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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Best of November

It's a new day

I can’t say that November has been a good month. Except that I am alive and well, and my family and friends are too, and what more is there to be thankful for? It is my most heartfelt wish for all of you who read this. I am also incredibly grateful that the many messages I received in which you expressed your concern and sent words of support. It has meant more to me than you can imagine.

One of the strangest things when such dramatic events happen, is that life does go on.

Even as we keep the victims and those who loved them in our thoughts, we continue to go out, to eat at restaurants, to play with our kids at the playground, to take the metro, to go to the movies, to have drinks with friends.

It is a leap of faith, that whole business of hoping that you won’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time, though you don’t deserve it more than anyone else living alongside you in the same city.

But surely it is the only possible response to terror: #jenaipaspeur#iamnotafraid.

And so, in the spirit of not letting the bad guys win, I give you some happy highlights from my November, and I wish a heart-warming day and a marvellous feast to those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving today.

Good eats

Best of November 2015

• I had a wonderful meal at Le Potager de Charlotte (Charlotte’s vegetable patch), a new vegan restaurant that opened on rue Condorcet in Paris’ 9th arrondissement. My eggplant with sunflower seed “bolognaise” was amazing, and it is wonderful to see a restaurant-style, vegan cuisine that’s delicate and sophisticated. Here’s the Snapchat story I made from the experience (more on that below!).

• I have been doing research for an article about the best croissants in Paris (such hardship) and Gontran Cherrier’s is high on my list.

• I had lunch at Le Tricycle, a micro-resto on rue de Paradis (10th arrondissement) that serves ital cuisine and makes excellent vegan hot dogs. Pictured above is the avocado dog and the vegetable mafé.

• I placed a group order with fellow chocoholics to lay my hands on organic Porcelain chocolate from Dutch bean-to-bar maker Original Beans, and with it I made an egg-free chocolate mousse leveraging the power of chickpea “juice”. You’ll hear more about this soon on Chocolate & Zucchini!

Follow me on Instagram for many more food shots and Paris recommendations throughout the month!

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