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Best of April

Happiness is a bunch of tulips

The French have a saying that goes, “En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil,” which means that April is generally too early and too chilly to remove layers of clothing. It has certainly been true this year, though we have had beautifully sunny weather in Paris. I have been to the greenmarket a couple of times with my sons, and we picked out these beautiful, fresh tulips — one of my simplest recipes for happiness.

The sister saying to the above is, “En mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît !” (In May, do as you please) and I intend to do just that.

Good Eats From This Month

Best of April 2016

• The gorgeous weather has made it possible to have a few balcony lunches (bundled up) in the sun. What bliss! Pictured here is the veggie hotbox from Nous. Is it al fresco dining weather yet where you live?

• The famous ramen house Ippudo has recently opened its first French outpost, and their Akamaru special was the best bowl of ramen I’ve had this side of Tokyo. (See highlights from my trip to Japan.)

• They say you should eat the colors of the rainbow and I can’t think of a more delicious way to do so than this toss-it-yourself quinoa salad from vegan haven Le Potager de Charlotte. What’s your favorite way to eat the rainbow?

• How lucky am I that the first Éclair de Génie café has opened right in my neighborhood, on rue Lepic? It offers delicious éclairs galore, of course, but also these irresistibly flaky rolls of brioche feuilletée. Pictured here is the plain version, but they also come in apple, raspberry, or chocolate. Which one would you get first?

Check my map of Paris favorites and follow me on Instagram to see many more food shots throughout the month.

Latest Reads

Minimalist Baker's Everyday CookingPlenty MoreTasting RomeHungry Healthy Happy

More reading recommendations »

5 Cool Links

  1. Would you recognize these staple foods if you came across them in their natural habitat? Yeah, me neither.
  2. Ever wondered what French students eat? (Interviews in colloquial French, if you feel like practising!)
  3. If you have trouble drinking as much water as you should, this one’s for you!
  4. I was so very excited to be a guest on the Food Blogger Pro podcast, which I listen to and love. The episode is up now if you want to listen to me discuss my blogging ups and downs, maintaining a bilingual blog, and embracing change.
  5. I walk past the Sacré-Coeur every day and love seeing these old photos of when it was built.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for many more links throughout the month.

Best of March

Sainte-Gauburge priory in Saint-Cyr-la-Rosière, which houses the Perche's eco-museum.

Sainte-Gauburge priory in Saint-Cyr-la-Rosière, which houses the Perche's eco-museum.

Happy spring! I hope you’re enjoying the longer days, the switch to daylight saving time, and the first springtime crops that are starting to appear on market stalls. Asparagus, strawberries, and tender greens! Such a bright, exciting time of year, it warrants three exclamation marks in the same paragraph!

Best of March 2016

Good Eats

• I had the freshest, most lovely lunch at Health Inside, a vegetarian juice bar that recently opened on rue Charlot in the 3rd, an area that’s heaven for people who like that kind of veg-happy food (see also: Wild &The Moon, Café Pinson, Nanashi, Rose Bakery, the list goes on). I especially enjoyed my lentil salad, made with French green lentils and chunks of avocado. The dressing had a touch of honey in it, but what made the dish were the still-warm, just-roasted hazelnuts scattered on top. What’s your favorite kind of lentil salad? I’m also in love with this one.

• I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the gianduja éclair I bought at Boulangerie BO in the 12th — intensely flavored, not too sweet, and generously studded with caramelized hazelnuts. (March was hazelnut month for me apparently!)

• I also had a very special guest in my kitchen: Mariah, a high school senior from Minnesota, was flown to Paris with the support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to pursue her passion for baking. She was whip-smart and super sweet, and I was honored to bake my favorite French sablés with her.

• A sunny lunch at Taillevent ended on a wondrous note with an green apple and carrot plated dessert created by the young and talented François Daubinet. An inventive pairing he ran away with, expressing it with fresh and bright flavors.

Perpetual Giveaway!

Starting this month and every month after that, every subscriber of the C&Z newsletter will be automatically entered to win a copy of one of my books. He or she will be offered to choose between Chocolate & Zucchini, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, The French Market Cookbook, and Edible French, which I will ship to any mailing address in the world.

This is my way of showing my appreciation for your support and loyal readership. If you don’t yet subscribe, you can sign up now. Keep your fingers crossed and good luck! I will announce the winner in the next monthly newsletter.

Loving this

For years and years I’ve wanted to incorporate a meditation practice into my daily routine, but I could never make it stick until I got a meditation headband as a holiday gift last December.

Muse headbandIt’s a digital device that analyzes your brain activity, and gives you gentle feedback to help quiet your mind: you choose a soundscape (I like the rainforest and the desert best) and start meditating. When you’re completely calm, you start to hear birds chirping; when you are losing focus, the wind picks up and the weather gets gradually more intense, which reminds you to let go of your active thoughts, and bring your mind back to your breath.

It works in conjunction with a smart phone application that logs your meditation sessions and provides tips and encouragement as well.

The irony of buying something to engage in a minimalist activity that should only require one’s brain is not lost on me. But for those of us who have trouble committing to the practice without some sort of structure and accountability, this has proven to be a great tool to overcome my curiously powerful resistance.

I anticipate I will no longer need it after a while (and will give it away or resell it then), but for now I am enjoying my Muse band very much, and never before have I been so consistent with the practice. Do you meditate? If so, how do you do it? If not, is it something you’re curious about?

French food cheat sheet

Will you be visiting France soon? I have put together a printable cheat sheet of French terms and useful phrases to help you navigate the food scene like a pro. You are welcome to download it here; I hope you find it useful!

French Food Cheat Sheet

5 Cool Links

Best of February

Rooftop view near Bastille

Rooftop view near Bastille

I’ve always liked this odd concept of leap years, and Februaries with twenty-nine days always feel quite special. In addition to its extra length, this February is also the month that I celebrated my second son Mika’s first birthday (yogurt cake all around!), boarded the Facebook Live train with enthusiasm (check out my previous sessions and hit “live subscribe” to be notified of future ones), and got to be featured by Michael Harlan Turkell on his Heritage Radio Network show The Food Seenlisten to us chat about my latest cooking adventures in Paris.

Good Eats (and Drinks) This Month

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Best of January

Dawn in the Sacré-Coeur gardens

Dawn in the Sacré-Coeur gardens

2016 is off to a delicious start for me, and I hope it is the same for you! Here are some highlights from the month. Please share your own in the comments below: I want to know what you’ve been up to, in the kitchen and elsewhere!

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Best of December

Morning light on rue de l'Abreuvoir in Montmartre

Morning light on rue de l'Abreuvoir in Montmartre

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season! We celebrated Christmas with delicious family meals, and a select few gifts at the foot of the tree. My eldest is now three and a half, so it’s his first year of really “getting” the Christmas spirit, and I must say few things melt the heart like your own kid singing Christmas songs for you (this is his favorite).

December has been a beautifully sunny, busy month spent preparing food gifts, completing an article on the perfect Paris croissant (more on that soon!), and generally striving to make Chocolate & Zucchini as helpful as it can be. Below are some highlights of my month. Please share yours in the comments!

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