I'll get to this deliciously light cake along with Mimi Thorisson's beautiful new book in a moment. I still need to think more about how to adequately describe just how much I love everything about A Kitchen in France. And how annoyingly jealous I am of her seemingly perfect life in her perfect French farmhouse!
Hubs and I decided early last week that it was time for a short getaway.....somewhere we could drive to, preferably to catch a little of the quickly fading fall colors. I had recently read about the Hotel Domestique in Garden and Gun. Since we had spent about 15 years on and off living in Greenville, SC we were familiar with the area, knew we could get in some great hiking and check out some old favorite spots.
Hotel Domestique was opened last fall by former professional cyclist George Hincapie, who served as a domestique, or "helper" for nine Tour de France winning teams in support of Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Lance Armstrong (before he was stripped of all those titles, so yeah technically he just rode for two winning teams.)
It situated beautifully at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains about 20 miles North of Greenville and has quickly become a destination for cycling enthusiast everywhere. Hincapie, himself, also schedules several group rides throughout the year if you're feeling frisky. I wasn't.
There are a total of 13 guest rooms that are warm and modern with flat screen tv's and really comfortable beds. I slept like the dead.
Breakfast is included in the price of your room and both days we were served a delicious three course meal.....it's more than I'm used to eating for breakfast every day, but somehow I did!! We also had dinner the first night at the on-site Restaurant 17 (I assume in reference to his 17 Tours) which I highly recommend.
My only complaint, if I have one, is that the restaurant bar doesn't open until 5:00pm, so if you'd like a drink before that you're SOL. We did have our own wine with us and it was no problem to take the bottle to the patio to enjoy.
We could not have ordered up a better day to get in some hiking. The temps were in the mid-50's without a cloud in the sky and the trees were stunning. We headed to Caesar's Head State Park to hike the Raven Cliff Falls trail which was about a 20 minute drive from the hotel. I'll let the pics speak for themselves!
After that we headed into Greenville for a late lunch downtown. In the 13 years we've been gone from Greenville, the downtown has really come alive. We couldn't get over how beautiful it was down along the river and all of the new restaurants, hotels and businesses. Simply fabulous. I could totally see myself moving back there!
We had lunch at The Lazy Goat right on the river and it was delicious. I highly recommend the Duck Duck Goat pizza!!
We also may have driven by the two homes we owned when we lived there! One of them is FOR SALE!!!
On our way back to Birmingham, we made a little detour into Athens, GA to eat at Hugh Acheson's restaurant, The National. It was a beautiful day to sit outside and enjoy this great little college town. I'm definitely hitting it up on game day to tailgate sometime.
Make sure you have the hummus to start and finish with the apple cake! To die for.
So back to this Pear Flognarde. Apparently flognarde means "soft" in the old Occitan language (whatever that is) and it's very appropriate for this cake. Light and delicious.
And, OMG, this book. If you're not currently subscribed to Mimi's blog Manger, do so immediately. She's beautiful, her husband (the photographer) is beautiful, their children are beautiful, their dogs......you get the idea. Bitch totally stole my dream life!! Minus the children part........
The recipes are quintessentially French, approachable and delicious. I can't wait to make them all.
Buy the book. Make the cake.
Here's the recipe:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the cake pan
6 medium pears, such as Bartlett
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dark run
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon honey
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter
Peel the pears, cut into quarters, and remove the cores. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the pears, sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and cook, turning them once until golden, about 8 minutes. Pour in the rum and simmer to reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, the remaining sugar, the honey, vanilla seeds, and salt and whisk until frothy. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and whisk into the batter, along with the flour and milk, whisking until smooth.
Scrape the pears and all of their juices into the prepared pan. Pour the batter on top and sprinkle with the brown sugar, Bake until puffed and golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack before unfolding. The cake will deflate gradually as it cools.
Serve warm or at room temperature.