Best of

Best of April

Golden hour apéŽritif

Sharing an apéritif in the golden hour.

• April was spring break for school-aged children, and we took a family vacation to the Perche, a lush and beautiful countryside where we rent the same little house every time. This was over Easter, so we were able to do a proper chocolate egg hunt for the kids in the lovely garden, trying to adjust the level of hiding so the eggs weren’t too obvious for our almost-five-year-old, yet our two-year-old stood a chance. Let’s say it’s not a bad idea to keep a few spare eggs in your pocket that you can drop on the little one’s path as he goes.

• Maxence and I had a wonderful dinner at Ken Kawasaki, a pocket-size gastronomic restaurant with French and Japanese inspirations. You are seated sushi-bar-style around a counter, so you get to see the chef at work on the seven-course, monthly tasting menu, remarkably fresh and elegant. We love it there; it’s where we decided to get engaged, and went back to celebrate our four-month wedding anniversary. (See my wedding post if inexplicably you missed it.)

• I attended my assistant and friend Anne Elder’s thesis defense, which she wrote on the experience of refugee chefs in Paris. Such a rich and important topic, and her research work was exceedingly well received. There is a book to be drawn out of this for sure, and I can’t think of a better person to write it.

Anne used a beautiful poem by Nigerian writer Ijeoma Umebinyuo to open her presentation. It’s called Diaspora Blues:

“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.”

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Best of March

March inspiration : Drawing Montmartre buildings!

• Spring has sprung, travel season has begun in earnest, and I am doing more of my private walking tours. A highlight this past month has been to host a newlywed couple with a unique and wonderful story: they were high-school sweethearts, then life took them separate ways, and some thirty years later they reunited and got married.

They were the loveliest of people, and the tour was made even more special by a friend of theirs, who got in touch with me to secretly arrange for me to buy them a gift of goodies (Champagne was involved) on her behalf during the tour. It was so fun and heartwarming to plot this for them, print out the friend’s note, surprise them with the gift, and take pictures.

• For my monthly museum challenge, I went to the Musée de la vie romantique, where entrance is free to see the permanent collection. My favorite thing to do is stand by the windows upstairs, look out at the courtyard and the trees, and pretend I live in this gorgeous hôtel particulier. (This museum is part of my which you can download for free!)

We also went with our kids to see Électromécanomaniaque at Halle Saint-Pierre, an exhibition of Gilbert Peyre’s work: this French artist builds mecanical and pneumatic installations from junkyard finds. It is a unique blend of poetic and batty, and children are positively mesmerized. The exhibition is on until April 23; go if you can !

• Also : I’m about to launch a podcast! It’s in French and it’s called Change ma vie : Outils pour l’esprit (“Change my life: Tools for the mind”). It will be about our inner lives, the power of thoughts, and how to feel really well. I have studied these subjects with increasing passion over the past years, and what I’ve learned has changed my life so much I wanted to share with others. The podcast will launch on April 27, and if you’re looking to add more French to your life, what better way? Sign up for the newsletter to be notified when it’s up; you’ll receive a little welcome bonus as well.

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Your Top 10 Recipes from 2016

I love that you, my dear readers, keep me on my toes. I share posts and recipes that I hope will interest you, but I can never predict how they’ll be received. Just like with love, a little mystery keeps the passion alive.

But after the fact, there’s Google Analytics, and I can look and see what resonated with you the most. I’m a little late in offering this — this new book thing! so exciting! so time-consuming! — but I did want to share with you the 10 most popular recipes I published on Chocolate & Zucchini in 2016.

Did you try any? Is there one you loved that isn’t listed here?

Fun to compare and contrast with:
• The Top 10 recipes for 2016 on the French version of C&Z (not the same! fascinating!),
• Your Top 10 Recipes in 2015,
• Your Top 10 favorites of all time.

Side note: My food photography improved quite a bit, no? I credit The Food Photography School and Food Blogger Pro (see my Food Blogger Pro review if you’re a food blogger wanting to up your game).

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Best of February

The Saint-Roch Church in Paris

February was a big and happy month for me. Most notably, we celebrated my youngest son Mika’s second birthday (where’d my baby go?) and I completed the manuscript for my new cookbook, Tasting Paris! I have a couple more sections to write, but the bulk of it–all 100 recipes and accompanying headnotes–is done, and I am proud and excited.

The photos will be shot later this spring by the amazing Nicole Franzen, and the finished book will come out in the US in early 2018. (We’ll be looking for publishers to publish it in other countries and other languages.) I will continue to share the process with you in the coming months.

Things That Made me Happy in February

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Best of January

Chouquettes at the park.

I am keeping my nose to the grindstone (not as painful as it sounds) finishing up the manuscript for my new cookbook Tasting Paris, which is an ode to all the good things one can eat in Paris, and there are very many. I am stoked to announce that the photography will be done by the amazing Nicole Franzen, and I cannot wait to see my recipes and my home city through her eyes.

I have to get back to writing headnotes and processing feedback from my fabulous recipe testers and tying up all sorts of fun loose ends (“check weight of average orange,” “why is rue des Écouffes called rue des Écouffes,” “look into the biography of Arlette Lenôtre,” “OK to recommend as hangover food?”) so I will leave you with these quick notes from January:

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