Tag Archives: french

Tokyo’s Little Slice of France: A Tale of Two Dinner Dates

Foodies are fun. There’s no doubt about it. Thus, when I discovered that a fellow debater was equally into eats, we had to hang out. Following a few–mostly successful–cooking sessions, we decided to go out to eat.

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Tucked into a quiet second story nook, Le Soufflé is one of Tokyo best-kept secrets. Although they have more to offer than simply soufflés, you can’t dine there without ordering at least one–or six in our case. (My sister came too, trust me, we were as reasonable as possible.)

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At each place setting, preserved under a glass table top is a series of diagrams illustrating the proper way in which to consume one of these creations. We followed these guidelines… more or less.

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The soufflés at Le Soufflé puff up out of their ramekins unlike any soufflé I’d seen before. Aerated and light, yet packed with flavor, they are sinfully good.

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For the savory portion of the meal, the three of us narrowed our choices down to three: mushroom, carrot, and salmon. These were promptly passed around until their disappearance. The salmon was unusual, but a little overwhelming, flavor-wise. The mushroom was tasty, but, taking us by surprise, the carrot stole the show. Slightly sweet, and thus perfect when eaten with a touch of the accompanying cream, it was dainty and delectable.

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After the success of our savory strategy, the three of us didn’t think twice before ordering three soufflés to split, once again: lemon, cassis, and praline. This time, not only was the soufflé itself flavored, but the accompanying sauce as well. Lemon and praline outshone cassis in my book, but it was a tough call, and one that we three debaters simply had to discuss at length.

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On to dinner number two. The cuisine? Once again French. This time, the crêpe place my French foodie friend goes to for a taste of home: Le Bretagne.

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We sat down at our little outdoor table, enjoying the cool June-night air that’ll disappear the second that rainy season, or tsuyu, hits. Boy, do we think alike. One savory galette and sweet crêpes it was. Not buts about it. The tomato-zucchini-cheese number disappeared rapidly, leaving us lying excitedly in wait for the main events: Valrhona chocolate with caramelized banana and “caramel complete,” salted butter caramel sauce and ice cream.

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You really can’t go wrong with caramel at crêperie. It’s always so perfectly sweet and salty. Just irresistible.

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Although we’ll be on separate continents come August, at the end of the evening, it wasn’t really goodbye–I see more foodie-fests in our future.

 

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French Chocolate Pudding

Yesterday was another dull day of school. Then, into my inbox popped a link from mom. A recipe for french-style chocolate pudding from 1960s French children’s cookbook. A chocolate dessert? That takes less than 10 minutes to whip up? I was so there.

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This confection is rich and deliciously chocolaty. It’s sort of a cross between a pudding and a mousse.It has the aerated texture of a mousse, but is something much denser, defined by the full-bodied flavor of very dark chocolate.

Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s recipe rendition, the steps are simple. And, I kid you not, it takes 10 minutes from start to finish (plus some refrigeration time).

You’ll need…

  • 2 eggs at room temperature (disclaimer: this pudding uses raw egg, so buy high quality ones and be aware of the risk, however minor)
  • 170 g of the highest quality dark chocolate you can find (I used 75% Cacao Lindt chocolate and my puddings came out beautifully)
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a splash of vanilla extract, naturally

1. Separate the egg yolks and whites. Beat the whites until stiff and set the yolks aside temporarily.

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2. Put the chocolate, butter, sugar, water, and salt on the stove in a double boiler and heat until just melted, stirring until you have a smoothly, well blended brew.

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3. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla.

4. Gently fold in the egg whites, about half at a time.

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5. Fold until the texture is fairly uniform, but be patient. Keeping the mixture aerated by whipped egg whites is key.

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6. Pour the mixture into your chosen containers. I used little ceramic cups intended to be used for soba noodle dipping but ramekins, glass jars, or any other appropriately sized vessel would work. I made 5 one-person-sized servings from this recipe.

7. Refrigerate. Heidi says to do so for at least a couple hours. I think that if you can be that patient, it probably tastes better. As for my family, waiting was not an option. We ate our puddings after about 45 minutes, the centers still thick and runny. Because there were just four of us, one lone pudding sat in the fridge over night. Unfortunately, by the time I got home tonight, it had already disappeared. My mother and sister say it was delicious, well worth the wait. While they contemplated saving me a bite, that sadly did not happen so we’ll have to trust their word on this. After all, they’re pretty reliable when it comes to chocolate assessment.

Topped with a dab of fresh, mildly sweetened whipped cream, the pudding was delicious, runny or no.

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