Last week of January my mother and sister came to visit us. This is their third time visiting me in France but the first 2 times everyone was so busy with our wedding that we didn’t have the time to show around a lot, except Bordeaux -which is where we live- and Nantes-where my husband’s family lives, also the wedding was there-. People usually do it the other way around, most first time visitors usually prefer going to Paris. Which is understandable, because I mean, it’s Paris! However, I think if you have the chance and time, visiting other cities in France before Paris is a better idea.
Nearly everyone who visits Paris for the first time says something between the lines of “people were so rude”, “you can see that they understand English but didn’t respond to us” etc. Let’s face it, Paris is always filled with huge amount of tourists and it might be annoying sometimes if you are a local trying to get on with your day. I’m not saying that this justifies being rude but it’s the same case nearly in every big city in the world. So I would suggest first visiting other cities if you tend to succumb to your prejudices easily :p
The last time my mother visited Paris was in the 90’s and it was a first time for my little sister. So we tried to do all the Paris basics (as fast as we can since we had just 2 days!) inevitably. Notre Dame, Conciergerie, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Sacré Coeur and Montmartre then finally, Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysée. We had such a great time! Hope you like my not so professional photos 🙂
The first time I came to France to meet my husband’s family, it was Christmas time. I was already quite stressed as I was going to meet my in-laws for the first time, but the fact that they were French and did not speak English at the time and that this was going to be the first time I celebrate Christmas (we don’t celebrate Christmas in Turkey) were raising my stress levels enormously. Luckily I was able to speak a bit of French and my husband’s family was very welcoming and everything turned out to be great in the end.
The reason why I’m talking about my first Christmas is because that was the day I ate Coquille St. Jacques (scallops) for the first time; an (unofficial) French Christmas staple. Now I don’t know if Coquille St. Jacques are eaten throughout France in Christmas time but most families that I got to know do, so I give myself the right to call it a staple :p
From its very decorative presentation in a shell to its rich creamy taste, coquilles St. Jacques was a coup decoeur for me! I didn’t dare to do it on my own before because I thought it was a bit complex. I decided to give it a try because my mum came to visit us last week. (Also we forgot to ask my husband’s granny to prepare for us in advance :p)
It turned out to be much easier than I first thought, and they were super yummy! However, of course, it still cannot beat the ones granny does -even though she gave us the recipe!- I guess perfection takes lots of year of practice 🙂
To realise this recipe you will need;
3-4 scallops per shell/person (you can use small plates if you don’t have shells), I used around 12 for four people
Around 200 grams of mushrooms
1 medium or 2 small shallots
As much as parsley as you want (thanks for the precision granny!!)
1 glass of dry white wine
1 spoon flour
40 grams of butter+a bit for cooking vegetables
First thing to do, if you bought your scallops with their shells, is to separate them from their shells and clean them in cold water. I got mines already washed and separated so I skipped this step.
Next, you need to fill a pot with cold water and add the scallops. Start heating the water and watch it carefully while you’re doing the other steps- you should take the scallops out 3 minutes after the water starts boiling. This is really important as they will get really hard and elastic like if you cook them more. Save around 1 wine glass of the cooking water for later.
In a pan, melt the butter and add the diced shallots, sliced mushrooms and minced parsley. Fry them until cooked.
Meanwhile, you can dice your scallops.
In another pan melt 40 gr of butter then add the flour to make a “roux”. When it’s done, add the wine and cooking water. Boil for 2 minutes. (You may need to adjust this step if it’s too dry, you can add a bit more wine and cooking juice if needed.)
Add the cooked mushrooms and shallots to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then add the scallops and stir again.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Distribute the combination into scallop shells or small oven dishes and sprinkle with some breadcrumbs. Add a tiny bit of butter on top of each before putting into the oven.
Keep your coquilles in the oven approximately 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs turn golden. Bon appétit!