Category Archives: Paris

Bed linens from Paris – my inspiration….

I took a break from packing to put the first coat of blue paint on my nightstand.  Coat #2 goes on tomorrow and I will post the finished result.  For my new apartment, I’m going for a bit  of a French country look mixed with modern French/Scandinavian, an iPig and Wonder Woman lunchbox (because my place has to reflect me and my quirks!)  

I chose the colours for my bedroom furniture to match the super fantastique bed linens from Liou that I got in Paris.  The specific duvet and small cushions I bought are called So Grey (photo courtesy of http://www.liou.fr) and I think the paint colours I’ve chosen will hopefully be a pretty combo with these chic linens.  

Stay tuned for the magical transformation of Mexican pine furniture into my version of something hopefully chic!

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Au revoir Paris….

We had joy, we had fun….we had seasons in the rain and a bit of sun…Paris, je t’aime.  You’ve been a more gracious host than I could’ve expected.  I will still never quite get the French but I think it’s more important to appreciate them rather than attempt to understand them.

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Here are a few of the many highlights of my Parisian adventure:

1) chocolates, pastries, other sugary delights and my pastry courses

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2) les super fantastique architecture

3) les musees

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4) les beautiful gardens and parks

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5) les people watching

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6) all the wonderful people I’ve met  – from tourists to expats, you’ve made my time here so special and I’m so fortunate to have met you all

7) and last but not least….les bunnies….Paris, be kind to your new bunny overlords.  They make your disdain seem mild in comparison 🙂

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I’m off to Stockholm so I can start stalking ABBA…..and of course I’ll be blogging about the food & design there.

Au revoir…..

Rach xoxo

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Tea at Mariage Freres

My adorable cousin is staying with me in Paris until Monday and she took me for afternoon tea at a beautiful place called Mariage Freres at 35 rue du Bourg-Tibourg.  The waiters are dressed in cute white coats and pants and the tea selection is mind boggling.  I went for a classic with a twist:  earl grey from South Africa, while my cousin went with a type of Assam tea with a name that I can’t even hazard a guess at its spelling.  We also ordered cakes to go with our afternoon tea:  chocolate with berry filling for me and chocolate cherry for my cousin – miam miam!

Tea and cakes at Mariage Freres

Tea and cakes at Mariage Freres

The cake was delicate and airy and the slices were thankfully not tiny.  My tea had a stronger bergamot taste than regular earl grey.  I normally prefer very weak tea, but the strong tea had no bitter aftertaste.  No clue how the tea wizards manage to do that, but it was super fantastique!

Wall of teas....

Wall of teas....

A word of warning – the tea pots are big, so make sure your post-tea activities are in the vicinity of a restroom!   Additionally, teas are available for purchase, as are tea pots and other cool tea accessories.

There are four Mariage Freres locations in Paris.  Teas are also available for purchase at the the Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Bon Marche department stores, and online at http://www.mariagefreres.com.

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Indian & North African food in the 17th arrondissement

My parents have been in town for a conference and are staying close to le Palais de Congres in the 17th arr in Paris.  As a result, we decided to try out the restaurants in this part of Paris – one that isn’t frequented by many tourists. 

We went for Indian food at a restaurant called India Restaurant on Rue de Debarcadere.  The pakoras were not exactly the festival of goodness I was imagining and my dad’s roti was overcooked.  However, this restaurant serves a mean plate of dal (curried lentils) and the naan is warm, puffy bread goodness.  Normally, I hate Indian desserts, but I tried kulfi (it’s a bit like pistachio ice cream) and it was cold, sweet and creamy.  Kulfi….it’s supremely awesome stuff….

The price isn’t ridiculous for Paris, but is not almost free.  Price for four including bottled water and desserts was around 100 euros.

 

Yummy naan at India Restaurant

Yummy naan at India Restaurant

We went to a second Indian restaurant called Kirane’s on 83 avenue de Terne.  Yes, we like Indian food a lot – it’s part of the gene pool 🙂  The portion sizes were smaller than at India Restaurant, the dal wasn’t as tasty and this kulfi lover had her heart broken by subpar kulfi with a grainy texture.  However, there were a few upsides:  flaky vegetable samosas served with an assortment of sauces (ummm….tamarind…), wicked awesome stuffed paratha (roti stuffed with vegetables) and chicken tikka with sag (tender pieces of tandoor chicken served in a sauce with spinach).   

Samosas at Kirane's

Samosas at Kirane's

Our meal at Kirane's

Our meal at Kirane's

 A better bang for the buck is Chez Bebert at 277 Boul. Pereire.  Each table starts off with what seems to be the equivalent of North African tapas:  small plates of a variety of vegetarian delights, including spiced carrots, potatoes, mixed vegetables, beets, samosa like objects and olives.  The menu provides a variety of couscous and tangine dishes.  The couscous meals provide a lot of food:  a trough of couscous and a giant bowl filled with broth and vegetables, along with an assortment of toppings, including white beans, raisins, chickpeas and a spicy red sauce.  Your choice of meat is provided on a plate for each individual and it is one restaurant in Paris that provides satisfactory vegetarian options.  Prices for tangine and couscous dishes are in the range of 15-20 euros.

Chicken couscous carnage....

Chicken couscous carnage....

le couscous extravaganza....apres moi :)

le couscous extravaganza....apres moi 🙂

Tangine

Tangine carnage....

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A few of my favourite things in Paris

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…here are a few of my favourite things in Paris…

1. Crepes from Breizh cafe – I’ve posted about this before, but one of my favourite things in Paris are the crepes from Breizh cafe. C’est tres miam miam!

 

Miam miam!

Chocolate banana crepe - miam miam!

2. Hazelnut spread from chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux – proof that heaven really exists….

3. Les Grands Magasins – sure they’re big, crowded and generally expensive, but where else can you find housewares by Liou, Eric Kayser bread, bunny artwork in the windows and silk scarves that won’t break the bank.

 

Liou linens - I met the designer at Les Galleries Lafayette

Liou linens - I met the charming designer at Les Galleries Lafayette

4. Green spaces in Paris – From the Tuilleries, to regular squares around the city, Paris has gorgeous green spaces that are expertly manicured and kept beautiful for people to enjoy.  Although the amount of public smoking and crush hour on the metro can be awful, one can always find refuge in Paris’s beautiful parks and gardens.  It’s a chance to relax, reflect on life and enjoy the adorably perfect tiny hedges.

 

Beautiful greenspace in Paris

Beautiful greenspace in Paris

5. The stylish Parisians – Sure, there have been some tragic looks (e.g. men should never ever wear capris with gladiator sandals), but for the most part Parisians are a stylish lot and they make for excellent people watching.  Parisians….je t’aime…keep up the stylish eye candy.  Vous etes super fantastique! xoxo

 

Elle est magnifique....

Elle est magnifique....

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Baking class – pizza dough, croissants & pain au chocolat

Today was my last class and it was a good one.  It was also a way for me to tackle “the beast known as yeast”.  Those of you who have seen my past attempts at pizza dough know that yeast and I aren’t exactly the best of friends.  However, I think I may have learned just enough today to make half decent pizza dough in the future.

One of the keys to getting pizza dough right is to knead the heck out of it.  Show that little doughy lump who is boss and knead it until you can do the “window test”.  Sadly it doesn’t involve throwing dough at a window to see if it sticks.  Instead you take a small piece of dough and pull it to determine if you can see through it.  If a hole forms, keep kneading….Please note that humidity makes dough grumpy and surly, so best to make dough when it’s not raining outside – or if you live in Saskatchewan….

Perfect pizza dough....it should look like silk

Perfect pizza dough....it should look like silk

Croissants and pain au chocolat are labour intensive creatures.  The dough is quite similar to pizza dough, but it isn’t kneaded – otherwise you’d have very chewy croissants.  Additionally, the dough must rest for 8 hours in the refrigerator before you can work with it.  If not, it will be extremely sticky to use.  

Other than sensitive dough, croissant & pain au chocolate involve copious quantities of butter.  It gets beaten down into thin layers that resemble large slices of cheese and beating the butter is actually quite fun…. One third of the croissant dough will have no butter on it, while the other two thirds are laden with the stuff.  There’s some fancy dough folding and then you gently pound the dough so the butter won’t squish out of it.  Then the dough is rolled out some more….Like I said – it’s a labour intensive process – these ain’t no Pillsbury crescent rolls…

Butter & dough together at last.....

Butter & dough together at last.....

The dough is cut into triangles and then carefully stretched out so that it resembles the Eiffel Tower.  Then it is folded up to look like a croissant.  Mine looked like freaky cartoon crabs.  Must practice….  

Triangles of pastry ready to be rolled in croissant form

Triangles of pastry ready to be rolled in croissant form

Pain au chocolat are relatively simple in comparison.  The croissant dough is cut into small rectangular pieces and rolled around small pieces of dark chocolate.  Both croissants and pain au chocolat are brushed with an egg wash before putting them in the oven.

Croissants ready for the oven

Croissants before baking

Pain au chocolate ready for the oven

Pain au chocolat ready for the oven

ummm....pizza....take that you pesky dough!

ummm....pizza....

Croissants out of the oven....

Croissants out of the oven....

Here’s a quick recap of what I learned:

1. pizza dough will no longer be my nemesis

2. humidity = grumpy, surly dough.  Best to bake when it isn’t humid or in a climate controlled environment…must find a vacuum to live in with Daisy…

3. croissants & pain au chocolat = future angioplasty

4. Roquefort cheese is lovely on pizza

5. I think I’m the only person who talks to food…

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Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise

Today my friend and I went to Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise – also known as the cemetery where Jim Morrison of the Doors is buried.  The weather cooperated and we spent a rather toasty day walking around the beautiful, large cemetery grounds.     

 

Jim Morrison's grave

Jim Morrison's grave

 

Graffiti on crypt in front of Jim Morrison's grave

Graffiti on tomb in front of Jim Morrison's

Aside from Jim Morrison, there are a number of other famous people buried in Pere-Lachaise, including Edith Piaf, Chopin, Moliere, Bizet and Oscar Wilde.  

 

Chopin's tomb

Chopin's tomb

Going to a cemetery to see where famous people are buried may sound a tiny bit morbid, but the setting is beautiful, the grounds are green and lush and the best part is that it costs absolutely nothing to go inside.  Yes that is correct – it is free!  I recommend going on a balmy day and wear proper shoes for walking on the cobble stones.  Also, try to fight the urge to kiss Oscar Wilde’s tomb….apparently easier said than done.

 

Warning against graffiti....

A lovely warning in front of Oscar Wilde's tomb

 

Oscar Wilde's tomb

Oscar Wilde's tomb covered in kisses

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