Monday, October 15, 2012

France: 23 Hours in Paris - Pizza San Daniele

     We have taken other European cities by storm, arriving on a Friday and leaving on Sunday or Monday.  But with Paris, we have adopted another approach.  This has become our "go-to" city and with each visit, our fascination increases.   Despite less than ideal conditions, we managed another incredible visit to this magnificent city.

     As these visits are incredibly short, we have a fairly structured agenda:  arrival, museum visit, light lunch (for the parents), free time, dinner, sleep, departure.  Within three hours of our departure from home, we were standing at the entrance to the Musee d'Orsay.  Having purchased tickets online, we entered without a hitch and quickly made our way to the fifth floor without even taking in the magnificence of the museum itself.  A converted train station, the Musee d'Orsay sits on the banks of the Seine River and houses the most impressive collection of works from the Impressionist era.  Room after room, we were overwhelmed by the works of Degas, Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, and the list goes on an on.  Even with the growing crowds, to be in the same room with these works of art was truly spiritual.  I wish that I could be alone in one of galleries and just sit and look and absorb.

     Dear Daughter managed about 2 1/2 hours in the museum, which was better than expected.  Since it was lunch time, we headed to Le Petit Cler for lunch.  Rue Cler is an incredible street located close to the Eiffel Tower.  Cafes and stores spill out onto the mostly pedestrian only street.  It is a food lover's paradise and with each visit, I wish that I had a kitchen close by, which would justify all of the purchases I dream of making.  From the various tourists clutching guidebooks, I know that it has become a certain tourist attraction but it is still a quintessential Parisian street.  We visit the fish market, the cheese shop, the bakery, the wine store, the italian deli...all the while - our appetites increasing.

     We manage to grab a table at Le Petit Cler and enjoy a wonderful lunch.  Dear Daughter picks the flank steak and baked potato.  She loves the sauce that accompanies the potato and when I explain that it is sour cream (which she has always detested), she doesn't believe me.  Finally, she gives in and explains that it is French sour cream, so she likes it.  Dear Husband and I both get the plat du jour, which on Saturdays is Carpaccio.  Lovely thin slices of raw beef are dressed with olive oil and topped with arugula and parmesan cheese.  Scrumptious!

Rue Cler - Paris

     Our hotel is located next door.  It is hard to get a room for three people and this is one of the few on Rue Cler that can accommodate us. For a Paris hotel, it is cheap.   I call it the $250 Motel 6.  However, since we are only sleeping there (and it is clean),  it meets the requirement.  After a short break, we are back outside and the weather has changed for the better.  We walk over to the Eiffel and then back along the river to the Pont Neuf (new bridge).  We are booked on a one hour boat tour along the Seine.  It is a very touristy thing to do but we want to see the city from the vantage point of the boat and we want to see it all lit up as day turns to night.  Our boat was much smaller than some of the other tour boats, the commentator was engaging and we loved the next hour.

View of the Eiffel from the boat

     We finish the day at Restaurant Au Petit Sud Ouest.  This tiny restaurant located near Rue Cler and the Eiffel Tower, specializes in duck - foie gras, cassoulet, confit, etc.  We order 100g of foie gras as an appetizer.  Toasters are located at each table and with the foie gras, we are brought a basket of thinly sliced brown bread.  We toast the bread, spread on the foie gras and sprinkle grey salt over the top and then...devour it!   It is just amazing.  We share a plate of duck sausage, duck proscuitto, duck rillettes, while Dear Daughter literally inhales duck in a dark cherry sauce.  A wonderful end to a great day and shortly after the last bite, we all hit a wall.  We calculate that over the course of the day, we walked 7.5 miles and now, we need sleep!

     We sleep very well and wake up to banging noises coming from the street.  What on earth could be happening at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning?  We all try to ignore it but by 7:00 a.m., it is fruitless.  We are a little cranky over the wake up call until I look out the window and see the street coming back to life.  The was the fishmonger setting up for the day.

     Dinner on Sunday night - Pizza San Daniele

I love making pizza and have just learned how to make pizza dough.  I am still perfecting the recipe and technique and when I do, I will post the dough recipe.  For now, let's just concentrate on the pizza.

1 ball of pizza dough
1 package prosciutto, preferably San Daniele prosciutto
pizza sauce (I make my own but you can use a commercial version)
Grated mozzarella, parmesan and Monterey jack cheeses
Shaved parmesan

I own a pizza stone which works really well.  I prefer to make pizza on the grill but since it was raining last night, I had to use the oven.

Place the pizza stone in the oven and turn the oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit.  The stone should be in the oven for at least 10 minutes before cooking the pizza.

Roll out the dough to the size pizza that you desire.  We like very thin pizzas so I roll my dough pretty thin.  Use flour on the counter so that the dough does not stick.  I do not have a pizza board over here so once the dough is ready, I transfer it to a piece of aluminum foil sprayed with Pam so it doesn't stick.  You can use corn meal to keep the dough from sticking but I don't like the crunch of the corn meal in the finished product.

Spread the sauce lightly over the dough.  Again, we do not like overly sauced pizza so I keep the sauce fairly light.  Top with the cheeses and transfer the pizza (still on the foil) to the pizza stone in the oven.

Now, just keep watching the pizza.  Every few minutes, I rotate it so that it cooks evenly.  Once the dough has started to cook, I pull out the aluminum foil so the pizza continues to cook directly on the stone.  (This can be a bit difficult to do, which is why it is handy to spray the foil with Pam.)

When the pizza is ready, remove from oven.  Top with slices of prosciutto (don't cut up the slices - just plop them down on the pizza).  Top with arugula and the shaved parmesan.

Pizza San Daniele - on the well used pizza stone

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