July 2014 Newsletter Is it summer already? I know I'm sounding like a grand-père (grandpa), but I don't know where all the time goes. I guess keeping

       
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July 2014 Newsletter

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Is it summer already? I know I'm sounding like a grand-père (grandpa), but I don't know where all the time goes. I guess keeping busy makes things move faster and faster. But - whew - summer in Paris is when everyone -including me - gets a chance to sl-o-o-w-w down. People take off on their annual summer vacations (well, if they can get anywhere, with the strikes...), and Paris empties out. Stores and bakeries close up shop and those who stay in town are treated to a city that's calm and quiet.

I'm not ready to go yet, so I've been baking at home, making the apricot crumble tart with all the great summer fruits I've scored at the market in Paris, using the recipes from My Paris Kitchen. (Which Amazon named the best cookbook of the year!) I also churned up some ricotta ice cream that I'm going to share on the blog shortly, that goes well with quick-candied cherries.

While baking, and Paris, are always on my brain, Italy beckons from time-to-time, and I had a great trip to Sicily, visiting the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School, helping them fête their 25th anniversary. Sicily is one of my favorite places; it's remote, mysterious, and remarkably beautiful in an elusive way that's hard to describe.

But the main reason to go - at least for me - is the food. I met the brothers at Konza Kiffi, an agricultural estate that grows oregano and capers, and produces spectacular jams, spreads, and marmalades in their Sicilian kitchen. And on Pantelleria, I watched the picking of the capers that the island is famous for. I love seeing how food is produced and it was fascinating watching the flower buds get transformed into the salty little green flavor bombs that I often add to dips, salads, and pastas.

I also spent the month polishing the Paris Pastry App, which I'm relaunching this month with an all-new, sleek design. I've added the latest batch of Paris pastry shops and bakeries, along with photos and descriptions. In addition, most of the information on the app will be accessible without an Internet connection, so visitors don't have to worry about pesky roaming charges. This past week I visited the newest pastry shops in Paris, as well as some old favorites, for the massive update, and I'm incredibly excited about the relaunch.

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Yes, it was tough work visiting the pastry shops, making sure the quality of the places I'd listed was up to snuff, and I revised the Top 25 Favorites as well. (Which will be included in the free "lite" version of the app.)

When it's ready to go, we're aiming for around mid-July, it'll be launching at a very special price on my blog for a very limited time. So keep an eye on my site. (So don't say you haven't been warned...) I'll also announce when it's ready on Facebook, Twitter, and on the Paris Pastry Facebook page, where updates are posted, along with additional Paris pastry shop news.

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Naughty Paris Book Launch

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My friend and co-conspirator in my Paris Pastry app, is launching the second edition of her Naughty Guide to Paris. Heather Stimmler-Hall's Kickstarter campaign is in full swing and for just $5 you can pitch in to help her have it printed (by a local, sustainable printer in Paris), and there are pledges that will reward you with everything - from a finished copy of the book, to a private, custom tour - naughty, or nice.

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Paris Restaurant News

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People often ask me to let them in on any "off the beaten track" places in Paris. To be honest, in Paris, as in any major city, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are few restaurants that no one has ever heard of.

(And honestly, most of the better places are not on the outskirts of town.)

One place I went to the night before I left for my book tour in the U.S., that I hadn't been to in a long while, was Chez Léon (50, rue Léon, 18th). The Goutte d'Or neighborhood is a little rough around the edges, but the restaurant is convivial and fun. The food is just fine; I always go for couscous with vegetables, lamb brochettes and spicy merguez sausage (shown), and the prices are cheap. There are typical French dishes served generously at good prices. And lots of wine and beer, of course.

For those who want to have a truly off-the-beaten track experience, the bar is full of locals, watching the football (soccer) game, and a number of musicians and hipster-types are part of the mix. If you go, as in any unfamiliar neighborhood, in any city, it's best to know where you are going, and avoid waving your smartphone around, looking for directions.

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Not as far off the beaten path is L'Ebauchoir, near the Aligre market. The restaurant doesn't get as much press as other places in Paris, but the ingredients they use are impeccably fresh, the servers friendly, and the wine list is terrific. (And reasonable; most wines are €5-7/glass.)

We recently had lunch there, which is €13,50 for two courses, or €15,50 for three. You can choose from a few items in each category, and my friend had a marinated fish salad with dill (above, right) and I went for the herring with sliced potatoes (shown just below it), a Parisian bistro classic. It went well with the glass of tangy viognier I choose. My friend scored with an excellent duck confit, cooked crisp, with a nutmeg-seasoned potato cake. My fresh goat cheese cooked in filo dough with a green salad was okay as a main course, but I regretted not ordering the confit. (I was trying to be a good boy after my four week eating binge, er, I mean...my book tour in the U.S.)

For dessert we split a gâteau de riz, or caramelized rice pudding cake, which was homey and pleasant, just like the restaurant. The place really filled up for lunch, and since it was wonderfully sunny out, the terrace seats outdoors filled up quickly. (The terraces are lovely in Paris, but when the no-smoking law went into effect, most became refuges for the persecuted smokers, who compensate by chain-smoking.) But the indoors is an airy space with a pretty tiled floor. So you're not missing much by sitting inside, except some vitamin D.

(Note that the same owners have Le Siffleur de Ballons, a pleasant wine bar across the street, that's open for lunch and dinner as well.)

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Lastly, although I don't think it's exactly what people are looking to eat in Paris, the city is rife with curiosity shops, like Galerie Chardon, on the edge of the Marais. The shop specializes in taxidermied animals and insects, and include - gulp - a selection of edible treats, including insect-embedded lollipops. I haven't tried one yet, but for those who like a bit of adventure in their life (and don't want to go to the Goutte d'Or at night), the store gives classes/tastings for enjoying edible insects.

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For those more content to browse, Galerie Chardon is a beautiful shop, not unlike Deyrolle, which I consider a "must stop" in Paris. Even if you don't think you like dead animals, consider the store like a museum, with unique artifacts - some edible - in display.

And just in case you're still not convinced of the connection to French cuisine I'm making, remember that all creatures great and small, can play a role (real or imagined) in la cuisine française...like Rémy from Ratatouille!

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Stories & interviews with me, here & there...

My Talk at Google (Youtube) - (unfortunately no shots of me wandering around the Google campus wearing Google glass...)


Boston Globe writes David Lebovitz's Paris is in full view in his latest book.


A video on Three tips for baking with butter from the Washington Post.


And another video on Making Madeleines, with Tasting Table.


Eat Live Travel Write gave My Paris Kitchen a nice write-up.


I share with the Financial Times, Chefs and food writers' best meals and memories on the road, with a recipe, and they also named My Paris Kitchen one of the best cookbooks of the year. (Subscription may be required.)

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Well, that's it for this month.

If you're in the U.S, have a great 4th of July. And to everyone, wherever you are, hope your summer is off to a great start!

- David

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