Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Take a Ride on the Orient Express and Sample a Dining Car Recipe via Cleo Coyle



This week marks Dame Agatha Christie's 124th birthday. To celebrate, I thought it would be fun for us all to take a (virtual) ride on the VS Orient Express.

I can't imagine a better host for our journey than David Suchet, the award-winning British actor well known for his depiction of Agatha Christie's brilliant creation Hercule Poirot


To begin our trip,
click the arrow in the window below...


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The original Orient Express began operation in 1883. During a time when travel was often dangerous and difficult, this luxury rail line carried passengers in elegance and comfort. Sadly, with the development of jet airlines and high-speed trains, the original Orient Express was forced to close its famous Paris-to-Istanbul line in 1977 and, in the years following, closed more lines until it ceased operation completely in 2009.


View the VSOE video here.

But all was not lost because a private firm stepped in to resurrect the spirit of the line. Now known as the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, this rolling museum uses the original, gorgeously restored carriages of the Orient Express, dating back to the 1920s and 30s. Running from London to Venice and to other destinations in Europe, the train also covers that historic route from Paris to Istanbul. 


View the VSOE video here.

What would it cost for a ride?


London to Venice (2 days, 1 night) would come to over 3,000 (US dollars) per person.

London to Paris (1 day) is much more economical at 1,000.00 (USD) per seat. On the other hand...

Paris-Budapest-Bucharest-Istabul (6 days, 5 nights) would set you back a tad more: 9,000 (USD).

To plan another real or virtual journey, click here, and have fun!


View the VSOE video here.

What would I eat? 


The first menu on board the original Orient Express (October 10, 1882) featured oysters, soup with Italian pasta, turbot with green sauce, “chicken à la chasseur,” fillet of beef with “château potatoes,” chaud-froid of game animals, lettuce, chocolate pudding, and a buffet of desserts.



What about today’s passengers?

Chef Christian Bodiguel serves European cuisine that is fresh and local with ingredients that are taken on board at stops along the route. "Look out the window, and you may spot the chef inspecting lobsters from Brittany, tomatoes from Provence or saltmarsh lamb from Mont St Michel...."


To read about the gorgeous decor of the VSOE's restaurant and bar cars, click here.


View the VSOE video here.

Chef Bodiguel of the
VS Orient Express

Recipes!


The train's chef shares recipes, as well. And one of the recipes, he shares is the subject of my post today. 

This classic French dessert originating from the Limousin region of France. Chef Bodiguel describes it as one of his favorites...

Photo by Cleo Coyle




Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
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Individual Black Cherry 

Clafoutis with Kirsch

A recipe by the chef of the VS Orient Express, Christian Bodiguel. Slightly adapted for an American audience with photos by author Cleo Coyle


Note from Cleo: Although, at this writing, cherry season is over in the USA, frozen cherries will work fine for this recipe. See my note on how to use frozen cherries right below the list of ingredients. Of course, you can also substitute another fruit. Fresh berries will work wonderfully in this recipe, and I'll be posting another adaptation in the near future. In the meantime, may you eat (and travel) with joy! ~ Cleo

INGREDIENTS:

1 to 1-1/2 cups whole black cherries* (more or less, to your taste)
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon whole milk
4 teaspoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons kirsch*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon + 1-1/2 teaspoons melted (and cooled) butter
1/3 cup powdered (aka icing) sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour


*Ingredient substitution notes. (1) CHERRIES: Fresh is best, but out of season, you can substitute frozen cherries. Place them in a colander, run hot tap water over them briefly and drain well before proceeding. (2) KIRSCH: Kirsch is a strong, clear, cherry brandy. If you don’t have kirsch on hand, substitute another brandy, or white rum. If you’d rather not use alcohol, substitute more milk or cream or cherry juice.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and generously butter four 4-ounce ramekins or other small oven-proof cups. De-stem the cherries and remove their pits. Roughly chop them. Divide the cherries into the four buttered ramekins or oven-proof serving bowls. 


In a mixing bowl, whisk up the egg, and egg yolks. Add the milk, cream, kirsch (or substitute), and vanilla, and whisk well. Whisk in the melted (and cooled) butter. Now whisk in the powdered sugar, making sure its fully dissolved. Finally, whisk in the flour. The batter will be loose. Divide it up evenly among the four ramekins, pouring it as you see below...


Place the ramekins directly on the oven rack. Bake for about 30 minutes. 


Serve lukewarm with whipped cream, a dollop of cream cheese frosting, or a scoop of ice cream, and...






Eat with joy!


~ Cleo Coyle


New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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17 comments:

  1. Cleo, another deliciously informative post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen - Cheers for dropping by the Kitchen; I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

      Delete
  2. What fun Cleo--let's take the whole MLK gang on the big trip, now that you've whetted our appetite! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucy/Roberta - Wouldn't it be wonderful if our entire MLK group (and a portion of our readers) could board the VS Orient Express for a murder-mystery-foodie adventure? I think we'd leave an impression (and hopefully no bodies).

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

      Delete
  3. Wouldn't it be wonderful to pack period clothes and go for a ride?!
    One question on the luscious recipe--You show pouring the mixture over the cherries but you don't actually say to do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Libby - I took the words right from you in my reply above, YES, that would be a fine bucket list adventure, wouldn't it? (Love the period clothes idea, too.) On the recipe, thanks for catching that. Blogger ate the line, and I put it back thanks to your sharp eye. As always, it's a pleasure to see you in the Kitchen. Have a delicious week!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

      Delete
    2. And the video is really impressive and informative. (Although I must admit to not being a fan of Agatha's Hercule character.)

      Delete
  4. Happy birthday, Dame Agatha. What a great way to celebrate!

    I was surprised to learn that the PeruRail train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the route through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu, is operated by VSOE. It is a luxurious train, although not anywhere near the ones in the photos above.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen - A luxury train trip to Machu Picchu sounds good to me! And you must join us in our VS Orient Express travel plans. Mystery Lovers' Kitchen deserves to travel in style, don't you think? :)

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

      Delete
  5. Loved it! So sorry the Orient Express ceased operaton...another lifetime, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patricia - Thanks for dropping by today! And do not despair. While the original line is no more, the VS Orient Express is running the same route with gorgeously restored carriages that ran on the original line in the 1920s and 30s, when Agatha Christie rode it. If you have time, take a look at the video embedded in this post. I think you'll see how exciting a ride it would be--and in *this* lifetime (which is helpful since it's all I've got)!

      Thanks for dropping by the Kitchen. Come on back again...

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

      Delete
  6. I love cherries and I've always wanted to go on the Orient Express. I would have loved to experience that back in AC's time. Wow! Thanks, Cleo.

    Daryl / Avery

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daryl/Avery - Thanks for dropping by today. This was a fun post to put together. Agreed, in AC's time, the original Orient Express was clearly an amazing ride--although travel back then had its perils, too. I'm so glad the original carriages from Christie's prime were salvaged, restored, and put back into use. And cheers to the crew who keep it running, a testament to crossing borders of space and time.

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

      Delete
  7. That looks SO good. I wish there was a way to make it non-dairy. My daughter is lactose intolerant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle - If you need a non-dairy version for your daughter, I'll put my little culinary gray cells to work and try to blog a dairy-free version. If you'd like to experiment yourself, try substituting almond or another nut milk for the whole milk and full fat coconut milk for the heavy cream. In place of the butter try a neutral oil. You will change the flavor profile a bit, but it will still (no doubt) be delicious eating.

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

      Delete
  8. That's for the fun reminder of our Orient Express trips - the first from Paris to Venice and the second from Venice to Stockholm. The train is every bit as amazing as the pictures and the food was 5 star all the way. And all from a kitchen the size of a master closet :-) The vintage clothes sounds excellent - except we were staying another 2 weeks in Europe and wanted to travel light. Not to mention there was precious little room for a lot of formal clothes in your cabin - we dressed one at a time because there was very limited floor space. We met people who took the train frequently (ah to be rich! or the exchange rate was more favorable) but most were like us where it was a special occasion-we've-been-saving-for-this event.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fascinating post. Cleo! While I have not taken this Orient Express, I traveled the Orient Express route by train (as I recall, the route is called Orient Express) in my own little homage to Agatha. Great fun but much, much more ordinary than this train!

    ReplyDelete