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French country lunch - Fontainbleau, France

Posted on July 19, 2009 at 1:30 AM

So this week brings me to Paris. Yes, I am hopping around the world a lot this summer. Tokyo then Paris, then back to Tokyo again before I go home to Santa Monica. It's business combined with a little pleasure. When I travel to a place like France, food is almost always good. So I love eating out but since I will take a good home made meal anytime over a restaurant meal, I get very excited when somebody invites me to their house.  This time I got very lucky.  

I was invited to Rudy and Brien Chelminski's home for lunch in Fontainbleau, which is about three quarters of an hour by train from Gare de Lyon in Paris. The Chelminskis are Americans who have lived in France for more than 30 years. Rudy is a journalist and Brien is a homemaker. Rudy has written several books on wine and French cuisine. So he always gtives me good insight on French culture and food. Their house sits right at the edge of the famous forest of Fontainbleau. I have visited them a dozen times. I always take the same 11 am-ish train and get there just in time for lunch. If it is warm, Brien sets the table outside and we eat in the beautiful garden.  Something is always blooming.  This time of the year, the hydrangeas dotted the garden in pink.  Today, it is a little cold so Brien set the table in the dining room. She is expecting two other guests. Her neighbors Joe and Benedictine who live across the street.

Every space in this house is used efficiently and reflects the Chelminski's artistic taste.  I love the kitchen.  It has a warm country feeling.  Whenever I am here, I feel like cooking.

      Brien painted the ceiling green.

All the pots and pans hang comfortably on the wall and they feel like they could be mine.

Rudy cooked a "more vegetables than egg frittata" - a recipe he found in the New York Times. The final garnish was chopped basil.  It was really more vegetables than egg. He used zuchinni, broccoli, red onions, peas.  The red onions made the frittata a little brownish in color but still, we all loved it a and there were very little left over.  It's nice to see a man cook.  I saw this happen in all three French kitchens I was invited to.  Which I think is a good thing.

  Everyone pitched in.


The table setting was very French.  There was five of us.  I was starving.

Dessert consisted of Brien's homemade apricot clauffouti and macarons from Pierre Herme.  I ate a lot of claffouti and macarons this month.  It started out with my sister's cherry claffouti in Tokyo, then Fran's cherry claffouti in Paris and Brien's apricot clafouti in Fountainbleau.  Fran said that Clafoutti is as homey as desserts come in France. It is so simple to make.  You can make it with crust or without.  I loved the claffouti with fresh apricots.  The classic claffouti is made with whole cherries, with the pit and all.  The pit adds flavor to the dish.  

Pierre Herme's macarons, the other dessert, were a big hit as always.  Pierre Herme worked at Le Notre, Fauchon, then at La Duree where he did a whole makeover of their pastries. He then opened his own open shops in Paris and Tokyo. I think his macarons, the variety and freshness of taste, are remarkable.  He even makes Yuzu and Wasabi flavors, which the Japanese clientele love.



From The New York Times - Mark Bittman

2 Tbls olve or or butter

1/2 onion, sliced

salt and ground pepper

4-6 cups of any chopped or sliced raw or barely cooked vegetables

1/4 cup fresh basil or parsely leaves, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or mint leaves, or any other herb

2-3 eggs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Put olive oil or butter in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When fat is hot, add onion, if using, and cook, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until it is soft, 3-5 minutes. Add vegetable, raise heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, from a couple of minutes for greens to 15 minutes for sliced potatoes.  Adjust heat so vegetbles brown a little without scorching.  (With precooked vegetables, just add them to onions and stir before proceeding.)

2. When vegetable are nearly done, turn heat to low and add herb.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

3. Meanwhile, beat eggs with some salt and pepper, along with cheese if you are using it. Pour over vegetables, distributing them evenly.  Cook undisturbed until eggs are barely set, 10 minutes or so; run pan under broiler for a  minute or 2 if top does not set.  Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or a t room temperature.

Yield: 2-4 servings.

Categories: Egg and Tofu, France, Travel

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