Lucky that our flight to Paris from Boston was 36 hours after the blizzard of the year hit New England, we touched down at De Gaulle Airport in perfect weather. Whew. Then, we hit something worse than a blizzard: the baggage handlers at De Gaulle Airport. Thirty minutes went by, then an hour, then another 30 minutes: still no bags. The Air France officials were quite helpful: “Not enough containers.” We began making friends with the other frustrated passengers. Finally, a full two hours after landing, our suitcases appeared on the conveyor belt. As I learned from our taxi driver, 10,000 bags had been abandoned at the airport during Paris’ own weather-related turmoil. Still, it took us longer to get our luggage than it took to drive from Amherst to Boston!
At our small apartment rental, my husband and I started to set up our computers. His connected right away, but mine met with a glitch. Two hours went by (a familiar time frame) and several emergency phone calls were made to the States. I, famished and not wanting to panic, went out to buy dinner.
At a favorite bakery I bought a crusty pain de campagne and a ficelle aux lardons (a thin baguette studded with bacon). Next I picked up cheeses –a smoked chèvre, a slice of Roquefort, and another of Comté (a buttery cheese that looks like Gruyère). At a charcuterie, I purchased perfectly roasted potatoes and steamed winter vegetables. Finally, at the local grocery, I found beautifully trimmed lamb chops packaged with pats of beurre aux fines herbes and some flageolets, those light green, kidney-shaped beans that complement lamb so well, but have yet to find their way to our grocery shelves.
Back in my tiny kitchen, I quickly sautéed the chops, topped them with the herbed butter, and reheated the vegetables and beans. At that moment, my husband announced that I was again on line! Our delicious, but simple dinner tasted even better, causing the travails of our voyage to vanish completely! We finished with cheeses and bread, and remembered why we love to come to France, baggage or no baggage—for the food, of course.
Beurre Aux Fines Herbes
For my version place 4 tablespoons of softened, unsalted butter in a bowl; stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (a combo of tarragon, parsley, and chives with an emphasis on the tarragon). Add 1 to 1 1 /2 teaspoons white wine vinegar to balance the sweetness of the butter and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well with a fork. Roll into a log and cut into rounds to serve atop sautéed, grilled, or broiled lamb chops.