September 30, 2012
This week I met up with the awesome Caroline of Sweet Caroline in Paris for noshing, gossiping, and discussion of the state of musical theatre in Paris (conclusion: meh).
But before that, I stumbled upon this adorable and eclectic boutique called Les Fleurs just east of the Bastille. I am not exaggerating when I say I wanted to take home everything in this store. Can’t you just imagine waking up to these whimsical paper decorations floating above your bed?
dining out, paris |
Tags: bar à vin, boutique, boutique les fleurs, charcuterie, cheese fromage, dried apricots, dry white wine, eclectic boutique, friends, gift shop, hipster, jewelry, le siffleur de ballons, les fleurs, paris, paris restaurant, paris shops, planche mixte, restaurant, wine, wine bar |
September 29, 2012
The very first thing I made upon arriving in France was a quiche. A full-sized, caramelized onion and gruyere quiche that I took to my first brunch. The onions were a little over-sweet and it was overcooked due to a timer error, but it worked out in the end. Quiches are forgiving that way.
Since then, I have bizarrely ignored what is clearly the best brunch food known to man. Which is silly, really, given my tart obsession (meaning that I always have several rounds of pastry crust in the freezer) and the gentleman requiring eggs in the morning the way a Frenchman requires a strike at least once a year.
Here’s the thing about quiche, or at least, the thing I like best about quiche: because you have this butter crust holding it together, the eggs can be soft. Extremely soft. Softer than perfect soft-scrambled eggs. If you’re a soft-eggs person, quiche is the ultimate in satisfaction and gooey yolky nirvana.
September 28, 2012
I was under the impression that there were no Pumpkin Spice Lattes at the Starbuckses here in Paris since my friends seemed to already be enjoying them back home and I hadn’t seen them advertised at all in the city. It makes sense, since the French aversion to cinnamon is well-documented, and there’s no pumpkin pie tradition here like there is in the States and Canada. Oh sure, there are lots of huge, knobbly pumpkins around at the markets, but I don’t think anyone’s using them in sweets.
Despite my best friend being a froth slave under the little green mermaid, I’ve never been a huge fan of Starbucks. Honestly, I prefer to make my own French press or pour-over coffee, and there are better places to go for $4 espresso drinks. But I could never resist Pumpkin Spice Latte season. I remember when my office friends and I would make special trips for an afternoon pick-me-up of extra-sweet, pumpkin spicy goodness. Every once in a while one of us would bring a four-cup caddy to work first thing in the morning to share with our little clan, and it was the best possible way to start off a day at our windowless, flourescent-lit desks.
I had already made this syrup and enjoyed many many coffees spiked with the stuff before I found out that France will, indeed, get Pumpkin Spice Lattes after all, but not until October. Now that I’ve made the homemade version, though, I don’t think I’ll even need to get the original from the mermaid. I like that I can customize exactly how sweet my drink is without having to make one of those dreaded extra-specific coffee orders, and it’s lovely to wake up in the morning and have a little treat like this without having to get out of my pajamas.
September 27, 2012
Sometimes, I think a lot of the cooking I do is a display of homesickness. Take these chili cheese fries, for example.
I’d never been a fan of chili before moving. In fact, for a few years there, I was actively sickened by chili due to a memory of an ex who used to eat chili, cold from the can, with canned corn and cheese after basketball practice. Shudder.
But somehow, after six months without encountering chili on any menu or in any grocery store aisle, I somehow found myself craving it. On top of fried carbs, topped with fatty cheese. Naturally.
September 26, 2012
This is spanakopita. (These are spanakopitas?)
It’s spinach and feta wrapped up into little phyllo triangles and doused with butter. The phyllo gets golden brown and butter-crispy and shatters into little shards that get all over your clothes that will make people on the street look at you funny if you forget to lint-roll yourself before leaving home.
September 25, 2012
My house smells amazing right now. It’s because I’ve been experimenting with the fall spices all week: cinnamon, nutmeg, gloves, and ginger.
Smell is the sense most strongly associated with memory. When I smell ginger, I don’t think of gingerbread cookies or holiday mulled cider, but the spicy Korean dishes my mother and aunts and grandmother would cook every week. Or the ginger candies they would eat in the car on long road trips. My family loved its ginger.
Not me, though. I always resisted its spicy, medicinal taste. I was a picky eater, a willful only child, and there was no way I was going to eat something that came out of the ground looking like that, all knobbly and warty.
After several years on my own, carefully refining my taste and tasting everything I had resisted in my childhood, I found that I still didn’t like the taste of raw ginger. Still too spicy for my palate, and still strangely bitter. It reminded me of the medicinal Asian soups that my grandmother would force me to drink when I was sick, full of dried dates and spices and, if you will believe it, slivers of antlers. It reminded me of being miserable and feverish in bed.
Then I tried crystallized ginger and things changed. Boiled for nearly an hour before being saturated with sugar, nearly all of the bitterness of the ginger was gone, but a zingy spiciness remained, tamed by the sweetness of the sugar syrup. For several months, I would buy up bags of the stuff at Whole Foods before figuring out that it was so much cheaper to make it at home, and about as easy as boiling pasta.
September 24, 2012
I know, I know. I’m late with these. I always do this: when it’s the end of the season for something, I must scramble to eat and cook as many of them as possible. So, as nectarines are waving goodbye, I must seize their waving hands and pull them back in the house for one more pastry.
That was a weird metaphor.
Don’t you love it when things accidentally turn out pretty? I didn’t mean for these to end up looking like antique roses. I just left the skins on the nectarines because I was feeling lazy, and I sliced them thinly because this phyllo crust bakes quickly and I wanted the fruit to cook equally quickly. Then I arranged the slices in circles because it was the first arrangement I thought of, and dang if they didn’t come out gorgeous. Thank you kitchen gods for serendipitous loveliness.