I remember in the 80s, back in the dark age of coffee, when traveling through the United States, it was impossible to get a decent cup almost anywhere you went. Or heaven’s forbid, something as wildly exotic as a cappuccino or espresso. I wasn’t a coffee snob, but simply discovered good coffee early on when I was in college back in those days, because the restaurant I worked in was one of those rare places that carried coffee from a local roaster. (The owner was of Scandinavian descent and insisted on good, strong, dark coffee. So I got used to drinking that.) I don’t remember if local roasters were all that common back in the 1980s, but I don’t think so. And back then, unless you made coffee at home, you were pretty much not going to find a decent cup of coffee in America unless you went to an Italian café. People pretty much settled for diner-style drip coffee or something brewed up in a broiling-hot urn.
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For some reason, people are obsessed with what I eat and weigh and I get a lot of messages that say things like “How do you stay so thin?” or “How can you eat all that amazing food and stay in shape?” It’s not really something that I’m all that concerned about and not something I pay all that much attention to. And as much as I’d like to, I don’t start the day gorging on platters of croissants, then spend the rest of day wolfing down cakes, pastries, and chocolates. People come in different shapes and sizes. I know people who eat well and exercise, that are not necessarily svelte, and I know people who eat whatever they want and are rail-thin. (And according to CDC calculations, I’m overweight.) And I try to make it a point not to preach about how to eat, but just present recipes that I like, which are how I eat and feed guests.
Because I live in France, there’s a fascination with the French “diet” as well, and I frequently get asked about how they miraculously manage to keep the weight off while seemingly enjoying all the rich food in France. A few hints: They don’t snack between meals, portions are smaller, they smoke, diet sodas are popular, and they don’t delight in “extreme eating.” However that’s changing as well in France and they’re catching up to their friends across the Atlantic in terms of putting on the pounds – or kilos.
Misc. thoughts, notes, and links from around the web…
I recently read several excellent articles online about food writing. So much has changed in the last few years, and like most mediums, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and websites continue to evolve.
How to Blog
The editor of Boing Boing discusses the current state of blogging and offers a fresh perspective and tips.
Advice from Every Angle
Seasoned food writer Amanda Hesser assesses the current state of food writing.
How to Blog About Food
A good compendium of tips for new, emerging, and aspiring food bloggers.
An article I wrote last year with some of my own ideas and advice on the topic.
Are Food Blogs Over?
Adam Roberts talks about the saturation of food blogs and offers insights.
Paris’s Best Croissants
On another note, I took a little ‘croissant quest’ for Travel and Leisure magazine, sleuthing out places in Paris for the best croissant. I veered off the usual path and hit the Right Bank, mentioning a few lesser-known addresses.
Paris & Switzerland Chocolate and Gastronomy Tour in June
We have two spaces left on my upcoming Paris and Switzerland Chocolate and Gastronomy Tour in June (due to a last-minute cancellation.) Requirements are that you must be able to consume large quantities of chocolate and caramel, reasonable amounts of butter and cheese, wine (as necessary), and plenty of charcuterie. If you fit this description and are interested in coming – or want more information – there’s a link on my Tours page for getting in touch with the contact person.
There’s a trend to use external commenting systems on blogs but I’m not sure I like the idea of folks having to log-in elsewhere to participate in the discussion. Discussions, tips, advice, and commentary of various sorts are welcome but you must leave a verifiable e-mail address (which isn’t made public, or shared), as noted in my comment policy. I may be revisiting using another system in the future that can be integrated into the site. But for now, I prefer to keep it as is.
Links to Services I’m Using
I was trying to figure out an easy way to move documents and pictures from my computer to mobile devices, and friends recommended Dropbox. It’s very easy to use and the basic version is free. You can also share documents and stuff with others on it as well.
If you have an iPad or iPhone, this application turns your device into a virtual magazine, allowing you to choose from sites (including mine), social networks, newspapers, and magazines, which Flipboard organizes into a magazine-like format.
Rue La La
One of my tour guests turned me on to Rue La La when I was eying her Tumi suitcase, so I joined and in addition to suitcases, I keep seeing amazing deals on everything from Le Creuset and Staub cookware, to KitchenAid mixers and Cuisinart food processors. The prices are great, but you have to act fast.
(Note: Membership in Rue La La is by invitation only. You can use that link as an invitation and Rue La La provides me with credit toward my own future luggage. But membership is free.)
This Sunday, February 12, there’s going to be a get-together to celebrate the release of the Paris Pastry e-book (a clever ruse to drink wine and eat macarons…) at La Cuisine cooking school in Paris. The event will take place from 2 to 4pm.
In addition to fun, frolic, and macarons made by the student of the school (did I mention the wine?) there will be copies of Ready for Dessert, The Perfect Scoop, The Great Book of Chocolate, and The Sweet Life in Paris, for signing if you’d like a personalized copy. Or you’re welcome to bring books you already have to sign as well.
If you plan to come, you are welcome to RSVP at the Facebook event page.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
-Because this is a cooking school, and there will be other programs taking place before the event, please do not arrive early. It’s cold out there and we don’t want you standing by the Seine freezing your derrière off until the doors open.
-Credit cards and cheques cannot be accepted for book sales.
I’ve decided to revamp my newsletter by signing up with a new service, ramping up the content, and making it a regular monthly feature. In the newsletter, you’ll find photos, stories, Paris travel tips, recipes, and other information that will only be in the newsletter. I’m working on getting the hang of the software, but I’m looking forward to sharing information there that doesn’t make it on to the blog. Of course, the newsletter is free and you will not be bombarded with any other kinds of messages—you will just receive the newsletter in your inbox when it’s sent out, that’s all. You can sign up using the form here:
Your e-mail address is never shared and the sign-up for the newsletter uses a double opt-in system, so that you will receive a confirmation message than you’ll need to reply to in order to be added to the list*. (To ensure you get it, you may want to add davidlebovitz.com to your ‘safe’ list in your e-mail program, so it doesn’t go into your spam folder.)
Please note that if you’re already on the newsletter list from the previous newsletter, your delivery address has been moved so there is no need to re-subscribe and you will not get a confirmation message if you do.
At the end of each newsletter is a link to follow in case you want to unsubscribe. I’ll miss you. But we’ll always have Paris.
I think the highlight of my Christmas dinner this year was when I entered the family kitchen, where I arrive bearing the dessert, and promptly dropped the the whole thing on the floor, where it shattered into a million pieces. I sighed, and guessed it was a fitting end to a fragmented year. Having seen more than my share of kitchen catastrophes in my time in various professional kitchens, like getting yourself stuck in a traffic jam, there’s not much you can do once the damage has been done and I’m glad that I’m able to laugh them off.
This year, one of my catastrophic ideas was to tackle granola bars. I see recipes out there all the time—usually some sort of combination of oats, dried fruits, sometimes nuts, and invariably lots of sweeteners to hold everything together. I wanted to make a bar that was really grainy and nutty, without being overly chewy or sugary, but not one of my experiments turned out as I expected. And what I was left with after each of my attempts was a cutting board with some combination of oaty crumbs, miscellaneous dried fruits, dried out seeds of some sort, and a wounded ego.
Ever have data loss? I ran Disk Doctor once, thinking I’d be cleaning up my goofy hard drive. Well, it works..and – poof! – everything on my computer disappeared, never to be seen again. Sign up for Crashplan and back up your data off your computer. (Thanks Michael!)
I’ve been deluged with desperate requests for macaron tips. Here’s my round-up of techniques and troubleshooting for Making French Macarons. And that’s all I can tell ya’…
Although I usually use Kayak for planning a trip, Hipmunk let’s you plan your trip with various factors, including layovers, flight duration, or stopovers, which you can search and filter by the “Agony” factor.