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Chocolate and Zucchini: A Food Writer’s Recipe for Success

clotilde-headshotAll photos courtesy of

“I’m not a local food celebrity,” Clotilde Dusoulier assures me, as she sips her Perrier on a café terrace in Montmartre. And she’s right; she’s not a local food celebrity. She’s an international food sensation, thanks to her blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, which has captivated foodies around the world. While the majority of her readers are North American, Clotilde is thrilled by the amount of international attention received by her blog, which she updates twice a week. “That’s what’s absolutely magical about the internet and blogs,” marvels Clotilde. “You can draw people so close when they’re so far apart in the real world.” Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 3 Comments »

Focaccia & Cappuccino for breakfast . . . in Genoa

Focaccia from le Coq Noir

Focaccia in Genoa is a mouthwatering mix of chewy, salty and olive oily. At its best it is crunchy on the edges and soft and warm in the middle. The Genovese wholeheartedly consume Focaccia all day long, but they especially devour it at breakfast.  Initially I was skeptical at this seemingly odd combination of sweet and salty, but I was quickly converted.  There is something magical about the combination of focaccia and cappuccino.  I should know, I have nicely accustomed myself to the mix – every morning.

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Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 4 Comments »

Paris Street Music: Fête de la Musique, 21 June 2009


Paris is a wonderful city to wander. With winding streets, beckoning café terraces and chestnut trees reaching out their soft leaves to passersby, it’s hard to remain immune to the charm of this pedestrian way of life. Parisians themselves, as we all know, aren’t ones to shy away from taking to the streets either, whether it’s for political rallies, to celebrate soccer victories or, once a year, to celebrate music on the summer solstice.

This Sunday evening, after you’ve passed a string quartet in your neighborhood square, a punk band in front of your boulangerie and a 8-piece brass band marching down your street, don’t be surprised! It’s just France’s yearly music festival, the Fête de la Musique. On this occasion, the city of Paris organizes a huge number of free concerts, but for many natives the greatest draw of the festival is that amateurs are also invited to set up shop on street corners, in public gardens – basically anywhere they can find some space and a willing audience. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Parisian Living | 1 Comment »

In Italy, it’s all in the underwear (and bras)


Photo and text Erica Berman

Have you ever noticed that  when the Italians hang their laundry out to dry, they hang it all out? Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am particularly prudish (al contrario), but I have to admit I am intrigued. I am not sure I how keen I am to have my neighbors, not to mention the neighborhood, sharing intimate knowledge of my bras and underwear.

When asked, my Italian friends see nothing strange about the hanging or the viewing. Hmmm, it is me?

Fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, Provence and Tuscany:

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 2 Comments »

Smiling Cappuccino – Only in Italy


Genoa, June 2009: The search for the perfect cappuccino is on. It’s hard to go wrong when drinking any sort of coffee in Italy, but the smiling cappuccino from the Cafe in Piazza delle Vigne, although good, but not the greatest, takes the award for most adorable. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 2 Comments »

David Lebovitz’s Sweet Life in Paris

davidlebovitzclouisachu1Photo: Louisa Chu

It’s easy to be jealous of David Lebovitz when you learn how he spends his days: spreading Bordier butter on toast, browsing through Paris’ open air markets, testing recipes, hopping in and out of bakeries and chocolate shops, trying the city’s numerous restaurants, and chronicling his delicious adventures in his books and on his blog, Yes, it’s a sweet life, but someone’s gotta do it, and David Lebovitz had the foresight, motivation, and chutzpah to realize (early on) that that person should be him. His many fans would agree. After all, living vicariously through David’s blog is pretty sweet as well.

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Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 6 Comments »

Rosa Jackson – Food Guru in Nice and Paris. Tour & Interview


Photos Courtesy of Rosa Jackson

We recently found ourselves in Nice for a night and were fortunate to be able to book a morning tour of the Nice food markets with Canadian food guru Rosa Jackson. I had heard about Rosa’s  food tours of Paris and Nice from numerous clients and was intrigued, and ready, to discover.


Olive Photo Erica Berman

We met Rosa at the  Cafe La Civette du Cours on the edge of the central market – Cours Saleya. A cafe noisette and a brief history of Nice and the  old marketplace which started in 1861, and we were on our way.

We wandered the market admiring the mounds of  olives, basil, and sundried tomatoes, the amazing variety of herbs and spices, the heaps of  fresh produce, and the fresh seafood (although we learned that there is only one local fisherman left in Nice). We met with some organic farmers, and purchased some deep red cherries to munch on. Rosa bought us a wonderful tourte de blettes sucré to taste, which was delicate and delicious – layers of dough, cheese, raisons, rum and blette (swiss chard). I bought a thick tomato fougasse (the French idea of foccacia) to sample later.
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Posted in Food, Tours and Classes, Travel | 2 Comments »

Genoa – what exactly am I doing while here in Italy?

Typical Genoa

So, what do I do here friends want to know? This is my third trip to Genoa, and I still have not been to the Aquarium, to the famous museums that dot the city,  or even to  see the house where Christopher  Colombus supposedly lived. I have thoroughly walked on the winding passageways (caruggi), in and around Genoa’s old medieval center (said to be the largest medieval center in Europe).

I have criss-crossed my neighborhood Castelletto, and I have made it my mission to find the best gelateria, the best focacceria, the best cappuccino,

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Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 1 Comment »

Playtime in Saint Germain


While many tourists may be flocking to more traditional art institutions (the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay), in-the-know Parisians are simply soaking up the art in their own neighborhoods. That’s right… public art is on the rise in Paris, and it is all around if you keep your eyes open! This week, you won’t want to miss the final few days of Parcours Saint Germain, an annual contemporary art exhibition that takes place in sites throughout the 6th arrondissement — from designer boutiques, to historic cafés, to public squares, to the local Monoprix. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Parisian Living | No Comments »

Genova, Genes, Genoa, Italy – however you want to spell it – at last!

picture-29Photo: Erica Berman -The path that leads to home

In Genova, finally, until July 17! My third trip. Inquiring friends want to know why I chose Genova. No-one has ever heard if it. They think it is Geneva, and that I am in Switzerland.  The story is quite simple. In the fall of 2007 I needed a flat with high speed Internet in order to participate  in an Intensive Italian language class and learn Italian, finally.  Not wanting to be in the tourist mecca’s of Florence, Venice or Rome, it was proving difficult to impossible to find a flat that was both nice and had Internet (sounds implausible, but it is true). Finally, I came across a penthouse flat with terrace in Genova that seemed beautiful, and had Internet. Although I knew next to nothing about Genova aside from the fact that it was not touristy with the anglo community, that it was a port not far from Portofino and Cinque Terre, that it was home to the best pesto in Italy, that the ferry leaves from there to go to Sardinia, and that Chistopher Colombus was born there, I decided to check it out.

picture-101Part of the door to my friend Maria’s house

The irony, and beauty of the whole affair is that in my wonderful penthouse apartment, despite the efforts of  numerous Italians, the Internet just would not work with my Mac.

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Posted in Italy tips & suggestions | 1 Comment »