"We'll always have Paris," Bogart says to a teary-eyed Bergman, 1942, Casablanca. "Let's go to Paris," Thread says to a practically-shrieking Whisk, 2015, Portland.
Paris is a special place for us. Several years ago during a trip to Paris, a seed got planted that would sprout into Thread & Whisk. Sometimes it's just getting on a plane and breaking routine that can put you into a different mindset. Even more so, when the destination is so rooted in tradition, it inspires the two of us to reinterpret, reimagine and explore our own takes on classic form in design and cuisine.
Long gone for us are the days of bringing home trinkets as souvenirs of a trip. (Although we admit that a few cookbooks and several meters of ribbon and buttons tipped the scales at the Delta check-in counter.) If there were a way to capture sensory memories though, we'd pay good euros for that! At restaurants especially, if you could only make the impression of the meal last. There was no shortage of visitors with cameras trying to do so while their meals got cold. It's hard to refrain from snapping a photo or two but at some point you just have to relent to the present. Enjoy the meal, savor the moment, keep the memory in your heart. If there was one vegetable from the trip that has stayed with us, it would be wild asparagus - a tender willowy stalk topped by what looks like a Tuscan cypress. We asked the chef at Vivant, a restaurant in the 10th arrondissement, where he gets his asperges sauvages. He told us that gnomes bring them in from the forest. Until elfin creatures show up at the kitchen door with woodland jewels, we're left to reach for tender peas and shoots, baby carrots and heirloom vegetables for our early summer dinners.
In the spirit of recapturing the essence of some of our repas parisiens, we've taken a simple approach. No recipe necessary here. Just wing it with us. Be French for a day and shop one of the farmers markets near you. Choose some tender and colorful vegetables and a fresh piece of fish like cod or halibut. Start by boiling some small, waxy potatoes in salted water. Drain them and slice them in half. Blanch some baby carrots, sugar snap peas and whatever else looks good to you in simmering, salted water. Drain and arrange them nicely on a plate. Wash the fish and pat it dry. Portion it into one or two pieces per person. Season it with salt and pepper. Maybe you have a favorite spice blend? Use it on the fish. Heat up a bit of butter in a saute pan. When the butter starts to foam, put the fish in the pan with the skin side up. As the fish turns opaque 2/3 the way through the flesh, use a spatula and gently turn the fish. Once it is cooked, place the fish on top of the vegetables. Using the white wine you opened when you started to cook (you're among friends here, we know you), pour about 1/3 cup to deglaze the sauce pan. Just for good measure, add one tablespoon of butter to the pan too and let's call this the sauce. Spoon it over the fish and vegetables and enjoy it with the special people gathered at your table.
Rest assured, while in Paris, not a meal was missed by Thread & Whisk. Like many other folks in the US, we finally have credit cards with "the chip" in them so we were able to rent Velib bikes. Here are a few snapshots from our adventures. À bientôt!