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Planning a Trip the Eating & Drinking Way

Getting ready for a très français dinner party!

As luck would have it, we’re planning a trip to London and Paris for later this fall (I know, spoiled, right?!) and we’re busily getting various ducks in a row for said trip (or not so busily, because life seems to be zipping by more quickly than ever right now!), and I must say that the best part of the process is reaching out to our friends for recommendations and thoughts on planning.

For some magical reason, I happen to know a lovely and generous couple who hail from those exact places — she’s from France and he’s from England — who are also both in the hospitality industry. I ask you, who better to shepherd us to all the bestest, rightest things to eat, drink and pretty while we’re there?!

When I pitched them with the idea of getting together, they graciously agreed to come over for dinner and share their thoughts, and so a date was set and the planning of a menu was begun and our home was readied for an evening full of all things French and English and delicious.

But, what to serve? Menu planning was a bit of a challenge, as Seattle is currently cusping from Summer to Fall. A particularly problematic, transitional time of year both for getting dressed and for planning menus, as far as I’m concerned: it’s hot, no it’s cold, no it’s windy, no it’s rainy. So hard to find the “just right,” Goldilocks solution to so many things that are so rapidly changing… don’t you think?

At any rate, after much backing and forthing, I settled on this:

Course 1
Rillettes (recipe courtesy of the always amazing @davidlebovitz) with cornichons and dijon

Radishes with a big ol’ slab of European butter and sprinkled with Maldon Salt (if you have the time and are curious, there’s a fascinating little essay you might want to peruse on the history of said salt on the Bon Appétit website!)

Fresh baguette (from @macrinabakery, of course!)

Course 2
Daube de Boeuf (a truly “arsenal-worthy” recipe from one of my favorite all time books, Cooking for Mr. Latte by the rockstar @amandahesser, formerly with The New York Times and now helming Food52 ) which requires a bit of time management and planning but is TOTALLY worth it (not even kidding… you may never make any other beef stew recipe again!)

Egg noodles fancied up with some compound butter and lots of fresh, chopped parsley

Course 3
Plum Cake (another “arsenal” recipe that comes from the Deb “the Delightful” Perelman of @smittenkitchen!) served with gently sweetened, softly whipped cream

And wine, of course. LOTS of wine. Our friends brought Schramsburg, which went perfectly with the first course and then we opened a beautiful bottle of Chinon (which I picked up at the très charmant French wine bar Cépaé in Bellevue) to go with the Daube. We finished with the beautiful Plum Cake and coffee, followed directly by crowding around the Top10 Paris Guide they had thoughtfully brought with them and my trusty ol’ Plan de Paris from visits past to trade ideas, make notes and plan notre visite à Paris. 

And that, really, was that (unless you count that washing up). So with bellies full and hearts bursting with gratitude, we found ourselves a tiny bit closer to having a proper travel agenda and happily crawled into bed to, as the French so charmingly put it, “make beautiful dreams.”

Bonne nuit!

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9 Comments on "Planning a Trip the Eating & Drinking Way"

  • Mike says

    That sounds amazing!

    • Darlin Gray says

      It really was!! Nothing like great recipes to set a dinner party on the proper course.

      • Mike says

        Looking forward to hearing about your trip when you get back!

  • Ursula says

    So did you get any amazing insider tips for Paris and London after that incredible meal? Can you share?

    • Darlin Gray says

      Yes, Ursula!! I’m still working through all the great suggestions and will be more than happy to share.

  • Jeffrey Smith says

    Such great food. Can we do it again this weekend?

    • Darlin Gray says

      So says the eater of the food and the washer of the dishes. Must have been pretty darned good if you’re on deck for another marathon dishwashing session!

  • Michelle Goerdel says

    Both are places you could spend a lifetime and never see all the wonderful nooks and crannies. I believe we walked at least 50km in 3 days in Paris and probably triple that on our week in London. I’m assuming you’ve already got comfy, broken-in shoes : ) It sounds like you already have the itinerary handled so I won’t add anything (except the display of amazing books and documents in the British Library is well worth the time and no one seems to go there- Book of Kells, the Magna Carta, and a Shakespeare portfolio all in one place!)

    • Darlin Gray says

      Ooooo! Thank you, Michelle! Yes, hoping to get lots of walking in so that we can eat our way through both cities without breaking the scale. Haven’t been to the British Library for many years and will definitely check it out while we’re there!

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