30 May 2020

A face on the street

Graffiti on a wall where two streets meet in Montmartre.


Every time I'm on the rue Gabrielle I can't help but think of a lovely young American, a writer, who settled in Paris and we became co-writers/editors on an online franco-zine. We met when she'd had a close call with the infamous administration française and contacted me, but in no time at all she was off and running and didn't need me at all. The next time I saw her she'd gotten herself ensconced on the rue Gabrielle with two fluffy cats in the most charming sort of atelier with sweeping romantic rooftop views. She made a mean cup of tea and we'd swap great laughs and great stories. Her self-effacing enthusiasm and bottomless creativity was refreshing to be around and as contagious as the coronavirus, and made me (almost) consider taking a break from Paris to re-discover the land of frozen margaritas.

Gabrielle, if you're reading this, wherever you are, thank you for those unforgettable times and equally unforgettable cups of tea. - BPJ

29 May 2020

A summer soupe

My recent post on gazpacho andaluz inspired another cold soup, this one a personal rendition of the (some say American) classic, Vichyssoise.


Recipe in June newsletter

27 May 2020

School rules

Schools in France reluctantly re-opened their doors May 11 and so far, into the third week, all seems to be going well.

Above: posted outside elementary schools, "Gestures to retain. To protect me and to protect others!"

26 May 2020


Marcel's on Avenue Junot has become a new daily stop, just up the stairs from our usual café.

25 May 2020

Gazpacho in heat

Above: a cobbled street in Cadaqués, Spain leads to a small market square on the bay; gazpacho andaluz w/traditional toppings


As temperatures climb towards June our Paris kitchen has been the scene of an outpouring of gazpacho, that queen of the cold soups from Spain that magically appears each summer as a primer plato, entrada or even refreshing drink in almost every restaurant, tapas bar and café from the Costa Brava to the Costa del Sol. Sometimes served with ice cubes bobbing on its surface, this simple and refreshing sopa made its way to France and now, as in Spain, it's a seasonal menu staple.

During my years in Barcelona and Cadaqués everyone I knew - including me - kept a freshly made supply cooling in the fridge. So when an industrial facsimile began showing up on supermarket shelves it didn't make sense: with a hand blender, gazpacho took almost as much time to make as it did to open a box and pour, faster than you can say “¡Hace calor!

But mind you not just any gazpacho would do. All over Spain, at least, it had to be gazpacho andaluz from the sunny south. Less tomato and more cucumber meant a much lighter color than expected. When visiting Italian family in Rome in summer, I'd whip up a pitcherful in the late afternoon at the urging of my Aunt Maria, an excellent cook who preferred hers with extra garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper, a version she’d call “Gestapo" and declare, “This replaces all of the minerals I lost in my sweat!” (She'd also insist that spaghetti al dente with nothing in it but grated parmesan and burro was a "complete food" containing "everything anyone would ever want" for optimum health).

Some prefer their gazpacho sieved until creamy smooth; others, like me, prefer texture. Either way, accompaniments of fried 
croûtons and assorted chopped raw veggies such as tomato, cucumber, onion and avocado add yet more structure and flavor. - BPJ


Recipe in June newsletter

23 May 2020

Street food

All over the butte Montmartre small restaurants* have set out tables for not only takeaway meals but often coffee, a glass of wine and a friendly chat.

- Addresses in order of appearance below -

1) Marcel - 1 Villa Léandre 75018
2) Etsi - 23 rue Eugène Carrière 75018
3) Imagine - 105 rue Caulaincourt 75018
4) Au Virage Lepic - 61 rue Lepic 75018

* These are just 4 of many. Wander to find your favorite.

22 May 2020

21 May 2020

Sparkling rosé

  Closed cafés + sparkling spring weather = apéritifs at home.

Above: it's rosé season and shelves are being restocked as quickly as they're emptied

20 May 2020


An artists' hamlet, that is.

Above: tall windows of ateliers in a secluded enclave off Avenue Junot

Below: on a private balcony overlooking the garden courtyard; easy-to-miss sign, "Hameau des artistes"

19 May 2020

Pots and pandemic

With travel restrictions still in place one way we've been experiencing the world (besides news, films, zooming...) is through food. Well before I spent three months in Tokyo, with stops in South Korea and Thailand, Asian cuisines were high on my list. The secret to whipping up authentic tasty dishes is having the right ingredients at hand and happily, Paris has no shortage of small (and large) Asian supermarkets. But many ingredients - ginger, coconut milk, soy sauce, green onions, hot pepper flakes, garlic, curry paste, basmati - can be found anywhere and don't require a trip to Chinatown. All of the recipes in today's post use skinless chicken breasts (look for poitrines de poulet), best from local butcher shops. - BPJ

Above: a Japanese hot pot w/chicken slices, green onion, sweet potato

Below: Thai coconut chicken aubergine curry w/brown rice; spicy Korean garlic chicken w/basmati


Recipes June newsletter

18 May 2020

16 May 2020

Truffle shuffle

Specialty shops selling hard-to-find ingredients are now open.

Above: view from inside La Maison de la Truffe, Place de la Madeleine

14 May 2020

Tart as art

Boulangerie-inspired savory tartelettes of sweet potato, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and hazelnuts atop a pesto base.

13 May 2020

11 May 2020

You can come out now

France's first-phase déconfinement goes into effect today, but with new rules....

 "HEY! Modern Art & Pop Culture - Act IV" group exhibition
June 2019
Halle Saint-Pierre
bookstore / coffee shop / museum / gallery
 2 rue Ronsard 75018


They say that for an action to become a habit it has to be repeated at least seven times. When you think about it, the pandemic has managed to alter behaviors in a very short time.

Before leaving home there would be certain items I'd make sure I had on me - keys, cellphone, wallet, navigo (travel) card, sunglasses, small umbrella, lip gloss. Check. With the lockdown the list stayed the same, except added to it was mask, hand gel, filled-out attestation (an app on our phones) stating "acceptable" reasons for being outside and with it, I.D. to prove I was who I said I was - small adjustments that didn't take that much longer, but adjustments nevertheless. Now new habits.

Many became used to télétravail (working from home), discovering it suits them, with some opting to continue. Whittling life down to essentials was easier than thought, not to mention budget friendly. We don't know anyone who got into the very un-French habit of hanging around in a bathrobe all day and, if anything, it seemed people were creating schedules to wring the most out of each day. When it came to food shopping, many Parisians changed their behaviors to take best advantage of their sorties, resorting to bringing along a grocery list - something one usually doesn't see here. Food shops and chain markets remained open, yet most roving markets were forced to close: competing for that last hunk of monkfish or bunch or radishes entails elbowing up to the front of a stall, the antithesis of social distancing.

Shopping carts, caddies and baskets were heaped higher than usual - and not with toilet paper, as pointed out in a previous post: another French food shopping habit altered. Like most, we're used to picking up whatever we need for two, maybe three days at most at a time, and everything we need is within a block or two, which simplifies life. But since the start of the lockdown in March we'd stock up for extra days - en plus some shops had changed their hours and sadly, some had become collateral casualties on the heels of a two-month grève that had already weakened the economy.

Now that this first step of déconfinement has cautiously been set in motion, with it comes mixed feelings of hope and dread. For the past week, beneath the masks more chatting could be heard in what had been eerily silent lines. Or was that simply a result of being confined a bit too long? - BPJ

9 May 2020

Tribute to an Old Etonian

Above: my interview of Clement von Franckenstein (Boulevard France magazine July/Aug 1996 issue) on his role as President of France opposite Michael Douglas and Annette Bening in The American President (director: Rob Reiner)


“Barbara, is your couch free?” The resonant voice on our answering machine with its distinctive English accent belonged to Clement von Franckenstein, the “c” dropped by a certain Mary Shelley writing a first novel. He was heading to England from Los Angeles, his adopted home - but first, a quick stop in Paris.

We’d met in the late 80s at a New Year’s party in LA. I was between husbands on hiatus from Europe, about to spend a year in San Francisco. The host was a friend of my daughter’s self-appointed godfather, British author, explorer, poet - and near-miss member of the House of Lords (he refused to pay the £10,000 “ridiculous” fee "on principle") - Michael Alexander. No sooner had our small group made its entrance when Clem, as we came to call him, dapper in a tuxedo, shot over to greet us. He'd recognize "Eurotrash" anywhere he said, adding wryly, "Join the club!" When Michael told him he’d known his father, Baron (later Sir George) von Franckenstein, Austrian Ambassador to the Court of St. James, it was like a gift from above. Clement had lost both of his parents in a tragic plane accident when he was just nine and had little recollection of them. He came to love Michael, who would recount to him details from that friendship that Clem greatly cherished - and on whose London couch he was crashing when Michael passed away in late 2004.

Trained opera-singer-turned-actor, Clem played cricket in the shadow of the Hollywood sign alongside Julian Sands and was friends with Billy Idol’s mother. On the Gallic front digestifs, Bordeaux wines, Renoir and Yves Montand topped his list. He approved of my French husband, adored daughter Danielle (in a happy coincidence they were once cast as father and daughter in the same film) and was a staple at many family events. His address book throbbed with A-listers and rock stars, and no matter what day of the year we’d land in LA, he'd be off to yet another private bash that same evening, and invite us along: parties in gated mansions overlooking city lights or the ocean, catered rooftop soirées where the hired musicians might sound exactly like The Beach Boys... because they were.

One of my favorite Clem stories was the time he asked me to be his guest at the Viennese Opera Ball to be held at the Beverly Wilshire. We knew it would be quite the occasion but were unprepared for the sheer number of tiaras and felt slightly under dressed. Still, holding our heads high, we entered the Grand Ballroom and waited our turn to be announced as the other guests - including actor Joseph Cotten and an assortment of international glitterati - had been. “Miss Barbara Pasquet James and the Baron Clement von Franckenstein!” As we walked in, flanked by a lineup of smiling onlookers, a woman in a red gown (that "made her look like a London bus" Clem was to quip later) was overheard loudly telling her apparently hard-of-hearing husband, “Honey, that's the name of that monster!” Clem stopped in his tracks and, with all eyes upon him, calmly turned to face her. "My dear Madam," he boomed in his most engaging theatrical voice, "Frankenstein was the doctor!”

Years later over lunch at the Chelsea Arts Club's communal table in London where James Whistler had entertained Monet, Clem said to me, thoughtfully, “You know Barbara, had you married me you’d be the Baroness Von Franckenstein!” I told him it was tempting, pointing out that I wasn't "buxom" (one of many Clem terms) enough for his tastes. And we couldn't stop laughing.

But Clement was, as Michael used to say, "not husband material." An insatiable ladies man, in 2001 he found himself on People Magazine's "50 most eligible bachelors in America" list along with Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Matt Damon. He was that rarity in life, a devoted and true friend. He was offensive, hilarious, debonair, outrageous and generous, all at the same time. He could burst into a flurry of insults if cut off in traffic as easily as a litany of limericks. He was in over 80 movies, mostly under-the-radar roles, but for us, his biggest and most starring role was being part of our lives. - BPJ

Clement von und zu Franckenstein
May 9, 2019

He talked too loud. He drank too much. He cursed like a sailor. But he also sang like an angel, let strangers crash on his couch, and cried like a baby when his kitten was sick. He offended some, charmed many, but was forgotten by none.” - From one of his many friends
Below: at Michael Alexander's wake in London w/me, Danielle; Clem helms magnificent Christmas Day lunch in the English countryside; at Berlin red carpet film festival (w/George Clooney, his dear friend Tilda Swinton, Ethan Cohen, Alden Ehrenreich, Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, producer Robert Graf); joining us in Cadaqués, Spain, his hair dyed blonde for a film role; photographed w/one of his paintings in his LA home last year, one of the last times we were to be with him

7 May 2020

Restez chez vous

Not everyone is fortunate to have a home.


Some bénévoles (volunteer) organizations in Paris:

Tous Bénévoles
France Bénévolat 
Je m'engage

6 May 2020

Shell game

Mussels and shrimp with home-made aïoli and chilled white wine, en confinement.


In Paris, most of our fish and shellfish arrives fresh daily from the rich waters of Brittany, which is not that far away. And almost always, giant gambas from Madagascar, Alaskan king crab and salmon along with other fishy imports comfortably share space on the fishmonger's counter. As with fruits and vegetables, some seasons are better than others (case in point: oysters) and right now we are on the cusp of the moules (mussels) season. Reports that restaurants, brasseries, bistros, cafés and other establishments that serve meals and make up a huge part of the demand are still closed, creating a surplus, translate into bargains at local poissonières. So yesterday, grabbing my basket early and armed with my attestation de déplacement pour effectuer des achats de première nécessité (in short, documentation stating that my reason for being outside is to buy life/death items only), I ventured to a local poissonnerie to see what I could find. And I found lots. - BPJ

4 May 2020


"Santé!" (to your health...), the standard toast in French, has never seemed so apt.

Above: setting up for Sunday night's multi-time-zone zoom session when everyone raised a glass


The grissini is Mario Fongo's whole wheat hand-rolled grissini integrali at Eataly Paris (online), Italian specialty shops and some wine / cheese épiceries. Call first.

1 May 2020

Quiet fête

Place Marcel Aymé three weeks ago.


Today is Labor Day, La Fête du Travail, in France.

- Traditional muguets can be found at florists and grocery stores -