Saturday, August 30, 2008

rue des Petits-Champs “Caviar”

I am still in design-mode working on my bedroom, but I sorely needed a break from physical labor. A Paris food memory has been haunting me all afternoon, an I wanted to share this with you, dear readers.

Not too long ago, dear friends took me to dine in a resto in the Seventh Arrondissment named Le Violin d’Ingres, owned by Chef Christian Constant. There I was served a crunchy sliced baguette with thick pats of rich French butter that was topped with pepper, crunchy fleur de sel (Brittany sea salt) and ground allspice. The famous food writer Patricia Wells had dined here, as well, and dubbed this dish “rue Saint-Dominique Caviar as the resto is located on 135, rue Saint-Dominique.

I like this appetizer so much, I wanted to try it, (with my own slight interpretation) when I invited friends to my Paris appartement for aperitifs.
Here is my take on this simple appetizer I call rue des Petits-Champs “Caviar” as I first made it in my Paris appartement located on that rue.

I used very thinly sliced baguettes and very thinly sliced unsalted French Echire cows-milk butter (but any unsalted butter sliced very thin works fine).
(FYI: French butter must be at least 80 percent fat and not more than 15 percent water. The remaining five percent or so is made up of milk solids and in salted butters, salt. French and French-style butters just have a higher percentage of fat than mass-produced American butters.)

I put all the black Tellicherry peppercorns, white, pink and green peppercorns and whole Allspice in one peppermill set on coarse grind and lightly dust the buttered slices. In a
small bowl, I a mixed equal parts of black Kilauea sea salt, pink Australian sea salt, and white flake sea salt from Cyprus. Sparingly I sprinkled pinches of the salt over the buttered slices.

This crunchy, salty, sweetly-creamy, and spicy combination of textures and flavors wakes up your simple, yet unexpected. Also unexpected is how festive this effortless fare looks on the plate. The colorful salts, peppers and spices resemble miniature confetti.
This dish is wonderful accompaniment to a fresh green salad as a first course.
That day that I first tried making this, I served it using small slices of toasted baguette with assorted green, black and purple olives and cornichons, (a small vinegary dill pickle) for my aperitif soirée at rue des Petit-Champs. I was relieved that it was a success...

I thought that you might enjoy this image as an accompaniment to the appetizer recipe…
It is a view down rue St-Dominique where I lived a student at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. The signage is of resto Thomieux across the rue.
I could always tell when dinner service was about to begin, when the smells of garlicky escargot and sounds of clinking dinnerware pervaded my tiny garret as I studied.


Anonymous said...

O mon mouth is absolutely watering from the description of your buttery, peppery, spicy baguettes!!! I must try this very soon! Of course nothing can replace sampling it in your appartement with your view of la own will have to suffice until je reviens ...Thanks so much, it brought me back to Paris, if only for a few moments :)))

pixxel dust

Camera Crazy said...

You definitely should be writing for Bon Appetit or Gourmet Terrie. This is such a wonderfully evocative post--I so want to try it as I've mentioned before I love butter. As well, your apartment looks so charming, spare, yet elegant. Love the red drapes!!

A Brush with Color said...

Yum! Wonderful! You're making me want to go see what I have in the fridge right now. I like the red drapes, too--great light you had there!

katherine said...

A star is born. you are amazing. When you write i am transported to Paris. I can taste and smell everything you are describing. How well you know food, Paris, photography and how to charm us into wanting to eat these delicious dishes. Amazing Terrie.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci mille fois, pixxel, Gail, Sue and Katherine for your comments and support by reading my words and viewing my work...
I appreciate it more than I know how to express.
But I can say this much, if I can make you feel what I feel about what I am passionate about, I have not wasted my time in the telling of those passions.
Your comments feed me as much as the food that I write about.
Merci...merci beaucoup...

Anonymous said...

So you were in the quartier.