L’Instant Cacao: Bean-to-bar Chocolate Shop

If you’re old enough to remember, the Grateful Dead had a song that went, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” (There are other reasons you might not remember things back then, especially if you were the type that listened to the Grateful Dead.) But that could be the tagline for a number of things, some as recent as 2020, the Covid crisis, and others…

If you’re old enough to remember, the Grateful Dead had a song that went, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” (There are other reasons you might not remember things back then, especially if you were the type that listened to the Grateful Dead.) But that could be the tagline for a number of things, some as recent as 2020, the Covid crisis, and others that stretch back longer, such as the bean-to-bar chocolate movement.

I was there at the beginning of it in the United States, and I clearly remember when Robert Steinberg handed me a melting wad of freshly-made chocolate he pulled out of his pocket at a baking event, that was folded up in a little foil packet, as if it was a part of a drug deal. That eventually bloomed into Scharffen Berger chocolate.

They were the pioneers of bean-to-bar chocolate making in America, back in 1996, and now there are close to two hundred artisan chocolate makers in the States. That’s amazing, considering when Robert and his business partner John Scharffenberger, told me they were going to make chocolate from scratch, I thought it was a crazy idea and would never get off the ground. Thirteen years later, they sold the company for a reported $50 million. So if you want to ask someone for business advice, you might want to ask someone other than me.

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La Buvette Terrine

It amuses me when people talk about snooty people sitting around, leisurely eating pâté, because pâté is rustic, country fare, not considered fancy in France. While pâté can have a pastry-type crust (pâté en croûte) and some are a little fancier than others, the cousins of pâté, terrines, are truly down-to-earth. They can be baked in a special mold (you can come across them at…

It amuses me when people talk about snooty people sitting around, leisurely eating pâté, because pâté is rustic, country fare, not considered fancy in France. While pâté can have a pastry-type crust (pâté en croûte) and some are a little fancier than others, the cousins of pâté, terrines, are truly down-to-earth. They can be baked in a special mold (you can come across them at French flea markets for around 5 bucks, like the one I used here), they can also be baked in any ovenproof bowl, which I did with this terrine. So there’s no excuse not to sit around and eat pâté, or terrine, all day. And not only is this one incredibly easy, it’s also one of the best terrines I’ve ever had.

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Coup de Roulis cocktail

This rosy coup holds a drink from Cocktails de Paris, a book of cocktail recipes from Paris, published in 1929. (It’s available to download* for free here.) I was attracted to it because it called for Cherry Rocher, a French liqueur produced by a distillery that was founded in 1704 and is still making it today. Coup de roulis translates to “strong blow,” referring to…

This rosy coup holds a drink from Cocktails de Paris, a book of cocktail recipes from Paris, published in 1929. (It’s available to download* for free here.) I was attracted to it because it called for Cherry Rocher, a French liqueur produced by a distillery that was founded in 1704 and is still making it today. Coup de roulis translates to “strong blow,” referring to the strong sway or roll of a boat. My guess is that maybe it got its name because it has four different spirits in it? No matter, I needed a strong drink last week when my apartment sprung a fuite d’eau, causing a flood.

The Paris cocktail book is an excursion back in time, as was the leak, harkening back to other, um…issues I’ve had with my apartment. In the pages, there are words used, such as Angustura (with an alternative spelling that may be from days of yore) and ‘focking,’ a term I’d never heard of either, and when I searched Google for “cocktail focking,” let’s just say most of the search results were adult-only…and I don’t mean in the cocktail department.

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La fuite d’eau

Anyone who has kids, or a puppy, can relate. I don’t have either, but after all we’ve been through together, I now have a similarly intimate relationship with my apartment. One afternoon at the end of last week, I came home from lunch and …

Anyone who has kids, or a puppy, can relate. I don’t have either, but after all we’ve been through together, I now have a similarly intimate relationship with my apartment. One afternoon at the end of last week, I came home from lunch and the moment I stepped inside my place, I felt something was wrong.

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Top Ten Favorite French Cheeses

France is, of course, knowns for its spectacular cheeses. As we moved into lockdown in early spring, I asked my friend Jennifer Greco, who is an expert on French cheeses as well as being a culinary tour guide in Paris, if she’d share her ten favorite French fromages. While waiting for the country to open back up again for visitors from everywhere, I was holding…

Camembert de Normandie

France is, of course, knowns for its spectacular cheeses. As we moved into lockdown in early spring, I asked my friend Jennifer Greco, who is an expert on French cheeses as well as being a culinary tour guide in Paris, if she’d share her ten favorite French fromages. While waiting for the country to open back up again for visitors from everywhere, I was holding on to this terrific post, where she presents her favorites top ten favorite cheeses. I know many are disappointed they can’t make it back to France at this time, but when things return to normal, you might want to bookmark this post for your next visit! – David

10 Favorite French Cheeses

by Jennifer Greco

Cheese is recognized throughout the world as one of France’s most prized contributions to gastronomy, and tasting exceptional French cheeses is usually high on the list for visitors. France produces somewhere between 1400 to 1600 cheeses (according to the French dairy farmers), so shopping at a fromagerie or a market means being faced with shelves and cases of all shapes and sizes of cheese. You will likely spot a few familiar names such as Swiss Gruyère, Brie de Meaux, and Roquefort, but it can be an intimidating experience.

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Little Africa Paris Crowdfunding Project with Live Cooking Demonstration & French Cooking Class

I was surprised the first time I met Jacqueline Ngo Ppii, who by sheer coincidence, I’d contacted a few weeks earlier when I learned about her company, Little Africa Paris. I wanted to sign up for one of their culinary tours of the African neighborhoods and markets of Paris. I’ve visited some of them a few times on my own, but I wanted to learn…

I was surprised the first time I met Jacqueline Ngo Ppii, who by sheer coincidence, I’d contacted a few weeks earlier when I learned about her company, Little Africa Paris. I wanted to sign up for one of their culinary tours of the African neighborhoods and markets of Paris. I’ve visited some of them a few times on my own, but I wanted to learn more about the foods, ingredients, and preparations from someone with close knowledge of them. The owner wrote back that they started culinary tours yet, and I’d be notified when they did. But I was surprised when I was at a book event and found myself seated right next to her!

We exchanged books and kept in touch. I later found out that Little Africa Paris was looking to move into its own dedicated space in the Goutte d’Or neighborhood, considered the heart of the African community in Paris. The idea is to create Little Africa: A Parisian Village, a place that will host art and cultural events, as well as being a permanent space dedicated to educational tourism, and a venue to highlight Afro-entrepreneurs and artisans. Another goal of her project is to create conversions about race and identity in France, which aren’t often discussed. Jacqueline and I had a wonderful conversation about that on Instagram Live. (And I’m still completely floored by the lovely words she wrote about me on her Little Africa Travel Instagram post.)

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Dirty Lemon

It’s been quite a year for businesses in Paris. From the gilets jaunes movement, to the longest transit strike in French history, then a pandemic, they’ve had to tough a lot of things out. One of the troopers has been Dirty Lemon. After a major remodel of a space that formerly held a LED-lit sushi restaurant, I had a night out with friends – Jennifer,…

It’s been quite a year for businesses in Paris. From the gilets jaunes movement, to the longest transit strike in French history, then a pandemic, they’ve had to tough a lot of things out. One of the troopers has been Dirty Lemon. After a major remodel of a space that formerly held a LED-lit sushi restaurant, I had a night out with friends – Jennifer, Jane, and Forest – at Dirty Lemon, tasting and testing some of the cocktails on their menu. And even better, enjoying the food of cheffe/owner Ruba Khoury.

Ruba’s goal was to create a bar and space that was for everyone, but especially women-friendly, something she said was lacking in Paris. The name comes from a bad experience she had with a funky lemon she was served, and ate (with unfortunate results), at a cocktail bar in the Marais. But Ruba knows her stuff. She worked at such esteemed restaurants in Paris at Septime, Yam’Tcha, and Frenchie before creating the menu at Ibrik, which I loved, that reflected her Palestinean heritage and growing up in multicultural Dubai.

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Cucumber Mint Cooler

I was astonished when I was eating a sandwich at Mokoloco, which I can pretty confidently say makes the best sandwiches in the world. Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of hyperbole, but every sandwich I’ve had there has been spectacular. From the Cuban sandwich made with pulled pork, ham, pickled vegetables, spicy mustard, and griddled on house-made bread, to a Katsu Meatball “burger” served with…

I was astonished when I was eating a sandwich at Mokoloco, which I can pretty confidently say makes the best sandwiches in the world. Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of hyperbole, but every sandwich I’ve had there has been spectacular. From the Cuban sandwich made with pulled pork, ham, pickled vegetables, spicy mustard, and griddled on house-made bread, to a Katsu Meatball “burger” served with anchovy mayonnaise on a toasted brioche bun, it’s always a tough decision to decide which to have. The menu changes daily so you never really know what’s going to be on offer, but lately they’ve been doing an excellent Fattoush salad, the best I’ve ever had, which I guess I should be glad is a seasonal thing because I’d be in there every day they’re open, all year round.

The restaurant is owned by Moko Hirayama and Omar Koreitem, although calling Mokoloco a restaurant is a bit of a misnomer. (The couple owns the nearby Mokonuts, which became so popular that they created Mokloco sandwich bar to offer more casual fare.) It’s a sandwich bar in the best sense of the word, with the friendly staff making sandwiches and salads to order, handing them off to customers who either get them to go, or to enjoy perched on a stool in the sparse, modern space.

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Bakers Against Racism, Paris Bake Sale

This Saturday, a group of bakers in Paris will be gathering for a bake sale in support of La Ligue des droits de l’Homme, a human rights organization in France that fights for the rights of victims of discrimination and racism, as well as other inequalities. I’ll be there from 1 to 3pm with copies of L’Appart in hardcover and paperback. Each sale will include…

This Saturday, a group of bakers in Paris will be gathering for a bake sale in support of La Ligue des droits de l’Homme, a human rights organization in France that fights for the rights of victims of discrimination and racism, as well as other inequalities.

I’ll be there from 1 to 3pm with copies of L’Appart in hardcover and paperback. Each sale will include a homemade chocolate chip cookie with 100% of the book (and cookie) sales donated to the Ligue des droits de l’Homme.

In addition, I am offering original copies of Room for Dessert and Ripe for Dessert in brand-new condition for sale as well. Quantities of these books will be very limited since they are out-of-print.

For the event, proper hygiene will be respected in line with French government recommendations. See you then!

*For more info about the Bake Sale, visit the Baker’s Against Racism Paris Instagram page.

Croque monsieur

France has been creeping (or bursting, in some cases) out of lockdown. As of May 11th, people can come and go without carrying a written permission slip. The outdoor markets, hairdressers, and other types of shops have reopened, under the advisement of the health ministry, who is encouraging people to wear masks and practice social distancing, keeping 1 meter (3-feet) apart from others. Some stores…

France has been creeping (or bursting, in some cases) out of lockdown. As of May 11th, people can come and go without carrying a written permission slip. The outdoor markets, hairdressers, and other types of shops have reopened, under the advisement of the health ministry, who is encouraging people to wear masks and practice social distancing, keeping 1 meter (3-feet) apart from others. Some stores (and people) have been strict about this, while others remain cavalier.

No one quite knows where this is going, with many proclaiming “It’s over!” while I’m remaining prudent. But on June 2nd, restaurants and cafés may be allowed to reopen.

While everyone waits, some restaurants in Paris have started serving food-to-go, either to pick up sur place, or be delivered. We’ve had food delivery services for a number of years, which are popular, but their offerings lean heavily on burgers, poke bowls, and bagel sandwiches, which aren’t very inspiring to me. In response to the virus, better-quality restaurants have gotten on the bandwagon and even my local French bistro is serving la cuisine française for pick-up…although bringing home a Steak-frites and Frisée salad in a box isn’t quite the same as sitting inside with a carafe of vin rouge.

For the record, I would love it if restaurants were allowed to put tables on the sidewalks and squares, distanced apart, which clients from any of the nearby restaurants would be allowed to use. (And while we’re at it, and since it’s my fantasy, let’s make the tables no-smoking, too.) Diners could still interact and remain “together,” as if they were inside, but if restaurants can only operate at half-capacity, most dining rooms are just too small and the profit margins are just too tight to make a go if it if they can only fill half of those seats.

In other news, I know a lot of you out there have been making your own bread. And I can’t think of a better use for it than to make yourself a Croque monsieur.

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