broccoli, pork, lamb, seafood and more. I can still hear her saying “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” As I’ve grown up and travelled more, I realize I like things I thought I didn’t like, and then I go into binges of not being able to have enough. Here are some of my favorite dislikes-turned-likes.

P.S. You can expect to never see mayonnaise or blue cheese on this list.

1. Brussels sprouts  – Roasted, crispy or shredded in salads, I can’t get enough of Brussels sprouts. I first warmed up to them when my mom served them topped with bacon on Thanksgiving. In the words of Ina, “How bad could that be?”

roasted Brussels sprouts

roasted Brussels sprouts

2. Chickpeas – This is still a recent development, but in curries, hummus or fried like in this salad, chickpeas are becoming one of my new favorite things.

The Root Trackside salad with crispy chickpeas

The Root Trackside salad with crispy chickpeas

3. Pineapple – I used to think pineapple was too sweet, but after my trip to Nicaragua, I realized it’s the perfect mix of filling and hydrating. Ree Drummond’s guide to cutting a pineapple on Pioneer Woman helped me more than she knows.

Ree Drummond's guide to cutting pineapple

Ree Drummond’s guide to cutting pineapple

4. Walnuts – I used to hate when desserts had walnuts in them, but they’re so perfectly buttery and crunchy, I was really missing out. I also love them in salads or to snack on for some protein.

Chocolate tort with walnuts that I need to try soon

Chocolate tort with walnuts that I need to try soon

5. Truffles – I first had truffles on my dad’s pizza and pasta, and they were definitely a taste I acquired with time. Now, I can’t get enough of the parmesan truffle fries at a restaurant near my school. I love the idea of bundling them together with prosciutto like this.

prosciutto-wrapped truffle fries

prosciutto-wrapped truffle fries

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El Guacamole

My mom is a no-nonsense mom. You’re crying? There must be blood. You’re whining? You must be seriously mistaken unless you want to go sit in the car. You’re not eating what’s on your plate? You’ll eat it, and you’ll like it.

One thing that I think is super important to expose your children to at a young age is different kinds of food. When you go to a play-date, a cocktail party, or a work function, it is important to always find something to eat. When we were little, whether it was MacDonald’s, Chinese food, or Indian food, we always found something.

One of my favorites will always be Mexican (and Tex Mex – what can I say, I’m American).
El Guacamole in Paris satisfied every craving I was feeling for Mexican food. It’s a tiny taco bar that has only tacos and burritos. Three tacos and one Mexican beer was 14€, and in a city like Paris, that’s a steal. The staff was so friendly, and the food was exactly what I wanted. If you’re in the need for Mexican food in Paris, this is a must!

Madeline’s Menu:
-Entree of guacamole to share
-Caramelo (carne asada + cheese)
-Sincronizada (quesadilla + chorizo)
-Puerco en salsa verde (pork + tomatillo sauce)
-Corona (don’t forget to ask for a wedge of citron vert, or lime)

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El Guacamole
37 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010
(PS Thanks to Alex and her iPhone for the pictures!)

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A Foodie’s Dream

10 pavilions dedicated to food.

Floorplan of the Salon

Floorplan of the Salon

That was my day this past Friday. Though we only made it to 3 of the floors at the Salon d’Agriculture, it was well worth the exhausting experience.

The Salon d’Agriculture is a major event in Paris; people from all around the country of France flock to the Parc d’Exposition in the 15ème to view the agricultural fair. France has historically been – and still is to this day – a country centered around its agriculture. Each region specializes in certain products or style of cultivating them. For example, chèvre from the Loire Valley is much different than chèvre from Auvergne.

With samples at almost every booth and lots of opportunities to purchase fresh food, the Salon was a great opportunity to view how important food really is to the French people. Yes, Paris is famous for its restaurants, chefs, and its classics. But to many French people, food is a means of living. They pride themselves on their products and promise and deliver perfection every time.

Plus, they had piglets!

My Sweet French Faves

Last week, I shared some of my French savory favorites found at most cafés and brasseries around Paris. Today, we’re leaning in a bit of a different direction.

With Mardi Gras tomorrow, followed by 40 days and 40 nights of Lent, my body is in for a rude awakening. Before we commit to resolutions like not eating chocolate or swearing off soda, here are a few suggestions for my favorite sweet French items. From pastries to full on desserts, these are no-fail choices.

My Sweet French Faves

My Savory French Faves

French restaurants may be difficult to navigate; there are bistros, brasseries, cafés, etc. In Paris, you want to steer clear from anything that’s not French; don’t order pasta at a café unless you want soggy, mushy noodles. Don’t order a burger unless you’re at a pub. Instead, pick one of the suggestions below. They are French classics that almost every restaurant will offer. Embrace the cheese coated and egg-topped dishes while you can. Even in the most random of cafés, you could eat some of the best roasted chicken and frites of your life. Trust me, it’s happened.

My Savory French Faves

Comfort Foods: Mac & Cheese

My sister is an amazing cook. Whether it’s jambalaya, pork roast, or, one of my new favorites, chausson, she never ceases to outdo herself.

At home, I’m used to eating a variety of italian or French foods from my personal chef, my mom. I’m trying to convince her to jar her homemade tomato sauce, which, in my opinion, is worth a million bucks.

It’s a rare occasion that I make a meal for myself; if I did, it would probably lack a certain je ne sais quoi. I love to cook and bake, but as my sister has often pointed out, I’m one to follow a recipe. This probably comes from my lack of experience testing around in the kitchen, throwing in a bit of this and a pinch of that.

I’ve never invented a recipe, but adding onto something that I’ve previously had or REinventing something is a feat that I feel I could accomplish. Mac & cheese is one of the simplest classics from my childhood. As I start to reinvent recipes, I’m sure I’ll take bits and pieces from the culinary geniuses in my life to make something that’s my own.

Below is a collage I made. I’m a neat freak and love when everything has a place. Polyvore lets me do just that, so expect many more collages in the future! For more information about these recipes, visit the links below.

Comfort Foods: Mac & Cheese

1. http://pinterest.com/pin/197454764882306345/
2. http://pinterest.com/pin/197454764884635978/
3. http://pinterest.com/pin/197454764882825272/
4. http://pinterest.com/pin/197454764884815537/
5. http://pinterest.com/pin/197454764884545235/
6. http://pinterest.com/pin/197454764882603227/