August 2021 Newsletter
Summer is upon us...
Help! We forgot to plan our vacation!
While I was pondering all the wonderful summer fruit and berries at the market the last few months, somehow, I neglected to plan a summer vacation, or les vacances. People think the French are always taking days off, but the idea of a vacation in France didn’t start until the 1930s when the government enacted a social measure to give working people a break. And take a break they did.
Nowadays vacations are very, very important and last spring, in March of 2020 when we had our first strict lockdown and you could only go out of your apartment with a special form, and hospitals were filling up, just about every interview on tv news featured someone wondering about the status of their vacation that summer.
In fact, two of the most important things in French life are, 1) Cafés and 2) Vacations. Président Macron knew right where to aim with the new protocols in France, which include requiring proof of vaccination (or a negative Covid test result) to go to museums, cafés, and restaurants, and to take trains, going into effect early this month. Within minutes of his announcement*, the vaccine appointment site in France crashed as 1.7 million people signed up for shots.
This ain’t my first rodeo, as we say in English; this isn’t my first pandemic. Having made it through the first one (which was harrowing), and hopefully the second, here’s keeping my fingers crossed that all of us continue to work together to keep ourselves safe, as well as others. I lost many friends the last time around and I don’t want to lose any of you.
Visitors coming to France lately were on edge when the new rules started going into effect as folks tried to get their CDC passes converted so they’d conform to the new French Pass Sanitaire with the door-opening QR code. I wrote more about it here, my wild goose chase around Paris hoping to get that taken care of, which I finally resolved. I’m sure they’ll figure out how to make it work for incoming tourists and visitors but it may take a few more days, or weeks. As some recent travel articles point out, if you’re planning on traveling, expect hiccups, such as delays, cancellations, and be ready for anything
Something that’s been keeping me happy this summer is my Basil Vinaigrette. If you like basil - and honestly, what’s not to like? - this dressing is great spooned over everything, from summer tomatoes and hard-cooked eggs, to grilled fish and vegetables. Paris isn’t a big basil city, so one doesn’t find abundant bunches. At the market recently, the woman in front of me was complaining to the vendor that the modest bunch of basil he had on offer cost a whopping €1.50. When I told her she could make a small batch of pesto from it (although in retrospect, I should have passed along my basil vinaigrette recipe), she told me that she just snacks on the leaves, fresh. After hearing that, I left her alone. Who munches on raw basil leaves?
As a defender of good food, I also have to say I’m a bit weary of defending vegan ice cream. When asked what I think of vegan food, I tell people that I love espresso, raspberries, pasta, garlic, polenta, dark chocolate, tangerines, pistachios, and arugula. (And basil, too.) I don’t know why people care if someone swaps out coconut milk for cow’s milk in coconut ice cream, or whatever, but I did like when a reader replied to someone who wrote that they didn’t understand why it’s called ice “cream.” The readers explained that we say “moisturizing cream” for the goo (for lack of a better word) that we use on our faces, which doesn’t contain dairy, but refers to the texture. And yes, coconut cream is the name for the “cream” that floats on top of coconut milk. Although I will admit to giving up shaving cream for shaving gel a few years ago…
So I had a few things to say recently about Vegan Ice Cream for Taste, and I was also featured on ABC’s Good Morning America a few weeks ago on a segment about the reopening of restaurants, food shops, and markets in Paris, for the world to enjoy, again.
If you’ve got a vacation planned, I’m a little jealous. But we just hit the road too, where I’m writing this, visiting friends here and there. And I hit the pause button on my blog for the month of August, but just added a few stories about new places in Paris that are serving up scrumptious ice cream and pastries. As a bonus, just below, I’ve got a round-up of a few new Paris addresses that I hope you’ll bookmark for your trip, or just enjoy reading about if you’re an armchair traveler, and want to enjoy Paris from the comfort of your home, for the time being.
*Some people in France who were against the measures remarked that they were living in a dictatorship. French Secretary of European Affairs Clément Beaune replied, “I wish a lot more dictatorships around the world were like France.”
A few Bonnes Adresses in Paris…
Yes, Paris has fully opened back up and some new places have made the city even more delicious. Here are some places that I recently visited…
You know her as a fan favorite from my Apéro Hour videos. You love her for her amazing cocktail bar, Combat. Now Margot Lecarpentier, aka; the woman who taught me how to shake a cocktail (although I got too wild and hit the ceiling of her bar…) is now wowing us with Capitale, a lunch/brunch restaurant in Belleville that’s already packing ‘em in. And with good reason - excellent food, like the pastrami with cornbread (above), and non-alcoholic cocktails, as well as regular ones too. No reservations and expect a wait in the Fall, when everyone returns to town. So if you’re in Paris…go now!
After checking out the new Alain Ducasse ice cream shop (worth a stop…but my photos disappeared so I don’t have any to share…) with my friend Romina from Les Madeleines bakery in Salt Lake City, famous for their Kouign Aman (which you can order online) we stopped in at Welcome Bio Bazaar. I love everything about this eco-friendly boutique, especially the housewares section, with kitchen tools, plates, wine glasses, storage containers…and more! I picked up a block of Savon de Marseilles from one of the few remaining “true” producers of the olive oil-based soap, which lasts forever and doesn’t have anything icky in it. It’s just full of goodness. (And only €3,50 for a huge bar!) Bonus points for the extra-friendly staff in the shop.
Not to be confused with Bistro Paul Bert, Café Le Paul Bert is located in the Clingnancourt Flea Market. I don’t go up there anymore because my apartment is stuffed with stuff, and I don’t need to add anything else to my collection(s). However, it never hurts to look - right? I recently met a pal for lunch up there and we had a marvelous time on a Monday, a day when the market is decidedly less-crowded, so there was great people watching and some delicious food, including an outstanding platter of Corsican charcuterie which we started our meal with, along with glasses of Chablis. If you’re at the market, it’s a worthy stop for lunch.
Who knew that one of my most “liked” photos of 2020 was a jambon-beurre sandwich from Caracter de Cochon? Solo (above), who features the best hams from France, as well as Spain, Italy, and elsewhere, is a must-stop for anyone in town looking for one of the best, and most like-able sandwiches, anywhere. We stopped in when taping the segment for Good Morning America and I tested the fortitude of ABC correspondent Maggie Rulli to see if she’d eat andouille, something Wikipedia says has “a distinctive odor,” which David (I) says you have to be French to like. She was a trooper and tried a slice he offered. I passed, because I’m not that French, yet. But his traditional hams are all excellent and worth trying.
Épicerie Roots is a little neighborhood shop packed with fruits, vegetables, charcuterie, cheeses, and more from the Île-de-France, the region where Paris is located. True, the staff on my last visit didn’t know that Roquefort cheese was French (!), but I was wowed that they had good summer tomatoes, lush bunches of fresh basil, and a lovely variety of cherries and berries. The cheese selection is well-edited and even though they didn’t know where the Roquefort was from (still surprised at that!), when they offered us a taste, we couldn’t resist adding a wedge of it to our shopping bag, along with a few other cheeses.
The Hood has opened Nonette, dedicated to serving to-go Bánh Mi sandwiches (and doughnuts) using top-quality ingredients, and filled with whatever you choose; tofu salad, turkey pastrami, caramelized pork, and eggs, butter, and Maggi sauce. The choices are subject to change but whatever sandwich you go with, it’s going to be a good choice.
Links I’m Liking
Angelia Jolie wants out of the wine biz (TMZ)
French tacos are a hit in France, but in the U.S…not so much (Cyberbiz)
Deb’s strawberry daiquiris are all about the fresh strawberries, as they should be. (Smitten Kitchen)
Fascinating story about Anthony Bourdain’s final days, and events leading up to it, revealing darker sides of him than most of us knew about. (Daily Beast)
Is the new Samaritaine project in Paris a big #FAIL? One possible reason: The actual magnificent view of Paris has been replaced with a video of the former view of Paris. (Secrets of Paris)
…when Jerry Seinfeld drove around New York in a Citroën with French comedian Gad Elmahleh (considered “the French Jerry Seinfeld”) and compares cultural differences. (Jerry Seinfeld/Facebook)
Vandals break into Chinese restaurant to cook up some dumplings. (EaterNY)
Love these vintage American railroad dining menus. (Atlas Obscura)
Recent Recipes and Posts from My Blog
Folderol is one of the new, and best places, to get homemade ice cream in Paris. To sweeten the pot? It’s also a wine bar, too. In a city where bakeries and sweet shops shut down by sundown, Folderol is scooping & pouring ‘til midnight.
Watching High on the Hog on Netflix introduced me to Black Girl Baking, and the first recipe I honed in on was the Blacker Berry Galette. It’s a winner and the perfect way to showcase all those summer berries and cherries showing up at the markets. Vanilla ice cream is optional (but do I have to say that it’s recommended?)
A trip to Marseilles reminded me to make Panisses, the chickpea fritters from the region - that also happen to be gluten-free - and also happen to be one of my very favorite things. I am def. not a fan of heavily fried foods (okay, I love them, but hate the clean-up...) but these are a breeze to make, to fry, and even better, to eat.
Many places in Paris pivoted during the lockdown and the Septime team dovetailed nicely into baking with their new bakery Tapisserie. Inspired by the flavors and ingredients of the French countryside, this special little bakery wowed me with hay-like flavored cream puffs (above, right) and a dreamy blackcurrant tart, piled with luscious berries and a sublime layer of vanilla-flecked mousseline cream underneath. I’m still dreaming about it and hope it’s still on the menu when I’m back…
Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter! Paid subscribers last month got my missive/permission that it’s okay to serve rosé on the rocks in the style of the South of France. There was also a Q+A chat about buying an apartment in Paris with Miranda Bothe of Paris Property Group, who’s well-versed in the ins and outs of finding and buying an apartment in Paris, as well as a thrilling tale of my quest to get my French pass sanitaire, (which is open for all subscribers to read here) where - spoiler! - I ended up empty-handed….but a scoop of chocolate sorbet helped me cool my heels. Although when I got home, I felt like following her advice: