It was a dreary month, but not a bad one at all. Although I hear that the best is yet to come in February, weather-wise. Still, I was grateful to have a total of two somewhat sunny days, and a pretty snowfall to shake things up. While it doesn't get as bitingly cold as the Northeast US, it was nice to get some cozy sweaters out and layer on the knitwear. The days are getting noticeably longer and I'm itching to get out.
Two things that got Parisians going: The winter Soldes and King Cakes. The Soldes were impressively crowded and hectic as people scrambled for discounted everything:
While I don't know any hard facts, it seems like they are more shopping-mad here than they are in New York. While I see it as a way to depart with money in exchange to fill a need, Parisians shop for sport and for the fun of it.
The naked mannequins abound.
But some of the clothed ones left me unimpressed.
This swimsuit in the windows at Galleries Lafayette left me a bit awe-struck. Once you see a lumpy and bloated Native American on a swimsuit, it can not be unseen. Just try.
Despite questionable tastes of the window-dressers, the interior of GL is one of my favorites. A huge, stained-glass dome tops the main room, making it a lighter and airier place than most department behemoths.
I feel like it is a pretty appropriate shrine to fashion, and while I have yet found anyone who might actually help me in there, it's become one of my favorite Soldes haunts for potions and lotions and really nice bedding, along with the usual clothes and handbags and really chic accessoires.
All of January, the post-holiday diet is wrecked by the Galette des Rois glut. Traditionally, they are supposed to be for the epiphany, but some reckless soul deemed them fit for all Janvier long.
The only other King Cake I have made or tasted was that of the New Orleans style. It's a little much. It's basically buttery brioche stuffed with cheesecake filling, with sugar glaze and colored sugar on top. My teeth ache just thinking of it. It's fantastic. But alas, like all great things found in America, it is a bastardized version twisted and retold until it is unrecognized from its original form.
(picture ganked from Jeff Schrier)
I tried my hand at making a traditional French one using this recipe. It was excellent. In France, it is puff pastry filled with almond frangipane or marzipan. They aren't as law-suit happy here as they are in the states, so it is still okay to put a bean or a tinker toy in the cake for someone to be deemed king or queen for the day.
Some bakeries had gaudy candied-fruit topped versions, which is as close to the New Orleans version as I could find.
Any chance I'm anywhere near my favorite pastry place, I can't resist trying one of everything.
It made the month seem a little bit sunnier.