18 March 2019

Soup's on

From creamy veloutés using winter vegetables to a fish soup brimming with textures and a Vietnamese grilled eggplant hot pot - not to mention my own minestrones (grazie Aunt Maria in Rome) and unstoppable soupe à l'oignon, just ask my French in-laws - there's enough chill left in the air to make soup the hottest thing since the return of bone broth.

- more soups (plus where to find them, with recipes) in upcoming April newsletter -

16 March 2019

Thigh high

Also known as the Fontaine du Gros-Caillou, the neo-classical Fontaine de Mars shows the mythical figures of Mars and the goddess Hygieia.

15 March 2019

14 March 2019

Day trip: "The mill! The mill!"

A secret artists' enclave; an extraordinary magical place where composers and screen writers come to work in a tranquil country setting surrounded by natural beauty. As romantic as it gets.

Le Moulin d'Andé 

[the table d'hôte and B&B will turn a day visit into a weekend, or more]

Above: the moulin from François Truffaut film, "Jules et Jim"

9 March 2019


The new bun on the block is unmistakably British:
delectable cinnamon knots at a boulangerie-pastry café on a narrow street in the Latin Quarter.

Below: a fresh batch gets a quick egg brush and ready for the oven

Circus Bakery
63 rue Galande 75005

6 March 2019

End of The Week

Paris Fashion Week started with the loss of perhaps fashion's biggest icon, Karl Lagerfeld, and ended yesterday.

- Behind the scenes -
March newsletter

Photo image courtesy of Danielle
(click to enlarge)


A blossoming tree near a square signals that spring is on course.

5 March 2019

Seafood stall

Oysters, shrimps, scallops and hot wine share a stall in Montmartre.

[Update: thanks to chef Yves Camdeborde for "getting" my tongue-in-cheek take on 3/2 post "Bistronomy" a now over-used term - bistro + gastronomy - that came about thanks to him. See 10/2017 post Flying pig]

4 March 2019


Plenty of time left to catch the Calder-Picasso exhibition.

Ends August 25, 2019

Hôtel Salé
5 rue de Thorigny 75003

2 March 2019


Bistro + economy:
The rapport qualité-prix at this popular relative newcomer near the butte (see post A bouillon in Pigalle) is one of the best in the city.

Above: leeks vinaigrette with crushed hazelnuts entrée; bistro staple boeuf bourguignon on bed of coquillettes; thinly-sliced rare roast beef frites maison for lunch

Below: packed at night as well

Bouillon Pigalle
22 boulevard de Clichy 75018

- No reservations -
Service continu from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.  every day 

25 February 2019

Deux entrées

In France, the "entrée" course is the starter, the appetizer, the entry to the meal (makes sense, doesn't it?), not the main course. Small group sit-down dinners are frequent, with every course carefully thought out so that the entire meal adheres together.

Above: two entrées - a platter of lobsters was preceded by home-made foie gras de canard with its confit d'oignons (caramelized onions) and still-warm toasts

23 February 2019

Magic steps

Steps where Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) waits every night to be taken back to 1920s Paris in Woody Allen comedy, "Midnight In Paris." 

22 February 2019

20 February 2019

My tribute to Karl

Above: an illustrator presents fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld with his portrait, October 2015 Paris


The name Karl Lagerfeld was, and always will be, associated with innovative, elegant couture - and the House of Chanel. Wherever he went, he was like a rock star: legions of fans and paparazzi crushed to be near him.

The first time I saw him was completely unexpected. It was an early fall morning in 2008, and I was off to La Palette, a favorite café just doors from my first Paris apartment on rue de Seine. Men dressed completely in black had made a tight circle around someone, but who, at a terrace table. Black limos were parked halfway on sidewalks because of the narrow streets, and when I pushed my way past, there He sat, holding court.

It was then I recalled a near-miss brush with "Karl" as he was simply referred to, well before: it was the 90s and I was on rue de Rivoli during Fashion Week. People were swirling everywhere when a well-dressed older man tapped me on the shoulder as I started to cross the street and handed me his card. He was a models' agent, and asked me to call and leave my information in case they needed "replacement models" on the runways that week. But I was leaving the next day to join family in Rome, and never did. Sometime later I discovered that he represented Karl Lagerfeld.

In 2010, I was to run into "The Karl" again, but this time in New York. It was a rainy night and I'd just finished a long lovely dinner at Soho fixture The Mercer Kitchen with actor Denis Leary and his wife Ann, who I'd met in Paris. Denis was filming his series "Rescue Me" and they had an apartment nearby. It was late and I would wait upstairs in the lobby for friends to pick me up. There, much to my surprise, sat Karl Lagerfeld, at a corner table, scribbling on a notepad. Alone. Surreally it was just the two of us, and he was All Karl: the fingerless gloves, the white hair tightly pulled into that familiar ponytail, dressed in black from head to toe. And for one moment, we smiled at each other, wanly; outside the rain had turned into a thunderstorm.

Over the years there were to be a few more Paris sightings and in late 2015, invited to a private preview of his photography called, "Karl Lagerfeld: A Visual Journey," I was to see him for the last time (see post Karl Who?). We'd gone to the exhibition with an eccentric French photographer (who turned out to be the photographer who did Melania Trump's controversial nude photos) and like the maestro he was, Lagerfeld arrived, unfashionably on time, followed by an adoring and fawning entourage. An exceptional photographer, he had a great eye for beauty. No surprise there. Beauty, he'd say, was his obsession: but he was unforgiving when it came to the obese, the overweight; of those, he said, who become like that for no other reason than "letting themselves go," blaming fat people for "societal woes" [Vox 2/19/2019]. And he could talk: for much of his life he had struggled with his own weight issues.

Once, at the Chanel boutique on rue Cambon, Coco Chanel's first Paris shop and where she had an apartment, an elderly French woman told me something I never forgot. She said that in spite of his "severe looks" Karl Lagerfeld was a very thoughtful and kind man and a "pleasure" to work for. She'd known the Chanel years and had worked for both. She said that when Coco Chanel arrived to work, it was rather like a "Devil Wears Prada" scene: as Ms. Chanel approached, employees would whisper, "She's coming!" and assume their best posture and behavior. But Karl Lagerfeld, she said, made them feel motivated and relaxed, which led to great productivity. He'd greet every employee individually and remember personal details from their lives, such as whether someone's grandmother was in hospital.

Agree with him or not, Karl Lagerfeld was a fashion genius, and his legacy will surely live on. BPJ

R.I.P. Karl

September 10, 1933 - February 19, 2019

Below: a KL boutique window, Marais district

18 February 2019

Plugged in

Café culture and laptops: What's the story?

Above: it's closing time and a customer who's been nursing a café crème for hours disconnects his laptop and prepares to leave

Below: due to high turnover most Anglo-run coffee shops / torréfacteurs don't allow laptops on weekends

16 February 2019

A time for tajine

Rien de tel qu’un bon tajine pour se réchauffer....

 Paris' packed restaurants make it seem like *everyone* is always eating out, but like most Parisians, I prefer my own cuisine: you will note that cuisine in French means... kitchen. (Growing up in the U.S. I had an uncle who used to visit and, at the table, roll his eyes back as he blotted his lips and tell my mother, in his French accent, "I love your kitchen!")

There is no getting around the maghrébine gastronomic influence in the capital, and on cold evenings there's nothing like a hearty tajine. Its cone entraps the steam and, with slow cooking on the lowest heat possible, succulent sauces are created. A perfect winter dish, tajine celebrates sweet, salty, and spices; its contrasting flavors both satisfying and decadent at the same time. BPJ

Above: sea bream with garlic, sweet onions and eggplant melted into a sauce; skinless chicken breasts (I prefer with skin) with leeks, dried apricots and almonds; salmon tajine with green olives, artichoke, cilantro and preserved lemon; a portion of lamb tajine made with garlic, toasted almonds, chick peas, cinnamon and dried figs infused with fleur d'oranger atop couscous