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A Good Sweet Smackdown: In a head-to-head battle, which side of the Atlantic is a sweeter place to live?

Doughnuts American style (Honey + Jam)

It’s an affliction. This I know after living in Paris for nearly two years. I used to think that, in New York, it was natural and inevitable that I was such a Sweet Freak. Everywhere I looked, there were seductive displays of oozing chocolaty chip cookies, obscenely large sticky buns and towering three-layer red velvet cakes. Irresistible!

But in Paris, I was just as big a leche-vitrine—maybe more so, drawn as I was to the rows of pristine gateaux, Technicolor macarons and perfect dark chocolate pavés. Having spent significant amounts of time and invested gazillions of glorious calories in both cities, it’s still a question I find difficult answering: who has the best sweets, New York or Paris? A transatlantic smackdown might tell.

Brownies v. Moelleux au Chocolat

Moelleux and Brownies (Shoko MuraguchiHoney + Jam)

A pastry Neanderthal might say: what’s the difference? They’re two brown chocolaty-cakey treats. But the pastry connoisseur understands the difference between dense and molten. Between fudgy and finessed. Between a snack that can be dunked in milk with your fingers and an haute dessert that oozes into a pool of uber-rich ganache on your dessert plate.

Verdict? A brownie is comfort and joy; moelleux is hedonism and bliss. They’re both worthy and delicious. But as good as a dense, fudgy brownie is, anything with molten chocolate wins, n’est-ce pas?

Winner: Moelleux. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food | 10 Comments »

Meyer Lemon Curd from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

Dorie Greenspan is a francophile icon. She’s perhaps one of the most interesting women cooking French-inspired cuisine today and, having released her latest cookbook (Around My French Table) late last year, she’s also an inspiration in her own right. A part-time Paris resident, she focuses on sharing what real French people eat at home. We’re delighted to be able to share this post, which Shelby Larsson originally wrote for Eat Boutique. – Maggie

You may have noticed that we have all gone a bit nuts over citrus recently here on Eat Boutique. First it was Maggie’s Meyer Lemon liquor. Then Meagan shows up with these incredible looking Pomander Cupcakes. Can you imagine a better afternoon than hanging out with these two ladies around a kitchen table, sipping a homemade Meyer lemon cocktail and slowly unwrapping an orange, buttermilk and clove cupcake? With all these tart treats jumping off my screen, I just couldn’t resist the urge to add my own citrus creation.

Luckily, the perfect situation presented itself a few cold weekends ago. I was visiting my family up in Maine, doing what I typically do up there: cook, read, sleep, eat, repeat.  My mom, intrigued by Maggie’s Meyer Lemon Liquor, had purchased a half dozen Meyer lemons at the local grocery store so that she could see what all the fuss was about.  I knew immediately that I wanted to try making a batch of lemon curd with the Meyer lemons, and set off to find the perfect recipe.

After searching various websites and food blogs, I grew weary of my computer, cast it aside, and went outside to play on the frozen lake. When I came back inside, cold and sleepy, I snuggled into the couch and heaved my new Dorie Greenspan cookbook onto my stomach, balanced it up against my knees and flipped through those beautiful pages. As I read, I realized that Dorie had a great lemon curd recipe in there the whole time.

Around My French Table might be my new favorite cookbook. The photographs are beautiful and compelling: I want to jump right into each picture and dig deep into the chard-stuffed pork roast, moules marinières, and salted butter break-ups.  The recipes are simple and geared towards unfussy meals at home or with a crowd of friends. The dishes come not just from Paris, but also feature traditional food from the different regions of France: Normandy, Provence, the Alps, and more. Like American food, French food is often influenced by other countries, particularly North African nations (tagine, couscous, b’stilla), Spain (chicken basquaise), and Italy (osso buco). Dorie gives great ideas about how to present, serve and store the food, as well as often offering up a bonne idèe about possible variations.  Most of all, I appreciated how straight-forward and unpretentious these recipes are – French food often gets a bad rap for being over-the-top and complicated, but this is the food that the French cook at home. My kind of food.

(Seadam; Francescav)

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, HiP Recipes | 8 Comments »

Le 104: Hip Art, Food and Shopping In a Colorful Corner of Paris’ 19th Arrondissement

Art installation at the 104

Paris is not a city lacking in cultural gathering places. And I’m not just referring to café terraces – be they high brow (the Flore), or controversial (La Perle). Just to keep the scene fresh, in 2008, the Mairie de Paris (Paris City Hall) converted a former morgue in the North East of Paris into a vast cultural centre, Le 104. With its art, restaurants, events and shops, it has since been drawing the bobo throngs to this otherwise gritty and largely overlooked part of the capital.

The monumental space, covering 39 000m2, was built in 1873 and became the municipal funeral parlor in 1905. Over a century later, the building has kept its open-to-all policy and the skeleton of its magnificent steel and glass structure, but now as a slightly less morose place pass some time.

Inside the 104

The 104 defines itself rather broadly as an Artistic Establishment. Under that title, it puts on a dynamic range of cultural events including art installations, art fairs, events, concerts and theatre performances. Around the edges of one of the two great halls are artists’ and musicians’ studios, and within each of the halls there is usually a variety of installations and exhibits and you will often see dancers or actors rehearsing here. You can even partake in free Qi-Jong classes and there is a dedicated space for children, La Maison des Petites.

Art Installation at the 104

There are three eateries at the 104, which cater to the full gamut of budgets and appetites. For a quick bite, there is the pizza van parked up in the smaller hall. The second option is the Café Caché, tucked away behind an interior courtyard. The 50s style decor was designed by a former artist in residence at le 104, Sebastien Wierinck. Here the speciality is small-plate sized servings, which you can mix and match in savoury and sweet combinations. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Food | 6 Comments »

Haven in Paris & Apartment Therapy: 4 Ways Parisian Kitchens Differ

Haven in Paris and Apartment Therapy’s cooking and kitchen blog, The Kitchn, recently came together to discuss the differences between French and American kitchens. We were thrilled when The Kitchn decided they wanted to feature some of Haven in Paris’ kitchens on their fabulous and oh-so-inspiring blog! Already one of our favorite reads, we’re sure you can imagine our delight in sharing our Paris apartments with The Kitchn’s wonderful readers… We’re happy to share the article with you today here. -Geneviève

Oh, Paris! How I would love to scoot over there for a day or two this Valentine’s weekend! Paris is a classic destination for lovers, and with very good reason. The light, the romance of the city, and above all the wine and food make it such a wonderful place to wander on a romantic weekend. But if, like me, you won’t be visiting Paris any time soon, here’s a bit of eye candy and some thoughts on what makes a Parisian kitchen different from the average American kitchen.

These thoughts are from Maggie, a member of the team at Haven in Paris. Haven in Paris is a lush little collection of Paris apartments for rent — all quite beautiful and tempting. We chatted a bit about Paris kitchens, and how they tend to differ from American kitchens. These are all things to be aware of if you are indeed lucky enough to spend a Valentine’s weekend in a real Paris apartment! Continue Reading »

Posted in Design, Homes | 7 Comments »

10 Ways To Spend a Sunday in Paris

 

I always know I’m in New York when, on Sunday, everything is buzzing and churning as if it were any other day of the week. Does no one in this city ever rest?! It makes me pine for Sundays in Paris, when the city retreats into its secret corners and everyone does their own thing.

But if you’re new to Paris or simply passing through, Sundays can often beg the question: now what do we do?

Never fear. Though the city’s pulse has slowed, its heart is still beating, and Sundays have their own unique array of activities to be uncovered. Here are a few of our favorite weekend activities.

1. Linger over brunch. Brunch has most definitely become “a thing” in Paris, and there’s no shame in passing your entire day partaking in the act. Check out some of our favorite spots here.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 14 Comments »

Au Merveilleux de Fred: A Meringue Bakery in Paris

While some French food enthusiasts cherish the macaron, the piled high buttercream cupcake or the newly-enamored whoopie pie, I remain an original meringue fan. Whenever I pick up my baguette in Paris, I always add a simple gigantic meringue to my order, as every bakery keeps a few at the ready. A lot of egg whites and sugar, whipped and baked, meringues are an old standby and perfectly resilient. We think the new Au Merveilleux de Fred bakery, a spot heavily dedicated  to meringue, will change all that soon. Thanks to our friend Rosa Jackson for sharing it with the world and, hopefully, making it au courant again. – Maggie

When my friend Maniko casually mentioned a meringue shop in her neighborhood, I stopped her in mid-sentence.

“Did you say a meringue shop? As in a shop selling only meringues?” Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 25 Comments »

The 10 Commandments of Flea Marketing in France: the Antiques Diva goes to Chatou

Some people shop flea markets as a hobby. For Toma Clark Haines (also known as the Antiques Diva), antiquing is a sport, a profession, an art, a lifestyle. What started out as a blog to share her passion for digging up rare gems in markets across Europe quickly evolved into tours, an online store and a popular international following. Today, we are happy to present her advice for making the most of her very favorite of flea markets, the world-renowned National Fair for Ham and Antiques at Chatou. – Geneviève

The fair coordinators who organize my favorite French flea market – La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambons in Ile de Chatouwhich is going on in the Paris suburbs March 11-20, 2011, have compiled “Les 10 Commandements du Chineur a la Brocante de Chatou” or “The 10 Commandments of Flea Marketing at Chatou” to help customers shop the fair.

Because their version is only available in French, I thought I’d provide you with a rough translation (and a few ad libs) to let you know what the French fair coordinators have to say about what to do – or more importantly what not to do – when shopping this National French Fair of the Flea Market and Ham.  Now that’s what I call the inside scoop à la française!

1) Se lever tôt et venir en semaine. Get up early and come shop during the week (to avoid weekend crowds).

2) Ne pas hésiter à revenir souvent: la marchandise se renouvelle pendant la durée de la Foire. Don’t visit the market just once; return often as many vendors continue to put out new inventory throughout the duration of the fair. Continue Reading »

Posted in Design, Events | 7 Comments »

Paris Dining: An Impromptu First Date at Café Constant

Spring is right around the corner, which makes me reminisce about last spring, when I headed to Paris and fell seriously in L-O-V-E. And not with a charming wine bar, or a crooked side street, or a crazy-flavored macaron—but this time, with a real live man. How novel!

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I left my apartment that morning, but by evening, it was clear that I was on a first date with the soon-to-be love of my life. We had hung out a few times before, but (save for the hideous fluorescent lights that signal closing time at La Perle) always under the cover of night. It had been all moonlight and streetlamps and the dull glow of limestone against the black Parisian sky. Under those conditions, I could pretty much have fallen in love with a rabid possum.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 8 Comments »

Hugo & Victor Patisserie: High-Concept Pastries in Paris

Adam Wayda is an American gourmand with “a bit” of a sweet tooth. Spending half of each year in Paris, he chronicles Parisian pastry and the great chefs behind it on his site, which poses the very real risk of making your computer’s monitor ooze with crème pâtissiere.


A trip to Paris without visiting a pastry shop – or 10 of them – is woefully incomplete. It’s not just the pastries that make the experience, it’s the shops themselves. From the romantic 19th century charms of Ladurée to the 23rd century design sensibilities of La Pâtisserie des Rêves , there’s never been a more varied and deliciously sucré landscape in the history of Paris. Although, if time is tight or if you’re attempting to not completely overindulge, arguably the shop not to skip is Hugo & Victor.


H&V for me, however, was the one major pâtisserie I almost missed on my last great pastry adventure. Months earlier, I’d landed at CDG with a detailed list of 20+ shops to which I’d make my rounds, bingeing daily on 3…4…5 (or more) of their goodies. As my extended vacation wound down and my pant size burgeoned 3 inches, a friend emailed me saying, “Have you checked out Hugo & Victor yet?”

Thinking I knew every pâtisserie of any significance, I barely took the time to Google them. The shocker was the photos that turned up, plus an address no more than 4 blocks from my apartment. It seems they had opened just shortly before my arrival in Paris. While I could be excused for nearly missing them, a visit was long overdue.

Walking through the sliding glass door of H&V, I felt like I’d stepped into a jewelry boutique. After all, half the pastries were individually top-lit and locked behind glass. I quickly struck up a conversation with the salesgirl and got the rundown on what makes H&V so special: Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Shopping | 4 Comments »

Reflections on Fashion Week in Paris and NYC: Carine Roitfeld Remembered My Hair

Model at Paris Fashion Week (I Love Sorbet)

Is it just us, or does it feel like it’s always Fashion Week in Paris? Well, it’s here again, although this time, the clothes may take a backseat to the recent scandal surrounding former Dior design director John Galliano. But in less controversial times, this bi-annual event was known as a time to gawk and enjoy the view from the outside.

I remember my first Fashion Week in Paris. I ambled into the Tuileries (oblivious to the fact that it was Fashion Week) and suddenly found myself surrounded by long-legged, designer-bedecked, blow-dried, sleek, shiny, glittering people. Parisians generally look good, but this was above and beyond. It was only then that I noticed the tents and the PR people who—clipboards in hand—looked at me as if to say, “You’re at the wrong party, frump.” And indeed I was, which was fine with me. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Parisian Living | 4 Comments »