I went to Paris last week for a day. Have I mentioned that? Pretty sure I have, just once or twice!
I have always had a serious case of wanderlust. Nothing pleases me more than exploring new countries and new cultures. I think it stems from growing up in the UK as an Iranian girl in a majority British village where no one actually knew that a country called Iran existed.
As a small child I used to wonder where my family heritage came from and if Iran was really a place. It may sound bizarre but we didn’t and still don’t see it in the travel agents windows, or on TV adverts as a wonderful place to escape too despite being the 18th largest country in the world and 2nd largest in the Middle East.
Iran wasn’t part of any history curriculum whilst I was at school yet most of us now know the history of the Persian empire and Alexander the Great’s conquest.
In today’s society Iran is shrouded in political opinion and evokes fear and uncertainty in people. Yet Iran through the eyes of my family is quite a different place, not too far a cry from people’s perception of Persia. More like ‘cream cakes and rose gardens’ than ‘rice and desert land!’
My Dad and Uncle tell me stories of the bazaars, the mountains they used to Ski on, the sea’s, the sweet cream cakes as big as your hands and the Kabob as juicy and delicious as anything you have ever tried.
Before we had our little one, my husband and I spent all our spare pennies on travel & music. If we weren’t visiting a new European city in any given month we were going to a gig, a concert or a festival. Our ticket book is bursting at the seams and I love that!
Our little man already has itchy feet for exploration and we have taken him to a few different countries and I can’t wait to start showing him more.
The thing I love about visiting new places is not sitting in a 5 star resort enjoying being waited on hand and foot (my hubbie disagrees) but I love soaking up the culture, hearing the noise of the country, seeing the colours and tasting the food. Food is so intrinsic to a country’s culture and never far from religion. It inspires. It nourishes. It makes you smile from within.
Anyway, back to Paris. I sat just outside the Latin quarter with a dear friend, we listened to a wonderful musician who had such spirit that he found a unique way of bringing his music to the masses. He used a keyboard, a bike and a fish tank. His music was so mesmerizing that we sought out a coffee shop near by to listen and watch. I had a cup of java and let the sound wash over me whilst watching people stroll round, stop, talk, kiss, smile and hold hands. Not the Paris I went to in December with my husband a few years ago. That Paris was freezing, dark and beautiful in an entirely different way. This one felt like the promise of summer was everywhere.
We moved from one cafe to another and in the final one of our trip I enjoyed a glass of Sancerre and a beautiful Praline Muille Feuille. Every single sense was in delight!
This was crisp, nutty, creamy and immensely satisfying. French cuisine is so revered and for good reason. It made me think about Persian food . My food. I get inspiration from so many different places and that little cafe outside the Latin quarter was the most recent.
Persian cuisine is said to be the oldest in existence and has given inspiration to so many different cultures and food staples. This time I’m taking some from Paris and adding a Persian essence to it. Enter my Cardamom & Orange Blossom Muille Feuille!
Cardamom & Orange Blossom Muille Feuille
Shop bought Puff Pastry (as making your own takes forever and shop bought taste’s just as good)
600 ml of double cream
1 tsp of ground cardamom (I always grind my own as the flavour is stronger)
1 tsp of orange blossom extract
3rd of a cup of icing sugar
pistachios to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 180′ (fan assisted)
Cover a baking sheet with a layer of parchment and sprinkle sugar over.
Lay a sheet of pastry on top and sprinkle with sugar.
Cover with another sheet of parchment and a place heavy baking sheet on top. (I also weigh mine down with a large lasagne dish!)
Place in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove and leave on a wire rack to cool.
When cooled very carefully remove the parchment and slice into matching size rectangles.
When completely cooled make the cream filling.
Add cream, icing sugar, cardamom and orange blossom to a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Add to a piping bag (if you want it to look pretty, otherwise just spoon it over) and pipe onto the first layer of pastry. Place a sheet of pastry on top and repeat once more.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate.
Enjoy with a strong cup of Persian Chai. Nooshe Jaan!