Saturday, July 13, 2013

{paris in july} the sweet life in paris (and some cheese)

hosted by Karen (Bookbath)
& Tamara (Thyme for Tea).

Hmmmm... It's already way into July and I haven't posted anything yet for Paris in July. I suspect that this is because I know that as soon as I open my photo folder and see the pics I took last July when I was in Paris, then I'll get itchy feet for travel, and who knows what could happen... 

But, maybe if I eat some French cheese... that'd help? Have a cheese:

We are blessed with a wonderful market here in Adelaide, and some truly divine cheese shops. I can't resist a cheese that comes in its own little ramekin like this Saint Marcellin. It's a cow's milk cheese, very soft and gooey -- as David Lebovitz notes, St Marcellin has a tendency to try to escape. It can be eaten as is, but I think that one night, very very soon, this little pot is going into the oven and there will be some crusty bread and at least a couple of very nostalgic thoughts about France over a glass or two of vin rouge...

BTW, if you like cheese, you might like this very informative 'wheel' (appropriate!) for identifying cheese. It's not comprehensive, but it really helped me sort the sheep from the goats (and cows):

(you can magnify it at the pop chart lab site

Drooling is not really helping me think about my Paris in July reading, but I am reminded that I have not yet written about David Lebovitz's book, The Sweet Life in Paris (2009). I really enjoy his blog - he has a lovely sly wit, he adores food, and he lives in Paris. What more could one ask?

Lebovitz, a dessert specialist who worked at Chez Panisse (link plays annoying music!), moved to France to make a fresh start after his partner died, and his blog wonderfully details the day-to-day discoveries (and disasters) that he made settling down to a new life in Paris. The book is a deeper exploration of these days, and is a great light read for Francophiles. It is interspersed with some recipes and a lot of good practical advice on what Lebovitz calls "the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City."

This is a city where one dresses up to take out the garbage, always says 'Good Morning' on entering shops, and never cuts up salad leaves. Everyone wears a scarf "arranged with a complex series of knots so elaborate, I think some of them use a sailing primer for guidance." Lebovitz is great on the little, quirky details - the dynamics of the non-queue (carry a basket of vicious proportions!), the etiquette of hot chocolate, a (vain) attempt to overcome his fear of squid by working for a fishmonger, life in a socialized health system (less startling for Australians, who also have near-free access to healthcare), the fascination of foreign supermarkets and kitchenware shops, and the terrors of all those new French words to learn: "And a jug of wine can be a carafe, pichet, pot, décanter, cruche, or fillette, which is also a young girl. So be careful where you are when you order one."

I was a little surprised by the recipes - this seemed like the place for some classics, but Lebovitz has included an eclectic range of recipes drawn from far further afield than France alone: peanut slaw and chicken mole sit happily among mousse and clafoutis and dulce de leche brownies (the clafoutis - plum and raspberry - is definitely on my list of things to make). I rather liked the mix, though, as I say, it was surprising. One minor detail - macaron is rendered (in a translation context) as macaroon. Eeek! Oh là là!

In sum: a funny, anecdotal book - a delightful, quick read that will remind you of all the things that make visiting Paris so very, very sweet.

P.S. -- on a somewhat macabre and definitely non-food note -- last year I visited THE BEST PLACE IN PARIS I HAVE EVER BEEN, namely the Pet Cemetery (Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques) at Asnières-sur-Seine. If you love animals, and you love a wander in a delightful green shady place, and you don't mind these two things being in a cemetery, then I urge you to visit when next in Paris: my post from last year is here.


  1. I have only visited Paris once, very briefly, when I was too young to appreciate it properly! I have such a long list of places I want to see when I get there again - and the Pet Cemetery just moved to the top of the list.

    1. I've got a feeling that I may have spent more time with the dead than the living in Paris! All the cemeteries are so beautiful. My pastry shop list still remains my longest Paris list, however!

  2. That cheese looks so good! And so does the book.

    1. My problem with cheese shops is that I always want EVERYTHING, especially if it looks cute as well as delicious! I also bought a jar of Poire William confit to go with blue cheese. And then I needed to buy a blue cheese... you get the picture... ;-)

  3. I can't really adapt many of Lebovitz's recipes but I love the way he writes about his city and food so I follow his blog too, his book sounds like a great Paris in July read. :)

    1. I imagine that French food is not hugely vegan friendly in general, in fact I'm wracking my brains to think of almost anything I've eaten there that hasn't had a load of animal products involved in its construction - even salad.

  4. Oh, Vicki, thanks for posting this! I love cheese -- I'm going to make a copy of that wheel. I think my toughest withdrawal returning home was the lack of cheese selection without going to a special place. And thanks for the tip on the Lebovitz book -- this seems like one I would really enjoy -- food and Paris -- what's not to like!

    Happy winter -- I hope it is a gentle one!

    1. He has a lovely style of writing - his blog is great fun, esp. as he often writes about things that are good for tourists to check out re food - restaurants, shops, etc. I have 'discovered' some great new places thanks to his blog. (Re winter - it is 17 degrees Celsius today - we are lucky to get generally mild winters, though the nights can get down to single figures. Very spoilt!)

  5. And now I'm hungry. Love the bread and cheese idea, it sounds divine! I've not heard of Lebovitz but the book sounds one I'd like a lot, memoirs and the like that cover food is a type I'm really getting into.

    1. The world would be a much sadder place without cheese! I like to stick a camembert in the oven in this silly ceramic camembert baker (talk about single purpose! But we don't seem that many camemberts in boxes in Oz) that my mother bought me one year - stud the camembert with slivers of garlic, tuck in a bit of thyme or anything, slosh on a little olive oil (just to make it really bad!), and bake. It's divinely wicked.

  6. I love Paris. Love the post, Vicki.

    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm envious of the bloggers who live much closer to Paris than me.

  7. Hi Vicki, Carole's Chatter is currently collecting posts about Favourite Travel Books. This looks like a good one. It would be super if you linked it in. This is the link - Your Favourite Travel Books There are quite a few good links already. I hope to see you soon. Cheers

    1. Thank you Carole! Always happy to find another blog to add to my reads - and I do love a good travel book.

    2. Thanks for adding this to the collection, Vicki. I am now following you via my new bestie Bloglovin. Hope to see you again soon. I am one of your "cousins" from across the Ditch. Cheers

  8. I haven't been to Paris, but I have been to other places in Europe. I was at the airport if that counts. :)

    THANKS for sharing.

    Stopping by from Carole's Travel Post.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth! I think the airport counts, especially if there is time to shop! ;-) I'm off to visit your blog now...

  9. Cheese and dead cats! The perfect combination. Now I want to go to Paris just to visit that cemetery.

    1. Thanks Helen! I realise now that I chose a pretty odd combination! But, yes, absolutely worth a visit -- it is such a nice spot (although the surrounding area is less so), and perfect for a quiet activity in Paris.

  10. I've only just had lunch, but now I'm hungry hehe. Lovely post about Paris, I love the foodie/memoire twist.

    You may like The Paris Wife, if you've not read it before.

    1. Thanks Alice - I have The Paris Wife on my list, as I'd like to discover a bit more about her than just that rather sad portrait in A Moveable Feast.

  11. Such a delightful post Vicki, I do love how you managed to combine cheese and dead cats as favourite things. Having just returned from Paris yesterday, the deliciousness of the cheeses is still a tantalisingly fresh memory. We had two amazing cheese shops a few hundred metres from the flat- we ate a lot of cheese- and everything else as it turns out. At some stage soonish I will blog about some of the food and drink. Sad to say though that in my three visits to Paris I haven't managed to visit any cemeteries- people or animals- I was tempted this time but just didn't make it. And I haven't read David Lebovitz's book. I tried to get to it before this trip but didn't get to it, will have to do it before next time. I love his blog too. Your description of it sounds lovely, right up my alley, and the recipes sound great too. Dulce de leche brownies! Wow. Although I'm sure not part of post-Paris leaves and dust regimens.

    1. Thank you Louise - I've been following (drooling) over all your travel posts. I have such itchy feet, but doubt I can afford a long trip this year. I keep adding things I see on other people's Paris posts to my list (as well as every pastry shop mentioned by David L!), which is now going to take lifetime residency in Paris to clear, I suspect.


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