The first thing we will do at Chez Bateau is check the larder, and then drive down the south side of the causse to the nearest supermarche for provisions.
Chez Bateau's sunny little kitchen is well-stocked and we will likely find staples like pasta, rice, coffee, tomato sauce and olive oil. We will also find a cupboard that is completely stocked with essential kitchen tools and utensils. We will take our time cooking, and if the weather is fine, dine out by the pool overlooking the vineyards.
In Paris last year, we made do with a few cutting boards, a bread knife, a steak knife, a colander, skillet and sauce pan. Not so at Chez Bateau!
"How would you stock a French kitchen?" a reader asked me last winter. I thought about that for a while, then came up with my list of French kitchen essentials. These few items would do, I think, and keep my kitchen from becoming too cluttered
Pots and pans: A skillet, a sauté pan, sauce pan, roasting pan and stock pot.
Utensils: A good set of knives, a large whip, a small whip, a strainer.
Tools: Corkscrew, herb scissors, mortar and pestle, pastry bag, pie weights.
Miscellaneous containers: Large bread bowl, two smaller bowls, colander, souffle dish, tarte pan or pie plate.
Nice to have: A banneton, a French bread pan, an egg basket, a copper bowl for egg whites.
There are many, many other "essential tools," but these are the ones I have found to be the most useful and have collected over the past several years. Each time I go to Paris, I vow to find a mortar and pestle, which is the only item missing from my list.
With these tools, I can prepare the soups, salads, soufflés and stews that remain my favorite French dishes. And I can make baguettes and boules when the baking urge strikes. Did I mention tarte tatin?
What's missing from the list? I want to hear from you!