Friday, March 31, 2006

New photo site!

Ok, now you can all go check out my photos on Flickr if you like. Here's the link, which I will also put in the Links sidebar. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 30, 2006


So, I have finally educated myself a little bit about the "riots" that have apparently been happening in Paris (and all of France) somehow below my evidently idiot-level radar. How did we not know that a million and a half people were stickin' it to Le man just a few miles away?! I don't know, but our neighborhood has been quite unaffected, with the exception of the (not total) transit strike Tuesday, and some closed post offices/ banks. I strongly suggest reading the what the BBC has to say about it: There's a whole section of articles about it, and those interesting little opinion blurbs from people on the street (though less funny than The Onion's). I'm curious as to what will happen in the next couple weeks. I kind of think it will die down soon, but I'm also totally out of my element. And from what little I do know about France's recent history of social movements (1968 and on), I could certainly be very wrong. Laugh if you must, but I saw V for Vendetta last week, and the situation here calls to mind the precipitation leading up to the inevitable catalyst for more serious riots-- if you saw it you'll know what I mean. We'll see soon enough.

On a different note, do you realize you need and use words such as "tunnel," "miss" (as in 'I missed the bus'), "change" (as in coins), and "owe"? Well, you don't miss things until they're gone, and by god I missed those words, along with countless others, that I didn't know how to say, or forgot, in French. Tip: apparently the same word "change" can be used in French, although there are better words. Vocab for today: coing = quince. Huh.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Paris Week 1: The Summary

Ok, so I've been somewhat remiss in regards to this blog-- but it's not entirely my fault, we don't have internet access on our computer right now (hence no photos). So, as much as I've intended to give a day-by-day account if at all possible, here's a summary of the past week in the life of my mouth:
Wednesday 3/22
Potato omelette and a beer for lunch when miserable with exhaustion, suitcases in tow. Got to our place, passed out for like 16 hours.
Thursday 3/23
Sandwich rillettes-cornichons from the awesome bakery a block away, a bite of Ryan's brioche a sucre (brioche with pearl sugar-- spurring Ryan to call bakeries The Brioche Store from this point on). Real bad, in fact awful, Chinese takeout from the traiteur Asiatique across the street with a demi-bouteille of Cotes de St-Mont from one of the several wine shops within a stone's throw. I'm pretty convinced Chinese-French is way worse than Chinese-American, if that place was any indication.
Friday 3/24
Lunch, don't remember, but we went back to The Brioche Store (called in fact Boulangerie Marais or something). Intent on counteracting the terrible Chinese food, we went for dinner at a cute little Portuguese homestyle place a few blocks away called O Por do Sol. I had a kir to start, and with the complimentary peanuts for munching discovered that kir+peanuts tastes identical to a PB&J. Who knew? Neither of us could resist the special of cochon de lait grille (grilled suckling pig), and we shared a nice bottle of Duque de Viseu. We were brought huge no-nonsense portions of pork, sauce, homefries, green beans and carrots, with a simple orange slice garnish. The pork was killer. Large hunks of bone-in meat were as tender as if they had been braised all day, but they were in fact totally crusted on the exposed surfaces with black pepper and lightly smoky.
Saturday 3/25
Marche Batignolles (see other post). Lunch, baguette from the bakery, with rillettes, mustard, pear and candied quince yogurt from the spermarket (I suspect our supermarket is a little nicer because this is a nice area, but they have all kinds of awesome stuff-- chestnut yogurt, a special line of Tropicana not-from-concentrate juices like litchi-apple, blood orange, etc, like a dozen kinds of butter, pates and terrines in packages like you see Oscar Mayer in at home... on and on). Dinner, made from market stuff.
Sunday 3/26
Woke up sick, don't know why. Went on a mission for pho, wound up having pretty good and cheap yakitori meal in the 7th I believe. Dinner, bread and goat cheese from Batignolles.
Monday 3/27
Lunch, pretty dumpy tuna sandwich from Pomme de Pain, sort of like France's Subway (not very good, but better). Went to La Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche, which is basically a francophile gourmet's ultimate paradise. An insane amount of super high-quality everything, packed into a huge emporium. There's a smoked salmon and caviar counter; a prosciutto counter with hams in those fancy ham-holders; another Italian specialty counter with other dried meats and yet more prosciutto and fresh ravioli and cheeses; a massive cheese counter; another crazy charcuterie counter with a million sausages both dried and fresh, cooked and uncooked, stuff in aspic, at least a dozen and a half terrines and pates, pates en croute, turnover things with meat stuff, fresh sauerkraut, breaded pigs' feet, pig's feet in vinaigrette, crab bodies that have been crammed with stuffing and then laid out on their backs with gray eyes staring blankly; some produce that I've never seen, some that's nothing special, some that was very nice, baseball-sized heads of cauliflower, white asparagus the size of drumsticks; super fancy pastries and chocolates and candies at a couple different counters; an olive dude at an olive counter; fish dudes at their counter; red meat dudes at their counter; poultry dudes at the volaille counter.... And those are only some of the counters!! And on top of the counters there's normal aisles with who knows how much stuff! And a wine shop are with wine dudes there to advise you! There's as many kinds of butter as you would find of yogurts at home! And as much yogurt as you would find of, I don't know, skim milk!! Did you know Maille has a bunch of crazy mustards like Kiwi-tropical pepper, mango and more? Well, they do, and you can buy them at La Grande Epicerie. I did note, however, that the "Asian" section was pretty crappy.
Somehow we made it out of there with a (fairly) modest purchase. For dinner we had bread with saucisson aux herbes, comte extra, brie de meaux, mustard (no, not one of the crazy ones), pate de campagne, butter and Chateau du Bergey, Cuvee la Cote 2002. And chocolate.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Marché Batignolles

So I meant to get up today at 9:00 to check out the market on rue Batignolles early, but ended up sleeping in until 12:00 as I had woken up at 3:00 and didn't get back to sleep until 8:00. I was worried it would all be over and done with by the time we would arrive, but it was still going quite strong.
This market is the smaller of two organic (biologique) outdoor markets, and consists of maybe 40-50 vendors selling everything from oysters to charcuterie to wild honeys to teeny radishes to Pommeau to goat cheeses of every size and shape and even to a weird nut husk thing that can apparently be used instead of soap for laundry (?). You get the point, there was a lot-- and then there's also various traiteurs (prepared food vendors), from whom we bought a melting yet crisp French potato, onion and cheese (comte?) pancake (think latke), and crepes au confiture.
There was a small throng of French dudes in varying states of drunkeness hanging around the stand from which we bought our crepes, as the vendor also sells Pommeau (a mix of Calvados and apple juice, aged, with about 17% alchohol), cider, Calvados, buckwheat flour and other Normand products. One of the dudes was dressed in a homemade Superman outfit, clearly the most drunk. He ushered me over and within moments I had about 8 very jovial French buddies, and a small plastic cup of the aforementioned Pommeau. Serious stuff, I can see why they were having a pretty good time. I talked with them for a little while, and like everyone here, they guessed I was from Spain (which I take to mean I hopefully have an ambiguous accent). When I said where I was from, one of the guys said something I didn't understand, and then he repeated himself (in English) "ah yes, Minnesota... it is the middle of nowhere, n'est-ce pas?" So, friends, apparently that is our reputation in the world!! And then there was the guy who I guess makes the Pommeau (and I would guess drinks his fair share) who corners everybody into listening to his lenthy songs and poems which I'm pretty sure have to do with making and drinking Pommeau, cider, and possibly other things. His apparent favorite is a Micromachines Man-style piece which uses his business card as a prop, with about three dozen cheesy rhymes something to the effect of "See this apple here? Have no fear! I make my Pommeau all through the year! And because my farmland is kissed by the sun, when you drink my Pommeau, you'll say son-of-a-gun!!" Now imagine that pretty fast, about a minute and a half long-- and of course in French. This is where the smile-and-nod tactic works very, very well.
So, in the end, I walked out of the market with two little goat cheeses (a Picalou and a Saint-Marcellin), some nice starchy potatoes and fresh garlic, some long, skinny raw saucisses aux herbes (herb sausages), and some huge spinach. For dinner we made mashed potatoes, the wieners, and sauteed spinach with garlic. The sausages were actually kind of weird, fairly salty and reminiscent of Chinese ones, only not dry. My guess is that maybe they should be more of a component in a dish, rather than an independant element. The potatoes were good, considering we had only milk, salt and pepper in them-- I just know a ton of butter and maybe some green onions would have made them out of this world. The spinach was the real winner, tender and utterly mineral tasting. France cooking effort number one: not too shabby.

Friday, March 24, 2006


We made it!!! After finishing our week of extreme engorging in New York (many more details on that to come, fear not!), we had a fairly pleasant and hassle-free flight on Air India, replete with a pretty good curry dinner (yet a sketchy over-rosewatered vermicelli pudding). So here we are in Montmartre, nibbling a damn fine baguette from about 50 yards away. And we've even found a place to live with several other young international students, starting May 1st. Looks like everything's comin' up Milhouse.

Details soon to come....

Friday, March 17, 2006

Day 2

We kicked off yesterday with a lengthy walk through the Lower East Side down through Chinatown, Little Italy, and then all the way downtown to Wall Street and accidentally ground zero. Our first stop was at Russ and Daughters ( for amazing salmon and cream cheese bagel sandwiches, rice pudding and a Cel-Ray. I had wild western nova, Ryan went for pastrami style. Sat in the park in total enjoyment. I plan to go back to try more salmon, as well as some their great herring selection, chopped liver and other smoked fish. Huge selection of Jewish candied fruits, halvah etc. also. And then there was the caviar! Not quite in my budget this time around, but maybe I could work in a smear of the caviar cream cheese...
Next, Guss' Pickles, right down the street. Discovered neither of us are fans of half-sours, however, the full-sours and spicy full-sours are great, not to mention far more crisp than any pickle you can find at the supermarket. It's wonderful to be in a city that still sustains specialty producers like R&D and Guss'. I try to imagine a place at home that has buckets out on the sidewalks, selling hundreds, maybe thousands, of pickles, peppers and olives each day.
For dinner we had mediocre stromboli down the street as we were pressed for time. Saw a really cool show at The Stone several blocks away, then stumbled upon The Dumpling Man ( where we stopped to sample. The shimp dumplings were pretty good, but not better than a good chinese place, and the dessert dumplings (pumkin pie filling, raisins, goji berries, topped with honeyed condensed milk) were pretty good too, though I had wanted the green tea flan which they were out of. I must say they have a seriously cute logo.
We got home early, I finished knitting my scarf, and we called it a night.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

La Grande Pomme

Two cancelled flights and one lost (well, for 22 hours) bag later, we eventually made to New York last night. Much needed Red Stripe and tacos awaited us here on the Lower East Side, where we are staying with my friends Maggie and Sergio.
On the flight I somewhat appropriately started reading A Cook's Tour, but had to stop about 20 pages into when the description of a pig slaughter almost made me use the in-flight sick bag.
I started my own cook's tour this morning with a late breakfast at a tiny mexican deli/ cornerstore a few blocks away called Zaragosta with delicious tacos-- one lingua, one lamb barbacoa-- rice and beans and a tamarind juice. The tamale I tasted was great too.
Later we ended up in a little hip 50's style bakery with a ton of cupcakes. I bought a Sour Cream Spice one to save for later, that being now. Bought new clogs, and the punk-ass salesboy told me my old ones are disgusting, to which I answered I like them and think they have character. He said now the trash will like them too. ??
For dinner we went to Rai Rai Ken, a tiny little ramen place two blocks away. It reminded me of Al's Breakfast-- nothing but a little doorway leading to a long skinny counter with stools and the line right behind it. Had great shio ramen with nori, hard boiled egg, fish cake, roast pork, spinach and a big handful of scallions, with a side of pretty good kimchee.

And tomorrow...?

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Welcome all to my Clog. I hope it helps us all stay in touch while also giving you some insight to my time in France. Keep in touch!