Greetings from les vacances! I would love to bore you with a beach view and a half full and sweaty glass of rosé. However, thanks to a recent discovery by mon mari, I will never be guilty of Hot–Dog Legs again. Sharing all leisure-induced self-indulgence must wait till la rentree…
Yes, white asparagus. So two months ago! Just like asperges blanches, I’ve been hors saison for some time now. But I am happy to report I am finally shedding my hoodie, taking my coffee iced and walking to the beat of Get Lucky. I’ll be unplugged for the next few weeks, seizing the sunshine and trying to kick my resemblance to Blanche Neige. Here goes! Happy Summer, everybody. Anxious for more francofly fun? Drop by my newly update Pinterest page!
Summer is on its way out. Paris is entering its second week of the dreaded la rentrée, back to school and back to the grind. Here is one last lingering memory of my summer, breakfast for one at La Cigale in Nantes. Note the long-lost latte and the unparalleled crème caramel au sel de Guérande.
By the way, don’t forget to read how I’m surviving la rentreehere, my first collaboration with the delightful HiP Paris Blog.
Paris is a dead end in August. And we are the resident zombies roaming the streets for cheap thrills and a decent brioche. The Puritan inside of me was happy to return from vacation to reality. If the early bird gets the worm, I would be an organized, self-promotion machine by the time la rentree rolls around in two weeks. Unfortunately, dipping my toes into Breaking Bad and Pinterest has put a crashing hault to the other things on my professional development to-do list.
Luckily, I’ve been able to squeeze in a few faux ice cream tests between Walter White and the personification of my food geekery. Mon mari has been taking the photos for me. However, he could never be a food photographer because he is too emotionally attached to food. “Are you sure you want to do that?” he interrogated as I scooped a butter ball of faux glace onto a perfectly edible apple tarte. In food photography, most everything gets either contaminated or thrown out at the end of the day. It is a pity, but I have come to the painful realization that as a food stylist, it is not my responsibility to turn 5 pounds of fake ice cream into a pound cake. But rest assured, no Magnum bars were harmed in the making of this smiley.
Nevertheless, I need your help. Do know of anything for a zombie or two to do in Paris this time of year?
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.
The best part about the weather heating up is the complete shedding of all sartorial grey. I have recently taken a liking to the 86 bus, which crosses smack dab in the middle of Paris. It keeps me more in tune with the colors and dynamics of the city, unlike the zombie slog fest of the Metro. I can attest that lIterally overnight, the boots and parkas transformed into vivid color, legs, and fluid trails of fabric. It’s not even just the girls with their sheer tops and microshorts, even the chic little old ladies are sporting a little shoulder. Although I was scolded at an apero last weekend for sporting bare legs (“T’as pas froid? T’es sûre?”), Paris has officially begun its season of pleasantry. And it’s just one big communal sigh of relief.
The April showers turned into May showers. Come on June! Kick out the precipitation and bring in the picnics! But enough about the weather already.
I just committed the terrible sin of running errands in my nightdress. A real Franco no-no. In a culture which firmly separates the public from the private, flip-flops, pajama pants, and convenience clothes are only found behind locked doors. Needless to say, I did dress up my nightgown with a French touch, one of my husband’s v-neck sweaters. I’d like the think it was California casual with Midwestern roots. Anyway, the moment I left my flat (with all my Crocs and Snuggies padlocked behind me), I felt the first ray of premature summer sun hit my ankles. And so it begins…