When I started baking professionally, whenever a recipe called for chocolate, we grabbed whatever chocolate we could get in bulk, lopped off a chunk, and used that. At the time, there wasn’t much consciousness about chocolate and all the differences that there are today. (I know, I sound like a dinosaur!) Often “European” chocolates were talked about as being of the best quality. But when I started at…

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When people ask me “Why did you move to Paris?” I’ll usually stop, point to the nearest cheese shop or bakery, and let them figure it out for themselves. There are a lot of pastry shops in Paris, over a thousand of them. But the first was Stohrer, which opened in 1730 by pastry chef Nicolas Stohrer, the pastry chef for Louis XV of France and his…

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While I wish that I could try everything and go to all the places that are suggested to me. I used to keep lists of restaurants and bakeries in Paris that I intended to go to. Then, invariably, a few weeks later, that list would get updated with new places and I’d realize that I’d never make it to the older places. (Or maybe I would, just…

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Mint Pesto

Holidays always feel like a sprint to me. Perhaps because I spent a lot of time working in restaurant kitchens, holidays don’t feel so much as celebratory, as they do an extra dose of work. I’m used to it and know that the key is advanced planning. I don’t cook much in advance, nor do I freeze things (except ice cream), but I make sure I’ve…

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    Not long after I’d arrived in Paris, I met Jacques Genin. At the time, he was working out of a small workshop deep in the 15th arrondissement. Inside, he and his team of five or so worked in a very tight space: A large table where they worked sat in the center of the room, taking up probably 90% of the space, enrobing machines…

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Pretzel Bites

Bakers and pastry chefs crave two things: Salt and vinegar. When I worked in the restaurant business and got home way after midnight, too-often I’d park myself in front of the television, put my dogs up, and dig into a bag of tortilla chips along with a big jar of spicy salsa. Of course, I was half the age I am now and a bag of…

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When I moved to France, Romain dubbed me “chicken man,” because I was always ordering, or buying, chicken. It’s not that the French don’t eat or like chicken, it’s just that it’s considering rather common fare, and not really something that is given a lot of attention. Americans love chicken, not just in our beloved fried chicken, but in lots of other preparations. I’m not…

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One thing that surprises people is how much French people, even with a tempting barrage of éclairs, macarons, and pain au chocolat on every street, love gâteau au fromage, or as it’s commonly called: le cheesecake. (Not to be confused with le cheese, which is a cheeseburger.) But it’s a no brainer since French people like cheese and they like cake. So why not combine the…

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I started this list, initially called Things I’m Liking, which I’d intended to post…oh, six months ago. Then I didn’t make it back to finish it, and it ended up being one of those files on my desktop that I’d check into once in a while, but never get around to finishing – until now. Using my expertise as a multi-tasker, I decided roll it over…

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