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Oprah vs. Hermes

Everyone over here is getting a chuckle over the Oprah vs. Hermès flap.
There seems be a lot of back-and-forth about what happened and who-said-what when Oprah wasn’t allowed into Hermès to buy a watch for her pal Tina Turner (I had the same problem with her as well. Tina is so particular about which brand of watch she’ll wear.)

The kinds folks at Hermès treated Oprah like they would treat anyone who tried to come into the shop –15 minutes after the store had closed.

In France, Closed means Closed. Just like the doors on the Métro. If you’re not in the Métro and the doors are closing, they ain’t holding ‘em open for you. It’s in or out. And if you’re stuck between them…ouch! (Trust me, those doors are strong.)

Hermès didn’t do anything unusual. Why should she get special treatment or an apology? Get over yourself, girlfriend. I had to when I got here. It ain’t all about the customer. She needs to wait until opening hours for a $13,000 Birkin bag just like the rest of us have to.

But don’t get me wrong, I feel the same way about Oprah that Tom feels about Katie. (Truly!…and I don’t even have a movie to promote, but someday I may, so I’d better be nice now just in case.) She is so hip and ‘right-on’ about everything and gives away new cars and cool stuff (and now has fabulous abs on top of everything else, damn her, is there anything she doesn’t have?) But has anyone called her to the mat for promoting junk-food in her magazine while preaching a weight-loss program and doling out “feel-good” lifestyle tips?

“Do not spend another summer fat! Get Oprah’s weight loss secrets and favorite snacks. Beat your chocolate cravings! Get the plan for fab abs. Plus, your questions answered. Portion sizes? Low carb? Low fat? If you need to lose weight, this is the show for you!”
-from Oprah.com

Glancing through her magazine, (and no, I didn’t buy it…someone left me a copy. Honest. Although I did enjoy the articles, “Are You Too PC?” and “This Month, It’s You Time!”…which was helpful, since I was wondering when things were going to get around to being “My” time.)

But I was rather surprised to see who advertised within…

Honey Clusters breakfast cereal, Coke, Fanta and Sprite,
Hi-C, some icky-looking Honey Snack Bars, McDonald’s Egg McMuffins, bottled salad dressing, Keebler Fruit Delights cookies, Quaker Oats Breakfast Squares, Teddy Grahams Cubs “Fun Packs”, Kraft Cheese Nips “Sport Crisps”, Taco Rice mix, Country Crock Microwavable mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, Jose Cuervo Margarita Minis, and Jell-O Sundae Toppers.

I can’t figure out which of these promotes weight loss…
And can anyone tell me what the heck a ‘sport crisp’ is?

Tortillas, in Paris?

Maïs… Oui!

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10 Reasons The Amateur Gourmet Should Come to Paris

10 Reasons The Amateur Gourmet Should Come to Paris…

1. They have no idea who Bobby Flay is.

2. The have no idea who Rachel Ray is.

3. They know who Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are, but don’t care.

4. Scientology is illegal.

5. Since they wouldn’t let Oprah into Hermès, there’s an unclaimed Birkin bag for Adam’s mom.

6. They know who Oprah is, but don’t care.

7. Yes, figs are really in season here.

8. “Brangelina” and “Bennifer” are not in the French vocabulary.

9. Richard Quest has been ‘on assignment’ for a suspiciously long time.

10. We need some New Yorkers here to show Parisians that you can’t just walk right into people and expect not to get slugged.

Bonus Reason:

11. Carrie Bradshaw left.

Making Red Currant Jam

Ha! I fooled you.

This time, this really is a ‘no-recipe’ (unlike my No-Recipe Cherry Jam) since unless you have your own bushes and pick them youself, you’re not likely to have enough red currants to make jam.
So, no-recipe.

Last weekend out in the countryside lots of red currants were picked…
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No make that lots of baskets of red currants!…
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Hours were spent stirring them diligently on the stove until the red currants were transformed into supple, translucent jelly…
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A few red currants were set aside to make a tart. Tangy, vibrant red currants, cooked with a soupçon of sugar, atop buttery pâte brisée

Yum!

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Later in the afternoon, we picked lots of perfumed rose petals to make jelly…
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Très sexy…Non?

(The rose petals, not the cleavage!)

La Table Nutella

The hottest table right now in Paris is not at some snooty Michelin 3-star restaurant. It’s La Table Nutella, a temporary café to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Nutella, the world best-selling spread. Nutella, a paste made of hazelnuts and chocolate (and, um, a few other things) was invented in the Piedmonte region of Italy, famous for it’s delicious hazelnuts.

Each morning a line forms before 7 am, waiting (and hoping) for entrance. I kinda gave up, not really wanting to wake up that early and standing on the street. And I hate crowds of people grabbing food. Plus I had heard stories of a new French revolution brewing since there wasn’t nearly enough food to feed the hoards, and the staff was insanely stressed trying to control the crowd.

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It seems that the staff has figured out a solution to the problems plaguing the café by severly limited the amount of guests, which means the dreaded queue.
Then like magic, I got an email from Louisa that she scored a VIP table and we could cut in front of the queue, something the French are so adept at they even have their own word for it: resquillage.

Once seated, we ordered just about everything on the menu. All proceeds go to the group Rêves, so we didn’t feel guilty.

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This is a dessert created by pastry chef Philippe Conticini for the café, who has written a companion cookbook with stunning recipes using Nutella. It’s an eggshell filled with a rich, creamy chocolate custard that tasted remarkably like great chocolate pudding sans the skin. The baton, or cookie, that came with it was crunchy and the perfect accompaniment..

We split a giant brownie, and when I say giant, that thing was huge… Très Américain! Layers of sticky, dense brownie batter baked with a ganache-like paste of Nutella and toasted hazelnuts. I loved it, but others felt it was too rich.

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So I ate theirs for them.

The Apple-Nutella Crumble was an unfriendly Franco-American alliance on par with Bush and Chirac (Apple Crumble has replaced the ubiquitous Apple Tart in France as the dessert-of-the-moment)…although I don’t like apples and chocolate together, so I’m not the best judge. I did enjoy the fromage blanc with a dollop of Nutella but we all flipped for the little croissants which when split open, oozed out a serious amount of gooey Nutella inside.

When I cut it open, like the croissant itself, Louisa’s enthusiasm spilled out, “Oh yeah, baby, bring it on!

Seems I’m not the only one in love with Nutella.

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La Table Nutella
46, rue de Sévigné, 4th
Until June 22
Monday through Friday, 7am to 11:30am
Saturday 8am to 3pm
(Get there early; latecomers will most likely not get seated.)

Chocolate, On Rue Tatin

Cooking On Rue Tatin
with Susan Loomis and David Lebovitz

For this very special week, I’ll be joining cookbook author Susan Loomis for a week of cooking and baking at her gorgeous and famous home on Rue Tatin (yes, she lives on Rue Tatin!) in the village of Louviers. Susan has written extensively about her life in Normandy and her latest book, Cooking At Home On Rue Tatin has quickly become one of my new favorite cookbooks.

During the week with Susan and me, we’ll be cooking up a storm in her professional kitchen, creating menus and elaborate multi-course meals featuring local ingredients as well as learning cooking secrets and techniques as we go.
We’ll be focusing on chocolate this week, and I’ll conduct special seminars during your visit. We’ll have a focused tasting and evaluation as well as learn how-to tempering chocolate, create wonderful chocolate confections, and baking classic French chocolate desserts.

We’ll also visit an outdoor market in the medieval village of Le Neubourg that is simply amazing, as well as conduct private tastings of goat cheese and wine with local producers and specialists.

More information can be found by visiting On Rue Tatin.
This week is certain to sell-out as group size is limited; reserve your space now.

September 25-30, 2005

Second Chances

For the past several years, I’ve avoided Mariage-Frères in the Marais. Last time I was there, a friend who had just arrived from the states had to go there immediately for tea. As the afternoon wore on, he began the usual jet-lag wilt (I can mimic the facial expressions, complete with nodding-back head, but I can’t describe the feeling adequately at the moment.)
The best description that comes to mind–“Your body arrives one day…and your soul arrives a few days later.”

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As my friend faded into oblivion, I unsuccessfully tried to signal one of the linen-clad waiters for l’addition. At Mariages-Frères, the waiters have perfected and refined the art of avoiding the customers gaze. So we waited and waited and waited. That was my last visit.

But last week a non-jet-lagged friend asked to meet me her there for tea, and I thought why not give it another chance? Three years is a long time to hold a grudge against something that’s a Paris institution.
Our rendez-vous was mid-afternoon, and the tea salon was calm and the servers were graceful and accommodating. I had a perfectly brewed pot of green Sencha tea along with a rather good wedge of tarte layered with fresh raspberries topped with a black tea chiboust.

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In the grand tradition of tea time, we imbibed in small cakes as well: a lovely, moist financier scented with green matcha tea and a madeline with a subtle bit of Earl Grey tea leaves.

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Mariages-Frères
30-35, rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Métro: St. Paul

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