31 December 2020

Leaving

 
As 2020 leaves, for many, the coming New Year is faced with both trepidation and optimism. In Paris, with an 8 p.m. couvre-feu in place, New Year's Eve celebrations and dîners du réveillon will be limited to small groups of no more than six.
 
Here's wishing a much better year this time around, filled with only good things. No, great things. - BPJ

Above: golden leaves carpet a Montmartre square

Below: same square swept clean; green cleanup truck in the distance
 

30 December 2020

Festive feasting


 
 
Despite lockdowns and curfews right now Paris' street markets are overflowing with head-spinning choices for holiday spreads.


28 December 2020

Sweet memories


 
For many, holidays en confinement mean nostalgically revisiting their roots by making sweets from childhood.

 Above: traditional Struffoli from Italy; Polish fried Krusciki bow ties made w/rum

Below: Zitronenkipferl, a rustic version of Austrian Vanillekipferl, made w/coarsely-chopped hazelnuts, whole wheat flour and lemon zest

 
 
Recipes for these, and more
January newsletter

 

 

25 December 2020

Christmas morning


Holly berries brighten a secluded corner beneath the watchful dome of Sacre Coeur.

 - Christmas 2020 -

24 December 2020

Copains d'abord

  

Giant festive pains des copains (bread among friends) meant to be shared by a group.

 
***
 
May your Christmas be joyful and bright, and your groups small.   

22 December 2020

A Christmas corner

The welcoming warmth of Carette's on Place du Tertre, open at 8 a.m.

 Takeaway coffee, hot chocolate à l'ancienne, viennoisseries and, not usual in Paris, crêpes-made-to-order at early hours.

 Carette
7 Place du Tertre 75018

18 December 2020

Angelina autrement

 

Though its beautiful tea room and pâtisserie on rue de Rivoli are closed for now, Angelina has a small boutique on the Left Bank that is, happily, open for takeaway.

 Angelina
108 rue du Bac 75007

17 December 2020

16 December 2020

Making an impression

 

A sign inside a Montmartre real estate agency reads, "The street artists are the new Impressionists."

***

In the late 1800s the Salon des Refusés or "Salon of rejects" would exhibit works that had been considered unacceptable to the standards of the then prestigious Paris Salon, which had specific guidelines as to what constituted "art." But thanks to Louis Leroy, an art critic who dismissed certain paintings as unfinished and nothing more than "impressions," in 1874, this group of rebels proudly calling themselves The Impressionists were able to successfully exhibit outside the traditional Salons, which eventually went the way of the horse and buggy. - BPJ

15 December 2020

Perfume me


"Shall I perfume you?"

In France, perfume is such an integral part of the culture that it’s a verb. 

The offer for a light misting was coming from the exuberant Versailles-born Christian Louis, whose charming shop nestled under a Place des Vosges archway is my personal favorite small Paris parfumerie, worth a visit on its own. With its copper stills and colors of the Côte d'Azur it exudes a feel of bygone days mixed with a touch of a miniature Willy Wonka factory. It is, simply, a realm of beautiful scents, all created by Louis, holder of the prestigious title and position of one of France's rare Master Perfumers. Louis, whose workshop is in Grasse, will carefully scope a newcomer up and down and expertly match one of his creations to their "type" - reciting the ordained perfume's essential essences with passion (“orange peel, black pepper, wild rose, tuberose!”). And amazingly, he's never wrong.

France has been the Oz of beautiful fragrances for centuries. Its most iconic brands - Guerlain, CHANEL, Nina Ricci, Fragonard, Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Sisley, Hermès, Jean Patou, Miss Dior - are known the world over. Yet every year, a new crop of débutantes enter the market, making the choices seem endless. Where to start? Most find it easier to play it safe and stick to the classics.
 
But Paris affords the luxury of under-the-radar smaller, still exclusive parfumeries that take the time to fix you up with a scent that’s uniquely you. Or help you choose a one-of-a-kind gift. And when you finally settle on The One that will endear you to your loves and loved ones' memories forever, as perfumes tend to do, don't forget to say, "Parfumez-moi!" - BPJ
 

 
 
Worth discovering:
 
Parfums et Senteurs du Pays Basque
Christian Louis Parfums
18 Place des Vosges 75004
 
 Frédéric Malle

37 rue de Grenelle 75007 
 
Jovoy Parfumier
4 rue de Castiglione 75001
 
Serge Lutens
142 Galerie de Valois 75001

 Annick Goutal
12 Place Saint Sulpice 75006
 
L'Artisan Parfumeur
32 rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004
 
Marie-Antoinette
5 rue d'Ormesson 75004
 
Discover the secrets of perfume making:
 
The Alchemist Atelier
36 rue Étienne Marcel 75002
 
Create your own perfume:
 
Le Studio des Parfums
23 rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004

14 December 2020

Parisienne rules

My previous postings on Parisiennes have been getting much feedback, so this morning I've put together this (far from exhaustive) list to get non-Parisiennes started.

 Enjoy! - BPJ

 "Qui a dit que la Parisienne était un mythe?" / Who said the Parisienne was a myth?....
You don't have to be from Paris or live there to be a Parisienne. It's a look, a style, a state of mind. - Inès de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet La Parisienne (2019)


  ***

15 ways to be a Parisienne - or at least feel like one - in Paris:

 1. Take good care of your skin. Keep it glowing by moisturizing and sipping water throughout the day. And when it comes to makeup, keep it simple.

2. Use the city's bikes and walk. Every day.

3. Keep jeans and plain white T's on hand, then add a nice jacket, bag and/or scarf to change your look. And white sport shoes are fine.

4. Wear a skirt or dress sometimes, even when riding a bike or motorcycle.

5. Don’t be afraid to express your views or disagree, even on politics. If someone gets offended, move on. Fast. They're probably not French.

6. Don’t get fat.

7. Don't talk about money. Especially yours. And don't brag. Exception: family members who are doing better than you.

8. Have favorites: favorite cocktail, chef, author, film director, designer, restaurant / wine bar....

9. Let your eyes do the speaking. Most of the time.

10. Shop and eat bio.

11. Never arrive early.

12. Don't sit drinking red wine as an apéritif and on its own. Ever. Every Paris café and restaurant has its apéritifs list and red wine isn't on it. Or white, except in a kir.

13. Don’t be afraid to wear the same thing every day. Think Steve Jobs, Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg, That Woman At That New York Ad Agency... Parisiennes have more important daily decisions to make and know it's just a café, not a fashion show.

14. Don’t be smiley (w/masks currently en rigueur this one's easy). Save smiles for those you know, or if you want a service. 

15. Choose a parfum as your signature scent. With holiday shopping in full swing, drop hints.

 Tomorrow:
Perfume me
 
***
 
Photo image courtesy of Danielle

11 December 2020

Orsay after hours

 

The Orsay Museum, once a bustling train station, today home to the greatest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world, at sunset.
 
***
 
Last night's announcement:
Pending further notice museums, theaters and cinemas to remain closed until January 7, 2021

8 December 2020

Say cheese

Palate (and palette) pleasing AOC cheeses from a local fromagerie enhance the stay-at-home experience.

7 December 2020

A palace in winter

 
(click to enlarge)  
 
The Palace of Versailles, Grand and Petit Trianon will remain closed, but the park of Versailles, the lake of the Swiss Guard and the Estate of Marly are open to walking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
 
- Check website regularly for updates -

5 December 2020

4 December 2020

3 hours (or less) from Paris: A taste of Istanbul


Looking back....

  There were spices destined for recipes handed down from grandmother to granddaughter, from generation to generation. There were spices for dishes yet to be conceived, and spices whose odors triggered memories buried for years... The sheer quantity and variety on offer were enough to make heads spin faster than a Whirling Dervish, and all the usual staples were present: coriander, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, flame red paprikas, cardamom, golden turmeric, saffron, green cumin, ground coconut, black, red, green and white peppercorns, curry mixtures, licorice, dangling strings of dried eggplants, peppers, dried fruits, dates, chilies and okra; pastries galore, boxes, bags, tins and bins of rose waters, rose buds, oils, henna, natural sponges, herbs, seeds, beans and nuts of every persuasion and hue, including Turkey’s famously flavorful pistachios.

 From, "Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night" © Barbara Pasquet James

***

Adjectives describing the ancient Ottoman city straddling the Bosphorus are as plentiful as the vendors selling pomegranate juice on almost every corner. But due to political upheavals and other factors over recent years, tourism in what was one of the world's most vibrant destinations - just a 3-hour flight from Paris - has dwindled dramatically. And that is unfortunate. Having had family based in Beyoğlu for two years, the district of narrow cobbled streets bulging with hip cafés, restaurants and tons of ambiance on the European side, we were able to enjoy this city like locals. Forever in search of a gastronomic discovery, I especially loved exploring the fish markets with their small tables set up under bridges, the wood-pit rotisseries and Turkish coffee enclaves but mostly, wandering through the spices and food markets on the Anatolian or Asian side, which has a totally different feel. - BPJ

  Above: food stalls in Istanbul's ancient spice bazaar Misir Carsisi a.k.a. The Egyptian market
 
Below: tea rooms line market passageways; simit, a twisted bagel-like bread covered in sesame or poppy seeds; women rolling out yufka, Turkey's paper-thin national flatbread;
classic Hagia Sophia skyline from a boat
 


(click photos to enlarge)

3 December 2020

A turkey in Turkey

 
 
 A week ago today marked Thanksgiving, an American holiday that, in France, usually gets put on hold until the weekend, as ours is almost every year. But because of the weekend option there is often more than one Thanksgiving invitation over the four days spanning Thursday through Sunday.
 
This exquisite turkey, weighing eight kilos and just out of the oven, was left to repose for about an hour before being carved so its juices could be redistributed. Ordered two weeks ahead from an organic farm, it had been brined overnight before being roasted, and reminded me of the Thanksgiving turkey we had in Istanbul a few years back, high on a terrace overlooking the Bosphorus with postcard views of the city skyline at sunset.
 
That was the first time I'd ever had brined turkey and it was a game changer. The guests were from all over the world, and while everyone was working their way through appetizers of Turkish mezze and French hors d'oeuvres that covered a terrace table outside, inside, traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and pies were being laid out, making it a truly international feast. - BPJ
 
Merci Tom Paris
 
***

Tomorrow:
Looking back - fooding and spice markets in Old Istanbul

2 December 2020

Iron maiden


The Eiffel Tower is scheduled to re-open Wednesday December 16, 2020.

 Above: previously published photo given a vintage postcard makeover

***

 Update: 12/16 re-opening cancelled until further notice

 😢

1 December 2020

Bookstore blues

Passing a small Montmartre librairie I was struck by the lineup of morose suggested book titles.

30 November 2020

Le culte


 The Basilica of Sacre Coeur on a November evening.

***

Yesterday an English friend asked about the use of “culte," a word that turned up in "déplacements pour se rendre dans un lieu de culte" on the latest ramped up attestation that everyone has to fill out to justify why they're outside.

In French, all religions, Catholicism in particular, are referred to as “cults” - a term which takes many a native English speaker aback as it carries with it undertones of sects, of secret rites and dodgy rituals.

All it means is that since Saturday, attending religious services is now allowed. - BPJ

28 November 2020

A French Thanksgiving

 
"Turkey?" they laughed. "What a charming idea!"

***
 
In America, there's nothing more enticing at Thanksgiving than a perfectly roasted juicy turkey, its skin crackling, its meat falling from the bone. The odor alone that's been wafting throughout the house for hours as it bakes is saliva-inducing, and when it's finally placed on the table with a flourish, ready for carving, it's not unusual for grateful diners to break into applause.
 
Until recently, no Thanksgiving would be deemed worth its weight in stuffing without it but vegetarians and vegans, whose ranks have swelled to a formidable force, have made the turkey-less Thanksgiving not so uncommon. 
 
As a concept, Thanksgiving is understood and even embraced by the French, though there might be an unspoken skepticism of a meat considered a trifle too "bon marché" (cheap) to serve up to guests and, to some, best suited for dogs and children - unless it's the prized black-plumed dindon de Bresse, available at Christmas.  
 
So should a French friend insist on hosting a Thanksgiving feast, you may find yourself wondering, after the first two courses, where's the turkey? (Où est la dinde?). And that is when you discover that your eager-to-please hosts have taken it upon themselves to eliminate the traditional bird altogether and serve up a sensational substitute that, while well-meant, misses the mark.
 
As the meal winds down you may also notice, much to your dismay, that there has been a second casualty: the pumpkin pie, "an acquired taste" you are informed matter-of-factly. But then, a dessert that looks like it jumped off the pages of a French cookbook materializes, and you forget what you're missing. - BPJ
 
Menu (above):

- Apéritifs
- Morilles (a wild mushroom) quiche
- Breast of wild pheasant with cracked pepper and fruit
- Goat cheese toasts as the cheese course
- Apple soufflés
 

27 November 2020

Dome-inating

 

The dome of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur dominates the Montmartre skyline.

 ***

Autumn in Montmartre

26 November 2020

Giving thanks

 
 
 If you're reading this you're alive, hopefully well, and have much to be thankful for.
 
- A Very Happy Thanksgiving 2020 -
 
***
 
Autumn in Montmartre

24 November 2020

Street in time

 
This cobbled street leading to the Basilica captured the brush of Maurice Utrillo.
 
***
 
Autumn in Montmartre

20 November 2020

Vin de primeur

Yesterday was the day when the French region of Beaujolais released its young Gamay wines, traditionally drunk almost immediately after the harvest. But with confinement restrictions still in place, instead of revelers spilling outside wine bars and cafés, small at-home toastings and tastings were held to ring in this year's Beaujolais Nouveau.  - BPJ

19 November 2020

Seeing red

 

Bright red leaves seem to be everywhere, even at this most unlikely place.

 ***

Autumn in Montmartre