August 6, 2014
The latest buzz on the Paris coffee scene this summer is Folks and Sparrows, a café-épicerie-concept store tucked away on a quiet street in the 11ème, one of my favorite neighborhoods.
I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours here on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon last week. I relaxed into a leather easy chair in the corner, admired the sunflower and lavender arrangements around me, and enjoyed a perfectly satisfying cappuccino – smooth, creamy, and served in a hefty mug for two hands. Folk music played in the background and I felt immediately transported to another place, a cabin in the rural woods of New England perhaps.
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June 25, 2012
I’m still in Italy. The coffee is still fast and the Italians are still ever so sweet. I’m still in Italy, but not for long.
Bogliasco (above) & San Disiderio, Liguria, Italy
I will soon be leaving the country of sunshine, smiles and scooters where everything is possible and everything is doable.
I will leave behind, gelato, pesto, focaccia, 1€20 cappuccinos and laundry hanging to dry in the street. I will be welcomed by flaky butter croissants, crispy baguettes, stinky cheese and laundry hanging to dry in my apartment. I will leave the sea, sun and heat for cold, rain and smog. Paris, here I come! Continue Reading »
Posted in Travel | 11 Comments »
September 9, 2011
Coffee and focaccia – Breakfast in Genoa
In Italy, coffee is delicious, quick, and to the point.
You arrive, you order, you drink, you go. Now, your day can start or your afternoon can continue.
Your barrista probably knows your name, the name of first born child, where you live and, most importantly, what kind of coffee you want and how you want it.
Small and quick, the morning coffee fix
Your coffee will be served velocemente…. you will stand at the bar, you will chat about the weather, your vacation, your work, your kids, your partner, your pet …. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Italy tips & suggestions | 13 Comments »
June 2, 2011
Steve Brenner and his wife Linda Martinez moved to Rome with the dream of opening an eco-friendly hotel and indulging in delicious Italian food. Here, Steve shares his tips for getting our attempts at Italian cuisine to taste a little more like what comes out of an Italian mamma’s kitchen…-Geneviève
Pasta Carbonara (no cream!) and garlic: two Italian staples (Ghirson; Sivandsivand)
Everyone agrees – Italian food tastes better in Italy. Part of this is due to the superiority of the ingredients when bought locally. When you buy mozzarella in Naples or Gaeta olives in Gaeta or pecorino in Pienza, you are partaking in an experience that will not be the same even just an hour or two away. In Australia or the US, or any other really big country where things are produced to last long distribution distances, even people who live near the source are eating something made to withstand days of transport. A tomato in California or an orange in Florida tastes the same as they would in Montana.
Spaghetti Vongole; A typical Italian doorway (Erica Berman)
Yet there’s another reason Italian food tastes better in Italy – it’s the cooking techniques that are not easy to adopt elsewhere. It’s not about precision and elaboration. Instead, it’s about knowing what to leave out and how to combine a few simple, but seriously tasty, things for maximum flavor.
If you read non-Italian language cookbooks in an attempt to find these secrets, look out – you are being deceived. Perhaps it’s a conspiracy by Italian grandmothers to keep the uniqueness of the Italian kitchen from being too accurately reproduced outside the boot, but the truth is (and I may be at risk with the food police for spilling this information) Italian recipes are not reproduced faithfully by English speaking writers. Italians would almost never use 1 whole onion in a pasta sauce (and Italian onions are about 1/4 the size of an American one). Two tablespoons of oil? Ha! I guffaw when I see a recipe that asks for 2 tablespoons of oil. I go through about a liter of oil a week.
An example of this can be found in a quick search for the Pugliese dish – orecchiette with broccoli. A Google search of “orecchiette with broccoli recipe” in English and a search of “ricetta orecchiette con broccoli” in Italian turn up two very different recipes – the English one calls for 2 tablespoons of oil and 4 cloves of garlic, while the Italian recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of oil and one glove of garlic.
I learned to cook in my early 20’s because I was living in Italy with no money. If I wanted to eat cheaply, I was going to have to fend for myself. So I asked lots of questions and kept my eyes open and found that Italian cooks are very willing to share their “secrets”, because there aren’t many actual secrets. They make things the way they’ve always made them, true to tradition with subtle varieties based on location and availability. When Italians ask their Mamma, who learned to make orecchiette from her Mamma, how much garlic or oil needed to make the dish, she would say, “poco e tanto”. If I asked my mother, she’d email me the recipe. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 14 Comments »
April 15, 2011
Erica Berman is a serious coffee drinker. No joke. Long frustrated by Paris’ less-than-stellar coffee scene, she is overjoyed to see that some serious brewsters are finally taking hold of Paris. Be sure to check in next week for our review of Frog Fight, the buzz-worthy (and caffeinated!) competition where Paris’ best baristas battle it out. – Geneviève
Cappuccino from Coutume Cafe – Erica Berman
I don’t drink coffee in Paris. Why should I? It’s expensive and mostly bad and the waiters are often surly and unfriendly. No self-respecting coffee drinker should have to subject themselves to overpriced Parisian sludge served with a sneer.
I long ago gave up on the idea of great coffee in a sunny café by the Seine, and content myself to home brewed beans, leaving cappuccinos and friendly cafes for Italy.
Happily, changes are taking place in Paris. Just as the artisanal baguette was reborn after a long
period of low quality bread on the Parisian bakery scene and interesting types of non Lipton tea are popping up in shops and cafes around the city, all of a sudden good, even great, coffee has arrived and a pro-artisanal coffee movement is on the rise, albeit only in a select few Parisian spots. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 62 Comments »
August 23, 2010
Photos Erica Berman – cappuccino Genova
I’m back in Paris after 2 months of learning Italian in Genoa, Italy. The cool Paris weather is a shock after the heat of Italy, but I’m excited to be home.
Naturally, I can’t help comparing the (Genovese) Italians to the (Parisian) French with whom I have cohabited for almost 18 years. Little differences and similarities between the daily life in both countries are entertaining, endearing and often surprising.
Doggy love Italian style
Things I have noticed: Life in Italy vs France
- You will be scoffed at in both countries for ordering a cappuccino in the afternoon. Mind you, I do it anyway. How gauche is that?
- Both Italians and French cut lines with zeal. Little old Italian ladies are surprisingly cunning. Be alert!
- Taxis in both cities can, and will, try to rip you, the foreigner, off even if you speak the language. Be aware.
- Both Italians and French love their doggies and bring them in trains, restaurants and just about everywhere they can physically go. In both countries you will see many a person out and about deep in conversation with Fido. Continue Reading »
Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Parisian Living | 34 Comments »
June 24, 2010
Life here in Italy comes with simple pleasures. Each morning I start my day with an eagerly awaited Cappuccino. I have found my favorite little hole-in-the-wall right around the corner from my apartment in the Castelletto neighborhood of Genoa. Here, I enjoy my morning ritual of cappuccino, a glass of water, the newspaper in Italian, and a chat with the barista. Simple, cheap (only 1€10 for this delicacy), and fulfilling! What is your morning bliss, and where do you go to find it?
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Posted in Food, Italy tips & suggestions | 3 Comments »
January 8, 2010
Text by Simone Blaser
For coffee addicts who think they’ve seen it all—we’ve reached the new frontier. It involves beans that have been “pre-processed” by the Brazilian Jacu bird, and while it doesn’t come cheap, Jacu bird coffee may be very well be worth the 8 Euros/cup you’ll pay for its “clear sharp flavor with a bright acid tang.” As if you needed another reason to visit La Caféotheque, this coffee-scented haven is Paris’ only outpost that deals in Jacu bird coffee (imported from Brazil). Intrigued? Scared? Read on… Continue Reading »
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July 12, 2009
July in Genoa and things are heating up. It is time to find ways to get out of the heat. Temperatures in the sun often surpass 90°F, even with low humidity, it is HOT.
One the best places to be is on my 100m² terrace, enjoying my panoramic view of the city and port. Continue Reading »
Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 1 Comment »
April 12, 2009
At risk of offending the French, with whom I have lived for over 16 years, and Tory, who just wrote a post on coffee in France, there is just no comparison between coffee in France and coffee in Italy. If you ask a French national who has been away from France for an extended period of time what they miss the most from home they will undoubtably say bread, cheese & wine. An Italian asked the same question will most certainly say they miss coffee and pasta. For two countries so close together geographically, they are truly worlds apart in their customs and lifestyle. Continue Reading »
Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 2 Comments »