Tuesday, 25 May 2010


This is how I start out  my morning with a large bowl of cafe au lait. I am not worth talking to until caffeine enters my veins. I use an Italian espresso maker and froth the milk. In Paris a baguette and raw milk butter accompanies my coffee it. I try to only eat a croissant on the weekends. I rarely have a coffee outside my kitchen in Paris. Why? Despite the fact there is a café on every corner most of the coffee is just plain awful. Of course spending time at a cafe is not about the coffee it is about seeing and being seen.  But for those who love to drink seriously good coffee there is the La Caféothèque.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Saint Honoré

The season, the venue, the caterer, the relatives, these are the factors that usually influence the choice of a wedding date. Not in our case, we chose the day because of what is inside this swanky box - a gâteau St Honoré.
May 16th is Saint Honoré's day and once the cake named for this saint was in every Paris pastry store at this time of the year. Alas no longer only le galette des rois seems to maintain it hold but then it is in every supermarket too for weeks before Epiphany. This year our friends told us to try a patisserie on the rue du Bac only a short bus ride from our apartment. And guess what? They have gâteau St Honoré all the time. While I like my cakes to be made for the special day and then to disappear, like Christmas cake I was thrilled to know I'd be eating cake on the day.

Monday, 10 May 2010

What do you think?

Before I left for Paris I cooked intestines, also called chitterlings. I bought them from pork supplier in the market and they had the mesentery attached. This is a photo of them soaking in cold water. I had read about the mesentery in Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery book but this was the first time I'd ever seen it. I thought it was quite beautiful, like some bizarre a sea creature, so I sent the photo to some friends and they found it horrifying,  perhaps I am just odd...... what do you think?

The intestines were delicious and quite mild. We ate them in a spicy tomato sauce with chickpeas. I didn't cook up the mesentery as Ms Grigson advises,  but I will the next time.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day

At Charles de Gaulle airport they were handing out sprigs of lily of the valley. In Paris lily of the valley was for sale on every corner.  It is a custom to give a sprig of this flower on the 1st of May.  After dumping our suitcases in the apartment we ventured out to see the changes in our neighbourhood and I bought a bunch of muguet de bois, the French for lily of the valley. The man selling it assured me it was from the forest, showing me his dirty broken fingernails to prove that he, and his wife, who was selling bunches on the opposite street corner had picked it themselves, although I didn't check her fingernails. Every year they drive all night to reach Paris and sell their harvest.  Even at 2 euros a bunch there must be enough tax free euros involved to make his trip and the necessary follow up manicure worthwhile. His lily of the valley was wonderfully fragrant and I joined all the other Parisians carrying home a bunch of lily of the valley.