Suitcase

No matter how many wonderful the foods, and other things, are in France, when I go back to the States, there are some things that I bring back to France with me. When I go to the other way, to the U.S., I pack things that I have a hard time living without or to give as gifts. Friends or hosts might get a loaf of Poilâne bread, a French cheese that’s elusive outside of France, a packet of salted butter, fleur de sel (French sea salt), Parisian chocolates, and for extra-special friends, a baked-the-same-day croissant. (Depending on my flight plans. And how much I like the person.)

unscented products

When I go the other direction, America to France, I pack certain things that I either can’t live without, because I haven’t found an equivalent, or I need (or like) to have them in my kitchen. For other room in the house, I stock up on unscented items. I, and my sensitive skin, and nose, aren’t fans of scented or over-scented items. (I once even saw vanilla-scented papier toilette. I like vanilla and all, but…) And yes, that’s me opening laundry detergents and smelling them in the supermarché aisles. I’m waiting for the day I get busted (or however you say that in French) for doing that.

While I was packing my suitcase after a recent trip, I thought I’d share some of the things that were going back with me. I had a few books, snack-sized zip-top bags (which I once bought by mistake, but are great for small bits of things), and Tom’s toothpaste (I once ran out and used Romain’s toothpaste, which I found out was fennel – yuck…). I had the usual tangle of electronic cords and adaptors, which I finally organized by buying a cable organizer. I know, I know – Marie Kondo says not to buy organizers, but until they come up with a single cord and plug that works for everything (…please! And now there’s a movement to replace all our USB cords…oof…), I needed a better way to make sure I didn’t leave a cord behind, going in either direction.

 

oxo spring loaded ice cream scoop

Spring-Loaded Ice Cream Scoop: The French love ice cream – what’s not to like? So why couldn’t I find spring-loaded ice cream scoops in various sizes for cookies? I didn’t get it until one of the clerks at MORA told me, “Because the French don’t make cookies like you do in the U.S.” Oops. Got it. He was right. While the French make cookies, they don’t really do cookies where the dough is dropped; they’re usually rolled and cut out. The size that’s available in France is used for scooping ice cream, like those restrained scoops at Berthillion, that make you want to order a triple, even though that’s très Américain.

 

Continue reading…

Whew! Last week was a busy one. I was on a deadline for a book, and as always, the last few weeks were a sprint to the finish. My neck still smarts from being glued to my computer, but it was nothing a few post-writing cocktails couldn’t fix. However I barely had time to shop or do much cooking while I had hammering out words. I’m not really a…

Continue reading...

I snuck my way into the workshop of master Paris chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux. When asked which is the best chocolate shop in Paris, it’s hard to pick just one, but his boutique is at the top of my short list. Each chocolate is hand-crafted in the kitchen just below the shop, where a small team of chocolatiers and Monsieur Rochoux dip, sculpt, mold, and enrobe…

Continue reading...

Shortly after I had moved to France, I made dinner for friends in my apartment, which we finished up with a chocolate tart, which I flecked with a few grains of flaky sea salt. Everyone ate their desserts but one guest, politely, finally spoke up to let me know that somehow, I’d gotten some salt on the dessert. Since then, salt has become a popular ingredient…

Continue reading...

A French friend recently said to me “On ne peut pas tout avoir” – “You can’t have it all.” But with mangoes, I feel like I can. Soft, sweet flesh, sometimes with a hint of spice, and easy to peel, mangoes just may be the perfect fruit. When I lived in California, they were blissfully in season during the spring, bridging the gap between when last of the winter fruits…

Continue reading...

I was planning on spacing out the cocktail recipes here with some other recipes, but I had a few baking stumbles and went through so much nut flour, butter, and eggs that I needed to take a baking break. And what better way to relax than over a refreshing spritz? I was introduced to the Spritz when I went to coffee school in Trieste, Italy. I drank at…

Continue reading...

Whenever I’m in New York, I have a few drinking buddies all ready to hit a few bars for cocktails with me. One friend who I used to work with at Chez Panisse is at the top of that list and we both like our cocktails the same way: Not on the sweet side. So when we go out, we scan bar menus to find drinks…

Continue reading...

This past Easter, I had brunch with my family in New York at Maialino. I think we are all on the same wavelength about brunch (and about facing other people early in the morning) because we sat down at the civilized hour of 2pm. After we all ordered what we wanted and we also added a basket of pastries for us to share. Before the waiter walked…

Continue reading...

I remember being déçu (disappointed) a few years back when I signed up to go to a barbecue dinner in Paris and I was super-excited to attend. But instead of being served platters of long-cooked meat, I found myself being handed a plate of a piece of beef cooked on a regular grill: I’d forgotten that the word “barbecue” in Europe usually means “grilled.” (Shhhh. Don’t tell…

Continue reading...