Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Eat her words

It's very remiss of me; Chocolate & Zucchini written by the world renowned food blogger and lovely person Clotilde Dusoulier winged its way to me ages ago but I just haven't had the opportunity to rave about it. However planning ahead to a fortuitous train journey to take on Friday I thought I could slip it in my bag and really concentrate on absorbing this fabulous little book and giving it the credit that it's due. And in anticipation of this I have been flicking through her book at every opportunity.

I don't always fancy Clotilde's recipes as she really does embrace “le chevre” and even though I can occasionally be persuaded to take a tentative nibble, I generally just feel it's too goaty and takes all the other ingredients hostage. Clotilde seems rather partial to “les tomates” also but then I can see beyond that also. What I really like about this book (and her blog) is the heart and soul that is so prevalent in all her writing. I'm a huge admirer of her work and would obviously love my little blog to have the tiniest bit of the global impact that hers does. I am immensely jealous of her writing, lifestyle, cooking and eating especially as she gets to do all this in Paris. I do have a secret yen for such a lifestyle and reading her book just makes me yearn for it more. D and I have already decided that we will while out our twilight years in a chic apartment in Paris and frequent those fabulous food markets wearing a purple hat and lashings of insane sparkles, vintage Chanel and furry scarves respectively. Though I guess we’ve only thought about this plan in the winter as August in Paris can be very steamy, I can’t imagine wanting to wear anything other than wisps of cool silk and linen. Oh and maybe a teeny bit of Chanel. But I digress…

Reading Clotilde’s foreword immediately made me feel that we may have been foodie twins separated at birth, the first sentence is: “Food joyously occupies a large portion of my waking thoughts – it even makes appearance in my dreams – and I find pleasure in every single on of its facets: the shopping, the looking, the talking, the reading the thinking, the chopping, the kneading, the sharing and of course, the eating.” I could have written every word, okay maybe not as eloquently but with the same passion – I might have added photographing as well. Every delicious dish I am presented with or make myself compels me to have a camera in one hand and a fork in the other. It seems to be that I’m convinced that it is even more delicious if I capture a little piece of each meal’s soul for posterity, my own personal Dorian Gray taste library if you will. Hmmm, that’s not slightly odd! And I know Clotilde loves to photograph all her dishes as well, and the book is chock full of her mouth-watering photographs.

Every time I pick up Chocolate & Zucchini, so named as Clotilde explains - to capture both her love of fresh vegetables and chocolate side of her foodie nature, I am transported to her kitchen table – if only! Ironically after having to explain so many times why her blog is called Chocolate & Zucchini and say that it doesn’t refer to a curious hybrid recipe she does actually include a chocolate and courgette cake recipe which sounds rather yummy. Though I have to admit the chocolate bit intrigues me more, maybe!

Despite having to circumnavigate many a touch of goats’ cheese there are many joys contained in these little purple covers – lamb’s lettuce salad with clementines and seared tuna, onion and cumin quiche, gratinéed chicken soup with pink peppercorns, soft boiled egg with artichoke soldiers, tuna and green apple mousse, pistachio pesto and cumin cheese puffs and I’m not even half way through.

But I must have been particularly inspired because instead of reverting to my old standby of scrambled eggs when faced with conjuring a meal from eggs, cream and Parma ham, I made an oeuf cocotte instead. Though naturally I eschewed the suggestion of cherry tomato halves and instead spooned a little double cream into my well buttered ramekin and topped with strips of Parma ham, some fabulously mustard seedy Y’Fenni Welsh cheese and carefully broke two golden yolked eggs on top of it all. The ramekin was placed in a loaf tin that I was using for a bain marie, half submerged in kettle boiled water and baked for 15 minutes. The mixture was perfectly translucent on removal from the oven and was finished with a dusting of finely chopped chives. If I hadn't had the thick double cream I could have substituted it for crème fraîche or soft cheese with garlic and chives. Clotilde suggests some crusty bread for dipping but I didn't have any to hand so just ate mine with a spoon. It was creamy, perfection and truly delicious. Scrambled egg, what scrambled egg?

I don’t think Clotilde is quite as ardent a fan of crockery as I am, though she mentions inheriting some shallow earthenware soup bowls from her boyfriend’s grandparents. My oeuf cocotte was beautifully cooked in my new Gordon Ramsay Royal Doulton ramekins that go magnificently with my other Gordon Royal Doulton more delicate pieces but have the added advantage of being oven proof, result! I think it may have made it taste even better!

I now can’t wait to dive into her book for more; each recipe has its own little story, a little daylight thrown on the magic, some background colour and/or an evocative memory. This is a lovely cookbook/memoir and I am really grateful I know so much more about the wonderful Clotilde, I will read her blog even more avidly now and hanker even more after her extremely covetable life. I am also very pleased that I have a cookbook that I can just about slip into my bag to drool over during the inevitable commuting to and from the city, as much as I love the coffee table tomes, they're hardly easy to slip into a quilted handbag for those moments. I know she's already nearing completion of her second book, so that's another treat in store for next year.

Eat her words, I don't mind if I do!

1 comment:

Jelly said...

Your blog had made me very very hungry!