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  • Writer's pictureAine Dougherty

Week Forty-Two in France: Saint-Tropez chicken and lime zest risotto

A romantic Italian dinner complete with the best bruschetta ever.

Hey, I'm catching up after a month of vacation! Read on for more delicious Dougherty.

An A******* f*** cake.

04/07/2020: It may have been the Fourth of July, but those three words were far from striking any patriotism in me. There are some things about the U.S. that I miss (namely, food and my family), but there's so much that's wrong with the country, I was in no mood to barbecue and wear red, white and blue. However, I couldn't help making a chocolate cake to remind me of my family, decorated with strawberries and blueberries like the ones my sister and I used to make. I shared it with some French friends to celebrate one of their birthdays while laughing and having fun late into the night.

Maison de Délices on the patio.

05/07/2020: I'm always trying to come up with new activities in Mulhouse, so this gray Sunday morning, I tested out the local swimming pool with my friend I. The water felt nice, but once we'd tested the lap pool and I'd nearly drowned after two lengths of doggy paddle, I figured I'd just try to find a friend with a pool in their backyard instead. For dinner, J. and I stuck with tradition and ordered Japanese from the Maison des Délices, eating together on the patio out front. I swear, I could eat their fried rice for every meal – it's simple, just rice, seasoning, peas and egg, but there's definitely enough MSG in there to keep me coming back for another bite. The only problem was my shrimp tempura roll, a desert-dry monstrosity of seaweed, rice and fried shrimp, which I won't be ordering again.

06/07/2020: I may be months late on this, but I finally felt brave enough to watch Tiger King. The twists and turns, the characters, the research – it was mind-blowing. I would have dreamed to put together something like this for my doc film class during my last semester at Northwestern! J.'s exact words while watching were, "Americans are very special..." That's certainly one word for it. We were dragged out of our reverie for an amazing dinner with the family: St. Tropez chicken was the star, perfumed with honey, lemon, white wine and lavender. In supporting roles were rice drowning in the summery sauce, melted leeks and Provençal stuffed tomatoes dusted with herbes de Provence.

07/07/2020: This week, Tuesday night dinner at J.'s dad's went a little like this: a stir-fry with noodles, veggies (green peppers, zucchini, eggplant) and tender chicken. The dish reminded me of the stir fries my dad used to make almost every night when my sister and I were little (it was one of the only things he knew how to cook!). Luckily, J.'s dad correctly distinguished between zucchini and cucumbers and didn't serve us a cooked cuke like mine once did. I have to say, I don't think my love for food and cooking came from my dad. But what stands out to me from that memory is his desire to nourish us, even though he had almost no idea what he was doing. That's love, right?

08/07/2020: I may complain sometimes about the lack of chic restaurants in Mulhouse, but I'm changing my tune. Pizzeria Panettone, a tiny Italian spot in centre-ville, was perfect, from the trendy décor down to the original dishes on the menu. After perusing the wealth of options, I felt compelled to order the lime zest risotto. I'm down with lemon-y risotto, but lime? Will that work? I can assure you that it worked. The slightly stronger acidity and flavor of the lime ensured that the creamy risotto was flavorful and not too sweet. I barely let the others at the table have a taste before my beautiful ceramic dish was licked clean. I'm so grateful that J.'s sister C. is introducing me to her friends – I feel so included. We finish with affogato, our favorite, and spend the rest of the afternoon together. For dinner, I'm struck by a craving, so I pile a store-bought pizza dough with fresh peaches, burrata, paper-thin prosciutto, basil from the garden and sweet balsamic glaze. I'll have to play around with the base (the dough was a bit tough), but damn, do those flavors go well together.

09/07/2020: Warm and fuzzy feelings of inclusion continued this evening as C. and I headed to a miniscule Alsatian town nearby to meet up at L'Arbre Vert, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant owned by the family of one of her friends. The friend group was all dressed to the nines, and although we felt a bit awkward at the beginning at the white-tablecloth spot, by the end of the night we were laughing loudly and initiating flirty exchanges with the waiter (well, not me). The dinner was shockingly good – we started with the hors-d'oeuvre, a pea espuma with a tiny mouthful of wonderfully acidic ahi tuna and tomato salad. Next up, foie gras with rhubarb chutney. (You try to go to a fancy restaurant and not get crumbs everywhere. Those rolls were crusty!) After a trou Normand (liquor and sorbet, this time it was melon) to cleanse the palate, I excitedly dug into roasted pigeon with a Swiss chard and foie gras cannelloni. I promise I don't always eat this much foie gras. Finally, to put a cherry on top, a stunning dessert – mango tartare with vanilla whipped cream and a sweet-savory sesame wafer. Hands down one of the best meals I've eaten in France. And for only 40 euros! It helps to know people. I left stuffed and happy to have met and broken bread with such sweet people.

10/07/2020: Speaking of cleansing my palate, I started the morning with a healthy bowl of yogurt with berries and honey – but really, only to prepare myself for massive Italian dinner J. was taking me to tonight. After a delightfully bitter Aperol spritz and two enormous appetizers (the best bruschetta I've ever had, served hot and doused with olive oil and garlic, plus a generous tomato mozzarella salad), my pizza arrived. Bolognese with an egg on top. I must admit, I didn't finish the pie. It finished me (although it was delicious). Somehow, I made room for the scoop of coffee ice cream and espresso at the end of the meal, which I fashioned myself into a makeshift affogato as the waitress looked on, half intrigued, half horrified. Thanks, J., for the perfect gourmand and romantic evening.


I've taken a long break, but let's continue this weekly series 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 article should make you think twice about going to a restaurant during the coronavirus in America: 'Black Restaurant Workers Earn Less And Face Greater Health Risks, New Study Finds'

Link to the organization mentioned in the article: One Fair Wage

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