Tag Archives: french pastry

The Paris Writer

10 Jun

Paris Morning Light

The Dream

I wake early, before my alarm. I dress comfortably and warmly and close the apartment door quietly behind me. I walk the short distance to the bakery on the corner. There is a closer bakery, but the croissants at this one are second to none. I wave good morning to Philippe, the greengrocer’s son who is busy setting his fruit stand on the rue Cadet. With a warm baguette nestled under my arm, I walk the long way home, savouring the half-light in which everything still feels new and hopeful. The day is yet to tire us out, wear us down, or disappoint with the things it does not bring. I climb the stairs to the apartment quickly, excited by the work waiting for me today. Perhaps if I am efficient this morning, I can take a few hours off this afternoon and go sit by the Canal St Martin. Cheered by this thought, I unlock the door. With one hand, I spread my baguette with a thin layer of salted butter, and with the other, I gently ease my laptop open and take a deep breath.

Snooze

The Reality

I wake violently to the incessant sound of my alarm ringing from across the room. Leaping out of bed to silence the infernal thing, I smack my shin on the edge of the coffee table. Hopping on one foot and cursing under my breath, I consider going back to bed. But, I’m up now; I might as well make the most of it. I pull on my oldest dressing gown, which is looking decidedly grubby with reminders of last week’s spaghetti bolognese on the sleeve. I flick the switch on the ancient IKEA kettle and rummage in the cupboard for some stale breakfast biscuits. I promise myself that tomorrow I will make the effort to go to the bakery. The sun is already streaming in through the window, so with one hand shielding my eyes against the glare, I roughly force my sleeping laptop awake. I have two articles to submit and I’m three days late with my blog. I think longingly of an afternoon stroll along the quais of the Seine, Berthillon ice cream in hand. Quickly I push the thought away. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to be finished by midnight.

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Paris in the morning image courtesy of l.gence on Flickr.
Snooze image courtesy of MacUK on Flickr.

Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

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Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

Gaufres de Chez Meert

22 Apr

Meert, une institution rue Esquermoise

As the cold weather begins to envelop Melbourne this week, I’ve been thinking about Lille. For me, visiting Max’s hometown means a great many things. It means cold weather, sometimes snow. It means comfort food and hot drinks and long, indulgent meals en famille. It also means eating the gaufres de Chez Meert.

It’s no secret that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. From delicate macarons to thick slices of brioche studded with sugar crystals and spread with nutella, visiting Lille is a little bit like a trip to your grandparents house, where all the things that are off limits in normal life are allowed.

When max first told me about the waffles on offer at Chez Meert, I was unenthusiastic. As a child in Australia, waffles came frozen in boxes, and on rare occasions we were allowed to pop one in the toaster and eat it drenched in maple syrup with a scoop of Peter’s vanilla ice cream. Delicious, yes, but not in comparison to all the other finely crafted sweet treats France has to offer. I had also tasted a waffle in Belgium a few months earlier, and whilst I enjoyed the nutella-smeared, whipped cream-adorned concoction, I wouldn’t have returned in a hurry. Max simply shook his head at my reticence and said ‘Tu verra’.

And see, I did.

Gaufres de Chez Meert2

These ‘waffles’ could not be further from those of my childhood, or the one I’d eaten in Brussels. These were long, delicate, pliable tongue-shaped wafers, sandwiched together by an intoxicating vanilla bean paste. They were as moist as other waffles are dry, and require no accompaniments whatsoever, except perhaps a strong espresso to cut through the sweetness.

In the interest of research, I tasted not only their classic flavour, but their speculoos one too. And though we all know how much I love speculoos, I think the classic just wins out in the flavour race.

Getting to eat a gaufres from Chez Meert has long been a treat exclusively reserved for trips to Lille, and the only way to enjoy them back home in Paris’ 9th arrondissement was to buy up big on our last day in Lille and practise extreme self-control on the car ride home.  But, with the 2012 opening of a Meert café in Paris, this is no longer the case.

So be sure to check them out next time you are in Paris, or Lille. You’ll never think of waffles the same way again.

____________________

Chez Meert image courtesy of fred_v on Flickr.
Waffle image courtexy of
bionicgrrrl on Flickr.

French-Australian Wedding Part One

16 Apr


Wedding Photo1

As many of you know, I recently married my French fiancé Max. Putting together a wedding with two sets of cultural norms to consider was a little bit of a challenge at times, but mostly it was a whole lot of fun.

As we are having a second wedding in France in July, the February event had more of an Australian flavour, but with some nice French touches. We were married at Leaves & Fishes in the Hunter Valley, in their function space ‘Feast’, which we picked for its distinctly European feel.

Wedding Photo2

I walked in to the song ‘Intermission’ by French-Canadian singer Coeur de Pirate, and we signed our registry to the hauntingly beautiful strains of Aboriginal artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who Max and once I saw perform live in Paris. My mum did a reading in English, and Max’s godmother, in French. The entire ceremony was conducted in both languages, and afterwards, we toasted with a French-style Australian-made sparkling wine.

Our wedding cake was a delicious fusion of the two cultures, square chocolate and vanilla cupcakes decorated with an assortment of iconic images from the two countries. The lovely ladies at Kiss Me Cakes in Sydney did an incredible job, and in the days that followed we were glad that we had over catered! We also had lolly jars filled with sweets from our childhoods, Caramello Koalas and Carambars (yum!).

Wedding Photo3

The following day we held a brunch at my aunt and uncle’s property, with sausages on the barbeque and a game of backyard cricket on one side; and delicious croissants and an intense match of pétanque on the other…

Wedding Photo6

Wedding Photo5

The perfect weekend!

Eating Our Way Through February

18 Feb

Champagne

February has been a busy month.

On the 9th we attended the wedding of good friends in Sydney, where we ate, drank and danced the night away. On the 12th we celebrated my 24th birthday with cocktails, sangria and tapas. On the 14th we enjoyed a lovely home cooked meal (even though Max doesn’t believe in Valentines Day) of French champagne and duck confit. On the 16th we parted ways for our respective hens and bucks weekends (both of which involved a great deal of eating and drinking), and on the 23rd, we will be married in a restaurant.

We celebrate the only way we know how – with good food and good wine.

All of this celebrating is well and good, but eating pork belly twice in one week, churros and cupcakes in the same night, and countless glasses of champagne do not a skinny bride make.

Cupcake

Now, truth be told, I am not really concerned with losing x amount of kilos before the big day. I bought a dress that fitted me at my usual, average size. It is a dress that will forgive a kilo or two either side. It is a dress that understands that my love of good food will always trump my desire to look like Miranda Kerr in a bikini.

Many of my already-married friends keep assuring me that with all the last minute stress in the lead up, I’ll drop a few kilos without even noticing.

To this statement I take great exception. I am just not someone who gets busy and forgets to eat. In fact, I don’t think I have ever, in the history of my existence, forgotten to eat. I may have missed a meal somewhere along the line, but I can assure you it wasn’t because it slipped my mind.

Nutella

I get stressed, and busy, and head directly for the Nutella jar, spoon in hand. Or I decide that a packet of neon orange Twisties from the work vending machine are a good choice. Stress does not make me lose weight. And that’s okay.

I fully intend to eat a decent breakfast, morning tea and lunch prior to our afternoon wedding. And at said wedding, I will be sure to enjoy every last bite of canapés, entrée, main, dessert and cake.

It is my ‘big’ day after all!

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Champagne image courtesy of chrischapman on Flickr.
Cupcake image courtesy of shimelle on Flickr.
Nutella jar courtesy of p3nnylan3 on Flickr.

People Who Own Cake Stands

21 Jan

Baked goods

Lately I’ve developed an infatuation with cake stands. Or to be more precise, the idea of owning a cake stand. Allow me to explain.

I love what cake stands, and by extension, their owners, represent. The elusive and somewhat mystical cake stand owner is a curious creature who is:
a) a regular and talented baker and
b) has enough self-control to exist in close proximity to a large portion of delicious baked goods and not eat it all in one go.

I often fantasize about what my life would be like as one such cake stand owner. I’d wear a lot of frilly aprons, of course (but I’d wear them ironically, not in a repressed housewife kind of way), and I’d bake a tantalising array of gourmet delights. Perhaps I’d prepare an understated fig and almond tart on Tuesday, or an elaborate multi-layer chocolate cake on Sunday.

Apron

I wouldn’t bake out of necessity (though I would believe that baking imperatives exist), or with a particular occasion in mind. I’d bake simply for the joy of it.

Of course, implicit in the cake stand scenario is the notion that I’d also be the kind of person who welcomes a steady stream of friends and family into my home for a cup of tea and something sweet at any given time. And of course, the natural extension of cake stand owning is that I’d be quickly approached by Vogue Living wanting to do a feature on my home.

Fantasy firmly established in my mind, I was about to make the purchase when it occurred to me. I’m a terrible baker (there’s just something about precision of measurement that doesn’t sit well with me). And I’m also awful at resisting temptation in the form of baked goods. And the fact that I live in a security-coded building in a different state to my family tends to put a bit of a dampener on those unexpected ‘drop-ins’. Reluctantly, I set the item of my desire down and left the store.

Besides, I reasoned, if Vogue did call, I’d still have plenty of time to rush out and buy one.

_________________
Delicious baked goods img courtesy of Kiwifraiz on Flickr.
Apron img courtesy of louisemakesstuff on Flickr.

Apartment Hunting in the French Capital

14 Jan

Over the Christmas break I got to partake in one of my all-time favourite activities – researching apartments in Paris.

Chandelier Apartment

Sadly no, a move to Paris isn’t on the cards for us right now, but we are planning a flying visit this July. The Official Trip Purpose is for the Wedding 2.0, a chance for many of Max’s relatives and our friends who cannot come to Australia for Part One to celebrate with us. But before that, we have a week in Paris with my family.

This time, thankfully, our trip falls in the middle of European summer, which not only means gloriously long daylight hours, but a chance to participate in the much-anticipated soldes d’été.

Soldes

The last time my family came to Paris they rented a beautiful two bedroom apartment in the rather fancy-schmancy 1st arrondissement. Literally metres from the Louvre, the entrance to the apartment was wedged between a chic passage couvert and a Christian Louboutin boutique. Despite having an apartment apiece at that point, Max and I found ourselves tempted night after night to camp out on the luxurious sofa bed and pretend that this was, in fact, where we lived.

Galerie

This time around though, I stumbled across a gorgeous three bedroom apartment in the slightly more down to earth 2nd arrondissement, close to the bustling Japanese quarter and close enough to the Opéra to feel very special indeed. There’s nothing I love more than discovering a new arrondissement from the inside out, and I can’t wait to see what delights the 2nd holds for us.

Where do you like to stay when you visit Paris?

________________
Apartment with chandelier image courtesy of fromtherightbank on Flickr.
Soldes image courtesy of Ma Gali on Flickr.
Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau image courtesy of Phil Beard on Flickr.

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