One of my favorite places in the world is a place that I’ve never even been to – France. I have dreams of the French countryside and vineyards, visiting Paris at night, and indulging in French wine and cheese at a quaint bistro. Maybe someday I’ll get to live out my Parisian fantasies. For now, I’ll try to bring a taste of France to my own backyard this summer.
Since we do a lot of cooking and dining on the deck during the summer, my vision for a culinary visit to France wasn’t too hard to achieve. All I needed was the right ingredients and atmosphere! If a summer vacation abroad isn’t in the cards this summer, today I’ll show you how to bring a taste of France to your own backyard.
Set the table with French-inspired decor
Our table was set with French country style placements, a sunflower print dish to serve grilled salads on, and a chic cheese plate to be filled with small bites of bread, French cheeses, and strawberries. A ceramic statue of the Eiffel Tower was placed on the table, as well. Throwing a nighttime party? Place a few candles on the table to create a soft glow.
Play your favorite French music
I am a big fan of the French group, Air. Their electronica songs are breezy and easy listening. I recommend their album, Talkie Walkie. It’s one of my favorites! I also quite enjoy Vanessa Paradis (yes, Johnny Depp’s ex). She has some catchy tunes like, Be My Baby. It’s one of her English hits with a fun beat!
Drink French wine
I must admit that I haven’t tried too many French wines. Les Vins George DuBeouf were quickly added to my list of favorites after opening my bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé 2015. It’s a delicious Chardonnay that’s crisp with notes of almonds, pear, and peaches.
The George DuBeouf Beaujolais-Villages 2015 is a light-bodied red wine with notes of strawberry and black currant. You may also want to try Saget la Perrière’s Marie de Beauregard Vouvray 2015 (fresh golden wine with notes of pear, honey, lemon, and candied fruits) or Marie de Beauregard Chinon 2015 (notes of blackberry, cassis, and some woody notes, as well).
Make a cheese plate
No party is complete without a cheese plate and especially a French-inspired soiree! I really don’t discriminate when it comes to cheese, although I’ve never quite tried cheeses like this before. The Ile de France® brand sent me some fabulous cheeses to try.
As a huge lover of brie, the St. Andre® soft ripened triple cream cheese was, in fact, a buttery, “heavenly cheese.” It paired beautifully with the strawberries on my cheese plate and was delicious spread on slices of baguette.
The St. Agur Blue Cheese has all of the intense flavor you typically expect from a blue cheese. However, they make their blue cheese with cow’s milk, not goat’s milk, to give it a creamier texture. It was perfect on top of my grilled salad.
Cook with French ingredients
Believe it or not, you most likely have a lot of French ingredients already in your home. The French like to cook with different flavors and textures. So I made a crunchy grilled summer salad to pair with my creamy cheese plate.
It’s so important to season your food to bring out the flavor in dishes. La Baleine sea salt is environmentally-friendly, all natural, “white gold.” I am particularly enjoying the La Baleine Grey Sea Salt. It’s a very rare sea salt from the region of Guerande. You only need to use a little to really make flavors pop in a dish! It’s perfect for cooking or as a table salt.
Eat like the French
We all know that the French like their wine and cheese. But to eat like the French, you have to cook with balance. Offset those heavy creams and cheeses with lighter, fresher flavors and have a variety of textures in your dish.
The cheese plate I made has a nice balance of sweet and savory. The main course of Grilled Steak & Blue Cheese Salad bursts with different flavors, a lot of crunch, and finishes with a creamy bite of blue cheese. Dressing the salad with lemon gives it a wonderful citrus pop that’s perfect for summer.
Of course, like gracious host that I am, I wouldn’t leave you empty-handed. So I am sharing the recipe for my Grilled Steak and Blue Cheese Salad. This salad is tres magnifique! The variety of fresh flavors and textures in this salad will delight your guests! It paired very well with the Pouilly-Fuissé 2015 wine that I poured and mon petit cheese plate. Bon appetit!
- 2 heads of Romaine lettuce, halved
- 1 pound flank steak, sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 lemon
- St. Agur Blue Cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- La Baleine Grey Fine Sea Salt, to taste
- Prep all ingredients for the salad.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
- Add sliced mushrooms and the fresh sprig of rosemary.
- Saute mushrooms until softened and olive oil has been completely absorbed.
- Remove mushrooms from heat and discard rosemary sprig.
- Preheat grill over a medium flame.
- Season slices of flank steak with La Baleine sea salt and cook on each side for a couple of minutes. Then, remove from heat.
- Brush grill grates, drizzle Romaine lettuce halves, and place them sliced-side-down on the grill. Place onion slices alongside the lettuce.
- Cook for about a minute or until char marks are achieved and onions have softened (may take longer than the lettuce).
- Plate lettuce halves and squeeze lemon juice on top.
- Top with steak slices, rosemary-infused mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Crumble blue cheese on top, season with La Baleine sea salt and serve with more lemon halves.
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