Friday, January 6, 2012

A Swiss Christmas

We arrived in Switzerland to light snow. We had a ground cover for one or two days and then the rains came in and washed away our white Christmas. Anna and Steffen provided us with the perfect Swiss Christmas complete with cutting our own tree and having lighted candles on it. Here is a little video highlight.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

plaques de muselet

In the category of what I learned on my European vacation, I want to introduce the collection of those metal caps that sit on the top of a champagne cork underneath the wire. Who knew these were collectables? They are apparently traded with great fervor in Champagne country. Many of these plaques de muselet are much more colorful and artistic than the one I pulled off my New Year's Eve bottle of Champagne last night. But I've gotta start somewhere.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Moving on to Switzerland

The Paris phase of the trip is over and we are on our way to Switzerland via train.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our last full day in Paris

We began our day by hopping the Metro over to St. Sulpice to catch the organ prelude at 10:15. It is a marvelous instrument and the ethereal music was sublime ... probably a Faure.

Then we made a last walk through the Sunday Bastille market. It was like visiting an aquarium.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Signs of Christmas

More delicious French food

We were treated to a lovely afternoon in the western suburbs of Paris. Isabelle is from Bordeaux and these little morsels are a specialty of the region called cannele.
The cheese plate was divine. Starting with the blue cheese and moving counter clockwise around the plate their names are Saint Agur, Lou Perac brebis, Comte, Camembert, Chevre frois and Saint Felician. Each one just sang with flavor.

And I did not even photograph the first course of duck foie gras salad or the main of duck breast.
And on the RER ride back to Paris, Genevieve taught me the secret to the Parisian scarf tie.

Friday, December 16, 2011

...right down Santa Claus Lane ...

Now let me be clear from the outset ... I am not terribly proud of what the US has done to the image of Santa Claus. He is used crassly to sell toys to children in department store settings. But I do think that we can all hold on to the Clement Moore image with pride. The Dutch show a certain reverence to their Sinterklass, a bishop, riding a white horse and carrying a big accounting book of children's behavior over the past year. And he also has the intriguing behavior of disappearing back to Spain long before Christmas Day itself which saves him from having to join in the crass commercialism of Christmas.There is the problem of the Zwart Piets, but I won't go there.

But the French don't seem to have the same image of Santa. For example, I was at Galerie Lafayette and saw this sad site. Somewhere near the toy department they had pulled out a naugahyde chair for Santa to sit in. He was wearing thick black glasses and seemed genuinely uncomfortable holding this baby.Miracle on 34th Street this was notAnd in more than one place I caught this version of an inflatable Santa hanging off a balcony

And then painted on the side of a building in the 11th was this

The new word for today is "bette"

I was wanting to make a panade with my left over stale baguettes, but I could not remember seeing any Swiss chard in the market. Hunter said it translates as bette but when I saw it I did not think it LOOKED like Swiss chard.

But is DOES taste like Swiss chard and it added a nice sweet flavor to the panade.
razor clams

and even with a falling Euro, lobster at $40 a pound is no bargain

Yesterday we wandered along the banks of the canal ...

Later in the afternoon we walked along the Promenade des Plantee, Paris's version of the NYC High Line. It gave a new feel to the city being up near the rooftops.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sur la Seine

Monday we headed off to the 6th to see a Cezanne exhibit about his time in Paris. Much of the exhibit focused on work he had done on the tributaries of the Seine, the Oise and the Marne. Paris did not fit his temperment ... Provence is where he bloomed. But is was here in Paris where he had to sell.

We cooked in on Tuesday, and I took on that massive frisée I had purchased at market on Saturday. Remember that?

The recipe called for bacon, but all I could find was lardons ...

The recipe was titled Warm Chicken and Frisée Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Using the remains of the poulet roti from Sunday's market, I went to work in the kitchen.

I had Isabelle Boulay playing on the iPad, and a glass of vin blanc. Life is good

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday in Paris

Sunday morning we were out bright and early to catch the action at the marche Richard Lenoir that is practically at our doorstep. We bought some flowers for our Sunday dinner hostess and some fresh pate.
While standing in line to get our poulet roti, a gentleman rolled up with a kind of player piano organ grinder. Into one end he inserted a cardboard player card which played music as he turned the handle on the box. He used it as his accompaniment .

We then took the RER out to Saint Maur des Fosses for a lovely afternoon with friends. It was my first journey onto the Parisian suburbs, and I think I started at th top of th list. Here is a welcoming bottle of Champagne and nibbles.

After a splendid meal we all took a walk along the Marne.