Recently in France category

Monaco, Max, Martell, His Majesty, and Me

Monaco

I’m tired. Or as Madeleine Kahn more bluntly put it in Blazing Saddles, “G-ddammit, I’m exhausted.” The last few weeks I’ve been racing around Paris in my dusty clothes, trying to find things like electrical switches, bathroom shelves, and making a decision about kitchen cabinet knobs for much longer than any sane person would consider prudent. And I’ve been averaging about three hours of sleep a night. (I’m actually in bed for eight hours, but five of those hours are spent worrying about things.) Everything of mine is still piled up in boxes, including important tax documents (hello, April 15th..in just two weeks…), prescriptions that need refilling (hello, sanity…), and most importantly, a much-needed change of clothes.

I’d been invited to Monaco for the one hundredth anniversary of Martell’s Cordon Bleu cognac, which I had accepted, then wrote a message declining. But something in me prevented my twitching finger, which normally hovers over the “Delete” key, from hitting the “Send” button. And when I finally got to the point where I had to make an absolutely certain decision (with substantial prodding from Hélène), I hit that all-important delete key and instead confirmed that I would attend.

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Fête de Charcuterie

basque charcuterie plate

Someone recently asked me if people in Paris have started raising chickens in their backyard. I had to pause for a minute, and wanted to remind folks that Paris wasn’t Brooklyn, nor does anyone have – at least in my circles – a backyard in Paris. And if they did, they could afford a country house and would raise their chickens out there. But French people also don’t celebrate “the pig” with the same enthusiasm as the current craze in America, England, and other anglophone cultures.

There’s no overpraising meat, fat, or pork products; things like pâté, rosette (salami), saucisson sec, and even museau (head cheese) because in France, they’re all extremely common. Although things have changed a bit and nowadays, I would venture to say that many young folks would wrinkle their noses up at a plate of head cheese or tête de veau, and I was recently at a dinner party with a mix of French, Swiss, and Italian friends and everyone squirmed when the subject of consuming rabbit came up; I was the only one who said that I sometimes do eat it.

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Lille, Aux Moules, and a Sink

Merveilleux

“Three weeks?! Is that all?” they laughed uproariously, as a response to my telling folks at a dinner party the other night about how much trouble I was having finding things like sinks, tiles, light fixtures, and so forth, for the renovations of my apartment. I literally spent weeks and weeks combing plumbing catalogs, scoping out a myriad of stores devoted to kitchen fixtures, and relying heavily on our friend, the internet, in search of a plain, large, white sink.

I don’t want swoops and swirls, (and I only have one more Ikea visit left in me, and I’m banking that for something really important) – I want a generous basin that’s large enough to hold a few pots and pans. And I’m not interested in a purple or green one. You wouldn’t think it would be all that hard – and neither did I – but after three solid weeks (and I mean, twenty-one days and twenty-one nights), I finally found one in France. The only problem? It was in Lille.

Merveilleux Windmill in Lille

As I’ve shown many friends here, tout est possible, so we decided to make a day trip up to the city in the North, just a few hours from Paris, and while there, eat some of the local fare. Because things are so frantic right now — imagine if I took me three weeks to find a sink…then I really need to get cracking on a toilet, a towel bar, kitchen cabinet handles, a soap dish, and light bulbs — so I don’t have a huge amount of time.

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Paris Pastry Guide E-Book

I’m excited to announce the release of the e-book of my Paris Pastry Guide!

With over 300 addresses for the best places in Paris for chocolates, pastries, and other confections, this comprehensive guide is the perfect sweet companion for your trip to Paris. But even if you’re not planning a trip, there’s plenty of pictures to so you can enjoy the scrumptious pastries of Paris – wherever you are!

The Paris Pastry e-book is available in three formats:

  • E.Pub: For the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Sony eReader, Kobo, and Blackberry.

  • Mobi: For Kindle, MobiPocket, and Calibre.

  • Kindle: The Kindle version is available on Amazon.

    They can be downloaded via the Paris Pastry website. It will soon be available in the iBooks bookstore and Barnes & Noble (Nook). To be alerted when they’re ready, follow Paris Pastry on Twitter or Facebook.

    So get your copy today!


    FAQs

    Is the map in the e-book aligned with a GPS system?

    Yes, it is. So if you tap on a link, a map will open that will take you there. You will need to have an internet connection to use that feature. For those with other mobile devices, and iPad users, the e-book will work on those devices.

    In the app, because people often have to pay substantial roaming charges, we attached the addresses to a fixed map. So if you want a map that is linked to Google maps, you might wish to consider downloading the e-book or the Kindle version.

    (We are working on an Android version of the app, and appreciate your patience. There’s no need to leave a message or comment requesting an Android version because it it already something under consideration; if you’d like to be notified when it’s available, follow Paris Pastry on Twitter or Facebook. Although I don’t have an Android-enabled device, according to the publisher, you can read the e-book on Android devices using the Kobo app.)

    I have an iPad. Which version should I buy?

    The app available in the iTunes store will work fine, although it’s formatted for the iPhone and to save on roaming charges, the maps in the iPhone app do not require an internet connection (they aren’t attached to Google maps-although that will be changed in the next update). The book is formatted for larger size reading devices, such as the iPad, and the maps are linked to Google maps, which work with an internet connection.

    Is there going to be a printed book available?

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  • Le Siffleur de Ballons

    terrine d'oie

    It wouldn’t be the first time, but I almost had an accident on my bike when I was heading to yet another tile store (who knew is was going to be so hard to find plain, white tiles?), and raced past a new place on my list. I had the usual 4 second debate in my head whether I should stop and grab a bite and a glass of wine, before I made the decision to grind myself to a halt and hitch my bike to a signpost.

    Fortunately no one else was injured, but let’s just say that I think I need to lower my bike seat a little in case I have to brake unexpectedly in the future. (Well, at least if I ever want to have children, that is.) However I did manage to save the baguette and the croissant in my bike basket, so I think it was a decent trade-off.

    basket of wineriz au lait (rice pudding)
    Parmesanwine and water glasses

    It was actually my third visit to Le Siffleur de Ballons this month. My first was when I was planning to meet my friend Theresa for drinks and a snack and due to an e-mail misunderstanding (you would think someone would have come up with a snappy name for that by now, a mash-up, like ‘spendy’ or ‘bromance’…I tried to come up with something but have other things on my mind at the present) but while I waited for her, I had a few glasses of Cheverny while I balanced myself on one of the metal stools, which I eyed for my new apartment, and talked to the counter woman.

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    Le Camion Qui Fume

    le camion qui fume

    Hamburgers have certainly become a much bigger part of the landscape in Paris since a while back, when I jotted down where to get burgers in Paris. At that time, they were just breaking out of fast-food joints and becoming a novelty in restaurants and cafés. Yet nowadays, you can go into almost any lunch spot and it’s not uncommon to see a Parisian diner carefully cutting through the layers of un cheese (as they call a cheeseburger) with great precision, using a knife and fork.

    I’ve sampled a few around town, but the problem is that no matter how you order it, the hamburgers generally aren’t very good. The beef is usually dry. And to make matters worse, it’s sandwiched between one of those cellophane-wrapped supermarket hamburger buns. And to make matters even worse, it’s served with a side of half-cooked frites that one could easily tie into a knot, which I once did to a few of them and left them my plate, hoping that someone in the kitchen might get the message.

    (And don’t get me started on the prices. I don’t mind paying €15 for something to eat. But for a burger made with unexceptional ingredients that isn’t much better than one from a fast-food joint? Non, merci.)

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    Sprinting Toward the Finish…

    mache

    Everything is a mess, including my computer. I started writing this story, and lost it. (The story, I mean. I don’t mean that “I lost it” – although I fear that’s coming.) I have piles of paperwork stacked up all around my apartment, including on every chairs and the couch. Next to my kitchen counter is a stack of unfinished recipes I’m testing, with notes and corrections for the next trial batches. It’s just heaped up all around my place, with no escape or end in site. In spite of my panic, when I took a deep breath the other day, I realized the year was coming to a close and I should finish up all this unfinished business.

    squash lettuce greens
    belgian endive plantcognac barrels

    The only problem was that this month got away from me, which I think is pretty common in December, and, well…here I go blaming others, or as we like to say—“C’est pas ma faute.”

    (At a cocktail party last night, a French acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in a while remarked how fast I was to reply with a “Non”, saying, “You’ve become really very French, Daveed.”)

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    Poilâne

    pain Poilâne

    I don’t think about this so much anymore, but one of the reasons I moved to Paris is that I could, whenever I wanted to, go to Poilâne and buy myself nice chunk of pain Poilâne. Just like that. Although I’m from San Francisco where there are quite a number of excellent bread bakeries, there’s something special about the bread at Poilâne – it has a certain flavor, just the right tang of sourdough, dark and husky but with an agreeable légèreté that makes it the perfect bread for sandwiches, to accompany cheese, or as I prefer it, as morning toast with little puddles of salted butter collecting in the irregular holes and a thin layer of bitter chestnut honey drizzled all over it.

    Pain Poilâne

    A week after I moved to Paris, a friend and I were invited to lunch with Monsieur Poilâne and his wife. Both were lovely people and Monsieur Poilâne was animated and still excited about the bakery he’d owned seemingly forever, which was (and still is) considered the best bread in the world. (I’ve never met a bread baker who didn’t use Monsieur Poilâne’s pain au levain as a reference point for excellence.) He took out a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote down a list of places that he wanted to take me, which I thought was odd – yet rather generous – since the man had just met me.

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