Maple Sugar

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When my parents came over for lunch a few weeks ago, my mother, who knows me oh-so-well, brought me a cute little jar of maple sugar from Quebec. It is made by a company called Les Sucres du Quebec, which makes a variety of maple-based products.

I love, love, *love* maple syrup, and I’d never had maple sugar before, so I was very intrigued, and it’s delicious! It’s crystallized like muscovado sugar, but the crystals are more fragile and collapse faster in your mouth. The maple flavor is distinctly present and yummy. Add to this the very special taste of things given to you by your mom, and you’ve got the perfect topping!

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Grilled Onions And Peppers

I did not write the food entry I had in mind yesterday night, and my excuse for that is as valid as it will ever get : I couldn’t get back into my apartment until a late hour, for the seventh floor of our building was on fire.

Important forenote to reassure everyone : no worries, I’m fine, Maxence is fine, everybody’s fine, and the apartment’s fine!

Coming home from work, I went to the grocery store to run a few errands. When I got to the foot of the stairs that lead to our apartment complex, it started to feel like a scene from a movie. I saw the firemen’s truck, I saw the thick water hose, I saw that it was leading up the stairs, I heard someone say “C’est au 2” (“It’s at number 2″), which is our building number, I climbed up the stairs, seemingly in slow-mo (but then again I was laden with plastic carrier bags, which may explain the slowness of my ascension), until I reached the top, looked up, and saw flames and thick smoke coming out of the windows of the seventh floor.

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A Diet of Baked Beans

A Diet of Baked Beans

From the ages of ten to sixteen, my parents sent me on séjours linguistiques (“linguistic stays”) abroad each summer. The idea was to spend two to three weeks living with a family in an English- or German-speaking country and immerse myself in the culture and the language. It did tremendously improve my language skills and was also, to put it mildly, a definite character-building experience: I was miserable, but I learned to put up with it.

This fascinating tidbit of personal history helps explain the special place Heinz Baked Beans have in my heart and on my palate: on one of these stays in England, I stayed with a family in which the girl, though my age, could not have had less in common with me. Her number one interest was boys; I was bookish and quiet. She had a brand new curvaceous body to try out; I still looked like a ten-year-old. With glasses. There was, consequently, little communication to be had between the two of us, but I learned my fair share of slang and swear words, and I also learned to fight in a foreign language. Add that to the “useful skills developed” list.

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Vanilla Pecan Squares

Carrés de Noix de Pécan à la Vanille

[Vanilla Pecan Squares]

Yesterday was my dear grandmother’s 92nd birthday. On this occasion, my parents, myself and a few friends and relatives gathered at her place for a celebratory drink, before we all headed out to eat dinner. My mom had asked me if I felt like making a few sweet nibbles to go with the champagne. Me? Sweet nibbles? Have I ever *not* felt like making sweet nibbles? Ever? Not that I can remember! So I accepted, with glee.

After a happy leafing through my wealth of cookbooks, magazine clippings and saved web recipes, the winner of the day was this recipe, found in the excellent cookbook “Mes Petits Plats 100% Naturels” : Vanilla Pecan Squares. Easy as a breeze and scrumptious.

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Rose Bakery

Rose Bakery is a small bakery-cum-restaurant run by a French-British couple on rue des Martyrs, a few blocks from where we live. I love this place and find myself going as often as I possibly can, on my own or with friends.

A low semicircular wrought iron door opens onto a long and narrow room. Historically, this used to be a chartil, where produce merchants stored the wooden carts they sold their fruit and vegetable out of. The walls are painted white, with a large abstract painting covering the furthest wall. The floor is bare concrete and the tabletops are mat metal. The staff — all young foreigners — wears white aprons, the food is served in polished earthenware plates, and the combination of all this gives off a quietly chic vibe.

Rose Bakery

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