Posted by: lisetta | June 8, 2008

Chez Alain et Hélène

Spending the last night in Paris with Alain and his adorable twins Gala and Lino lifted my spirits. Not only did our time together reaffirm my faith in the healing power of connected friendships that transcend space and time, but also in the joy and community that cooking for/with others brings. The only key ingredient missing from the evening was Hélène, who was, sadly, out of town for professional reasons!

The evening started out with music and play: drawing, reading, wooden trains, even flying …

How fun! As playtime winds down, Lino attends to parsley while Gala delves into the digital camera.

Gala offers to clean up after the guys make a mess with the parsley.

Lisetta starts the English training she’s promised, imagining a future where the whole family will sojourn in Phildelphia … a city sorely needing more talented French visitors (especially if they bring chocolate).

But what about the food, you ask? Alain, like me, has Italian grandparents, but he cooks in a decidedly French fashion, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I figure I can describe the food here because of his Italian roots. On the menu was rabbit (just what I was hoping for!), some pasta and a rhubarb rose tart. We sipped on orange liquor from Helene’s mother in Provence (similar to Italy’s limoncello), while Alain set to work on the tart and Dave chopped garlic, which was nowhere near as pungent as the Chinese variety we get in the States.

Alain browned the rabbit in oil, added the chopped garlic, then some preserved grapes and citrus from Helene’s family farm. Maybe he’ll comment below on how special they are! He let the rabbit cook a while longer and then added the parsley shortly before serving.

The handmade pasta, purchased from Eataly, was prepared simply in a butter sauce. Dinner conversation flowed with the wine; we lost track of time….and the tart! Have a look at the before and after shots:

The tart as cracker – crunchy yet chewy, and fodder for lots and lots of laughter!! The beauty of cooking for/with close friends is the knowledge that should anything go awry, it simply becomes yet another shared memory to savor. Thank you, Alain! I hope the next time we cook again is at my place.

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