Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
|Simple and elegant...|
Thursday, November 11, 2010
|The cookie! The student!|
|Available in the US, too...|
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
But to a French person, a cupcake is just a muffin with frosting. It’s cakey, it’s in the same shape, so that must be the same thing. This is a cultural difference that needs some time be settled or agreed upon.
Sitting down with a good friend who, though born in the
“Cupcakes are…sweeter, and usually less dense than muffins…” I said.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
My sister, in all of her innocence, used to call Junior Mints something relatively ridiculous like “Union Mints,” or at least that was my brother’s way of teasing her. I can’t remember. She had a speech impediment. We all did. I couldn’t pronounce “sh” or “ch” sounds until after third grade. Maybe even fourth. It was bad. For me, I could say “York Peppermint Patty” without a problem and it became one of my candies of choice. Cool, refreshing, chocolately – in a word, perfect. Our preferences didn’t divide us, my sister and me.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Well the joke is on me. Today it was rainy.
So I did what any self-respecting American would do at lunch time. I made a sandwich. I learned, like most primates, through mimicry. My father would habitually provide his offspring with sandwiches for their school day, all the way through their high school years. Before bed, he’d stand at the pumpkin-orange kitchen counter assembling bread, cheese, turkey, mayo (later honey mustard, to be healthier) into near little sandwiches ready for transport and consumption at the local Catholic institution of education. We were all picky in our own ways. Sister didn’t like anything with too much flavor. I was wary of meats that weren’t white. Brother tried cheeses that were not slices of square American.
At 24, the scenario is slightly different, and LEGOs are scarcer than ever, but the idea is the same. Make a sandwich, enjoy, and move on. No difficult clean up. No huge commitment. Just bread and yummies.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Then there is the third refrigerator, the family’s original one, farthest away from the others, that houses beer, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and whatever pot roast leftovers that couldn’t fit in the second one. Like an old trusty friend, we keep it around, having moved it to the garage when the kitchen was fitted with a more modern model. We still stick some age-old magnets to it and occasionally check inside, fully aware that most things inside are not edible. We try not to mention that for fear of insulting the fridge or my mother who couldn’t imagine living without it. Some people have garbage disposals. We have a third fridge.
Each time I go home I marvel at the three of them, opening each door with a sense of awe and amazement. Inside the principal refrigerator I find the food my mother bought for me to eat during my time there: delicious supermarket sushi, chocolate peanut butter ice cream, and a token fruit or vegetable because I always complain about the lack of fresh food.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
But gone are the days of New York City delis, pre-prepared foods, assortments of candies and nuts, and endlessly varied pints of Ben and Jerry’s that you could eat in Washington Square Park next to a homeless man as rats scurried beneath your feet. Those were the days. In
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I still think they look ridiculous. Cherries are HUGE.
Talk about heat...I almost needed a glass of water afterwards but I stood strong.
Too bad the sun came out mid-baking. It would have been the perfect rainy day activity. Guess it's time to make up for it now!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I tried one with my co-taster, and we dropped the enormous (like, seven bucks!) sum on an orange chocolate cake for research purposes. While the chocolate cake was moist and rich, the orange marmalade, deliciously bitter, fell right out of the bottom of the cake. And the icing, well, don't get me started. How hard is it to make a good butter cream?
The overall experience was enticing. Taking the box out of the bag, then the cupcake out of the box, then the wrapper off the cup, then trying to take the cup off the cake -- it was an exercise. But to have the entire cake fall apart after the first bite, well, it was a bit depressing. Was the effort worth it? It wasn't horrible, but let's just say that La Duree should stick to macarons...
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Even more surprising was the coffee. After nearly two years in Paris with tiny black "espressos", I was delighted to discover that the Scandinavians love their lattes and cappuccinos. I had a few, happily, and realized that coffee can be alarmingly good and doesn't always need two or three packets of sugar to make it drinkable. After a barista training at the Coffee Collective, a free trade company that roasts potentially some of the best coffee in the world, I was hooked. A latte never tasted so good -- even without sugar!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Cookies, brownies, cheesecake, cupcakes, now whoopie pies...what will be the next food trend to be thrust onto the international scene? Cupcakes have barely started to catch on among normal people in Paris so the whoopie pie seems a little forced and rushed, and definitely doesn't represent the best that we have to offer. Still, kudos to embracing new things, Paris!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
So when an American is invited to meet a French significant other’s family member (not me, lest the rumors begin) for the first time, the stress runs high. How to make a good impression on this family member? What to wear? What to talk about? What to bring to the picnic?
I can answer none of these, except for the last one. When it comes to bringing a food item for a picnic, any American in
Voila the results. I thank my friend for her ganaching skills and congratulate her on her newfound talent for pastry bagging (that sounds dirty…). The lavender cakes are floral, springy goodness. The vanilla cakes with dark the dark chocolate covering are exquisite and classic, like mom’s. Well, I imagine if my mom made ganache, it would have tasted like this…
I hope they succeed in impressing the family member tomorrow, or else there is no hope of an eventual engagement ring…
Laden with butter, cream, and sugar, we grabbed bikes and shot towards Saint Germain, back by the Bon Marché. glish baker who pumps out classy looking cakes with a taste to match. She’s only been open since late 2009, but she’s been baking for ages (she told me). We sat down to our Kusmi tea with a red velvet and a strawberry cupcake. Delight ensued. The cake was moist and delicious and the icings surprising (the strawberry had a meringue icing – so not American). All in all a good way to wrap up the crawl.
Now if only I could find out a way to end this sugar high so I can fall asleep….
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
When I went to the Ile de Re last weekend, right by La Rochelle on the French Atlantic coast, I was skeptical about eating anything that wasn't dead, processed, packaged, and sealed. Still, I couldn't turn down a tasting of some of the region's finer, yet raw, products: sea urchins. Les oursins in French are those prickly little echinoderms that, when cut in half, produce a lovely little appetizer. Paired with sea snails and shrimp, I was more than skeptical. I was ready for the hospital again.
Fortunately the tasting ended in smiles and not IVs. The urchins were salty and savory. Not too slimy but definitely fishy enough. The shrimp were...well...shrimp. The sea snails were actually delicious with a little bread and it all washed down nicely with some white wine. Would I do it again? Yes, but not in a heartbeat. Nor would I actively seek out raw seafood anytime soon. The thought of ripping off that shrimp's head in the bay of Mont St-Michel and eating it still turns my stomach. At least I have only fond memories of the urchin. Granted, it was still moving when my plate arrived, but I like a little animation with my meal. And in lieu of a piano player or stand up comedian, I guess flailing echinoderm arms will have to do.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
But Paris has been kind to me this fall and winter and the springtime thaw will soon be here. The only thing keeping me warm on a cold February's eve -- food.
This winter, cupcakes, tier cakes, soups, and cheesey Alpine dishes have been on the menu. A trip to Grenoble has introduced me to the raclette, while fondue has been on the dinner table a few times since (once with baby bottles of wine, naturally). Visits to the market have been infrequent at best, but there was some pumpkin soup and corn chowder thrown into the mix.
Big news includes the fact that I have perfected the art of American cake baking with French ingredients. I have even been propositioned for my cakes (financial gain in this time of crisis...who would have thought cakes would fill the void?). There will be more on that to come, but let's just say that the possibilities are endless!
And finally, most of the blame for my lack of writing falls upon Pink Flamingo pizzeria, where I have been working part time since September. Mom and Dad sure are proud that my education landed me in a Parisian pizza shop, but I learn more French peddling pizzas than I do reading grammar books. How else do you learn to say things like, "That's a hot looking pizza" in Bangladeshi, Spanish, and French?
Anyway, that's where we are for the moment, cooking up a storm when I'm not serving pizza or at the office. Change is in the air, though...so is the delicious scent of my chocolate cake...which I think is burning...Ciao!