Three Very Good Things: Squash and Coffee Soup, Lo Bak Go, and Honey Lemon Tea

{This is part of a series in which I share three delicious things recently tasted and enjoyed. Please feel free to share your 3VGT list in the comments below, or on your own blog!}

My latest “three very good things” are as follows:

~ Red Kuri Squash Soup with Arabica Whipped Cream

I was just in Valence for a work project, and had the opportunity to dine at one of Anne-Sophie Pic’s establishments: not the three-star gastronomic restaurant, but her chic bistro, simply called Le 7 (after the highway that runs alongside it!).

We had a wonderful evening and ate very well, and I was especially taken with my first course, a velvety soup of potimarron (a.k.a. Hokkaido or red kuri squash) served with a scoop of whipped cream spiked with Arabica coffee.

I had heard about another vegetable/coffee pairing that Pic does, partnering beets with Blue Mountain coffee, and this one works just as well, shaking up the sweetness of the winter squash with a measured touch of bitterness. Coffee is an underused ingredient in savory cooking; shouldn’t we all do something to change that?

~ Lo Bak Go

It’s become a bit of a tradition for Maxence and me to celebrate his birthday with dinner at our all-time favorite restaurant, Yam’Tcha*. The meal was spectacularly this year, as it always is, but the dish that stood out for me was course number three, which the chef, Adeline Grattard, introduced as her take on lo bak go, a steamed turnip cake that is traditionally made to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

I wasn’t familiar with the dish so I looked it up, and although recipes I’ve found out there call for dried shrimp and Chinese sausages, her version seemed to be mostly grated Chinese daikon bound together with rice flour and starch. It was also topped with a snowfall of microplaned truffle, which never hurts, but I was absolutely smitten with the unique texture of the turnip cake, soft and sticky and marvellously goopy, an effect only rice flour can achieve.

* Yam’Tcha will close at the end of February and until mid-May, while Adeline Grattard and her husband Chi Wah Chan attend to dining room renovations and family stuff.

~ Honey Lemon Tea

I’ve been knocked flat by a pretty bad cold for almost a week, something that hardly ever happens to me fortunately, and while my appetite had gone fishing, I held on to my mug of honey lemon tea for dear life.

I’m not talking about anything you can buy in sachets at the store. I’m talking about the good old-fashioned way of making honey lemon tea: a generous squeeze of lemon juice (bottled is fine if squeezing feels insurmountable), a teaspoonful of honey (I used a creamy spring honey we brought back from Alsace), and boiling water poured on top.

Stir to dissolve, go back to bed, and breathe in the steam until the beverage has cooled enough that you can drink it, and soothe your aching throat.

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