Think about your best friends and the first time you met them. Was it at work? At school? On a bus? I have a dear friend, Kim. For those who have heard me speak of her, you may think her name is Myfriendkim. She lives in Michigan which is way too far away. We met the very first day of pastry school, in Paris. Everyone was nervous and waiting for orientation to begin. There were about seven Japanese young women, a Turkish woman, another from Brazil plus a few Americans. As we waited, we made our hesitant introductions to one another. When it came to her turn, she told the group. "I'm a mom and I want to learn how to bake. I've stayed at home, planned vacations, and I love to eat bon-bons". She was honest, sweet and had a killer sense of humor. I had to get to know her.
At the end of the morning after we had been assigned our uniforms and lockers, as we chatted, she asked if was in Paris alone. I told her, yes, and that was staying in a hotel about a 15 minute walk away. She told me that she had been to Paris several times and knew it well. We went back to class and as we were packing up for the day, Kim invited me to join her for dinner. She hates to eat alone. Little did she know that I had been glued to my hotel room for the past four days. I had terrible jet lag, a constant stomach ache and was still shaking off the fake taxi that had scammed me out of most of my cash. I eagerly accepted and we walked back from school to my hotel a few blocks away to change clothes & make a quick call home, then to hers and then to dinner. She had a knowledge of Paris that was amazing. We were going out to eat... at night... I had made a friend!
Where does the Carrot Salad fit in to this story you ask? Kim picked out the perfect restaurtant. Chartier. It's grand, yet casual. The waiters were bustling about dressed in black vests, white shirts and floor length aprons. I was awe struck. We talked and laughed about our husbands, dogs, families and our love of food. As we ate, she told me the history of Chartier. It was a workingmen's lunch room. The walls are lined with small drawers where they kept their napkins and forks. We ordered Carrot Salad as a side for our Steak au Poivre while we laughed and talked even more. After some much needed nourishment, the jet lag and stomach ache were gone and I was thrilled to be in Paris.
I've never forget that meal, or how I meant Kim.
This week's French Friday's with Dorie recipe is simple. Grate the carrots, add a quick dijon dressing/vinaigrette then toss with a few raisins. Our CSA box had a big bag of carrots last week. Orange, purple and yellow. They were a little tough to grate, and yes, I did knick a knuckle - shoot! The carrots were more like chips than grates. The salad is fresh, bright and a great treat for any lunch or supper.