Bread + white chocolate @ Boulangerie Saint-Honoré

Just wanted to pop in and share one of my favorite little snacks in the Porte de Clignancourt area.

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I remember being surprised and delighted when my first au pair mother, quite tall and thin, offered me a bit of baguette with a hefty piece of chocolate stuffed in the middle, after giving the same to her kids as a goûter. I didn’t become a major bread-lover until my move to Paris and I had previously thought to eat chocolate in only dessert situations. I loved this revolutionary concept that allowed me another time of day to get a chocolate fix!

Now, after almost 3 years here, I’ve realized that chocolate + bread is everywhere – chocolate bars have little drawings of baguettes on the wrappers, and I’ve seen plenty of other people indulge in the goûter.

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This boulangerie takes it one step further and bakes the chocolate into the bread! Most boulangeries will make “les suisses” or other pastries with chocolate in them, but I love these because it is real bread, chewy and a bit salty, and the chocolate gets a bit carmelized when exposed. So good! If you are headed to the Porte de Clignancourt antique market this would be the perfect stop.


Boulangerie Saint Honoré

80 bis bd Ornano – Paris 18e

2,50€ breakfast

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I AM NOT LYING! Can you even believe how cheap this petit-déj is?! And wait until you hear the details…

Snuck this when the bartender went downstairs..I'm so shy about taking pics

The comptoir

My classmate Camille lives one metro stop away from me (so fun!) and once she invited me to breakfast before we had a morning work engagement. I was overjoyed once I understood what we were dealing with : fresh-squeezed orange juice (you can see the orange presser in the background of the photo above), café au choix (when I asked he said I could get a crème or anything, but on the poster it just says cafe or noisette, best to ask), and tartines, viennoiserie (even pain au chocolat!) or 4×4 (pound cake – homemade!). If you eat at the bar it’s 2,50€ and at a table it will be 3,50€. SUCH a good deal in this town of 4€ burnt expressos.

They were out of croissants so I was forced to have homemade cake boohoo

They were out of croissants so I was forced to have homemade cake

When I’ve walked by this place at night, it’s packed. So, it must be a fun bar/resto scene too!

Cool decoration

Cool decoration

Check it out!

en attendant l’or
6 rue Faidherbe
75011 Paris
Métro Faidherbe-Chaligny (Line 8)

Eglise St Eustache

At my work, we had a concert at St. Eustache in central Paris a few weeks ago. We were there all day setting up and stayed late afterwards. Even though it was chilly I loved being in such a beautiful space. Religious or not, how could you not appreciate those arches, the light, the stained glass depicting pigs and the “Société de charcuterie!” I tried in vain to get a picture but I lack the photography skills; here’s a site I found with great pictures and an explanation. Some find the acoustics difficult to perform in, but I think they’re fabulous and I want to try to get my choir to have a concert or two there.

I am such a dork in this picture, but here I am in my “workplace” for the day!

Dorktastic

Dorktastic

Concert : Paris Choral Society Choral Masterpieces

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I will be singing in a 20th anniversary choir concert with the Paris Choral Society and I want to tell you about it!

The concert will be a selection of great Choral Masterpieces. The program includes some well-known, all-time favorite choral pieces, most of which the choir has sung over its 20 years. This concert is a great opportunity for those who are too antsy to sit through a whole mass or requiem – I guarantee you that your attention won’t wander, and I bet you’ll even recognize many of the pieces!

The program will feature, amongst others, short extracts from the Mozart, Fauré, Brahms and Duruflé requiems, as well as rousing works from Vivaldi, Beethoven, Handel, Haydn and Parry. We are also singing the lovely Rachmaninov Bogoroditse Devo.

Here’s a selection of YouTube clips of my favorites:

Vivaldi “Gloria” – 1st 2 minutes of the clip below. I love YouTube. Damn, Armenian orchestra, you are hella good!

Bach “Gloria” from Magnificat – you’re welcome for these awesome facial expressions! ;) I love conductors like this, although I’d be cracking up while singing.

Mendelssohn “Lift Thine Eyes” from Elijah – here’s my childhood choir, Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, performing it in Slovakia last year. I remember singing this in airports, salt mines in Austria, and other weird places throughout my youth. I want to cry every time I hear it, I have such good memories. And it’s so beautiful!

Barber “Agnus Dei” – I don’t know if I’ve ever heard or sung an Agnus Dei that I don’t like. Something about the text must bring the best out of composers. I envision this one set over a scene in an action movie where people are having gun fights and car chases. Yup, I’m weird like that.

Ok, just one more! Mozart “Lacrymosa” from the requiem – One of my favorite composers, Mozart writes so well for the voice. This piece has so much drama and gorgeous tension and resolution. It’s short and sweet.

Per usual, we’ll be performing in the magnificent American Cathedral, accompanied by Andrew Dewar on organ. No orchestra this time, but the organ is truly amazing. It makes me feel like I’m in a video game (mostly Zelda), running through magic forests and whatnot. Organ can sometimes feel really intense, but it’s nice to hear music down to your bones every once in awhile, no? Also, I love certain details that composers put in – listen to the organ especially during Vierne’s Gloria from the Messe Solemne.

I hope to see you there – email me if you would like a €2 discount on your ticket!

Friday June 13 20h
Saturday June 14 18h
General €22 | Student €10
Tickets available at the door or for purchase online via Paypal or credit card.

Les asperges

Last week I took advantage of a promotion at the verger down the street – €3 for a big bunch of asparagus! I ate them for dinner, prepared two ways. I snapped off the ends and placed them in a baking dish, drizzled them with oil and sprinkled on some of my lavender salt from last summer, and roasted them in the oven until they were just done. I hard-boiled an egg and sliced it on top.

Les asperges

Les asperges

I had too many asparagus for the size of my dish, so in a moment of genius, if I do say so myself, I grabbed the extras and stuck them on the grill pan we use for toast. I ate them “naked” – the lovely charred flavor was the only thing they needed.

In the middle of my cooking, the 90-year-old woman who rents me my room came in and asked me what I was making. She does this every time I cook, and it’s fine since I love talking about food. I showed her what I was doing, and when she saw me putting the asparagus on the grill pan I wanted to gently lead her out of the room and have her sit down, I was so scared she was going to have a heart attack. I’ve known this about French people ever since as an au pair I put a vinaigrette on some sliced cucumbers instead of yogurt-mustard sauce and the little boy wouldn’t eat them. Somehow this aspect of the French still manages to make me laugh (or annoy me depending on my mood).

The fact that I was not going to peel almost all the skin off and then boil to oblivion my asparagus shocked Madame so much that she had to ask me over and over, really? really really?? what on earth would you possibly do instead? and then when she saw the grilled ones, she was laughing for about five minutes after. “Les asperges grillées, tu me fais rire, tu me fais trop rire…”

the famous grilled ones

the famous grilled ones

My friend Phoebe pointed out to me once that the rigidity of French cuisine is why it’s so good – because their dishes have been conceived of, perfected, and then never changed for generations. It’s sometimes a beautiful thing – confit de canard that always comes with roasted potatoes, sandwiches in whichever boulangerie you go to having the same combinations, croissants always have millions of layers of butter, etc. are all comforting because they are good, and because you can wait months in between eating each thing and know that the next time it will be the same. And sometimes, it’s a boring thing. It’s why sometimes I think that I’ll never leave France, and sometimes I can’t stand it and search Kayak for a one-way ticket home.

Library journey

This week, I had to go all the way across town because certain books that I need to read for my research are only accessible at a certain library. I feel annoyed that with all the technology we have, the Paris university system can’t be bothered to have more than one copy of a book in more than one location. Rar. Thus, I spent a whole afternoon going to Neuilly to read said books. At first I was super grumpy because OF COURSE the metro line I needed to take was randomly blocked off, and OF COURSE they only had signs indicating this after I’d hiked up and down stairs for 15 minutes. I normally don’t like to complain about the Paris metro, because in general it’s SO efficace and I love it, but this was just super annoying. I got even more pissed when I realized I had written down the wrong station and I could have come over on the 3 since the library was closer to Levallois than Neuilly. However, my attitude changed when I set out for my ten minute walk and saw the beautiful trees. It’s been raining a lot this spring, and it’s paid off! Say whatever you like about Neuilly being a boring rich suburb, it’s nice to walk through.

Neuilly-sur-Seine

Neuilly-sur-Seine

I had to take a picture of these (tiny, green, in the middle of the picture) signs – they show Boulogne-Billancourt and Levallois-Perret, which are the towns I lived and worked in when I moved here 3 years ago. In 2011, I had no idea that 3 years later I would be where I am now – so much has changed. It’s crazy! And these signs took me right back to that space. Trippy.

Nostalgic for my first days in Paris

Nostalgic for my first days in Paris

M1 update #2

Just thought it was a good time for another update on my Master’s program.

Sorbonne library

Sorbonne library

I’ve seen a huge difference between the fall and spring semesters in my ability to comprehend what’s going on. Unfortunately, it takes me awhile to settle in to something, especially when a foreign language is involved. I wish I could adapt more quickly but that’s just how I am. Anyways, it’s a huge stress relief to finally feel like I’m on top of things. The classes themselves have been lighter this semester than the first, so that might help too. We also had SO much vacation – about three weeks off total between February and May, plus we didn’t even have many classes in January.

My new study environment!

The terrasse of my apartment

As an étrangère, I did feel a little bit behind in certain areas. Now I realize that once you are enrolled, you are allowed to take classes in the L3 level (quick breakdown of French university levels – L1, 2 and 3 are 3 years of a license degree that is equivalent to our Bachelor’s degree, M1 and 2 are 2 years of a master’s degree equivalent to our master’s degree, and then you can continue on to do doctorate work). If I could start over, I would have taken some sort of writing class or something to help me get my head in the French academic space. Too late for me, but if anyone reading this is interested in a Master’s in France, I highly recommend you take as many extra classes as possible!

Clignancourt library

Clignancourt library

Knowing I wasn’t guaranteed acceptance next year gave me even more motivation to do well in the M1, but it also has been stressing me out a ton this year. Added to that stress is the knowledge that I am a less appealing candidate for other M2 programs because I haven’t completed a mémoire (thesis) in the M1. After getting to know my classmates better, I’ve made the validating discovery that most of them agree with the complaints I mentioned in the last update, but above all for the concours to enter into the M2. Our professor randomly decided (without consulting the other faculty, according to gossip) to remove our mémoire and replace it with an insultingly dull database project. He ignored our protests at the beginning of the program, so we had no choice but to complete the Master’s in the manner he set it up. Now as we get nearer to the concours date, everyone is beginning to panic that if we aren’t accepted into the M2 here, we’re screwed. I’m just going to do my best to present a compelling research proposition (the way to “win” the concours) and go from there. With fingers crossed. If I don’t get in, quelle honte (the shame)!

Raviolis Chinois Nord-est

OMG let me tell you about my new favorite restaurant – 5€ for 10 raviolis! But French people are weird and what they call raviolis are what I call potstickers, so don’t go here expecting any cheese or tomato sauce.

Raviolis!

Raviolis!

My friend Kate brought me here a few weeks ago and I went again last weekend after suggesting it to a friend for her birthday dinner. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall place right in Belleville. The menu is simple – tons of raviolis in different incarnations either grillé (fried) or à la vapeur (steamed), plus some soups and salads. I really enjoy the porc/poivron ravioli, and I became obsessed with their peanut salad! It’s just carrots, cucumbers, and peanuts in a really spicy dressing (hot chili oil and raw garlic are the only ingredients I could figure out but I’m sure there are others) – but there’s something about it that’s just so good! I’ve attempted a version of it at home because I was getting major cravings for it after eating there the first time and I can’t make it up to Belleville every day. Dice up some carrots, cucumbers with the skin on, radishes (my addition), and mix them with salted peanuts, some hot chili paste or oil, half a minced clove of garlic and a bit of vinegar for a zingy and crunchy salad!

Fun to eat with chopsticks

Fun to eat with chopsticks

This place is a must for anyone on a budget, or if you simply want to change it up from the old jambon-beurre on baguette. There is one non-meat version with tofu that my friend seemed to enjoy, so vegetarians won’t be completely left out. The service was friendly and quick both times I went. Oh, and if you realllly love these, you can purchase 100 frozen ones for 20€ – I’m so tempted but I think I’d eat them all in one go.

Raviolis Chinois Nord-est
11 rue Civiale
Paris 10e

French lessons 1

« Je ne suis pas emballé ! »

Chat emballé

This is what one of my superiors wrote in an email to the rest of the team regarding something we’d submitted to him at my internship. It meant that he didn’t love what we’d sent, but it made me giggle because I instantly thought of him being wrapped up in plastic wrap. I’ve only known “emballé” to be used in the sense of being physically wrapped up, such as a gift or leftover food, but now I’ve learned another use of the word. I suppose it is similar to the English expressions of “being wrapped up” in something emotionally, but we wouldn’t have used it in this case.

***Please note that I am not a linguist and my only sources are dictionaries and French people. If you are a linguist or a member of the Académie française feel free to chime in!

Knitting

I’ve always felt ambivalent about knitting – my aunt Lindy used to knit me the coolest sweaters when I was little that I would rock with spandex shorts. They were perfect in that they were soft and nubby, baggy and comfy but not falling off, and handmade. I always search thrift stores for this type of sweater but can never find one that’s quite right. She also made every member of our family our own personalized Christmas stockings. Knit stockings are the best because with every use they stretch out meaning MORE PRESENTS! ;) So if I ever thought about knitting I associated it with pleasant family memories, but I never felt interested in doing it myself. My mom taught me basic knit and purl stitches on straight needles when I was little, so I have a basic foundation. I knit a few scarves here and there but it was so BORING that I never got hooked.

This yearly Christmas explosion is actually the handiwork of my Jewish father

This yearly Christmas explosion is actually the handiwork of my Jewish father

Lately I’ve been working at a cafe in Paris that specializes in hand-dyed yarns imported from anglo countries. (It is THE place in Paris to come knit and buy high-quality yarn. Check out the website here!) When I first started working, I didn’t truly see the yarns, mostly because I was busy trying to learn how to be a waitress – not a simple task. After I got comfortable in the job, I started paying attention to my colleagues’ expert string activities as well as the beautiful yarn that sits a few meters away from where I work. Every day, I would notice a new stunningly gorgeous and unique color, and when I realized we had a tiny little pile of Smooshy cashmere écheveaux I couldn’t stop finding excuses to caress my cheek with it. Slowly, I was drawn into the world of knitting. And let me tell you, there is no going back!

wearing the bandana cowl

wearing the bandana cowl

Since the winter I’ve made two hats, a funny little thing called a bandana cowl, and I’m working on my first shawl. I love knitting now because it combines several things I think are great – creativity, colors, small-scale production (although unfortunately not local in my case as we import from countries not close to France), hand-made things, and shopping! I’ve been able to make progress because I have a lot of guidance from my boss and coworker, but if you’re not lucky enough to work in a knitting shop, the online knitting community is great. Patterns are like food recipes – there are conventions in the writing of them, and once you learn the language, just follow the instructions and you should be ok! And, if ever you get stuck, there are plenty of instructional videos to be found on Youtube.

Color Affection shawl in progress - the third color will be pink, obviously

Color Affection shawl in progress – the third color will be pink, obviously

Now I have yet another hobby, and method of relaxation. Maybe soon I’ll be able to make myself the perfect baggy sweater.

Add me on Ravelry – username dawsonevergreen!