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.

Man With Frog

This was a new one for me.  A man.  Riding one-handed on a bike.  Navigating through the Place de la Concorde.  Holding a giant green frog.  Really?  It was much weirder until we saw the huge county fair-esque "Fete des Tuileries" taking place just off to our left.  I wonder how much he had to spend on the "games of chance" to get that sucker?  And I have to say I can't really see a huge green frog as decor in a parisian apartment.  Perhaps he lives in the 'burbs. 
And speaking of the Fete, it is a wonderful place if you want to spend crazy amounts of money to please your children.  And should you desire, they are ready and willing to provide you with what I'm sure is very low calorie diet food:  Churros, Nutella crepes, kabobs, all sorts of ice cream, cotton candy, you get the idea.  Thank goodness we had just eaten lunch at Bugsy's or the kids would have been begging for treats.  Instead they just begged to go on the "I'm pretty sure that hasn't been properly inspected and maintained" carnival rides.  Which all seemed to have been manned (and womanned) by surly toothless people.  Hey!  Just like in the US!  They rode the carousel three times, two kinds of mini-rollercoasters, jumped on the trampolines, and they were planning their next few rides when the adults called it quits. The kids kept saying, "When we come back tomorrow we'll go on that ride 8 more times!"  Um no.  You two small people just burned through at least 50 euros.  Tomorrow we're feeding the ducks!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crispy Lemon Thyme Roasted Potatoes

Here's the recipe Michelle!  All quantities are approximate.

2 lbs small "baby" potatoes, rinsed thoroughly (I'm partial to the small Yukon golds)
1/2 to 1 head garlic, whole cloves separated and peeled
1/3 cup olive oil
3-5 sprigs lemon thyme, leaves separated and chopped if desired (Fresh sage works well too...about 2T chopped)
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of both)

Boil potatoes for just 5 to 7 minutes in well salted water.  The goal is not to cook them through, just soften them up.  While still warm, cut them in half and throw them back in the pot.  Put the lid on and bash them about until potatoes look smashed on the edges.  Toss with the olive oil, lemon thyme, lemon juice (and zest if you want it really lemony), and plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Oil a baking sheet and place all the potatoes cut side down, tucking in the garlic cloves here and there.  Roast for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, then check to see how golden they have become.  Wait until they are good and crispy before turning them over.  I find this usually takes about 30 minutes in my oven here, but only 25 minutes in my VA oven.  Roast them until they are as crispy as you like them, sometime between 45 and 60 minutes total cooking time, depending on the size of your potatoes.  I love lots and lots of chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish, but I usually serve it on the side for the boys.  Neither of them are parsley fans.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And we have a winner!

Thanks to chrissoup who guessed passionfruit!  Passionfruit?  In the middle of Paris?  It looks like it is technically Passiflora caerulea so a close cousin of Passiflora edulis the "real" passionfruit.  And I did brave being yelled at and grabbed one off the vine.  My specimen was a little shriveled, but when cut open looked pretty cool.  I did taste it, and it was passionfruity, but again, it was getting old so I'll just have to guess the ripe ones are better.

So now to figure out the prize!  I know it will be something good...with yummy French sweets!  (And Belgian too because I have something delicious in mind.)  Now if you would please you big winner, can you email me at parisreally at gmail dot com?  I'll make sure to get your package off ASAP!  


Seriously, if I could go a single day without getting rained on this summer it would be really nice.  Like REALLY nice.  The kids love it.  The Boy gets to wear his sweet North Face rain slicker and Arsenal hat and hold a huge umbrella, and the Girl gets to sit all comfy and cozy in her stroller with her awesome fancy schmancy rain cover, while usually telling me I'm going too slow.  I however, get to hold a too small umbrella while trying to push said stroller, keeping an eye on "the Boy who can't see anything but his umbrella" with one hand while watching my fashionable but totally inappropriate sandals get soggy.  This whole Paris thing in hard.  I would be more than happy to wear my own sweet rain slicker with my bright white running shoes, but I can't!  I'm still pretending I don't stick out like a sore thumb as it is, but I know I will if I dress "all Virginia mom" on these people!  It's a learning curve, and frankly when it rains I just want to be comfortable!  We'll see how that goes.  And no surprise my pictures.