Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Parc de Pignorolle

Parc de Pignoroelle
there is a castle too (not in the picture, I didn't manage to get a good picture of it. Trop de monde /many ppl)
.. oh yes, how chic it is to have a real castle (now museum) next to the park??
 I know I'm getting spoilt..

In Angers there are a lot of parks and gardens. Each day walking LM to school, I would pass by at least 3 little parks/playgrounds. We are also not too far from Parc de l'Arboretum. Which I promise to take you for a virtual tour of this little paradise..Yes! just you and me.. plus a bottle of Dom??

Big or small, it never fail to have trees, I mean old, gigantic, majestic, glorious trees. Most common trees are Oak, Fir and Chestnut but I saw Almond, Walnuts also Hazelnut.. May be it's me coming from the tropical country where hazelnut is only in chocolates tablettes or Chestnuts are only with street vendors.. To be able to pick up nuts from the ground is like eating Durian under the Durian tree. The sensation of touching the trees, admire what nature can provide while listening sweet melodies of Mesange and now Rouge Gourge..

So today, I'm taking you to Parc de Pignoroelle..

Rouge Gourge ( Red Throat) such a beauty, it sing so well..

 Oh boy, this little bird call Rouge Gourge. Not only is a sweet eye candy but the melody that it compose is.. is like what people say it's like when Angles sing.. compare to our well dressed Tuxedo Pie who says noting but "paca paca paca" all days..
Another look at it, it is always hiding in the blackberry bush for protection
 as the bush has thorns.
 There were a lot of children due to school holiday and here's what I saw..

3 boys plus their grandpa

Redhead angel
The magic of bubbles

Hello Kitty is for girls and Spider man (pronounced as Spi-da-maan) for boys
I almost burst out laughing the first time I heard what LM's friend said spider man.

Trees are staked to have a neat look as well as save space.

Another look at it. I saw apple and pear trees in this shape too.
I guess it's to make picking easier??


Grandparents enjoying school holiday with their grand-children


Little girl with a Beret. See how she stand??
Beret is a typical french hat which i will save it for another post. See how she stand??

Now turn around and still a pose.

Isn't she Chic??

The French just has it, even from this young age.

Parc is not just for kids but it's also for those who re-live their courtship days after the nest is empty..
Yes! they are romantic.. may be mine has eaten too much curries..

Playing in the woods

Artificial tree vs hundred year old tree

Clean park, fresh air, bird chirping

Picnic tables (clean, no leftover from previous user), bins (emptied regularly, there is no plastic bottles or tissue papers to be seen around), outdoor play equipments (for all age groups and in good condition), birds, nature and fresh air.. What else can I ask for?? free champagne for everyone?? not a bad idea.. have to note it down to propose to the next presidential candidates.

Who is walking who??

A sign of spring

A brunch is much better then a plastic sword
 What nature can give is way too much..

Surely no compare to shopping malls and quality time being with family.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Sunday Lunch

Last Sunday we had invited some family members over to have lunch with us. Since it was in our place and I'm the chef here..so it was Asian Food. SIL was pleased when it's my turn to cook cause as she mentioned it's like a voyage to the far east..

As the saying go when in Rome France do as the french..

So the menu is a mix of Asian and french cuisine.  As mentioned earlier.. in France, meal time is a ritual. It's a gourmet ritual. A ritual that is taken seriously as eating well is considered a birthright for every French :)

So here we go:

Sweet alcohol or non alcohol drinks are served followed by glass-clinking with eye contact to the person that you are clinking glass with and don't forget to say “Santé”. I learnt this from Ma belle Isa. This is one of the many table etiquette practise in France. We kept things simple by serving some roasted assorted nuts and crackers. The idea is not to over load the invitees... 

Wanton 2 ways

Wanton in chicken broth garnish with spring onions
Fried wanton serve with sweet chillies sauce. This was a hit compare to the wanton soup. I guess it's the combination of crispy wanton and the sweet chili sauce

Main course
Chicken curry with coconut milk.
serve with vegetable briyani rice

Cheese course


L'Opera is a classic french almond sponge layer cake which has a very elegant look and the taste is so full yet sophisticate. Just like the look, simple but elegant. So L'opera is what I wanted to serve. After many searches in the Internets and also many books from the library plus 2 failed attempt (luckily I have FH and LM who would devour anything sweet) I manage to put up a round L'opera (a classic Opera is square). L'opera with champagne..more glass-clinking, more “Santé”. Of course, we need have to wish each other Health after all the amount of  food and alcohol we consume. I am loving every minute of this gourmet ritual.  

Coffee/Tea and a many pieces of chocolate

Plum Eau de Vie

In France, the traditional "Digestif" is a real gourmet ritual. The French word "digestif" refers to the digestion process; drinking a small quantity of Cognac, Armagnac,Calvados or any Eau de Vie should indeed make you digest more easily.  Opposite to Apéritifs which is serve at the beginning of a meal, digestive drinks are served at the end of a rich meal, to - supposedly! - help the digestion process. This convivial moment after dinner gives you the opportunity to taste some gems of the French food and gastronomy, including liqueurs, eaux de vie, brandies and other fruity alcohols.
This Plum Eau de Vie is more then 50/60 years old, has more then 40% of alcohol and it's was made by FH's grand father. A little sip of it is like a big bite into a big juicy plum. You taste the fruit, the sun and oak that it has matured in. Should there be a war, this is what I would grab with me..

But notthing can compare to a kiss,
a simple kiss that touches the soul

C'est Que du Bonheur

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trees and it's habitat

Since back in France, I have noticed there are more big trees then places that I have been to. May be I was not at the right place or I was always in a car or .. shopping malls..

In  France, they like to plant rows and rows of big Chêne  or oaks in park or some other trees along boulevard.. They are old, tall, exceptional, majestic and never fail to impress me.

Pigeon can be seen almost everywhere

It was snowing and I found this particular tree full of Merle Noir (black bird with yellow beak).

This is a PIE (pronounce as Pi) in English it's call Magpie. It sounds "pica pica pica".
Pie is also to describe someone very talkative.

My favourite - Mésange.. not only they are cute, they sing well too

Another Mésange . It is very tiny and light, only about the size of a chicken egg
which is why it is always on tree tips.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Boudin Noir

Bourdin Noir with lard and onions in it

Today, let's talk about Boudin Noir. Mmm.. the first time I saw this, it did not stir up my appetite at all. Mainly because it looks like caca de chien (dog shit poo). For those who knows me. I am someone who like to venture out and taste what the local have on their plate or what the street vendor sales. Be it in Indonesia, Morocco, Maldives, Thailand plus many more countries I have visited during my younger days. To me, to really visit a place the best is to stay with the local. If that's not the case then we should at least try what they have on their plate. It is really no point to visit somewhere and not taste what they have to offer.  
But this caca looking thing call Boudain Noir is actually blood sausage. In Malaysia, we do eat blood too but it is in a form of Tofu usually stuffed.. I have never liked it too. Come to think about it, it is actually the same ingredient (blood) but in a different form (tofu and sausage) and may be seasoning.  Funny isn't it? Different culture, different way to present certain thing or food.

MIL and FH loves Bourdin Noir. This is something you buy from your favorite charcuterie butcher/delicatessen shop. It can be consume cold .. mmm.. no thanks or pan fried and has to be serve with pan fried apple. I don't know if this is how it is or it is just FH and MIL's way. But there are just too many hidden rules.. For example, fish is normally pair with rice and not with salad, unless it's deep fried fish. Let's save this for another post. I know I will not run out of topic to talk about.

I am still learning. These are still lots to learn.. lots to discover..

But after almost a decade together.. I guess, I am now neither Nyonya nor French. Cause this is one of my favorite dish now. Same for MIL and FH. Guess what they had for dinner tonight? Wanton soup and fried wantons with sweet chilies sauce ;P

Pan fried apples, easy and yummy..

I love it especially when the bourdin is well cooked. Meaning when the content is a little dried or mildly burn adding a little crisp to the smooth texture. Imagine caramelised onions, pork lard and blood mix with butter and pair with sweet apple slices.. oh so gooddd..

Caramelised apple slices is another side dish that is easy to prepare and goes so well with roast pork. Another hidden rule: this pan fried apple slices is normally pair with pork. I know if I serve this with roast pork, 99.9999% everything would be gone. LM doesn't like this sausage...yet, I don't blame him :) May be when he is 10, he might prefer this to Chez Mado (MC Donald's). Let's see..

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday Lunch

Oh yes.. yesterday I spoke of how French takes meal time seriously. Et Voila! today we were invited to BIL and SIL's house to have Sunday Lunch. This is something we do regularly since Sunday in France is equal to nothing-to-do as shops are closed. Only boulanger (Bakery) and some super marts are open for half a day. Cinemas, cafes and restaurants are open though. Business would be better if more shops are open cause people would have chance to spend not that they have much to spend now since the economy in Europe is not looking great but it would help those who works. Most jobs have weekends off but for those who have a family, Saturday is the day where they spend time in the supermarket  faire les course (food shopping) to stock up food for the whole week. Sunday is reserve for church (which personally I think church goers are getting less and less), family and friends gathering.

So we started at 12.30pm with some aperitifs. Some Pinaud, Port, Campari for those who like sweet aperitifs but BIL took whisky. With some potatoes chips, peanuts, cherry tomatoes or little red radish. it's a way to warm up the body :) or Coupe faim.

After that, its the appetizer which in BIl's house is usually a salad. No wine at this moment because we are reasonable :) Next would be the main cause. Today it was a rôti de boeuf or roast beef with some Pomme de terre gratin which is sliced potatoes with melted cheese on top. Of cause baguette is a must at the table as well as a good bottle of Bordeaux. Eat and drink slowly with some conversation of politic, weather and also news of other family. Then it was time for the cheese platter. We had 4 types of cheese which is a minimum. Usually a hard/dry cheese, a Camembert, a goat cheese and a blue. Sometimes we do change another bottle of wine but we didn't as this is just another normal Sunday Lunch. Christmas would be more elaborate. After cheese, we change plates for dessert. Dessert is from me so here's what I brought.

 This is a french pear dessert very simple to make and pleases everyone every time. My french friend Isa introduced me this great dessert and since I have never fail to impress anyone with this tart.

Here's what you need:
  • 2 Ripe pears peeled,  cored and quartered
  • 100gm of brown sugar
  • 150gm almond powder
  • 125gm butter soft
  • 2 Tbsp almond flakes
  • 150gm chocolate
  • 1 tsp of almond essence (optional, you can replace it with rum or vanilla essence)
  • a pinch of salt

For the tart dough:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp ice water/ cold milk
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. Just gather all the crumbs and form a ball, wrap it in cling film and let rest in the fridge for an hour. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again. Note that too much water and kneading will make the crust tough.

Here's how to prepare the frangipane:

To prepare the frangipane beat together the almond powder and sugar. Beat in the butter. Mix in the eggs,  salt, and almond extract and beat until light and fluffy.  Don't worry if it seems like you didn't make enough as the frangipane will rise during baking.

Here's how:


  1. Roll out dough on a piece of parchment paper and place dough in baking pan. Then chill pan in freezer for 20min.  
  2. Place some chocolate pieces all over the crust. If you are not as lazy as I am, you can melt the chocolate pieces with a little butter in a microwave at low, checking every 15seconds. Then spread it on the crust.
  3. Pour in frangipane.
  4. Place peeled, cored and quartered pears on frangipane.
  5. Sprinkle some brown sugar and almond flakes all over tart.
  6. Bake for 25min at 200C or until golden brown.  
Yes, I must admit that it is a little too cook cause I was busy washing up all the equipments (also I did a blind bake coz we like it crispy) and I must also admit that I used a store bought tart crust..laziness tsst tsst tsst.. ;P but it turn out very crispy :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What's for lunch?? what's for dinner??

Took this in Maldives under the mid-day sun

This is a question that I post myself everyday. I guess this is what every stay home mom or whoever is in charge of putting food on the table ask themselves.

I think living in Asia does make things a little more easy but over here in France, meal times has it's own ritual. A normal meal in our household over here in Angers, starts with a simple appetizer, main course , cheese and dessert plus coffee with a little piece of chocolate. But if it is an occasion either it's a birthday celebration, Christmas or just a simple Sunday meal to share with your extended family or friends.. it would last for hours..

When I say hours, I mean starting from say 12.30pm and finish at about 4pm at the dinning table. And if you have any young kids at home means by the time you finish clearing/washing your dishes, it would be time to start the preparation for dinner :) but that i will save it for another post :)

So tonight what's for dinner?? it's complicated over here.. Back at home in Malaysia, lunch and dinner are not much different. You can make a lot for lunch and finish it for dinner. Or one can just go to any of the "Kopitiam" or little restaurant to "Ta pau" or take away as other call it. So what's so complicated?? they eat heavy for lunch and very light for dinner. For example today we had half a grapefruit each as appetizer, then burger patty with pan fried zucchini and some pasta. Dessert is fruit and of course a little cup of coffee plus a piece of chocolate which is important also a great note to end a meal.

Since lunch is heavy, it is always difficult to have something easy and light to make for dinner. As dinner has its own ritual again.. it always starts with a bowl of soup then something light. So tonight I will make stuff mushroom. One mushroom each that's it. If anyone is still hungry, they will finish the meal with some cheese and/or a yogurt.

These mushrooms are big. I chose the medium size which is a little bigger then an apple.
The big ones are as big as a saucer.

Stuff Mushrooms

4 big mushrooms (about 40 to 50gm each)
200gm mince beef
3 gloves of garlic mince
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
few drops of sesame oil
3 Tbsp shredded Gruyere/Emmental cheese or any hard cheese
4 Tbsp bread crumbs

  1. Clean the mushroom with wet paper towel, remove the stems and chopped it into tiny pieces.
  2. In a small pan, fried the minced garlic, chopped mushroom stems, then add in minced beef to cook for a few minute til cook. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil.
  3. Once cool, add in the cornstarch, bread crumbs and cheese. Mix well and scope it into the cavity of the mushroom.
  4. Place the mushrooms in a baking dish and into the over at 200C for 25 minute. Or until the top is golden and the mushroom is tender.
  5. Serve with some green salad and french baguette.

I have made this many many times and it's always a success. I have grow to love cheese and have not forgotten my root of soy sauce.. I do make extra stuffing and freeze for later use. This stuffing is great for spring rolls, pot stickers (Kuo tie)/ Gyoza or just simply mix with steam rice for simple lazy meal.

Hope you like it. Bon appétit!