Suzi's Blog

Cookbook Review: Paris to Provence by Ethel Brennan and Sara Remington


It’s awkward to come clean in public, but I have a problem. I travel to France with grand intentions, flying to Paris loaded with guidebooks about things to do throughout the country. To do, that is, after just a couple of days in Paris. A couple of days becomes a few days becomes two weeks.

I’m a Left Bank guy and between the bookstores, the cafes, and the ever expanding list of bakeries and candy stores, I find it very, very hard to think about leaving the city for the rest of the country.

Now, I have a new guidebook, one that I know will get me free of the food evils of Paris and into the delicacies of the byways from Paris to Provence. That is exactly the title: Paris to Provence by Ethel Brennan and Sara Remington. The subtitle gives away the clever tact of this lovely book: Childhood Memories of Food and France.

Ethel and Sara did not grow up together, but became friends in adulthood. And learned they have a shared tradition. As young girls, they lived in families that summered in France and explored and sampled the entire country, not just Paris.

Their families drove the back roads and byways of France. And the girls enjoyed the “casual” food of everyday France. This is not the high cuisine of Right Bank restaurants. This is the food of the people. But, oh, what lucky people. For casual food in France is a treasure trove.

There are chapters here devoted to the food of truck stops, the regional and very seasonal markets, café and bistros, plus afternoon snacks [gouter].

The book is a charming combination of travel remembrances and a portfolio of real, authentic recipes. Some of the recipes are standards, like Ratatouille. But there are unexpected exotics here, too, like Beignets de Fleurs de Courgettes [aka Zucchini Blossom Fritters]. There is a fig tart with custard cream, strawberries in red wine syrup, roasted chestnuts, French lemonade with mint, and potato salad with poached egg.

That last recipe idea is typical of Paris to Provence. A common dish is given an uncommon twist or flare. You’ll find yourself asking: “Why didn’t I ever think of that?” Well, we can’t think of every combination. We can rely on the great food cultures to instruct us. Paris to Provence gives us a superior tour of insights into the flavor avenues of a country we all enjoy.

On my next flight to Paris, Paris to Provence is coming along. And, yes, I will rent a damn car and I brave the interesting traffic patterns of French roads. Why? Because somewhere south of the city there is a roast pork loin with rosemary and porcini mushrooms. I’m going to find it.


Wine Tour De France at Cooking by the Book on Friday, October 12th

The words wine and France are synonymous. French wines are outstanding for both their quality and diversity. Many wine experts suggest that there is no single “French wine” but really a vast collection of outstanding wine regions that contribute to the French reputation.

So, join us to take a tour, a Wine Tour De France, to explore those regions and their outstanding flavors. On Friday, October 12th at 6:30PM, Cooking by the Book will host a Tour de France guided by wine expert David Hamburger.

The New World has always imitated French food and beverage superiority. Being challenged on all sides by the New World, the French wine industry is redefining herself and continuing to set the global standard. Our tour will demonstrate the absolute vastness of flavors and styles in France. the delightful country wines of Southwest France, the hauntingly aromatic wines of Alsace and the Loire Valley, and of course the classic wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône. The diversity and quality of wines is tremendous, to say the least.

We hope you can join us for this fascinating Tour de France in a celebration of its greatness. You can get more information and register at the link below. Information about our excellent wine expert, the 11 wines you will be tasting, and the matching foods are just below. Class cost is only $75.

Register Now!

Friday, October 12, 2012, 6:30pm – 8:30pm


Our Wine Expert David Hamburger:

Our expert instructor is David Hamburger, Director of Special Events at Acker Merrell the oldest wine shop in America, founded in 1820.  David will guide our wine platelet tour through France, and explore the vibrant wine tastes of the country to find the differences of regions, the grapes, and provide you will an understanding of how these wines partner with foods, and how wonderful they are on their own.

David is also the director of the Wine Workshop, America’s leading series of fine and rare wine tastings and dinners and hosts at least fifty wine events a year for corporate and private clients. David has done guest sommelier spots at Bouley, Le Bernardin, Daniel and Per Se and has developed tasting events for many great winemakers such as: Christian Moueix, Jean-Guillaume Prats, Paul Pontallier, Sebastiano Rosa, Leonardo Raspini, Olivier Krug, Michel Chapoutier, Jacques Lardière, Veronique Drouhin and Erwan Faiveley

Our Wines Menu:

  • Doyard Cuvee Vendemiaire Brut Champagne
  • Crochet Sancerre Croix Roy Loire Valley 2010
  • Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran Burgundy 2010
  • Mittnacht Freres “Gyotaku” Alsace 2010
  • Roilette Fleurie Beaujolais Burgundy 2011
  • Gros Frere et Soeur Hautes-Cotes-de-Nuits Burgundy 2009
  • Clos Magne Figeac Saint Emilion Right Bank Bordeaux 2008
  • Moulin de Tricot Haut-Medoc Left Bank Bordeaux2008
  • Mas Champart St Chinian Languedoc Roussillon 2008
  • Gour de Chaule Gigondas Southern Rhone 2007
  • Benoit Roseau Syrah de Rosette Northern Rhone 2011

Our Food Menu:

  • Chicken Liver & Pancette Crostini
  • Shrimp Salade with Champagne Beurre Blanc
  • Grilled Salmon with Cherry Tomato BBQ Sauce
  • Classic French Chocolate Cake