Lovely Lyon

Spring in Lyon, France // A Beautiful Journey

I fell in love with Lyon last weekend. Maybe it was spring. Maybe it was having time to getting lost. Maybe it was the amazing food. Whatever it was, I saw the city like never before.Spring in Lyon // A Beautiful JourneyAn endless line up of top-notch produits regionelle make Lyon an indulgent escape. It’s the gastronomic capital of France, so stop by the seriously mouthwatering Les Halles de Lyon where, hungry or not, you’ll want to have a gourmet lunch of quenelles or oysters or some local cheese and a Rosette de Lyon sausage for a picnic. After, stop at any shop for the sweet, bright red almond praline that you’ll see in every window. The croquant de amandes is delicious and the brioche sells like hot cakes.

FromageLyon2

Rosette de Lyon // A Beautiful Journey

Praline of Lyon // A Beautiful JourneyDespite being probably the most touristy place in the city, you can’t go to Lyon without a stop at a bouchon in Vieux Lyon. Rue Saint Jean is the place to be. You’ll find the same “Lyonnaise Menu” for about 15 euros at just about every restaurant, so take a stroll until you find the place you like best. We stopped at Les Paves de Saint Jean,where the magret de canard with honey and citrus sauce was amazing.  Don’t be alarmed of you are seated at a table with another couple or the decor is absolutely hideous…that’s the bouchon’s charm. And, save room for a crepe made by the sweetest monsieur on the street.

Lyon' s Bouchons // A Beautiful Journey

Crepes in Vieux Lyon // A Beautiful JourneyFor a relaxing retreat head to the Roman Theatre. Tucked in the hills about the city, the funicular drops you off just in front. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or a moment of peace. When you’re finished the Basilica is just up the street. Despite being overwhelmed with tourists it’s still a must see with the neo-baroque byzantine interior and the breathtaking views of the city.

Roman Theatre, Lyon // A Beautiful JourneyBasilica de Notre Dame de Fourviere, Lyon // A Beautiful Journey

melyonThere  is something about getting lost in a city, so go to Lyon to discover the corners and details instead of rushing from one sight to another. Take advantage of Lyon’s easy public transport (subway, tram, and busses) and find your own Lyon. If you’re out for the evening the Liberte Soiree Pass is a deal offering unlimited travel after 7pm for 2.80 euros, and for a day in the city the day pass can’t be beat at 5.20 euros. Add Lyon to your list!

Besos, Dianne

Hola Madrid!

Just one and a half hours flying past the Alps and over the Pyranees, escape to one of my favorite cities…
Hola Madrid! A Beautiful Journey
where breakfast is toast, tomatos, olive oil, café con leche, and orange juice
and windows filled with colorful gominolas in every shape and size imaginable…
Hola Madrid! A Beautiful Journey
where regal columns and lions guard the national congress, where Spain’s democracy was restored,
 and the sun washes the elegant streets and stautes of Cibeles…
Where noise, color, cañas and tapas are waiting to welcome.
Salut Madrid, so nice to see you again!
Besos, Dianne

French (ex-pat) Mac and Cheese

Expat Mac and Cheese

I grew up on the blue box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as a kid. It might have been the first thing I really learned to cook, and I can never remember a day that I wasn’t pleased to see that blue box on the counter. Living abroad a bowl of Kraft Mac and Cheese was hard to find, until my mom finally discovered the genius trick of sending me just the cheese envelopes, sans pasta and blue box. With a just little bit of butter, milk, and pasta suddenly a little package took me back to that taste of home.

French Macaroni and Cheese

I have to say with such fidelity to the blue box, actually making homemade mac and cheese never even occurred to me, it seemed time-consuming and obviously wouldn’t taste the same as what I was used to. But, living in France the world capital of cheese I started wondering how hard it really would be to whip up a homemade version with some of the fantastic French cheese I had in the fridge. It took me two years to finally get around to it, but making macaroni and cheese from scratch in the land of cheese has changed my view of mac and cheese forever!

So without further ado, here’s my easy ex-pat French Mac and Cheese.

(Adapted from Martha Stewart Meatless )

French Mac and Cheese

French (expat) Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pasta (Elbows, Shells, or Rotini)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, divided in ½
  • 2 ½ tbsp. flour
  • ½ tbsp. butter
  • Pinch of nutmeg and cayenne
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup parmesan, grated
  • ¾ cup Gruyere, shredded
  • ¾ cup Comté, shredded
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (rough, not fine, I put a chunk of an old baguette in the food processor)

French Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Cook the pasta as directed on package, drain and run in cold water. Pour into 9 inch casserole dish. *To save time, start the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
  2. In a small bowl mix together ½ the stock (1/2 cup) with the flour. Whisk until there are no lumps.
  3. In a sauce pan, melt the butter, stir in the spices and salt followed by the milk and remaining stock. Stir together.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the saucepan and stir quickly until incorporated. Cook on low heat, whisking frequently, for 10 minutes (keep an eye on it so the milk doesn’t boil over!)
  5. Add the cheese to the sauce. First stir in the parmesan until incorporated, then add the Gruyere and Comté until melted and smooth.
  6. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta in the casserole dish, stir until all the pasta is covered in the gooey delicious sauce.
  7. Sauté the breadcrumbs in ½ tbsp. butter or olive oil and season with thyme, pepper, and salt. Sprinkle the crumbs over the cheesy pasta, and add a little more thyme, salt and pepper.
  8. Bake the pasta for thirty minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbly. Cool for 5-10 minutes and serve with carrot sticks or a small green salad.French Macaroni and Cheese

Et, Voila! The blue box will always hold a place in my heart, but homemade French Mac and Cheese takes the cake with the creamy cheese and the subtle crunch of the toasted bread crumbs. Can’t wait to try it out with some of the other 365 French cheeses at the market!

Bon Appetite!

Besos, Dianne