Postcard from Bordeaux, France: French and other worldly flavors

Above: Grilled fresh sardines at La Pointe Chartrons

We’ve taken you to eat, virtually only, in Bordeaux’s Marche des Capucins and along Rue du Ha, so now we’re going to wander willy-nilly through the city for a final wrap-up of restaurants we sampled.

Located along the Quai des Chartrons, Pastel was among our favorite contemporary French restaurants in Bordeaux. Lunch requires reservations, and, waiting late, we only succeeded in obtaining those once. The soft lemony cheese appetizer with eggplant and tomato confit was particularly refreshing and memorable.

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Adios, Fiesta. Ciao, Italia.

Tastes of honey and cheese. Together. And then chocolate.

Wait, I’ve been here. This tastes like the flavors of Perugia. In fact, I’m including a photograph of a cheese plate with a palette of regional honey we enjoyed a few years back at Ristorante Gus.

But Central Market is making it easy to get those flavors by focusing on Italy from April 30 to May 13. These snapshots represent a preview of some of the products that will flood the shelves of every department during Passaporto Italia.

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Tre Numeri Parmigiano Reggiano? Never had heard of seeking this out, but Central Market did and has brought in huge wheels of the prized dairy cheese from Reggio-Emilia. While most cheeses from this region are branded on the outside with four-digit numbers, these are aged 20 to 24 months and are branded with three. Howard cracked open one to taste, and it melts in your mouth.

And why had I never noticed the barrels of amazing balsamic vinegars in the bulk section?

A convenient shortcut to assembling the ingredients for Ragu alla Bolognese can be found in a sleeve, a ready-to-cook mix of beef, pork, pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste, seasoning and three bay leaves. The accompanying recipe card launches you onto the course of simmering the ingredients for three hours with milk, Italian red wine and beef stock.

My favorite things previewed were Sous Chef Santiago Flores’ arancini. The prep to make these fried, filled balls of risotto is more than I care to undertake at home so being able to buy them freshly ready-made is wonderful. The two featured are a spring vegetable one and a saffron one with beef marrow. Please keep these on permanently….