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  • Aine Dougherty

Best Bites from April in France



Does anyone else feel like 2021 has been passing in the blink of an eye? I can't believe we're already almost halfway through. Luckily, it's turning out to be a delicious year, and April has been especially tasty. With no further ado, here's everything I ate this past month – read on for French food porn and meal inspo!



1. Easter Sunday lunch & lamala (agneau de Pâques)


Somehow, Easter was only a month or so ago. In true British and French fashion (my "host family" is of two persuasions), we had seven-hour roasted lamb, beans, veg, and roasted potatoes that are shatteringly crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Then, for dessert, a lamala, or an Easter lamb, here made out of brioche. Dusted with powdered sugar, this classic Alsatian confection was perfect with coffee.


2. Burger américain


Despite the ethical implications, we've had to live on Deliveroo for the past several months, seeing as restaurants in France have been closed for indoor dining since 2020. So, one night, we went all out and ordered from L'Instant Frenchy, a burger spot in Mulhouse. I got the burger américain, with crunchy fries and a burger stuffed with a flavorful, spicy sauce, roasted peppers, bacon, cantal cheese, and a rösti (potato galette). It was as gourmand as it sounds, although I'm not quite sure what makes it so "American" ;)


3. Italian grilled cheeses


I had a craving for grilled cheese, so I riffed on a Tasty video I'd seen on Facebook (sue me...) and pimped it out with mozzarella, pesto, homemade tomato sauce, and breaded, pan-fried chicken. On white bread, of course. There was a lot of butter involved, which automatically made everything better, and the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes added a whole new level of flavor. Next time, more salt, and even thinner and crispier chicken!


4. A'Pummarola pizza


Next up, one of the best pizzas I have ever had the pleasure of eating – the A'Pummarola from Pizzeria Panettone in Mulhouse. I love a good white base, and this one was topped with candied and then charred cherry tomatoes, homemade pesto, generous glugs of olive oil and plenty of fior di latte mozzarella. This restau has amazingly sourced ingredients and the nicest staff! Obsessed.


5. Homemade ramen


After several hours in the kitchen (and we even did a "quick" broth!), our homemade ramen finally came to fruition. I've never been so proud. Soft-boiled eggs marinated in soy sauce, seaweed, our take on chicken katsu, green onions, shiitake mushrooms, corn, seaweed, sesame seeds and bok choy. Let's just say that all of our hard work paid off. We cannot wait to make this again.



6. Speculoos babka


A baking success straight from the pages of Claire Saffitz's cookbook, Dessert Person. Fluffy yeast dough slathered with cookie butter and sprinkled with a brown sugar crumble, this babka skyrocketed in the oven and turned out amazing, with swirls of nutty, sweet Speculoos decorating each cross-section.


7. Tajine


A favorite dish in France, this Moroccan dish cooked in a tajine (or tajine) can come in many varieties. Today, we chowed down on merguez, beef kefta, chicken thighs and soft vegetables in a savory broth (improved even more by a spoonful of harissa). The meat is good, but what really gets me is the bed of soft couscous doused in sauce.


8. Asparagus risotto


In-season produce is a must, so asparagus risotto with baked chicken was on the menu for tonight. One arm workout and a whole bag of Parmagiano Reggiano later, the risotto was creamy and ready to serve. I added a bit of lime juice to give the dish some acidity, and it was wonderfully balanced.


9. BBQ pork bao bun


During a trip to Strasbourg for a potential job opportunity, I perused the internet and landed on Dim Sum Sam for lunch. Thanks to the gorgeous weather, I was able to eat my steamed BBQ pork bun outside, on the grassy quais of the river. The sweet and savory BBQ flavor was an absolute 10/10, as was the pillowy texture. This stunning banh bao was a highlight of the month, for sure.


10. Pavlova


Meringue topped with whipped cream and fruit, pavlova is a god-tier dessert that doesn't get enough recognition. Make things even easier by skipping the homemade meringue, and switch out your fruits based on your daily whims. This time, I chose mango, kiwi and groseilles (redcurrants), plus fresh mint, lime juice and zest. It would have truly been a showstopper if the store-bought meringue hadn't melted, this time... Oh, well.


11. Ricotta and pea pasta


Bonus! Yet another use of in-season produce. This pasta is a riff on a Gordon Ramsey recipe I saw on TikTok, and it was fucking delicious, to use his vernacular. Peas, ricotta, plenty of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and mint in the food processor; toss with pasta, and top with toasted pine nuts and plenty of Parmesan. Fresh!

 

Welcome back to the series in my blog where I link to an important article about food that I believe everyone should read. Getting educated is the first step (again, of many!) to making the food world a more equitable place. I welcome suggestions in the comments!


THIS WEEK'S READ:


This time, I am suggesting a beautifully written long-form Food & Wine piece from November 2020 that I recently came across!


Tara Phillips on family, food, and much, much more: My Beautiful Black Family's Life in Crumbs

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