Monthly Archives: December 2017

Paris Delights

Paris Delights

Now here’s what I love about Paris and why it has a reputation as a romantic city: there are so many pleasurable surprises – even when you’ve lived here as long as I have and that’s a good long time. I knew that master chocolate maker and 9-star chef Alain Ducasse had a chocolate “manufacture” place built on the site of a Renault garage near the Bastille but today I literally stumbled upon it as I took my almost daily walk. This is a place where high quality chocolate is sold but also where it is made. Fascinating! The chocolate, being of extremely high quality, is expensive but you can buy a bar at a reasonable price. I abstained – today. I continued my walk and was amused to see, in front of the top pastry shop Le Nôtre, four giant macaroons. People – including me – were practically pasted to the display windows oohing and aahing over the exquisite desserts and hors d’oeuvres. They say that pastry is an art form and nowhere is that more true than in France where top chefs create desserts that are both wonderful to look at and wonderful to eat, light AND tasty. After an eyeful of chocolate and desserts, I sat down in a café and did what I always do: drink a tiny espresso and watch the people. That’s the delight of Paris.

 

Un Joyeux Noël chez les Rocheforts

Pictures top row: Tiny but pretty Peruvian crèche, our dinner menu, one for each guest with place card.

Pictures bottom row, The Christmas table and Harriet and Philippe posing in front of it.

Christmas Eve chez les Rocheforts. I was in charge of the turkey, wild rice, sweet potatoes, cheese plate etc. Philippe took care of the aperitif, drinks, foie gras, accompanying wines and everything else including making the place cards and the menu. I forgot to suggest that we name the cheeses on the menu but here they are:  a Mont d’Or from the mountainous Jura region, a Soumaintrain (from Burgundy), a Montbrison (a mild blue from Auvergne), a chèvre, a Swiss Emmenthal and for variety, a Shropshire (bleu cheese with a startling yellow colour, from the U.K. ). In case you didn’t know, I have a real passion for cheese and always try to introduce ones that even my French family aren’t acquainted with.

My brother-in-law brought and opened the delicious oysters, the Marseilles family offered us beautiful roses in a rare colour (pale coral-pale pink and the grandchildren pitched in to help me set the table and serve. Santa did not appear this year because the youngest grandchildren – the believers – were elsewhere. We regretted their absence – it’s always such fun to watch my oyster-toting brother-in-law sneak out of the room and return in his Santa suit.  (He’s a man of many talents).  

Right before Christmas, I realised my last year’s Peruvian crèche was on the missing list so I hurriedly crossed town on the metro in search of new figurines which I found at the Boutique d’Amérique Latine. My daughter-in-law brought me some moss to set them in.  A lovely Christmas!

Photo:  A London street with its Christmas decorations.

A Little Pre-Christmas  Jaunt to London 

A recent trip to London with a friend:   I hadn’t been in way too long and had forgotten how easy it is via EuroStar. The weather was cold and snowy, then cold and rainy but that didn’t dampen (literally) our enthusiasm. We feasted on tea and scones (with, of COURSE, clotted cream) at Whittard’s in Covent Garden, checked out the fabulous display of food and drink at Fortnum and Mason (horrendously expensive but you can still find a few reasonably priced gifts), paid our respects to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. I sought refuge from the cold at Westminster Abbey which never ceases to enthrall me. Christmas is a wonderful time to be in London, with all the tastefully decorated Christmas trees and lighted streets. 

For some reason I feel quite English when in England – maybe because my ancestry is more than 80 per cent English. One thing I love when in England is…speaking English!  I don’t have to make the extra effort to speak French and no one asks me “where are you from?” or remarks on my “lovely accent”.  Let me see: what else do I like? I love tea time, I adore English parks, I admire the courtesy of the English and most of all, since I live in Paris, I love the streets of the city which are used ONLY by pedestrians. I am so used to dodging bikes, motorcycles, scooters, Sedgways and other motorised vehicles on Paris sidewalks that ambling without fear and trepidation came as a shock!

As I walked around London, I couldn’t help but wonder how Brexit happened and what will happen now. But that’s another story….

Photo above:  Window display at Fortnum and Mason’s in London