January 20-25 2014. Read more here.
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Right when I am relaxed, my to-do listing begins for the week. Alas, another weekend has come and gone. Notably, this weekend included the season’s first, much-anticipated barbecue. Nothing satisfies more than the pending promise of sunshine and a grilled merguez on baguette! But more on the French BBQ very soon…
Whenever I meet new people, once I get outed for my accent and asked what exactly a styliste culinaire does, the question of how I like France is still posed. My life in France is verging on its 5-year mark. And frankly, my life in France has humbly become just my life and a string of habitudes. When one nibbles macarons everyday, the thrills in life are far fewer. (joke!) I’ve tweeted it before, but being a food stylist is one part prep and two parts schlep. I’ve got the toned arms and arched back to prove it. When the weekend rolls around, it is all about traveling light!
Speaking of which, once the sun is shiny (in the words of mon mari), our ceremonious sauercraut Sundays transform into Rue Sainte-Anne Saturdays. We grab a late Japanese lunch (a bento box at You or noodles at Naniwa–Ya) followed by a caffeine kick at TÉLESCOPE and a bubble tea at ZEN ZOO. I can confess I haven’t indulged in a bubble tea since my teeth were in braces, but mon mari‘s obsession is of teenage proportions. Bubble teas in hand, a stroll through Palais-Royal or a walk through the Marais tops off our Saturday afternoon thing.
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As a component of my September self-promotion blitz, I broke down and personified thefrancofly™. When Facebook loses its interest, what better way to create one’s idealized self than through a self-portrait? And invent some dream sunglasses and trim off a few extra holiday kilos at the same time. I need to draw people more often! After a week of indulgences over the vacation, Body by Bretagne is not becoming past August. But unlike people (and myself), sandwiches will always be more forgiving. Allez, back to the beef.
This being the first Sunday of the month, do not forget to check out a selection of Paris’s museums for free. Find the complete list here. We have our eyes set on the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in the post-brunch hours.
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Now that the sun is shining, looking for an inexpensive way to relish the city of Paris this summer? A picnic basket is your passport to a handful of discoveries. Here’s my latest collaboration with Bonjour Paris.
The Ultimate Parisian Picnic Guide 2012 by Jessie Kanelos
A French picnic is not only a welcome reason for friends to gather and graze, but also an unparalleled celebration of summer. Walking around any park in Paris, a picnic can be scoped out by a collective mélange of nosh spread across a patchwork of blankets, grazing adults at all levels of repose, all surrounded by an orbit of happy children. Whether seizing a sunny day on a trip to Paris or carousing up the pals, here is the ultimate Parisian picnic guide.
Le Pique-nique traditionnel
Although the Champ-de-Mars is swarmed with tourists during the summer months, under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower, it is still a picnic destination for traditionalists alike. Simply hop off the Metro at Ecole Militaire (line 8).
To stock up pre-picnic, cruise down the cobblestones on rue Cler, a classic pedestrian Parisian market street. It is dotted with every foodie’s desire. With a quintessential selection of butchers, fromageries, and impeccable produce, stock up on charcuterie, cheeses, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Although it is changing, one-stop shopping is rare in France. But revel in the time-honored search for the best quality. Stock up on a barquette of tiny gariguette strawberries while they last or an early taste of this season’s stone fruit at Les Quatre Saisons (4 Rue Cler 75007 Paris). Pick up a selection of French and Italian charcuterie and cheeses at the celebrated traiter, Davoli (34 rue Cler 75007 Paris). A family business for almost 100 years, there are hams hanging from the ceiling and a fine selection of beautifully-crafted and portable delicacies. For the curious picnicer in search of traditional charcuterie, try the sliced andouille de guéméné (30€50/kilo), the terrine de lapin (28€50/kilo), or œufs en gelee (3€50/each). Do not forget some olives, deliciously sweet tomates confites (31€50/kilo), and some homemade flan or crème brûlée to go. Round it out by picking up a bottle of wine and a baguette on the 5 minute walk down rue de Grenelle to Champ-de-Mars.
But for a bigger picnic party, Paris has plenty of parks to accommodate any number of picnic blankets. The Bois de Vincennes, just to the East of Paris, a quick trip from central Paris on line 1, can provide the atmosphere for any picnic. Whether on a grassy bit on the lush island on the Lac Daumesnil or in a clearing deep in the woods, the Bois de Vincennes is a welcome excuse to graze and get lost somewhere else other than Paris’ jumbled city streets. For a post-picnic excursion, don’t forget to explore the vast botanic gardens of the Parc Floral, the mighty fortress of the Chateau de Vincennes, and the curiously out-of-place pagoda, home of the Institut International Bouddhique.
For any serious picnic-er, Fricote Magazine (the ultimate ‘zine for the “epicurian urbain” and a tasty picnic read) along with the cutlery expertise of Opinel, have officially mobilized sandwich making with “Le Sandwich Kit” (49€). A serrated knife for bread-cutting, a spreading knife for something saucy, and a traditional knife for the star of the sandwich are all rolled up in a transportable red gingham tea towel. Thrown into a picnic basket, “le sandwich kit” is the elementary toolbox for any serious sandwich maker and outdoor eating enthusiast.
Le Pique-nique bobo.
After a busy day, there is no reason to follow the traditional picnic rules. After all, anything can taste better eaten outside. Near the Canal Saint-Martin, in the 10e and 11e arrondisements, grab a few snacking supplies and supplement the rest of the picnic with an inspired takeaway pizza from Pink Flamingo(67 Rue Bichat, 75010 Paris). From l’Almodovar (a shrimp and chorizo-studded paella pizza) to La Basquiat (the gorgonzola, figue, and jambon cru incarnation), there is a pizza for every persuasion. Or pick up some fried spring rolls from Le Cambodge (10 avenue Richerand 75010 Paris). Don’t forget a few beers along the way. Park the picnic on the Canal and dig in while watching the colorful people walk by.
For an astonishing view of Paris and enchanting picnic plots to choose from, the Buttes Chaumontin the19e arrondisement is a charming place to sprawl out a picnic under the sun.
Looking for a new way to experience Paris this summer? With a little creativity and planning, Paris’ rich diversity and charm can be rediscovered with friends, a blanket, and whatever ends up in that picnic basket.
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Things to get excited about this summer!
1.) Apricots! They’re starting to show up at the market, but they are just a taste of what’s to come. Cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, mirabelles! I cannot wait to turn all of these beautiful summertime fruits into beautiful cakes, cobblers, and clafouti(s). Unfortunately, corn in France does not evoke the Midwestern summertime pastimes I think of. It’s basically pig feed. But it does not prevent me from being on a mission to find some proper sweet corn! “Chéri, fire up the barbie!”
2.) Fête de la musique. On June 21st, ringing in the summer solstice, France is bumping with free concerts, barbecues, block parties and dancing in the streets. Why can’t all festivals be for the sake of music’s sake?
3.) Cinéma en Plein Air de la Villette. When Paris transforms into a ghost town from July 25-August 26, the ‘left behind’ flock to free movie screenings every evening at dusk. Round up the friends, pack up a picnic, and the lawn chairs. I would recommend camping out early; the place fills up quickly. And if the sun is still out, I like to follow in the very big footsteps of Yogi Bear and creepily cruise around to see what is in other people’s picnic baskets. Anyway, «Métamorphoses» is this year’s theme. Check out the excellent schedule here.
Every now and then, we married folk give our MacBook Pros a rest and we get some fresh air.
Most recently, we caught Molière’s Le Malade Imaginaire at the Comédie-Française, where his plays have been produced since Molière himself. Unfortunately, the opulent Salle Richelieu is closed for renovations, but steps away in the Palais-Royal, the Comédie-Française is camped out temporarily in the Théâtre Ephémère. With 746 places, green construction, exceptional visibility even from the nose bleeds, and the unparalleled production values of the Comédie-Française, it was an evening of high culture with a very small addition. 65 places with an obstructed view are available at the last-minute, starting at 7:30 for just 5 euros. For all the young lovers under 28, free tickets are available on the first Monday of every month with the presentation of an id. When the curtain goes down, there is an obligatory stroll through the designer galeries of the Palais-Royal. Fortunately, Rick Owens does not frown upon a smiling window shopper.
To top off our evening, we grabbed a bite just nearby on Rue Sainte-Anne, the Japanese quartier of Paris. The long lines are a testament to which places are recommendable. One of our favorites is Aki at 11 Rue Sainte-Anne, 75001 Paris. Although there is a variety of soups and menus, the okonomiyaki, the seafood and vegetable omelette, is the highly-recommended specialty of the house.
It was such a wonderful evening, I had to run back home to my MacBook Pro and tell you all about it!
What are your favorite cheap dates?
We are in the demolition stage of our new apartment. This morning, as we walked into the place for our daily visit, our quirky 1950s flat to-be was transformed into the town of Bedrock. Before I could even say “Wow, what a dump!”, “Ohmygawwwwputainmerde!” My first step into the apartment, I got a nail in the foot. The throbbing pain was the least of my worries. Since I have the undisputed Generation Me dilemma of not having had health insurance since my shatterproof undergraduate days, I was sure I could feel my jaw locking in the matter of moments. Luckily, I had an unsuccessful semester in grad school that got me up to speed on that important tetanus shot. Phew!
To help ease the pain, I was whisked off for lunch at the hyper-popular food truck Le Camion Qui Fume by mon mari qui fume. Le Camion Qui Fume ends the search for an authentic American cheeseburger in Paris. Although there are imposters on every cafe menu, 18 euros for a dry, uninspired hamburger on an industrial bun is not worth the ho-hum indulgence. Food trucks have not taken off in Paris yet, partially considering that the French cannot eat with their hands alone. But fellow American expat Kristin Frederick has mastered the right fatty mix of ground beef, the soft, butter-brushed sesame seed buns, real cheddar and shoestring fries to cheer up any expat having a bad day. Although the truck changes locations everyday, we dug into our burgers on the steps of the Église de la Madeleine overlooking the Place de la Concorde. And at just 10 euros for a burger and fries, there is no better bargain or breathtaking view.