Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Glorious Evening Stroll

I got sidetracked during my last post because of the cobweb appearance while cooking "dinner".  Back to the fabulous Paris day!

After leaving the meeting where I learned what to do with my millions by banking overseas in Belize, I decided to wander around the neighborhood.  The Marais is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris and completely adorable.

There's a street in the Marais that's known for having the best falafel in the city, and even though I'm not hungry, I get one because I'm not usually in this neighborhood, so...have to.  I mean it's 8:30pm, so I'll have to eat something at some point, and at 5 euros to-go, it's a steal!  When they handed it to me, it was the size of my head.
I don't know if you can tell in this picture, but it's like a falafel bouquet of flowers, and genuinely gigantic, and so I walked around with this thing in one hand, and then would alternate between eating and taking pictures with my right hand about every 2 seconds because it was a beautiful night. 

It drizzled for 5 minutes and the sun was setting, so epic clouds were hovering around every corner.  And this is not me photo-shopping and making some weird color effects...this is what it looked like!!  It was pink & blue & purple & crazy grays and clouds popping out everywhere!!  Why ELSE would I put down the fork so often??  Do you see that falafel??

That last one's an iPhone picture, so not great quality, but the clouds were crazy!!

It was just beautiful everywhere I looked, and I really felt like I got a good dose of "I'm in Paris, and this is why."

How beautiful is that???  Bah!! 

And then, in typical Paris fashion, down below me on the bank of the Seine, a big band of about 15 different horn players, tubas to trumpets were just playing for fun, so I got a little live music in.  They ended up playing Muse's "Uprising", which was slightly amazing. 

A big crowd gathered up on the bridge, and people would cheer as they went by on the big boats.

So I had an amazing falafel, wandered the Marais, saw epic clouds, Notre Dame, old bridges, a river sunset, listened to live music, and then wandered past the Louvre, and saw a man with long flowing hair and a tiny thin mustache riding a bike around the Louvre pyramids (weird!), and ended with a super thick hot chocolate, probably made from melted chocolate bars, at the swanky cafe on my street.

That was a run-on sentence if I ever saw one.  Look, it's a paragraph by itself.

Overall, an excellent evening.  Sorry I wasn't able to get a picture of tiny mustache rider.  Just know that his hair was Fabio-beautiful.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cobweb Soup & Other Paris Delights

Yesterday was such a wonderful "Yay for Paris!" day. Obviously I moved to Paris so I could have more time to be in the city and experience all of its magical amazing magic-ness...but then when I have my days off, I usually just need some down time to relax or need to do laundry or sweep, dust, do know, the usual Paris glam.

And so I end up doing nothing cool or magic or Paris-y at all! (Except for the pastry-eating, I think that's clear.) I've been here almost 3 months and haven't been to a single museum.  BUT yesterday I had a fabulous day, starting with a "Holy cow I feel bad for anyone who hasn't eaten in Paris" lunch.  Then I walked about 4 miles through the city and filled my eyes with lots of beautiful, beautiful Paris scenery, so it was a great day!

Maygan and I had a fantastic lunch at a place in our neighborhood called "L'Affriole." They start by bringing you out a plate of bread, radishes, olive butter, & salt. You put the olive butter and salt on the radish.  I'm not usually a radish lover but these were delicious!

We wanted to take a picture because the plate was so pretty but we felt like it was inappropriate to break out cameras.  So here's a picture I found online, I'm sure it's illegal:

And then the rest of the food started coming out, upon which we no longer cared and became lunch paparazzi with iphones and cameras hovering about.

Here's some of the deliciousness:

Salmon ceviche w/ a delicious creamy herb mousse
  Braised pork (complete with tiny onion ring) with fresh asparagus, peas, fennel, & a light and briny foam

And dessert...A milk chocolate mousse filled with caramel in the center, on top of a butter cookie-like pastry, dusted with cocoa powder, and topped with a crystallized sugar piece in the shape of what I like to think is a rubber ducky.

Maygan's "dessert du jour", thin pastry sheet layers (millefeuille) w/ cream topped with raspberries...and the star of the show, lemon-flavored shaved ice. So fresh and delicious, I just want a bowl of it!

 We were going to get espressos because it came with a stack of delightful looking homemade marshmallows, but they were trying to close, and the waitress was hinting that she wanted to get out of there, so we said we'd skip it.  But then she brought us the marshmallows anyway, yay!!
They were light and fluffy and almost melted in your mouth...nothing like the marshmallow we are accustomed to.  Delight!!

Then Maygan and I took their dog, Buckley, for a walk since I'm dogsitting for them next week, and we hung out and chatted at her apartment for a while, making plans already for Thanksgiving and all the glorious things we want to cook.

Then it was soon time for me to head to a neighborhood called the Marais, for a meeting that I thought was going to pertain to me but ended up having nothing to do with me at all.
I thought it was about residency in France as a foreigner, owning a business, and other paperwork type stuff, BUT it turns out that it was for people who own property in France and how taxation is going to change in the next couple years...and then a presentation on overseas banking, for those who wish to put their millions in a bank in Belize because banking there is just as good as Switzerland for many reasons which I stopped listening to once I realized I didn't have a million dollars.

People were raising their hands and asking questions like "What if I wanted to transfer $100,000 from the U.S....", and I just nodded my head as if to say, "Yah! Me, too!! I'm VERY concerned about the same question."

I tried to fit in and look like I was somehow young and independently wealthy without letting on that I'd actually eaten a peanut butter sandwich every day for the past week because I needed a 2 euro loaf of bread to get me through the end of the month.  (Still do. Come on, 4 more days!) 

I mean this is the weirdness of living here on a budget.  Yesterday, I had that fabulous 3 course meal, I went to a meeting to learn about transferring my millions overseas to Belize, and then ended the night with an expensive hot chocolate at a swank cafe with tie-wearing waiters.

Tonight, I considered eating this 70 cent packet of dried soup even though it had either dried glue or cobwebs on the inside just so I could save some money.  Here it is, hanging off the spoon:

HOW GROSS IS THAT???  Probably glue though right?? It looked like cobwebs, but I told myself it was glue.

Look there's some more hanging off the package.
What the heck.  But I need to save money, so I cooked it, and told myself it was glue and that I should eat it.  BUT it ended up smelling weird, and then I thought...what if it's cobwebs, come on.  This is creepy and gross. 

So instead, I opted for a delectable cup of Japanese Noodles a la "boeuf" flavor.

Also known as ramen.

Such is the budget life in Paris...cobweb soup, ramen, and PB sandwiches all week in exchange for a day of Paris amazingness.  Worth it!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May Day & Pastry-Buying Blackouts

On May 1st, everyone was walking around carrying these tiny packets of flowers:

I had no idea why, but EVERYONE had one, so I felt compelled to partake in what was clearly some sort of official French ritual for May 1st, known as "May Day", the official welcoming of Spring (also Labor Day. )

Here's what Wikipedia, the official source for all things credible, has to say about it:

On May 1st, 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom on the 1st of May, to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime.

So I gave one to myself, I'm so selfish.  But it made a pretty stellar day, as it was a beautiful outside, and I got the best baguette on the street, a little packet of lily of the valley, and a delicious looking macaron.

I also went to check out another bakery/pastry shop nearby, and meant to only take a look, but, because I have no self control, ended up getting this:
Is this what it's like for people who involuntarily murder people and don't remember it?  Like I just black out, and next thing I know, I'm carrying a pastry, and I don't know how it happened? Better than murder I GUESS.  Depending on your priorities.

I love how it's always wrapped up, so you get to open your little gift every time.  Happy May Day to ME!!

Flowers, pastry, why you shouldn't have!
Well, I didn't have much of a choice, because obviously I am an impulse pastry-buyer who blacks out and buys pastries.  It's a wonderful illness to have.  Except for when I start looking like Violet from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.  Just a big blueberry, rolling around Paris.  Note to self: Get a scale that works.

Happy May Day, everyone!  Only 3 weeks late.


I just can't believe how much glamor I have to share lately.  Everyone just prepare to throw up on your keyboards or iPhones, whatever you're reading on.  I know I almost did, about 72 times. 

My bathtub has started filling up during showers for a few weeks now, indicating some sort of blockage, and I didn't know whether to buy some French Drain-o (drain-eau?) or if that would somehow poison the entire building's water supply without my knowledge.  (Pardon!) 

So instead, I improvised and borrowed one of these long skinny metal stick things from work, which I'm certain is some sort of bicycle mechanic tool, but that we have been taught is effective for unclogging our sink at the office.  So I thought, "Ok.  Before I buy Drain-eau and poison everybody, I'll try the old bicycle metal stick trick." 

Oh. Oh dear goodness.  I'm dry heaving just thinking about it.  The hairball that I pulled out of that drain is comparable to the size of a small rat, wrapped in who knows how many weeks or years of conditioner & soap that's been congealing and not going anywhere, that smelled like a dead animal that somehow has never washed itself, even though it's been constantly rinsed in shampoo & soap, which has thus become congealed rotting goo that's just been sitting in a drain for 100 years.  This all hanging on the end of a little metal stick.  And then I had to keep going after the rest of it.  Just shouting "Ohh!!" and "eww" and "bah!" making barf-like noises to no one in particular just to help get me through it.

Only the really important updates here on my blog. 

I'm sorry I shared that.  I feel gross all over again.  I'll post some pastries or something.  But not in the same one of this, that would be disgusting.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Celebs & Croissant Class!

For the sake of chronological order, let me back up a bit.  I had a really awesome Friday a couple weeks ago, the day of the Royal Wedding.  First, Maygan and I decided to go to an English pub to watch the Royal Wedding live!

We had fish & chips with a front row view of the action!

And Kate was so sweet to stop by after, especially on her wedding day.  First celebrity sighting in Paris.

The waiters & waitresses had masks of Kate & William.  We wore them the whole time.  That's a lie. 

Speaking of celebrity sightings, Maygan & Kyle actually DID see Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, & Amanda Seyfried at dinner last month at one of our favorite spots, Cafe Constant:

And Kyle's FACE is on the tabloid websites!!  Kyle is wearing the green shirt on the right!
I'm on the other side of the bar, crouching down.  Ryan's trying to ask for my phone number. See how he's staring at me intently? I just didn't want the paparazzi to see.

Actually, I was supposed to go with them to dinner that night but decided I'd wait and join them the next night, ugh!!  I'm sure Ryan will call any day now, so no big deal.

We always laugh because one of the tabloid photos taken from this exact angle shows Kyle's whole face and he's mid-chew, so he has this big lump in his cheek like a chipmunk.  It's amazing.

We frequently talk about how hard it is for us to be in public since we're all celebrities now. What with me and Maygan on House Hunters and Kyle in the tabloids...It's just great to be with people who understand the hardships of fame.

Ok real life...After the Royal Wedding lunch, I took a baking class (Yay!!!), where I learned to make croissants...

 pain au chocolat...

pastry cream & pain aux raisins (a breakfast pastry wrapped up cinnamon roll style w/ pastry cream & raisins)...

focaccia bread w/ cheese & olives...

and some other kind of amazing dessert that I don't know the name of, a sugared pastry crust filled with Cognac-flambeed buttered apples & walnuts.  Sh-yah.

It was super fun, I learned so much, went into a pastry coma, took two full bags home of pastries & pastry dough, AND the class was complimentary!!
How you say??  Because Paris loves me.  This. is why. I moved here.

When House Hunters was here filming, they wanted to show me doing other things in Paris, so they set it up for me to be in this cooking class.  But then I had to leave early to finish shooting (hardships of fame!), so I was--naturally--devastated.  And the owner said I could come back another day so I could take a full class, how nice is that??  It was so much fun, and we made so many delicious things!

If you're planning a trip to Paris at any point, I highly recommend it. They're #1 on TripAdvisor right now.

So now I know how much butter goes into these babies.  You would think that would deter me.  Huh.

Not in the slightest.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Few Observations

Observation #1. Getting Behind.  

I'm getting behind on the blogging. I write hypothetical blog posts in my mind all the time as I'm walking around, and then I never actually sit down to do it.  Someone should invent a device that automatically uploads thoughts into blog format, I'd really appreciate that.

Observation #2. Cafe Arm.  

I'm getting some pretty serious "cafe arm".  I always sit in the cafe facing outward towards the street, and all 3 cafes on my street are on the same side.  Since my favorite thing to do when I'm off during the day is sit in the cafe and have a late morning coffee, the sun is always coming at me from the same angle, hitting my right arm.  So when I look in the mirror, my right arm has a significantly dark tan, while my left arm remains barely colored. So if you happen to see a picture where one arm is white and the other is brown, this is why.

Observation #3. Bread Overload and Loving It.

Once again, I told myself this morning as I bought a fresh baguette that I would eat half for morning/lunch and save the rest for dinner.  As I've gone back to the kitchen several times to get "one more bite", I now realize there are about 3 inches of baguette left.  People usually buy a baguette and intend to share it with their whole family for a meal.  Meanwhile, I continue to eat whole baguettes by myself.  I have a problem. 

Observation #4. Must get iPhone.

I just had a fabulous week of vacation w/ Julie P.  We had a blast in Paris, then in Florence, then in Paris again. I have so many great things to share, but how to even begin??  My camera card is actually bursting at the seams and leaking pictures out, there are so many.  I can't wait to tell some stories!! 

But now over the next 12 days, I have one day off work.  If I had an iPhone, I could share these moments throughout the day in tidbits using a website that some of you may have heard of called "The Facebook" and "The Twitter".  Instead, I go dark for two weeks and then resurface and want to create 400 blog posts.  I should just get this internet phone device and be done with it.

So...I'm hoping at some point over the next 12 days, perhaps on the one day off, I can write a blog post or two.  Because there's LOTS to share.  If not, maybe this will force me to go into a phone store and sign up for a plan.  Get myself a non stone-aged cell phone.

In the meantime, here is the Super Quick Recap:

Florence=beautiful, epic, old, adorable, ridiculous. 
Julie P=fun, comforting, taste of home!
Food we ate in Paris=outstanding
Amount of pasta I ate in Italy = embarrassing
Gelato = multiple times daily.
The duffle bag Julie P brought = joy, happiness, excitement!!
Going back to work after taking 6 days off = :(
Italians = hilarious.

More soon! Ciao!