Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday foto - Bargain hunting in Paris

Vide greniers are the perfect events at which to indulge in the thrill of getting a bargain, of hunting for that vintage find, or even just of browsing other peoples' junk (and spotting the treasure!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thurday Food for Thought -Take me to Le BAL

We love discovering new places and when everyone is buzzing about it, we figure we made a right choice is thinking about sharing our thoughts with you as well. Yetunde, takes you to Le Bal an Anglo-style museum cafe.

Upon reading the review from le Fooding, I decided to take a work colleague to lunch at Le BAL the small museum cafe that is the brain child of a French-Bristish duo who have honed their skills at verious venues including the Rose Bakery in Paris & St John's Restaurant in London.

We also wanted to visit the exhibit the museum is currently showcasing before lunch but the 4 euro/person entrance fee (quite reasonable) which we didn't have in cash and which they didn't accept by card (due to the 10 euro minimum for charge cards), prevented us from doing so this time. Next time we'll make sure to have change.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Tidbit: The French Croissant

The origins of the croissant can be traced back to Austria:

"During the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683, the Viennese, known for their excellent bakeries, had to ration flour; they made small bread rolls shaped like the crescent moon symbol of the Ottoman empire. Most people think of these familiar pastries - croissants - as typically French."1

"The ancestor of the croissant is the Austrian ‘Kipfel’, a crescent shaped pastry filled with nuts and dried fruit. The adaptation of the kipfel to the French croissant can be dated back to 1839 when an Austrian artillery officer, August Zang opened a Viennese bakery in Paris. The bakery with its Viennese pastries was a big success and with this, the French bakers adapted the recipes of the kipfel and the other Viennese pastries (hence the term « Viennoisserie »). The French named their version of the kipfel (which was a lot plainer), croissant (French for crescent)."2

Top Tip
• For a savoury version : sprinkle some grated cheese on the top before baking.
• Or a less classic croissant : try sprinkling flaked almonds, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.


450g/ 1 lb/ 3 3⁄4 cups plain flour (King Arthur or Heckers for the US)
1 1/2 tsp salt
70g/ 2 1/2 fl. oz/ 1 1/2 cups sugar
340g/ 12 fl. Oz/ 1 1/2 cups whole milk
28g/ 1 oz fresh yeast (or 1/2 oz of dried yeast)
- - -
280g/ 10 oz/ 3/4 stick
42g/ 1 1/2 oz/ 5 1/2 tbsp
cold butter
plain flour

1 egg (for egg-wash)

Combine flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix well. Heat milk to 100F/37°c, add the yeast - wait 5 minutes then whisk together until completely dissolved. Pour the milk into the flour/sugar mixture and combine with a wooden spoon. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 8hrs (or overnight).
8 hours Later ( when dough is ready) Pound butter into thin layers then roll the chilled dough into a rectangle. Distribute butter over two thirds of the rectangle, fold like a letter rotate the dough by 90 degrees, then pound and roll into a rectangle again. This time fold like a book twice. Wrap in plastic and rest in the fridge 8hrs or overnight.
Preheat the oven 400F/200°c. Roll out the dough into two rectangles, 1/6 inch thick. Cut into triangles. Cut a little slit in the top of the triangle. Use a small piece of scrap dough, and place it in the middle of the triangle. Now gently pull the tip of the triangle while rolling the other side towards the tip. Put them on a baking sheet and allow rise for 30 minutes or until they’ve puffed up. Brush each croissant with egg wash and put into the oven for 15 minutes or until nicely risen and golden brown.

Facts: 1 Sweet and Sour Spectator
Recipe & facts: 2 Cook'n With Class where you can learn to make your own croissants as part of their baking class. Photo: Yetunde Oshodi

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tea at La Mosquée de Paris

A trip to the Morocco without ever leaving Paris? Yes, it's possible, right in the heart of the Latin Quarter. The other day I was off from work (rare but possible), and went off with my friend Preston to explore Paris to see things I have yet to see. Our journey took us into the 5th to the Mosquée de Paris also known as "La Grande Mosquée".  The Mosque is a place of worship, learning, for a great hammam, afternoon tea and restauration - I'm told they are have the best couscous in Paris. 
A bit of history on the mosque:

La Grande Mosquée is the first mosque to have been built in France and its construction which started after the 1st world war was intended to be a homage to the 70 000 Muslim soldiers who died for France. The constructions was financed by the French government. It is neighbor to the Jardins des Plantes. 

The mosque is open to women as well as men and is the mother mosque for all the mosques in France. 
Though it has a minaret, a call to worship is not authorized. The minaret was fashioned after the mosquée el-Qaraouiyyîn in Fez, Morocco.

I had wanted to visit the inner patio but as it was Friday access was limited to the restaurant area which is definitely worth taking a peak at even if you just come for tea. 

It was a pleasant place to have a traditional cup of mint tea as you would and to enjoy a few pastries. It really did feel like a trip out of France. You are served drinks at the table but need to go inside to pick up your choice of pastries which are all at the same price.  

We enjoyed the reposing surroundings sitting under a fig tree - a fig grows in Paris.

La Mosquée de Paris:
39 rue Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire
Paris 75005

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sipping on Saturdays: Le 6 Bis Bar à Vin

Yetunde checks out a new wine bar in the 18th while the paint is still fresh on the walls. Looks like a great place to pop in on a late afternoon and stay into the night.

At first I was a little sad to see that the brasserie Le Petit Caboulet was being torn down at Place Jacques Froment and I was curious to see what was going to replace it. Finally about a week ago, a shiny new bar à vin opened up called Le 6 Bis.

Not yet having the time to go try it out but knowing I would have to, I asked guests I checked in at our Cozy Carpeaux apartment to test it out and let me know what they thought of it as it is just down the street from the apartment. I finally cracked and decided to go there for myself, first for lunch (more on that soon), and then for drinks with a few friends.

The area around Place Jacques Froment is primarily residential with some beautiful French architecture that's worth checking out. The fire station, and the Square Carpeaux are just down the street and the area is quite calm so a funky wine bar is a welcoming sight.

We enjoyed a nice bottle of Brouilly Chateau des Tours (or two), sitting at a high table near the open veranda windows just chatting and watching the passersby. It was a delightful evening. Not wishing to just drink, we did order a few of the entrées to sample and the small cheese plate - All were good. There was a vegetarian in our party and he pointed out that there were not many strictly vegetarian offerings besides in the appetizers.

Definitely coming back again to chill out at this new neighborhood favorite.

Le 6 Bis (Bar a Vin, Bistrot)
6 bis Place Jacques Froment
Paris 75018
Metro: Guy-Moquet (line 13), Lamarck-Caulaincourt (line 12)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday foto - Le Parc de Sceaux, a perfect picnic spot

This week Yetunde takes us to the Parc de Sceaux for a lovely Parisian picnic!

The Parc de Sceaux is a nice relaxing garden within easy reach of Paris where you can enjoy a lovely picnic amongst friends and family. It truly symbolizes the formal garden style of the 17th century and provides and nice day trip outside of the city.

Means of access from Paris :
- RER B to Parc de Sceaux, Bourg-la-Reine, Sceaux or Croix de Berny stations
- Bus : lines 397, 192, 197

We have blogged about parks and gardens including, the best spots for picnics, le parc des Buttes Chaumont, le Parc de La Villette and the Promenade Plantée.

Go Paris is talking about top picnic spots in Paris.

The Guardian has a good article on the best spots to enjoy a Parisian picnic and some tips for filling the picnic basket!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday food for thought: Al Taglio, a pizzeria with a difference

Elinor's writing about Al Taglio and making all of us hungry. It's like pizza in Roma - Pizza by weight.
Al Taglio is a pizzeria with a fun selling point: it serves up huge rectangular pizzas and sells them cut up into smaller slices priced by weight so that you can try lots of different types. It is a really fun restauruant to go to with friends or family and is perfect for those who, like me, enjoy trying out a little bit of everyone else's food!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Tidits: Opening up the French Open: Roland-Garros!

May 17th is just around the corner and that means two action packed weeks of tennis from the top players in the world. The French Open, which is held in Roland-Garros every year, is one of the most important dates in the calendar year for tennis fans throughout the world! Over 400,000 dedicated sports fanatics are going to flood Paris in hopes of catching a glimpse of the top tennis players in the world. The tournament has seen the rise and fall of some of our favorite tennis stars throughout the years and this year promises to be no different! I am sure there will be some shocking outcomes with several seeds being knocked out in the early rounds. But for today we are going to talk about some of the history, which Roland Garros holds, and leave the tournament analysis for another day!

Center Court

Upon entering Roland Garros it is essential for one to be aware of the history of the " Four Musketeers", these four men were the dream team of tennis as they dominated the men's tennis circuit in the late 1920's. The team consisted of Jean Borotra, René Lacoste, Henri Cochet, and Jacques Brugnon. Each member of the team had their own memorable characteristics such as Borotra, also known as the "Bounding Basque from Biarritz". Who was never seen without his signature blue beret. Lacoste, also known as "the Crocodile," designed the first tennis shirts, which can be recognized with his signature trademark, the crocodile. "Toto" Brugnon the oldest of the four, while not as successful in the singles arena, his skillful net abilities resulted in many doubles accomplishments, such as an Austrailian, four Wimbledon and five French doubles championships. Finally Henri 'The Ballboy of Lyons" Cochet is often regarded as the greatest French tennis player of all times, very distinguishable at his small stature of 5'6'' he used his quick pace and masterful net skills to defeat his taller competitors. He was ranked as world number one from 1928-1931.

In 1927 the teams hard work and dedication finally paid off as they claimed victory from the Americans in the Davis Cup, this well earned victory resulted in the birth of the 'dream team" and also in the construction of Roland Garros as the winning team get the honor of hosting the tournament the following year. Although it was the teams first such win, it was certainly not to be their last!

In 1928 the four men were given the great privilege of having the Men's Singles trophy for the French Open tournament named after them 'Coupe des Mousquetaires" (Cup of the Musketeers), as they were seen as inspirational leaders for French tennis. One can now observe these four tennis heroes at Place des Mousquétaires located beside Center Court!

If you are an avid tennis fan like myself I would advise a trip to Roland-Garros before all the madness of May, the museum is beautiful and full of interestin
g artifacts, paintings and sculptures. While the tour brings you into the locker rooms and allows you to step onto the famous center court and reenact some of your favorite French Open moments!

For More information on the French Open, visit the Roland Garos website
French Open is on from the 17th May - 5 June 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

La Ville Fertile - The jungle invades Paris!

'La Ville Fertile' is a new exhibition at the Palais de Chaillot, the museum of architecture located at Trocadéro. I had written a brief Facebook note about the exhibit as I had seen posters all over the metro for it and was intrigued, so off I went to check it out.

The exhibition focuses on the challenges of integrating nature into our expanding cities. It starts with a history of the garden, from Persian times through the renaissance up to the present day, and shows how the 'ideal' city has always included one or more green spaces. One of the examples from the present day that was familiar to me was the Parc de la Villette. This part of the exhibition is in French but the main part later is in English as well.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sipping on Saturdays: Your local neighborhood bar La Cave Cafe 134

I have walked past, driven past, and rushed past this little hot spot in the 18th many many times. The place always looked packed with people in the know as you wouldn't necessarily find yourself strolling by here if you were out visiting Montmartre. This is the lower Montmartre area, an area that the locals are keeping to themselves . . . oops not for long. After all the New York Times did say that La Table d'Eugene is worth taking a metro ride to get to and that is also lower Montmartre. So maybe you might just find yourself at number 134 rue Marcardet in the 18th at this hip, inexpensive wine bar specializing in organic wines. The bar is open till 2 am and they serve food till 11/11:30 PM. Just follow the crowd in and enjoy the local vibe and interesting decor. I'm glad I finally popped in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thursday food for thought - Brunch at Kube

Yetunde set me a pretty cool assignment the other week: "On Sunday, go to Kube and have brunch." First step, make a reservation! This is a must, as the brunch tables fill up quickly. So I called and reserved and the next thing I knew my phone beeped and told me I had a message from Kube, confirming my reservation. This set the tone for the very modern feel of the hotel. I had heard of Kube before because I had read about the ice bar located within the hotel. It's a room entirely composed of ice - even the glasses are made of ice - which serves as a vodka tasting bar. Half an hour in the ice bar costs 38 euros (with rental of ski clothes included in the price…although the vodka should help a little). I would love to try this out in summer, it must be such a refreshing treat. Sunday was more about eating A LOT and not so much about vodka shots, and a lot I certainly did eat!

Wanderings Wednesdays- Jim Morrisons Grave

Since I have been in Paris I have never heard so many good things about a graveyard in my life, so while out for a stroll with one of my friends (who is a HUGE Doors fan!) we decided to take a visit to the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery and pay respects to her idol Jim Morrison.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bio or B.S.

As you are strolling through the supermarket aisles or shopping at the many outdoor markets offered in France, you will no doubt come face to face with a product that is considered and marked as "Bio". Bio, short for "biologique", is the French word for organic.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sipping on Saturdays - Blue Cocktail Blues

My friends would no doubt tell you that I do like a good cocktail - in moderation of course! I even have a bartending certificate from my New York days, which I admit I never used. The 250+ recipes I had to memorize have long since faded in my mind but every once in a while besides making up stuff myself from time to time, I come across a cocktail that I really really like.

I thought maybe today for sipping on Saturday and as the sun is shining, I could share with a cocktail I discovered a few years back that we found in Madame le Figaro, the Electric Cucumber. This is a cocktail coming from the lovely Café Séraphin in the 11th. The color is sapphire blue and it is delicious & surprisingly refreshing - just don't have too many!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Fotos - The street art of Paris: before and after!

Wandering along the canal Saint Martin on a sunny day a few weeks after the fantastic tour I went on, I noticed one of the walls in the area had a brightly coloured new addition. I wonder how long it will last? The sunshine and blue sky help make the second photo my firm favourite.
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