#7: Coq Au Vin & An Evening in France

Once again, I suck and did not take any photos of our lovely "Evening in France (in America) Dinner Party" with our friends, but what a lovely evening it was. 

We fell completely and utterly in love with Paris. So much so, we went back 3 times. We just couldn't get enough and ya know that saying "Paris is always a good idea"...why yes, yes it is. When in Paris, do all the French things. Eat French food, stroll the markets, have wine with lunch, stop for a cafe au lait, go to the boulangerie twice a day (once in the morning for a fresh croissant and once in the evening for a warm baguette), buy wedges of cheese the size of your head, marvel at the Eiffel Tower from the Seine, and take long walks under the starlight. That is how you experience Paris. Read about our first time in Paris here! 

I had this dream of eating our way through Paris, but more so than that....cooking our way through Paris. Spending the days walking from market to market in search of the best ingredients but who was I kidding? All the ingredients in Paris are the best. I never met a piece of cheese, a bottle of wine, a cut of meat, heck...even a single olive that I did not like while we were there! I would wake up to Sean slowly getting out of bed to walk the few steps to a boulangerie for breakfast, while I made the coffee. We would savor every flaky bite of our croissants or pain au chocolats and sip our coffee lazily as we planned the day ahead. Which market to visit? What French delicacy should we try for lunch today? What is on the menu for this evening? And most importantly, what €2 French wine do we get to try today? I mean sure, we saw the sights. We did some tours. But our favorite days were spent doing what I said above. In the evenings, we would bring back all our findings from the markets, crack open said bottle of wine, munch on a few olives, turn on the "French Cooking Music" station on Pandora (it's awesome, you should check it out!) and get to cooking. Sometimes, we would have a theme going...like, making Ratatouille while watching Disney's "Ratatouille" (yes, I will be testing that recipe too!). Or, we would enjoy dinner and head out on one of those midnight in Paris strolls...except it was more like a 9pm in Paris stroll because lets face it, we are Americans who go to bed earlier than those European night owls. 

It was our second night in Paris and we decided on the French classic, Coq Au Vin. We got our PJ's on and unloaded all the ingredients onto the very limited counter space in our AirBnb studio apartment. The butcher gave us 2 beautiful chicken breasts just waiting to be braised in a whole bottle of red wine. We poured ourself a glass, and got to cooking. Within minutes, our whole place (granted, it was literally just a room) smelled heavenly. We bumped into one another and swayed to the French music in the background while the Coq Au Vin did its magic on the stove. Finally, it was ready. We really just wanted to dive right into the pot, but we managed to be civilized people and plate it...with a big crusty baguette on the side. We "oh my gosh'd" and "yummmm'd" our way through dinner and it was pure bliss.

With all of those wonderful feelings still on the mind (because you can't forget them!), we wanted to bring that night in Paris to our home in Orange with our friends. We turned on the music, we made the big pot of Coq Au Vin, we served olives, we poured glasses of French wine, we ate cheese, we swirled our crusty bread into the red wine sauce, we took our time at the table and we savored every moment. It was as if we were back in that magical city.

I can't wait to test more dishes we had in France, but this will be hard one to top. When you think of French food, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Also, how do you feel about this meal sequence:

  • Appetizers & champagne: olives, nuts and cured meats
  • Dinner & wine: Coq Au Vin served with the same red wine as in the dish (or whatever your main course is!)
  • Cheese plate & wine/champagne: something soft, something more crumbly served with something slightly sweet like honey or dried fruit and the same wine that you've been enjoying or a fresh bottle of champagne
  • Dessert: something seasonal...maybe a fruit tart.

That is a very traditional French style dinner formula and I was wondering what people think in the US? I am planning on doing different meal plans/dinner party ideas in the cookbook and would love your opinion. Is this something you'd do with your friends/family?

Until next time & next recipe,

Lisa Call