q & a

Rocky Road

I just returned from a four-week book tour where I met a lot of people. Everyone was incredibly nice and it was a treat, although because of the nature of the events, it wasn’t possible to spend lots of one-on-one time with anyone – including myself. However, I tried to answer as many questions as possible. The most frequently asked questions were; “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?” and, curiously, “When you are leaving?” I’ll assume the last one was people just being polite. (I hope!)

Another popular question was about mes bonnes adresses in Paris, or favorite places to eat. While I update the list on the My Paris page regularly, and there are more complete descriptions in the Paris restaurant category on the site, I suspect people thought I was holding out on them. (I swear, I’m not! – well, maybe one or two…but I have my reasons…) I was also interested in how many people were coming to Paris in the near future, which may explain the rise in airfares this summer, which are preventing us from going to Cape Cod and having a lobster, steamer clam, beer, and corn-on-the-cob fest.

At a particularly well-attended talk in New York City, we took questions on index cards to make things easier all around. Time didn’t permit me to get to every one of them. I said I’d answer the rest on my site when I got back. And because I am a man of my word, here they are:

What bistros would you recommend to someone visiting Paris today?

DL: Classic bistros in Paris are not as common as they once were, as styles of eating have changed and younger people are less interested in bistro fare. Places that still do a good job are Astier, A la Biche au Bois, Le Trumilou, and L’Européen, the latter being across from the Gare de Lyon, and is a fun place to go for oysters at the counter after a train trip. It always feels very Parisian to me.

Favorite place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Paris?

DL: Parisians don’t really go out for breakfast. If they do, it’s to the corner café for coffee and a croissant, pain au chocolat, or a length of baguette with butter and jam. (However le Brunch has become pretty popular on weekends. Especially in the hipper, or more “bobo” neighborhoods.) I don’t go out for brunch because I worked in restaurants most of my life and it’s not relaxing to be around people who have to work on Sunday mornings, because I feel for them. Plus I’m not really interested in eggs Benedict, and other dishes that show up on brunch menus.

That said, I recently had a stellar breakfast in Paris (albeit at 11:45am, and not on Sunday) at Holybelly, which boasts fresh food, great coffee, and friendly service. However, it can get crowded as the day progresses, so it’s a good place to go early, if you’re the kind of people (unlike me) that does well around other people in the early hours. Although it’s a chain that’s expanded Le Pain Quotidien does a good job, and I like their casual style of eating, with breads, butter, and an array of spreads. (Although I always keep my eyes open, because I’ve seen people lick their knives, then dip them back into the communal jars.)

For lunch, I would choose Septime. The reason I choose them is not only because the food is excellent, but unless you’ve reserved eons in advance, it’s impossible to get in for dinner. Lunch seems to be your best bet. In addition, you can reserve a table online. So that’s my choice.

For dinner, it’s hard to say where I would send someone. Often people ask me, and I say, “What neighborhood?”, I also want to ask about other factors, such as price range, cuisine, and comfort level with traveling to various parts of Paris on their own. Many people want to go to places “off the beaten path”, and/or places with “no tourists,” which is a challenge because in a city like Paris, any place that is good, is quickly discovered and shared. So there are no secrets. (I recently had a fun time at Café Léon. The food is fine – although certainly not “gourmet,” the service is friendly, the prices reasonable, and it’s definitely off the beaten path. I’m fine walking around there, but I’m not sure how comfortable visitors would be wandering the streets of the Goutte d’Or at night.) The best bet is to check the My Paris page as there are a variety of places listed in all categories, cuisines, and price ranges.

Besides your own cookbooks (of course), what are your favorites, and which do you consider essential if you could only take one to a desert island?

DL: I like anything by Alice Medrich, because she’s one of the few people who likes chocolate more than I do. And we did an event together and I finally told the crowd the story of how, when I started at Chez Panisse, I used to stop into her bakery, Cocolat, before my shift and get a chocolate truffle. Those dark, round nuggets introduced me to the world of top-quality bittersweet chocolate. Years later, my first book was nominated for a cookbook award and she was the presenter in my category. I was hoping to win, because I wanted to give a speech about how my pastry life had come full circle, having been introduced to good chocolate by Alice, then ending up receiving a baking book award from her. I didn’t win, but I got a chance to recount the story at an event that we did together on this trip, nearly fifteen years later. So there are second chances!

Speaking of Chez Panisse, I like all of the books, because they are ingredient-driven, which is the way I like to cook. And I’ve been taken by the books by Yotam Ottolenghi. But if I had to whittle down my favorite cookbook, I’d say the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, since it’s about all the kinds of food I like to eat. It’s beautifully written, and I learn something from every sentence in that book.

Do pasteurized eggs works the same way as regular eggs in dessert and baking recipes?

DL: I’ve not used pasteurized eggs so I can’t say. But I have used pasteurized egg whites and have had trouble whipping them, which I found out the hard way during a demonstration as I watched a bowl of egg whites get slapped around the bowl of a stand mixer for about ten minutes, doing nothing but getting a little frothy. If you use them, and plan to whip them, check the container; they should note whether they are suitable for whipping. If you’re concerned about salmonella, some say that buying your eggs from a trusted source can reduce the risk. But for folks with health issues, there is always a risk. And in those cases, raw eggs should probably be avoided.

You say that food brings joy because there are stories that tag along with each recipe. What would you say is a recipe that brings you the happiest moment/time?

DL: I would say churning ice cream. It’s such an interesting process. You transform basic ingredients; milk, sugar, cream, and eggs, then churn them up to become something greater than the parts, that is – ice cream. I like all kinds of ice cream, although I think my favorite flavors are coffee and chocolate (at least at the moment), as well as mint chip, caramel, rum-raisin, and fudge ripple. And toasted coconut, especially with chocolate sauce.

What is your absolute favorite dessert: American and Parisian?

DL: For Americans desserts, I’d say Rocky Road. I am really crazy for chocolate-covered marshmallows. Add in some nuts, and it’s a combination that’s even harder to beat. (Although I’m really into black & white cookies as well.) In fact, I like it so much that I made a batch as soon as I came back from this trip! (Photo above, and the recipe and instructions appear in The Great Book of Chocolate.)

My favorite French pastry is the chocolate éclair. When done right, you get a rich, bittersweet chocolate cream encased in a crispy pastry shell, painted with a stripe of chocolate on top. J’adore ça.

How can you cook and eat such great stuff and stay so slim?

DL: I often put photos on Instagram of cakes, tarts, and wheels of cheese, and find it amusing that people wonder how I eat all that food. I guess they think I eat the whole thing by myself! But I’m not eating the whole thing, just a piece or part of a cake or wedge of cheese, shared with friends.

I do need to be careful what I eat because I am around food all the time. In fact, I came back from this trip with two full boxes of chocolates that people had given me to try. While I would happily gorge myself on all of them, I need to exert some self-restraint because, like cocktails, while I love ‘em, if I ate them all in one sitting – or even over the course of a week – I don’t think I’d feel (or look) very well. When I left the restaurant business, I had to teach myself to eat moderately because I was eating anything that came my way. And once I hit forty, I noticed I started expanding in certain places. As a bonus, here’s a picture of me back in the 80’s!

David in the 80's

The key is when you said “great” stuff. I don’t eat crap. I try to stick to eating “real” food, meaning that I don’t buy prepackaged foods and I don’t eat junk food. I rarely drink soda. If I want a hamburger, I go to a place that does them well. I don’t go to a fast-food chain for one as I don’t like what they put in their food. I don’t demonize any particular food group, I eat moderate portions, and I avoid overeating, because I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I also exercise a few times a week, plus I ride my bike as much as possible in Paris. For more information, check out How I Eat.

What was the most valuable things that you learned at Chez Panisse?

DL: The main thing was quality. The owners of the restaurant spared no expense on ingredients, supporting local farmers and growers, and the price that was paid for ingredients was rarely an issue. That said, good ingredients aren’t necessarily the most expensive. So tasting and evaluating things was and important part of our job as cooks there. So the other valuable thing I learned at Chez Panisse is taking care when cooking. I don’t understand why people open restaurants or food-oriented establishments and don’t do a good job. If that’s your métier, as they say in French, you should be good at it, or at least take care (and pride) in what you do. And while not everyone is a highly skilled cook, using good ingredients and – very important – tasting everything, is incredibly important, especially if people are paying you for it. When I worked at Chez Panisse, before service, all the cooks would share the plates of food and give feedback to each other, noting when something might need salt, or need another ingredient, or need to be simplified. It drives me bonkers when I go out to eat and the food isn’t good. I always want to take the plate back to the kitchen and ask, “Did anyone taste this?”

What American food do you sill have left on your to-eat list? (On this particular trip to the States.)

DL: Most of them are in San Francisco, so I ticked them off my list already when I was there the previous week (before this talk). So I had burritos, chips and guacamole, homemade tortillas, bean-to-bar chocolates, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food, as well as cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies (from b. patisserie), toast at Josey Baker’s place, and an excellent lunch at Bouli Bar, which sort of defies description.

(Just a note: You can forget what I said a few questions up about eating in “moderation,” at least on trips to San Francisco.)

I got my bagel fix in New York (and elsewhere, since great bagels seem to be just as available outside of the city as in it), but when I got to the airport, one of the restaurants had slices of pizza with pepperoni on them. I didn’t realize how much I missed pepperoni until a while back, a French reader wrote to me and said that pepperoni was one of the things he missed from America. So I had to add that to my to-eat list, although I have to say, I wish I had had a slice somewhere better than at La Guardia airport.

What are you hoarding to bring back to Paris?

DL: On this trip, since it’s a book tour, I’m traveling with a carry-on because I sometimes travel daily. And in addition to the speed with which I get out of the airport, I don’t have to worry about my luggage getting lost. (That would be a catastrophe!) But that also means that I can’t take many things, including liquids, since my bag is already full. I did get a French friend a stainless-steel Oxo squeegee (or raclette) because I promised her, which caused some head scratching by the TSA agents manning the metal scanning screens.

That said, I shipped a few things forward to my last stop, in Washington, DC, where my trip ends up. And I brought back as much of the chocolate as I could, as well as some homemade jellies, honey cultivated in New York City. Or to be more precise, West 68th Street.

New York Honey

What do you crave in Paris that you can’t find here? (In America.)

DL: Cheese. While you can get excellent cheeses in the States (one of my favorites was a Valencay – which Ivy made at home, and I had great cheeses made by the dashing fellows at Firefly Farms) there are certain cheeses, like Camembert du Normandie and Brie de Meaux, that just don’t have an equal here. (Although I had a French camembert that was exactly as good as the ones in France, at The Pasta Shop, in BerkeIey.) I also miss salted butter, the kind with the coarse crystals of salt kneaded in. A few places on this trip to the U.S. were offering butter with wisps of sea salt sprinkled over the top, to spread on bread, like the excellent République in Los Angeles. And I hope that’s a trend that continues.

Can you tell me the reason that coarse sea salt is gray, and why fleur de sel is so white?

DL: Gray salt gets it color from the minerals in the clay or soil that lines the salt marshes. However, some say that it also gets its color from being bulldozed for harvesting, and the color comes from the machinery. But I don’t believe it. Fleur de sel is pure white because it doesn’t come in contact with the earth; it collects on the top of the water of the salt marshes, where it gets harvested with paludiers wooden rakes.

What is your next baking challenge?

DL: I want to make toasted marshmallow ice cream. I’ve had some that were fine, but none have been truly exceptional. (No offense to anyone. There are probably great ones out there. But I haven’t had one – yet.) So I want to give it a try. Hmm, maybe I should’ve doubled up on that marshmallow recipe I made for that homemade Rocky Road?

What are your thoughts about molecular gastronomy? Have you tried any of it?

DL: A few years ago, I read through a copy of the Alinea book, named for the restaurant in Chicago where Grant Achatz does his own take on molecular gastronomy, and wanted to give it a try. While it’s easy to dismiss it as “not real cooking,” I was curious, because things like baking powder, dry active yeast, and even gelatin, could be seen as molecular gastronomy. And now we think of them as normal.

I made the dry caramel in the book, and while I liked it, the recipe wasn’t something I was going to be adding to my repertoire. I think time will tell how much of that remains – and young chefs in Paris seem to still be captivated by foam – so not sure it’s time to put it out to pasture quite yet. In cooking, I think the focus needs to be on flavor. But if there are interesting ways to coax it out, or represent it, then I think they have merit. I wrote a little more about it at Molecular Gastronomy and Playing with Powder.

What would your advice be to someone just starting out in the food business?

DL: Work really hard, and only work with very good people. I’ve found that people who are very good at what they do will not have an ego about it and will be happy to show others how to do it. Try to work in the best places that you can, ones that remain ingredient focused. That’s the base of good cooking and baking. Learning techniques is important, but making a great, simple green salad is more important than learning how to construct a plate with fourteen different ingredients, that doesn’t taste very good.

Is there anything that you learned the hard way?

DL: Get it in writing.

The Sweet Life in Paris was my source of light and joy during superstorm Sandy. I read it by candlelight. How much fun did you have writing it?

DL: It was interesting writing that book and certainly fun to compile all those stories. I’d never thought about writing about myself, and had always written recipes and headnotes for cookbooks. After I moved to Paris, and began writing about things other than food on my blog, quite a number of people said I should write a book about my life in Paris – and wanted to know more about my story, of how I ended up here. Writing a memoir is interesting because you’re writing about yourself in a certain place and time. I started writing the book just a few years after I moved to Paris and I was at a different place in my life.

butts

It was the first time I had lived in a foreign country and I found a lot of the differences funny, but some were perplexing to me. (I also learned that the locals are sometimes perplexed, too – which they shrug off with a “C’est comme ça,” or “That’s just how it is.”) So many people have written about Paris, and life on the Left Bank or more well-visited sides of Paris, describing the beautiful monuments, museums, chic people, and shops. That’s great, but it’s a different life from mine. I live on the other side of town, where there’s more grit. And dog poop. And cigarette butts.

But I found all those things more interesting subjects to write about since Paris, like any city, has a lot of different sides. And I found the quirks of Paris at times challenging, and other times amusing. Many things, I laughed at…at my own expense. (I’m still wondering – what was I thinking working at a fish market?) I think it’s okay to laugh at silly things that one does. As you learned during the superstorm Sandy, there are things that are much more grave in this world. So why not find humor where we can?

Are you a storyteller who uses cooking as a medium? Or cook who loves narrative?

DL: I definitely started out being a more recipe-forward cookbook author, rather than a storyteller. But with the blog, I’ve enjoyed telling the story around the food and recipes. I love talking about why I picked up an ingredient at the market, what made me try a recipe, how I came up with a dish, or to talk about situations around cooking or eating it. While food and recipes are interesting, with so many recipes out there, I think the stories are what differentiates them all. Now I like writing as much as I like baking and cooking, so I am much more interested in the narrative than I used to be.

Do you agree with Julia Child, who said “A party without a cake is just a meeting”?

DL: Ha! Good one, Madame Child. Although one could replace the word “cake” with “cocktails,” “ribs,” “chips and guacamole,” or “wine and cheese,” and still have a pretty good party.

What was the event that made you feel you were accepted into the Paris food community?

DL: To be honest, when I arrived a lot of people assumed that I didn’t know anything about food, which I think used to be a common perception about Americans. I think that’s changed with all the media attention given to what’s happened in the U.S., and many people have gone to the States and seen what’s happened. Since I was pretty well versed in French cuisine, and familiar (and appreciative) of it, I could talk knowledgeably about it. That helped, especially when meeting chocolatiers and pastry chefs. (We’re all kind of a secret club, y’know.)

I also have to say that the French food bloggers I’ve met are all very nice, open people. And there is mutual appreciation, like bakers have for each other, since we’re all doing our own thing, in our own way.

What have you noticed that has changed the most about Americans’ tastes since you moved to Paris?

DL: The DIY thing has really been dialed up and in major cities people seem to be dramatically more interested in things that are locally made or grown.

Aside from Paris, were else in Europe would you want to live?

DL: Spain.

Do you ever run into Ina Garten in Paris?

DL: I saw her once when I was having lunch at Cuisine du Bar, and she walked by on her way out. I was a bit stunned when I realized it was her, and she kind of looked in my direction as she continued hurrying out. I think I may have scared her.

What do you think about the changes in the food scene in the U.S. and France in the past ten years?

DL: I think American cuisine changed a lot in the last few decades. Farmers’ markets have exploded in popularity, and at airports I saw things like kale salads, fire-roasted pizzas (made in the airport!), and excellent Mexican fare on offer. It’s one example of the remarkable transformation in the States. In France, the younger generation of chefs are experimenting with new techniques, while scouring the markets for things like légumes oubliés (forgotten vegetables), and opening more casual eateries. There’s also a focus on expanding “fast foods,” meaning a dramatic influx of “single subject” restaurants, offering just one, or a few, items. Many are influenced by Anglo-Saxon saxon foods (burgers, fish & chips, hot dogs, etc), but I think the next wave will be places offering things that are more closely aligned with French cuisine.

Are there any ingredients available only in the United States that you’d like to have available in Paris?

DL: I am always on the prowl in the summer for juicy summer tomatoes, which aren’t easily available. Fresh pecans are tough to find (many are old by the time you get them, in my experience), and while in the countryside, people mill flour from ancient varieties of wheat, they’re mostly sold locally so we don’t get them in Paris. I also miss corn-on-the-cob and big baskets of fresh, local blueberries, boysenberries, and blackberries.

Do you have any plans for a cooking show or for videos to go along with your blog?

DL: To be honest, I don’t watch that many videos online. I am a pretty impatient person and it takes a lot to hold my interest in an online video. There are a few videos on the site and I like doing them, but it takes technical skills, and talent, to put them together. So while I’d love to do more short videos, I don’t know if it’ll ever happen again.

What do you like most about France?

DL: I wrote about those here, in 15 Things I Would Miss About Paris If I Moved Away.

Please describe your process of creating recipes for your cookbooks?

I wrote a bit about the process here, but basically it starts with an idea. Then I take that idea and put it at the top of a blank, unlined page, and start writing down ingredients. Then I test the recipe, often a number of times until I get it right, making corrections as I go, and writing down things to point out to readers, tips to include in certain steps, and updating and changing the ingredients (or quantities) as I go.

What is the first meal you have when you return to Paris from the United States?

DL: I drop off my suitcase, then go to my bakery and get a nice, bien cuite (well-cooked) baguette – and I make them rifle through all the breads to pick out a really well-cooked one. Back home, I lop off a hunk, slice it in half, and smear it with salted butter.

Paris breakfast

36 comments

  • butter. my favourite fat….

  • All so true…. :) Do you know that I was looked at squarely & asked why by Parisians, when at the table, during the cheese course, I preferred the baguette and the salted butter? My answer was: Ahm…. because it’s awesome? ;-) (I mean no offence to the cheeses, and I did and do have some, but nothing beats the salted butter….)

  • Delicious read! I love your narrative as I always feel as if you are sitting at the table and sharing yourself as if you’ve known each of us for ages. You’re blessed, and so are we.
    Thank you, Honey Bunches! :)

  • Thank you for this post, David. I was one of the lucky ones who got to meet you at your book signing at the DuPont Circle Farmers Market in Washington DC., and I was one of those fans that had a million questions (but settled on talking about Twitter). Love your writing style, travel tips, recipes and photos!

  • I was dying to be the one chatting with you at the Hesser interview instead of her (you did seem to leave her a bit bewildered as you rambled through your very funny tangents).

    Your favorite things are very very similar to mine. I am always in pursuit of an éclair (that in addition to the perfect traditional apricot tart that I found at a tiny Patisserie with a long line in Paris) that is not refrigerated and soggy- chocolate and coffee, cheeses that make me swoon, and middle eastern food that sing with aroma and favor. Thus it makes perfect sense why I would enjoy so much of what you write about and why I would share the passion for the recipes that make you excited.

    It was great fun seeing you in person. And I too need friends with whom to enjoy all the food so as to stay lean! When we eat out together, I really just want a taste from everyone’s plate- just a taste! And once again, today, I will be using a recipe from your collection to dazzle my friends. Thanks again for making me a better baker. My friends want to thank you too…. even the “I am not a dessert person- except I have to eat yours” friends!

  • Hi David, just received a copy (signed in NYC…yeah Lisa) of My Paris Kitchen and can’t wait to begin reading and cooking through it. Question: Had dinner at Spring last week and dinner at Verjus last year. Both great places with excellent food but also entirely made up of U.S. clientel. I was surprised because with the fantastic food neither is a tourist trap by any means. Why don’t the French go to these restaurants…Comment? Love your blog and stories. Have a great summer!

  • I actually wanted to hear more about the places where you ate in San Francisco or the San Francisco area. We’re going on a family trip there next week and I’d love it, if you posted more suggestions (I already noted down the places you’ve mentioned on your blog).

  • Great post…love a person of their word. I’m bummed I missed you in Santa Monica. I’ve yet to pick up your book but I hope it answers how long it took you to learn French. That’s always been my biggest concern about moving to a new country with a different language!

  • Hi David – I was at your talk at the 92nd Street Y in NYC, and it was great!. I especially loved that your favorite thing to cook is cookies – watching them bake and timing them perfectly to get that slightly crisp exterior and the gooey interior. My 10 year old daughter is currently obsessed with your recipe, and I make them for her every day after school (I have 6 logs of dough in my freezer right now!). I am so moved by how that simple activity – making the dough and then baking some of it every afternoon – has become such a ritual in our lives. She has a cold glass of milk, some warm cookies and tells me about her day. And we have you to thank for the inspiration. So, merci mille fois. xo

  • Hi David,

    Great Q&A post. I’m sorry I missed your NY stop. Hope the pecans did not get stale by the time you got home ;)

    regards from New York

    Emily@TownAndCountryShuffle

  • What a wonderful post. And what a good idea, to have questions written down that you could take with and answer later. You could do that online sometime–put out a post asking for your readers’ questions. There are so many questions that people ask in the comments section of each post that you don’t have time to answer.

    I have to say, I’m glad you went on to say you eat chips and guac and burritos and cupcakes after you said you “don’t eat junk food.” Now I feel better… You obviously meant Fritos and Cheez Whiz and Burger King and M&Ms!

    And last… I have found that I can only read the wonderful My Paris Kitchen while eating lunch. Otherwise I would be 200 lbs by now.

  • I had the great good luck to work for Alice Medrich at Cocolat-what an education that was. Her books are perfection.
    Regarding the pasturized egg whites, I use them in bavarians and mousses, and have found they don’t like to be whipped too vigorously, but if I stayed at medium speed I could get a nice firm peak. Hope this helps!

  • The licking the knife thing — I saw that today, when some bloke licked the knife and put it back in the rillettesbeurk! This was while having casse-croutes at a bouchon (heritage traffic jam — where old cars block the streets of villages which were gridlocked during the holidays and long weekends in the days before the motorways).

  • David,

    I would have so loved to tell you this in person–especially since I came infinitesimally close to meeting you on the book tour, but still didn’t get to (still bummed about it!) So I’ll tell you now: I’ve learned so much by reading your blog, and it’s been a major source of inspiration. I started out in baking using boxed mixes… now I’m writing my own recipes!

    Thank you for doing what you love and sharing your love for food with everyone!

  • Very interesting read David . Thank you for the link to Merci Chocolat blog…woah, pretty amazing. Ivy does not have a link to be on her mailing list. Did I just miss it?
    those cheese recipes are great.

  • David, you are my hero! Your Blog and cookbooks are incredible! Honest, yet witty!
    Thank you, from one foodie to another!
    Warm regards,
    Julie from Albuquerque NM

  • Licking the knife reminds me of the managers wine and cheese reception for guests in a very nice somewhat pricey historic hotel in Savannah GA and the young lady ..early 20’s who went up to the small buffet and subsequently ate directly off the serving platters for quite some time. She never did take a plate or use tongs or a fork just fingers grabbing the cheese cubes serving platter to mouth again and again! Her only break time was for another glass of free wine!

  • What a cutie!

  • You look adorable in that photo – great curls – reminds me of my son as a youngster. Met you at the Pantry at Delancey, great lunch, wonderful stories. I’ll get to Paris some day and I’ll be prepared from reading everything you post.

    • I can’t believe I had all that hair (and that waistline..)- nice to meet at Pantry at Delancey. Such a nice place and a great way to spend an afternoon in Seattle, with the garden just outside and the good food, and good company.

  • Great article! This is one post that I will bookmark and refer to repeatedly. I forgot to mention when I met you at Dupont Circle’s farmers market last week that your book, “The Sweet Life in Paris” is the one I love to read right before I go to bed as it provides me with entertainment, recipes, and sweet dreams! Once I get to the last page, I just start over again! I allows me to fantasize about food without adding calories. Plus, the book is small and light enough not to cause any facial injuries in case I do fall asleep while reading. The funniest story in my opinion is the one about your cleaning lady.

    I used to read other kinds of books before bed but they gave me nightmares or things to worry about which is not sleep-promoting. Your books with the narratives and funny anecdotes along with delicious recipes are just right and actually alleviate stress. It can’t hurt to plan your menu for the next day or dream of desserts while you sleep, right?

    Also, while you were in NY city, did you get to visit Chef Dominique Ansel’s bakery in SOHO and try any of his popular creations like the Cronut or the DKA (Kouign Amann)? He’s the only one I know who sells Kouign Amann in the USA and I prefer to buy it instead of making it myself due to the time involved. I was just there today and they ran out of it. I have yet to attempt making your version and I hope to gather the courage to do so this year.

    • I didn’t go there because of time constraints, plus the lines are legendary. I can get French pastries here in France – fortunately! : ) but there are at least two great bakeries in the U.S. that I know of that are baking very good kouign amanns; Les Madeleines and b. pâtisserie. Glad you like the book, and find it a fun read!

  • Hilarious! The photo of the cigarette butt in the pot plant cracks me up! I will always remember being awed by the guys on motorbikes, with backpacks, who drive round Paris at night sucking up the dog poop. Bless ‘em. Comparisons – been thinking about the NZ food scene lately, especially with regard to the fact that my city, Christchurch, has been hammered and wrecked by earthquakes to the point where we refer to the “donut city” – not as yummy as it sounds, but a city without a centre. One of the rebuild suggestions is to incorporate a dedicated farmers market in the central city, along with visions of more inner city living, as opposed to a CBD full of offices. Following the way things go in the US, farmers markets are going nuts here, awesome fresh produce and foodie talent on display, plus meaty & fishy things, wine, beer, cheese, olive oil etc. My question is, with a broken city and small population, can we build and then sustain something approaching the wonderful experience of the urban European markets? The enthusiasm is great but the practicalities are challenging. Hmmm. Thanks, David, for The Perfect Scoop. Still trying to get past lavender and honey and fresh garden mint (with choc chips). Swoon. Kia ora from New Zealand

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with Christopher Kimball on America’s Test Kitchen radio. What pleasure it was to hear you.

  • Interesting what you were saying about bistros. I remember Norah Ephron talking about making ‘Julie and Julia’ When they wanted to film in a traditional looking french bistro, they had to find one in NYC, cause they couldn’t find the right kind in Paris!

    • @By Shelly… well, you can still find the decor and atmosphere of the old Parisian bistros, but not the food. A lot of them have been bought up by groups, and accountants are running the show.

  • Believe it or not, Trader Joe’s has frozen kouign amanns. You let them sit overnight to proof and pop them in the oven the next morning. They are amazingly good – they even have the required caramelized tops.

  • David; I live on Cape Cod and wanted to let you know my house is open to you; I would be honored to serve you a fabulous clam bake with lobster, steamers, corn on the cob, and one of my delicious desserts.

  • David, you’re an excellent chef and writer, no doubt about it. But personally I love your blog and books because you’re truly authentic and real to who you are and what you love. It’s very refreshing and a joy to see in the online (and food) community!

  • Hi David – great post, in a long line of great posts! I so enjoy your blog, and the time difference between Paris and Seattle means there is usually a fresh post every morning! Re egg whites – I have great luck with the dehydrated ones – they whip perfectly – I usually use those if the end result is not going to be cooked. Plus they keep forever in the pantry and it eliminates the “extra yolks” problem :-)

  • Hi – thank you for this terrific post. You have such a warm and accessible voice in your writing. Reading your blog feels like getting a letter from an old friend. I’ll never get to visit most of the places you write about but thanks to you, I can experience them a little bit anyway.

  • David, the absolute highlight of this post (though I did read the Q&As) is that photo. Aside from looking enviously svelte, that hair is darling.

    On a side note:
    @laline and David, although it’s since reopened (and sure, sure people say “these things happen” – but I say, “gross, no thank you), I’m not sure I’d recommend D.A. to anyone: http://gothamist.com/2014/04/04/dominique_ansel_shut_down.php

  • David, I had a wonderful time creating exciting desserts wih you at Sur La Table in Dallas which was many moons ago! I bought yor latest My Paris Kitchen. On my way to Paris for 2 wks. Just wanted you to know that it was fun, fun reading your latest book and had a blast in Dallas as well! The best to you! Diane

  • When I was in Paris I often met up with friends for breakfast, and I always liked the places that were bakeries with breakfast formules, like Dominique Saibron in the 14eme. Also, I had a couple of really nice breakfasts at The Manfred near Arts et Metiers–I just had a simple tartine with butter and jam, but it was heavenly.

  • Normally I find FAQ quite boring, but I really enjoyed this. It was great to meet you at BlogHer Food, sorry if I seemed like a deer-in-headlights idiot… It was very odd to see you in person when I know so much about you through your stories in your cookbooks and blog posts.

    Enjoy your baguette bien cuite with your salted butter =) Bon appetit!