Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to cook aiguillette de canard

the South of France is famous for its duck. i was not so much a duck person when i was living in Asia. especially since we never usually eat duck in the Philippines. but here, i have learned to appreciate it much, much more than before.

this week, since my husband was on a week-long business trip, i was left to my own devices in the kitchen. and so, having no choice, i decided to try my hand at cooking aiguillette de canard in the same way that my husband cooks them, but with a little bit of my own personal touch.

it's actually very simple, you just buy it as it is from the supermarket, like this:

aiguillette is the sides of the duck, cut into strips

before throwing it on a non-stick pan, i like to grease it a bit with vegetable oil (i use colza oil, btw). and then just cook it on medium heat until the sides start to brown. and then you can turn it over.


put the stove on medium heat so it doesn't burn, even with just a few amount of oil.

now my husband, being french, likes it really soft and a bit bloody when you cut it. as for me, i am not yet really used to the sight of blood in food. i only tolerate it when eating at fancy restaurants, but not at home, especially if i'm the one who's cooking. so i try to cut the thickest part of the meat to see if there is no more blood oozing out. that's when i know it's done.

now for the side dish, my husband likes to use fried potatoes. i like to vary it a bit by mixing it with some carrots. and he likes to fry them with the oil from duck confit (confit de canard). if you haven't tried confit de canard, you my friend, are missing a lot, lot, lot in your life.


frying the thin slices of carrots and potatoes with duck fat from a can of confit de canard

now you can buy this duck confit either in a can or in a glass jar. i personally don't really know how to cook a duck confit. but i do know confit means to cook for a long time over low fire until it's all tender and nice. anyway, we save the fat in the duck confit can for future potato-frying, because the potatoes really taste a lot, lot better when fried in duck fat. i know it's not very healthy. but you don't eat this food every day.


some garlic bits to add flavor

when they are starting to brown, i sprinkle a generous amount of these garlic bits (Ail semoule). or you can fry them together with minced garlic. i prefer this one because they seem to be tastier. i even use them to marinate my adobo for a more garlicky taste, which i really love.

when the garlic bits start to brown, it's all ready to serve on the plate. i put a generous amount on the plate of this peppered mayonnaise, which i'm addicted to:


i am addicted to this sauce that goes well with duck, beef and pork

and don't forget the wine pairing. this Bordeaux red wine from my friend's vineyard goes perfectly well with duck:

perfect red wine pairing for aiguillette de canard

and here you have everything on the plate, ready to eat:


et voila! ca y'est, c'est fait! :)

sorry, i'm not very good with the plating yet.

also, whenever i cook something, i do the steamed version for my baby, which all go into the blender:

steamed version of aiguillette de canard for my baby's lunch

my baby is one-year old by the way. although, i think you can start giving meat to babies starting at 8 months of age. although to be sure, consult your pediatrician first.

bon appetit! :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

French fashion, selon moi

While reading a favorite fashion blog, I've come across this article about French fashion and style.

The first thing I've noticed while watching TV and observing the celebrities here in France is how they put on make-up. It's like there's nothing on their face. They don't put too much garish colors. They tend to just sculpt or highlight the features, not colorize them, which, come to think of it, really makes sense.

Juliette Binoche's easy, classy and elegant hairstyle and make-up

But then, the way they put on eye shadows, eyeliner and heavy mascara even during the day is a little bit over the top for me. Too much drama for daytime.

As for the wardrobe, they stick to the classics. Classic colors -- beige, blacks, neutrals and then they just glam it up with accessories. "They really know how to put together an outfit", as what KC Concepcion (Filipina actress who studied in France for two years) said in one interview.

Audrey Hepburn is not French but her manner of dressing and overall fashion sense is more French than American to me. It's probably why she was chosen to be an image model for Chanel. (image from magellanstraits.com)

The French tend to steer clear of loud colors and prints. They don't like to look messy. They like to keep it simple, classy and clean. I know somebody French who likes to make fun of English people for their love of floral prints. He says English people have no sense of fashion. I find it a bit true, especially when I see the queen wearing weird-looking clothes all the time that resemble something from the haberdashery than haute couture.

I used to like floral patterns in clothes and everything. A friend even once told me that I always dress like I'm going to church. But now, I find floral prints too lola-ish (grandmother-ish) because it's what the grandmothers (esp the ones in the countryside) in France like to have in their furniture, wall paper, beddings, etc., except maybe for the rich and posh lolas who remain fashionable despite their age. Come to think of it, it's the only country I know where the old people are so fashionable.


Catherine Deneuve, posh french Lola... in fairness, ang ganda pa rin nya kahit lola na.

While the word posh may have a positive connotation in certain cultures, contrarily, when French people say this word, they usually mean overly luxurious, possibly pretentious and bling-bling. Being posh is something negative to them because they usually never like to show off or brag about how much money they have. While in some countries like the US, the Philippines, etc, where being rich is gauged by how much money you spend, here in France and most rich European countries, being rich is gauged by how much money you save.

While i like some of the aspects of this wardrobe, like the studs and the colorful clogs, putting together an outfit like this, which obviously screams for attention will be a total no-no here in France where subtlety is the key. People will look at you like you're some freak from the circus. (image from breakmystyle.com). Sorry, Laureen.

But what I don't really get is why people here like to dress in the same color as the season. Like during winter, they would dress in dark drab colors and accessories, the same color as the gloomy skies and the leafless, flowerless, seemingly dead plants around. As for me, when the weather is looking drab, I like to dress more colorfully because it cheers me up.

I guess they dress in the same color as the surroundings because they are too afraid to stand out or to look too loud?

I would take the simple, clean, classy, easy elegance of French fashion and style any time, but the one thing I cannot keep away from is the vibrance and freshness of colors because life without them would be just plain boring.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New York, New York ( Part III )

Our last day in New York was spent in museums. There are too many museums in New York. We wanted to visit them all, but we decided to be reasonable and settled for The American Museum of Natural History because hubby wanted to see the dinosaurs. And The Guggenheim for me, because I want to visit all the Guggenheim museums in the world, except maybe the one in Abu Dhabi (which is still under construction) because there's nothing else of interest for me to see there aside from the museum.

Hubby wanted to see the dinosaurs. so, together with all the kids, we headed off and queued in the surprisingly long line of visitors. There were buses of kids on field trips and parents with lots of kids in tow. It was a nightmare.

You can say what you want to say but i don't really believe in dinosaurs. i think they're an invention of an overactive imagination. That, and I am always a NON-believer of anything that will make the annoyingly faithful believer get annoyed... including my husband. :) I have quite a long list of things I don't believe in and it gets longer every year.


qu'est-ce-que c'est que ca? :D

It was quite fun being surrounded by these ancient bones. But as I was not so interested in them, I didn't bother to check if they were REAL bones or just plaster casts.

What I loved best about the museum was the science stuff. We went inside a spherical auditorium suspended in the middle of one of the museum's wings to watch and listen to Liam Neeson narrate the Big Bang Theory... yeah, I don't believe in the big bang theory either. LOL. But Liam Neeson's voice is so nakakakilig. lalang...

To go The Guggenheim, we had to cross Central Park. It looked so gloomy in there as our last day in New York was a bit snowy and rainy. Before heading straight off to The Guggenheim, we decided to grab some lunch at a fastfood called The Shake Shack, which apparently has the best milkshake in all of NY. I'm not so fond of creamy shakes. I prefer them fruity, not milky.


Victoria's Secret at Upper East Side


Right across was a Victoria's Secret boutique. We went in and we were glad to find that they have some items on sale. So I did some more shopping.


The Guggenheim Museum


Inside the Guggenheim was an exhibit of Japanese art called Gutai. The building was not as impressive as the Guggenheim in Bilbao, but I found the temporary exhibit and the permanent collection a lot better.


I'd love to make holes and run through walls of thin papers too, and call it art

I love these plastic tubes filled with colored liquid in the middle that hung criss-crossing at the center of the building.


these tubes with colorful liquid give a festive feel all over the museum

I'm not a big fan of contemporary art, but I found the Gutai collection quite tolerable (translation: not too annoying). And there were also some permanent exhibits of Picasso, Van Gogh, and some famous french artists' impressionistic paintings, which I love.


I love the feel of this museum a lot

It was not so tiring to walk around the Guggenheim despite being five storeys high. It's not really that huge and it's quite fun to walk down/up in a spiral as opposed to climbing up/down stair cases. Unlike the other museums like the Met or MoMa, we wouldn't have had enough time to see all the exhibits in half a day.

I had fun with this card-dispensing box. my husband got a lame card which says, Thank you for being a friend, and i got the cool one with the doodles.

our Gutai cards from the random dispenser

There was a wall by the entrance where you're free to doodle. fun!


ay, ang bata...

it was also surprising to find some exhibit from Asia, and even one from the Philippines. there was a painting from Norberto Roldan of Roxas City. unfortunately, taking pictures was not allowed in this portion of the building.

After the Guggenheim, we went to Union Square area to buy some books at Strand Book Store. I read about this book store on the internet. It's quite famous for selling special edition books. I got Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, one of my childhood books, to read to my baby. It was a special 50th Anniversary Edition. And also a book of short stories by Haruki Murakami. I'm reading this in preparation for the heavy volumes of 1Q84.


Strand Book Store, the building is being renovated, unfortunately


Then we had some coffee at a café called, Pret-à-manger (again in french?) right across. I had a really nice spot by the window where I can enjoy my coffee and snack while people watching.


My Strand books loot -- Where the Wild Things Are for my baby, and a Collection of short stories by Murakami

On the way back to the hotel, we passed by these:


the flat iron building

some building with french architecture, with the Empire State in the background

And that about concludes my NYC trip. thanks for reading, shiny happy people! keep glowing! :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Menu de Pâques (Easter Menu)

for non-french speakers: all photo captions are in English.

hier midi, on a profité le menu de pâques d'une brasserie qui s'appelle Le Bibent. on se trouve cette brasserie pratiquement au Place du Capitole de Toulouse.

the easter menu of Le Bibent, a famous brasserie of one of France's top chefs, Christian Constant


le menu q'on avait manque les rilletes de sardines indiqué dans le menu ci-dessus. mais cétait très bon quand même. et j'ai trouvé le reste des plats copieux.


Christian Constant, the chef owner of Le Bibent, posing at the entrance of the brasserie (image from ladepeche.fr)


cette brasserie est fameuse parce que le propriétaire est l'un des chefs de France qui est très célèbre. il s'appelle Christian Constant. il est l'un des chefs qui juge dans l'émission téléréalité, Top Chef.


the intricate art work on the walls and ceiling of the brasserie

mon mari m'a dit que la brasserie était totalement rénovée. je trouve les détails des murs et du plafond très complexes et très beaux.


eggs, asparagus and morilles (some kind of  expensive mushrooms) in generous serving

le premier plat était vraiment réussi. cétait très bon. j'ai aimé les morilles et les asperges spécialement.


the main dish -- roasted lamb leg and some veggies

le plat principal était très bon aussi, mais je n'aime pas trop l'agneau. néanmoins, j'ai trouvé que c'était parfaitement cuit, et j'étais heureuse de ne pas trouver le sang quand je l'ai coupé.


Basque cheese and cherry jam with a bit of salad


après le plat principal, on a mangé des frômages qui viennent de Pays Basques, une région qui se trouve dans le sud de la France et dans le nord de l'Espagne. on melange ces frômages aux confitures des cerises, avant de se mettre au pain.


raspberries beneath a creamy mixture of milk and egg yolks

malheureusement, j'étais déja plein quand le dessert est arrivé. mais, cétait un peu aigre / acide à cause de framboises, mais je l'ai aimé bien quand même.

et ca serra tout en ce moment. je vous souhaite des joyeuses pâques et passez une bonne semaine. :)