From Montmartre to Montreal

If you live in a place where you get the television channel Télé Québec, I’d like to draw your attention to tonight’s edition of À la di Stasio, a cooking show hosted (in French) by the delightful Josée di Stasio: she came to Paris last fall, and we shot a segment together in my neighborhood.

The show will air tonight (i.e. Friday) at 9pm, and will rerun once a day until Tuesday. (It should air in France eventually, when Cuisine TV broadcasts this new season.)

Working with Josée and her team was an unforgettably fun experience — by the end of the day, I was tempted to hide in the van and run away with the circus — and I hope you enjoy the outcome.

Pour les francophones, la version française est ici !

C&Z turns 4

C&Z turns 4!

I have to admit that the C&Z anniversary takes me by surprise each fall: I was drifting off to dreamland a few nights ago when I was seized by the sudden worry that I had let the day slide by unnoticed. I jumped out of bed, checked the calendar — all right, four more days to go — and resumed my dozing activities.

It’s not that the world would self-pulverize if I forgot, but it has become a tradition of mine to take this anniversary as an opportunity to look back on the weeks, months, and years since the birth of Chocolate & Zucchini, and indulge in a tall cup of thankful thoughts, topped with whipped joy and multicolored flecks of vertigo.

What this blog has done for me over the past four years, the places it has taken me*, the people I’ve interacted with, the things I’ve learned, the flavors I’ve tasted, the friends I’ve made — these blessings continue to amaze and fulfill me, making me feel happy and alive every day, which is all I wish upon anyone.

Above all, it is you, readers of C&Z, that I want to thank: this blog wouldn’t amount to much if it weren’t for you, your visits, your words, and your support. Thank you.

If you happen to be in Paris on Tuesday, October 9th, and want to join us and celebrate, it will be my pleasure to thank you in person. We’ll be at Floors, a great bar and diner that has just opened at 100 rue Myrha in the 18th (M° Anvers or Château-Rouge / map it!), starting from 7pm for a pre-dinner drink, and will stay on to eat there afterwards. (And I will have my trusty sharpie with me, so if you bring a copy of the C&Z book, I will gladly sign it for you.)

* And it looks like it may take me as far as Australia next year! Could I be more thrilled?

Warm and Fuzzy Holiday Wishes

Happy Holidays

May your celebrations be joyful, the company lovely, the food delectable, and the gifts few but thoughtful. Joyeuses Fêtes!

[The little guy above is an amigurumi by French-Japanese artist Ketty Sean. I bought it at the gallery/store L’Art de Rien and it now lives at my friend Laurence’s apartment.]

C&Z turns 3!

Macaron Violette Chocolat

A little over three years ago, over a dinner of shabu-shabu, I mentioned to Maxence that I was considering starting a food blog. “I think you should go for it,” he said. “But it’s going to take up a lot of my time, and I worry that I might tire of it after the honeymoon phase,” I replied. “I think you should go for it,” he said. A few days later, after a few evenings spent playing around with blogging tools and html templates, Chocolate & Zucchini was born.

Starting the blog was a small, trivial decision to make, but it is one that changed my life. It may sound a bit grandiose when I put it this way, and yet how else could I put it? How I think of myself, how I picture my future, what occupies my thoughts and my work hours, whom I get to meet and interact with, what I reply when people ask “So, what do you do?” (in French: “Et tu fais quoi dans la vie?“) — all of these elements have gradually shifted, making me happier by the day. This is all thanks to C&Z and thanks to you, so thank you.

To thank my blog properly I bought this violet and chocolate macaron from one of my favorite pastry shops (Aurore-Capucine, 3 rue de Rochechouart in the 9th). I placed it next to my laptop and waited. After a while it became obvious that the blog wasn’t too interested, so I took the liberty to eat the macaron on its behalf: thin crackly shell, chewy-creamy filling, smooth chocolate ganache, rich almond flavor, tingly hints of violet — oh yum.

And to thank you properly and in person, I would like to invite those of you who will be around on October 11th to join us for a Paris get-together. The plan is to meet in early evening at Le Takbo, an arty-friendly bistro in my neighborhood: we’ll have drinks, we’ll chat, and if we get hungry we can get something to eat there. No need to RSVP, just come as you are, on your own or with a friend or with a pet of your choosing.

Details (where the devil is, in case you need him):
When? Wednesday, October 11th, 2006.
What time? Starting from 7:30PM.
Where? Le Takbo, 52 rue Condorcet in the 9th (01 48 78 39 59).
Closest métro stop? Anvers (line 2).

Flemish Carbonades in Régal Magazine

Carbonades Flamandes

Earlier this year, I was offered to contribute to Régal, the most recent addition to the French landscape of cooking magazines (it first came out two summers ago). My mission was to come up with three recipes, each one responding to a different theme: I was to create the recipes, test them, write them up, and take care of the food styling. To say that I was thrilled would be an understatement, given how much I enjoy the magazine. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement, given how much I enjoy the magazine.

The three recipes will be published in three subsequent issues, and the first of them appears in the Octobre/Novembre issue, which came out in France yesterday. The theme for this one was Ma recette de grand-mère (“my grandmotherly recipe”) — not necessarily a family recipe, but something comforting and warm to ease the transition from summer to fall — and I shared my recipe for carbonades flamandes, a Flemish stew of beef and beer that is sweetened with vergeoise brune (brown beet sugar) and pain d’épice (the French honey spice cake).

The photo shoot took place in my own appartment, and this was fun (you can see my living-room wall on some of the pictures, as well as the table I borrowed from my neighbors), reassuring (I got to use the kitchen equipment I know and trust), and convenient (no need to schlep my gear and supplies all across the city).

A couple of weeks before the shoot, I had a conversation with the art director to determine the mood we wanted to create for each dish, and consequently the kind of props I should be looking for. As you may or may not know, many shops and department stores in Paris will let food stylists borrow items for their shoots, in exchange for credit if the items appear on the pictures. Interestingly enough though, most of the props we ended up using came from my own (admittedly overcrowded) kitchen cabinets.

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