Posts Tagged ‘Sonja’

Wombat (I Mean Rabbit) Stew

Monday, November 21st, 2011

For a few months now, I have been in discussions with another resident of the Récollets (a dutchman by the name of Friso) about how one would go about purchasing a rabbit from the markets and subsequently cook it. Friso had assured me that it was all possible and easy to do and that one day we would undertake this challenge. After many postponements and reorganisations, we finally settled on a dinner date – this last Saturday.

My friend Sonja was in town so she joined us on our rabbit hunting adventures. At the respectable hour of 10am, the three of us met in the front courtyard of the Récollets, asked each other how we all were and then headed off across the Gare de L’Est train station, dodging early morning joggers, homeless people and the usual Parisians who don’t look where they are going. We went to Marche Saint Quentin – a covered market, open from Tuesdays to Sundays, that is a three minute walk from my apartment. In this market you will find butchers, fish mongers, bakers, fruit and vegetable sellers, wine caves, and florists. There are also a few restaurants and speciality product stores selling food from Italy, Spain and South America.

Entering the markets we looked at the price of rabbits at the first shop we passed but continued on to an always reliable boucherie. Tom and I had once bought veal, lamb and beef mince from this boucherie and instead of the mince being a pre-ground concoction of who knows what, the butcher had selected three cuts of meat and then minced it right there in front of us. Who knew mince could be so delicious? The concept of ordering Steak Tartare (raw chopped up meat served cold on a plate) at a restaurant suddenly seemed slightly more appealing.

To our delight, rabbits (lapin) were on special for a bargain price of 6.50 Euros a kilo. It took a while for us to be served, this being largely my fault as I stood taking photos of the little bunnies and talking in English. Clearly we weren’t there for any real purpose other than being stupid tourists. But not the case! Friso stepped up and took charge, wishing the butcher a good morning and declaring he was there to buy a rabbit.

Lapin

Bunnies!

The butcher seemed surprised but accepted the challenge and grabbed one of the poor lifeless fellows and plonked it down on the scales. A three-pounder was perfect for the recipe Friso was working from and he asked the butcher to ‘couper en grands morceaux’. So while we paid our 8 Euros for a whole rabbit, the butcher grabbed his knife and chopped that little guy up into large pieces, butterflying the head and resting it on top of the meat pile. Amongst the legs and ribs and body bits were the heart, liver and kidneys, just in case we should want to add them to our stew. After a brief consultation with Sonja and myself, Friso agreed that it would be best if we left the head and bodily organs out of the stew because no one really wanted to eat them.

The rabbit purchasing process only took 10 minutes meaning we had time to grab a coffee and discuss what cheese we should bring that evening. As it was Sonja’s last day in Paris, she and I headed off to explore the city and left Friso in charge of cooking our little rabbit. We would rejoin at 7pm for the official eating ceremony.

Finally the moment arrived when we lifted the lid from Friso’s Le Crueset pot and the delicious smells of white wine, mushrooms, herbs and bunny rabbit hit our noses. Served with potatoes, I can very happily announce that our rabbit was one of the most delicious little creatures I have ever eaten. He was tender, flavoursome and down-right tasty, and I lift my hat to Friso for his cooking talents. While, yes, that rabbit may have been happier bounding across the fields and making lots of baby bunnies, I can say that his death was very well received and he went down with style, taste and good glass of wine.

This rabbit adventure and a recent cooking escapade of Tom where he bought a whole fish from the markets and stuffed it with herbs and lime and baked it in the oven to perfection, makes me want to become a bit more adventurous in my cooking. There are so many amazing foods to try at the markets but I am usually put off as I don’t know what to do with them. But it appears that simple is best and by finding a good recipe you can make miracles.

Veal brains

Maybe next time I will get the veal brains, sweetbread, tongue or kidneys...

Sorry, Friends!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Hello, hello! How are you all?

My sincere apologies for my lack of writing recently – I have, in fact, been writing a lot. Just not on here. I am averaging 2000 words a day and once I have hit that mark I tend to close my computer and go outside. That said, the last two days have seen temperatures averaging 5 degrees so my desire to go outside has heavily reduced. It is slightly warmer today. I might venture into the wilderness.

So what have I been doing in the last while, I hear you ask? And even if you didn’t ask you’re going to find out. I have been writing for the last 17 days and am quickly reaching my 50,000 word target for NaNoWriMo. Today I hit 34,434 words which is 6000 words more than I need to have written by this time of the month in order to reach my goal. I am starting to run out of things to write about Paris but usually after I stare out the window at the grey skies for a moment or two I get some sort of inspiration.

In other news, my knees are recovering from their slight mishap on Monday morning. I have two five-cent coin sized scars on my knees and they’re a dull shade of bluey-brown. I was hoping for a slightly more impressive bruise that I could show off and prove that it really did hurt but it hasn’t happened. So unfair. What’s the point of falling over if you can’t gain sympathy for at least a week? I returned to my morning jogs the day after my fall as I was determined not to let that damn Parisian paving get the better of me. I now run a little bit like a duck – flat footed and with my arms out for balance in case I trip again.

On Monday I hobbled my way up and down many flights of stairs as I caught multiple trains and walked through some of the city’s largest train stations to catch a train to Versailles. I visited my friend Louise and spent the day hanging out at her house. It was so nice to be in a homely family environment for the day. We just sat around and ate lunch, drank cups of tea and discussed the ups and downs of life. It was great. It is so nice to have friends around.

Speaking of, yesterday an American friend of mine, Sonja, arrived in Paris for a few days. She and I were English assistants together in 2006/7. She was working in a town relatively close to me and we used to meet every Wednesday afternoon in Nancy to help pass the time and make life in northern country France slightly less isolating. She and I travelled quite extensively together during that time and formed a great friendship. I hadn’t seen her since 2007 and yet as soon as she stepped off the train at Gare du Nord it was like we had seen each other every day for the past four years. She is here until Sunday so I am excited to have someone to hang out with.

Tom has some freelance development work so that’s keeping him off the street. And I am working on a project that will hopefully be exhibited in the chapel of Les Récollets on 16 and 17 December. Let’s just say there’ll be socks involved. I’ll keep you posted.