Monday, December 19, 2011

Marché de Noël des Champs Elysées

I'm not the biggest fan of all the hullabaloo that comes with Christmas as I'm a pretty low-key person by nature, but I do love food.  And Paris knows how to showcase food at Christmas time.  Our normal everyday markets are admittedly wonderful all year round, but Christmas time ratchets their wonderfulness up a notch.  We hit the Marché de Noël des Champs Elysées a few weeks ago, and noshed our way through some amazingly good food.  

These guys were hot smoking salmon.
I want one of those contraptions for Christmas.  Seriously.  I'm not kidding.
I'm a sucker for anyone selling Vin Chaud (hot mulled wine), but these two fine gentlemen ended up being my hands down favorites of the night.
Mmmmmmmm.  Cured pork products.

Everything they handed us was delicious.  

Here was our take.

The cheese was a mild goat with fines herbes, the jamon was like butter, the sausage just fatty enough, the olive oil bright and tangy, and we haven't dipped into the aioli they gave us for free yet.  (I don't know why not.)  They let us sample everything, and now after having devoured it all I know for certain we should have bought more.  I will be going back before the market ends the 3rd of January.  And if you're anywhere near here you should too!  All you have to do is find this and you'll know you're at the right place.

Drat.  Now I'm getting hungry.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Living Room

Just thought everyone might like to see what my living room looks like.
And this is my new chandelier.  Do you think it's too much?
No really, this is my friend's living room ceiling.
And every corner of every room looks like this.  It is AMAZING.

Now this is the most exciting corner of my living room.  
It makes me sad that every other apartment in our building has gorgeous molding and at some point in time our landlord ripped all of ours out.  Sad sad sad!

OK...enough staring at the ceiling.  Off into this beautiful sunny and crisp fall day.  Not a cloud in the sky.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

That Much for Shoes?

Just wondering if these people are waiting to actually buy some Christian Louboutin shoes, or if they are just window shoppers.  Personally I can't imagine paying that much for very uncomfortable looking shoes.  However if someday I pass by and there's no line I might just have to take a look inside.  See how the other half live.  The really rich other half with feet that really hurt.
By the way, the French don't say "window shopping," they say "lèche-vitrines," or "window licking."  I like that.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pasta Carbonara - My Way

(I should point out that this was my second helping.)

This is The Girl's favorite meal.  Ever.  My second child, who has been mostly a vegetarian her entire life, LOVES bacon.  And in the US I was able to buy meat without nitrates or nitrites, so while I know bacon is loaded with heart killing saturated fat, I was glad I wasn't pumping her with known cancer causing additives.  Here in Paris I have been very unlucky in my search for nitrate and nitrite-free meat, and even the Bio (Organic) options here seem to contain nitrates.  I was very excited to find Bio Smoked Pork Belly, only to read the fine print (after I had purchased it) that told me nitrates were used for preservation.  Come on people!  Get rid of this stuff!  Unless I can find bacon without nitrates this will be the last time I make Pasta Carbonara.  Don't tell The Girl, she might cry.

Pasta Carbonara - My Way

1 pound dry spaghetti or linguine 
14 ounces Thick Cut Nitrate Free Bacon, Slab Bacon or Pork Belly
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Yes, this recipe is heavy on the bacon, plus The Girl likes it crispy, so it's a little bit different from the standard preparation.  But it's her favorite, and I'm a weenie when it comes to making my kids their favorite foods.  (Minus those darn nitrates!)

If you are using sliced bacon, slice it into lardon, or dice if you prefer.  If you are using slab bacon or pork belly, and you plan on hanging around the house for 2 hours prior to dinner, prepare your home to smell like heaven.  Preheat your oven to 200˚ F.  Slice your slab bacon or pork belly into 1/4 inch strips and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for two hours, turning once.  Allow to cool, discard any rind that is too hard, and slice into lardon, or dice.  

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, heavy cream and cheese.

Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large enough skillet to handle the cooked pasta later.  Add the bacon or precooked slab bacon or pork belly to the skillet and cook until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered.  I do this low and slow to get the crispest bacon possible.  Bacon fat is delicious, I know, but I do think you can go overboard.  I usually spoon out most of the rendered fat leaving only about 2 tablespoons.  Do what you like.  

Once the bacon is almost at the level of crispiness you desire, bring a pot of well salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.  I suggest checking for the perfect al dente at about 2 minutes before the end of the recommended cooking time.

A minute before the pasta is done toss the chopped garlic in with the bacon, and sauté for just a minute or two to soften.  

Before draining the pasta reserve 1 cup of the pasta water to thin the sauce as needed.  Drain the pasta and add to the skillet, tossing it well with the bacon fat.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the reserved egg, cream and cheese mixture, tossing everything together.  Add pasta water a few tablespoons at a time until the sauce reaches a nice creamy consistency.  Season the mixture with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.  Mound into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese to those who love it super cheesy.  Try hard not to come back for seconds.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Found Champagne

Our Gardienne's husband found this champagne in their cave, and for some unknown reason gave my husband two bottles.  Not that I'm complaining!  Anyone know anything about Veuve Olivier or Pol Demart?  Off to Google.

I'm Baaaaack! Moving and Broken Stuff.

Not having internet was a big pain in the patootie.  No phone and no TV I was living with, but I like the internet.  A lot.  And with no smart phone, I forgot there was a world outside of Paris.  Which in and of itself is not always a bad thing.

I have been waiting patiently, and will join the eight million other people buying the iPhone4S on the 14th of October.  (Think I'll have to wait in line long?)  If anyone else is planning on getting one at the Carrousel du Louvre Apple Store let me know.  We can camp out together.  

Once we were in the new place we could get the neighbors signal for a few hours a day, but it was never consistent.  Needless to say I did a lot of reading.  And unpacking of many boxes.  I knew we had a lot of crap, but wow.  Anyone need a shower organizer that doesn't fit on our French shower heads?  Still has the tags on it from The Container Store.  (Dear goodness I miss that place.)

Speaking of moving, on moving day we showed up and there were nice moving men from Belgium, but no truck.  Just lots of cars parked where the truck should be, right next to the signs telling people not to park there because a really big truck needed to park there.  Here is the nice tow truck man helping those nice people learn a valuable lesson about reading signs.
I'd heard they were going to use a lift to get all of our things into the new place, but it was more impressive than I'd thought.  
Please oh please oh please don't drop any of my stuff 4 floors down.
Most impressive was their 10 minute struggle to get the King Size mattress through the window.  There was a point I thought it wouldn't make it.  Thank goodness it fit!
You can do it!  Mama needs a good nights sleep!

Notice those tall boxes on the right?  Those are IKEA bookcases.  I end up buying new ones every time we move as inevitably they get destroyed.  Glad I bought them in the states preemptively as sure enough the old ones were broken, and I saved a ton of euros as IKEA France is much more expensive.  I figure I can use that money to buy the matching bag for these boots.  OK.  Back from dreamland.

Then came the boxes.  Oh lord there were a lot of boxes.  And bins of toys.  And books.  Lots and lots of books.  And more broken stuff.
This was the biggest loss since these chairs have been
discontinued.  Be wary if I invite you over
for dinner.  Just kidding!  It's now the official, "I don't
feel like hanging up my clothes" chair in the bedroom.
So much for the worlds most expensive trash can.
I still plan on using it.  I can't imagine throwing a
trash can away when all I'm going to use it for is trash.
(And you better believe I brought a Costco sized
box of Cheez-It's with me to Paris!  Don't judge,
they're like crack.  )

And just in case you didn't notice the gorgeous hardwood floors, the landlord did refinish the nasty floors after all.  This is what they used to look like, yuck, and here they are now.  

We were shocked.  The whole apartment looks brighter, and now I don't have to buy wall to wall carpet!  Hooray!  

All is well friends.  Now off to cook!

Friday, September 9, 2011

We're Not Moving Today

Well that's a big ole bummer.  We had just about everything packed up and ready to be moved this morning, but we received an email at 930p last night telling us we should probably wait.  Looks like our landlord is considering refinishing the hardwood floor in our new apartment.  Which is nice, since it looks like this.

I tried scrubbing it on my hands and knees, but it's beyond needing a cleaning.  We won't know for sure if they will actually be doing the refinishing until next week.  And the refinishing itself will take 3 or 4 days.  So the earliest we could move in would be next Friday.  Or maybe we'll just wait until our household goods arrive the 19th and 20th.  Who knows.  I should point out that the apartment has been vacant since the first week of July.  Wish they could have figured this stuff out sooner.  Whine over.  Now to go unpack.  Oh joy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Boots

So since it's the third day of réentrée (when we all drop kick our kids back to school), and I have already noticed that the Parisians have all changed out their wardrobes.  Seriously.  No sandals.  Lots of sweaters and scarves.  And balloon pants.  (I really don't get that one.  They look good on only 1% of the population, and even their butts look big!  I must post more on this later.)  Now it's all about ballet slippers in fall colors and boots.  Lots of really nice boots.  The weather is no different than last week mind you, but because the calendar now says September we must say goodbye to all this summer stuff.  Very sad.  

I like boots.  I usually keep them until they fall apart.  The Parisians like heels on all their shoes, boots included, but I just can't do it.  I like my feet.  So lucky me, I found the Geox store at Les Quatre Temps in La Défense.  And bought these.

I think I'm in love. 
Luckily my husband is very understanding about my need to follow the local customs.  I'm hoping that the Parisians will expect that I carry a matching bag.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chipotle IS Coming to Paris!

I have it from the source!  

After hearing and reading the rumors that Chipotle is coming to Paris I sent them an email.  I needed an answer.  And I got one!  Thank you Austin Roberts, Customer Service Guy.  Here is what he said.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write to us and yes we are actually coming to Paris, France. Unfortunately, I do not have any news as to when the Paris restaurant will be opening. Please bare with us and stay tuned. Thanks for the question.


Austin Roberts | Customer Service
Chipotle Mexican Grill

Great news!  (Though I should probably suggest he read my good friend Michelle's 5 Minute Grammar Lesson on bare vs bear.)  So sometime in the future, who knows when, Chipotle is coming to Paris.  I vote for sooner rather than later.  I can almost smell the carnitas!  

Thought This Was Neat

Thought this was a pretty neat picture.  We had just gotten off the metro at Concorde and we were planning on playing in the Tuileries Gardens with the kids.  As usual the summer weather threw us for a loop and we ended up huddled under a tree while we put on raincoats and got out umbrellas.  I grabbed our DK Travel Guide out to look for a restaurant nearby and this is what I turned to.  I love when this kind of thing happens!

School Lunches

If you want to see how French public school kids eat, watch this.  It's a great piece by CBS News.

We got the school lunch menu for September, and our kids will be eating well.  Want an example of the kinds of four course meals they will be having daily?

The 12th the children will be dining on Tabouleh, Grilled Chicken Legs, Ratatouille and for the cheese course?  Buche de Chévre.

Here are some other highlights...
Spagettis Garniture Bolognaise (Spaghetti Bolognese)
Aiguillettes de Poulet au Curry (Chicken Strips in Curry)
Omelette au Fromage (Cheese Omelette)
Galette Vegetale aux Champignons (Vegetable Gallette with Mushrooms)
Pavé de Truite (Trout Steaks)
Bœuf Bourguignon
Seriously, the list goes on and on.  There is always at least one vegetable, and dessert is usually cheese, fruit or yogurt, with the occasional "Creme Dessert Chocolat" thrown in there.  YUM!

Oh, and did I mention that all the food served at our school is organic (bio)?  Another terrific bonus.

The French take their food very seriously.  It's lovely to know that my kids are going to be exposed to that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Things That Suck

So we've had a wonderful last week.  I'll make sure to post lots of great pictures when the kids finally go to school this coming week.  Seriously, I won't know what to do with all the time on my hands!  But I had to post this right now.

Really???  The Husband puts me and the kids in a taxi home from a friends party on Place Victor Hugo tonight so he can go search out the home opener of Notre Dame football somewhere in the 6th.  (Yes, he is a masochist.)  No problem.  As we enter the Place de Porte de Maillot...WHACK!  We get hit by a car.  I can see it coming...and had time to grab both kids who are strapped into their seat belts, but not nearly as safely as I'd like them to be.  The impact is not so bad, though my head hits the side window as I'm totally focused on holding onto the kids.  So the taxi driver pulls over and jumps out to scream at the other driver, who of course jumps out and screams at him.  (God I wish I knew French!)  I check on the kids, who are perfectly fine and have no idea there is any problem.

So get this.  They are still yelling at each other, getting louder and louder, gesturing wildly at the street, at their bumpers, and back to the street.  Then they get their cell phones out and start yelling again.  (I MUST learn French.)  So I dare to open the door and try to get out.  The guy starts yelling at me!  Um.  NO.  He said, "Do you want me to get you another taxi?"  Really???  You think I want to sit here and get yelled at?  So I said no since I could see another taxi stand just across the street.  I paid him the 5 euro on the meter and walked my kids across the street to another waiting taxi.  You bet your bottom dollar I made sure everyone was securely strapped in again!

Ah well.  No one was hurt in the production of this blog entry.  I thought about taking a quick picture but I didn't want him yelling at me even more.

The French are still a mystery to me.  Now to pour a glass of wine.

Oh, and I should mention that we will be getting our car this week.  I just can't wait to start driving in this city!  Fun!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Living on a Boat

I have no idea how much one of these houseboats costs to purchase, but I have to say it looks like a pretty neat option for the warm summer months.  Even though there were no real warm summer months this summer.  More like a couple of nice days surrounded by lots of cold rainy days.  It's 50 degrees F outside right now.  Brrrr.  Happy August!

New Money

So this is my new money.  I figured the Euro folks would have corrected the whole "the dime is smaller than the nickel" problem.  But no luck.  I seriously don't understand that.  Can someone explain it to me?  

It doesn't really matter what size the coins are really, since everything is so expensive.  The only time I break out the under €1 coins is to buy a baguette.  And that's only because bread is heavily subsidized by the French government.  Sometimes subsidies are good, no?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bistro Romain

So one day after walking, a lot, we decided to pop in to a little chain place in our neighborhood to see how it was.  Bistro Romain.  They advertised a decent kids menu (steak for The Boy) so it couldn't be all that bad could it?  The adults both had a very unimpressive "César" salad with marinated chicken to start.  And my main course of grilled shrimp and scallops was well seasoned, but overcooked.  But The Husband got this carpaccio.  Very good for the price.  When he was done the waitress asked if he was finished.  We have no idea what she thought he said, but a second plate of carpaccio was placed in front of him.  BONUS.  Sure enough, it's an all you can eat kind of place, and the second plate was included in the price.  

Then one day we walked by and the place was absolutely demolished inside.  Huh?  Looks like another chain is moving in.  And it looks to be fast-ish food.  Red d'Hippo from the Hippopotamus Restaurant Group.  As far as I know their specialty is beef, not hippo.  One can hope.

Sunday Morning

Not a Bad View...

This is the view from a friend's apartment.  Not bad.  Imagine what it looks like when there is blue sky!  They say their kids don't even notice the Tour Eiffel anymore.  Really?
From the balcony.
That's the top of the Arc de Triomphe to the right of the crane.
That's Le Basilique du Sacré-Cœur on top of Montmartre.
The dome at Les Invalides.
The Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadéro. 
I was trying to be fancy schmancy with this one. 
This is the view from their bedroom.  They can lay in bed at night and watch the light show.  Lucky ducks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

OK...this is getting crazy!

This was parked across the street from our bus stop last night.  Best I can tell from a quick look at the manufacturers webpage, it is an Aston Martin DB9 Volonte ragtop.  My friends, this little beauty will set you back about $200,000.00.  And it's parked on the street!  Where the bus zooms by?  Really???  
I should also mention that I wanted to take a picture of an equally lovely black Ferrari not 10 minutes later in front of the Metro, but there were still people in it.  I thought they might not like me taking pictures of them.  (I need a smaller camera.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stuff That We Love to Eat

I do plan on blogging about how awesome the bread and wine are here in Paris, but I need to do a LOT more research.  I'm thinking I'll be able to make a White House sized wreath with all the corks it will take just to find a favorite rosé.  Get my drift?  But we're discovering other things in the grocery stores and markets that are becoming fast favorites.  Here are some of them, with more to follow as we find them.
Gazpacho in a box.  Might be bad, right?  Wrong!  This stuff is great, and even the kids will eat it.  A little bit of olive oil, some fleur de sel and freshly cracked black pepper.  It is the #1 in Spain...and those Spanish boxed gazpacho drinkers are no dummies.
The Husband bought this because it had angels on it and he figures any cheese endorsed by angels should be good.  He was right.  Very mild and creamy, but make sure to serve it at room temp or otherwise it's pretty bland.
Smooth, creamy with just a hint of herbs and garlic.  Great on a baguette with a slice of Prosciutto or Jamon Serrano.
This alone is going to be the main reason my cholesterol is likely off the charts.  We were introduced to this butter on our visit in January, and just the memory of its flavor sustained me through the months of stress before the move.  You want it slightly cold, but still spreadable so you get the texture differences between the fat of the butter and the crunch of the sea salt.  Heaven!  If the angels weren't busy with the cheese they'd be on this packaging.
I eat this soup just about every day for lunch.  It's from the upscale frozen food chain store Picard.  I've made it a habit just to purchase everything that has creme fraiche listed as an ingredient.  I have yet to be disappointed.  
These little fruit squeezers are a savior when out exploring Paris with the kids.  They make all sorts of flavors, and I even found a Bio (organic) option yesterday.  We don't have to send the kids with lunch this year, but this would be the perfect lunch box addition to get in an extra serving of fruit.