Ciopinno. Bouillabaisse. Cotriade.
Odds are that you recognize two out of three of these fish stews. Cotriade, maybe not. Ciopinno was created by Italian fishermen who had migrated to San Francisco in the mid-1800’s. It’s a tomato broth stew loaded with fish sourced from the Pacific Ocean. When you visit the City by the Bay, it’s a must-try.
But if you’re in Marseille, walk over to the old port where their world-famous Bouillabaisse, a Provençal fish stew, is the speciality. What sets traditional Bouillabaisse apart from others is the Provençal herbs and spices used in its broth with an assortment of bony Mediterranean fish.
Cotriade, my French Fridays recipe choice this week, is a traditional, coastal fish soup originating from the French province of Brittany. It’s the staple that Breton fishermen made aboard their boats while at sea for days or, maybe, weeks. The secret (and, filling) ingredient here is potatoes. In Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook, she entitles this recipe, Simplest Breton Fish Soup.
After a 1,053-mile road trip to California this past week, I arrived safely in Cambria, picked up keys to my rental house and literally dropped my bags in the garage. Then I dashed eastward to Templeton where I found all the necessary Cotriade ingredients at Trader Joe’s and Pier 46 Seafood. (Not mentioning that it was an additional 50-mile roundtrip – food blogger-journalist-deadline – a crazy combo.)
Although their are only two main ingredients added to the broth, fish and potatoes, the onions, shallots, garlic cloves, celery and leeks add flavor and depth. A Bouquet Garni, salt and pepper, are all the spices you need but I also added saffron. Love that aroma and taste. What Dorie suggests also is a red or white wine-based vinaigrette to drizzle over the fish before it’s served. Unique, delicious with the drizzle and a wonderful first-night dinner.
Although I’ve been vacationing in Cambria with my family for the past eight years, this is only my second winter here. Cambria is a drowsy, quaint seaside village of 6,000 people, primarily retirees, located on the spectacular central coast and sitting among a native stand of Monterey pines. If you want excitement, stimulation and élan, if you will, Cambria’s probably not for you.
It’s a good choice for me, perhaps, and here’s why. Cambria is everything that Aspen is not. Two years ago when I had the responsibility of recreating my Life, the realization was I better get it right. Me being me, and, that’s not always good, I gave myself a year to do it. That deadline thing, you know. Two years later, I’m still tweaking, the plusses, minuses, the want-to-do’s, forget-that’s and what-was-I-thinking’s?
I love Colorado and the whole crazy, invigorating and challenging Life I lead there. Aspen is home and friends and organizational commitments and social activities. I visualize Cambria, amusing as it may seem to you, as a sabbatical, retreat, time-out and rest. A period to be selfish with my own time and be quiet. Do you get that? It’s almost anti-American to want to be alone, isn’t it? Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading my blog as I take you along on my winter adventure. Solitude does not translate to boring, I promise.
French Fridays with Dorie is an international group cooking it’s way through Around My French Table. To see what my colleagues made this week, go here. If you want a copy of this week’s recipe, Simplest Breton Fish Soup, go here.