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Taste of Tuesday with Francine LaSala

1/7/2013

Francine LaSala1. Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods (ie cheese or
chocolate)?
I’m going to have to savory for the most part, with the occasional sweet tossed in.

2. Red or white? (wine obviously)
Sort of in love with both, but it really depends on the time of year (I’m more about the red in the wintertime) and what I’m eating…or if I’m eating. Because if I’m meeting a friend out for a glass of wine, white for sure. Sancerre at the top of the list, Chardonnay as a last resort.

3. Do you have a favourite food memory?
How Proustian! I do tend to connect food with pleasure a lot so this was tough. Probably at the top of my list was on my honeymoon. My husband and I went to the Caribbean and one of the stops was St. Barts. If you know anything about St. Barts, you know you’re not getting a cheeseburger in paradise” for less than 40 bucks a pop, so we decided to splurge on something special instead. We had lunch at a small cafe right on the dock. A crisp bottle of Sancerre (naturally!), a yummy green salad, and a small platter of grilled sardines, which, from that part of the world, are just to die for. That silly, decadent “snack” of a meal cost us over 200 euro, but we’ve never regretted it!

4. Does food feature in your novel(s)?
In the excerpt I’m sharing, a luscious food brings back a wonderful memory. I haven’t done as much of this
incorporating food with fiction as I’d like, which is odd because I’m a real foodie. And others have done it so well, especially Eileen Goudge. Maybe for the next book!

5. What recipe are you sharing with us and why?
I have never made a chocolate mousse as exquisite as the one Jack whips up for Mina (in my excerpt), but I have made a fair amount of crème brûlée. As it’s still French, I think the Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée I’m sharing with you here is good substitute! You don’t need a torch to make crème brûlée but I have to say, it’s much more fun with a torch. This one (from Epicurious.com) just calls for broiler in your oven but it’s still fun to make–and much more fun to eat. Especially for romantic dinners. Enjoy! 🙂

Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée
Makes 8 servings

2 cups whipping cream
2 cups half and half
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 8 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Bring cream and half and half to boil in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Whisk yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain. Divide custard among eight 3/4-cup custard cups.

Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are set, about 50 minutes. Remove from water; chill 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat broiler.

Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon sugar. Broil until sugar turns golden, watching closely to avoid burning, about 3 minutes.

Refrigerate until custards are set, 1 to 2 hours.

(From www.epicurious.com, first printed in Bon Appétit March 1996)

The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything - Francine LaSala - CoverExcerpt From The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything

by Francine LaSala

“Come on, take another bite,” he urged.
She squished the chocolate around in her mouth as more images started popping up for her. “We were sitting in a cafe. A cafe on the river. A man was…juggling?”
“Yes…”
“And then, another man, he drew our picture?”
Jack now had tears in his eyes. “Hang on, I’ll be right back,” he said, and he jumped up from the table and headed for the basement. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. “Keep eating!”

Mina took the spoon in her hand and stirred the smooth mousse around on her plate. The cafe. The river. The juggler. The painter. All as real for her as the mousse in her bowl. All a part of her, now coming back.

Jack raced back into the kitchen, a package under his arm. “What about the painting? Anything coming back to you about that?”
“It’s not a painting, is it? A caricature. Yes, that’s right.”
“And….”
She closed her eyes. She smiled. “We’re wearing formal wear, hanging from the Eiffel Tower like King Kong and Fay Wray… A tuxedo on you. A wedding gown on me. My hair pulled up in bun. A beaded bodice…”
Jack produced the package, carefully wrapped in brown paper, and tore it open for her. “Is this what you see? Is this what you remember?”
The drawing was exactly as she had remembered it, in all its comic absurdity. “He made me King Kong,” she pouted.
“You were a little curt with him. I think he was getting back at you.”
“Ah,”she said, and she stared at the drawing, the first stirrings of her memory finally returning. She noticed a necklace drawn around her throat and pulled the image toward her to take a closer look.
“What is it?” Jack asked, and Mina absently clutched at her throat.
“A pendant,” she said. “A dragonfly?” Jack looked panicked and tried to snatch the drawing back, but she held on to it too tightly. “My necklace?” she asked, the fingers of her other hand at her throat as if the pendant was something she always wore and had suddenly lost without realizing until now. “What happened to my necklace?”
Jack was silent. He looked away.
“What?”
“Sweetie, I’m sorry. I can’t tell you that.”
“But the dragonfly. It means something. Something important, I’m sure. The other day, in the park. In my notebook. I started sketching a dragonfly. It means something to me.”
“Dr. Barsheed….”
“Forget Dr. Barsheed. I need to know. Jack, please. I need to know why.”
Jack took her face in his hands and kissed her gently. “You’ll figure it out. I know you will. But not now,” he said, and he kissed her again. “Try and stay focused on Paris, on what you remember.”
Mina sighed. “Our honeymoon. The hotel. La Villa Maillot. The room key with the red tassel. The odd golden wallpaper in the room. The tiny bed…”
Jack pulled her close and kissed her more passionately now. “Yes, the bed. Let’s hear more about the bed,” he whispered, his hot breath on her neck seeming to melt her clothes away.
“We spent a lot of time in that bed, didn’t we?” she said, and she pulled him in to a deep sensuous kiss. “We didn’t see much of the city at all, did we?” she said, and then gasped as he ran his lips across her ear, the edge of her chin, the side of her neck.
“We’re not going to make it to the bed,” he said, and he lifted her off her chair and carried her into the living room, where he lay her gently on the floor. She looked up at him as he kneeled over her, unbuttoning his shirt, then helping her out of hers and her bra.
He lay down next to her, running his fingertips up and down her exposed torso, gliding across her breasts, gently grazing her nipples. “Oh Mina, you’re so beautiful. Do you know that? Look at this body of yours. Look how amazing you are.”
He rolled on top of her, kissing her with equal parts tenderness and passion. Hungrily, he peeled off the rest of her clothes and his and she nearly exploded when he entered her. The whole time he lay nearly flat on top of her, their faces, their mouths, never apart. When they finished, Jack brushed the tip of her nose with his soft lips and collapsed next to her.
“I miss you, Mina. I just love you so much.”
They lay on the floor, fully entwined, for what could have been minutes or hours more, the warmth of their bodies and their deep affection negating the need for cover of any kind.
“Let’s finish the wine,” Jack said, and jumped up to retrieve the bottle and glasses.
“So are you going to tell me about the mums?” he asked when he returned, a playful lilt in his voice.
“I don’t know why I did that,” she said. “They just made me so angry, all smugly sitting there without my wanting them.”
“Flowers make you angry.”
“Apparently,”she said, and sipped from her glass. “But I think it’s just those. Just the mums. I hate mums, don’t I?”
“You do.”
“Why? Why do I hate them so much.”
“I can’t tell you,” he said, and she rolled her eyes, “I can’t tell you because I really don’t know. Never have. Just one of those things.”
“Huh,”she said.
“So,”Jack said, and drained his glass. “You want to finish the job?”
“What do you mean?”
“Come on, let’s grab our jackets,” he said, and they threw on their coats over their naked bodies.
The next thing Mina knew, they were outside, garden shovels in their hands.
“Mums, listen up! You have irritated my wife by your…smug…?” he looked to her for confirmation and she nodded. “Smug commandeering of our garden. Prepare to die!” He dove like a madman into the flower bed and began uprooting the offensive, oppressive red and orange blooms with his shovel.
Mina began to laugh uncontrollably. “Are you going to make me have all this foul flower blood on my hands alone?” he said, and she kneeled down and joined him, as they dug wildly and laughed raucously.
Within five minutes’ time, the deed had been done. The patch of flowers was restored to a patch of dirt, and Jack and Mina collapsed on the grass in a fit of giggles.
“Fuck you, Witmore,” Jack yelped, holding up his shovel for emphasis. “Fuck you and your fucking mums!”
Mina glanced up and saw Esther’s bedroom curtains rustle shut. For a moment she was embarrassed, but Jack broke that by leaning over and kissing her again. He started to run his hand up and down her body, stopping between her legs, but Mina, knowing Esther was watching, grabbed his hand and held it.
“Inside,” she said, nodding with her eyes to Esther’s window.
Jack shook his head. “That nosy old bag spoils all the fun,” he said.
Mina helped Jack clean up the kitchen and they headed up to their bedroom. They took a shower together to rinse off the guts of the mums and slid into bed.
They made love twice more before drifting off into a deep sleep.

Comments

Jackie Bouchard
1/8/2013 12:24:24 am

Great post. I LOVE chocolate creme brulee. I make it for the hubs every Valentine’s Day. (And he loves to play with the torch… We use a torch to brulee them – more fun than the broiler!)
Reply
Monique
1/8/2013 12:44:03 pm

I love creme brulee so I will definitely give this one a go. I don’t even know why I like it because I generally don’t like custards…

Thanks to Francine for sharing!

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