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Bits & Pieces: (Favorite Links)

Croissants and Pains au chocolat

I always thought that someone could make a mint opening up a good coffee place in Paris. Now there seems to be a few who’ve heeded the call: Coutume Café (47, rue Babylon), KooKa BooRa (62, rue de Martyrs), and Le Bal. Quelle difference!

And since this is the Year of Mexico, in France, a few new Mexican places have opened up serving authentic (or close to authentic) Mexican fare. If you close your eyes, except for the people speaking French instead of Spanish, the super-delicious tacos at Candelaria will make you feel as if you’re right there, in Mexico. And for those who like cocktails, the plain white wooden door in the back leads to a hip cocktail lounge. The Guêpe vert is my favorite, although this isn’t the place for cocktail-lovers who want a quiet space to sip their drinks. (Check out my post Mexican restaurants in Paris for a more complete list.)

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The Vevey Market

vevey market

I was having a conversation a while back with someone who worked for an international hotel chain and she told me that their hotels in Europe don’t have alarm clocks in the rooms because Europeans – when they take their vacations – aren’t all that interested in keeping track of what time it is. We Americans, on the other hand, seem to have a need to know.

tiny potatoes rhubarbe

Last Tuesday morning I was invited to the market in Vevey to meet and shop with celebrated chef Stéphane Décotterd of Le Pont de Brent. I guess I’m now European because when my alarm went off at 5:45am, I didn’t really want to know what time it was either.

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Get-Together in Chicago – This Week!

This coming Thursday, March 24th from 4 to 6pm, I’m having a get-together and book event at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago.

The hotel is located at 171 West Randolph Street and copies of The Sweet Life in Paris, Ready for Dessert, and The Perfect Scoop will be available. All proceeds from sales* will go to benefit the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance.

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New! The Sweet Life in Paris – paperback edition



Just released, the paperback edition of The Sweet Life in Paris is out with a new look that I just love. Inside, I also revised and updated the Paris address book to include additional information* about my favorite places in Paris for this new edition.

Right now Amazon is selling the book for only $7.67 (price subject to change) – so get ‘em while they’re hot!

You can also visit your local bookseller, who should have copies in stock as well.


*The edition contains the same chapters and recipes as the hardcover one, however some additional listings for bakeries, pastry shops and other places have been added along with updated contact information.

What is a Bergamot?

bergamots

During citrus season in France, if you’re lucky, you’ll run across something called a bergamot. They’re not brilliant yellow like regular lemons, but a sort of orangey color, and when split open, they’re quite juicy and the flavor is much sweeter than regular lemons. In fact, they often call them citrons doux, which translates to “sweet lemons.”

Last year when I was making bergamot marmalade from them, which has become everyone’s new favorite marmalade around me, I was reading a little more about bergamots and some people who don’t live in France said that they tried using bergamots in various things and the flavor was so balmy and overwhelming they were hard to enjoy.

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Spring Cleaning

We’ve had some really nasty weather in Paris during last couple of weeks. Some days were so bitter, dark, and cold that even though I had my heater on full blast, I was bundled up a wool coat and scarf inside of my apartment. And you know it’s really cold in Paris when the normally indifferent teenagers (who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything but a t-shirt and perhaps a down vest, no matter how bone-chilling cold it was), were bundled up in hats and scarves. Chic women had gone into survival mode, slipping off fashionable pumps and wearing bulky winter boots, with their faces tucked under hats with long side flaps.

For about a week I thought there was a national holiday because the streets and outdoor markets were deserted. Hardly anyone was in the bakeries buying bread or on the sidewalks. But no, it was just too cold for anyone to even think about going outside.

Then, this morning I woke up and the sky was blue and it was so warm that I could open the window and breath in some of the fresh air, hopefully signally that spring is almost around the corner. It also prompted some thinking today about a few things I’ve been considering, which I’ve decided to put them in action, some involving changes to the blog. A few you likely won’t notice, but there’ll be a few more substantial ones in the coming weeks.

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Citrus

large grapefrtui

Last month I was teaching at Central Market, a chain of pretty amazing supermarkets in Texas that has just about anything you can imagine—including cooking classes. And I never pass up the chance to teach there. For one thing, the staff is uniformly excellent and it’s just a pleasure to step into their kitchens and work with them. But the other is that I get to wander the aisles of their supermarkets, which are like no other in the world.

French nut oils, Texas honeys, a crazy machine that shoots out crisp Korean wafers at the ultra-high speed of a shotgun, a homemade salsa and guacamole bar, barbecued ribs that I’m still dreaming about, a excellent selection of British cheddars and French soft cheeses, in-store scratch bakeries, and candy-coated chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, which I’m now (unfortunately) completely addicted to. And those Korean wafers are pretty addictive as well, although the blasting sound the machine makes when firing them out kind of scared me. (I get a little gun-shy in Texas, y’all.)

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Ready for Dessert Notes, Erratum & Tips

I’ve been in the midst of working with the publisher in the United Kingdom for the release of Ready for Dessert and The Perfect Scoop on this side of the Atlantic*. I’ll announce the dates as to when they’ll be available, but I’m thrilled to have them more readily available to European readers. And my shoulders will be happy as well because you have no idea how much work it is lugging boxes of 3-pound books through airports.

Books go through rigorous editing after they’re written, then they’re copyedited, then proofread by the author. Then the book gets punted back to the editor, and back to the author for a final look through. Then it gets forwarded the designer, then to the printer.

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