Sometimes I think it is difficult to talk about a vacation when you first arrive back home. All of the emotions, memories, experiences are piled up on top of one another in your head and seem to be too much to process in a way that would make sense to other people. It takes some time to really let it all sink in, and for the truly memorable pieces to achieve focus so the stories can be told without all of the superfluous details.
And thus, I have not yet been able to discuss our trip to Paris/Dijon here on the blog. There were too many things to say. Now after being back for close to 2 weeks I am finally feeling the ability to put it all into words for you, so will be covering some of the important bits over a couple of posts.
To begin, I mostly want to discuss how truly lovely the French are. Almost every restaurant, bar, grocery store, shop, etc. that we walked into felt like our local neighborhood joint thanks to the warm welcome we received The shopkeepers would ask us questions, talk about our day, give us suggestions on things to eat or drink. Certain places felt so comfortable that you it was as if we were passing the evening at a friend's home. I can't get over the sense of warmth that the French seemed to constantly exude. How wonderful to feel so welcomed despite my dreadful attempts at their home language.
This warmth carried over to all of the food we were served: how can something not taste delicious when you truly feel that the proprietors of the establishments are so happy to have you there with them. The sense of pride in French food doesn't hurt, either.
There were many dishes that you would see on multiple menus throughout the city, but one that seemed to be on every single menu we saw was the goat cheese salad. Basically the French bread was sliced (and oh, god, the French bread really is that much better than the bread anywhere else in the world) and topped with goat cheese and then baked. This warm, cheesy "crouton" was then served on top of a salad. Simple as that.
When we returned home I knew this easy to prepare yet complex tasting salad must grace our table. My version was also inspired by our side trip to Burgundy by flavoring the dressing with sweet yet tart creme de cassis and Dijon mustard. The sweet and spicy dressing pairs so nicely with a rich goat cheese and figs over top of mesclun greens. I've come back a bit of a cheese snob and knew I didn't want the too mild, boring grocery store goat cheese, so bought a little Le Chevrot which had a little age and more depth. However, I won't judge if the grocery store variety is all you have on hand.
French Goat Cheese Salad
serves about 3-4
8-10 slices French bread
7 oz. Le Chevrot cheese or other goat cheese
6 c. mesclun mix
9-10 figs, thinly sliced
4 TB creme de cassis
2 TB Dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the goat cheese and place slices on each piece of French bread. Place the bread onto a baking sheet and bake until the cheese has become gooey and melted a bit and the bread is slightly toasted, about 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile place the mesclun greens and figs into a large salad bowl.
To make the dressing mix the creme de cassis, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Then toss the dressing with the salad. Top with the goat cheese toasts to serve.