Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

~Happy Halloween~

Taken at the Salon Pari Fermier where all of the stalls were farmers who produced and marketed their own goods. I happened upon this pumpkin "patch" and decided to get some autumn decor for my apartment... as I was picking through the mini pumpkins, more than one elderly woman came up to me and asked if they were good to eat or not. Not ever having tried the minis before, I instead explained that I use them for decoration around the house in addition to pointing out how cute they were!

Their perplexed reaction tells me that the French aren't big fans of pumpkins used as decoration...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Moulin Rouge!

So I know this blog is supposed to be about pastries and sweet stuff but just had to share this experience with you all...

yea, that's right. I went to the MOULIN ROUGE!

opening number - they weren't kidding when they mentioned the abundance of plumes for each costume!

watch the movie I sneakily took!

I think they tried to do acts representing cultures from around the world...

one of the mini "shows" between each act... a pool not only rose up from the ground but was filled with water and some snakes! And of course there's the naked one-woman-wonder about to jump in...

the pool's still rising, and you can see her trying to capture one of the snakes.

she's practically naked, why wouldn't she be a part of the show?

another clip of what happens at le Moulin Rouge!

oh la la!

racing season has begun... with mini ponies!

interesting one-legged "underweggings" (underwear + leggings)

what kind of show DOESN'T include a circus act?

and it wouldn't be complete without the traditional cancan!

grande finale - last picture before I was kindly reminded for the second time that photos weren't allowed... oops!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Nice as nice as it claims to be?

A few weeks ago I was able to get away from the autumn chill that has recently possessed Paris and head down south to Cap d'Ail (near Nice)! I stayed with family friends Karen and Jacques in their villa just on the rocky coast.

view from the train... yea we were right along the coast.

one of the many ports lining the Côte d'Azur

after Karen picked me up, we drove to her villa just above the water. Here's the view from the parking area, while waiting for the funiculaire... see that wooden elevator box on its way up?

when I have a villa one day, I'm totally going to have one of these to transport me up and down the hill.

as we strolled along the coast, I noticed this former "docking station," which has seen better days. Where are those steps on the left supposed to lead to?

good morning! view from my room.

and from the terrace.

obviously you can see the view from the bathroom, but that's not why I took the picture. Look at the window and how it opens... and the same window in the next picture...

not only can it be opened just a crack from the top (as seen above), but it also functions as a typical window/door! NOTE: the door leading out to the balcony was also of this design... totally cool.

the Hotel Negresco

old town of St. Paul de Vence

love it.

Maeght Foundation, with a courtyard of various sculptures... we went to visit the Giacometti exhibit.

and the backyard garden dotted with Miros

my new favorite breakfast. Tartines. Basically butter and jam on toast, this simple meal is upgraded when I have it at Karen and Jacques', be it in the mountains in Annecy or along the coast in Cap d'Ail.

and since we were so close to Monaco, why not visit the former palace of Princess Grace?

despite the exotic allure of this tiny country, I can only think of Hong Kong when I see all these high rise buildings covering the mountainside... not as magical as I had thought.

view of the port with France in the background

perhaps this is more like what I would've imagined for Monaco... cute bustling streets, unfortunately lined with tourist stalls

have no idea how many tunnels we drove through...

THE Casino at Monte-Carlo! 3 red Ferraris in front, among others.

we got to enter the Casino/Opera (same building) under the guise of buying some tickets...

taken just before I saw the sign forbidding photographs... hehe.

and of course the shopping mall there has to have these extravagant chandeliers... just had to document that.

And after those few days under the sun, I returned back to Paris:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

pâtisseries here and there

Killing two birds with one stone - I've always been a fan of that saying.

In recent weeks, my quest to find a future employer has greatly influenced and dictated where to go to fulfill my other mission of exploring Paris' newest or greatest pâtisseries. Here are a few places of interest, either in terms of employment or just because...

Des Gateaux & du Pain was recently voted the best chausson aux pommes by Le Figaroscope (1-7/9/10). Wanting to see for myself what really made this pastry a classic, tripled with the fact that I'd heard of this chic pâtisserie on more than one occasion and that it's in my hood, I found myself entering the boutique one fine autumn afternoon.

THE chausson aux pommes, in all its glory. Honestly, I guess I just haven't eaten enough to really tell a mediocre one from a 1st place one... but it was still good!

and of course, while I was there, I snooped around the other counters and couldn't resist this baba imbibé de pulpe de pêche blanche. Basically a twist on the traditional baba au rhum, sans le rhum. Instead, it was soaked in white peach syrup with a vanilla cream on the bottom.

Des Gâteaux & du Pain
63 bd Pasteur, 75015 PARIS

Blé Sucré - opened by Fabrice Le Bourdat, former pâtissier at Le Bristol Hotel. I'd already been there before, but when I heard about their amazing madeleines, I, of course, had to check it out, for my sake if not for my grandpa's (they're his preferred afternoon snack).

packaged in simple plastic baggies in a group of 4, these crusty glazed little cakes were delicious. Light, not too buttery, and perfectly sweet, I somehow finished the quartet as I was walking around that afternoon... eep!

Blé Sucré
7, rue Antoine-Vollon, 75012 PARIS

One thing I'm still trying to understand is the gourmet guimauve (marshmallow). Yea I'm used to Kraft's Jet-Puffed marshmallows for s'mores and rice krispy treats, but here, cubes of flavored 'mallows are sold for as much as 2€ each! Pain de Sucre, located in the 3rd arrondissement, is one such boutique known for their variety... including a saffron one!

colorful vases of guimauves: chocolate/coconut, orange flower, pasta/olive oil (did I understand correctly?), pistachio, and saffron at the end.

never thought I'd pay 1.20€ for a 2" guimauve. In its defense, it was a little more upscale than those bleach-white puffies in their familiar bag. Light, flavorful (but not too much), dotted with pistachios, and with just the amount of air to make it a marshmallow but not overly airy, I guess I'm starting to understand a little more the fascination of guimauves in France...

Pain de Sucre
14, rue Rambuteau, 75003 PARIS

Lenôtre. Seems like everyone's heard of this famous caterer and pâtisserie. Fortunately for me, not only is there one on my street, but another boutique by a park that Rana and I visited one afternoon.

After gazing upon their rows of petits gâteaux, we decided on their vénus framboise and the classic tartelette au citron meringuée.

Vénus Framboise - a genoise with layers of raspberry coulis and vanilla mousseline cream with fresh raspberries

just the hint of tartness that I needed after the vénus.

121, ave de Wagram, 75017 PARIS (one of the many boutiques in Paris)

When I read about their pain au chocolat framboise, I knew I had to go to Boulangerie Malineau and taste it for myself. Was it true - did they really add raspberries to this classic, and if so, was it better than the already perfect original?

Yes, it WAS delicious. Yes, it WAS worth going to. But was it better? I think I prefer the classic, but this was a sweet second (a little too sweet for my taste).

and of course this looked just as intriguing. A simple tart shell full of caramelized nuts, biting into this ball almost broke my teeth... however, once broken into pieces, it was quite good. Stuck to my teeth, but delicious nonetheless.

Boulangerie Malineau
18, rue Vieille du Temple, 75004 PARIS