Another week came and went and the Smalls came back after a moving and unforgettable trip to the World War I & II sites in Normandy and Northern France.

They arrived Friday evening and treated us to a lovely dinner at Comme Chai Toi. We’d been there just two weeks earlier and enjoyed the freshly prepared market menu and the cozy, kitschy atmosphere with rock and roll albums lining the walls.  This time, not on Whole 30, we thoroughly savoured some wine (the first after 30 days!) and the delicious desserts.  Jane and I had very tasty and perfectly prepared Cornish hens stuffed with foie gras and pears.  My first time eating Cornish hen and it won’t be my last.  Another reason I love France – exploring new foods.  A great restaurant with views of Notre Dame, delicious food and good service – overall excellent value for money.

We got up early again (no weekend sleep-in for us!) and drove out to Reims, the champagne region to taste some champagne, of course.  We arrived at Veuve Cliquot as soon as they opened but with no reservation, we were unable to get on a tour/tasting.  We tried another champagne house nearby – also no luck – they were full.

I was shocked that in mid-October these places were all booked up but then again, I always forget that that’s how things go here.  Everyone seems to be doing exactly what you want to be doing at the same time and since you neglected to plan… bad luck for you. It kills spontaneity.

This is where the revolving door, money-making machine-type places come in handy because with tours of 20+ people going every half hour, we got a spot at Pommery.  It wasn’t our first choice because we’d been there before, but the art installations made the second visit less boring.  We did so many tours last time and there’s only so many times you can learn about first and second fermentations.  It was enjoyable and having a glass of champagne at 12pm made it all worth it.

Lastly we visited a small champagne producer that we had stumbled upon last time.  The owner’s wife was very generous with the tastings, which we all loved. We even found the spot in their guest book we signed over a year ago!  And of course we didn’t leave empty-handed.  Six more bottles and a magnum to add to our collection. David had resorted to storing boxes under the bed and behind the couch, sprinkling treasures of liquid gold throughout our place. When we have to move from here we sure hope we can take these all with us otherwise a lot of drinking will be had.

Later that afternoon, we busted back to Paris to enjoy an early Canadian thanksgiving dinner made by yours truly.  I had planned ahead knowing our day trip plans and made most of the side dishes in advance the day before.  I spent Thursday making the sausage stuffing, roasting the sweet potatoes, poaching pears and roasting nuts for the salad, and preparing the Brussels sprouts.

For this special meal, I decided to go to a butcher to order some turkey.  I had given up on ever roasting a whole turkey when I realized how damn expensive they are here (over 100 euros) and usually only available near American thanksgiving. Plus there is no way I’d ever fit a whole bird in my pitifully small oven. So just like I did at Christmas , I planned to get the turkey leg and thigh piece and a breast.  Those are the best parts anyway… Not much is left after that.

The selection at Monoprix was limited and they only sold skinless, boneless breasts.  When I asked the butcher there about ordering some breast with skin on, I was told it was ‘pas possible‘.   I figured a standalone butcher shop could make it happen. But I was wrong, quel surprise! I had to settle for a skinless breast and thigh/leg which I didn’t see until I picked it up the next day.

I had asked the butcher for a large leg.  When he talked on the phone to his turkey dealer, he repeated “un tres bon, grosse cuisse” – it got me nervous but really how big could it be?
Well I’d love to see the bird that thing came from.  First off, the breast was not of normal size – weighing a hefty 1.7kg, I had to cut it in half and save one half in the freezer.  I split the other half-open, stuffed it with stuffing, tied it in twine and enrobed it with Italian pancetta.

But the real shock was the thigh/leg combo – holding the 2kg joint revived memories of the intro to The Flinstones where their rib topples over their stone car.  I needed two hands to hold that thing up.  Well the turkey dealer certainly delivered his grosse cuisse and I learned to be more specific next time.

Once we got back, it all went in the oven, (which never preheated to 350F properly) and I started fretting over temperatures.  Temperature of the oven. Temperature of the meat.  Using my three different thermometers, of which neither I really trust, I somehow got the everything cooked plus all the sides warmed up.

We started with a poached pear, caramelized pecan, blue cheese salad and after the main, had a 4-cheese course (a la Francaise) and a Merveilleux de Fred for dessert while playing Cranium.

We are very thankful – family, friends, each other, our health, and our life here in Paris.  Really couldn’t ask for anything more.


Just a gal who left Canada and her career behind to discover the world, develop herself and find her passion.

About Author

My name is Emilia - I love versatile trips! You might find me at a trendy new restaurant one night, but the next day you're just as likely to find me at a local market sampling exotic foods. I'm open to just about anything when I travel and I want to encourage you to be open too!