the moveable feasts

Another cake, because why not (plums and cinnamon and honey)

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photo 4 (1)

Contrary to popular belief, cake is actually really good for you. I won’t go into the details of why because you know it’s all things like fat and sugar and vitamins and calories, blah blah blah—what a bore!—so I’ll just skip straight to the part of how nice it is to have something like this around.

This recipe comes from Nigel Slater, found first on Orangette (and later seen on Lottie & Doof). Nigel calls it a “pudding cake of plums, cinnamon and honey,” which sounds like a pleasant thing and turns out it tastes like a very pleasant thing, too. Dark and sweet and tart all at once—it seems to fit this exact moment when the seasons are changing and it’s both summer and fall. Make it on a day when the temperature takes a dip, when turning on your oven doesn’t sound like a death wish. Then enjoy a slice of the cake the next day (it gets better as the days go by), for breakfast, tea-time, or dessert, even if the weather momentarily takes a step back to feel like summer again. It tastes good in all weather, and it’s also one of those cakes (quite like the zucchini one I just posted) that tastes good any time of day.

photo (1) plums in a pudding cake

It was one of many recipes that I started bookmarking because they featured plums. Plums are something I’ve spent most of my life avoiding, believe it or not. The backyard of my childhood home has all different kinds of fruit trees, two of which contained plums. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? No. The production of extra-juicy yellow and red-skinned plums seemed to never stop—we’d have bags upon bags full of them and there was always over-ripened, sickly-sweet splattered plums littered like hidden mines underneath the trees. The smell was SICK and sick like in not a good way, and by the way, have you ever stepped barefoot onto an over-ripe once-yellow-but-now-brownish plum as you’re trying to walk across the lawn? Yeah, as I said, SICK.

So yeah, plums were never, ever something I ate willingly. But then I moved to Paris for a year and became civilized and ate properly and now all my food tastes have changed (what a cliche!!) but really—after eating handfuls of les mirabelles following meals in the summer and early fall, they got to me. My favorite way to eat them is probably still as a sweet treat following a meal, but when you have as many as my family does, it’s a good idea to figure out how to pack them into as many different forms as possible (next up: jam). So far, this form of them, jam-packed into a batter of spices and dark honey, is a favorite. It works well with the red-skinned plums that are sweet and juicy but still tart. Slice ‘em thin and pack as many as you can into the cake.

One Year Ago: Cold Chocolate Snacking Cake
Two Years Ago: Chicken Liver Pate
Three Years Ago: Dried Cherry-Walnut Cookies

Nigel Slater’s Pudding Cake of Plums, Cinnamon & Honey
From Tender: Volume II, via Orangette

For some reason I like my cakes in circular form and the only 9-inch cake pan in my possession had pretty short sides. So I filled it up 3/4 the way with batter—which rose up just short of maybe 1-centimeter under the top once I dropped in the plum slices—which left me with a little leftover batter. I kind of like how it puffed up around the top of the pan and got this addicting chewy crust, but I think for all intents and purposes, it’s probably just smartest to get a hold of a correctly sized pan. 

260 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 slightly heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 slightly heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pinches salt
200 grams (2/3 cup) golden syrup
2 tablespoons honey
125 grams (9 tablespoons) butter
125 grams (3/4 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
240 ml (1 cup) milk
350 grams (5ish) ripe red plums, pitted and sliced into 1-inch-ish segments

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or 350 degrees F. Butter an 8- or 9-inch baking dish (one preferably with sides that are at least a couple inches tall), and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a small saucepan, melt the golden syrup, honey, and butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has completely melted. Stir in the brown sugar until it’s a pretty homogeneous, molten-looking mixture. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow to cool for a minute or two.

In the meantime, combine the eggs and milk together in a medium bowl; whisk to mix.

Pour the golden syrup mixture over the flour mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick. Add in the egg-milk mixture, and continue to stir—casting away any doubts you may have about how weird and unyielding the batter looks initially—until the batter is combined, without any traces of flour. It’ll be a fairly loose and liquidy-looking batter.

Pour into the prepared pan and arrange the plums on top—the more you can squidge next to each other, the better. Don’t worry about pushing them into the batter—most of em will sink on their own as the cake bakes. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, until the top gets a golden brown but it still looks under-cooked; then loosely place a piece of foil over the top and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more. At this point, the cake will look almost set, but still a bit soft in the middle. Remove the foil, turn off the oven, and let the cake rest in there for 15 more minutes. (If you’re keeping up, by the end the cake will have been in the oven for a total of 60-65 minutes.) Remove and transfer to a rack to cool. Best eaten at room temperature once completely cool. It gets better as the days go on.

BeFunky

Written by Amy

September 8, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Cakes

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Zucchini Cake (a good one, with spices and olive oil and a lemon glaze)

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photo 1

My main motivations for making this post:

1. I’m sitting in a cool coffeeshop in a gentrification-in-process neighborhood in Seattle and, you know, there’s no better space to inspire a non-active blogger to get back in the game.

2. It’s good to keep busy, especially in times of seemingly endless drawls of doing nothing.

3. My mom wants this recipe, and what’s a blog if not an appreciative gesture to one’s most faithful and consistent reader?

3. If I keep this recipe hidden from this blog for too much longer, the opportunity window of it still being presented during its appropriate season will firmly shut. And, really, that’d be a shame because this is a great cake to have.

Zucchini cake (and/or bread, whatever you want to call it) is one of those things that’s not very well-loved in this world, I think. For some reason it doesn’t have the charm of being resourceful like banana bread, nor does it have the attraction of being an all-out decadent cake that we choose to indulge in every so often.

I’m really not out to try and change this—I don’t care for food trends and I have no objections to however it is you want to fill your daily caloric intake. But, if by some chance you have some zucchini lying around and you want some sweet treat to keep around the house and you have at some point in your life thought “man, zucchini cake is one of those things I just don’t get but I am sure I could appreciate it if only the right recipe were to come around,” than I have just the thing for you!

But really, it’s a great cake. I posted about it back in the early days of this blog (typical rambly writing and crummy photos abound) but it seems like an okay thing to re-post. I’ve made it twice since being back in the States and each time slices get shaved off at regular, quick intervals by any and every family member until there’s nothing left but crumbs on the plate. We eat it for breakfast, as an afternoon treat, or after dinner. It’s one of those types of cakes.

It is my favorite zucchini bread/cake recipe, and it’s one that has turned both of my parents into first-time fans. It’s got a solid, moist crumb, a fruitiness in it from the olive oil, and a combination of spices that at first seem a bit inappropriate (ginger and nutmeg in the summer, I mean c’mon it’s a bit out of line) but that actually end up working out really well. Add that all up, along with the toasted walnuts and arguably the biggest selling point of the cake to the common-zucchini-cake-cynic—the crunchy, tart lemon glaze—and there’s not a single thing about this recipe that I’d mess with.

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One Year Ago: American Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two Years Ago: Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Stuffed Plantain Dumplings

Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze
From Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano

260 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 eggs
350 grams (1 3/4 cups) cups sugar
250 ml (1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
135 grams (1 cup) walnuts, toasted, chopped
300 grams (2 1/2 cups) finely grated zucchini (about two small)

60ml (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
140 grams (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
65 grams (1/3) granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease a 10-inch bundt pan with butter and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs, sugar, and olive oil on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides, then mix in the vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients all at once, and beat to mix together on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides as needed. Stir in the chopped nuts and zucchini until incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the stop, and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Once the cake comes out of the oven, allow to cool in its pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. While it’s cooling, prepare the glaze of the cake by whisking together the lemon juice and the granulated and powdered sugars. Brush the glaze over the top of the cake using a pastry brush to cover the entire top surface of the cake. Use all of the glaze; as the cake cools, it will adhere well. Allow the cake to cool and serve.

photo 4

(What was left the morning after.)

Written by Amy

September 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Cakes

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A bossy, unconventional, probably way too wordy guide to paris

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my paris

I know in my last post about London I said how nice it was to leave Paris and how this city actually really didn’t feel like home, etc, etc, but guys, I WAS WRONG. Thing is, my time here is really running out and the closer and closer I get to leaving the more attached to Paris I feel.

I realize that Paris is one of the most romanticized and lusted after cities in the world and that it is completely unoriginal to have “fallen in love” with it. It’s wrapped up in almost as many cliches of love and light as it is of bad rumors of rude waiters and grabby pickpocketers. None of those stereotypes really interest me, but the other stuff—how damn beautiful the city is, how much history there is on every street, how the city cares more about heritage and the right way to do things more than new trends and innovation, the food/art/fashion scenes—yeah, all of that grabs my attention.

(One of my favorite anecdotes of French history is when Henry of Naverre, a lifelong Protestant who had a claim to the French throne in the late 1500’s, chose to give up his religion and accept Roman Catholicism in order to secure himself a place in the Catholically-dominated region of Paris. While his move got him the Crown, we all know he really just wanted to come back home to Paris, as he’s apparently quoted with saying “Paris vaut bien une messe” — “Paris is well worth a mass.”)

So before I leave I thought I’d put together a “guide” (if you could call it that—I’m not really sure how these things are traditionally organized?) to the city, if for no other reason than to try and make sense of what’s all wrapped around in my head before I leave. So here goes—

// RANDOM, IMPORTANT ADVICE //

1. Acquaint yourself with the arrondissements before you go.
Arrondissements = districts of Paris. There are twenty of them, with the lowest numbers starting out in the center of the city and working their way out “like an escargot,” as the French like to say. Check out the map below to get a feeling on them. It’s a really great system, actually, and it makes it handy when getting your bearings. As a general rule, I would say that, with exception of the farther-out 16th and 18th distrcits, the more central arrondissements (1 through 9) are the ones you’ll want to focus your trip around.

And by this I am basically also trying to say: do your research before you go. There are a lot of cool neighborhoods of Paris to see, and some are better than others depending on what you want out of your trip—whether that’s more chic, more romantic, more private, more sight-seeing, whatever. Even more so than that, a lot of the areas flow into each other well and they can make for some really nice, seamless walks (which is better than wandering around from site to site without really getting a feel of the place, I’d say?). I’ve expanded a bit on some of my favorite “must-see” neighborhoods below, but don’t let that be your only source of information.

jardin tuilieres

2. Don’t go to the Eiffel Tower.
You’ll see the monument from basically everywhere in the city, why waste time getting the ugliest view by going right underneath it? And in any case, the best view is from Trocadero, in the 16th arrondissement. The 16th is great to see anyway because it’s a really clean, really pretty area of Paris (I think this is what people imagine when they say they want to come to “Paris”). It was built later than the rest of the city and is basically now a bourgeoisie residential area, but there are many brasseries and cafes to take a break at too. It’s quieter and more calm than the rest of the city—a nice place to stay at, if that’s the type of thing you’re after. This was my parent’s favorite part of Paris, I think. And it’s a 25 minute walk (a really pretty walk past chic hotels and expensive cars lining the streets) from the Arc de Triomphe.

>>> The big exception to my whole “don’t go to the Eiffel Tower” thing is if it’s the summertime and you’re visiting the 7th arrondissement (métro Ecole Militaire or Motte Piquet). Then I would say it’s a really nice idea to buy a baguette, some cheese, grapes, wine, whatever, and have a picnic out on the Champs-de-Mars, the big park in front of the Eiffel Tower.

3. Skip the Louvre.
Really, I do not understand people’s obsession with this museum. I like it, I guess, but would I wait hours to see the Mona Lisa if I were only seeing Paris (A CITY WHERE THERE IS A LOT MORE COOL STUFF TO SEE) for a few days? You guessed it—no. Just like, pass by the big triangle thing after walking through the Jardins Tuileries before continuing on to Palais Royale or another part of Paris. There are way cooler and more enjoyable museums, if that’s what you’re after. Visit Musée D’Orsay for the best of French art, set in what was once the old train station of Paris right next to the Seine and Assemblée Nationale. This is where you’ll find the greats of Impressionism and the height of French art—Monet, Van Gough, Sisley, Caillebotte, Renoir, etc. Or the Centre Pompidou, in the Marais, if you like modern art from the twentieth century like Picasso, Rothko, Matisse, Braque and Derain. Or go see what exhibitions are showing in the Petit Palais or Grand Palaisbeautiful buildings right by Place de la Concorde and the Seine that always have exhibits.

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4. French boulangeries are a must.
I’m guessing if you’re on this blog, you have at least a slight interest in food. You’ve probably heard of the wonders of French boulangeries—and yeah, the hype is real and well-deserved. They’re on every corner, and the standards are pretty impressive. Nine times out of ten the boulangerie will have croissants, baguettes, and pastries that are x10 better than wherever you live back at home. I would just say don’t trek out to specific ones that are hyped up on the internet (Laduree, Angelina’s, etc) just because there are sooo many good ones, and the real best ones are probably names you haven’t heard of (this seems like a good list to me?).

Regarding eating out for regular meals, I’m not going to give specific recommendations but I would say just try walking around certain areas and neighborhoods and browsing the restaurants. There are so, so many in Paris (I’m guessing more than any other city in the world, per square meter), so just find one that you think looks good for your price range. Also, don’t be put off if they give you an English menu or even if the restaurant has an English name—doesn’t have any correlation with how “authentic” the place is or not, in my opinion.

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5. Expect to walk a lot, and to enjoy it.
Paris has, hands down, the best public transport system in the world. The metro system goes everywhere and anywhere in the city, and it runs smoothly. There are also buses but they’re harder to figure out, especially if you’re just visiting. If you’ll have a phone with data on it, I’d suggest downloading the Paris RATP app. That being said, Paris is one of the best cities to walk around in and it’s actually really small—especially the parts worth seeing as a visitor. Depending on where you’re staying and if it’s nice enough weather, I’d always suggest seeing Paris by foot and just walking everywhere. But sometimes it’d be strategic to take the metro out to a specific, central spot (Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Pere Lechaise Cemetary are all kind of out of the way), and walk around from there. The metro line 1 goes through all the main tourist things, starting on the west side with the Arc de Triomphe, going through the Champs-Elysees, Grand and Petit Palais, all along the Seine and the Jardin Tuileries, Palais Royale, Louvre, the Marais (and within walking distance of the Ile-de-Cite and Latin Quarter), and then the Bastille. But it is also the line that runs along the Seine, and it’s much more fun to at least walk along part of it rather zipping by underneath it underground. So yeah—if you can walk it, do it. It’s honestly my favorite way to enjoy Paris when it’s nice out.

In terms of figuring out where to stay in your time in Paris, I’d recommend the areas around Opéra and the 8th, or the Latin Quarter, Les Invalides, or the Marais. Anywhere central is really the best, but of course if you’re young and on a budget get anywhere where the hostels are cheap and figure out the metro system for yourself.

seine

6. In the end, ignore the advice and do what will make you happiest.
I was going to expand on all the bossiness by making other rules, such as: 1) don’t even think of putting a lock on the pont des arts because it is stupid and useless and so cliché even by paris standards, or 2) don’t even think of standing in line at the famed Angelina’s unless you want to hang out with other American tourists while in line only to end up paying 8 euros for mediocre hot chocolate that isn’t as good as the kind I used to get in Seattle, or 3) the Champs-Elysées is a worthless and exhausting visit and if you really want the feeling of true Parisian luxury in window shopping head over to Rue Saint Honoré or Place Vendôme, or 4) please don’t go to Cafe Flore or Les Deux Magots because really, why do you want to pay more-than-average for less-than-average French food, especially when no one even really knows why the cafes are famous in the first place … BUT then I realized, you are not me, I am not you, so I should really try something new and not be so confidently self-righteous. I wrote out this guide as an attempt to help out people (anyone? really, no joke, is anyone even reading this) by giving an biased opinion of what’s worth one’s time and not in Paris—a city that I believe to be the best in terms of leisurely time and things-to-do. I’m proud of Paris, and want everyone to enjoy and appreciate it. But I’m not going to kid myself—one of the great things about this city is that it is perhaps the most commonly shared experience when it comes to travelling. It lives up to its clichés, perhaps more than any other city, in both good and bad ways. And to be possessive over these clichés and this city, as a foreigner living here temporarly for one year, would be ridiculous. So if it will make you happy to go home and said you had “the best,” “to-die for” croissants at “the most chic” cafe called Angelinas, go for it. This is your trip, experience Paris the way you want, and the way that makes it most worthwhile for you.

how things go

// PARIS BY NEIGHBORHOOD //

>>> Paris is kind of incredibly organized (thanks to some top-down, painful re-doing and urban planning of the city done by good old Napolean III and Haussman back in the 1800s). If you were to cut it into four pieces from north-south and west-east, you can get pretty distinct personalities. I would say, in general, the part south of the Seine (latin quarter, invalides, st germain) is the intellectual, more “old-school” part of Paris. The northwest chunk (opera, champs elysées, passy) is the richest, cleanest, most chic, and most business-like. The northeast chunk (top part of the marais, republique, oberkampf, up to bastille and parc buttes-chaumont) is younger, poorer, more hipster. As a young person who lives here, this is where I spend a lot of my time, both during the day and going out at night. If you’re young and travelling with other young people you might like this area a lot, but in general as a tourist who wants to see “Paris,” I’m not sure if it’s that intriguing. And, of course, the entire really central part of the city is touristy, but justifiably so (um, everything that makes Paris famous is there). <<<

paris
The Marais (III & IV)
A very central, very old part of Paris. It’s home to the Jewish quarter (and the famed L’As du Falafel) and it’s really the most contemporary part of Paris—if you’re wondering where to find fro-yo or a gluten-free shop in the city of gluten-loving bread fiends, go to the Marais. It also has a lot of great boutiques, cafes, bars, the typical kind of stuff you want to come to Paris for. I’d say get off at Metro Saint Paul and walk in almost any direction. There’s the Musée Pompidou right near the Hotel de Villeand if you keep walking up north you’ll hit the République area and the 10th arrondissement which leads into the Canal Saint-Martin area—a really cool, very young and very hipster area of Paris that is top on a nice day in the spring or summer. Otherwise, you can walk south from the Marais and onto the Île-de-Cite (that has Notre Dame and the Palais de la Justice) and then continue on to the other side to get to the Latin Quarter, or you can walk West from the Marais to get into the central part with the Louvre, Palais Royale, all of that.

l'as du fallafel
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The Latin Quarter (V)
A must if you are visiting Paris. It is touristy, always, but for good reason. It’s one of the oldest parts of the city, and that is reflected in the buildings—many boulevards and buildings are still pretty and follow typical Parisian architecture, but you’ll find more winding, irrational alleys and mismatched housing in the Latin Quarter. I would along Boulevard Saint Michel and past the Sorbonne, turn in to see the Panthéon, and the continue to walk on behind it and a little more north to find a really great area with uncrowded and very typical cafes shops. This is a good place to wander (almost all of Paris is, but especially here).

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Opéra — Madeleine — Concorde (VIII, IX, II) 
The prettiest, most typically Parisian part of Paris. I would recommend staying in a hotel or airbnb in this area, if you can—it’s a central location that is within walking distance of the best and most unmissable monuments. If you walk down from the Opéra, you hit the Madeleine (a huge church modeled after ancient rome) and then, right after, the Place de la Concorde (the place where Marie Antoinette’s head was chopped off, along with tens of thousands of others). Coming to the Place de la Concorde, you can see the Champs-Elysées and Petit and Grand Palais to your right, the Seine and Assemblée National straight across, and then the entrance to the Jardin Tuileries, Palais Royale and the Louvre to your left. I would recommend walking through Rue Saint Honoré and walking past Place Vendôme, which to me is Parisian luxe and elegance at its height, with chic, high-end stores lining the street. Rue Etienne Marcel is another great one, which just feels extremely Parisian old-school with nice shops, cafes, and brasseries all along the street. If you ever find yourself on this street, you must turn down Rue Montorgueil/Rue des Petits Carreaux because it has everything good (cafes, fromageries, chocolatiers) all packed into one walking street. All of this is very close to all the “essentials”—keep walking until you hit the Louvre area and then you’ll have the Île-de-Cite and Notre Dame on your right and the entrance of Le Marais straight in front and to your left.

palais royale
l'opera

St. Germain (VI) 
The once-upon-a-time land of Hemingway and intellectual hang-out cafes, now currently the land of chic French designer shopping and over-priced cafes. I love this area, though, and it still has an incredible charm to it. This is where you can find the infamous Le Bon Marche  (the most luxe and oldest department store in Paris) and Le Grand Epicierie. I recommend taking a tour through the district, starting near the Place Saint Sulpice, moving on to window shop chic French boutiques, then stopping at a terrace for an expresso before heading south into the Jardin Luxembourg and then out east into the Latin Quarter. Or, walk up to the Seine along Quai Voltaire and walk west until you hit Musee D’Orsay (if it’s nice out, there’s not much better you can do than walk along the Seine, especially on the south bank or the “rive guache“).

flan nature

Invalides – La Tour Eiffel (VII)
I really like this area, although I’m not often here. But as a tourist, I think it’d be a really important part to go to, especially during the summertime. There’s Musee D’Orsay, and if you walk a bit left along the Seine, you’ll get to Les Invalides—which has Napolean’s tomb as well as a wicked sweet history museum on World War I & II. Crazy good, but I also like history a lot. Walk down south until you hit Ecole Militaire, which is opposite of the big park in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-de-Mars. This is a really old-school part of Paris, both historically and in practice. Things feel like the Paris cliche here, but in the best possible way. Rue Cler is filled with fruit stands, cafes, boulangeries, fromageries, everything great. There’s also Rue Saint Dominique which has a lot of great, classic French restaurants, including ones by the famous Chrisitan Constant (Cafe Constant, Les Cocottes, Maison Constant).

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Montmartre (XVIII)
Land of Amélie and the most cliched place of all the cliches of Paris! But really, it’s great and worth a trip. I don’t even feel like there is much I can direct you to in this area, because it’s all pretty good and touristy (and I mean the term touristy in the best way possible). Head up to the Sacre Cœur, walk around the winding, hilly roads and check out art and typical cafes. Rue des Abbesses, to the left of the Sacre Coeur, is a nice street with boutiques, traiteurs, and cafes to walk on.

sacre coeur

// OTHER RESOURCES //

David Lebovitz – I mean, duh. For practical guide stuff and important information, restaurant/bar/cafe recommendations and reviews, and ummm everything else you could possiby need.
Paris By Mouth – For restaurant recommendations and ideas.
This New York Times article from 2006 about Parisian libraries makes me really happy. Whether you want to actually visit Paris’ really cool libraries and bookstores or not, it’s just a fun read and will probably make you happy in your decision to visit Paris.
Cool list from a French journal about different ideas for how to spend 10 euros on a meal (or snack) around Paris. It’s in French, but c’mon, we have technology now so just zip the thing through google translate.
> The Hip Paris blog is a good resource for pretty much everything involving Paris, and it usually does a pretty good job of updating events and things to check out during the specific time you’ll be in the city.

from montmartre

(All photos by me or my twin sister Lindsey, save that one map of Paris’ arrondisements. That’s from here.)

Written by Amy

July 3, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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London

with 10 comments

west kensington

This blog is seemingly turning into a mediocre, wanna-be travel blog at best and a futile lifestyle blog at worst—something I have been dreading but am too lazy to actually do anything about. After all, I have parents, guys! They’re always impressed and/or interested in my life whether I actually have something to talk about or not! One day, I’ll re-focus this blog again to focus almost exclusively on food. One day.

But in the meantime, while it’s rainy outside I might as well channel thoughts of London and throw out some thoughts to you about the weekend trip I spent there.

London seemed very imperfect to me, or at least much more imperfect than Paris. People come to Paris and complain about the smell of urine in the metros or how it’s much “dirtier” than they expected, but to me Paris sometimes feels like the inside of some chic dollhouse. Things run on an unchanging rhythm here—the thin women in black on their way to work, the shops closed down on Sundays, the aperitifs and salted snacks at certain hours on certain days. There’s unspoken rules to every society (or god, at least the good ones), but Paris is very particular about theirs, especially when they’re not followed.

But of course all of this is coming from an outsider, someone who admires that Parisian rhythm very much but will never really be a part of it. And of course this is all a roundabout way to say that, from my brief and shallow impression (sometimes that’s all you’ve got/need?), London is disordered and aggressive and open in a way that I felt very comfortable and happy with. I liked it there, a lot.

As I sat on a sun-soaked section of the carpet floor in the living room of the West Kensington house my host family rented for the weekend, lazily scanning the pages of a cookbook and surrounded by bookshelves filled with English books, I did have to admit that I had more of the feeling of home than I’ve ever had in France. For pretty much the entire year, I wake up in my small studio in Paris with the feeling that I’m somewhere else—and I don’t mean to sound corny or pseudo-science-y. I seriously just wake up every morning and in my bleary half-awake state have to remind myself that I am in my studio, in Paris. This is not “my” city.

In any case I was very happy with that small trip to London for a lot of reasons, even with the unpleasant drawbacks (um, having to tour the city with 4 kids ranging between the ages of 2 and 9 during the day and then babysitting them at night). But mainly because it made me feel very self-assured with the fact that I’ve got a ticket out of Paris a little over a month from now. Hey, future, you’ll be alright

from the top of tate modern
trooping the colour
really cool
outside museum of natural history for my dad our street
westminister area, big ben
from my window

Written by Amy

June 10, 2014 at 4:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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