Hemingway once wrote of Paris as a moveable feast, something that stays with you even long after you’ve left. This particular memoir resonates with me so well. There’s just something about Paris; the romantic streets, incredible food, beautiful sights. And that’s not to mention the mesmerising duck eggshell blues and greys which paint the city’s rooftops. It is the only city in the world that I don’t find depressing when it rains or the skies are grey.
A few weeks ago you might remember me gloating about a trip to Paris I was going on with some of my girlfriends to celebrate my 25th brithday, and what a gloat-worthy weekend it was. We’d eat croissants for breakfast, steak for dinner and macarons in between. We walked the river Seine, wandered antiques markets, struggled up the stairs of the Sacré-Cœur, strolled the pretty streets of Montmartre and St Germain, and rested our tired pieds in the city’s parks and botanical gardens.
We drank fantastic wine, dipped in and out of boulangeries, fromageries, creperies and patisseries, bar-hopped along Rue de Lappe and most impressively, navigated our way on the metro without getting lost.
After the weekend was up I felt a little emptiness inside, a longing to be back in the country’s sexy capital. I had been officially seduced by the delights so many experience in this magical place, and London just didn’t seem to make the grade anymore. Ok, I wouldn’t quite say that I had Paris Syndrome, more like holiday blues. But as a result and wanting to reunite our group as a way to take us back to that weekend, I invited them over for an evening of cocktails and French fare, without having to jump on the Eurostar.
To dress the table I picked out wild flowers and arranged them in spare jam jars tied with red twine. I decided to finally make use of the miniature milk bottles that have been collecting dust on my shelf and turned them into name holders. It was all very Pinterest and totally not suitable for dudes.
I took some inspiration from here and printed these cute menus. Seriously, if you haven’t checked Design*Sponge out before you should. I want to live in that website it’s just so awesome/pretty/generally rad.
You can’t see it in this shot, but I made ridiculously good/potentially lethal cocktails with St Germain, a delicious elderflower liqueur and très très French. I mixed it up with Champagne and set a copy of the recipe with the favours placed to the left of the plate, a thank you to my friends for being so wonderful. Aw. I’m cheesy.
Now onto the food. Wanting to keep in line with bringing a slice of Paris to the table, I stuck to a simple, crowd-pleasing yet utterly French menu. First mussels were served with a crusty loaf accompaniment and wedges of lemon, followed by a heart-warming cassoulet of chicken and Toulouse sausages. For dessert I kept it light/almost cheated with this apple tart recipe doused in vanilla cream. I’m talking all kinds of delicious.
Simple cooking, delicious food, fantastic company. What a night! And yes, I have accepted that the reality of having dinners like this every week may not be all that likely, but then I must keep in mind that the city I’ve fallen so deeply in love with is only 2 hours away. Until next time, mon amour.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 white onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
A couple of bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme
150ml white wine
150ml crème fraîche
Handful of chopped parsley to garnish
Clean the mussels by washing under cold running water and removing any barnacles and beards. Discard any mussels that float or remain open once tapped.
Melt the butter over a medium heat and add the onion, garlic, bay and thyme. Cook until the onion becomes slightly transluscent, then add the white wine and the mussels. Cover the pan and turn the heat up. Cook for around 3-4 minutes shaking the pan to help the mussels open (discard any that remain closed). Stir in the crème fraîche and garnish with parsley.
Serve with crusty French bread and lemon wedges.
– FIN –