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

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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.

Luxury Afternoon Tea in Paris + Exclusive Guidebook (A Giveaway)

Vegan Tea-Time at the Shangri-La

The Shangri-La is a chic hotel in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, a short walk from the Palais de Tokyo and the lovely Président Wilson greenmarket.

For some reason, it’s not the most talked-about of luxury hotels in Paris, yet I’ve been invited a couple of times to eat at their gastronomic restaurant, L’Abeille, and also at their more casual restaurant, La Bauhinia, and I’ve been sincerely impressed with the quality of the cuisine and the outstanding service.

The hotel team is also quite inventive with the events and special offers they create, and they recently issued an exclusive guidebook, highlighting 10 Parisian Walks for you to explore the city’s most charming neighborhoods and discover hidden gems. It’s a slim little book that you can slip right into your pocket as you go on your self-guided tour of Romantic Paris, Historic Paris, Kid-Friendly Paris, and seven more themed itineraries.

Chic Tea and Promenade

This guidebook is normally reserved for customers of the hotel, but! I was so enthusiastic about it I wanted to make it available to you, and asked if we could put together a giveaway. They said yes, and this is how I’m able to offer this generous prize to you.

If you win, you will be invited with the person of your choice to enjoy the Shangri-La’s Vegan Afternoon Tea under the bright glass ceiling of La Bauhinia. You’ll indulge in the amazing pâtisseries and mini-sandwiches created by talented pastry chef Michael Bartocetti, and leave with your very own copy of the Paris Promenade guidebook — in English or in French, as you prefer. (This is a 120€ value.)

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

Vegan Pastries at the Shangri-La

To enter, please fill in the form below before Wednesday, May 4, midnight Paris time. I will draw a name randomly (if you’re curious this is the service I use), and announce the winner here the next day. Please note that you will have a year to benefit from this offer (or have a friend use it on your behalf). Good luck to you!

We got a winner!

The winner of this giveaway is Nancy W. (email: nw******an@gmail.com). Congratulations, Nancy! You should have received an email from me with instructions. Please contact me if you haven’t. And thank you to all the other participants for your enthusiasm!

Photo credit: Roméo Balancourt (guidebook photo) and Bernhard Winkelmann (tea time photos).

Easy Lacto-Fermented Pickles: Beets and Turnips

Easy Fermented Beets and Turnips

Are lacto-fermented pickles a part of your diet? They’re not? They should be*! And today is the day I convert you with this super easy, super approachable recipe.

There is a tiny Lebanese take-out in our neighborhood where Maxence and I like to get sandwiches on lazy weekend days. (For those of you who own a copy of The French Market Cookbook — you rock, btw! — it is the very place that’s featured in the pistachio, cardamom, and coffee dessert jars.)

I usually opt for the falafel sandwich (see my baked falafel recipe) or the chicken shawarma sandwich, and part of what makes both stellar is the liberal inclusion of crunchy turnip pickles, softly pink and delectably sour.

Some pickles are made by steeping the vegetables in vinegar, such as for this quick carrot and ginger pickle, but these particular pickles are lacto-fermented, and I started making them myself a few years ago.

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My 6 Favorite Croissants in Paris

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

I am very, very passionate about croissants; I think it’s about as close to perfection as a single baked good can get.

I love the contrast of textures between the crunchy tips, the thinly crisp outer shell, and the moist, tender insides. I love how the combined flavors of butter and flour are fundamentally enhanced by a properly conducted fermentation. I love a warm croissant fresh out of the oven, but I love one that’s been sitting for an hour or two even more. And in truth, I like a day-old, chewy croissant as well. (Unless I decide to turn it into an almond croissant.)

I find that the croissant is an excellent product to judge a baker by, as there is truly nowhere to hide: a croissant reveals the quality of your ingredients and your skill level in the most transparent manner. It is such a simple preparation in theory, yet one that is radically shaped by the hand that makes it.

I recently contributed an article about the best croissants in Paris to the spring 2016 issue of Bake from Scratch, an American magazine devoted to (you guessed it) baking. This particular issue is all about France, and my piece involved research and interviews, a lot of cycling around the city, and a lot of tasting.

I boiled it all down to (my personal selection of) the best croissants in Paris, which I’m delighted to share with you today. As you’ll see in the pictures below, each of these croissants has a distinctive personality, but all can be trusted to deliver the most delicious whoosh of flaky butteriness in an irresistibly golden, brittle package.

If you’re ever in Paris, here’s where I recommend you get your croissant fix:

French Food Cheat Sheet

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Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Spring has sprung in Paris, and we have had a few of those sky-so-blue, light-of-gold, fill-my-heart-to-bursting days, the kind that makes every Parisian mellow out and smile the way not other time of year does.

There is still a definite chill in the air, though, which is part of the charm of this particular turn of season, and we are not quite out of stew territory yet. It is an in-between I love and embrace, and the perfect time to make the quickest, easiest Beef Bourguignon you can imagine.

In my first cookbook I have a recipe for traditional Boeuf Bourguignon that is really really good (do you know my first book is full of staples from my repertoire?). But when I’m pressed for time, I streamline the process quite a bit to have it be ready in just two hours, most of which is just the pressure cooker working its magic while you paint your toenails (I wish) or herd the small people in your life (more like).

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