The air is salty in Arcachon, the streets empty and the houses are cute and pretty like in a children's drawing. The sea is so close that you can hear it softly when the wind isn't rustling through the needles of the pine trees growing all over the town's sandy ground. We stopped our car on a sleepy side road in the village of La Teste-de-Buch opposite the sweetest picture book house, the shutters painted in baby blue, a little garden behind a white wooden fence, and a cat attentively creeping around the bushes.
It's the home of Dounia Silem, French chef and cookbook author, who invited us to her kitchen to introduce us to the art of cooking Homard Bleu Breton à la Crème Façon Bisque. Wild blue lobster from Brittany is a rare delicacy, a special treat that deserves a special recipe. Dounia lets it sit in a bisque, a velvety smooth and creamy sauce based on the crustacean's shells, herbs, tomatoes, and shallots. Just the smell of the juices bubbling in the cocotte is already divine. It's a French classic, the flavors are fine, almost sweet, Piment d'Espelette adding the right amount of heat.
Dounia took a big turn in her life, until a few years ago, she was a sales manager, but she wanted to focus on her true passion: food, health, and nutrition.
She read, listened, and studied, she questioned conventional food production and cooking and combined the newly gained knowledge with the cuisine that she learned about in her mother's kitchen in the north of France. Her heart guided her well, today, Dounia is an acknowledged cookbook author and her culinary Doo Eat workshops are widely attended all over the country. Her approach is holistic, born in Paris, she left the city in 2013 to give her mind peace and rest. Listening to her body, she decided to leave the conventional diet behind and respect her physical needs. Being able to share the fruits of this experience is the greatest reward for her.
The chef follows the seasons in her recipes, she uses organic products from the region, the flours are gluten free and the sugar is raw or from coconuts. It is a healthy diet, but Dounia never forgets that, first and foremost, it's about taste - this woman is French after all. Her dishes are vibrant, packed with flavor, she doesn't accept compromises in texture when it comes to baking. The fact that you do feel good after you enjoy a treat from her kitchen is just a pleasant extra.