Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Day in the French Countryside

If you remember back in 2012, I posted about a trip to visit Sharon Santoni, the author of My French Country Home, an antiques dealer, and the "Martha Stewart of Normandie" (my nickname for her!).

Back then, we spent a weekend in the country for an antiques buying trip and a visit to the gorgeous gardens of Giverny.
I always have a link on my sidebar to her guest cottage.

Over the years, we stayed in touch via email and telephone, so on this trip, we took the train from Paris to Normandy to have lunch with Sharon and her husband at their beautiful home in the French countryside.

Sharon's beautiful new book My Stylish French Girlfriends came out in August and is going into its 3rd printing!

It is a gorgeous book showing the lives of real French women who are entrepreneurs and artists and how they live. They are all close friends of Sharon.
It is certainly not the way I live in New Jersey, but there is still hope. :)

I am amazed at how such a busy woman, can prepare such a gorgeous meal in so little time.

Setting the table w/ flowers from her garden; picking us up at the train just in time to take her cake out of the oven; serve us a delicious 3 course lunch; clean up and do the dishes; then whiz us back to the train to Paris in time to pick up her intern, and do it so effortlessly!

Super woman.

We started lunch with a pumpkin soup made with a pumpkin from her garden.......and drank a beautiful cidre, a low alcohol non sweet apple cider from the Normandy region, that I wish I could find in the States.

Then a beautiful salad and a gorgeous quiche w/ chorizo and ham (she knows what I like).

Then the piece de resistance was Sharon's warm apple and blackberry crumble (click on link for her recipe) with creme Anglaise, and of course a platter of figs pour moi.



Normandy is famous for their apples, and right now her trees are flourishing w/ apples and pears. The cake was made with apples and berries from her glorious garden.

Sharon loves dahlias and has quite the dahlia collection.

We loved being amongst the beautiful flowers, fresh Normandy air and blue skies.
Surrounded by good food, good friends and cute doggies besides our feet.

What could be better.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Les Restaurants

Thank goodness we walk everywhere in Paris. At least 5 miles per day, to and from restaurants, so we don't put on weight, which is easy to do here.

We try and find great restaurants for dinner, from past experiences, magazine reviews, recommendations from friends and sometimes, just stumbling across something wonderful.

There is a secret address in St. Germain at 13 Rue Beaux Arts in the 6th arrondissement.

It is called L'Hotel, a tiny boutique hotel where Oscar Wilde lived until his death.

It is tres chic, and very hip, almost too hip for us.

Inside is a one star Michelin restaurant called Le Restaurant.
It is the most beautiful space, romantic would be an understatement.

The cuisine is more modern than most formal stuffy Michelin star restaurants in Paris.
No vegetarian choices here, so gluten free, veg heads, stay away.

The food is fresh, and the menu changes frequently.
The chef's menu is market driven and his presentations are like works of art.
He is younger than most Michelin chefs, and the crowd here is too.

I will let the photos speak for themselves.

They start you with amuse bouche (served on slate)....filled w/ yummy small bites.

Then another little treat of smoked eel mousse comes out to tease you.......ok, I am in.

We started with this beautiful masterpiece, almost too beautiful to eat, but we managed.

Gorgeous crab w/ yuzu mousse and avocado (yuzu is an Asian citrus fruit).

and yes, that is gold dust you are seeing.

I had the eggplant caviar graffiti w/ roasted quail (not pictured) and Henry ordered the filet of boeuf from Patagonia with Bordelaise sauce.


They were kind enough to split the vanilla madagascar mousse with caramel eclair and spongecake. We also had tiny red plums (in season now) w/ lemon something........One of the best desserts we have ever had.

Service was attentive and friendly.

If you have a special occasion, (and in Paris, when isn't it a special occasion?), go to Le Restaurant for a memorable dinner and fantastic Parisian experience.

Loved it!

One of the better meals we've eaten in Paris over the years was had last evening at L'epi Dupin on the Left Bank, located on a little street called Rue Dupin.

Our friend Eileen's favorite address, she has been raving about it for years.

It is a prix fixe menu. 39 euros per person for a 3 course fabulous meal. Truly a bargain.
The chef only uses sustainable fish and the best seasonal ingredients.

We started with crispy squid and herb pastry w/ legumes and a shredded duck eggroll on salad.......

Plats were a beef stew w/ Thai eggplants in a red wine sauce (to die for), and a cod (what else would I order?) on a vegetable stew in foam.

Desserts were memorable. A mirabelle tart for the husband, and my favorite of the trip, sliced quince (which I have never had before!) with black lentils, almond ice cream and a cookie crumble. WOW factor.

Mostly regulars in here, not many tourists, but the staff spoke English.

Dogs always welcome.

For a more casual evening, walk over to the 7th arrondissement and stand in line outside with your glass of wine and wait to get into Cafe Constant.

Chef Christian Constant's casual restaurant with fantastic food.

The queue moves quickly, so don't will be worth the wait.

We were lucky enough to score seats at le bar, since the tables are kind of tight.

Here you will have traditional French food, prepared with a twist.

We had frogs' legs, fried crisp with pillowy interiors and a marinated salmon to start.

Dinner was an amazing poached cod w/ garlic aioli and vegetables and a duck parmentier, which was a duck leg, and more duck underneath whipped potatoes and topped with potatoes gaufrette!!!

A lot of quacking going on this trip!!
Henry happy.

Starters are around 11 euros and main plats are 16 euros.

Lovely wine and fantastic friendly service.

And if you walk home along Rue Rapp, like we do, you are rewarded with the best views of the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Buzzing around Paris....Les Fêtes du Miel

What am I doing besides eating, drinking and shopping in Paris?
I am going to honey festivals.

Every September, I seem to miss the honey on sale made from the bees at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
They sell out quickly, there is only a small window in which to purchase it.

My reader Carolyn from Seattle is in Paris for the month (lucky girl), and she emailed to remind me of Les Fetes du Miel on the weekend!

Merci Carolyn. :)

We visited the bees in their antique houses that live in the garden and work on keeping the flowers, pears, and apples all so beautiful. These bees are hard at work.

There is an Apiary Society in Paris, and a long history about the bees in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Since the honey is so scarce, and only sold once a year in September, they only allow you to buy one jar per person.

So, I pretended not to know Henry, so he could buy a jar too.
They didn't believe us, but they laughed and let us buy 2 jars.



Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunch in Paris

In Paris there are a few types of places to eat.

There is the cafe, which usually does not serve much food, but you can get a cup of coffee and a small plate, more of a "snack menu".

A bistro, which usually serves French fare like cassoulet, duck confit, or steak frites and can be also higher end.

Then there is the brasserie, which means "brewery", where you can get a nice croque monsieur or quiche and salad for lunch or dinner with a glass of Kronenborg.
A brasserie serves food all day, so if you are hungry at 3 pm, you can get a meal, unlike NYC, where it's tough to find a late lunch.

And of course there is the restaurant.

A more formal evening, where you will take your dinner indoors w/ a bottle of wine and spend a few hours.
However, there are restaurants that have cafes outside with heat lamps in the winter that you can sit and have your coffee.

Are you totally confused yet?
I am.

Just look at the menu outside before you commit.

I remember years ago, we walked into a restaurant, and all I wanted was some champagne and an appetizer, sort of like I would order at home.

When I asked the server if that was possible, his reply was "Madame, thees is a restAURANT!".


I was young, and too scared to get up and leave (which we should have done right then and there), so I stayed and took my beating, but I did not make that mistake again.

We tend to eat at brasseries or restaurants for lunch, since I need to have a slice of quiche daily and my husband loves a croque madame or monsieur.
They always comes w/ a salade and are reasonably priced.

But what I really want to know is, why do all the chalkboard menus have the same beautiful handwriting?
Do they teach you in school how to write menus with chalk?

Bon Appetit!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Americans in Paris

How funny to fly 3642 miles, from New York to Paris to meet someone from Minnesota.

I love when you get to meet other bloggers, friends that you know only thru email, facebook and reading their blog.

That is the case w/ Eileen Troxel, the author of Living Tastefully.
An amazing baker and cook from St. Paul, Minnesota, whose blog I have admired for 7 years.

I love the mutual admiration society.

It's nice to find out that Eileen is a fan of my blog too.
And since we are both Francophiles, let's finally meet in Paris!! and that we did.

I hosted a little soire at the Paris apartment for Eileen and her husband Bill. The other invitees could not make it.
Their loss.

Since I don't cook while on vacation, what should I serve?

How about some good wine and cheeses, some spreads for a baguette, an Alsatian onion tart, and I will make some grilled tartines w/ some stale bread, Tomme de Brebis (sheep's milk cheese) and fig jam (I know how to use the oven here).

Buy some stuffed peppers w/ tuna in a jar (so good) at the Franprix (grocery store) and some nice desserts from the Boulangerie on the corner.

We are all set.
Luckily, there are beautiful vintage champagne flutes and antique china to serve on.

Comte, saucisson, a fresh baguette, mirabelle tarts and good French champagne.

What else do you need in life? (Maybe some clean underwear if you are my mother instructing me about life).

It was a wonderful evening meeting new/old friends and creating memories, made even better, because we are here in Paris!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Paris Eats

Not only is Paris about the magnificent scenery, but more important, it's about the food.

If you are gluten free, or a vegetarian, it's not an easy city to find great eats, this city is carb heavy and meat is 5 out of 7 choices on most restaurant menus.

When we walk on the streets at lunchtime, we see the Parisian locals mostly eating steak tartare and/or an onglet steak with some potatoes and a salad. Even the women are eating that, and they are all thin.

No thanks. I want a salad.

It's hard to find a quinoa salad or seasonal vegetables on restaurant/bistro/cafe menus, though the fresh markets are filled with gorgeous veggies.
The French love smoked salmon for some reason, and it's on every menu in some form or another.

David Lebovitz explained in a post why the French don't serve more vegetables in restaurants. He says that it "was considered peasant food to eat vegetables, and you go out to dine to order something a little more special, something you would not prepare at home".

I just give up and buy a delicious sandwich for lunch (the best) on a fresh baguette and say who cares.
We walk all day, so I will burn it off.

Drink wine every night and get no hangovers (which usually happens to me in the States), and just let yourself go.
I will worry about it when I get home.

I always order fish for dinner in a restaurant, mostly cod, which is always delicious.

Remember I wrote about Hidden Kitchen and Verjus in Paris years back?

Well, the owners Laura and Braden have done it again.
They opened a nice little bistro in the same neighborhood (1st arrondissement) called "Ellsworth", named after Braden's grandfather.

A small place that serves small plates to die for, but please don't die.

A little bistro with a small wine bar inside. Simple and casual, but the food is anything but.

We started w/ the beet, farro and kale salad w/ chanterelles.
Fresh mozzarella, flattened out and rolled like a tortilla, stuffed w/ zucchini & tomatoes.

Braden's delicious fried chicken on a cabbage slaw, and the highlight of the evening was the fried clams on creamed corn.

Who goes to Paris to eat fried chicken and clams? We do.
Downright cheap eats (86 euros) for 4 plates and 4 glasses of wine. Nice service in a lovely setting.

We tried a fun wine bar called Freddy's in the 6th, on Rue de Seine.
Great little tapas and wine.

We had beignets w/ fennel and cod fritters (a lot of fried stuff going on this trip!), and a smoked haddock spread for our bread at lunchtime. Lots of Americans in here, it is owned by a New Zealander. Nice friendly bartenders.

and of course we went back to Apicius. The gorgeous Michelin star restaurant housed in a beautiful mansion in the 8th arrondissement.

I promise, it is not intimidating to dine here, my French is awful.
They have a mixture of locals and tourists and the interior is contemporary and service is approachable and friendly, not stiff like most Michelin star restaurants in Paris.

They remember us every year, and treat us like regular customers. It is our favorite restaurant in Paris.

Here are the cheese carts last night, which I had to choose from!

Say cheese please.

Tonight, I am hosting Eileen Troxel from the blog Living Tastefully and her husband Bill, for wine and "snacks" here in the apartment. Her gorgeous kitchen has been featured in many magazines. You can see it here in Food & Wine.

Eileen and I have been internet friends for the last 7 years.
She too, loves Paris and Provence and tries to make it here every year. This year we planned to finally meet.

and I hope you have been following me on instagram (click here). I have been posting there, instead of here. Easier than sitting here with my macbook.

Have a great day.........xo