Category Archives: Paris

At long last.

“It’s been a while”, I say to myself when something reminds me about blogging.

Most gargantuan understatement of the YEAR.

I guess I realized the hard way, that when life throws you off the horse, it takes like four months to even look at the horse again without whimpering like a child, another two weeks to shamefully amble toward the foul-smelling thing, freaking out and running away every time it makes that weird sound and shows you its creepy horse teeth, then another solid week and a half to lift your sorry arse up n’ over and consider riding it. Ugh *shudder*

Now, I’m finally at that point… where I can think of no freaking reasons (read: excuses) to not blog… and I have a major hankering for some written words.  And food. As if I needed to write that. Food (eventually). I’ma do this.

So, what happened to me for forever?

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endings of beginnings

Living in Paris hasn’t just been living in Paris. It’s been learning (not school-type learning… come on now).  It’s been growing up (some might call me an adult, though not to my face or I’ll have at you).  And above all, it has been about connecting.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not leaving yet, nono. Nonono. nope. I’ve still got 756 hours to go in Paris. You know.  Approximately.

But school is overish.  (Don’t tell my legal strat. prof.. if he asks I’m working diligently on my presentation)

This means that all of that connecting is finally starting to lead to goodbyes.

We’ve been together for a short time, and I guess we knew it would be temporary.  But in this short time, we’ve all been there for each other to lean on.

To commiserate about Paris attacking us with paperwork.

To make disgusted faces when walking under a pee-drenched passage.

To plan our escapes.

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My weekend in photos

It has been a beautiful weekend ladies and gents. Let’s reflect shall we:

Buds becoming leaves. Amazing.

The most adorable Oeufs en Cocotte eaten by my friend Nicole.

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I made macarons

Yes I did.

Not only did i make macarons, I made macarons in Paris.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that equates to double the Brittany is a Parisienne points. N’est-ce pas? 

Ok, so technically we made french macarons in Paris using the Italian method, but that’s neither here nor there and you don’t care about that and neither do I. And that does NOT take away from my Brittany is a Parisienne points.

The making of the macarons:

A few weeks back, I found out about La Cuisine de Paris, a warm, welcoming, 100% ex-pat friendly cooking school, via none other than Sir David Lebovitz himself.

No, he hasn’t been knighted, but I kinda just knighted him there.. ish.. didn’t I. Henceforth known as Sir David.

No, scratch that. Master David. As in Jedi Master. As in my Jedi Master of Paris and all things food.

Woah woah woah, back to the point. So David was hosting a rendezvous, hot chocolate drinking, macaron-eating and book signing the following day at La Cuisine de Paris and he posted it on his bloggity.

Intrigued.

I did some interweb creepin’.

Turned out that La cuisine offers a full range of English taught cooking, pastry-making, and market perusing classes. I saw Macarons.

Done. Booked.

I know, I know. BRITT what are you doing.  You’re in France to learn French.  Get out of that damn english speaking cooking class and sign up for one of their (available!) French cooking classes, you weak-willed female.

My excuses: It was like, my second week here, chill.  Even listening to the explanations for the delays on the metro PA system stressed me out. Also, it’s a super great way to meet other expats in the same situation. Networking people. Networking. Oh yeah, finally, I actually wanted to know HOW to make the macarons.  Sure I’d be able to get the gist of it en Français, but guaranteed I would mis-interperet some extra important tip like wait for at least two days before you try to eat your macarons or else they will be dry and less awesome, for something wrong and similar like, don’t wait two days before eating the macarons or else they will be dry and not awesome. Heed the warning and avoid temptation for the first two days, believe you me.

How was the class you ask?

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Still Recovering from St Valentin.

So I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I have so much that I could share, that I don’t know what to share first.

Which leads to me not sharing anything.

Which leads to me realizing that I don’t have enough blogging capacity to share everything that pops into my ever-moving-squirrel(now french squirrel)-brain.

Which leads to me trying to prioritize my sharing.

Which necessitates more thinking.

Which necessitates more procrastinating.

Meanwhile here I am.

Eating Chocolate. And bread. And cheese. And (drinking) wine. And having amusing eccentric little thoughts.

And nobody is hearing about it. That stresses me out.

At least stressed turned around is desserts, and I’m sure as heck not short on desserts. It was Valentine’s Day for crêpes sake. (Ha. ha. see what I did there.)

Let me tell you about Valentine’s Day in Paris. Actually you can probably figure it out your dang self. Just sit there and think about the most fabulously romantical, Valentines-y city possible that, if you could be, you would SO be visiting on February 14th with your significant other.

Me Helping You: Paris. Hi.

It is so true. No one could make up the amount of love diffused through the air in the cafés, parcs, boulangeries and even through the most pee-smelling of metro stations.  Guys, there was no escape.

I wake up to find a romantic poem waiting for my roommate, walk down the hall and bump into a man delivering a dozen roses to a friend of mine, snatch my vélib and head to the galleries lafayette to peruse the gourmet food section. Naturally, it’s Hell-a Heart-tastic too.

To be honest, I’m not too much of a rebel. I can’t fight the hearts and the romance.  Even if there’s no one waiting for me with a love-filled home-made dinner and a freaking cuddle (I would never ask this of you dear roommate).

I embraced the love. Just me… and Paris.

I couldn’t stop myself from buying a delicious coeur de neufchâtel. I totally cut my betteraves into romantic shapes for my own lunch.  I stuck my face against every chocolaterie window.  And occasionally I came out with something super.  And I even forced myself to not express disgust when I saw couples eating eachother’s faces at the corner brasserie. Or on the metro.  You have no idea how many times I faced this one.

Then, Valentine’s Day was over.  But it still felt like Valentine’s Day. By now, I’m pretty sure it’s just Paris.

Paris is like some wildly sappy twist on the classic Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day“.  But sappy in a way that you learn to love to live with.

Perpetual romance. Woah.

So the next day, I had red wine and a delicious cheese fondue with some new Swiss friends.  The next evening I shared a(n other) bottle of wine, a home cooked meal, and some excellent conversation with a new German friend.  The next morning I made decadent chocolate pancakes and went for my usual run around the fountains at the Jardin Luxembourg. Seule. Since then, I’ve gone ice skating at the hôtel de ville, followed by amorino gelato, wine-hopped through le Marais, shared cheeses, bread and snickerdoodles with a lovely international group of amies, shared variations of bitter dark chocolat chaud and chantilly at a viennese pastry shop, and pondered colours, brushstrokes, and insanity at the centre pompidou. (I also learned how to make macarons at a pastry school, but I will for real tell you about that in another post)

Romance is not just for two, and it’s certainly not just for a special occasion.

At least not here. I’m adjusting. These helped.

Yes I greased the pan with artisan french butter. duh.

Romantic Chocolate Pancakes. For One.

adaptedish from The First Mess

a word to the wise.. I have little to no means of measuring things.. and haven’t jumped fully into kitchen scale-ing… so these are all “ish” measurements

  • 1/2 ish cup milk (105g)
  • 1 teaspoon (or smallish spoon) vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • 1/2 ish cup white spelt flour (55g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons (large-ish spoon in my case) cocoa powder (make it fair trade babe)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons sweetener (I used molasses, tis all I had)
  • nubbin of a banana.. the size is photographed
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • butter for pan-greasing

Mix the almond milk and vinegar together in a small dish, or random residence cup, and let it set to become buttermilky.

Mix the dry ingredients (up to salt) together in a medium bowl.

Mash the banana in another bowl, and thoroughly combine with milk mixture and vanilla.  Add wet to dry and mix until just combined, and pancake it up on a lowish-medium heat frying pan!

Cover your pancakes with romance.  Or peanut butter and bananas.

p.s. I just bought a kilogram of the finest Valrhona chocolate available from G.Detou near Les Halles. Throw me rope. A life boat. A glass of water. A freaking bag of spinach. Throw me anything. Just not chocolate.

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I love Sundays.

You know, those Sundays.

You know them.

Those Sundays where you wake up to the sun rising over the Panthéon, then mosey over to your oven-less kitchen and whip up some yeast-raised pancakes, because corner stores don’t carry quick leaveners.

Then you head out for a run through the snow-covered Jardins du Luxembourg and smile at your fellow Parisians while they welcome the new weather with shock and awe.

And of course you follow your run with a stroll through the Sunday marché along the boulevard Raspail.  You know, the weekly organic market where you spend hours perusing the different varieties of chévre and agrumes while politely shuffling around the weekly patrons who are on the hunt for their favourite yoghurt vendor, fresh turmeric bulbs, or saucisse.

Then, as per usual, you walk back around the boulevard saint-germain, while maintaining the feeling in your hands, and stopping at a little stand for bonbons on your way home.

You know how those sundays go.  Typically, after warming up at home for a short spell, you take the metro over to le marais for some lunch and some late sunday shopping.  Lunch is at the famed L’As du Falafel of course. It wouldn’t be one of those sundays without a steaming falafel at a little park, surrounded by inquisitive birds.

Typically you’ll finish off you stint at le marais, with some window shopping through gorgeous chocolateries and vintage stores, metro-ing home to catch the evening crowd trying to decide on their favourite local bistrot.

Obviously those sundays finish with a market creation inspired by the earlier finds, and a movie.

You know, those sundays.

Don’t you?

Oh… right… I live in Paris now. Hi.

My last week has been new, exciting, frustrating, amazing.

Bonding with another ex-pat Yukoner over the infallible magic that is Paris. And how only here would you find yourself desperately asking, “is it blood or wine?!” Seriously, there were smeary hand prints.

Catching my first glimpses of the tour eiffel, moulin rouge, and…. sexodrome.

Catching my second glimpse of the tour with the first of many aussies to come, from the top of l’arc de triomphe.

Demolishing my first taste of french bistro fare, chocolate three way and all.

Going into the Paris version of Abercrombie & Fitch. Which was horrifying. I can still taste the parfum.

Getting asked out by someone who speaks neither english nor french in the parc des buttes chaumont, then attempting to tactfully reject their Russian offer of café, then realizing they didn’t understand your rejection as they try to follow you to your metro stop.

Getting used to the views from my new residence.

And the restaurants near my new residence.

And the new friends in my new residence.

Excuse me while I eat another truffle and head out for some bread.

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Love at 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sight

No, not love at 1st sight. First sight was me barely seeing past my sweaty scarf.

Lugging 100lbs of duffle-bag-bungee-corded-to-suitcase-plus-awkward-camera-bag through the metro system.

The metro system that is not friendly to things that roll and do not climb.

The metro system that is also not AT ALL friendly to things wider than a French woman (not wide). My bungee corded duffle bag was at least 2.5 French women wide.

This blog will henceforth measure everything in French women.

So right. Neither he narrow ticketed metro gates nor the numerous stairs wanted me in Paris. This is why my lats are killing today. This is why I had a nap yesterday afternoon (also the whole not-sleeping-the-previous-night thing). This is why the lats of two kind French gentleman and one other surprisingly ambitious French ladies also likely hurt today. Thank you mystery helpers.

And thus begins the love.

As soon as I was free of my handicapable friend (Monsieur Luggage), my temporary hostel neighbourhood, the Bastille, was mine to discover. I spend hours wandering and could have kept at it for eons if not for my stomach. I walked to the Place de la Bastille, and back along the Promenade Pantée (Viaduc des Arts), all the while smiling dumbly at each new café or brasserie. I ate lunch at the Bar a Soupes, recommended by a famous Parisian blogger Clotilde. It was perfect, and the service was beyond friendly, beyond friendly (for those of you who can’t believe that I’m referring to a Parisian restaurant). The rest has been metro rides, creperies, and more.

It feels like everything just makes me smile dumbly and slow down. I have a feeling it will be my routine.

Even the most modest apartments look like this from the outside.

This is my future residence that I crept outside today.

This is just a random street that ends in awesome.

Oh, and my lunch today? Shut. The. Front. Door.

Our side may have created the sandwich, but leave it up to the French to leave our culinary arse in the dust. Le Sandwich du Jour was a demi-baguette with the most flavourful chèvre I have ever tasted, along with market fresh tomates, and arugula. Lunch dessert? Yes. Tarte au chocolat. Woah. Thank you David Lebovitz for recommending Blé Sucré for pretty much everything. It’s a block away from my hostel. Roll me out through the porte.

I’m off to dinner with a friend, yes a real one, (oh, nevermind.. I had to wait until the next morning at starbucks to find interwebs) so I’ll leave you off with the things that have inflated my ego thus far:

Being asked directions my 7 million Parisians. Desolée. It’s ma first time ladies and gents. Though obvi I did not say it like that to them; would have so ruined my apparent sophistique. I think it’s because I walk with purpose.

And I do have purpose. Until I do a 180°, realizing my purpose is maybe most definitely in another direction, and not down the dark creepy alleyway where those men are smoking.

– Speaking French, and being responded to in fast, fast French. No, me needing to stand there like a deer in the headlights for fifteen seconds to process what they’ve just said to me does NOT deter from this making me feel awesome.

– Being told I look German. By the man who runs my hostel. And sees many a German. I don’t care. I am entirely taking this as a compliment.

p.s. many of my fellow hostelees come in every night with MacD’s, perhaps this is why I have yet to formally get acquainted with any of them?

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