Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The kitchen window in our first floor apartment looks across to a dressmaker’s shop. Every morning at 9:00 Madame arrives, hangs up her coat and puts on her pink work coat. At the end of each day a new dress is hanging in the window. At first I didn’t pay much attention across the courtyard. But dress making seems to be the life’s blood of this part of
Material, lace, and racks of dresses move through the streets of Montorgueil. And in the back of our courtyard is a design studio where clients, mostly Asian, come to attend fashion shows.
Well in the last few days a new person has shown up in Madame’s dress shop. It is a man with wild grayish black hair. Madame seems to always be explaining things to him. And sometimes they will gather round the dress model and have a heated discussion as they point at various parts of the model’s anatomy. Then the man leaves and Madame continues her work. We’ve decided that he is the designer.
Stay tuned for more episodes of “Secrets from the Courtyard.”
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
an old time Becassine
and even an Elvis
In the end I found a lovely little silver chair to add to my chair collection.
We strolled down to Bastille and turned onto the rue St. Antoine. This neighborhood used to be its own village separate from
The guide books say, don’t worry about directions to Les Puces, just follow the crowd as it tumbles off the Metro at Pte. de Clignancourt. How true! After making our way through the outer section selling all manner of clothing, we found the warrens that house the historic flea market. My favorite part of the market was a little café nestled in the heart of it where a woman was singing Edith Piaf tunes to the Sunday afternoon patrons. But I did spy this little chair which I left living in Les Puces in the care of the "fishers of the moon."
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Pleased to report that a good time was had by all … that we were all surprised when we discovered it was past midnight when we thought to look at our watches.
The next evening we stayed in, and I adjusted my favorite Vodka Penne recipe to go with the small amount of champagne we had in one of the bottles.
And I’m afraid I over bought the bread, so we have been having pain perdue each morning since. I discovered a long cloth bag in one of the drawers of the kitchen to store the baguettes in. And I also store the left over slices that have gone dry. Here they are soaking for this morning’s breakfast.
½ box of penne cooked
1 jar spaghetti sauce heated
3 Tablespoons left over champagne
¼ cup heavy cream
Drain the penne and put in a bowl. Toss with the
Monday, March 5, 2007
Well yesterday I stumbled on to a new saint. In fact, I stumbled upon a whole new church which is not hard to do in
Now on my scale of saints, this new saint is not very interesting. I like the sorts of saints where the question,”what can you do for me today, Mr./Ms. Saint?” is easily answered. But Charles, an Italian, lived in the 16th century and was a real mover and shaker in the much needed Catholic Counter Reformation. So I add Charles to my litany of saints as an intellectual and a power broker. I may not need to call on him as much as I do St. Anthony, but it’s always good to let a new saint march into your life.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
I will let the pictures speak
Perhaps you would like a wisk?
or enough fish poachers to poach an ocean full of fish?
or a copper paella pan from which to serve 150 of your closest friends?
Then after a bit of a rest and some wrestling with our French cell phone (worthy of its own post) we headed off for a fashionable dinner at a nearby restaurant. Again the regional focus was Perigord. My entrée salad was composed of mixed greens, walnuts, warm potatoes, grapes, bits of sausage and was topped with four thin slices of duck breast topped with duck liver. It was divine and went perfectly with my kir. The plat was a cassoulet
When we went out the door, I looked in the sky and saw that the promised lunar eclipse had already begun. We thought of the diners behind us missing out on this not to be repeated until 2025 event, and decided to stick our heads back in the restaurant.
“Vous avez vu la lune?,” Hunter asked the owners, and out onto the little street tumbled half of the restaurant’s patrons to look up into the
And so ended another magical day in the City of
Saturday, March 3, 2007
But first things first … COFFEE. Our apartment presented us with 3 methods, we tried two. One was the plunger type and the other was the kind on the left where you put the water in the bottom, the grounds in the middle and after heating on a stove the coffee magically appears in the top half. I think we are plunger people.
We all know that good French shopping means boulangerie for bread and charcuterie for ham, and so on. But did we ever wonder in first year French where they bought paper towels and toilet paper. Ah hah …. The supermarche. That is where we started. I am always amazed at the wine prices in the supermarche … You’ve got to love a country where the wine and the water are priced about the same.
water ... It's the miracle at Cana all over again!
At the charcuterie we picked up six slices of jambon cuit and ten slices of jambon sec. We also stopped at an Italian charcuterie and picked up some prosciutto ravioli.
We put off buying our bread until the end of the day. As we walked into the boulangerie I saw a sign that this bakery carried the famed “flute Gana.” Normally one would have to take a Metro ride out to the 20th to get a flute Gana. I tried last summer, but, of course, they were closed for the summer holiday. This baguette is named after the famed boulanger, Bernard Ganachaud and its quality is related to the amount of hands on time the baker spends with the dough. This little film does a good job in showing the process.
But of course the ultimate test is taste and texture. I have developed “the test” that I use to put all baguettes on the same playing field. It involves tearing off the tip of the baguette as you walk out of the boulangerie and eating it right then. The flute Gana is softer, less crisp than others … the flavor is a little saltier … but it is the chewable texture that makes it stand out.
So what’s left on our list? Flowers and a Turkish haircut. We headed north on the rue St. Denis into the Turkish section of town. The journey took us through the “garment district” where racks of clothes were moving through the streets. We found the barber Hunter remembered from last summer and here is a before and after shot.
before and ...
A final hats off to the flower man who turned a simple handful of tulips into a stunning table bouquet.
And so with Isabelle Boulay singing in the background, we sat down to a lovely meal of salad, ravioli, cheese and bread with a perfectly fine 3 Euro bottle of Cotes du Rhone. The perfect ending to our first full day in
Friday, March 2, 2007
It is in
We cracked the door open onto rue Greneta and said “let’s go explore
This sauce is made perfect when absorbed by a good Parisian baguette. There will be much to say about baguettes in the days to come, but let me share my first impressions. There is NO American equivalent. The finest American baguette pales by comparison. I held the slice in my hand for a moment … I squeezed it between my fingers … it was perfection. I tore a bit of it from the main piece. It held as I tore as though wanting me to know that this was part of a magnificent whole. But at the same time it gave … and let me free it for its task. I pressed it into the sauce and watched the sauce flow into the bread. And when I chewed … it was a sublime mix of flavor and texture. And this was a mere ordinary baguette. What will happen when I get to taste a flute Gana?