September 22, 2011

charcuterie and fromage and vin...Oh My!

I don't know what Bernie's favorite meals were in Paris, but mine were the simple ones we had in the apartment - charcuterie, fromage, bread and wine from the local shops. It was our very first meal in Paris at a random cafe we happened upon after browsing the menu at a local restaurant recommended in Goop and deciding it wasn't for us. See below, heaven on a cutting board and bistro table is what that is!
The cheese, OMGeeeee. I will search out the small round of gooey goat cheese we had for the rest of my life and will breathe a sigh of relief if I find it state side. The same cute young lady helped us pick out the best French cheeses. I didn't know goat cheese could be so creamy or Brie so stinky. I thought I knew a lot about cheese, I was wrong. Who can think about being vegan when there is beauty like this in the world. (that's not even a question, it's a statement!)
The salami "only in France!" was to die for. But the jambon (ham)…the Italian jambon was better according to the young guy that helped us each day. He was right of course. I was in Anthro today and giggled when I saw a French copy of Green eggs and Ham….Oeufs Vert et Jambon. I can read French!
It was like taking a step back in time and dinner never tasted so good. Funny but I bought the same jar of cornichons (pickles) in Paris that we eat at home but I swear they save the biggest cornichons for France. As for wine we started with a few bottles of Bordeaux and some Crozes-Hermitage before settling in on a relatively inexpensive Chateauneuf du Pape.
Le Fromages (below): the big cheese on the top of the pic stunk up the apartment (Coulommiers). The little round on the left was the best cheese of my life (Pélardon). The oval on the right was thyme infused and was a crowd favorite (Brassie au thym). The pyramid is the famous Valençay - an ash covered goat cheese from the Loire Valley. We've had it before and it tastes so much better than it looks.
seriously, shut the eff up with this cheese, look at that pe'lardon! perfect ooze!
Everyone has asked me what my favorite part of Paris was expecting me to say the Louvre (we didn't go) or Notre-Dame (words can't describe), but my favorite part was really the little things like sitting outside at a café drinking a coffee and watching the world walk buy….albeit a stylish world where everyone is wearing skinny jeans and great shoes.

September 19, 2011

Four Americans in Paris

Our good friends Danielle and Boyd spent a couple days with us in Paris. We all went to college together at Michigan Tech and most of us have known each other 20 years! gasp! Boyd is the relative newbie to the group, we've only known him 15 or so. Although we planned our trip to France together we realized early on that we wanted two completely different vacations: Bernie and I stayed put in Paris while our friends started in Amsterdam and then came to Paris for a few days before hitting French wine country and ending up in Monaco and Nice. I most definitely want to hit those places someday! This worked out great because we all got the vacation we wanted AND got to spend time together in France. I could have used another day with them but otherwise it was perfect. Looking at that first picture it kind of looks like we're still in college.
Notre Dame
drinks in St-Germain-des-Prés
 breakfast in the Marais
drinks at les Ombres
dinner at buddha bar
This vacation was great for people, bad for dogs…Cooper had his emergency surgery and one of Danielle and Boyd's pugs ran away. For like a week. He's home safe and sound now and Cooper seems no worse for wear. Happy Endings.

September 17, 2011

Our New Paintings!

A little break from all the Paris pictures…

So exciting!!! The big reveal!!! Here are our two new paintings from Michelle Armas for the parlor and guest bedroom. Since these paintings were commissions, here is a little insight into how it all went down. The whole process was exciting and easy breezy. If you want to commission a piece, check out the post So You Want to Commission a Painting on Michelle's blog and also this latest post because she has made a few changes to her policies.

The 3' x 4' painting for our parlor had one revision. With the First Draft, for lack of a better term, my first reaction was - I love it! The colors were perfect. But. But there was a face staring at me in the upper right that reminded me of Wilson from Castaway. I was so conflicted because how do you ask an artist to change their vision? But the more I looked at it the more I knew my crazy brain would zone in on that face every time I looked at it so I asked Michelle if she would change it, and maybe add a little more turquoise if the mood struck. She was completely understanding and totally open to changes. 

Parlor Painting First Draft
 Final Painting - no more Wilson - perfect!!!!
Just as we were finishing up the parlor painting, I found myself being so drawn to a sold painting called Float Away so I contacted Michelle about a second painting for the guest bedroom that doubles as my dressing room. The First Draft of this 30" x 30" painting was a little cooler than I was looking for so Michelle put that one up for sale and painted an entirely new painting. No changes - it was perfect! I love the blues and pinks and grays and well….everything!

 First Draft - looking for more warmth, depth
My new painting - perfect!

Michelle Armas is an Atlanta artist that has been featured on a lot of great sites recently

(where I first learned of Michelle - thanks MFAMB!)

S&L had a few of Michelle's paintings for sale in their Bazaar last month
I hope you've enjoyed Michelle's work as much as I have
Next up - I'll post some pictures once the paintings are up on the walls
Stay tuned…they should be arriving in less than a week!!!

September 16, 2011

les Bouquinistes

Based on a recommendation from Marija, Bernie and I went to dinner at one of Guy Savoy's restaurants when we were in Paris - Les Bouquinistes. Since I wasn't aware of the unofficial rule that Parisians wouldn't be caught dead eating out before 9pm our reservation was a little early and the restaurant was fairly quiet. The service was great and the food was even better. I literally made yummmmm noises with every bite as my eyes rolled back in my head. We drank incredible red wine that was on special by the glass.
cold cream of sweet peas (Bernie) and stew of spring veggies with chorizo (moi, pictured)
Roasted cod fish, braised leeks, sautéed chanterelles mushrooms mussels (monsieur)
Aiguillettes of beef, smoked betteroots and mashed potatoes (madame)
I started eating before I remembered to take a picture
it was the best bernaise sauce I've ever had in my life
this chocolate yummy was all mine
 Bernie had a foursome of mini desserts with coffee
what we ordered en français
Pont Neuf
 all lamp posts should be so beautiful
a meal to remember, so good!
Les Bouquinistes est très bon! Merci!

September 14, 2011

le Marais

Thanks to a suggestion by Shaboom when I was in Paris in January, Bernie and I rented an apartment while we were in Paris. Another friend had just stayed in the Marais in the 3rd arrondissement, and I'm all for taking a referral. We ended up staying in two apartments because everything had booked up for our stay. The first apartment was incredible, the second was okay, but still pretty incredible by Paris standards. We loved being right in the middle of a neighborhood away from all those pesky tourists. ahem. 

Our apartment was just a short walk to le Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest market in Paris. It dates back to 1615 and is called the Market of the Red Children because of the red uniforms worn at the nearby orphanage. Most days we went to a café for breakfast or lunch and then went to all the wonderful little shops around the market. I bought bread, cheese, charcuterie and wine most days in case we wanted to have dinner or a snack in the apartment. The cheese and the salami, OMG so good. Eating in has never tasted so good.
we spent most mornings at La Pierre
overlooking the Square du Temple
drinking café creme
random wall "art", how does one say "WTF?" in French?
Everyone was so friendly. I spoke enough French to get by and when they say they speak "a little" English it is way more than a little. The only grief I got was at the patisserie when I changed my order from 2 to 4 pain au chocolats and then got flustered and reverted to Spanish - "quatro!" Fail. Mostly I didn't even try to speak any English unless I had to ask a question. I must say I loved the politeness and respectfulness of it all.


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