06 April, 2011

That first scoop.

I had to make a trip down the coast to Marseille to renew my daughter's passport. Really, it was very little duty and a whole lot of pleasure.  The weather played along, so we had the top down and I turned up the (freshly downloaded) songs I'd listened to when I was about ten years old, and we both sang the refrains at the top of our lungs.  Safety Dance, anyone?  
We had to come during the consulate's opening hours, which meant playing hookie from school.  Luckily, a lovely friend generously invited us to bunk at her place (that first image is taken from her terrace, and my daughter took the second image).
Once the regulation ID photos were taken at the photo shop, the hand raised ("do you solemnly swear...") and the papers signed, we were free to wander the city.  Said wandering of course involved a look-see of the Vieux Port, where locals come daily to buy their bouillabaisse ingredients.  I'm just too soft: the ornately, intricately colored octopus with their ageless, staring eyes made me sad.
After lunch at Le café des épices (at 4 rue du Lacydon, right next to the Vieux Port), which continues to offer a reliable, refined meal, we had the rest of the afternoon wide open.
We decided to climb up into the neighborhood called le Panier, or Basket.  Think of all that climbing you do to get up into Paris' Montmartre.  Same thing in Marseille's Panier.  And same working-class village kind of feel.  In the middle of the Panier is the 17th century edifice built for the city's very poorest, La Vieille Charité.  The four-story hospice buildings encircle a serenely baroque chapel with an egg-shaped dome, considered one of Marseille native Pierre Puget's masterworks. 
I think we could have lingered there all afternoon. We virtually had the place to ourselves.  Everything glowed and time just fell away. 
Since renovated by Le Corbusier, the tranquil hospice now houses a number of municipal museums, including the museum of Mediterranean archeology.  But instead of visiting the museums, we had ice-cream cones at the cafe in the square, it was that warm. Though the nights are still cool, it's been ice cream weather here at home, too.  I've even caught myself sweating in the garden--in my summer gear. 

This was a providential excuse for cracking open David Lebovitz' encyclopedia of ice cream, sorbet and granita recipes, The Perfect Scoop.  As I'm a fiddler, I did make some modifications to his green tea ice cream, one of which was a handful of chopped dark chocolate.  Enjoy! (And Delana, I promise the next recipe'll be light as a feather, in keeping with swimsuit season...)
Glace au thé vert et chocolat (Green Tea and Chocolate Ice Cream)
adapted from David Lebovitz

Doesn't serve nearly as many as you'd think.

1 cup (250 ml) milk
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
5 teaspoons high-quality matcha (green tea powder)
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100 g) dark chocolate, fairly finely chopped

Warm the milk in a saucepan with the sugar and salt.  Pour some of the cream into a bowl, whisk in the matcha thoroughly, then add the remaining cream. Place a fine strainer on the bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the warmed milk mixture.  Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Over medium heat, reheat the egg and milk mixture, stirring and scraping constantly with a heatproof spatula until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  The custard is ready when you can run a finger across the spatula and you can see the trail your finger leaves.  Pour the finished custard through the strainer into the cream and matcha mixture.  Whisk the strained mixture very vigorously to dissolve the matcha.  This can be difficult, but you can always strain the mixture again if necessary.  Chill the mixture completely in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions.    


  1. That sounds a fun way to play hooky. It's a lovely season down here, isn't it?. Warm but not too much, light and airy.

  2. What a wonderful day...and oh that ice cream looks just fabulous. The second photo is wonderful with the reflections:love it!

  3. Hi Sarah,
    Perfect, perfect weather indeed!

    Hello aneyefordetail,
    Thanks for the compliment! It really was a super day...

  4. Reading these posts makes me feel like I'm back in 'la belle France.' It sounds like it was a wonderful day. One of these days I need to see Marseille -- it sounds like a lovely city. (I love David's book!)

  5. Tammy, I have been posting some of your recipes on Facebook. People think I am a great cook (lol). I just like to eat.
    I am sure David will be happy with the changes you made to his recipe.

  6. Very nice, thanks for the information.

  7. Hello Charles,
    Well, I don't know, Marseille is more intriguing than lovely, though it does have its lovely nooks and crannies. What's annoying is that you do have to look for the good restaurants. They're there, behind all the low-rent, high-fat tourist joints...I think David did a really terrific job with this book--there are some eye-opening recipes in there.

    Hi Nadege,
    Fun on Facebook! (I think most of us, myself certainly included, are mainly motivated by our bellies/taste buds.)

    Hello rental elf,
    ...and thanks for visiting!


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