I’m going to keep this post simple, short and sweet (although you can adjust the sweetness according to taste, obviously). I’m writing from a bright but warm apartment on the fifth floor of a house in beautiful Paris – and am having a gay old time (that’s the Marais for ya!). Matt and I have spent the day food shopping in Rue Cler and mooching about our local neighbourhood, which is by far the liveliest place to spend a Sunday as most of the shops in Paris are closed on the holy day, except here! No idea why.
We’ve languished in the awe-inspiring Place des Vosges along with hundreds of others: families with tiny babies and young kids, groups of friends – from the small and intimate to huge groups – trendy teenagers, glamourous couples and pumped up young boys kicking a football around (Matt was itching to join in and show ‘em how it’s done). There are several enormous fountains in the square and lots of people were having a splash around – mainly the bambinos – or else sunbathing around them. It was a very special day.
Many of the other parks in the city – I’m thinking mainly of the enormous Jardin des Tuileries – cordon off the grass, presumably to keep it lush and pristine, so it was a treat to be able to stretch out with our Kindles and a cheeky Amorino’s and enjoy the sunshine. It’s been such a hot few days!
Anyhoo, we’re back at the apartment now and feeling rather full after feasting on poulet rôti with mounds of cheese and salad. Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Poor deprived child is going without dessert?’ But feat not; there’s an enormous slice of Tarte au Cerise for later…and some more ice cream…it IS holiday after all! 😉 (Gosh, I feel so greedy when I write it down. I should really stop doing that.)
There are so many things we love about this country and food is obviously one of them. For some reason we tend to drink lots more coffee here than we do at home…maybe it’s just a ‘holiday’ thing…and fortunately Paris is really catching up with its gourmet coffee offerings. The typical bistros and cafes stick to the standard espresso, café au lait and café crème but there are numerous trendy little independent places (KookaBoora, Holybelly, Ten Belles and just a couple of doors down from us in the Marais, Strada) that offer specialist guest blends and take time over the texture and artistry of their Flat Whites, Macchiatos, Noisettes and Frappes. Hurrah say I!
Not only that, but we’ve also seen the hallowed Cold Brew coffee on the menu…at a considerable premium price, I might add. Matt thinks it’s a bit cheeky, but given the additional effort, time and raw ingredient needed to make cold brew, I think it’s probably fair. Have you tried Cold Brew Coffee before?
I first made it last summer after reading a few articles and it’s a real treat. The idea is, by brewing it with chilled water rather than hot you get the full coffee infusion but without any bitterness. You have to use more ground coffee compared to a standard brew, but it makes a really quality drink.
Matt invested in a specialist Cold Brew coffee maker via Kickstarter last year, called Bruer. It’s best to set it up the night before and leave it overnight to ‘brew’ in the fridge. It keeps well and is then available for whenever you want to make an extra special iced coffee. Alternatively you can use very coarsely ground coffee and mix it with cold water and leave overnight in the fridge, then filter through a very fine sieve when you want to drink it.
Here’s my recipe, using Chocolate Mint, which tastes exactly as it sounds – a chocolatey hit without the calories (but don’t worry, they’re made up for elsewhere).
- Large bunch of Chocolate Mint or standard Garden Mint – washed, leaves removed
- Cold Brew Coffee, or any standard strong black coffee
- Double Cream
- Caster Sugar
- Plenty of Ice
Begin by making some Chocolate Mint Sugar to sprinkle on top of the coffee. Simply add a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar to a pestle and mortar (or use a bowl and rolling pin) and tear approximately ten Chocolate Mint leaves on top. Mix and pound them together until the sugar takes on the lurid green of the mint. Et voila; chocolate mint sugar!
Next whip some double cream with a little of the Chocolate Mint Sugar until you have a nice soft consistency. Set to one side, as this will be used to dollop on top of the coffee later.
To make the iced coffee drink, muddle a good handful of Chocolate Mint leaves in a cocktail shaker (or else use a jug with trusty wooden rolling pin) with a teaspoon of caster sugar and plenty of ice. Add a cup of cold brew coffee and shake away until all the sugar has dissolved and the mint flavour has infused into the coffee.
Place a few ice cubes into your serving glass and strain the muddled coffee into the glass. Add more cold brew coffee to top up, depending on the size of your glass.
Pour in a dash, or so, of cream and stir. Then place a dollop of the minty whipped cream on top. Sprinkle with the beautiful Chocolate Mint Sugar and maybe a cheeky little mint leaf and serve, or consume, as appropriate.
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