A dessert that could feed a small country and a rant about chocolate.

This entry is about desserts.

Okay, so it’s about many things, and dessert happens to be a feature. 🙂 Because, to be honest, I started this post with the intention of writing about walking around Paris, but then I realized that walking is simply a means to an end in Paris. To eat. (Okay, okay, and also to get to cool places. True story.) 😉

I definitely recommend comfortable shoes to explore Paris. Seriously. If you want to eat all these crĂȘpes and croissants and baguettes and cheese and desserts and whatever else is rich and delicious in France without having to buy drawstring-waist pants, ya gotta walk. A lot. On cobblestones. And if you want to keep up with Parisians during rush hour on the metro, you feel like you are training for a speed walk competition. (Although as a general rule I try to avoid rush hour on the metro; it’s just too many people, too little air, and too much stranger-body-contact-to-stranger-body-contact.) I have to admit, the footwear I brought are somewhat lacking in the ‘cushion’ department and there are mornings where I get up and feel like the soles of my feet have gone on strike and are violently protesting.

image

On Friday night after class I decided to go for a walk (of course 😉 ) and revisit the 3rd Arrondissement (the Marais) , check out the Canal St Martin and scope out a couple cafĂ©s and restaurants that had been recommended to me. Not that I have to go very far for good restaurants- I walk by dozens of great places close to my apartment every day, and I passed three crĂȘperies and two gelato places on the same small street on my way to the Marais. It’s fantastic and dangerously tempting at the same time.


It turned into a very ‘romantic night for one’ as I walked across the Seine and along the St Martin canal through rose gardens and ivy arches, passing numerous couples and several groups of friends hanging out under the arches, at the base of old twisted trees and on park benches and garden edges.

image

image

This is the first sculpture I have seen in Paris with is much (or any...?) graffiti on it.

This is the first sculpture I have seen in Paris with this much (or even any) graffiti on it.

image

A zig-zag stroll through the Marais brought me past many fancy boutiques, funky jewelry shops, art galleries, tea houses, bars, and as usual, so much amazing architecture. The perfect Paris evening sky made it a gorgeous walk, and the streets were decorated with rainbow flags and banners, along with crowds of people lined up outside the busy night clubs celebrating Pride weekend.

image

image
Saturday was the rainiest day of the weekend, and after the parade I wanted to warm up with some tea and the famous tarte au limon meringue at Le Loir Dans La ThéiÚre (aka the Doormouse In The Tea Pot).

It is a very popular spot and there was a huge lineup to get in, but this ‘party of one’ was seated rather quickly at a shared table by the window. 🙂 They have a sign at the front door stating that laptops are not allowed in the establishment, and though my blogging heart would have been happy to move in for the afternoon and type away in a corner, I like the fact that they encourage people there to enjoy each other’s company over tea and dessert. (My table-mates and I didn’t talk too much more than a) marveling over each other’s dessert selections and b) laughing at the fact our table had one off kilter leg that made us spill each other’s tea any time we moved even slightly in our cozy corner of the place.)

image

I ordered an Earl Grey tea which was brought over in a beautiful heavy silver teapot, and then was served the largest piece of lemon meringue pie that I have ever seen in my life. I believe that the meringue alone would feed several people. And really, you should have seen the size of the entire pie- it was gargantuan. It was deliciously luxurious and rich, and everything that is indulgent on this rainy afternoon. But I think I should not have eaten at all that day- in preparation. Or worked my way up to it -over several weeks…Is there training to prepare oneself for such an epic dessert? Alas, after my best efforts, I could not finish it. I tried. I really did. It hurt. In the best and yet saddest way. Next time I’m bringing a friend (or a hidden take-home container). 🙂

image

Sunday was an excellent day with market shopping, more walking, company, and another delicious – um, we’ll call it ‘dessert’- that I couldn’t finish.

image

image

In the morning (who am I kidding- late morning….so, at noon) I went to the outdoor market down the street from my apartment and got some great fresh produce- and possibly the best strawberries and cherries I have ever tasted. You know you are a little over-excited about your food when you have a mini photo-shoot about it.

image

image

image

Yup. And now I wait for all the food magazines to start calling me.

It was a little rainy for a couple of hours, and I got to Skype with my pal Erin who is in Italy right now, which was fantastic. I then met up with my friend Hugo to go for a walk and possibly check out a cheap movie as it was the FĂȘte du CinĂ©ma on Sunday. The sun had come out at this point, so we started with a walk, but about five minutes in, charcoal clouds took over and rain sort of chased us along our route up past Notre Dame and along the Seine. (Yup, this girl still can’t get over the fact that on regular occasions she strolls past Notre Dame. *loooooove*). Even in the rainy weather, tourists were all over that place. It was the perfect day to explore inside a gargoyle-covered ornate ancient church, obviously. (And stand in line for a good long time beforehand, of course.)

image

image

image

We went to a restaurant in the OdĂ©on area called Le Hibou for something to drink, and both decided to try the Chocolat Chaud. Which turned out to be like eating an enormous dessert. It had been eight years since I’d had a chocolat chaud in Paris- with my sister at Le Chat Noir in Pigalle- and I will not forget again: a chocolat chaud is NOT like a hot chocolate. Unless you make your hot chocolate by melting down a giant Belgian chocolate bar and don’t add any milk. Or to be more accurate, you grind up your own cacao nibs and then melt them down and then pour that directly into a mug. It is likely the richest thing I have ever tasted. It is served with sugar sticks on the side, because, of course, you need to add sugar to your melted-chocolate-bar-in-a-mug. We asked for milk, and were brought a small creamer container, and we realized that we should have asked for a pitcher. Or a cow. I am certain that one chocolat chaud could easily be shared by four people (and a pitcher of milk). It was kind of ridiculous. And this girl loves chocolate, but come on, now. Hugo and I were beside ourselves, both bemused and considerably distressed at how on earth someone was actually expected to finish this ‘drink’ unless they were Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Neither of us could finish it for fear of being sick. Let that be a lesson to you all. And by all means, if you have had an entire chocolat chaud to yourself and lived to tell the tale, I want to know how you did it. End of chocolat chaud rant. 🙂

image

We decided not to go see a movie, and as the sky brightened and that amazing Paris ‘evening magic’ happened again, I decided to explore OdĂ©on, and see what the fuss was about with all the sales going on. The biggest sales in Paris happen twice a year: in February, and now. Danger danger: Paris fashion at 20-70% off…. I may end up shipping a box home…. 😀

image

Window shopping in Odéon

image
Many stores were closed because it was Sunday evening, so I ended up window shopping (and croissant buying), and finding my way around to my favourite place, the Jardin Luxembourg. Again, after a rainy day, it’s a fair bit quieter in terms of crowds, but diehard park lovers like myself were enjoying themselves on the metal chairs and around the fountains. With some Roquefort cheese, a demi baguette, and some fresh cherries, I had a lazy evening enjoying the delight of after-rain weather.

image

image

image

Check out that sky!! (And the less-than-aesthetically-pleasing architecture of the Montparnasse building in the background.)

image

Getting some evening sun!

image

That’s all for now, but perhaps I will have a few more things to share before next weekend, when I will be joined by my mum and sister! I cannot wait to see them!!!

image

You realize how much time flies when you are too caught up in life to document it. And that’s good.

There are those moments in life where you are truly living ‘in the moment’, and then there are the times when you are just completely overwhelmed by/in awe of/truly gobsmacked by that moment you are in. I cannot believe I am living in Paris, buying groceries at outdoor markets every day, commuting to and from school like it’s completely normal and I’ve been doing it forever, giving tourists directions, and speaking in French as much as I can. A-freaking-mazing.

Class goes on, and our class has grown, with now 15 students in total, filling every available desk in the semicircle around the room. It turns out we have to pay for a fifth week in order to complete this *half* of the course of A2, so off I went to the registrar office to add another 5 days of class to my schedule.  I have now been told by several ex-pats living in Paris that a) the French have never been good at communication, and b) if the French can figure out a way to make things more complicated (education and paperwork particularly), they will. I am finding this to be very true.

image

image

On the bright side, I have a change of venue as to my living arrangements. I have moved from the 10th Arrondissement across the river to the 5th. I have moved from a room in a family home (une maison d’hĂŽte), to my very own apartment! It is a one bedroom (very luxurious for one person to have in Paris), an open concept kitchen (un cuisine amĂ©ricaine), a combined eating area/living room and a bathroom with shower and washing machine (which is so fantastic because going to a laundromat here is pricey)!! There is a darling little garden outside my bedroom, so fresh air and some greenery makes this an even lovelier spot. The apartment is in a very busy area. Very busy. For example, I had to say “excusez moi” to get in between people sitting at tables on the cobblestone street in order to get to the door of my apartment building with my suitcase and backpack when I first arrived. It’s a little funny to try to not knock over someone’s wine glass trying to get into your house. My street has numerous restaurants with outdoor tables and right now they have televisions set up so people can watch all the world cup games. So far the evening quiets down at around 2am. (Thank heaven for earplugs.)

The Franglish venue- now in 'my neighborhood'!

The Franglish venue- now in ‘my neighborhood’!

The art installation along the fence at Jardin Du Luxembourg; photos 'then and now' remembering WWII. Along my walk to school.

An art installation along the fence at Jardin Du Luxembourg; photos ‘then and now’ remembering WWII. Along my walk to school.

In the Jardin Du Lixembourg.

In the Jardin Du Luxembourg.

But to backtrack, and share a bit about the days leading up to this move, I had fantastic adventures last week, with a visit to a market, The Centre Pompidou, and “Dinner at Jim’s” on Sunday night!

image

The Bastille Market is the best one I have been to so far, and as soon as I say that I have several other spots recommended to me, as always seems to be the case here in Paris. “Oh, you think that place is amazing? Try this place!”  It was much more of a food market than clothing or housewares, and had a lot of fresh seafood. Everything you could imagine from crab to squid to oysters…. To frogs legs.

Cuisses de grenouille.

Lots of produce at better prices than in any grocery store I have been to. And some prices went down as the end of the day arrived. Lots of fresh food (meats, cheese, bread, pasta) from different cultures and countries as well. I had a lunch of warm sate chicken skewers, roasted tomatoes, and fresh melon for dessert.

image

image

image

The Centre Pompidou:

image

image

imageI had heard about an art installation in film at the Centre Pompidou by the video artist Christian Marclay called “The Clock” That I wanted to check out. It is a 24 hour film montage with thousands of time-related scenes from movies, where each scene contains an indication of time (for instance a watch or clock, or dialogue) that is synchronized to be in real time of the audience watching it. It’s unbelievable- not only is it edited brilliantly, there is a wonderful rhythm to how the various films relate and move forward cohesively.I watched just over an hour and then went to see what else the centre offered. There are many galleries there, and a great view of Paris from the top floor.

image

image

The largest exhibition seemed to be for Martial Raysse and was amazing modern art. It was a collection with pieces from his entire career (over many decades- from the 60s until now).

image

image

The portraits were my favourite part.

image

image

The detail and variation in the leaves in this painting amazed me.

The detail and variation in the leaves in this painting amazed me.

image

An afternoon walk, via some beautiful streets, fountains, and of course some tourist-heavy areas. Oh, and Les Halles metro station, which I do not recommend using (crazy/huge/busy/dirty).

image

image

Sunday night was Dinner at Jim’s! When I was researching ways to meet people in Paris I found a link to “Dinner at Jim’s”, and it sounded intriguing so I sent him an email asking for an invite. Jim is an American who has lived all over, worked in theatre, music, literature, among other things, and is now living in Paris. For the past 30 years, every single sunday he hosts a dinner at his atelier (an old art studio). Each guest brings some money to help pay for the food, and enjoy a night meeting new people. Some are living in Paris, some are just passing through. Some, like me, are meeting Jim for the first time, and some are old friends.  There were over 50 people there and I talked with about 12 of them. The food was great and the conversation was better. It’s a fabulous time! I wish I had taken more pictures but I was too caught up meeting the most fascinating people. Jim has a lovely ‘apartment’ on the main level of a long unit of buildings with a good size kitchen that opens into a sitting room, and directly outside is a porch and then a grassy garden area where we sat for a good part of the evening. There was wine and beer and non alcoholic bevvies, and we were served a sort of American-Mexican theme dinner with broiled pork, beans, rice, guacamole, pineapple, and of course, bread. For dessert: cherry crumble and ice cream. I had a really lovely time and took the metro almost all the way home with several people I met at the dinner. I met 2 students (one from Scotland and one from England), two ukulele players on their way to a ukulele festival (!!) (one is a full time musician and the other is a nurse), a documentary film director from LA, a film writer and producer from the UK who wants to get into theatre, several Canadians (from Victoria, Winnipeg and Toronto), a journalist, a translator, a conductor, and a couple of wine shop owners. I am definitely going back. If you are ever in Paris and want to check out Jim’s dinner here is his website. http://www.jim-haynes.com/

The only photo I took. The food being prepared. Notice the giant bowl of bread.

The only photo I took. The food being prepared. Notice the giant bowl of bread.

So, back to the present. I am currently writing this at my kitchen table, with the sound of a live accordion playing La Vie En Rose outside my window to the restaurant patrons on the street, before I head out to enjoy La FĂȘte De La Musique today with some free concerts.

Last night I went out with my friend Hugo to a bar to watch France play Switzerland in the World Cup. What an incredible game! I’ve been asked several times about how ‘my team’ was doing, and if I was devastated they were eliminated yesterday, since they thought I was British. I would laugh and say “What team? Canada didn’t qualify so ‘my team’ doesn’t exist here. I will be cheering for France because I am in France.”
I was so happy to cheer for France last night at the pub, surrounded by Parisians. It was so fun to be in such an intensely passionate group of people cheering and singing and chanting . I’m sure it’s like the playoffs of the NHL in hockey in Canada or the States in the hometown of the playoff teams. I loved it!!

walking around Paris after the game….

D'Orsay by Night

D’Orsay by Night

The Seine by the Louvre at night

The Seine by the Louvre at night

And late night metro (the platforms were only empty for about 30 seconds):

image

And on and on it goes! 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend!