mardi 20 octobre 2009

Amazing View at 8:00 a.m.

I did a sub job in Paris last week, and this beautiful view greeted me each morning as I got out of the metro. Beautiful any time of day.......

mardi 6 octobre 2009

Rue St. Dominique/Restaurant Review

Rue St. Dominique just around the corner from the Tour Eiffel is an great walking street. Albeit, somewhat touristy, but a nice setting and great for window shopping. After visiting the Tour Eiffel, one can meander over to this street for a bit of quiet. There is a great little restaurant over there called Les Cocottes. I highly recommend it for a great, inexpensive lunch. The name means "casserole" as all the dishes are served in Staubware casseroles or on staubware plates. It's better to sit at the counter where one can observe the comings and goings of the staff. This is a Michelin recommendation as a Bib Gourmande with one spoon. For 10 euros I had an awesome omlette served with a salad, bread and a glass of rosé. You can't get any better value than that. We paid that price for each of my children's lunches, and it doesn't even compare. If you find yourself in Paris, I highly recommend this establishment. Bon Appetit!!

mercredi 2 septembre 2009

E. Dehillerin Kitchen Store

In an homage to Julia Child, I visited the E. Dehillerin Kitchen Store in Paris. This store dates back to the 1820s and is located on Rue Coquillière right next to Les Halles. I read the online reviews before partaking in a visit. I entered the store with some trepidation as all the online blogs mentioned "unfriendly", "no patience for tourists", etc. Much to my surprise, it was much the opposite. From the outside, this store looks like a hardware store, but inside the shelves are packed with highly specialized cooking implements, amazing copper pots, molds, whisks in every shape and size, knives not for the faint of heart. A cooking lover's paradise!! Yes, you need to look up every price in one of their huge notebooks, but it's not such a daunting task. I even asked a question in French and was answered with a polite and helpful response.

If you have the chance to visit this kitchen store, it will take you back in time, and perhaps you will even hear whispers of Julia somewhere in the far corners of the store. Bon Appetit!!

mardi 1 septembre 2009

Ile de Saint Louis

This area of Paris near Notre-Dame is a charming, albeit touristy area, but it is worth a stop. The one main street, Rue. St. Louis is lined with small intimate shops that offer good "leche vitrine". Of course, one can find the famous Bertillion Ice Cream here. This is worth the trip alone. Choose from such flavors as Mirabelle, Espresso, Caramel au beurre de salé just to name a few. Afterwards, enjoy a coffee at one of the outdoor cafés facing the pedestrian bridge and watch the world go by!!

leche vitrine: literally means "licking the windows"- expression for window shopping

samedi 11 juillet 2009

Hangin' at Luxembourg Gardens with some Atlanta Friends!!

Fête de la Musique 21 Juin

The fête de la Musique, held every year on the summer solstice is a popular fête open to any participant who wants to perform in it. Musicians perform for free in museums, streets, parks, train stations. One can hear a variety of genre - something for everybody. We listened to these groups in Le Pecq - our town.

samedi 2 mai 2009

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens is a beautiful park in the 5th. You can grab a chair or two, your picnic and enjoy the scenery. And yes, there's alot of it!! Also, right in the center is a beautiful lake where children can sail a boat for a ridiculous cheap price of 2 euros for 1/2 hour ($3.30). You are given your boat and a baton* and spend the next half-hour chasing your child 'round this lake as they try to guess how their boat will traverse. When the boat finally reaches the side, you use the baton to push it out again, and away she sails and off the child goes to find their boat again.

In another corner of this lovely park is a bee garden. Yes, Thousands of bees humming along in their hives making their honey. It's amazing to watch. Apparently, in the fall, one can purchase the honey as well. In the meantime, it's a quiet place to grab a chair and watch the bees "work" away.

This park is by no means a hidden gem, definitely a big tourist draw, but still a wonderful place to come.

*baton - stick

dimanche 26 avril 2009

UnCivilized Driving

Driving on the left side of the road is not as simple as it sounds, and of course the steering is on the right as well. While in Ireland, I tackled this driving situtation, not too simply, I might add. The first hour of our arrival, the GPS put us on a remote country road where I was sure I would take out a sheep or two. Well, even worse, we ended up in a ditch!! And how were we rescued!!!??? By a tractor of course!! The next day, I managed to drive around the rotary the wrong way and completely stopped traffic. I guess the drivers thought it would be better to stay put and let the idiot American driver sort herself out. As well, even the lanes for slow and fast are opposite - didn't know this and couldn't figure out why all the drivers were flashing me in the right hand lane!!

Oh well, at least we didn't end up over the side of a cliff and I didn't injure any cows or sheep in the process!!

Balancing Act

Sometimes when you want something so badly, you find a way to get it, in this case (not very exciting, but something I wanted) a wooden folding table. Well, sounds easy, but if you have no car, transporting it home becomes somewhat of a challenge. Bikes become your wheels for everything. I always seem to purchase way more than my saddle bags can carry and ride with bags on handlebars, groceries in saddlebags. Well, yesterday my girls and I were in Monoprix, and the spring folding tables had finally arrived!! I was determined to buy one as Rachel said, " Mom, how are you going to put that on your bike?"Well, I figured, where there's a will, there's a way. It started out a bit precarious, but eventually I managed to hook it to my handlebars - courtesy of a suggestion by my 10 year old - why are they so much smarter than we are?! So I proudly rode home with a folding table hooked to my handlebars.

Later that day, my friend casually mentioned to me that her boyfriend and all his friends told her to "Tell Tama that bikes and tables don't go together" (loosely translated from french). I was mortified that they all witnessed this hilarious event sitting inside the café. Of course, my comment was, why didn't they come out to help me??!! Oh well, c'est la vie!!

samedi 21 mars 2009

Parc Buttes-Chamont

Discovered a new beautiful part of Paris today... the 19th arrond. Quiet, unassuming, no tourists. The park itself is beautiful. Apparently the former park land was a former dump turned into man-made grotto and huge rock with fake stalagtites and stalagmites. You walk along a railroad tressle to you reach the top where there are sweeping views of the 19th. A very artsy area as well, lots of "tag" art here.

dimanche 1 mars 2009

Paris Walks

I was meandering around the Pigalle area near Montmartre when I turned down a street away from the seedy bars and cabarets. I stumbled upon a tiny chocolate shop on rue Fontaine called L'etoile d'or. I perused the window, well, actually drooled all over it, eyeing all the different chocolates. I walked in and the aroma of the chocolate overtook me. Everywhere in every corner was chocolate!! A chocolate lover's paradise!! Various reviews from magazines assured one this was the place to be. The magazines all featured this cute lady at different ages in silver-blonde pigtails, plaid shirt and pleated skirt - a sort of schoolgirl marm. Lo and behold there she was serving the chocolate. She says one should not taste more than three chocolates at a time for the full experience on the palette. This might be my only disagreement, but hey, I'm no conoisseur. I just wanted to purchase a "petit paquet" for my family to try. She helped me choose 5 of the yummiest pieces of chocolate and even though it was not "pour offrir", she put them in a clear plastic sachet and tied them with a ribbon. I left the store, vowing to be back very soon to partake in another sampling. Vive la chocolate!!

*petit paquet - small package
*pour offrir - gift

Paris Walks

I don't walk as much as I like around Paris, but I was strolling the Canal St. Martin last week and what a beautiful area. One almost feels like Amelie Poulain when walking this area. In the spring, one can take a canal cruise. There isn't much around in terms of shops, however there are a few. We happened upon a tiny pizza joint called Pink Flamingo where they were serving up some very different pizza combinations. We decided to live dangerously and order one with ham and figue. It was absolutely amazing. The shops of Antoine and Lilli are over in this area. Can't miss these shops with their bright green, pink, and orange colors. Fabulous for browsing.

28 February 2009

It turned out the grève wasnn't as bad as most people thought. But.....another one is coming the 19 March - C'est la France!!

mardi 27 janvier 2009

Jeudi Noir - 29 january

One of the biggest "grèves" to hit France is coming this Thursday. Everybody and their mother are striking. If you ask why, the answer is "c'est la France". Stay tuned for more.

*grève: strike
*jeudi noir: black thursday

samedi 10 janvier 2009

Porte de bonheur

These cute little cochons* are offered for a porte de bonheur** for the new year. They were all over the patisseries in Strasbourg. They use alot of pork in their cooking in this area, hence "the pig". They are made from almond paste and are delicious.

*cochons - pigs
**porte de bonheur - happiness for the new year - literally an " open door of happiness" for the new year.

Galette de Rois

To celebrate the ephiphany of 6 january, all over France one can find the galette de rois - which is a tarte with almond paste inside. Also hidden inside is a small
fève(*) that one lucky person will find. How it works is one person goes under the table while another cuts the slices. The person under the table calls out a name to give a slice to and continues till all slices are cut. The winner is the one who finds the fève in their slice and is crowned the "roi" and proudly wears the gold paper crown that is given with each galette. The fèves range from religous figures to Disney characters to random things. It is best to warm the galette before eating. If you like almond paste, these are fantastic. Its fun to visit different bakeries and taste the different galettes and see what fève you will find in your galette. The galettes are usually around till mid February.

*fève: small charm

vendredi 2 janvier 2009

Beautiful Alsace - What's in Your Backyard??

Most families have a playset in their backyard. However most of the houses in this area boast a vineyard in theirs. Most of these are small family-owned plots and the wine never leaves the area. This is one of the most beautiful areas, I think. I just love the small villages and timbered houses that are characteristic of this area. The food and wine are just as awesome. My favorite food has to be the tarte flambé which is heavy cream, small pieces of ham, and sometimes cheese, if you ask for it gratinée, on a very thin crust that is literally cooked for 30 seconds. We struck up a conversation with a local restauranter in Ribeauvillé and I asked him how to make the tarte flambée and he ended up giving me 3 thin crusts with which to make the tartes with. Mine were not as yummy as his, but still pretty good.