April 24th, 2012

Crispy Herbed Goat Cheese on Strawberry Salad


Paris, from Two Sides

February 1973

The first time I visited Paris, I experienced it from its underbelly.

I was 18 years old, an exchange student living in Holland. My companion Jeff and I had planned to travel by train, making a two week loop through Germany and Switzerland before spending a week in the City of Lights. There, we were going to stay with a family, the Reliers, whom I had known in Nashville. At that time, they lived in Sevres, a Parisian suburb. I had mailed them a letter with details of our arrival. Impetuous youths, we embarked on our journey before getting confirmation from them.

Things went awry soon after we arrived at the Paris station, Gare de L’ Est. Immediately, we called the Reliers, but, alas, no answer. We made repeated calls–with the same empty result. It got late, and so we took a room at a youth hostel, simply called Auberge de Jeunesse. It was a cheap hotel, really. At 2 francs a night, it could be safely classified as a dump. We could stand it one night, we thought.

But, the next day proved to be more of the same: no Reliers. Where were they?

And, there was another problem. I had gotten a small burn on my index finger before we left Holland. As the trip wore on, that small burn showed signs of an infection. When I awoke that next morning in Paris, my hand looked angry and swollen. At the St. Louis General Hospital I was chided with a “Le petite boo-boo. C’est rien!” and given a prescription for antibiotics.

Days passed at the fleabag, with calls to the Reliers becoming a joke. My infection was worsening and money was getting tight. We spent our last francs at a doctor’s office, who took one look and immediately scheduled surgery. After my hand was lanced, drained, cleansed and wrapped, I was much better, but we were broke.

We wired home for extra cash. Jeff’s mom sent us a money order, via overnight air mail, to General Delivery at a Post Office near our humble quarters. In another twist, a strike by the French air controllers delayed the mail by several days.

Still, we managed during that bleak and strange week. We walked everywhere. We darted among the Notre Dame gargoyles. We sat on park benches, ate crusty baguettes and cheese. We cooked modest meals, and otherwise amused ourselves at the so-called Auberge de Jeunesse. Moreover, we discovered Travelers Aid, who lent us money until our special delivery arrived.


July 2004

When I traveled to Paris over thirty years later, I was curious to experience the city from the Up side of life.

Bill, Madeleine, and I had been visiting friends in Amsterdam. From there, we planned to take the bullet train to Paris, (3 hours, 18 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal to Paris Nord!) where I had booked our room at a respectable hotel in the 6th arrondisement.

It was an unseasonably cool July in Holland, blustery with rain. But as that sleek train sped towards France, the skies began to lighten. By the time we emerged onto the streets of Paris, the sun shone brightly. The wind had calmed. The city was golden.

Before we checked into our hotel, we stopped for a bite at one of the hundreds of lovely sidewalk cafes.

I ordered a salad of mixed garden lettuces, scattered with sliced strawberries, dressed in a sharp shallot vinaigrette. Placed on top of the salad was this crisp disc of goat cheese, still hot from the skillet, beginning to collapse and melt onto the greens. The simple combination of sweet and tart, chilled and hot, creamy and crisp, left me speechless.

The sun warmed the air where we sat. Summer in Paris. A spectacular salad. Another adventure. Life’s sweet balance.


With strawberries and young lettuces aplenty at the market, it’s a perfect time to make the crispy goat cheese.




1 lb. Plain Goat Cheese/Chevre Log
1 Egg
1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
1/2 c. Panko crumbs
2 T. fresh Thyme leaves
1/4 t. Salt
1/4 t. Black Pepper

Olive Oil—for frying
Heavy duty Skillet

Cut chevre log into 16 pieces. Form each into a disc shape.
Place flour into one bowl, and egg beaten with a little water into another bowl. In a third bowl, mix panko with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves.

Dust each disc in flour, then dip into egg, then dip into seasoned panko, pressing the crumbs lightly onto the goat cheese. Use the “wet hand-dry hand” technique. Use one hand to dip into flour, egg, and place in the bowl of panko—use the other hand to press the panko and remove.

Heat skillet on medium and coat bottom with olive oil. Cook goat cheese discs until brown (about 3 minutes) and turn over to brown on the other side.

Best served immediately over your assembled salad. Spoon over some Shallot-Honey Vinaigrette. Pretend that you are in Paris. On the Up side.



1/4 c. Shallots, cut into pieces
2 T. Honey
1/4 c. White Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c. Canola Oil
1/4 t. Black Pepper
1/4 t. Salt

Hand-held immersion blender

Place shallots, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper into immersion blender and pulse until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive and canola oils. Vinaigrette will become a smooth thick emulsion.


Posted in Egg/Cheese Dishes, Recipes, Salads

33 Responses to “Crispy Herbed Goat Cheese on Strawberry Salad”
  1. Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    Nancy, what you went through on your first visit to Paris was horrible. Nowhere to stay and an operation? It’s nice that you got to experience the city under different circumstances. It is such a beautiful city; one needs to have good memories from there :)

    Your salad is so colorful, I love it!

  2. Kath Says:

    Oh dear, well I am glad that Paris was kinder to you the second time around. Everything that you post about always looks so delicious. Do you have a spare room that I can move into?

  3. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Although your first trip to Paris was under less than ideal circumstances, your memories are vivid and it is a journey you will never forget. But the second time around was a charm, and I hope you think of it each time you make this fabulous salad.

  4. teresa Says:

    I see the first visit as a story of optimism and resiliency to be proud of!! I, too, have eaten the wonderful creamy warm goat cheese on salads in Paris and had suffered the same infatuation. The magic of Paris stays with you always.

  5. Barbara Says:

    Your first visit was certainly a disaster, but you do have some good memories. Your second trip sounds calmer and you had the leisure to appreciate all the things that make Paris a dream.
    The salad looks wonderful, Nancy. I’ve done the friend goat cheese, but love the addition of strawberries.

  6. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    Oh I just love how you did the goat cheese! Nothing is better than a little crisp on a creamy cheese. The salad is magical! The dressing with hints of strawberries sounds absolutely delicious. This is 10 stars!

  7. Judy Says:

    You’ve made me drool, not only for the lovely salad, but your sharing of your experiences in Paris. I can’t wait to try this recipe; I know I’ll eat all of it at one sitting.

  8. Wendy Says:

    I had not heard the 1973 Paris story —-quite Bohemian to put it mildly. But I have had the beautiful strawberry salad and grabbed an extra goat cheese off your stove—DELICIOUS!

  9. Jorin Says:

    Nice post! Made me remember some down-side travels through Paris as well. Great adventures…

  10. JP & Lynn Evans Says:

    What happened to the Reliers?

  11. goodfoodmatters Says:

    The Reliers! I was hoping that someone would ask.
    On one of our curious meandering days, we took the Metro (where an automated ticket system had just been instituted—we were able to reuse the same ticket over and over–looked like Swiss cheese!)to a certain point, and then walked (a long long walk) to their neighborhood. Found the house, knocked on the door. No answer. A neighbor explained that the family was on holiday, a skiing trip, and would be gone at least another week! Never saw them again…

  12. Nancy Says:

    I had a similar experience on a high school tour of Italy…and I still need to go back for another visit to banish the bad memories. Glad you were able to remedy things with a lovely family holiday. Thanks for the update on the Reliers – I, too, was wondering what became of them.

    The salad is stunning! Quite sure I could eat that every day and never tire of it :)

  13. Teresa/foodonfifth.com Says:

    Great story Nancy…the first time I was in Paris was around 1979 and I spoke not one word of French, not that I speak much more today although my food French is much better! I knew how to ask “le chambre pour le nuit?”…with a Southern accent…somehow I could always get a room in spite of it all. I loved it then and upon other visits loved it just as much.
    I also loved this incredible salad you made last week. It was just the perfect refreshing part of a great meal. I, like Wendy, sneaked a goat cheese round off the stove before they went out to the table…just in case you felt a little short? Lovely Blog.

  14. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    It is such crazy experiences that make up who we are, and from my view it seems you turned out to be an interesting and lovely woman. It all worked out. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to more.

  15. Katarina Says:

    I am always looking for new salad ideas and this looks sumptuous! Thank-you! Going to try mine with the mangoes I have left over.

  16. FOODESSA Says:

    Although, I’ve been to Paris several times…I still, continuously yearn for my next visit. My first time there was at 21, backpacking my way through hostels and having such memorable times. Thank goodness, I no longer have to contend with crammed quarters etc…

    Nancy…This salad screams Spring and joyful creativity. I could only wonder how these goat cheese patties would turn out if baked instead. A challenge I’m willing to take on.

    Thanks for sharing a little part of your past and present with us ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  17. Barbara Says:

    All theses years later and I, your sister, never heard this story. But, I also know, my big sister can be a bit secretive! Glad you were able to get the burn treated properly.
    Now, this recipe looks divine! I love those cute goat cheese “thingies” Yum! Want some!

  18. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    That is a huge and beautiful salad that you prepared. I enjoyed your memories of your two trips. I would much prefer your second one but I’m sure that there were many wonderful experiences on the first trip.

  19. Beth Says:

    What a gorgeous post! That salad looks great, and I would really like to try the goat cheese.
    I keep thinking that I’d like to revisit some of my past adventures in my blog (student days, when I had no money). Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Michele C. Says:

    I made this luscious salad for a dinner with friends this evening and it was as good as it looks. We all loved the goat cheese croquettes and the salad dressing was just right. Thank you for the inspiration!

  21. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I hope you share more stories of travels from your past. I’m sure that you were not happy with the detour to the hospital in Paris, but it made for a very memorable adventure and that the most was made for the situation. Hopefully the Reliers read this story. I love the warm crusty goat cheese over a fresh green salad.

  22. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Michele C–I’m so glad the salad with crispy goat cheese was such a hit at your dinner.thanks for sharing that.

    Christine et al—Traveling in Europe had a much different feel, 40 (gasp!) years ago. I’ve often taken journeys that have a bit of an edge to them. In this manner,life will meet you head-on in surprising, sometimes uncomfortable yet joyous ways. Even within the arc of that trip so many years ago, we experienced extremes. Prior to our funky time in Paris, we were taken in by a complete stranger in Basel Switzerland–who turned out to be a millionaire (in 1973 a millionaire really meant something!) He had quite the plush flat, and treated us well.

  23. Simply Life Says:

    oh my gosh, this salad looks incredible! I would go out of my way to find a restaurant that serves this!!!

  24. Mary Says:

    That salad sounds incredible and I just saved the vinaigrette recipe to try soon. Thanks!

  25. Juliana Says:

    Wow Nancy, I think I would be still
    traumatized” by the first visit to Paris :)
    The salad look great, like the dressing and the goat cheese. This is perfect as a meal.
    Hope you have a wonderful week ahead!

  26. Nicole Says:

    How amazing to have such stories to share. Looking at my time in Europe in my late teens and early twenties I also was in many a pickle, and somehow I managed to come out unscathed…sometimes having to wing it makes for more interesting stories!
    This salad looks absolutely wonderful. I’m having a brunch on Sunday and this might be just the thing I was missing!

  27. Katerina Says:

    When you are young everything seems like a big adventure! You have so many things to remember from that 1st time in Paris and as scary and inconvinient as it may looked back then, now you remember it and you laugh. The salad is what I would love to have for a light lunch at work or even for dinner. Looks delicious!

  28. beti Says:

    what a great idea! the salad looks delicious and the goat cheese is making me hungry

  29. Chris and Amy Says:

    Our friends have a goat farm. Next time we get some of their cheese, we are making this!

  30. mark Says:

    Your Paris story brought back memories of my Luna Miel with Regina in Paris. It was December 1984, a cold, wet night and the streets romantically lite up with holiday lights. This city is designed for memories and great food.

  31. amelia from z tasty life Says:

    this looks so amazing!

  32. Erica Says:

    Wow! What a delicious looking salad! Perfect for spring and summer….Beautiful colors!

  33. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Those little medallions of cheese look amazing!!

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