They Got the Metric System Over There…

July 18, 2008 at 6:38 am | Posted in food | 13 Comments
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No time these days for a serious blog post, but I was wondering what the blogosphere thought about this article in the NYTimes about how hamburgers are taking over Paris.  Is it true?  Have you seen this trend in action?  Or was this merely a slow news day?

For my part, it strikes me as slightly sad.  There are so many things I love about France, and so many things I love about America, but I have generally found that we don’t do each other’s things very well.  I felt a sort of pang when I read that French chefs were annoyed with French diners for refusing to eat with their hands.  Eating burgers with a knife and fork typifies everything I love about the French — the staunch, Gallic self-confidence that suggests, “We will take on your culture, but we will modify it to suit our own needs and prejudices.”

I don’t know, I suppose I’m being a bit patronizing.  If the French want to experiment with American food, eh bien, qu’ils mangent des burgers. Who am I to wish them back into some perceived fantasy of authentic Frenchness?  Just as long as American eateries don’t develop a sudden fad for steak tartare…  given our current food safety issues, that could hardly end well.



Happy 4th!

July 5, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Posted in food, spectacle | 6 Comments
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I’m generally opposed to taking photos of fireworks, because no photo will ever even approach how beautiful real fireworks are — most photographic depictions wind up looking like so many celestial koosh balls. So why bother watching them through a camera instead of enjoying them first hand?

But hey, the display I was watching was really long, and I figured one hasty snap wouldn’t ruin my enjoyment all that much. Especially since, as you can tell, I didn’t even bother to hold my hand steady:


So instead of koosh balls, my fireworks look like fibre-optic cables.

I never really experienced July 4th as a kid, because I spent all my summers in Paris, celebrating le quatorze. But the holiday has grown on my in my adulthood. How can I resist any celebration that encourages mass consumption of blinky-sparkly things?

Flashy Things

And hey, it wouldn’t be an American holiday without a little gluttony:

Clam Belly Roll

Fried and fried! This delicious clam belly roll was purchased right on the beach at my favorite Rhode Island clam shack:


That friendly guy is an anthropomorphized doughboy. Because faux-cannibalism makes everything taste sweeter. Happy Independence Day!

Le Pre Verre

July 2, 2008 at 1:12 am | Posted in food | 2 Comments
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Nothing like a hot American summer — all coffee coolattas and dq blizzards — to make you yearn for the more refined palate across the ocean.  Looking through my photo stream, I felt a pang of nostalgia for my last meal at Le Pre Verre. What I really love about this restaurant is the way all the flavors are a little unexpected — when you first see them on the menu, it’s hard not to wonder, “will that really be any good?” But once you taste the food, you realize that nothing here is weird for weirdness’s sake. Every dish has been carefully thought out and arranged, and instead of thinking, “how bizarre!” you wind up saying, “why didn’t I think of that?”

Shrimp and pea "guacamole"

Shrimp scampi with an perfectly light green pea “guacamole”.


Tagine of lamb with beet relish.


Marinated strawberries with parsley ice cream, and many more, as always…

But don’t feel too bad for me, missing out on all this fine cuisine — America has its own unique culinary pleasures, and I am making happy re-acquaintance with them:

First corn!

Thick steaks, buttery corn on the cob, and a PBR to wash it down… life could be worse.

Bonjour et a bientot!

January 11, 2008 at 8:43 pm | Posted in food | 8 Comments
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I really and truly did mean to post back in December to let my readers know what was going to happen to me and this blog in the coming months… but then holidays got in the way, and travel, and whathaveyou, and here I’ve left my poor little blog looking all forlorn and abandoned.

But it has not been abandoned! It’s just on a little hiatus while I spend a couple months States-side. I’ll be back in Paris at the end of February, though, with hopefully many new tales to tell. In the meanwhile, entertain yourself with a few pics from my last, lovely days in Paris:

foie gras au fleur de sel

What would Christmas in Paris be without a little (or a lot of) foie gras? This delectable slab featuring fleur de sel and a dash of pig’s ear came from Pramil, the delightfully inventive resto that Rhino has been talking up all over town. More pics here.

Another treat for adventurous palates, le Pré Verre served up some unexpected flavor combinations, like this parsley ice cream on a bed of rice pudding.

Riz au lait

More pics and descriptions here.

And I’ll conclude with a rare treat from Pierre Hermé.

Macarons from Pierre Herme

I’m not usually a big fan of macarons, which I find a little cloying in their ordinary chocolate-rose-pistachio incarnations. But how could I resist these jewel-toned treats with flavors like passionfruit and chocolate, foie gras and fig, or white truffle? I wasn’t disappointed, either — even the most challenging flavor combinations, like chocolate and foie gras, came off beautifully and never felt like a trick or a gimmick.

All right, there’s my holiday in food. I hope you’ll join me again in February!

Counterfeit Cake

November 14, 2007 at 12:06 pm | Posted in food | Comments Off on Counterfeit Cake
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Can anyone tell me anything about this cake?

It’s called La Tropezienne, but its story is a bit baffling. According to that site, which looks fairly official, it was invented by Brigitte Bardot’s caterer, and has nothing directly to do with St. Tropez, despite the name. Then a communist millionaire bought the rights to sell a short-lived frozen version. Then the name and recipe were bought by the sales manager, who now distributes it throughout southern France and, bizarrely, to race car drivers.

Except, I bought mine here in Paris, from the bakery on the corner, which was proudly employing the supposedly trademarked title “La Tropezienne”. Is mine a knock-off? I don’t know, and I don’t care. It’s a pretty simple dessert, ultimately (cake layers sandwiching a lemony-cream, and sugar on top), and it was delicious.

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