Friday, January 15, 2010

Here's Looking at You, Kids

My day began so glamorously that I started to chronicle it with photos--which I will soon add to this blog. First there was my trip to the post office, then my trip to Monoprix, my coffee with my old friend Walter, the tarte tatin that I ate with the cream, the trip to the pharmacie to pick up my prescriptions. It never ends. But since it's all being done in Paris, it seems more exotic than the usual real-life errands.

My hostess, Karen Fawcett (of fame) walked me to the taxi stand at 6:30 last night-- she was off to a literary soire for a mutual friend who has done a translation of Simone Beauvior. I was headed to see a girlfriend's mother and then to dinner in the 16th, and I dont mean just off Etoile.

The dinner venue was chosen by Alexander Lobrano whom you probably know from his Hungry For Paris books (with web site and blog)-- I silently griped about the bizarre location, across from Radio France, until I got to this modern bistro overlooking the Seine, the Eiffel Tower AND the original Statue of Liberty. (L'Ogre, 1 ave. Versailles,16 e)

What a dinner we had-- this was a young, hip crowd enjoying wine and meat; Alec and I shared a giant veal chop for two. Portions are enormous (rare in France) and we had started with lunch size portions of appetizers. I ended up asking that all my leftovers be packed up for my Eurostar trip to London tomorrow.

Naturally the carte in every restaurant I have visited reflects the seasons and the traditional winter meals of France. I had a lamb parmentier one night and then noticed a beef stew parmentier at L'Ogre. This is so easy to do and makes such a nice presentation that I plan to try it at home. Simply place the stew on the bottom of an oven proof dish, cover it with whipped up mashed potatoes and then bake.

For lunch today, I continued with the fruits of the season and had two fried eggs (sunnyside up) over broccolini on a bed of melted cheese and topped with grated truffles.

My hostess is cooking up a storm for dinner tonight so I was asked to produce a suitable dessert from one of Paris' reknown bakeries so that other guests at the table could ooohhh and aaahhhh and feel at peace with the notion that dinners in Paris are always like this. To keep with the seasonal theme of my recent meals, I chose a galette du roi -- the king's cake-- complete with feve inside. Instead of the traditional frangipani cake, this one is chocolate,caramel and lemon cream, You re-heat in the oven to melt the chocolate a bit and voila, party on a plate for three people at only $42.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snow in Paris; Ham & Cheese

Well, there's good news and wet news from Paris-- we woke up to a fair amount of snow which was pretty and sloppy and then melted away. The day has been milder and even gave in to a few streaks of blue sky. Since rain was predicted; snow -- even slushy snow-- was a welcome relief.

As for my glam life, well-- it was off to Dr. Nancy Salzman at her newish digs 1 avenue Lowendahl where I got a report on excellent blood pressure (see, it's a jet set lifestyle) and then went to the bank and stood in the wrong line for a half hour. C'est normal for Paris.

We went to Fauchon for a ham sandwich and bubbly H2O --that for two people at a mere 24 euros (!!!). The sandwich was wrapped in a golden edged zip baggy of baquette size, which was so cool that it was worth 6,50 E for a sanwhich. I've saved the baggy as a souvenir of Paris.

We went up the hill to Marche St. Pierre to the fabric markets where everything is on sale at somewhat reasonable prices. Then I remembered all the other 'coupons' I have packed away in my storage unit and decided not to buy. I was also upset by the hated political discussion with the taxi driver-- who proclaimed his anti-Israeli and anti-semitic politics with stories so bizarre I'd never even heard them before, ie. no Jews were killed in 9/11 because they knew about it because they read Arabic and it was all in the papers en avance.

It took me a while to wander the bolts of fabrics and calm down after that little lecture.

The real trend in fabrics is the African wax print cotton, which is the hit of the couture and pret season for spring and is sold by the meter at Dreyfus for 2,90. I convinced Sarah that we should make a melange of pillow cases and marry them to a French Provencale boutis for her bedroom and be colorful in winter and on top of the trend. We gathered up a handful of bolts and then realized we would never make those pillow cases, gave in to honesty and returned them to their place in the heap.

So now it's off to the American Library for my gig. I shall be speaking about nonfiction (fact) and memoir (truth) and the fact that fiction is much like memoir in that it must reflect universal truth. Then during the Q&A we can discuss the difference between honesty and truth. We French are so philosophical.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bonne Annee from Paris with Fur

Sarah and I have arrived in Paris, delighted to find that it's not nearly as cold as the television news lead us to believe and that despite the complaints of French friends, the world has not frozen on its axis.

It is cold, but not cold enough to wear the undershirt I bought at Marshall's. There are more fur coats in the streets than I have ever seen before-- it's just like a chilly Rosh Ha Shannah at Temple Emmanuel and almost as furry as winter in Milan. The gear is somewhat Russian in style-- Natasha of the Steppes in dark mink, with those ear flappy mink hats, heavy boots and big, fat sunglasses. Perhaps everyone has emptied the closet at the ski chalet and bundled up to face the cold...and the wind. The students, sans fur, are sporting necks wrapped in loops of fabric from chin to chest. It's all very chic.

The days are gray, but there's no rain...and Christmas decorations are still up, so there's a festive air amid the signs for various SOLDES. Along most of the 6e, the streets are strung with garlands of blue violet neon Chinese lanterns with tails of silver glitter. Few stores have spring merchandise; most stores have bins filled with mark-downs.

Prices, even on sale, seem very high. The taxi minimum has gone from five euros to six; last summer's t-shirts at Monoprix are at 70% discount, nine euros, which once you do the math isn't all that cheap. Even fleur du sel is up to almsot four euros, one euro more than last year. (Still, it's $11-12 in the U.S.)

With the state of our jetlag and the weather, we buy dinner at Bon Marche and warm in in the micro-onde. Last night it was beouf stew; tonight it's lamb stew. It's stewy weather. We had breakfast for lunch at Laduree and were admonished for ordering mango macarrons. It's not the season! You msut have fig and date.

And tomorrow perhaps we'll wake up before 10AM.