I’ve always been struck by Hemingway’s description of Paris. He said that “…wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”. It’s a romantic notion, and it really is indescribable to be in a city that has made an indelible mark in every part of history, be it literature, poetry, food, fashion, politics, art or culture. Personally, Rome was my moveable feast. The more I think about it though, now that I’ve come up with this travel & food series, I may have taken this ‘moveable feast’ thing way too literally.
In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t come up with a name for this travel series as yet. Plateport (like Passport) kind of sounds like a parking lot for cars. The Traveling Plate makes me sound like I walk with dinnerware in my luggage, and don’t judge me for considering Foodcation. Anyway, to be continued.
My absolute favourite thing about Paris is how important relationships seem to be. We all know Paris as the City of Love, but it seems to extend to much more than romance. One afternoon, Rabin & I did a sunset cruise along the Seine and I was shocked at the hundreds of people, young and old, hanging out along the river. Groups of people, blankets & bottles of wine sat in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, covering the miles along the river that we sailed. There were boats docked at different points, filled with people and food, and at one point we passed a group of people watching and cheering on as a couple danced a foxtrot / swing type of dance. People waved at our boat and we waved back. You actually heard strains of Edith Piaf in the air. It was seriously the way you picture being in Paris will be.
One of the things I really wanted to try was cheese. Serendipitously, as you may remember, I bought a large wheel of Brie before I went on vacation, thinking that maybe I wasted my money because I was bound to live on cheese when I got to Paris. I was planning to try fondue and all sorts of baked cheese but you should guess the pattern by now – I didn’t. Cue the serendipity! Now where is John Cusak?
I went looking and found an amazing recipe on Bon Appetit – Baked Brie with Mushrooms and Thyme. I adapted it slightly from the original recipe because of ingredient availability and amounts. You can find the original recipe here if you’d like.
Baked Brie with Mushrooms & Thyme
3 oz dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 1/3 cup dry Red Wine
2 tbsp Butter
8 oz Mushrooms (I used canned)
1 tbsp chopped Shallot
1 tsp dried Thyme
½ tsp Black Pepper
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
14 – 15 oz Brie
Bread / Crackers for serving
Rinse dried mushrooms. Place in a saucepan with wine, and bring the wine to a boil. Cover, turn off and remove from heat and let mushrooms soak in wine for about 25 minutes. After this time has elapsed, remove mushrooms and finely chop. Strain the remaining liquid in a strainer lined with a damp paper towel. Keep the strained red wine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, melt butter and add the other set of mushrooms until cooked through or warmed, depending on whether you use the fresh mushrooms or not. Add salt, peppers, shallots, thyme, dried mushrooms and strained red wine. Let cook until all liquid has evaporated.
While this is cooking, lay out two sheets (on top of each other) of foil. If you intend to serve by individual portions, lay out two sheets per portion. Using a sharp knife, cut the white rind off of the top and side of brie, place in foil and pull edges up around the brie. Generously heap mushrooms on top of brie.
Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is all melty. Serve immediately with crackers or bread.
- Brie is velvety, creamy, and RICH. So rich that you can’t eat too much at once. I think this is best served in bites, or at a communal table, because after a few bites, you’ll want to pass out, or drink a beer as quickly as you can to cut the richness. Either that, or I’m a Neanderthal.
- I much preferred on bread to crackers. It was a delicious, grilled cheese type of meal. Rabin preferred crackers, which shakes my faith in his taste.
- To make a cool appetizer at a fancy dinner, put the cheese into ramekins. It only takes about 15 minutes at most to melt (less if cut into smaller pieces), so you can prep everything before and shove in oven when guests arrive.
And there you go. The recipe seems complicated, but it really isn’t. I was able to do a lot of other things in between the wait times (which may or may not have been absolutely nothing). Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and I’ll see you back here next week as I continue to cook my way through Europe.