Thursday, 31 May 2012



The rose garden in Le square Jean-XXIII, right next to Notre Dame.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012


I haven't had too much time or motivation to get any crafty things done, but I did start a pair of socks.


They are the Elm Socks by Cookie A, from the Knitter's Book of Socks. I love these big, slowly undulating cables. They are loads of fun to knit and actually fairly intuitive once you've gotten cozy with the pattern. It's pretty hot out this week, but I want my first winter here to be cozy. Also, all my linen and silk and lighter yarns...who knows where they are right now. I wasn't in the right mind when I was trying to pack up to figure out what to bring along and what to store. I have a feeling I'll be pleasantly surprised when I get the shipment next week. Hopefully I did remember to pack a few skeins of linen- a swingy cool top would be nice right now.

PS, the sock yarn is String Theory Caper Sock, and it's brilliant to work with.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Marché des Producteurs

In addition to all the markets that pop up around the city daily, sometimes there are extra-special markets. These are Marche des Producteurs.


The regular markets are more like an outdoor grocery store. You can get produce out of season; apples from Chile, oranges from Spain, melons from Morocco. Most of them do have a great deal of locally grown produce, and the quailty is almost always much higher than the local supermarche, and there are plenty of specialty vendors.


The Marche des Producteurs are all France-based farmers in artesianal food vendors. Lots of cured meats, foire gras, honeys and jams, wines and beers. All the good stuff.


We did have quite a nice afternoon, wandering the stalls, being forced and coerced to try all this great stuff. There was soap made from horse's milk, and hamburgers with pedigrees. The vendors were chatty and in love with what they did. It was less of a job to them as a passion, and what the final results were pretty heavenly.


They don't happen every weekend or in the same spot, so you have to go to the website to track them down. There was only two vendors selling fruit, which was lucky since it was peak strawberry season. Most strawberry vendors sell multiple varieties, so it's good to buy as many kinds as you possibly can, just in case you don't care for one or the other. We liked them all just fine and made a nice picnic out of them.

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It was hard when to walk away, as we still don't have a proper kitchen or storage. We promised ourselves we'd go easy until then, but for me, it basically means staying away from all markets all the time. Seeing all the beautiful things to cook and not being able to treat the ingredients respectfully (hello, microwave...I'm looking at you) means I have to lay off.

Luckily, we move on Friday. Just in time...there are beautiful tomatoes and cherries to be had, and I'm still finding strawberries that are fantastic. I want nothing more than to bake them in a pie.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Bonjour Vietnam

One of the things that I'm trying really hard not to do is have a fatal overdose of cream and butter based sauces. It's really hard, but I am determined not to get sick of French food.

In previous, shorter visits, I've gotten too excited about a list of places that I had to try. Duck with blue cheese and steak with bordeaulaise and delicate pike dumplings in a cream sauce. It's all so good, but no one can eat like that for long without either having to buy a seatbelt extender for the plane ride home or perhaps getting gout. I always find I can take it for a few days, and then I get the craving for a spicy curry, a vegetable stirfry, just something with a bit more spice and, sigh, less butter. It's maddening.

So we've been quiet on the French food scene knowing that it will be available to us for a long while now, and maybe we should limit it to once a week or something. I don't have a full kitchen yet, but I've been making salads and simple dishes to go with the really good bread I get every day. Nice and light and a good way to try all the interesting produce, but eating at home isn't the most exciting way to experience the city.

The first time I got a craving for noodles was impulsive. There's a pretty big block of Japanese places nearby, and I picked a random one based on the fact that it looked clean and it wasn't too crowded.

Big mistake.

I got shrimp Udon, but there was something really weird about it. The fact that it was topped with a pancake of fries that were quickly sopping up the broth and becoming really unappealing and sad should have clued me in that perhaps this isn't the best place to get my noodle fix. It's really hard to move from New York, with it's abundance of really excellent ethnic food, to a place that seems to take them seriously at all. Kind of depressing.

No worries though...the internet saves the day. We found a great little Vietnamese place in the Latin Quarter called Bonjour Vietnam.


Really nice noodles that I don't have to gripe about how much I miss my haunts in NYC. Which I do. Just not as much now.


They had imitation Sriracha, but I won't hold that against them. I haven't seen the real-deal hot sauce at all here, but I'm pretty good at searching these things out.


It was exactly what we needed as we had been holding out hope that we would find a good place for Asian food since we first conceived of moving here. It was like a big bowl of anti-anxiety noodles, with a good clear broth and veggies and a few slices of beef on top. Nom.

It's the perfect anecdote to all the good French food that we are about to eat.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


It took me a couple weeks, but I found it. WED_2795 It's called beurre de cacahuète here It took me forever to figure out what the word for "peanut" was. I don't think it's very widely consumed. I kept looking for it where the nutella and jams were (which seems familiar enough to American eyes at first glance), but apparently it's considered a foreign food, so I was finally able to find it between the Thai and Mexican shelves in the "Anglais" section along with mostly British foods. It feels a little sacrilege to smear it on a baguette but I keep doing it anyway.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Bois de Vincennes

Green, leafy places make me happy. It's totally restorative to my sanity.


While we were looking for neighborhoods we liked and deemed livable we did a ton of walking. We saw a lot of parks. Some were nice, others, eh. You might get mugged. Other neighborhoods had not a single square or place to lounge at all- it was just endless concrete and sprawling boulevards.

I planted my feet at the edge of the Bois de Vincennes and declared my intentions to live next to this park in my idealized world.


It's an enormous, sprawling park that reaches far out into the Parisan suburbs. It was formally a royal hunting ground, but once the revolution happened most of those were turned into public parks. It's quiet without being too secluded. Unlike our adventures in the Bois de Boulonge last year, no one came creeping out of the woods and there were no groves of prostitutes looking for company. Or, maybe there are, but we didn't find them.


There were a lot of dog-free islands on the lake, which made for great cygnet and gosling watching.


Also... Parisians don't clean up after their dogs so it is nice to wander around without having to be intently staring at the ground in front of you, dodging and pushing to avoid stepping in reprocessed alpo. Dog-free havens are something to really seek out.

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Rather mysteriously, there was a peacock wandering around as well. They are my favorite freakshows of avian splendor.

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I deemed it a Very Nice Park. The fact that I keep moving to really dense urban centers is kind of puzzling to me when all I really want is woods and grass and birds and maybe some creatures to mow the lawn for me. One of these days, I'll figure it out. Until that day presents itself, I'm glad we found a place to live within walking distance of a green space.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


I love how seriously people take lunch here. (well, until I need to get in touch with someone out to lunch, and then I grow bitter.)

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You sit outside, you relax, you enjoy your food. You don't scald your mouth on your wrap-up coffee because you know your time is short before your absence is noticed. You linger. It makes for a nice day. I really don't think you could get the staff to hurry on with things anyway.

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Afterwards, I allow myself to continue my obsessive search for the perfect macaroon.

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If the sun peaks out, there is a flurry of activity as the population rejoices and heads to the parks. Everywhere you look, people are in full out relaxation mode. No one is multitasking on their blackberry or looking like they need to get back to something. It's all about the lounging and chatting.

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Monday, 21 May 2012

le Camion Qui fume

An expat's dream come true: real American burgers and fries, served out of a food truck.

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With mushrooms and a good blue cheese, of course.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

FO: Spectra Scarf

Some things are set aside while the stress and the constant battle of moving is going on. Knitting was one of them.

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I haven't really had the mindset to sit and do something quietly for a while now. It seems like a luxury and I just can't bring myself to splurge. I'm hoping that once I get settled next month, and the shipment box with a tote of crafty supplies shows up I'll be a little more inspired.

I did recently finish the Spectra scarf I started way back in March. Everyone loves Westknits right now, and I couldn't resist his designs either. Even here in France, several knitters I met were sporting his goods. Well, Paris probably does have more scarfs per capita than anywhere else in the world, so I'm sure obsessively stitching away at one of his patterns is a good move all around.

I loved this pattern muchly. It used up a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock (which you couldn't pay me to knit a pair of socks out of) and two skeins of Knit Picks Gloss sock. I ran out of the Gloss first and that was where the scarf ended. It's a combination of short rows and simple intarsia that makes it shape the way it does.


And what better way to celebrate the status of a newly minted Parisian than a picnic on the Champ de Mars?


I couldn't think of one. The lawn was surprisingly filled with few tourist and lots of like-minded picnickers.


When the sun comes out in Paris, the masses head for the parks and the lawns with wine and food and friends. It's a very good idea.

I do love my new scarf. It keeps me just toasty enough and it drapes elegantly. It needs a good blocking as I just hung it up on hair clips on the curtain to stretch it out a bit- the bottom edge would ruffle less if it was really bocked. The pattern is simple and it only took two repetitions before I had it memorized. It really shows off colorful yarn nicely.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A quick trip to the Louvre

One of the great things about living here (I know, there's lots) is that you can take advantage of free museum days. Every first Sunday of the month, the Lourve is free. Since we're staying really close by, I thought it would be a good way to spend a dreary Sunday, where pretty much everything else is closed. Paris 2012 The line to get in is a little ridiculous, but since there was no ticketing, it moved quickly and only took a half hour. You can amuse yourself taking pictures of people trying to touch the tops of the pyramids. Paris 2012 Paris 2012 Paris 2012 Paris 2012 As long as you don't try and fight your way to the Italian Masters wing, the place is remarkably quiet. We spent a couple hours in the Dutch and Flemish paintings, who are always my favorite. Their use of light and dark will never cease to astound me. Paris 2012 oh. ha. This one cracked me up. Paris 2012 My eight year old self pointed and laughed hysterically as I noticed the details. Paris 2012 I guess he was a realist? I half expected someone to be scraping poo off their shoes in the next frame. So realistic! We did have a fantastic time of people watching as well. Paris 2012 Paris 2012 Paris 2012 Paris 2012 It seemed like everyone was a bit lost when they first got the map, and it was fun to watch them try to orient themselves and debate over what to see first. Paris 2012 I mean, their collections are enormous. It would day days, if not weeks to properly see everything they had. Paris 2012 Paris 2012 Paris 2012 Paris 2012 I tend to like the smaller museums as I feel a bit overwhelmed here, but you can't argue with free. After two hours of browsing, we left to get a bite to eat and fight the bleary-eyed syndrom you get from staring too hard for so long. There's nothing like a nice St. Emillion to ease your way into a Sunday afternoon.