15 March 2009

Sat night dinner

We did our shopping yesterday morning at the marché du President Wilson, a several block long outdoor market a few blocks away from the apt open Weds and Sats (more on the marchés to come). We came home with the key ingredients (pictured) for dinners for the week.

Last night we had an exceptionally fresh merlan brillant (a whiting, or a fish of the same family as cod and haddock), which I scaled and filleted and pan seared, serving over sauteed fresh morrel mushrooms and an intensely emerald green coulis of watercress. I love the combination of fish and mushrooms, a surf-and-turf of a sort, and the cresson was the perfect accompaniment both for flavor and visual interest. I wish I'd thought to take a picture.

Though it was especially satisfying to have had good fish at home (we've never found a reliable source of truly fresh fish in Philly), there were 2 minor setbacks last night. First, I learned that most of my pots I brought from home don't work on our brand-new induction cook top. I guess I wasn't really paying attention when Madame C. explained she'd be replacing the cooktop that was there when we saw the apartment in Feb, so the induction part didn't sink in. If I'd realized, I'd have brought more of our cast- and enameled iron and less of my heavy aluminum. D'oh. Second, while cleaning up after dinner we accidentally dumped the stock I made from the fish carcass for a future seafood risotto down the drain. Double d'oh. Guess I'll just have to go out and buy more fish. I'm hoping to find skate sometime in the near future.


  1. Here's something I found occasionally useful.

    French butchers cut meat differently than US butchers. My stepdad was a butcher so I spent plenty of time in the shop yet it still took me a while to figure out what was what.

  2. Robert,

    Thanks for the fish translator. It's hard enough to find consensus in English names for fish, so I'm sure this'll come in handy.

    Before coming over, I'd found several butcher charts comparing French and non-French cuts. Many of those are British, which are different yet from US, but I've at least got a basic handle. For sure, the meat flavors are a bit different, too.

  3. You're welcome. BTW, "lotte" is monkfish. Yum.

    French butchers tend to use chopping cleavers where we would tend to use saws.

    I certainly think the meat flavors differ, but I'm interested in what you've noticed.

  4. I've not eaten so much meat here yet that I've put my finger on how exactly they're different, but generally I've found the flavors to be stronger here than similar meat in the states. This is most noticeable in lamb, which is considerably gamier (more distinctly sheepy) than in the US. Not sure if that's lamb age, diet, meat aging, or other. I had what was specified as milk-lamb at Racine's, and that seemed milder/closer to what I get in the US. Haven't seen where the lamb I've had here is sourced. If it's NZ, presumably it's the same basic thing we get in the US?

    I also thought the cote de porc I cooked here was deeper in flavor, though I have not tasted much of the more marbled/flavorful breeds recently more available in the US. The flesh was redder here, and I thought it a little less sweet, more savory, than pork in the US. That's an N of 1, though: 1 butcher, 1 preparation, 1 tasting. We'll see.

    I've not eaten any beef here. We don't eat it very often, but when we do we make it count. The beef we get in Philly from our butcher, particularly their own dry-aged bone-in delmonico (or chuck for stews), is simply outstanding, so much so that I haven't ordered beef out in the US in almost 10 years. I've not yet had a craving here, but when I do I'll try to find a similar provider.