Fabulous 4th of July in #Paris

04-July-2013

Today is the official beginning of our tour, French Waterways by #Tauck. I am here to say, Tauck is the best travel company you may have never heard of.

Our happy plan began more than a year ago when a group of neighbors and friends decided to go on a European river cruise. I will always be grateful that one of them invited my husband and me. One very bright gentleman actually did a spreadsheet laying out many options offered by several reputable travel companies. Tauck won hands down because what you see is what you get. There are no additional upgrades/shore excursions/meal plans to purchase on the boat so everyone is on an equal keel.

The rooms on the boat were slightly larger because they configure their boats for fewer guests. I will tell you more about the boat on Saturday.

Today we checked out of our posh Marriott on the Champs-Elysees and checked into the tour hotel, the Hotel du Collectionneur. We sat in the lobby and watched as the many members of our tour arrived from the airport. I was very glad we flew in the day before. It really takes a day to get your legs under you.

We gathered some of our group and walked a few short blocks to a corner cafe to get some breakfast/lunch depending on what time our body clock was telling. When we thought about ordering  French Onion Soup we had a giggle. That order would be much like ordering Buffalo Wings in Buffalo at a restaurant restaurant. The food was fresh and well prepared except for the slow service we would come to expect throughout France.

The other thing that took some “getting used to” was having to ask for the check. In Europe no one ever hurries you. Your table is yours forever if you do not ask. We see that as a lack of service while they intend it as the ultimate courtesy. Once again, very civilized!

Upon return to the hotel  our room was not ready so we headed out again for a walk to the Arch de Triumphe and with our own orientation yesterday we easily navigated to it. I have always loved the sounds of any city and European emergency vehicles have a sound unlike here in the USA. At every turn I felt like I was on a Hollywood set.

We returned a while later and our room was ready. It was a large room by city standards and had all of the conveniences we are used to back home…actually, probably more! I think a room with a robe and slippers is so much fun.

As we waited…and waited for our luggage to arrive my husband took a few minutes to relax. I became impatient and set off downstairs for a walk. I have never been uncomfortable walking in a city alone and Paris was screaming my name…in French, but of course.

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I wanted to have something sweet along with a cup of coffee. My wandering lead me to La Pain du Faubourg. The building was quaint with the promise of a Boulanger (baker), Patissier (pastry chef) and Traiteur (the keeper of a French or Italian eating house). What’s not to love?

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The pastry case was beautiful.

I could not wait to try out my newly reacquired French.

I would like a cup of coffee with milk and that beautiful pastry.

I ordered the coffee well but stumbled with the pastry. I resorted to the usual foreigner tactic of pointing. I felt foolish but the server was polite and did not actually laugh in my face. I will be forever grateful for that.

The pastry was called a millefeuille or what we call a Napoleon here. The cream was not overly sweet and was a good balance with the squint your eye sweet of the icing.  The pastry was crisp so either a bite or a fork would squish the cream all around. This was not neat to eat but I was not aiming for style points. My only regret was there were no tables out on the sidewalk to enjoy my confection.

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Even the packaging was pretty!

Back to the hotel for me to find my bags waiting for me. Time to prepare for our first dinner with the group at Fouquet’s, the famous restaurant on the Champs-Elysees to see and be seen.

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We filed up the elegant stairs to an upper room exclusive to our group where we were formally introduced to our tour directors. Each welcomed us to the iconic city or Paris with information about what to expect throughout the trip. We sat with a few couples who would then become our new traveling companions. It’s amazing how quickly you bond with people over French wine and delicious food.

After dinner we boarded buses again for a nigh time tour of the City of Lights. We were introduced to a song familiar to some but not yet familiar to me called “Aux Champs-Elysees.” Click here for a cute YouTube version with very pretty photographs.

The bus brought us to the Trocadero where there is a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. It was a long and wonderful day.

Tomorrow: #Paris in One Day

Checkerboard Pastry Tart

Any fruit combined with cream cheese and lemon curd base will make a tasty and pretty tart!

http://www.puffpastry.com/videos-and-tips Check out these clever videos from Pepperidge Farms. This will give you great tips on how to use the puff pastry dough. My one hint is that you let it sit for 40 minutes then work with it. If it gets too soft it becomes unmanagable.

Checkerboard Pastry Tart

1 Box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (2 sheets)
1 Large Egg (beaten)
8 Ounces Regular Cream Cheese
¼ Cup Powdered Sugar
¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Jar Lemon Curd (or homemade about 1 cup)
2-3 Cups Berries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Decide what serving platter you will use prior to rolling out pastry dough.

Lightly flour a cutting board and gently unfold one pastry and roll it into desired size rectangle to fit serving platter.  The less you handle it, the better. Watch the Pepperidge Farm video for tips. Put dough on parchment lined baking sheet.

Beat egg. Roll out second piece into the same size as first.  Cut according to the chart.

Using the egg as glue, brush egg on the bottom crust where you will place the top piece. Place the pieces on top according to the chart. Pierce generously with fork.

 

Bake about 15 minutes until golden brown. It may puff up but will fall when cooled. Cool on rack.

 

Place on serving platter.

 

Mix softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Put heaping teaspoons of mixture in alternating squares.  Use a knife or spatula to shape into the square. Repeat the same process with the lemon curd in remaining squares. Top with berries.

Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Using a pizza cutter cut into squares on platter. I use a plastic cutter so I do not damage my platter.

Have a yummy day!

JudeTheFoodie.com

APPLE SHOOTERS

 An original recipe by Jude Russo Caserta

1 Package Frozen Puff Pastry (defrost per package instructions)
1 Cup Raisins
2 Medium Apples (peeled and cored)
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
¼ Cup Flour
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Allspice
2/3 Cup Vanilla Rum
1 Package Caramel Sauce

 

  1. Defrost Puff Pastry
  2. Preheat oven to 425o
  3. Put raisins in large microwavable bowl and cover with water.  Microwave for five minutes or until water is rapidly boiling. Drain and put back in microwavable bowl.
  4. Quarter Apples equally.  Add to bowl with raisins.
  5. Add Sugar, Flour, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice and Rum. Stir well and microwave on high five minutes stirring once.
  6. Lightly spray cupcake pans with cooking spray.
  7. Meanwhile, gently unfold one sheet of Puff Pastry onto a lightly floured cutting board.  Use pizza cutter to cut in even quarters.
  8. Gently place one Puff Pastry square in cupcake tin using only three cups (two on one side, one on other).
  9. Spoon one apple piece with some raisins and juice in each cup. Bring the four points of pastry together and pinch to close at top leaving the opening on the sides.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes. Gently remove and cool on rack.
  11. Serve warm with hot Caramel Sauce or whipped cream.

 

Makes 8 Apple Shooters