Two Days (Two Weeks) in Europe + A Delicious Way to Like Brussels Sprouts

My trip to Basel lasted just over two weeks, and during that time I got approximately two days off. One was spent seeing a bit of Switzerland, and one was spent in Strasbourg, France. Let's start with autumn in France, shall we? (I spared you photos of the cramped, computer-filled conference room where I passed most of the trip . . . you're welcome!):

Café in Autumn, Petite France, Strasbourg

waiting. chiyuki!! petite france the best bike picture i've taken in a while Another View from Pilatus In switzerland, you can eat a giant plate of melted cheese for dinner!! mesmerized
along the rhine it's one of those cathedrals that just kind of sneaks up on you. detail, cathedral door, strasbourg. me at the café , kind of. inside the strasbourg cathedral, stained glass. marzipan thingies, french style je t'aime, peugeot!

France is the best. We had been searching, without luck, for a decent croissant all over Basel, which is JUST over the French border. Once we arrived at the train station in Strasbourg, my colleague Chiyuki and I binged on the first bus-station croissants we saw, and they were life-changingly good. I am NOT even kidding. Switzerland was nice, too. My days off were enjoyable, the rest was interesting but tiring. I am glad to be home.

. . . And home to all the super-American-autumn-harvest-feels-like-a-pilgrim food that lures you right up to Thanksgiving. To welcome me back, the thoughtful and talented Chris made my favorite pumpkin pasta one night, and another night he cooked thyme-basted duck breast à la the North Fork Table and Inn and my new favorite brussels sprouts recipe, which we picked up at the Greenmarket. It's adapted from Second Helpings from the Union Square Café by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano (and I'm eating the leftovers as I type this!):

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Herbs
Serves 4

6 oz. bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
1 lb. brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed - larger sprouts quartered, smaller sprouts halved
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano, sage, or thyme (we used thyme)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Cook the bacon in a large ovenproof saute pan over medium heat until the fat is rendered, 6-7 minuts. Toss in the brussels sprouts and stir to coat. Add the chosen herb, salt and roast in the oven, stirring now and then during the last half of cooking, until the sprouts are tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, stir in the lemon juice and pepper, transfer to a warm platter, and serve.

Meyer and Romano say that back in the day, a side of brussels sprouts was a dependable way to kill sales of a dish, but that they have noticed they are now winning people over. As for me, I DESPISED them until recently, when I discovered that it was not the sprouts but (sorry Mom) my mother's way of cooking them that was to blame. Poor sprouts: for all these years I blamed you!

PS - Thanks for all your Basel suggestions! In the end I had little time to knit, and even less time to explore. But I never could have guessed how many of you had passed through that city. And your comments did make me appreciate what a yarn mecca NYC is!

Posted by jess at November 14, 2008 12:41 AM | TrackBack

Strasbourg looks wonderful! I've never really thought to go (not sure why not...) but now I'm tempted. Switzerland's a funny old place, eh? You should go back to the mountains in the summer though, it's breath-takingly beautiful. Even in the summer though I don't much rate Swiss food.

I'm loving brussels sprouts recently too! Can't wait for chestnuts to come back into season - stir-fried sprouts with chestnuts and herbs is just the best.

Posted by: jane at November 14, 2008 2:19 AM

i loved all of your photos from your trip! still, only two days off?! that bites :( i hope you're able to get some good time off over the holidays!

Posted by: gleek at November 14, 2008 9:22 AM

France IS the best. And Strasbourg looks wonderful, indeed! I'm glad you at least got a little time to explore, even if it wasn't nearly enough.

Posted by: Jessica at November 14, 2008 11:26 AM

When I was a teenager, we lived above a cafe (in Strasbourg, obv) that baked its own pastries. Sometimes the smell woke me up before dawn, and I would lay in bed drooling. And then my dad would break down and buy assorted pastries for the whole family :)
Your pictures totally bring me back! *sigh*

Posted by: Veronique at November 14, 2008 12:54 PM

I love brussel sprouts! Thanks for the recipe. Glad you had a good French experience =)

Posted by: frogginette at November 14, 2008 3:18 PM

glad you back on the blog- i truly enjoyed your photos on flickr already, since i havent been in switzerland for over a year, it was nice to see photos of that side of the world ( well i am not from basel... am more south- from the alps..)
no decent croissants in basel? really? i would have thought there should be nice once since it is so close to france... but then the swiss like keeping to themself ;)

Posted by: asiye Ivedi at November 14, 2008 4:51 PM

Having just harvested 300ish brussel sprouts I was in need of a new recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Knittripps at November 14, 2008 7:53 PM

That's pretty much how I make Brussels sprouts myself (will add the dash of lemon next time!) - I will find myself craving them intensely, mouth watering. It miiight be the bacon. ;)

Posted by: PlazaJen at November 15, 2008 5:57 PM

thanks for all the beautiful photos...and I really want one of those chataigne pralines...oh nummm

Posted by: karen at November 16, 2008 5:59 PM

Nice trip!!
I have always had a strong dislike for brussels sprouts until I had these.......
First you peel all of the leaves off the little sprouts (have someone else do that!) Then you heat up 1 part butter, 1 part maple syrup and 1 part whiskey. I used scotch. Then you just saute the leaves in the mixture until the leaves whilt to your liking and eat. Soo good!

Posted by: Les at November 21, 2008 7:39 AM

haha, brian was the same way about asparagus. he thought he HATED them in general but discovered after tasting some i prepared that wait a sec, HE LOVES ASPARAGUS! he just hated the way his mom always made them. ;)

another quick brussels sprouts recipe. get a pound of sprouts. halve them, toss them in some extra virgin olive oil. salt and pepper to taste. spread them out on a baking sheet. chop up some kimchi into bite size pieces and kinda sprinkle them in on the pan along with the sprouts. bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes until tender.

got the recipe from martha stewart and is quite nom.

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Posted by: Men Jordan3.5 Air Max Fusion at February 22, 2012 2:26 AM

Brussel sprouts offedned me as a child. So bitter! I'm not sure if its my tastebuds that have changed, or whether sprouts have become milder, but I don't actually mind them now!Those look particularly delicious!

Posted by: Susie at October 20, 2012 7:30 AM
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