4 years ago, while approaching our 25th anniversary (Yes 25th, we married very very very young) I said "Frank, for our 25th anniversary I want to go to the most romantic place on earth...figure it out" Lucky for me he didn't come up with Botswana or some such thing, yes he figured it out. As most humans I've always wanted to go to Paris, Frank not so much. I think that mainly has to do with the fact that he doesn't speak one single word of French. Not that I'm fluent mind you, far from it. My French consists of some vague memory of something I took in high school along with picking up quite a bit from the tons of French movies we watch, some tapes my sister-in-law Marta gave me once for Christmas and practising the needed phrases when we drive to Montreal which really isn't necessary since everyone in Montreal speaks perfect English. I figure all those stories people go on and on about referring to the French as soooo rude probably have to do with the fact that most Americans think everyone in the world should speak English and therefore refuse to even try. I however feel that if I'm visiting someone else's country I should at least give it a shot and try to communicate in their language, and trust me once the French hear my abominable pronunciation they'll switch to English immediately just so they don't have to hear the likes of me butchering their lovely language. But I digress; so off we went with much excitement and anticipation to visit the City of Light.
And it was everything it was cracked up to be and then some.
We couldn't be happier
We smiled all the time...and then of course there was the food
Any place we ate no matter where or what it was was just sublime. Whether it was at a high end restaurant or a neighborhood bistro or brasserie or the snacks we picked up at the local Monoprix, everything was heavenly. And how did we do with the language issue? My bad high school French got all our conversations started perfectly well and as I had predicted they immediately switched to English without hesitation or one ounce of attitude...except for the waitress at the excellent Chez Michel who was monumentally rude and even then she couldn't spoil the amazing food and Frank's incredible dessert, Far Breton. Aaah Paris! So since our current state of employment, or lack of, precludes us from going to Paris right now we can still try and duplicate it:
Far Breton adapted from Bon Appetit
5tablespoonsunsalted butter, melted, cooled
3/4cupall purpose flour
1cupsmall or medium-size pitted prunes (about 6 ounces)
1/4cupArmagnac or other brandy
Combine milk, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in blender jar. Blend 1 minute. Add flour and pulse just until blended, scraping down sides of jar. Cover and chill in jar at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Combine prunes, 1/2 cup water, and raisins in heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until fruit is softened and water is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Pour brandy over fruit. Using long match, ignite brandy. Let flames burn off, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer fruit to small bowl. Cool completely. DO AHEADCan be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper. Butter paper. Dust pan with flour, shaking out excess; place on baking sheet.
Reblend batter until smooth, about 5 seconds. Pour into prepared cake pan. Drop prunes and raisins into batter, distributing evenly. Bake cake on baking sheet until sides are puffed and brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
Place piece of parchment or waxed paper on flat plate. Sift powdered sugar onto paper. Run knife around cake in pan to loosen. Invert pan onto paper, releasing cake. Remove pan; peel off paper. Place serving plate over cake and invert. Dust top of cake with additional powdered sugar.
Does it taste the same? Of course it does. And what does Max think of Paris? Well when I told him that dogs go to the cafes and sit at the tables he's practising his bonjours!