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May 2019 Newsletter

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. That's what drew me to Paris in the first place. I loved chocolate (still do...) and how could I resist planting my feet in a city with a spectacular chocolate shop within walking distance of almost anywhere find yourself?

I liked it so much, I started leading people around the city, taking them to my favorite places, sharing, rich ganache-filled squares, and popping liqueur-spiked truffles in our mouths. But because one day, or a half-day, isn't enough, I expanded my tours to last a week, so we could go behind the scenes and see how the chocolates were made. Normally off-limits to visits, I was able to take people into the kitchens and laboratoires of the best chocolate shops not only in Paris, but also in cities like Lyon, Lausanne, and Bordeaux. It was pretty heavenly.

Yet one can only do so much and I found my glass wasn't just full, but overflowing, so this summer will be my last Paris Chocolate Tour. It's been great fun taking guests to my favorite chocolate shops, bakeries, and restaurants in Paris, and I've made some really great friends along the way, and - as they say, "We'll always have Paris." For my last tour, this summer we're starting in Paris, and ending up in Bordeaux, where we'll spend a few days with my friends Jean-Pierre Moullé and Denise Lurton wining, dining, and toasting the final round.

Coconut caramel shrimp recipe-2

I'm hoping to use my time this spring and summer to 1) Finish the edits on the book I'm working on, and 2) Explore more of Paris. Writing tends to tether one to their computer, and I didn't realize how much until I started writing books. And also, I think it might be time to do something different. The movie rights to L'Appart have been signed, so something is brewing there, but I wanted to share what I love about Paris to a wider audience and was in talks maybe to do something along those lines. That's kind of ground to a halt, unfortunately. But I've also been considering a podcast. I like to write books and my blog, but it'd be fun to explore other opportunities to connect with people.

On a sort of related sidenote, something got stuck in my craw last month. I know people like to poke fun of Kim Kardashian (and to be honest, I doubt when you get my newsletter, you were expecting to hear about her here) but I was oddly satisfied when she decided to study law. Being the internet, she got plenty of criticism, including "stay in your own lane" (hmm…I didn't know women, or men, in certain fields, weren't allowed to change careers, or refocus their lives.) But I didn't understand: Why can't she do something different? She certainly doesn't need the money, or fame; I checked and her Instagram account has 136 million followers. Heck, I didn't even know there were that many people in the world! So it's commendable that she's deciding to take her life in a different, and more challenging (and fulfilling), direction.

Coconut caramel shrimp recipe-12

Meanwhile, I've been in New York visiting my family, and we ate like there was no tomorrow. Here's a brief list of where we dined, with a few "pro" tips:

Bâtard: Modern French cooking done exactly as it should be. Our meal started with stellar brioche buns (which we could have eaten as our entire meal), and continued with seared scallops in saffon sauce, Arctic char with spring peas and favas, ending with a soufflé baked over an confit of strawberries, that concentrated their naturally sweet flavor. I didn't have room to taste all the desserts everyone else was digging into but pastry chef Julie Elkind gets kudos for creating a dessert that had me thinking about it over the course of next few days. Pro tip: The seedy bread they serve with the brioche, both made on premises, is also terrific. My mother admonished me for filling up on bread before dinner. But here, it's a challenge to stop. Sorry mom.

Upland: It's hard to say whether the sausage & kale pizza with young pecorino and stracciatella, braised short ribs under a pile of herbs and shaved asparagus, or shrimp marinated in tomatoes and garlic with jasmin rice was the top dish of the evening, but my cousin's wife said the shrimp was "probably the best thing I've ever eaten in my life." As memorable as the meal was, I'd have to agree with her, right up to the warm cookies (and amaro) for dessert. Pro tip: Rumor has it that the cheeseburger at lunch is the best of the genre. That's on my docket for my next NYC visit.

Via Carota: Ever since I had the Cacio et Pepe pasta at Via Carota on my last visit the New York, I couldn't stop thinking about it. So even though I know other things on the menu are very good, I stick with that pasta. Everything here, though, is spot-on and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better salad in New York. I also like that they have small (25cl/1 cup) pitchers of wine, which are perfect for sharing at lunch. (We'd ordered two and ended up giving one to our neighbors since two of us had to go back to work after lunch.) Pro tip: The restaurant doesn't take reservations so go for lunch, or off-hours.

Misi: I took a break from my family for lunch with food blogging legend (now Hollywood screenwriter) Adam Roberts at this Brooklyn hot-spot. Normally a tough reservation, lunch opens up entire new possibilities, and tables, making it possible to get in. Missy Robbin's pastas are justifiably revered. If you come at night, I recommended starting the evening off with their spritzy apéritif. Pro tip: Grilled runner beans might not sound very sexy, but are absolutely delicious as an appetizer. Ditto the whole roasted eggplant with Calabrian chili, lemon, and garlic.

Keen's: A New York classic (since 1885), matured steaks, Iceberg wedge salads, and great hash browns are on the menu here. Plan to eat a lot, and the cocktail bar is one of New York's treasures. Pro tip: Steaks are large enough to share, and the bar has non-reserved seating. Lunch at the bar is more gently priced, and portioned.

Bon appétit!
- David

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Links I'm Liking

France puts €6 million toward breakfasts in schools (France24)

How one woman learned French by walking dogs (Longreads)

Mon dieu! French health officials recommend limiting French residents at two glasses of wine, daily (USA Today)

Now that The Twilight Zone is on Amazon Prime, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street will give you a lot to think about (Amazon)

Hold on to your handbags, and wallets, on the métro (The Local)

Ban on growing vegetables in front of your house lifted in Florida (Treehugger)

Enfin...the affordable dining renaissance in Paris (NYT via Alec Lobrano)

French winemaker use organic undies to grow wine grapes (Connexion)

Who gets to decide who is an authority on food? (Fortune)

Thoughts from the author of the biography of the women who wrote The Joy of Cooking. Spoiler: They didn't quite get along… (Will Write for Food)

Controversial "Crack Pie" gets a name change (Eater)

How would you feel if you ordered a "craft" cocktail, and it was pre-mixed? (NYT)

The campaign to remove a controversial painting from the French national assembly (The New Yorker)

The return of milk delivered in glass bottles #lessplastic (The Standard)

The psychedelic test kitchen of Ebony magazine (James Beard Foundation)

I like baguettes…but would I sleep with one? (Bustle)

Yes, croissant corsages are available for the prom, in Texas (Cheddars)

Who knew that Volkswagon sells more sausages than cars? (Atlas Obscura)

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White Lady Cocktail Combat bar paris-2

Recent Recipes and Posts on My Blog

Looking for an off-the-beaten-path wine bar and épicerie? The charming La Cigogne is your place in Paris.

Pretzel pie crust, for those looking to shake up their pie crust game (which can also be made gluten-free)

I found sweet success with this Salted Honey Pie.

Café du Coin is a favorite lunch spot, offering up cuisine fait maison (homemade) at gentle prices.

The White Lady cocktail combines gin, orange liqueur, and lemon juice...it's easy to shake up, and even easier to drink!

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