Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sweet sunshine

Yesterday was the nicest weather it's been since I got here. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, I had no umbrella with me. I walked around, got one of my favorite breads from Bread and Roses (rye loaf studded with raisins and currants) and some Bordier butter from La Grande Epicerie. It's supposed to be the best butter ever. I think I need to put it on some plain bread, not the rye bread, to really taste it. But it tastes like creamy sweet sunshine. And looks like it as well. It has that nice freshly churned yellow butter color. I also found my 0% cherry yogurt but LGE is all the way across town and €2.34 for a pack of four! I get a pack of 8 mixed flavors for that much! 

And then I was off to brunch to meet up with my new-found Texas friend. And then I realized she's never had macarons (seriously? I was appalled!). So I made it my mission to have her try some. There is no way you can live in Paris and not eat macarons. I barely know anyone who doesn't like them (although some find them too sweet, I think there's a flavor for everyone). First stop was Pierre Herme, where I was foiled yet again and failed to get an Istaphan macaron. One day I will find it. So instead I got passionfruit chocolate and apricot pistachio. Then Gerard Mulot for the passionfruit basil one there. I'm glad to say she's now an official macaron lover. 

Between brunch and macaron store hopping, I stopped by Poilane to finally pick up one of their rustic apple tarts. I took it home. It didn't last long.

I kept stealing bites in the kitchen over the course of 15 minutes. Then I couldn't take it anymore. And shoved the rest in my mouth. And chewed. Happily. Very happily. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Japanese in Paris

Paris for some reason has a ridiculous amount of Japanese restaurants. And they always give you "salade de choux" or cabbage salad, which I personally think is a French riff on carrot and daikon slaw. At work, everyone always orders from this one Japanese restaurant on rue de Petits Champs but it's not that great. I got their vegetable tempura once (which strangely came with shrimp) and it was good but fried to a golden brown meaning the batter was more like fish and chips fried than tempura fried. Good but not what I wanted. But I really like their salmon yakitori skewers, they're never dry. And I just discovered you can get half a mango or a quarter of a pineapple for dessert (its off the menu!). 

Anyhow, its been rainy and blah in Paris the past few weeks (I've come to terms with it, and wonder when it isn't rainy and blah, although a few minutes of sunshine brightened my day today!). I really wanted something warm in my tummy. I was actually going to go and get some miche Poilane from Monoprix and have that with ratatouille (I'm a bum on Fridays and pretty much every other future apartment owners have nothing to worry about since all they're worried about is noise!). But I got a text. Dinner. Score!

So my dining companion, being ever so gracious and agreeing to come all the way from the 16th (or is it 14th?...maybe 15th?) to the 2nd. We went to grab some udon at Kunitoraya on rue Saint Anne. It's like the epicenter of all things Japanese it seems. The whole street (and some side streets) are lined Japanese restaurants with a few Japanese bodegas and bookstores here and there. And a couple of restaurants always have a line out the door it seems, including this one. 

Warm, chewy and doughy, just how I like my udon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This is no HS cafeteria

Look at me...I'm being a dork and writing about my corporate cafeteria. I've never really used corporate cafeterias before and I'm fascinated. I've given this one a couple tries and haven't been disappointed. You get a full plate of food (usually three choices daily) and three sides. A side can be salad bar, dessert, yogurt, pre-made appetizers or two pieces of fruit. They also sell half bottles of wine (but I think those are extra). They just renovated the cafeteria and the space, although crowded, is a bright a cheery refuge from these awfully dreary Paris winters. So everything is brand new and clean (we'll see how long that lasts). But I was really excited to see them doling out food from the big Staub cast iron pots. That's a nice investment right there. And look at my tray full of food.

This is all together less than 4 euros! I got rabbit (it wasn't very good actually) with potatoes and stewed sauerkraut, two clementines, a yogurt and a poached pear. And bread. French ppl like bread. Granted on a regular (non-cafeteria) day, I usually get a sandwich (I try to avoid baguettes for the most part and get the smoked salmon on pain de mie from Kayser) or a salad or something small and this here, well, its a lot of food. I save the fruit and yogurt for later, although I sometimes succumb to dessert (there goes my "No 'S'" rule). But it's so cheap and completely respectable which means I might have to go there more often. Now if only I could find willing accomplices...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bulgur wheat

Some of my new years resolutions (or things to try in the new year) were to learn to cook legumes (lentils, beans), squash (I really want to get some delicata squash) and to incorporate more grains in my diet. I tried my hand at polenta for the first time last week (yes, polenta is not one of the three things above). It was alright when soupy but it hardened into something really delicious. I was going to make baked polenta fries with the leftovers but there was no polenta left since I couldn't keep myself from eating it cold.

When I was in Sao Paulo, I had the best tasting brown rice ever. It was completely unadorned and really nutty flavored. I'm usually not a huge fan of brown rice, it just tastes bland. But this was amazing. I googled it later and I think it was short-grain japanese brown rice, which I'm going to have to go hunt for. Shouldn't be too hard, I live in the middle of Japan town it seems, with ramen (or as they write, "lamen", which I find hilarious because I don't know whether Japanese people find that offensive or not since they can't really pronounce their R's...but I digress). But craving something rice-like but not white rice, and, in a seemingly serendipitous (didn't think I'd ever use that word, did you now?) moment, NYTimes decided to have a whole section devoted to bulgur wheat.

I don't know if I've had it before but I'd read about it and it kinda looked like that best-ever-Sao-Paulo-brown-rice so I got some. And I must say, it's deliciously chewy. I'm going to eat more of this (plus, its healthy and full of fiber!)

Bulgur salad with veggies and feta  (I took the contents of my fridge, but the base salad credit goes to a certain cook who made us the best coq au vin a few weeks ago, you know who you are!)

1 medium sized tomato
1 small cucumber (or 1/4 of those huge cucumbers)
1/4 of a red onion
1 1/2 cups of lettuce, chopped up (probably 4 - 5 leaves)
1/4 cup of feta, crumbled
1/2 cup of par-boiled bulgur wheat
olive oil

Cook the bulgur wheat according to the instructions on the box (probably put in salted boiling water for 10 - 12 minutes). Meanwhile, dice up the tomato, cucumber and red onion (finely dice that one), as well as the lettuce if you haven't done so already. Put everything into a medium bowl. Add the crumbled feta, about 1/2 a tbsp of olive oil and salt, to taste. Mix it up. 

When the bulgur is done cooking, drain and rinse under cold water (I think this probably strips some nutrients, and I guess you can put it in the fridge if you make it ahead, but you just need it to be cooled). 

Add to the salad, mix, adjust salt to taste, take a big spoon (no forks for this!) and eat!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Making the rounds

My corporate apartment looks like a page (or three) out of the ikea catalog. The kitchen is ikea with ikea tableware, glasses, pots, pans, everything. It's almost like I'm cooking at JP's again - same cutting boards, same colander, same cheese grater, same pots and pans...sounds like all the tools for some pasta! And so, shying away from jarred sauces at Monoprix (they don't seem to be very good, are tiny, and way overpriced), I made the tomato sauce that has (apparently) been making its rounds on the internet for a while. I only recently read it on Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite food blogs!). 

Deb is right...this sauce is pretty gosh darn lusciously silky (I mean come on, it has 5 tablespoons of butter!). I think I'd add some herbs to it for a better flavor profile but even by itself its yum. I tossed the sauce with some orecchiette. I don't know if that was the best choice of pasta shape (I think buccatini would be really good...or I guess spaghetti), but that's the only pasta I have on hand at the moment. Plus, I find orecchiette really adorable. Please note, that amount of sauce below is not all the sauce. That's probably 1/4 of it so...1 tbsp of butta.

Other things making the rounds that I have yet to take a stab at are the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies and the Jim Lahey no-knead bread. I'm waiting or the rest of my stuff from NYC to arrive (it's somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean...) particularly my Le Creuset for the no-knead bread (and other recipes I have yet to make). Which means I gotta wait until I move into my apartment (can't wait!). Same for the chocolate chip cookies. Gonna start baking and bringing stuff to work like I did in NYC...but I'm going to stick to the good American stuff: brownies, cookies, cupcakes (surprisingly, I haven't seen them here yet) and rice krispie treats (although I hear the ingredients are hard to procure here for that...anyone wanna stash some rice krispies and marshmallows in their suitcase for me?)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I like wine bars. I like wine bars a lot. There's something about the ability to get a glass (or bottle) or wine and have a few appetizers / snacks thats just so appealing. In New York I use to go to Las Ramblas with JP (although we tended to drink 2 pitchers of sangria and get 5 - 6 tapas and make an entire dinner out of it...). I wanted to go to Le Garde Robe but when I got there it was closed. So I wandered over to Juveniles, my second time there. It's a wine bar that specializes in Australian wines (although the owner is Scottish I think?). So between having 3 different wines (not that I remember what they were but they were a white, a rose and a red from Lebanon), I got this:

I hadn't eaten all day so I was starving. This was a "crostini" with a jambon cru (cured ham), tomato (underneath the ham) and a garlicky-Parmesan-I-don't-know-what-that-green-stuff-is-but-its-damn-good pesto-type sauce on a baguette. Totally hit the spot.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My brain works

I've eaten seafood every day this week, which is quite a feat for someone that shies away from raw fish, doesn't eat shellfish (only mollusks, and only mussels at that), and may or may not be allergic to various species.

Monday was some calamari stew at the cafeteria (more on the cafeteria at a later date)
Tuesday was a salmon tartine from Kayser followed by salmon yakitori from a Japanese place for dinner
Wednesday was a hot salmon sandwich from Paul (I actually wanted their salmon salad but they were out)
Thursday I succeeded in getting the salmon salad at Paul...and then had some smoked salmon on miche Poilane for dinner.

Ok, so basically I just like salmon. A lot. And it seems abundant and common place here. Yay all those Omega 3's better be making me smarter...or something...

In other news, I found an apartment! It's in the Marais and uber cute and looks out onto a courtyard and has high ceilings and huge windows in the living room and lots of storage and a four range gas cooktop (thats a luxury in these here parts). You'll have to wait until I move in for more info and pics! Apartment lease signing is on Tuesday. And thanks to JP, who converted the amount I'm going to be paying in euros into dollars, I almost had a heart attack. And since there's a nice window ledge, I think I'll start myself a little windowbox herb garden (herbs are expensive and I never use the whole bundle and let half go to waste!).'s a pic from the real estate website.

Don't you love the closet?! I hope I'm not jinxing myself...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cookies the size of my face

Like I said, there's very few things open on Sundays. However, you can always count on things being open in the Marais (for the most part). I dropped by Boulangerie Malineau while in the area and couldn't help but buy one of their many different sables (shortbread cookies aka lotsa butter).

I've read good things about their checkerboard sables, and how could you not want to try something so colorful?

I got the sable au chocolat pistache. The thing is huuuuuge. I can't decide if I actually liked it. All I know is that I couldn't stop eating it. As much as I say I eat everything in front of me (which is usually the case), if I don't like something, I won't eat it. Yet curiously, I kept eating this...I don't think sables are my thing but if I had to eat one, I'd pick this one. 

And yes, I went to Laduree and Malineau the same day. And ate those pastries, macarons and that cookie the same day. Go me. Salad next week.

Vday = me + Laduree

Valentine's day spent eating pastries and macarons might be the second best thing to spending it with your significant other. Oh, and today is also my one month anniversary of moving to Paris! 23 (11?) more months to go. 

10:30am is a very very very early time to have brunch. It's not even brunch time, it's breakfast time. And when you drank a little too much wine the night before and got back to your apartment past 4am...well, lets not discuss that, shall we. Although I'm glad I got up early; even though its cold enough to make you have the sniffles the second you go outside, today turned out to be one of the nicest days here since I arrived. The sun is shining! I can see the sky! Anyhow. I said "non, merci" to the 22EUR salads (eek!) but "d'accord" to the 18EUR breakfast. Plus the atmosphere was nice and the company was good. Le petit dejeuner (which came with tea and juice...and a wrapped stick of butter):

So apparently that didn't satisfy my need for sugar and carbs, so I decided why not get some macarons? I haven't had any since I've been here, I'm at a great place to get some (though not the best in my opinion) and I've been somewhat good last week. But of course the line is huge because (a) it's Laduree (b) it's Laduree on Champs Elysees (c) its Valentine's day and (d) it's one of the few places open in Sunday (you try finding yourself some baked goods on a Sunday in Paris...). No matter, it moves fast. 

I end up getting the figues et dates (eh, you figure out what that one is but I ate it before taking the pic), cafe (you can figure that one out too, I know you all are smarties), cassis-violette (blackcurrants and violets) and caramel a la fleur de sel (my favorite!). The cassis-violette had a little too much tasted like someone just sprayed some violet flavored perfume in my mouth. Blah. Anyhow, I ate them all. About 7 minutes after taking the picture. Oh, and to take the picture, I had to open up my curtains (you know, natural light is better for pictures) and pulled a little too hard the curtains came down, with the curtain rod. And since my ceilings are about 9 - 10 feet high, well, I guess I'll have to call the corporate apartment people because I don't have a ladder, now do I?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Guess what's in the box.

Ok, granted you can read the side label. I got it at work today. And what was in that box? FLOWERS!!! JP got me flowers for vday. Granted, we actually never celebrate vday. But, the 17th is our 2.5 years, so we celebrate half years (yea, we still do, don't judge!). Whatever, these flowers are for celebrating whatever, whenever. So anyhow, look at this huge box! I think they actually shipped them from London. So he ordered in NYC, they put them together in London and Eurostar'ed (I assume) them over here today where I got them at the reception desk at my work in Paris. Wow, those flowers are globetrotters. Look at them so cute in their box!

Anyhow, so I carried that box back to my apartment. And my apartment has everything you could ever need and not need in terms of things that belong in the kitchen (a post on that later for sure). But no vase. How can you have 5 gratin dishes, 12 mugs but no vases? But then, I found this:

THE CANDLE HOLDER! Bye bye candle, HELLO GORGEOUS RED ROSES! woohoo. They're so pretty. MUCHAS GRACIAS JP!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tarte tatin

I went to a place called l'Ebouillante (which I think translates to something like boil or scald or something, but definitely something to do with teapots and hot water) for some tea and pastry! After all, it's a weekend and I can be bad. I semi-adapted the rule the "S" rule of "no snacks, sweets or seconds, except on days that start with an 'S'"...I heard it was Michael Pollan's rule but apparently he quotes it from somewhere. So essentially, it means I only eat desserts (or try to only eat desserts, hah) on weekends. It's been raining here all day and I was definitely in the mood for something warm. I would've gotten hot chocolate (I love hot chocolate when it rains) but that might've been a little too much. So I got a pot of Earl Grey tea and a tarte tatin. I wish it wasn't so rainy because I can imagine this place being fantastic when its sunny outside; it's on a cobblestoned street behind a church and its terrace opens up as do the windows on the main floor and there's a few tables outside...would be great in the summer to sit outside, drink something and have something sweet!

Mmmmmm, warm caramelized apples (lots of butter and sugar...I have mentioned I like butter and sugar, have I not?), puff pastry and creme fraiche. The Frenchies are onto something here - warm caramelized apples and a cold and tangy creme fraiche is a fantastic pairing. Definitely offsets the sweetness of the tarte tatin and I always love the play of hot and cold together.

And I figured out how to work off the calories. The elevator in my building broke, so I've had to take the stairs since Friday. Ok, fine I'm only on the 2eme etage (that's 3rd floor for us Americans since the 1st floor is really the ground floor) its not that far up, but I'm a lazy bum. And then when I had to take the stairs up I started freaking out because my key wouldn't open the door to the stairs so I had no way of getting up to my apartment! But thats ok, I was just being stupid and didn't turn the key all the way. Then I realized it and couldn't get the key out...another dumb moment. Anyhow, I actually really like my stairs, they're so old school and made out of old wood.

Yea, I dunno what those chairs are doing down there either.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

French fries fried in suet

I hate to be a downer and ruin the party (and all the positive reviews) that La Bourse ou La Vie has received but the meat just isn't that good. The steak was OK at best, and this is a restaurant that is supposedly prized and known for its steak frites. Yes, that is a huge hunk of steak covered in a peppery butter sauce.

I couldn't stop eating the fries (hah, I polished all of those off). I think this was the most amount of food I've eaten in one sitting since arriving in Paris. But unfortunately, the flavor of the meat (apparently grass-fed) was smothered by the overly rich, overly peppery sauce (yes, I know its steak au poivre but it was more like poivre avec steak). I mean, I appreciate butter, and pepper, but not in such huuuuuge quantities! I barely tasted the meat, but of course that didn't stop me from eating all of it. JL likes to say I'm like a goldfish, I eat all or almost all of whatever is in front of me. I don't know if that's what goldfish do, but that's pretty much what I do most of the time. Yea yea, I'm a fattie, fine.

The decor of this place is super whimsical (tacky perhaps? but in a charming way), with fake fruit glued to the lamp posts, and some piggies glued to the ceiling...

And as a word of advice, skip the dessert. It's overly homey and not worth it in my opinion. But go for the fries - those are worth it alone (they're fried in suet, or beef fat, yum!). And affordable wine, which they do a la ficelle (charge you for how much of a bottle you drink).

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

No big pistachios

Look at that. Two gorgeous colors - a deep rusty orange and a bright green. It tasted so good. What is it? And no that is not a big pistachio on top (unfortunately)

I already predicted that Eric Kayser would be my downfall and I was so right. The compotes there are delicious. This one was apricot, and had several entire apricot halves in it! The tangy-ness of the apricot melds so well with the almost cloying sweetness of the crumble on to, which provides the perfect texture variation (and color contrast!). I think this is my favorite of the three they have (strawberry rhubarb is too sour but the apple one is good...just not as good as this one!) I'm not sure what the crumble on top was, but taste wise, it was a little reminiscent of almond paste. Whatever, it was yum and I scarfed it own at my desk...too bad there are people called co-workers around, else I might have ended up licking the cup :)

It's strange that I can go a whole day eating almost next to nothing, and then some days I can't stop eating! Like today. Anyhow, dinner tonight was mussels in a white wine sauce with a side of grilled endives.

Oh fine, who am I kidding. I have an electric stove that is called a "hot plate" in the instruction manual that doesn't cook jack. And definitely impossible to grill anything. So I pretty much put the endives down into tiny bit of olive oil, spinkled some salt, let them pan-fry there for 7 - 8 min, then flipped them over and did the same thing. I WANT MY CAST IRON GRIDDLE and a stove I can actually use it on.