January 2015 Newsletter Even though today marks the beginning of the New Year, out with the old, in with the new, doesn't seem to be my motto. In fac

       
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January 2015 Newsletter

Paris Flea market

Even though today marks the beginning of the New Year, out with the old, in with the new, doesn't seem to be my motto. In fact, I seem to be doing the opposite. The old is always coming in! I haven't been able help myself from combing the flea markets in Paris, even though my apartment seems like it's threatening to burst.

I had done a major purge of things I no longer user before the end of 2014, clearing out some spaces for 2015, giving away and selling cookware and bakeware that I don't seem to have much use for, like all those single-purpose tiny tart molds that I kept thinking would be fun to write about for my blog. But then I realize if I gave a recipe that called for "eighteen 2,5 centimeter fluted tart molds," people would be calling for my head.

One favorite thing that I picked up lately, while prowling the Marche d'Aligre flea market in the 12th, was a lovely old soap and sponge dish. It was absolutely filthy, and ridiculously heavy. But I certainly wasn't going to leave it behind...like the massive antique porcelain mortar and pestle I saw awhile back for just €20, which I had set down for a second – and an antique dealer grabbed it before it could even hit the table. Zut. Talk about regrets!

Paris Flea market-2

Once I got my soap basin home and cleaned it up, it looked amazing. But I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. A few people made suggestions, like a dish for chips and salsa, or use it as a salt cellar. But for now, it's sitting next to my kitchen sink, holding cutlery and sponges.

(If you're coming to Paris, here are my tips for finding the antique shows and flea markets that take place across the city.)

I just hopelessly in love with just about anything vintage French, from 60s to 80s plastic, to stoneware baking dishes. I picked up a lot of stuff when we'd gone on our Tour de France last summer, with the station wagon (yay!) And didn't think I had any more space. But it seems like there is always room for more.

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But on the other hand, it all makes me happy and I use most of the things I buy, so I don't feel all that bad about acquiring them. Still, I think I'm going to try and hold back for 2015. I've got a lot on my plate coming up this year - but at least I've got plenty of plates (vintage, of course) to put everything on. So at least I don't have to worry about that!

- David

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Paris Restaurants...and a Bar!

Jefrey s bar

It's been interesting seeing the Paris cocktail scene evolve during the last few years. With all the unique spirits and liqueurs made in France, it's wonderful to see bartenders showcasing them. At Jefrey's, in the rapidly gentrifying area around rue Saint-Denis, where a number of women (and a few who I suspect may be masquerading as women), work their trade, you'll find some interesting new restaurants, as well as a few bars.

Guillaume Bisaux is the barman who runs the show at Jefrey's. Guillaume was a paratrooper in the French army before becoming a bartender and he's stocked the bar with over a hundred whiskies, some long-lost French liqueurs, and even a French-made rye whiskey. (Rye whiskey is very hard to find in France, although France is the top consumer in the world for whiskey, per capita.)

Manning the bar, Guillaume has created an adept cocktail menu that touches down in several places around the globe, including a mezcal-infused Zapothèque Mule, with both tequila and mezcal, and others feature curiosities like Cynar (artichoke liqueur) or rhubarb bitters. I was kind of stunned when I was sitting at the bar and he whipped up a drink for another customer, served in a cocoa bean, using artisan crème de cacao from the excellent Tempus Fugit distillery in Switzerland.

Guillaume said that Parisians are still getting acclimated to the idea of cocktails and bars (there are a proliferation of cafés serving watery mojitos, which appeal to young people), as he pointed out the interesting aperitifs, liqueurs, and other bottles lining his shelves. He then made me a high-test cocktail from the rye whisky made in the French alps (from Domain des Hautes Glaces distillery), as well as a bitter elixir, Suedois Dolin, made from myrrhe, gentian root, rhubarb, and other botanicals.

The cocktail also included a dash of Chartreuse, and was delicious – and huge! I couldn't finish the whole thing (and yes, I did ask if they had to-go cups…) but it was worth going back for. It doesn't really have a name, but you can ask him for the cocktail that he made for me. Just make sure you're walking home!

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miznon

People line up for falafels on the rue des Rosiers in Paris, but at the risk of sounding like a snob, the sandwiches don't taste anywhere near as good as the ones I'd had in the Middle East. Consequently, I've become less-enchanted with them as I watch the cooks just slapping together food, going through the motions. So I was excited to try Miznon (22 rue des Ecouffes, 3rd), a direct import from Tel Aviv.

Walking in, you'll quickly find out that the place is chaos; you order at the counter, they take your name, and eventually – you get your sandwich. I sat at the counter where, unlike the other places on the street, the vegetables were freshly chopped and seasoned to order, not dumped out from big plastic bins and smushed into tepid bread. And at Miznon, the meats and fillings are cooked to order, too. (Hence the wait.) I had lamb kebabs (€11,50) which were actually a few meatballs of ground lamb stuffed into a lovely pouch of warm pita with tahini sauce, It was fine, although very pricey for a sandwich joint, but the other foods looked great, especially the steak sandwich with a runny egg and the whole, roasted stuffed cauliflower that comes out wrapped in butcher paper. So I'm anxious to go back and try many of the other things.

As I said, the place is kind of crazy, but fun, and the staff is much more friendly than at the other places in the 'hood. (And cuter, too. I also noticed they were recently looking for cooks, and the notice said, "Only serious and happy people.") Miznon is also a good place for vegetarians and the only caution I would make is to avoid going at the height of the lunch rush...although that's when it's quite a scene, if you're up for an adventure.

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paris dumplings

I had a less-than-stellar experience at a previously favorite Chinese hand-pulled noodle bar, that served us some doughy, undercooked dumplings. Because I've spent a lot of time in Chinese restaurants back in San Francisco with my Chinese sisters (who aren't really my sisters, but we feel like they are, because they make sure I am well-fed when I go there), I pointed out the doughy disasters to the staff, and was met with a shrug. I always like to think that no matter how humble a restaurant is, people should kind of care about what they're doing, and what they're serving, even if it's a bowl of soup or a plate to dumplings.

So the next day, to shake off the uneasy feeling I had, we hiked up to Guo Xin (47 rue de Belleville, 19th). It's a small spot with a bunch of tables pushed together. (Two smokers - who weren't smoking - sat next to us, and it felt like we were seated in the smoking section from days of yore, before the ban on smoking in Paris restaurants.)

The menu is mostly Chinese dumplings and dumpling soup. Here, the raviolis chinoises (as they are called in French) are crisp-fried and tasty, and the servers engaging and friendly. It more than made up for the unenthusiastic experience the night before and although visitors to Paris aren't likely looking for Chinese dumplings, locals might want to put on their hiking shoes and head up the hill in Belleville.

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chameleon

Just before the end of 2014, I had a chance to revisit a favorite spot, Chameleon restaurant, tucked away in a side street near Place de la République. It's name comes from the fact that the menu changes frequently. The owner is super nice and the chef cooks with whatever ingredients inspire him. The food can be experimental, but it works.

I started with a generous pile of fresh scallops cooked with what the menu called jalapeños, which were some spicy-hot red peppers (not sure what kind they actually were), and it was a nice starter. But my Plume Ibérique (Iberian pork) that I'd ordered for the main course was spectacular. A ridiculously tender piece of pork, sautéed until very crisp on the outside, and served with treviso (radicchio), root vegetables, and a smoky herb sauce, it was one of the best things I'd eaten all year. I didn't want to share! (Although my dining companion put a very small chunk of his rare duck breast on the edge my plate to try and when I shared a picture online during dinner, people though I was eating undercooked pork. I'm always amazed at the sharp eyes people have! But the pork was definitely cooked, beautifully so.) Desserts aren't as inspired as the rest of the meal, so if you like cheese, that might be the way to end your meal.

On my site this month, I also mentioned A Noste and Au Sauvignon, two traditional French places that I like a lot.

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Upcoming Appearances

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Yup, I've already got a few appearances planned for winter and spring of 2015. On April 13th, I'll be doing a demonstration at De Gustibus at Macy's in New York City. It's not on their schedule yet, but I'll post on my Facebook page when it is. (And so will they, I presume.)

And in May, from the 15th through the 17th, I'll be a guest speaker at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Lit Fest in Cork, Ireland. I loved Ireland, and Ballymaloe, when I visited a few years ago, and I'm thrilled to be returning.

For more information about these events, visit the websites listed. Both events are listed on my Schedule page, which I frequently update with my appearances.

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Favorite Recent Posts On My Blog

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-Revisting (after finding!) an old favorite, Cranberry Raisin pie, a great way to use the bounty of cranberries.


-A trip to Brooklyn yielded a great new treat: Salty, Deep-Dark Chocolate Brownies.


-A trip to Bordeaux for wine tasting, dining, and relaxing at Caudalie spa was a perfect weekend trip from Paris.


-Pistachios are seriously underused in the condiment field. This garlic-infused Pistachio aillade brings them to the front of the table.


-My new favorite winter dish, which I seem to be making weekly – Endive and Ham Gratin, is a great way to chase off the winter chill.


-A gift of sunny lemons brightened up my winter when cooked up as a batch of Meyer lemon curd, and another batch (made from Niçoise lemons found at my market) was the base for a classic tarte au citron.

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Cornbread recipe-4

Well, that's it for now. Whatever you're baking (or frying) up, hope you have a très bonne année! .. dl

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My Paris Kitchen hi res
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