Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts

Friday, February 12, 2016

Scratch and sniff

This blog post sums up my feeling about Blaise Mautin and how one person can be so in love with scent that they seek it out.

I have tiny bars of this soap squirreled away in my smalls drawers and nestled within my t-shirts.  I would follow you to the ends of the earth if you smelled like the Park Hyatt Vendome. A few years ago, they reformulated the scent. I was heartbroken.

The new stuff is fine, its better than fine, but it isn't the same. It has a lot of citrus overtones and less sandalwood.

I can't wait to immerse myself in the scent in a few weeks.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The New Normal

Somewhere in the 11th. 

We skipped our usual November trip to Paris in 2015.  We ended up eating in the Bastille - very near where the horrific events at the Bataclan and the cafes happened. It was heartbreaking to walk by the cafe and see the flowers and cards piled up in front of the barricades.

I remember the terrorist attacks of the 80s that resulted in lots of the measures that are just part of today's Paris - the gendarmes policing the streets, the clear garbage bags in public places and the tacit understanding that everyone needs to be vigilant in crowds.  I also remember queuing up in the French embassy in London to get a visa in order to visit France.  I was traveling by myself from London to Germany via Paris.  The hassle of having my bag searched everywhere I went along with the humidity and heat of August made it a no-brainer for me - I was going to Germany sooner than I had anticipated.

Paris in December felt different. It was quieter than usual.  The shops were emptier. The streets were not as hectic.  The shopkeepers we talked to said that the bombings scared Parisians from going out. Acts of violence have a long tail.  It is not just the sharp shock of the event, but how it plays out - in the media and in our psyches.

Do we feel safe? Can things be the same? Is this the new normal?

The new normal is not something I ever expected to have to experience.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Packing is a big game of Tetris. This makes it so much easier when the Agriculture inspectors go through each item on your return to the States. 

At least my macarons arrived home safely.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

The little things

There is something decadent about taking a nap in the middle of the day, even if it means skipping lunch or more sightseeing. 

There will always be Paris.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Friday Wrap Up

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

Giverny - Check
La Defense/Grand Arche - Check
Parc Martin Luther King - Clichy/Batignolles - Check
Dinner at Coretta - Check
20k steps walked - Check

Thursday, September 03, 2015

New territory

Can't wait for sparklemotion #nmcdgsept15 #hyattlife @hyatt_etoile

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

I either have allergies or am coming down with the summer cold. This happened to me during Snowdrop Mania in February and I was not amused, but for the most part I soldiered on. I'm going to do the best I can tomorrow to get to Giverny . I have some ibuprofen  and what I believe to be an antihistamine, so down the hatch they go.

My goal this trip is to see four things I've never seen before (not in a particular order):

Vaux le Vicomte 
La Grande Arche
The new park for Clichy and Batignolles 
and if I'm lucky on my way home from Vaux on Saturday - I'll hit the small park near the Palais de Decouverte.

I try and plan and make sure I do things in the most efficient routing possible. I hate retracing my steps, so I make mental maps and then validate them on paper or on-line maps. I still get lost and sometimes things don't work out - delays happen, new and interesting things are discovered or you fall ill and decide that a day in bed is better than four hours on a bus.

I've got a few good decades left in me - most of these places have been around for a long time and are likely to be there next year and the year after.

Are you happy doing the same thing trip after trip or are you always looking for new things to do when you travel?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The first of the month

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

Hello September!  I managed to post each day last month - even if it was a photo with some terse comment.  This month I plan to do better - really!

I'm looking forward to a long flight with a new tapestry and some Orphan Black - now available to download on your i-device or a-device as long as you are an Amazon Prime member. I'm not sure if it will work if you are overseas, but like with many things, VPN is a great solution.

I bought a new suitcase this week - my old girl had over a million miles on her and it was time to trade her for something a little sleeker. I'll give you a report soon. Everyone has their issues with their bags and packing. I seem to have a great way to pack but at the last minute, I start to panic. Mostly this revolves around accessories and shoes.  

No one cares, but I know that you do and you can make yourself crazy.

Off to change out purses again and look for a pair of shoes to go with my purse.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Too tired to even type.

Musee de l'art modern, Paris July 2014.

I'm off to London tonight.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Sweetest Thing - Marquis de Ladurée Chocolate Workshop in Paris

Up Avenue de l'Opera is Foucher.  They do pate aux fruits right. 

A lot of people wax poetically about the pastries and cakes that they find in the bakeries and tea salons in Paris. Me, I'm all about the confectionery. I'd much rather look at caramels, those weird marzipan fruit, the fruit pastes in exotic flavors and the boxes and displays of fine chocolates.

The French love their chocolates and elevate them to a form that I have never seen before. One day a few years ago, I was walking by an abandoned storefront on the rue de Castiglione and noticed that something new was going in. Was it going to be a perfume store? Another designer handbag store? I noticed display cases and the furnishings were so ornate - it looked familiar and yet, so fancy. 

Interior shot taken by me does the store no justice, you have to go see it yourself.

Ladurée, the brand best known for lovely teas, pastries, beauty supplies and the macaron had decided to open a chocolate shop near the Tuileries. Suffice it to say, I was happy to return a few short months later to see it open and full of chocolates with little else, even the pastries were chocolate - chocolate croissants with gold foil, pain au chocolat with chocolate pastry and some of the prettiest boxes of pralines I had laid eyes on. In the back of the store I noticed a few people standing around a big table whisking away at cake batter. They were learning how to make some sort of amazing chocolate tart and I was determined to join them.

Lately, I've been seeking out cooking classes when I travel.  I have had the grand luck of having some amazing instructors and learned some great things. My experience at the Marquis de in Ladurée was in the same league.  I learned a ton about making confections and about myself.

Let's talk about the class.  The website is hard to navigate and although they tell you there are workshops held every Thursday night and Saturday morning, they don't necessarily tell you what you might be doing. It took three web browsers and two laptops to get the pdf version of the schedule to come up for me.

Bonus. Lots of lovely pastries to have for le petit dejeuner. 

I emailed the store and started corresponding Jonathan who coordinates the workshops for the store. I paid my 84 Euros (105 dollars and change) and set my alarm for early.  I wore comfortable clothes and shoes for class and enjoyed the short walk from my hotel to the workshop.  I arrived around 850, and was one of the last to arrive.  We were offered coffee and chocolat chaud and chocolate pastries while waiting for the workshop to start.

Before we set off to work, Jonathan gave us a tour of the store (en francais), but he did some translating for me.  The store is all about chocolate - it has the usual delicious stuff such as a complete range of pralines, their flagship disks with the marquis embellishments in various flavors and chocolate bars that we all covet. They are Ladurée, so expect to see macarons, however the macarons are filled with chocolate ganache instead of your typical fruit and cream flavors and the pastries are all chocolate. It is truly amazing to behold.
Our gracious hosts.

Our instructor was name Aurora and she had been working as pastry chef for a few years. Before we started work, we were given clean aprons and asked to wash our hands. Each person had a station with a recipe, pen and water and tools we would need to complete our project - making chocolates.

This was not easy - skim coat the chocolate, mush in the paste, smooth it out and then skim coat chocolate on the top before cutting into "squares".

The workshop focused on making TH's favorite thing in the world - orange filled chocolates. These were almond paste mixed with orange rind and then dipped in chocolate.  We learned to prep the work surface, how to smoothly put down a layer of chocolate as a base (think skimcoating if you do such work), incorporate the almond with the orange to form a paste and to try and neatly and smoothly set this sticky concoction into a mold.

That took patience, something I lack.

And then we smoothed chocolate on the top, sort of like a crumb coating on a cake. After that dried, the paste was cut into small squares in anticipation of dipping them in chocolate.

They were more like trapezoid or parallelograms.
The thing about the squares was they weren't very square.

The great thing about chocolate, it hides a multitude of sins. It is like the faux-wrap dress of the food world.

Tempering chocolate requires a lot of work, time and elbow grease. Like most things, it needs a little pampering. You overheat it and it is crumbly and burnt and a drop of water will cause it to seize up. Tempering chocolate requires stirring a an even rhythm to keep the chocolate melted, not splashing it up sides so it creates seed for the chocolate to grab onto and solidify. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but it also took three times of reheating the chocolate in the microwave (!) to achieve that beautiful consistency with the lovely glossy sheen.

My final product.  My team loved them and so did TH.

We then dipped the marzipan squares in the tempered chocolate and garnished them with a piece of candied orange.  Those trapezoidal attempts at neat squares started to look much more like squared off chocolates.  The base helped shape the exterior and by the time we were done, things looked pretty fancy.

Ladurée provided us with lovely take out boxes much like the ones they use to package their own chocolates. We were also allowed to keep our leftover almond paste, which I carefully carried home and hope to use soon. It was an amazing morning where I learned a little patience and a lot about chocolate.

The Chocolate Workshops at the Les Marquis de Ladurée are held Fall, Winter and Spring on Thursday nights and Saturdays in their gorgeous store at 14 Rue de Castiglione. If you arrive early I recommend having breakfast at the Castiglione around the corner on Rue St Honore or walk up to Eric Kayser on Rue Danielle Casanova for a quick bite but save room for a pain au chocolat and the chocolat chaud.

Many thanks to Jonathan and Aurora for leading this workshop and to my patient Parisian classmates. I had a blast.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sarah Morris for Longchamp - A pop of color

When I returned from Paris, my colleague asked me how many bags I picked up.

Yup, he knows me well.


I have a thing for bags - clutches, totes, purses, messenger bags - you name it, I love it.

The latest Longchamp collaboration with Sarah Morris is divine and I highly recommend you go pick one up before they disappear.

Sarah Morris has reimagined the eponymous, yet useful and practical les Pliages range into something new and edgy.  I fell in love when I saw them on the Longchamp site and was delighted to find the range at the rue St. Honoré branch.

I love all the colors and the black handles on the purse and travel bag are a nice change for the tan. The white leather used for the long handled shopping totes looked nice, but given the grubby nature of bus commuting I decided to stay with the black.  

The signature pieces modeled after her painting - "The Eclipse"  would go with everything, but the white background would stain easily. I know others have had luck washing their les Pliages bags and removing stains, so you may want to try that one out.  

Now on to the bags I bought - a handbag and a travel bag which look very similar.

The handbag feels more like a luggage tote - it's exceedingly roomy, maybe a little too roomy.  I could see over filling it and lugging more than you needed around for the day.  The travel bag is your standard "I bought too much on vacation and I need to check my bag" extra bag. 

The only drawback I see to these bags - or the ones I looked at is the white interior of the bags. White is great for finding things, but not so great for keeping clean. 

The hardest thing was picking a color. I loved the green, gray, blue and black.  I finally decided on the royal blue because it coordinates well with my current wardrobe and is vastly different from the tan, black, orange and olive pieces I already own and might brighten up a dull Seattle day.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Plats du Jour

Many small boxes (not of take out), November 2014. 

Sunday is a big day for eating out in Paris.  Families gather to have a lovely lunch out and catch up and tourists look at menus with great hesitation trying to decide whether to venture inside a bistro to get something to eat. Others may wander in to get out the cold or hot or just take a load off.  In all cases, it is nice to take a break and spend the next hour - erm, staring at a screen.

Face it, most of us are guilty of doing this.  You have been pretty darn good all day long.  You may have used your phone to take a few pictures or look up directions, but once you sit down, you are lost.  We are guilty of catching up with Instagram comments, answering work emails from six thousand miles away, or waiting to take a picture of your soup.

The important things is we're sitting down to eat a meal someone else has prepared and more than likely,we're sitting with someone we like/love/respect and we're not paying giving them or the food the attention it or they deserve.

Today I witnessed many tables where both parties were eating and typing at the same time. They weren't sitting at a fast food establishment wolfing down a burger to rush back to their desks.  These were people who were dropping close to 80 bucks per person to eat lunch and they barely spent it interacting with each other or their food.

Why even bother?

I am just as guilty as others, but I am trying really hard to be mindful about this. We have a no phones the table unless the world is ending or the World Series is on. Is it okay to tune in instead of tuning out by shutting out the real world?

Is it okay to just thank the waitstaff who has seated you and brought you food? Is it okay to chew each mouthful of food and be humbled that someone went to the trouble to feed you? 

Watching other's today made me even more determined to stop looking at my phone for entertainment and start paying attention to what is going on around me.

How about you?  Do you have a no-phone/device policy while eating? 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Tuileries, Nov. 2013.

It is lovely to spend the day with the person you love in your favorite city.

Happy Saturday from the City of Lights

Friday, November 07, 2014

See something, Say something

I have learned a lot about myself in the last few years. One thing is that I am much better off confronting a situation that stewing for hours . It is better to face whatever is nagging or bothering me instead of losing sleep or involving others in my web of crankiness.

There is nothing like remembering a trip because of the one shitty thing that happened to you instead of the 300 awesome things which occurred at same time.

"I loved x, but all I can remember was the rude waiter, crappy valet, lack of turn down service or smelly seat opponent." 

Trying to turn this around to - "Greenland was amazing, I even enjoyed the surprise overnight visit to Disko Island thanks to the ferry running aground.  We got to meet some folks we would have never of met and saw way more icebergs because of it".  

So, not everyone has had  the joy of being stranded in Greenland, but I'm thinking all six of you who have read this blog post have gotten a sub-par room in a hotel and have either shut up and unpacked your suitcase or have bitched about the room to someone other than the Front Desk Manager.

Now, I just confront whatever it is that is bothering me - hotel rooms, inadequate service or ferries that run aground. If I get resolution, great. If I don't, I tried and can move on. Moving on is hard, but sometimes it is all you can do.

What about you?

Monday, November 03, 2014

How to dress for success or how to dress yourself successfully

A room with a view, Hyatt Etoile, July 2014.

My life has taken some turns - mostly good.

I have started to dress like a grown-up. Maybe its that I finally feel like I can buy clothes that suit me. It might just be that I work right next to the Nordstrom shoe buyers and I feel like I have to up my game.
Whatever it is, it takes a little more effort that it did before to get out the door and that takes some planning.

I'm going on an eight day trip soon that involves air travel and a bit of driving. I have a short work presentation to a bunch of friendly colleagues who are more casual and then to Paris where I want to look nice and be comfortable. I'm not into wardrobe changes per se, but I could definitely get out of my rut and try a few things.

In my new found love of retail I have learned a few things that I would love to share with you. Here they are.

Always shop for clothes on an empty stomach - you'll look better.

If you can't take someone you trust with you when you go shopping  make sure you model what you bought for them before you rip off the tags.

Try and sit down and cross your legs, bend over, stretch your arms up in your new garments on a full stomach before you rip off any tags.

Cut those tags off, do not rip them.

Always save the receipt and the buttons that come with whatever you bought. You'll need them one day.

Oh, I hate Pinterest, but here is a board that shows you just what I'm thinking of taking.

Do tell me what you think.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paris for beginners - Part 3


Way back in the day, TH visited London without me.  I gave her a detailed list of places to visit and what to do in order to keep her upright until the evening.  It was an exhaustive paper list and map with a specific routing of what to see along the way and where to eat.  While there might have been Internet in those days -however, computerized maps, nor GPS were not available to every Tom, Dick or Sally.  My itinerary kept her amused and worked as she was exhausted by the time she got to her final destination.

These days, things are both easier and more complicated. Travel planning not only requires more than the Boolean of smoking or no smoking, single or double; but which of the 90880 travel reviews do I trust for a hotel recommendation.  I contend we suffer from travel decision fatigue and that is even before we actually get to the airport to board the first flight.

When it comes down to it, I love planning than the actual trip.  It is the combination of preparation, curation, anticipation of what might the new thing, along with the familiarity of the old and true that excites me.  Some trips are methodically planned, e.g. car trips and others are loosely based on a few hard to procure reservations and gaps filled with whatever we see or can fill in along the way.  The explosion of social sharing of information and sometimes the over sharing makes trip planning even easier these days.  Friends are willing to share out lists, links, hidden gems to their friends because sharing is fun.  Some folks keep detailed itineraries and share them with anyone who might want to copy them cappuccino by cappuccino and are mortally offended if you do not find each and every thing they did as fascinating as they did. Nod politely with each offer of help or advice and go home and sleep on it.  It is ultimately your trip, own it.

Visual curation seems to be the new thing in travel planning - both for aspirational travel or for itinerary planning.  Marrying images with a map and some text or another link to information is priceless for travel planning and for on the ground navigating.  I'm a big fan of a few techniques for doing this.

Suggestion One - Try trip planning using imagery instead of guide books.  Going to Rome? Paris? New York? Louisville?  Seek these places out using discovery apps or web sites.  A few to try include Pinterest, Instagram (or the web equivalent), Flickr and Trover.  Use the key word function  to find a place and start discovering.  This probably can't be done on the plane somewhere, but requires a little time before your trip to find places that intrigue you and if you are lucky are geotagged with a location.  Take notes, or in the case of Trover, start making lists of places you want to visit within the application (nifty feature). 

Putting this on a map - I know everyone is gaga for Pinterest, but Pinterest has not done such a great job of integrating all their pinning with a map interface So, you can love and repin something from one person's board to your own, but no geographic information gets transferred, so it up to you to start creating your own map using Google Maps, this is clunky, but useful and shareable.

Suggestion Two  - Use online guides for trip planning. Lots of guides are now available electronically and some actually work well when you are off line. Many tourist boards now make mapping applications with some background information and useful tourist information.  Some municipalities even create podcasts that you can listen to while walking around.  Use these, love them and remember to remove them when you are done.

Time out guides are also great because they are free and update with current events. They are available on the web and from app stores.  These are handy if you are trying to decide between two museums or to see what is nearby.  Time out also lets you plan out an itinerary by day and works well offline.  Drawback - there are advertisements that pop up, but that is the tradeoff for a free app.

Download specialty apps for trip planning and navigating - food, art, fashion.  Not all of these are free, but they can be useful depending on the quality of the maps used.  Many of them seem repetitive - there may be 940 bakeries in the center of Paris, but most food tourists flock to 15 of them.  Don't be smug or angry that someone else beat you to the last baguette, everyone is getting the same information.  

Suggestion Three - Be flexible.  Have a back up plan.  A 76 degree day in Rome sounds delightful when you are sitting in 45 degree Seattle, until you realize that swollen feet, sticky armpits and cameras that weigh a ton can make the most delightful stop for gelato seem like a death march.  Maybe you should use this time to go sit in a cafe and write that postcard you promised to the cat sitter. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Paris for beginners - Part 2

1979, a bad year for fashion
The family M, 1979. Trip one of a million to Paris.

Continuing on the Paris theme, let's talk about food and eating in general.  My first trip to Paris was in 1979.  My brother and I were teenagers and suffice it to say, it was not a good scene food wise or hormone wise. As my trips grew more frequently, I ventured away from McDonald's to try couscous, onion soup, pizza and Campari soda. I felt so sophisticated.

After 40 plus trips to Paris, I still get intimidated by eating and ordering when I step into a restaurant.  I do a great job of researching where we'll eat, but then fret that I will order the wrong wine, not enough food (Hello McDonald's!), or just hate the food.  Why is something I love to do at home - eat out, seem so vexing while traveling?

Maybe because I am afraid I'm going to be identified as a tourist and given a menu in ENGLISH (quelle horreur!).

Here's my advice, relax and enjoy the food.  As with all experiences, you will have five good to one bad.  You will faint at the prices for some things and feel like you stole out of the cash drawer for others, it all ends up about the same in the end.

Breakfast - If your hotel has it, take advantage of it especially if you need to be fueled in the morning.  Buffets are full of protein as well as the boulangerie goods you think of when you think of Paris.  If you are lucky enough to have a in room breakfast, enjoy freshly selected and not picked over goods.  Skip coffee in the morning, have tea (usually freshly brewed for you) or chocolat chaud. 
If breakfast is not available, suss out a local cafe and if you love keep on going back. Conversely, you can find a patisserie such as Erik Kayser and have a sit down pastry and coffee, but it is usually not very comfortable.

Parisians love brunch. I don't get it, but TH loves one place in particular - Sésame - on Quai Valmy on Canal St. Martin. It is tiny spot, but the food is plentiful.  Des Gars dans la cuisine is also great for brunch and a steal at lunch!  I would rather eat a huge lunch somewhere and walk it off than mix eggs with  an open faced sandwich and a brownie at 10 am.

Lunch - I love lunch. I prefer lunch to dinner. Lunch is less expensive and easier to get reservations at some of the posher places in town.  In some cases, Michelin starred restaurants have great prix fixe menus for lunch.  Many courses for 100 euros per person.  Dinner at these places run three times that and you will be completely over catered to and stuffed and have to taxi home.  Bring comfortable shoes to change into after lunch and walk back to your hotel.  My suggestions include Taillevent, L'astrance and Le Table du Joel Robuchon.  Here is a list of other awesome places that I am going to hit on my next few trips.

I am not going to give you a million lunch suggestions, other than you can't go wrong with omelets, salads with chevre, steak frites and the daily dish.  Have coffee, skip dessert and go find a macaron to munch in a little bit. 

Dinner - One word of advice - if you are peckish or need to eat long before the restaurants open, by all means have a snack. Fake fact - bad decisions and meltdowns between loved ones happen between 5:15-7:15 pm when you are starting to get hungry and nothing is open.  Great time to run back to hotel, take a shower, drop off all your stuff and have a snack in your room or the hotel bar before going out.
I like to stay near the hotel for dinner. This can be challenging if you are in an area that is devoid of decent food (office parks, La Defense, the AIRPORT), but most folks are probably not in the category. If  I'm tired and cranky, I will visit a local cafe and order an omelet and green salad and call it dinner.  If that doesn't work and your hotel room can tolerate the smells of take out, go to a local traiteur (deli serving hot food) and pick up some noshes. I love the hole in the wall places off of Rue St. Honoré.

Smart travelers always bring a plastic picnic pack of utensils and use the towels for a table cloth.  If you want quick and filling, head out for felafel in the Marais or near the Sorbonne. I have no favorites, but others do.

If we are in the mood for fancy food, we try and hit a nice restaurant, preferably one that takes reservations. We like baby brother restaurants of Michelin restaurants or brasseries around the corner. A great concierge can take your requested list of restaurants and make all reservations for you. If you are lucky, the hotel will even have a list you can fill out on line. If there is somewhere you are dying to try, I suggest emailing the restaurant, the hotel concierge or Skyping them and requesting a table.  The more popular restaurants will require a confirmation the morning of your reservation, so make to follow up or you will be eating at McDonald's.

Finally, there is McDonald's. I am not saying it is my favorite place to eat, but they make a decent cup of coffee and have free WiFi.  If you are homesick and want to check in via the Internets or Skype, you can do it here better than nearly everywhere, including outside of the restaurant.

The important thing is to be flexible and have a plan at the same time. While this seems contrarian, it works. Have two options to chose from - somewhere close when you are tired and can't fathom walking or taxiing from your destination to the restaurant and somewhere further afield if you still peppy with energy.

Remember to take lots of discrete pictures, but spend your time loving the food and paying attention to your dining companion.  You can latergram your finds in your hotel room later that night.

Paris eating links I like - John Talbott's Paris
David Lebovitz  - Paris suggestions  
Phyllis Flick - Paris notebook

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Paris for beginners -Part 1

on the way up
This blog post is really for my friends M and A who are going to Paris for a week.  They are quite lovely people - well traveled and have an amazing perspective on the world. I believe the last time they were in Paris, they might have been roughing it a little more.

In any case, here is my best what to see in  Paris advice. Take what you can from it and throw the rest away.

Welcome to a city that is full of amazing stuff - croissants spilling out of shop doors, dogs clad in Chanel, millions of instagrammable shots everywhere you look and tourists, scads of tourists.
Be a tourist for a few days, take in the city by bites, there is no need to see it all in a purposeful way. Make it fun, not a trudge.

Paris is a bunch of cities in one. Pick a few things that appeal to you - gardens, fashion, art, technology,  revolution, food and focus on them. No need to be greedy. Paris will always be there. Focus on those things and do them well. 

Interested in gardens and adaptive reuse?  Visit Parc Andre Citroen, Parc de la Villette, Viaducts des Arts, Canal St. Martin, Bercy, Bois de Boulogne, Giverny spring to mind and don't forget the Jardins des Plantes.

Interested in Markets - pick three to see - one with a great view is the  Marche Au President Wilson, Posh Organic Market - Boul. Raspail, Ethnic Market - one on the Canal, Covered markets are worth a look as well... The Quai de la Mégisseries and others close by have great plants. From this you get a sense of how Parisians try hard to eek out a little green in the smallest of balconies.

Outdoor Art - Musee Rodin, Pompidou and the sculpture garden located at Quai St. Bernard on the Seine.

Understanding Hausmann - walk the Grands Boulevards, at least for bit - Start at Opera, look down the Avenue, go towards Madeleine, marvel at the square and the poshness that surrounds. If you are strong willed, walk up Boul. Malesherbes to see the grandness of the streets.  You can stop anywhere along the way to rest your feet.  Contrast this with the Marais and its medieval feel.

Find the best box of chocolates - you know my favorites - Foucher, Jean Paul Hevin, La Maison du Chocolat, compare and contrast.  Do the same for macarons - you don't have to order a whole box, it is perfectly okay to order one or two.

The maps that you get from the hotels are remarkably well designed and should be used in conjunction to those you use to navigate on your phone.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

growing up

on the way up

Don't worry Mony. I am not going anywhere. I just wanted to make sure I had made my contributionfor April 2009 's NaBloPoMo. This month's theme is "growing up".

I can't say I've been very good at it. I seem to exist in a perpetual state of immaturity. Even in my 40's I wish I could sit at the kid's table at Thanksgiving and sometimes shy away from conversations that involve adult topics. However, overall I think I did a pretty good job of growing up. This month you'll hear all of it - someone of it mudane, some deep and some of it sort of funny and pathetic. Growing up as a half generation from the oil refineries, carpet looms and high plains of the motherland in a country where Middle Easterners are portrayed as the bad guys made growing up hard to swallow at times. It also gives one pause for thought.

Hold on though, it should be good.

The above picture was taken this weekend, in Paris where I decided to wrestle between my adult mature self and my not so mature free wheeling self and go on a quest for DEQMs. It wasn't all that bad really money wise and time wise or on my body. In the long run, I will still be able to retire before I'm 65 and be able to say that I was once young and foolish enough to fly to Paris to buy macarons and easter eggs. Yes, I think I will be okay.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Some travel related stuff

Self reflection, Place Vendome, December 2005.

You can now use your Alaska Airlines miles for redemption on Air France. Those awards are dear, but to get to the airport at noon, board at one pm and be in Paris at 8 am just in time for the next transit strike, supreme!

We're booked for a week in March, Seattle-Marseille, pottering around Drome and Haut Provence and then to Paris to pick up some chocolate.

Mileage runners (you know who you are), post or read here and get some ideas. Trust me, when you are nearly there, you might as well make it, right Bueller?

Me, I'm done for the year, well, sort of. I have to go to Chicago this weekend, but that's just to make sure J gets her December race under her belt.

nm wishing and hoping that her upgrade to F clears

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I'm up to 1002 views of my profile on blogger.

Wow, what a big deal.

Other than that, I'm back from Paris. It was lovely, the weather was cooperative. We ate well. We managed to do things that we each wanted to do and we bought lots of chocolate.

We bought so much that I refused to go to Patrick Roger because I was sick and tired of chocolate.

What is with that?

So, while I sit here composing this entry I am nibbling on a few mini madeleines we picked up at the grand epicerie - these are matcha madeleines and they are to die for.

Fauchon has redone their Place de la Madeleine store and it has its own madeleine bar. TH loves my orange swirled chocolate ones and my mom makes a wicked vanilla madeleine, but the flavors at Fauchon were wild. Saffron, sesame, truffle along with coffee, matcha and framboise.

I'm going to have to pull out my molds and start working on my recipes again, because these are winners -- they are fast to make, hold for a while and are adaptable to a variety of flavors.

Here is a great discussion on different recipes and some variations. I have used the Williams and Sonoma recipe for years with great luck, just replace that orange blossom water with your favorite extract.

Bon Appetit!