Friday, December 17, 2010

(Pre-)Chrismas in Paris

Paris doesn't seem to be overly festive during the holidays. There are some lights here and there, the big department stores have display windows but in general it seems fairly quiet. Although there was a snowstorm this month that had Paris stalled and taxi drivers sitting at home.

There are no 24/7 Christmas songs playing here. Or maybe there are and I just don't know since I don't watch TV  or listen to the radio (slingbox!). But they do have a really cute uber-touristy Christmas market located on the bottom half of the Champs-Elysees starting from Place de la Concorde.
It's pretty much like a regular holiday market, with vendors hawking jewelry, scarves, wood carvings and other random gift-esque things. A part of the Christmas market is divided into "countries" with each section devoted to a particular one (eg the Germany section sold bratwurst, the Belgian section sold waffles, etc.). However, it seemed that mulled wine aka vin chaud aka Glühwein aka Glögg (this is my favorite name for it) didn't have a nationality and was ubiquitous with all. Which was good because every few booths is another potential wine stop to warm you up. Bad because with so many people, good luck in trying to walk holding a hot cup of dangerously dark red steamy liquid while trying to avoid people bumping into you causing you to spill your drink all over yourself and stain your jacket. No, that did not happen to me but it almost did. Eventually we just decided to stand off to the side and drink.

The other thing that this market seemed to have a lot of was food. Aforementioned bratwurst was eaten, as well as Transilvanian Kürtőskalács (similar to Baumkuchen) which was dusted with cinnamon sugar, some chocolate covered gingerbread cookies and these things:

They're actually kinda funny-looking now that I see this picture but they were delicious. They were called chocolat mousse meringue and supposedly a specialty from Alsace (or so I think it said but I couldn't find them on Googling and might I mention I am an excellent Googler?). Basically its a small wafer disk (pretty tasteless), topped with some kind of sticky chewy ooey gooey  cross between a marshmallow and undercooked meringue, which I guess is there the mousse meringue part comes from, and enrobed in a thin layer of chocolate (by the way, there's a dessert book called Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey out which (a) looks good and (b) has an awesome title). They had them in what I thought was different flavors but it's just a different chocolate covering. Anyhow, this was the best €1 spent in a while.

You know what else I spent money on? A mini buche de noel since I've never had one before. Maybe not the best place to get it (Paul, although they do have some killer chocolate chouquettes) and not the most traditional flavor (I got the exotique with passionfruit and mango) but it did in a cinch. But it was also meh. So meh that I didn't even finish and that rarely happens with dessert.

The other thing that's pretty awesome during the holiday season here is the ridiculous lighting along the entire facade of the Galeries Lafayette's main building. The Macy's facade Christmas tree lights and even the snowflakes on Saks are weak sauce compared to this. It almost looks like cathedral windows.

The awesomeness of the lights was quickly supplanted by the un-awesomeness of the crowds around and inside the department store. People were in there like herded cattle - you could barely move in some areas! It look me a while to find what I was looking for but after I did, I didn't spend a second longer in the store and got out as fast as I could (a feat in itself).

And since it's the holidays, I once again took over an oven, this time baking chocolate chip cookies, salted fudge brownie bites and mini blackberry cornmeal cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting (that turned into mini blackberry cornmeal cupcakes when the frosting broke) and distributing to coworkers. They seemed to be either amazed that I (a) can cook or (b) that the things didn't taste awful. You decide which one. Although I totally over-baked one batch of brownies. (Note: must not be lazy and take pictures of food I make).

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a 7:30am flight to catch to New York.

1 comment:

  1. The meringues are called chocolate kisses where I'm from, see Try them in a petit pain!