My big announcement for this month is that - yup - I survived getting a new computer. My first was a Mac SE, bought way back when if you want to use s

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My big announcement for this month is that - yup - I survived getting a new computer. My first was a Mac SE, bought way back when if you want to use software, such as Word, you have to put a disc into the machine and wait a few minutes while it whirred to life. The black-and-white screen was about the size of a standard postcard and to use this newfangled thing called the “internet”, you had to dial in and listen to a bunch of goofy, boingy sounds before you finally got connected, and a male voice told you, “You’ve Got Mail.”

When I moved to France about ten years ago, people were shocked I wanted internet access at home. Nowadays France is one of the most connected places and even though prices of things in France are often higher than elsewhere, internet access is cheap and nearly universal in most homes and comes packaged as a “bouquet”, along with television and phone service, and generally costs between €35-50/month.

For those who are Mac users, you know that to migrate information, you simply hook up a cord between the new and the old computer, then sit back and let everything transfer. That’s the beauty of Apple. However my new computer didn’t want to take more than 11.9% of the information off my old dying iMac, and after three days of trying with computer-savvy pals, several calls to service clients didn’t seem to help. The last call I got a woman who was so snippy with me, and I was so frustrated, that I finally asked to be connected to the Returns desk as I wanted to send my new computer back.

The flip side of the coin was I took one last stab at it, as well as a cab ride (€30, but I didn't care anymore because I was spending close to that on Prozac) to the Genius Bar, where, after six hours with the terrific young guys there who spend their time recoding the entire back end of the new machine – got everything working. (Meanwhile, I spent another €60 shopping at Galeries Lafayette nearby on two new scarves!)

There's a lot of chat about whether the French are rude or not, and I've learned to aim for the younger folks at checkout counters, customer service, and elsewhere (although I had lunch at a Left Bank restaurant today and couldn't decide what was worse - the fries, or the service from the young staff.) I was going to write how the young 'uns were the future of France, then I remembered we were at Le Baron Rouge wine bar this morning ( was almost noon, folks) and the cheerfully grumpy gents there are what makes places like that in Paris a treasure.

So I guess the moral of the story is to avoid irksome restaurants - the French reviews on Yelp called the servers "extrêment désagréables", "incroyablement impolis", "exécrable", and even my friend said about the dreadful frites, "How do they get the French fries so...dense?" - and stick with the tried-and-true. Or do your research beforehand.



Some Interviews, Etc.

I have some pretty curious interview questions this past year. One interviewer asked me why I had some non-French recipes in a book about Paris (Um, I guess they don’t realize that French people eat non-French food, just like Americans don't always eat American food). Another person sent me what she promised was a “short” interview, which was over twenty in-depth questions (I could feel my wrists seizing into carpal-tunnel talons just thinking about answering them), and then added about twenty subsets of questions to each question. So if you do the math, you might wonder why some people think I’m cranky. Nevertheless, I like being asked interesting questions and here are a couple of fun interviews I did recently:

At The Local, in spite of the alarmist title, I spoke with them about the current state of French cuisine.
Over at the raw book, we chatted about food, what makes beautiful food, why I write cookbooks, American and European chocolate, and what it was like to work as a pastry chef.
And although not technically an interview, two fellows who I traveled through Lebanon with are video producers and made a terrific video of our trip. Disregard my incoherent ramblings (I’d had two glasses of rosé beforehand, as we were celebrating the last night of the trip when they spoke with me.) But the video is great.


Paris Meet-Up and Booksigning


If you live in Paris, or if you just need some additional airline miles, I'll be doing a meet-up and booksigning at La Cuisine cooking school on June 9th, from 2 to 4pm. And to top if off, Henri Guittet from Glazed ice cream truck will be parked there, scooping up ice cream!

Books will be available for purchase, or you can bring your own copies. For more information, check out the Facebook Event Page (and RSVP, if you wish), or just stop by 80, quai de l'Hôtel de Ville (4th) on Sunday afternnoon.


10 Things You Never Suspected About French Wine

INTO WINE - Wine Book by Olivier Magny- low res

Speaking of interviews, instead of interviewing him, when my friend Olivier Magny of Ô-Chateau in Paris released his new book, Into Wine, a guide intended to “hack” the wine world, I asked is he wanted to give some fun wine French wine tips for my newsletter readers.

His new book cuts through the clutter and wine-speak, and lays it out in everyday terms. And it is written in his witty voice, the same one that was popular in his hilarious book, Stuff Parisians Like, which was a best-seller in France. Olivier offer to share a list of 10 facts you probably never suspected about French wine for newsletter readers:

1. 45% of French women never drink wine. Ever.

In my opinion, the main consequence of this troubling fact has got to be unthinkable levels of sexual misery throughout the country ;-)

2. Wines with no added sulfites may end up containing more sulfites than those with added sulfites

Chemistry is tricky like that!!

3. The average amount spent on a bottle of red wine in France is $3.8 (i.e. €3)

Maybe the French economy's not good, but at least, wine is cheap!

4. The French government spends 200M€+ a year to fight its own industry.

Oh silly you... thinking that our governments have our best interest at heart... You are incorrigible!

5. One thing a vast majority of the best French wineries have in common: they grow their grapes biodynamically.

Exploring the why and the how of this phenomenon has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my wine journey

6. While drip irrigation is the norm in the rest of the world, it is actually illegal to to irrigate most French vineyards.

In that simple fact lies a lot of what makes French wines so special!

7. 91% of still wines bought in France are bought for less than $5.6/bottle (that's 6€/liter.)

Consequently, a vast majority of French people consider a $15 bottle to be pretty high-end stuff! Probably one of the best reasons to make French friends!

8. There are 120 times more wineries in France than in Argentina

But let's face it, their meat is better!

9. The largest wine producing region in the world is the Languedoc.

It is also home to some of the best value wines in the world!

10. When it comes to the quality of its wines, France is going through a wonderful Renaissance right now.

While all the attention was focused on New World countries, the French rolled up their sleeves and the result is very exciting

cover SPL hilarious
pain au chocolat et croissants

Favorite Recent Blog Posts

A few favorite posts from last month were...

Labneh: How to make this amazing Lebanese dip. Super easy, and really great with a drizzle of olive oil.

Dave and Kate's Chocolate Brownies: My famous neighbor made these brownies and although she never made a batch for me, here's the recipe so you can make them yourself.

Artichoke Freekeh Risotto: This amazing grains - smoked green wheat - pairs marvelously with seasonal artichokes. And there's a tutorial on how to prepare the artichokes as well.

Change: I just had some vistiors in Paris, and many chastised for not having exact change (one friend said a supermarket cashier asked him three times if he had any bills smaller than a €20 - kind of odd that a major supermarket does not have change of a €20...?!) They didn't get it...and neither do I!


Have a good month of June! And remember - change is good ; )

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