Monday, July 31, 2006

Finetisms, the short list

An abbreviated account of antics perpetrated by this blog's favorite zany antagonist... Helene Finet!!!


*dumping water all over the floors and leaving it there... everyday! "It's cleaning!"
*stealing money out of our rooms and bags! Twenty euros from us yesterday, and assorted 1 and 2 euro coins from Cole!
*stealing toilet paper CONSTANTLY, be it from the bathroom, or our hiding places in our rooms (suitcases, empty flowerpots...)!!
*stealing and/or throwing away food! A nectarine from our room yesterday... vanished, without a trace!
*stealing from the neighbors! We saw her take their ladder and then hide it in a weird service shaft!
*telling her 'boyfriend' that she's on Crete and flying to Lebanon by helicopter, therefore he can't return her call!
*cruising AA meetings for dates!
*talking about how she's supposed to find an American to marry her so she can live in the States... just like her daughter! It's their 'plan!'
*bringing home what she claims is a crocodile egg so it can hatch and be a pet!
*showing prospective renters a book which she claims to have authored... as a ghost writer! Ya know, for anonymity!
*loading the dishwasher like, well, a maniac so that nothing gets cleaned!
*dumping food in the sink so it clogs... again and again and again!
*leaving the apartment late at night for a 'conference' and returning 10 minutes later!


Friday, July 28, 2006


Oh barbeque, how thy absence makes my heart grow fonder! And by the way, these aren't BBQ but I hope you bastards in Minnesota will eat here for me: Sea Salt Eatery and Pop's Family Cafe. If I still had a spleen to speak of I would probably tear it out for some good old American food like this right now.

Those of you up to date are well aware of my failure to procure daily food-related entries this week. Yeah, well. I do have much better news, however: I've hustled up a new apartment and even a future roommate for us! The place is super nice with a decent kitchen (by Parisian standards), a pleasant neighborhood, and even hundreds and hundreds of books of English and French literature. Unfortunately it is drastically inconvenient for my commute and I will be losing a barrel-load of money from doubling up on rent between it and Planet Finet for 2 months... you can't win 'em all I guess. The roommate will be an as-yet-unseen Canadian girl who sounds very nice and shares many interests with us.

But returning to barbeque (really, don't all roads lead back to barbeque?)... in the spirit of my previous Breakfast Joint Menu, I now submit my Barbeque Shack Menu-- indeed these are the first in a potential series of menus. The following has been rattling around in my head for many months, as are very well aware ye fellow Aurigans......

All smoked insanely long, of course.
Spare ribs... just salt and pepper or dry-rub
Beef ribs... just salt and pepper
Chicken... dry-rub or extra spicy
Brisket... Flicker style.
Pulled pork sandwich... choose the sauce

Non-smoked Goods...
Spicy fried catfish with real tartar sauce
The Line Cook Basket: fried chicken livers with fries-- Crystal hot sauce a must!
Cornmeal-fried oyster po'boy
Buffalo wings-- done really well. And killer blue cheese sauce.
Good corndogs. I'm serious.

you know, pretty much the standards... thick and sweet; extra spicy; Texas-style vinegar; chipotle-raspberry aioli (ha- JUST KIDDING)

Skin-on mashed potatoes with chicken gravy
Loaded potato salad... extra pickles, eggs, celery
Spicy jojo potatoes
Skin-on fries
Baked beans with Nueske's bacon
Cider braised collard greens
Cornbread (northern style)
Best ever buttermilk biscuits
Blackened succotash
Very soft white buns

Sweet Potato Pie with candied ginger
Pecan tart- like the pie but less devastating
Coconut cream pie
Deep dish apple pie
Very dark chocolate brownie
Seasonal fruit cobbler or crisp

Monday, July 24, 2006

My breakfast joint

If I had a breakfast joint, the menu would surely have things like this...

*Egg-in-the-hole-in-the-bread. House white bread, brioche or pain au levain.
*Buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup. Potential variations: banana-cocoa nib, wild blueberry, white nectarine-pinenut, candied pecan..........?
*Garlicky sauteed kale. With poached eggs, shaved parmesan, truffle oil and lots of cracked pepper
*Chorizo scramble. With queso fresco, lime, homemade flour tortillas and pico de gallo
*Overnight yeasted waffles with real maple syrup or Nutella sauce or house vanilla bean ice cream or combinations?..........
*House granola with tupelo honey, hemp seeds, dried sour cherries and toasted almonds. With organic milk, or house yogurt.
*Smoked fish platter in tribute to Prune in NY. Many delicious garnishes.
*Super fluffy omelette like at Mickey's in St Paul. Possible combos: extremely sharp cheddar and Neuske's bacon; lox, a bit of cream cheese, red onions; house spicy sausage and the house home fries; roasted asparagus and cambozola.....
*House cuban-style black beans with fried eggs, green onions, creme fraiche, house flour tortillas and sriracha (DUDE THIS IS SO GOOD)
*Soft scrambled eggs with toast and hashbrowns
*'Benedict' with roasted asparagus, jambon de pays and the best bearnaise ever, on top of toasted pain au levain. With hashbrowns.
*Corned beef hash with eggs on top. House corned beef. And lots of onions in the hash!
*Waffle iron brioche french toast, dammit!

Sides would include stuff like....

*Home fries with sweet onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme
*Not-too-sweet yeasted cinnamon coffeecake
*Hashbrowns fried in butter
*House spicy sausage
*Nueske's bacon
*Grapefruit salad with mint syrup. Or pineapple? Both?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Un guêpier?

Well, I have decided to enable comments once again. I'm curious about what feedback might be floating around out there, and also about who cares to keep up to date on our exploits.

So, what's on yer minds out there in the ether??

Note: Lelchuks and Parsons, please take it easy ;-)


I have had a tremendous craving for gazpacho lately, which I suppose is derived from the extremely hot weather of the past few weeks and the subsequent disinterest in all hot foods. But then again on of the hottest days we had Korean barbeque (which entailed sitting next to a sweltering butane grill and searing my own bulgogi), and the other day we had great big bowls of steaming hot pho, so maybe that makes me a big liar. However, that's because I also have a really crappy cold with a lung-rattling cough, so I've been trying to punish the virus into submission with additional heat. I think it's working..?
But back to gazpacho. Man, that stuff is good. I finally realized my goal yesterday... peel, seed and chop tomatoes; microplane garlic; dice red pepper and cucumber; mince a bit of onion; mix it all up with some salt, a bit of sugar, red wine vinegar and a bit of balsamic to vaguely compensate for the very regrettable fact I have no nice sherry vinegar-- well, any sherry vinegar, period. I didn't add bread because I personally don't really roll like that, not for gazpacho. And we're out of olive oil, but it would be so much better with it, so I think I'll have to to get some. And there you have it. It's awful good, but I could definitely also go for some Gazpacho Fitzgerald (I know, only a couple of you get that reference).
We also tried to go to a new (to us) market, but upon arrival at 1:00 sharp it was almost entirely broken down, which is quite unusual, especially as it was a fairly decent-sized one. Managed to quick snatch up some gazpacho fixins and haggle 3 melons for 5 euros-- heh heh heh. It's too bad it was done with, especially as I had heard one woman sells the normally quite rare fresh (which is to say unaged) camembert, which is twice the height of the normal stuff and eaten like many other fresh cheeses: either sweetened with sugar or honey, or savory with chopped herbs and cracked pepper.

In other news, we saw Life Aquatic last night at La Villette, which I liked much, much more than the first time I saw it. Unfortunately they started the movie too late, or maybe the problem was that they showed a short film first, so afterwards we missed the last metro-- along with probably several hundred -or more- other people. We took a meandering trek through the upper 19eme to Belleville, where we finally caught the Noctilien. All in all, it took us about two hours to get back.

Tonight we have an appointment to go check out this pretty cool-sounding place to live by Montparnasse. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Joyeux anniversaire, moi!

Well, I am one day older and have completed my 23rd trip around the sun! Above is photo I totally stole from some other guy's blog. This is what you find when image googling "birthday cake eiffel tower." It was a very low-key day. Slept in quite late, hung around, walked near Trocadero and hung around and read, ate pho with a couple of my classmates in the 13eme, and saw a Mongolian film at La Villette as part of the Cinema en Plein Air festival.

I have lately realized that my narrative has veered off course from that of a cook in Paris to one of "ahhh, I'm freaking out about the psycho landlady, oh nooooooooo, my brain is seeping with self-pityyyyyyy," and frankly, the latter doesn't conjoin neatly with the word blog (this is my Clog, right? Wow, I must be like the wittiest damn person on the planet!). No, but really, where did all the love go? And by love I can only mean food. I'm sorry I've given you almost no "dinners lately" or reports on new outdoor markets, or shoddy glare-obscured shots from patisserie displays. Am I growing jaded to Paris? I don't think so, but I guess I am slowing down. I'm acclimated to being here, which is a polite way of saying I'm lazy. So I hereby set forth a goal for myself this week: I will post something about food every day, and take a photo for each day which I'll post later because it's easier that way.

We'll see if I can bring back the love a little bit...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ces choses me manquent

Today I present a miscellaneous array of things I miss from home. Not included are the obvious things, such as friends and family.

*Golooney's subs on Sunday morning
*The Weinery, especially the fries & Mr Sunshine dog
*Vietnamese food on Nicollet! How can the Vietnamese food here be inferior given the history of colonisation?! Dude, for real.
*Lake Harriet
*Chinese food! It SUCKS here!
*Minneapolis summer, even as hot and buggy as it is
*Cinema Revolution
*bluegrass at Dulono's
*my bike!!
*BBQ, both the availability thereof and the activity
*breaking down the kitchen to Styxx's Greatest Hits
*Loring Park
*a big freezer
*my books
*bulk food (especially spices) at the co-ops
*big ol' American breakfast!! Bacon! Eggs! Freakin' hashbrowns, dammit!
*a bed that's actually comfortable
*trashy, sloppy American pizza
*BURGERS! Yes, Ryan and I miss burgers to a very great extent, despite the fact we eat them quite rarely at home. Go figure.
*messing around in my kitchen making random stuff (tamales, bagels, curry, sticky rice, who-knows-what)

Ryan misses pancakes probably most of all. Luckily we can remedy that in France without too much effort.

As for things I anticipate missing about Paris...

*the outdoor markets!!!!!!!! I will be truly, truly sad to leave behind the markets of Paris. The traiteurs, bouchers, charcutiers, fromagers, maraichers......
*the cheese. To be honest, we haven't explored as wide a range as you might think, but cheese is so pervasive and cheap that we eat it all the time. We actually buy the ghetto cheap cheese most of the time, which is pretty funny (perhaps shameful?) given all the better options.
*the monuments and aesthetic that remind you "hey, this is Paris! I LIVE here!"
*THE BREAD! It will be sad to leave the bread-valuing atmosphere of France (well, Europe, really).
*speaking French. I really hope I can maintain (and maybe, maybe even improve) my current level of fluency after I leave.
*the generally more food-valuing attitude. Everybody loves to eat here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006



So, I had before now neglected to note my (temporary) love for soccer. But I am now coming out of the closet, as a blissfully happy supporter of Italy-- who has convieniently won the World Cup, just moments ago. We're heading to the Champs Elysees right now to celebrate, hopefully we make it back alive.......

EDIT: So, last night I was pretty enthusiastic, huh? Well, I'm still glad Italy won, but I retract my earlier statements professing love, or coming out of closets, or blissfully happy or any of that. We walked to Trocadero, where not much was going on. Ryan and I bailed on Champs Elysees and went back home instead. It was just a bunch of sad, drunk Frenchies and riot cops anyways.

Friday, July 07, 2006

What did we ever do to deserve this???

The situation here just sucks.

We saw a lawyer at the mairie Friday who confirmed our suspicions that A) we signed an illegal contract (it is valid for only 3 months, but Finet had wrote in 5) and B) it would be both stressful and potentially fruitless to try and take actions to recuperate our money.
Finet's daughter is staying here for the time being, who initially appeared to be benign enough but then showed herself to be a horrific beast-monster of biblical proportions. From what (rather heated) conversations I've overheard between her and her mom, we've reached the conclusion that Evil Daughter is just utterly money-hungry and selfish-- it seems clear that she needs the cash from renting this apartment to pay for her stupid wedding. This beastly nature was revealed to me at an impressive and unnerving level after I was flat-out caught warning a prospective future renter to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HERE, FAST. It turns out that I actually shot myself in the foot in more ways than one with that stunt: the girl was representing a language school that (purportedly) would have rented out ALL the rooms, thereby enabling us to get reimbursed and thusly freed. As much as that sucks that I ruined our way out, I do feel that I did the morally right thing in warning her... and I screwed Finet and Little Beast over bigtime in terms of money! That's rewarding to me.
But now, through my gratuitous eavesdropping I have discovered that big and little Finet are both plotting against me. I do not mean this in a joking or paranoid sense. Phone calls have been made, to whom I have no idea, I believe a visit to a lawyer has been made but I'm not positive, some person is supposed to come on Monday (but to what end, again I don't know). I AM FREAKED OUT AND STRESSED AS HELL. They have NOTHING on me or anyone else living here for that matter, but I am still totally panicked, as I think most people would be.

We are getting the HELL out of here as soon as possible... we've rented an apartment in the 11th for the week that Andrew and Carolyn will be here, during which we'll leave our stuff here, I guess. After that there is a brief limbo period before we leave to travel that remains to be dealt with, during part of which I would like to do a stage in the bread bakery at Lenotre. However this necessitates staying in the motel next door to the school as the bakery shifts start at 3AM. I feel like everything is really, really complicated at the moment. And, while all of this is happening, I am now trying to find some poor soul to taking over the last 2 months of our contract so I don't have to eat the enormous cost of that embarassingly and foolishly prepaid rent. Does this make me a hell-bound hypocrite?? Maybe so. In fact I might well not have the heart to go through with it. I can't help but feel -and HATE- that Finet is winning by succeeding in chasing us from what is supposed to be our home (and quite possibly getting a load of my money in the same blow). However, although we may be losing this battle, Karl pointed out the very good fact that in helping the neighbors with evidence we might enable them to eventually put an end once and for all to this tyranny. By god I really do hope so.