Better sanitation? Roads? A legal system? Wine? (Okay, well maybe this last one has some relevance...)
It's been over a year since Barrett and I started the TooManyChefs site. Initially, the joy of just writing about something I love doing was compensation enough. Then we started getting comments from Complete Strangers. Then we started having a cherished few Regular Readers. Ego-stroking stuff indeed! And last night I was reminded of another fantastic thing that blogging has done for me: it has put me in touch with lovely like-minded people here in Paris and around the world.
Last night, I dined with Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini, Pascale from C'est moi qui l'ai fait, David Lebovitz, author of many fine cookbooks and a fantastic pastry chef, Alisa-who-has-no-blog-but-is-one-of-the-best-cooks-and-photographers-as-it-turns-out that I know...and Pim of Chez Pim. Not only did I have great company, but I had the fun of participating in the creation of one of the best Thai meals I have ever eaten, prepped by all of us and cooked with great skill by Pim in Pascale's kitchen. Oh, heck, it was the best Thai meal I've ever eaten. (But don't tell the Critic, because he wasn't invited...) And best of all, I had the company of some of the great stars of the blogging world. I enjoyed it down to my toes.
The only down side? I forgot my camera. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid woman. Luckily for me, Alisa was there with her camera and she's a great photographer. As you can see in all these photos she sent me!
Garlic shoots, strange pork packets and fresh peppercorns on the vine. The garlic shoots turned deliciously mellow and savoury in a shrimp stir fry and the peppercorns were fantastic in a pork stir-fry, a little sharp but not unbearably hot. We didn't try the pork packets but apparently they can be consumed "raw" or cooked. Pim agreed that as a concept they were a little disturbing but said she had eaten them many times and was still here to tell the tale...
Pascale and Pim met up in the afternoon to purchase Thai ingredients at Frères Tang. I'm extremely sorry I did not have the courage to bring along a notebook along and take notes on all the ingredients that Pim used. My part of the prepping involved tearing coriander leaves from the stalk, ditto some lime leaves (I think?). There was also mint and another herb that was similar to mint but less minty. (Hey, I said I didn't take notes, didn't I?) And lemon grass and a bunch of other great looking herbs that I don't really know.
In addition to traditional limes...
there were some wrinkled Thai limes.
Pascale spent pretty much the entire day shopping, ferrying people around, prepping, cleaning...and through it all staying the perfect hostess full of good humour and energy!
And if you are curious about the actual meal, you can visit Clotilde's moblog for the main dishes and David's site for one of the desserts, his trademark coconut macaroons (they were heavenly - I'm SO pleased he has posted the recipe!). Pascale made a delicious no-flour hazelnut cake and Alisa brought mangos with a crème fraîche, lime zest and vanilla sauce and toasted coconut flakes (a fantastic combination I must say).
UPDATE: Pascale has posted the recipe for her delicious cake on her blog. It's in French but if you don't speak French and want the recipe send me an email and I'll oblige. It's a very simple recipe.
With all this information about Alisa's cooking skills and photography skills you may well wonder why she hides her light. Well, we tried to recruit her for TooManyChefs but alas she claimed to have this thing called Life that required her energy and time. Oh yeah, and a better outlet for her artistic talents in other media. It's our loss!
Photos (c) Alisa Morov-Bosc. Please write me for permission to reproduce and I will forward the request to her.