I don't know about you, but when I think of cycling, I think of the Tour de France. And when I think of the Tour de France, I think of our trip to Paris which is less than one month away! As you know from this post and this post, our Wednesday and Thurdsay in Paris are set, but the other days have remained wide open. Until now - with more time on my hands post-tax season, we've started filling in the planning gaps.
Île de la Cité
On Monday, I think we may walk from the hotel to the Île de la Cité and take a look around the Notre
Dame. Lisa mentioned a great place near there for ice cream, so perhaps we'll have to check that out too! From there, we'll hop on the open bus tour and get a comprehensive look around. That evening, we are going to get desserts from Patissierie Carette and watch the Eiffel Tower light up in the night sky.
We are leaving Tuesday morning open so that we can visit things we enjoyed on our bus tour from the day before. That afternoon, we have planned a trip to the Musee Rodin and a stroll through the beautiful sculpture gardens. I read an article recently that talked about alternatives to dining in museum restaurants that can sometimes be crowded and overpriced. The author suggested that you pair a tour of the 250 plus sculptures with a stop at Cafe Verenne for steak frites and creme brulee. Sounds perfect!!
While there's still some planning left to do, I feel like we are finally getting there. Lately, I've been trying to focus on finding "the best of" when it come to dining in Paris. There's so many categories to choose from - the best hot chocolate, the best steak frites, the best macarons, the best French onion soup. My favorite category of all is "The Best Croque Monsieur." I adore that sandwich!!! The blend of salty ham with ooey gooey cheese on perfectly crisp bread covered in a rich creamy bechamel sauce - heaven! I have not tried to master this dish - mostly because if I do, we won't eat anything else, and I'll gain 100 pounds - but I order it every time I see it on a menu.
Last night, inspired by all of this talk about Croque Monsieurs, I started looking around for recipes. And while I didn't see any that jumped out at me, I did find this recipe for Croque Monsieur Mac and Cheese which sounds like a fun interpretation of this classic sandwich. I have a feeling this dish would be a huge hit at your next pot luck supper!
2 cups milk
2 cups coarsely grated gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 large eggs
3 slices white sandwich bread , roughly diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces thinly sliced deli-boiled ham
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ziti and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl; toss with 1/4 cup milk.
Meanwhile, combine both cheeses in a bowl. Beat 1/4 cup milk and the eggs in another bowl; fold in the bread and add half of the cheese.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until just brown, 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, cayenne, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt; cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Slowly add 3/4 cup water and the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk; bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk to cool slightly. Whisk in the remaining cheese, then add the pasta and toss.
Butter a shallow casserole dish. Add half of the pasta, top with some of the ham and cover with the remaining pasta. Top with the remaining ham, then cover with the bread mixture. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before serving.