Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Looking through

I walk by this courtyard and wonder at what's inside. 
All walled in, it looks prim and proper but 
I'm certain there are tales for waiting ears.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Watch out the grass is sleeping

 You'd never guess it, but this man here is the rabid gardian (watchman) of the Place des Vosges.  Let me tell you why. There is a funny rule here that the grass that grows in the park needs to rest. Yes,  rest.  The Place des Vosges has different patches of grassy areas where theoretically people could spread a blanket and soak up the sun. Every so often though, they'll close off one patch so that the grass could rest and grow. Most people are really good at following this rule. And when they get stubborn, the gardian is there to make sure they leave the grass alone! I didn't really believe this till I saw him in action.

A few minutes before taking this picture below, tons of people were literally sprawled on this patch. But, the gardian arrived and chased everybody off with his whistle. Pretty impressive feat huh? Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to take a picture of him in action and in hindsight, maybe its better I didn't, because I don't want to get kicked off the park!

Luckily for us, there were other patches of grass where we could sit or lie down.  And on such a beautiful day, it would be criminal not to linger and enjoy as much as we can.

There were even two ducks enjoying the cool waters of this fountain. Isn't that sweet?

Here they are enjoying some sun on their backs.

Rabid gardian aside, I love this place. Its probably one of the prettiest squares, I've seen in the city.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Its never too early for a treat

Remember Meert? A patisserie shop I discovered earlier on in the year? I love love love their vanilla gaufre cookies but hard as it is to believe, I wasn't completely convinced by their chocolates. Well, I just found out that on weekends, they have a small selection of freshly baked mini-cakes, including a mini-chocolate one that's apparently, too die for.  So in the name of research (its hard, but someone's got to do it right?!), I took myself there to buy one or two.  

They were delicious! Its actually resembles a teacake in consistency and there are little chocolate bits hidden within the cake. Its not too sweet yet not too bitter.  Its just right and perfect with tea or coffee.  I can see why these little cakes sell out fast.  The good thing about them too is that you can store them in the freezer and they keep really well. A sweet treat saved for another day is always a good one in my book!

Of course while I was there, I couldn't resist taking home another teacake.  This time, it was their version of glazed orange tea cake.  Little confession: I'm actually allergic to oranges but cannot for the life of me resist orange cakes.  So when I saw that Meert had one, I just had to try that too.

I'm happy to report that its absolutely fantastic. One can really taste the fresh oranges used while the body of the cake was all moist and soft. And did I mention that its glazed too? Absolutely yummy! Unlike the chocolate ones however, the orange cake doesn't keep well. It has to be consumed right away. I think that's not going to be a problem for me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Salon du Vintage

check out that fur coat!

Friends, I can definitely tell you that vintage is here to stay. This weekend was the spring edition of the bi-annual Salon du Vintage in Paris and it was jampacked with literally thousands of vintageophiles.  Ten minutes after taking these pictures, it got to be too crowded for me to take another photo.  I seriously do not know how that happened. I suppose I should count myself lucky to have even been able to take them!

Population wise, there was a wide spectrum of people walking around. Lots of vintage loving girls, obviously, dressed to the nines with retro and vintage finds. But there were also lots of regularly dressed folks, middle aged couples and families complete with poor sweating children in their strollers.  I think most people had an eye out for clothes.  Everywhere I turned people were eyeing clothes or trying them on. Nothing would deter them from going through the racks and racks of clothes. It was amazing to see.

But while the majority of stands featured clothes and accessories, there were also stands that carried retro furniture --lighting fixtures, tables and kitchenware and
60s-70s era chairs  were for some reason, the prominent features of 2 stands. Here
and here.

All told, still an interesting experience but I think for the next one, I'm going to go either really early or just before they close! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

H & M and Marni

 I had a few hours free this morning and what did I decide to do? I decided to queue, along with what seemed like hundreds of like minded individuals, over at H and M to await the unveiling of their collaboration with Marni. As far as queues go, it wasn't too bad. I was in line outside the store for about an hour and to prevent general chaos from descending, we were let in by groups of 35.  Once inside we were given 10 minutes inside the designated Marni zone to choose and we were limited to 5 articles.  I realize how crazy this sounds but as I had made it to that point, it seemed even crazier to just up and leave.  I suppose its organized this way so as not to have general chaos but once inside the zone, it was a free for all. People grabbing stuff off the racks, with some becoming really aggressive.

I wanted to take more photos inside but only managed to snap one whilst holding on to my Marni of choice.
Once the ten alloted ten minutes was up, we were literally herded out of the zone to make room for the next set of people. Whew!

Whoever started this trend of designer collaborations with high street brands particularly H&M has to be patting himself in the back now.  Its such a genius idea really. It makes certain designer brands more accessible  while upping the cachet of high street. The thing I realized once I had left the zone and could observe the people to my heart's content is how varied the people inside were. You literally had all sorts of women--young fashionistas, old to be my mother types,  working women  and social wise- I think they came from all strata.  There were a number of women there who looked like they could clearly afford the "real"Marni but had nonetheless been in line and had grabbed stuff for themselves. One woman even did the queue twice!!  Is it because they're Marni fans and as such, will buy at any price? Are they looking for a deal?

I remember last December when Marks and Spencer re-opened people queued 3 hours to get in!  I remember thinking, what a crazy thing to do. And I found myself this morning, a fine one too, after days of rain, standing outside H&M. What makes any of us, otherwise sane and reasonable people, queue outside a store, for clothes? This isn't the first time, nor I think will it be the last.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this one..

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A sweet taste of Algeria

From the outside, this cafe doesn't stand out from all the other cafes that line the streets of Paris. But the  cold as well as the wonderfully steaming cups of mint tea being drank with gusto by the cafe's regulars convinced me to step inside. 
And what a wonderful surprise it was inside! You are greeted with the delicious aroma of sugary  pastries and mint tea. Tesnime  is an algerian patisserie and tea salon.  They serve a wide variety of Algerian sweets, each one more mouthwatering than the other.  I couldn't help but take pictures even before choosing which tasty morsel to try first.

Here are pastries based on pistachios and almonds..
Algerian version of the baklava with the honey still melting off the pastries

Chocolatey desserts with different nuts..

It was extremely hard to choose which ones to bring home.  And I've forgotten what they're called, those that did come home with me. But what I remember well is the taste.  They are redolent with the taste of honey and spices and they are hearty too with none of the fluffiness of French pastries.  Washed down with a steaming cup of mint tea, this afternoon's gouter  made me think of warm exotic lands.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A couldn't help it post

I've been living in Paris for a while now and I still haven't figured out how to get all the shows I want to watch. Case in point: the Oscars.  Maybe its a little cheesy or kitschy but I love the show. I guess its not so much who the winners are though there are some years when I get all worked up about who wins what (remember when Kristin Scott Thomas Oscar went to Frances McDormand? grrr), but the show of clothes.  When else would all the glittering stars come out in their full glory right?

This year I couldn't help but check out all the fashion blogs and news sites for all the photos. And I couldn't help but compile my own list, so to speak. Its not very long so please bear with me.  Photos courtesy of and

Jessica Chastain was certainly the showstopper of the evening with her wonderful Alexander McQueen gold embroidered dress.  I'm a sucker for embroidery so that definitely got my vote!

Now, I love Emma Stone ever since I saw her in Easy A and last night's outfit was a great one for her.  Its relatively modest but glamorous and super classy. I love that red color!

Who doesn't love polka dots? I certainly do and it was quite a surprise to see it on Natalie Portman. She frequently wears Lanvin so this Dior dress was a surprise. But then again, she is the current Miss Dior face so I guess its not such a big surprise.

And last but not the least is a special mention for Jennifer Lopez, master of out and out va va voom-ness..I think only J-Lo can wear this dress and get away with it. Or at least not have it look so trashy.

So there you go folks. What do you think, did you ever any particular favorites?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Comfort food on a cold night

A photo to give you an idea of the size...poor man, he has no idea he's about to be posted on line
 One night, we braved the freezing weather and headed out to a small restaurant tucked away in the heart of the 11th arrondissement.  Astier is one of those tiny places where you wonder how they manage to pack in that many diners.  It makes for a good lesson in space management. Given its cosy nature, it wasn't so surprising that its cuisine was also hearty comfort food albeit with a bit of twist.

I started with a veloute of potiron because I was feeling chilled to the bone and it was just the right start to my meal. It was thick and flavorful.  Those squiggle like things were actually strips of squid.  A surprising addition to the soup but not bad once I got past the surprise.
 Sometimes there a number of dishes on the menu that sound really interesting that I get afflicted by option paralysis. When this happens, I often have a habit of going for chicken! I have no idea why I would choose the most "boring" dish if you will, but there you go. This night the chicken was wrapped around foie gras and accompanied by noodles  topped off by a cream sauce. It wasn't bad but....
 I should have taken this instead...grilled succulent slice of veau accompanied by girolle mushroooms and a wonderful sauce I couldn't identify. It was yummy! This should teach me not to go for chicken the next time!

Because Astier prides itself in serving class french meals, they also have a wonderful cheese platter that's included in the dinner formula. This, I'm happy to say more than made up for my not so interesting main dish. There was such a variety of cheeses, ranging from the strong and stinky to the mild and sweet that I hardly knew what to pick.  Needless to say, I helped myself and then some!

After devouring all that cheese, there was still dessert to contend with and here I went for the chocolate served on a bed of crispy pastry served with passion fruit sauce. I normally don't like mixing my chocolate but the passion fruit sauce was surprising good. The tartness of the fruit nicely complimenting the chocolate.
One of the heartiest restaurant meals I've had in a while and one I can recommend if only to try their wonderful cheese platter!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Raclette night

When temperatures drop, one of my absolute favorite meals to make is Raclette!  There really isn't much cooking to do and it is one of the heartiest meals you can enjoy on a cold night.

All you need is the Raclette machine where you basically melt your cheese, a charcuterie plate of your own making, potatoes and the most important ingredient, loads and loads of cheese. And of course a bottle of wine to wash everything down.

It is so much fun to do and creates such a convivial atmosphere around the table.  I tried to be reasonable by cooking my cheese one at a time...

But later on, I appropriated a second "ladle" to have some more cheese. Greedy I know.

 Look at it, bubbling away..

 Eh voila, all the cheesy goodness spread all over the potatoes.  Notice how I have another slice on reserve?

This is one winter meal I look forward to every year. Maybe I'll get to do another one before the season ends.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A cozy interior to ward off the chill outside

For more cool wordless pictures, have a look here

Overheard at

Monoprix (a french grocery)...

Busy shopper to a Monoprix employee:  Excuse me, I am looking for the Milka oreo flavored chocolates  that I saw a couple of days ago in this you know if they've been moved?

Monoprix employee: Bah, if you saw them a few days ago, why didn't you just buy them then?

French service at its best huh?