How my family is celebrating Christmas in Paris this year

Hello, Emily here. When David asked me to share how my family will celebrate during the festive season this year I was impressed he was so organized in advance… before realizing that there’s less than 5 weeks until Christmas Day! So without further ado here are all the fun things we’ll be enjoying over the next few weeks (you can find my 2019 and 2020…

Hello, Emily here. When David asked me to share how my family will celebrate during the festive season this year I was impressed he was so organized in advance… before realizing that there’s less than 5 weeks until Christmas Day! So without further ado here are all the fun things we’ll be enjoying over the next few weeks (you can find my 2019 and 2020 versions here).

Wherever you are in the world, I wish you a happy holiday season and hope that you have the chance to connect with family and friends, whether in person or from afar.

Emily

How my family is celebrating Christmas in Paris this year

As Christmas decorations appear all over town, and I take the last of the pumpkins off our mantlepiece, I’m finally making a start on holiday preparations. I’d put off planning this year as we strongly considered spending Christmas in Australia (where I’m from) but as travel is still restricted in my home state we’ll have to wait a little longer to see Santa in shorts again. So we’re getting cozy, hoping for snow and I’ve decided this is the year I’ll finally learn some French Christmas carols. Joyeux Noël!

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Chanceux

The other day, for some reason, the subject about the “decline of French cuisine” which had been much-discussed and debated about subject a decade ago, came up. At the time, books were written about it, a Time magazine cover featured a sad mime bemoaning the end of French culture, newspapers wrote articles bemoaning faltering bistros and wondering ‘‘Who could save French cuisine?’, and French television…

The other day, for some reason, the subject about the “decline of French cuisine” which had been much-discussed and debated about subject a decade ago, came up. At the time, books were written about it, a Time magazine cover featured a sad mime bemoaning the end of French culture, newspapers wrote articles bemoaning faltering bistros and wondering ‘‘Who could save French cuisine?’, and French television reporters rifled through the garbage of esteemed bistros and restaurants to show empty packages of pre-prepared and frozen foods that likely had been served to customers. The future of French cuisine was a subject of international interest.

People asked me to chime in on it, too. It was a rather loaded subject because there were a lot of issues surrounding any “decline,” but it was also hard to define – “What is French cuisine?” Yes, it’s Duck confit, Hachis Parmentier, œufs mayonnaise, éclairs, and Paris-Brest, but the new generation of cooks began recasting the focus of food in France, putting the quality and diversity of the ingredients first, and supporting local producers while taking cues from the various regions and cultures in France (which has always been the foundation of French cooking), rather than sticking to a codified script.

So I was excited when Chanceux opened in my neighborhood recently. I’d met Thomas Lehoux a few years ago, and featured him in Drinking French because he decided to improve the reputation of French coffee (another hotly-contested issue) and opened Belleville Brûlerie, a small-scale coffee roasting company that he founded in Paris with his business partners.

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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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The Tunnel Cocktail (from Cravan, Paris)

Note: Join me and Franck as he mixes up this Tunnel cocktail today on my IG Apéro Hour, live from…Cravan! Join us at 6pm CET, Noon ET, and 9am PT. Go to my Instagram profile at that time and click on my profile picture when there is a red circle around it, which means we are live. You can also watch us in replay on…

Note: Join me and Franck as he mixes up this Tunnel cocktail today on my IG Apéro Hour, live from…Cravan! Join us at 6pm CET, Noon ET, and 9am PT. Go to my Instagram profile at that time and click on my profile picture when there is a red circle around it, which means we are live. You can also watch us in replay on my IGTV channel. More information about how to tune in, and watch live, as well as in replay, here.

One of my favorite spots in Paris is Cravan. It’s not right in the middle of town, nor is it in the popular St. Germain area, or the trendy 10th or 11th arrondissements. But a few métro stops is all it takes to find yourself at one of the loveliest little outposts in the city.

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10 tips for a tasty weekend in Biarritz 

Biarritz had been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember. In my 20s, working the office grind in London and going for days without seeing any discernible sunshine in winter, I dreamt of buying a van and moving there to surf the endless waves and drink Ricard (pastis) around a beach bonfire. Instead I stayed in my safe job and…

Biarritz had been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember. In my 20s, working the office grind in London and going for days without seeing any discernible sunshine in winter, I dreamt of buying a van and moving there to surf the endless waves and drink Ricard (pastis) around a beach bonfire. Instead I stayed in my safe job and displayed the surfboard my friend left behind our sofa in the living room (being Australian by birth, it is a shame that I cannot actually surf).

When I finally got around to visiting the ship had well and truly sailed on the camper-van fantasy, however it was still very easy to embrace the surf town vibe that Biarritz offers. Built on the Atlantic coast with a view to the Pyrénées, in the French Basque countryside, it is around 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the border with Spain. There’s a vibrant food scene and the town is a mix of high-low with luxurious boutiques (there is a Hermès boutique just behind the seafront) and chic homeware stores next to surf rental outlets and oyster shacks.

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Caffe Panna Ice Cream Shop

Someone from San Francisco told me that now, there were now too many ice cream shops in the city. I didn’t think that was possible, but I guess things have changed since I moved away. (There are also some amazing bakeries there as well, which I don’t think is anything to grouse about either.) Just like in San Francisco, not only has the baking scene…

Someone from San Francisco told me that now, there were now too many ice cream shops in the city. I didn’t think that was possible, but I guess things have changed since I moved away. (There are also some amazing bakeries there as well, which I don’t think is anything to grouse about either.) Just like in San Francisco, not only has the baking scene in New York really ramped up, but the ice cream scene as well, including Caffè Panna, the latest addition.

[NOTE: Caffè Panna will be making a special sundae of a flavor combination that I inspired, with buckwheat ice cream, buckwheat honey, dark chocolate, and French whisky. I’ll be there this Saturday, October 12, from 2pm to 3:30pm. More info at the end of this post.]

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Making Mimolette Cheese

A year or so ago, I went to one of the Fancy Food Shows in the U.S. that are held once or twice a year, and are only open to professionals. They’re held in convention centers and you can find (and sample) a variety of foods from around the world. Past trends meant that you’d go and find a lot of salsas or biscotti, cocktail…

A year or so ago, I went to one of the Fancy Food Shows in the U.S. that are held once or twice a year, and are only open to professionals. They’re held in convention centers and you can find (and sample) a variety of foods from around the world. Past trends meant that you’d go and find a lot of salsas or biscotti, cocktail mixes or gluten-free foods, and for several years, you’d find no shortage of cupcakes, either.

But it’s fun to stroll the aisles where other countries show their wares. There are a lot of Italian pastas and cheeses, olives and feta cheese from Greece, Turkish olive oils and Lebanese breads, and foods from France. I don’t always know what’s available in the States, but whenever I mentioned French Mimolette cheese online, people would say, “Oh, if only we could get that in America!”

So I was surprised to see wedges of Mimolette (and blocks of French beurre d’Isigny) on display, which were presumably for sale in the United States. Yes, in 2013, the cheese was temporarily banned in America due to the cheese mites that burrow into the surface. The ban was short-lived, however, and a year later, Mimolette was available again.

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Making French Butter and Camembert de Normandie at Isigny Ste-Mere

I never miss an opportunity to “go to the source,” so to speak. And in France, it’s sometimes just a train ride away. Barely an hour by high-speed train from Paris is Normandy, and it’s bucolic countryside, where even the cows have their own appellation; La vache Normande. Not only are the cows beautiful, with their wide black and mahogany speckles, and rings around their…

I never miss an opportunity to “go to the source,” so to speak. And in France, it’s sometimes just a train ride away. Barely an hour by high-speed train from Paris is Normandy, and it’s bucolic countryside, where even the cows have their own appellation; La vache Normande. Not only are the cows beautiful, with their wide black and mahogany speckles, and rings around their eyes, but their milk is especially high in fat and protein, which makes the butter from Normandy, and Normandy cheeses, so spectacular.

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