Results tagged Paris from David Lebovitz

Browsing in Paris

Yesterday, I decided that since I was the last person in the world to be using Safari as a web browser, I should switch to Firefox. Everyone says it’s better and since I use Movable Type for the blog, Firefox has little buttons to make things bold or to italicize, so I don’t need to type in a bazillion symbols everytime I do that.

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About twenty years ago, which I hope means the statutes of limitations has run out, when working in that vegetarian restaurant I mentioned, someone brought in something for us to, er…well…let’s just say, it was something that was designed to change your perception of reality if you took it.
So of course, we did.

When you work in a restaurant, you develop a rhythm, especially when it comes to setting up your statio in preparation for the rush of customers. If you have a fixed menu and you’ve been working in the same place for a while, when you arrive, you can almost work on auto-pilot to make sure everything’s in place (called mis-en-place), so when the rush comes, you’re full-organized and never get buried under orders (or as they say, ‘in the weeds’). If you’ve done it right, the evening runs like a finely-tuned Swiss watch. If not, you’ve got no business in a restaurant kitchen.
And your night will be a catastrophe (not to mention the customer’s as well).

So one evening, someone brought in something which we ingested that was terribly strong and radically alerted our ‘perception of reality’ (yes, even vegetarians have their vices). As we started our work, though, the owner arrived and surprised us with a brand-new menu, full of items we’d never seen before. So we had to completely change our set-ups and prepare all new dishes.
It was a massive bummer, to put it mildly.

It’s like your computer crashing, taking everything with it, and you need to re set-up everything again. To make a long (long) story short, once the customers arrived, it was like your worst dream coming true, the kind where you’re running towards something, but the faster you run, the farther away it gets. So as the order tickets started coming in, we all panicked and found ourselves seriously in the weeds (in more ways than one), and the evening was a catastrophe.

When I installed my new browser yesterday, everything changed on my little Mac.

My beloved bookmarks, which I’ve spent years collecting, I cherished as your grandmother cherishes her Hümmel figurines, were gone. And the look of my blog platform changed: Yes there were those terrific little buttons that add links, italics, and what-not, but each time I used one, it jumped up to the top of the document, meaning I had to re-scroll back to where I was typing, prompting a mad dash to find where I left off. So like coming down from a bad high, back to my familiar reality, I’ve returned to Safari.

I guess old habits die hard. Like my love for rustically grainy breads, and had a chance to return to one of my favorite bakeries in Paris yesterday when I had a doctor’s appointment on the other side of the city.

Continue Reading Browsing in Paris…

Paris Pas Cher: 8 Money-Saving Tips for Paris

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When I moved to Paris, I was pretty shocked at how expensive things were. And I don’t mean Louis Vuitton suitcases or Kelly bags. Something as simple as a sponge at the supermarket would cost 4€ or a plastic storage container at the BHV might run you 15€ around here.

Ouch!

Then I learned about the Paris pas cher stores all over town. Although concentrated mostly in the less-chic neighborhoods, they’re sort of ‘catch-all’ shops that sell everything from scissors, thongs, cookware, hammers, luggage, shampoo, and old Nicole Kidman movies she made when she was a teenager.

I’ve found they’re great places to scratch your shopping itch. You never know what you’re going to find exactly, but they’re great fun to wander through and see what they’ve got if you pass one. You’ll know you’ve found when if there’s lots of stuff hanging from the ceiling, stacked out front, and piled high if you peek inside. Frequently there’s an overwhelming smell of insecticide or mothballs, but you get used to it after a few years, I guess. (Judging from the people who run them, who seem to be oblivious.)

Paris pas cher, in case you didn’t know, means ‘Paris Not Expensive’, and the term is also used to denote bargains in the city. Since the dollar is tanking, I thought I’d share a few of my money-saving tips with you I’ve learned along the way:

Drink Like a Parisian

If you’re sitting in a café, you’ll notice that few people are drinking soda. Most are lingering over tiny coffees, which cost about 2€ instead. You can stay as long as you want without having to order anything else once you’ve finished, no matter what you ordered. My theory is people order coffee because it’s the cheapest thing you can get. I’m often guilty of that too. (If they ask you to pay, it’s usually because the waiters are changing shifts, so don’t fell obligated to split.)

Standing at the counter cuts the prices roughly in half so if you’re just looking for a quick thirst-quencher or a shot of caffeine, you might want to stand.

(I’m a total rube myself. One of my first times in Paris, I ordered a coffee at the counter, then carried it over to a table. That got quite a response!)

In a café, order wine by the carafe which is usually drinkable and inexpensive. Don’t feel like you need to spend a lot of money on wine in a regular restaurant either. Unlike in America, it’s easy to find good wines in the 15-25€ range. Don’t be afraid to order the Vin du mois or something they’re featuring.

Continue Reading Paris Pas Cher: 8 Money-Saving Tips for Paris…

The Best Croissant in Paris

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Truth is, I don’t eat croissants very often for the simple reason that I don’t like to get dressed until I’ve had my morning coffee & toast. So having one is a relatively big deal for me, since croissants are only good early in the day: I refuse to eat one after 11am if I can help it. Like anything made with copious amounts of butter, they don’t get better the longer they’ve been out of a hot oven.

Although stories abound, no one quite knows who invented le croissant. It’s believe to be in an invention of the Austrians, who created a crescent-shaped pastry to oppose the Ottomans, who had invaded their country. They symbol of Turkey is a crescent, and granted, who doesn’t like to eat Turkey?

Except maybe vegetarians. So maybe croissants were invented by and/or for vegetarians?

Aha…a new theory emerges…this is how rumors get started on the internet, folks, and perhaps people will be quoting me decades later: “David Lebovitz says croissants were invented for Austrian vegetarians!”

But today, I think few would argue that the croissant is most closely associated with France and in fact, one rarely comes across a bakery in Paris that doesn’t offer their own version. If you need further proof of their proprietary alliance with French gastronomy, ask yourself when was the last time you heard the words das croissant?

Continue Reading The Best Croissant in Paris…

Paris Chocolatier: Le Furet Tanrade

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One of my favorite things to do in Paris is just wander around, often in neighborhoods that aren’t really known for anything special. There’s always something interesting to find; shops specializing in vintage hairbrushes and combs, or locksmiths for doors installed only during the reign of Napoléan III.

And of course, I’m usually on the lookout for food, and am especially keen when I come across a shop specializing in candymaking or chocolate. If I get lucky, I discover some little treasure, often in the most unlikeliest of places.

Le Furet Tanrade was opened in 1728, and it’s still one of the sweetest little chocolate shops I’ve found in Paris. Sure, their chocolates aren’t nearly as sleek or refined as their Left Bank counterparts, but I appreciated their handmade charm all the same. Especially the petits dark squares filled with a crisp morsel of mint fondant cloaked in brusque, dark chocolate. And the chocolates filled with caramel and feuilleté were certainly as delicious as those found in swankier boutiques.

One chocolate that piqued my curiosity was flavored with chanvre, a word I wasn’t familiar with. Although I’ve been previously familiar with the green leaf embedded atop the chocolate in my younger days, she offered a sample since she was having difficulty explaining exactly what was inside.

But then, in that little shop, I learned my Word-For-The-Day: the ganache was infused with hemp. So should you find yourself near the Gare du Nord or Gare d’Est, and need to pass a bit of time (or want try to get a bit of a buzz)…or if you just want to take a journey to a less-visited quartier of Paris, Le Furet Tanrade certainly makes a tasty stopping point.

Le Furet Tanrade
1, rue des Méssageries (10th)
Tél: 06 99 41 61 31
Métro: Poissonière


UPDATE: Le Furet Tanrade recently moved to a smaller location, on the rue des Méssageries. So some of the chocolate and items mentioned here may not be available while they are in the process of adapting to the new address.

For the latest on Le Furet Tanrade, and other pastry shops of Paris, check out my Paris Pastry Guide app, which is updated frequently and lists over 300 of the best Paris pastry and chocolate shops. The guide is also available for Kindle and as an e-book, compatible with Android and other devices at the Paris-Pastry website.

Métro Hands…and Cheeks

Sorry about the less-than-stellar photo. I was trying to take a picture in a hectic métro station, and when there was a break in the frenzy of commuters, I tried to get my shot. But soon the people behind the glass in the information booth started taking notice of me snapping a few pics of the high-security features of the métro, like metal railings and door handles.

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So I snapped quickly and packed up my camera fast, especially when I saw one of the guys stub out his cigarette (a sign I took that he was really serious about coming out of that booth), fearing he’d ask me what I was doing. Then I’d have to explain that I have a food blog but I write about Paris as well and I was going to do a post about something called ‘Métro Hands’ and wanted to take a photo to accompany the text for the edification of my readers which was all in the name of fun but sometimes encompassed serious topics, although often shrouded in stories that are either offbeat, funny, poorly-written, lively, contains typos, insulting, unedited, over-edited, timely, insightful, amusing, pathetic, or when all else fails, is accompanied by a recipe for a chocolate cake or cookies.

(I doubt that he would have understood what I was talking about, though in his defense, I can’t blame him—neither would I.)

Anyhow, I don’t know if the French have a phrase that corresponds to this, but when you arrive at someone’s house or at a restaurant, often one will excuse themself shortly thereafter to wash up, claiming a case of ‘Métro Hands’, which usually gets paired with a slightly queasy expression. I’ve seen both French people do this, as well as Americans, who many folks view as a band of raging germophobes (although curiously, you can’t touch produce at the market, and men must wear bathing caps and a barely-there Speedo in a public pools in France, for l’hygiene…mais oui!.)

So what are ‘Métro Hands’?

Continue Reading Métro Hands…and Cheeks…

John-Charles Rochoux, Parisian Chocolatier

One of the hardest things about writing about food is coming up with that killer opening sentence. It should start with something that grabs your attention right away, tickles your curiosity, then encourages the reader (which would be you) to follow the writer (which, or course, would be me) deeper into the story. Thankfully when writing about chocolate, I can include pictures to help me get going, so most of the work is already done.

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A Handcarved Rabbit Made of Pure White chocolate.

The other difficult thing when writing about chocolate is that there’s only so many superlatives you can use to describe it, and words like: dark, unctuous, bittersweet, delicious, seductive, etc…don’t really seem to pinpoint that feeling that you get when you walk into a pristine chocolate shop and are completely overwhelmed by the heady experience, inhaling that sweet, unmistakable scent of chocolate that permeates the air and overtakes you. There’s that quiet moment, when you step into a special place full of chocolate, where you briefly forget all that’s going on outside.

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Slender Orangettes; strips of candied orange peel flecked with crunchy nougat, dipped in dark chocolate.

I’m fortunate to live a city where there’s an unusually large amount of very good chocolate shops, and all-too-often one needs a refuge from the fast-pace of the streets and sprawling avenues. Here in Paris, I have my favorites, and one of them is John-Charles Rochoux. His petit shop is located just off the bustling rue de Rennes. It’s not just a refuge from one of Paris’ busy boulevards, but a step back to another era. In his shop, chocolate is both an edible obsession and an object of sculptural craftsmanship, and you’ll find many intricate, precious little chocolate sculptures, as well as a rather serious selection of bonbons from one of Paris’ top chocolatiers.

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Paris Chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux

Although there’s several chocolate shops across the city that are terrific, at Jean-Charles Rochoux you’ll find lots of little wonders here to keep you enchanted, including the amazing chocolate sculptures that M. Rochoux creates in his small, pristine workshop just beneath the tidy boutique. This kind of craftsmanship is rarely found anymore, even in a chocolate-obsessed city like Paris.

I was fortunate enough to take some time from my busy schedule to pose for Monsieur Rochoux, so he could create one of the most iconic pieces in the shop: Le torse.

Continue Reading John-Charles Rochoux, Parisian Chocolatier…

Yoga Classes In Paris

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(Please note that this list was recently updated in 2013. However prices, addresses, and policies are subject to change. You may wish to visit the website or call the school for additional information.)

If you feel the need to work off that croissant au beurre you’re likely to indulge in every morning or the daily éclair au chocolat you’ve been treating yourself to each afternoon, for visitors to Paris that practice yoga, there’s plenty of places scattered about the city with classes all day long so you can downward-dog all that buttery richness away.

You’ll find most of the yoga studios in Paris tucked away in old courtyards while others are sleek and modern. In my experience, you’re less-likely to find a ‘power yoga’-style class which feels like a heavy-duty workout in Paris as you’ll find in many US cities, but it probably best not to overexert yourself too much…after all, you’re on vacation!

Most yoga classes in Paris are Vinyasa or Ashtanga-style, with lots of variations. Of course, classes are in French (although some schools do have English-language classes), but more teachers speak some English and if you regularly practice yoga, you should be able to follow along.

Here’s a list of a several studios that are centrally located, with some notes about their classes and styles. Most studios require regular students to pay a cotisation annuelle, an annual fee, although they waive it for short-term visitors. Please note that class prices are the current rates, and you should check the individual studios web sites for updates. If you like to have water handy, it’s best to bring a small bottle along with you.

Most yoga studios in Paris don’t offer showers or towels. Expect to pay more than you would for an individual class in the US, although most places offers series of multiple classes, which is worthwhile if you plan to be in town for a while. Mats are available, but changing rooms in most of the places are non-existent, so be prepare to ‘see-and-be-seen’ (and believe me, I’ve seen everything)—so don’t be shy!

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Patrick Roger Chocolate: All I Want For Christmas

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That’s the new one meter box of chocolates from Patrick Roger, over three feet of pralines, caramels, nougats, and creamy-smooth ganache-filled bonbons, all enrobed in ultra-dark bittersweet chocolate.

I don’t know how someone would brave getting one of those home on the métro, but I’d surely appreciate their efforts if I found one under my tree!

Patrick Roger
108, Boulevard St. Germain (6th)
Tel: 01 43 29 38 42