30 September 2009

back to quebec for a bit…

amazing01not to confuse you… i am in france, but there are some unwritten things about canada that need to be written! so better out of order than never :)

part 2 of my oh so beautiful and perfect day in quebec. (part 1 is here.)

n introduced me to the most delicious veggie burger ever. then she had things to do, so i explored quebec city for the rest of the afternoon.

but 4:30 rolls around, and it hits me… if i want to buy things at the farmer’s market, i need to do it soon because i knew deep down in my heart that farmer’s markets don’t stay open very late. so i high tail it as fast as i can to the marché.

amazing02i get there are 5pm… and…

madame, je vais fermer dans cinq minutes” says the first lady i see selling strawberries.

i’m nervous. what!? nononononono, please don’t close on me!

okay, j’achète les fraises!” and off i go with a huge basket of the most delicious strawberries ever.

oh no, i wasn’t done. a good fruit needs a good fromage to go with it! so i kept scurrying around the market finding people who were still open.

amazing03but then, i saw these. and stopped. i had to.

qu'est-ce que c'est?!?” i’d never seen them before. [what’s this?]

cerise de terre, madame,” replies the shopkeeper. [cherries of the earth, miss]

cerise!???? vraiment!!!???? je n’ai jamais vu les cerises comme ça!! j’aime beaucoup les cerises! okay, je les achète!” [cherries!?? seriously!?? i’ve never seen cherries like that! i love cherries a lot! okay, i’m buying them!]

*in english, we apparently call them physalis.

but now, i was even more pressed for time, i needed to find some fromage québécois before they closed for the day!

amazing04 ah, safe. they were still open. i always like to trust the fromager to recommend a cheese for me. so i simply asked, “qu’est-ce que vous préférez avec les fraises?” as i pointed to my basket of reds. and off i went with a very strong, soft, and ooooozy quebecer cheese made from happy quebecer cows. yum, yum!

i had safely purchased everything in about 8 minutes, good thing they don't close on time!

but. then it hit me. this was my last day in québec – i needed to buy a book. if not, my flight was in the morning and i would be at the airport before the shops opened up the next day. and it was 5:15. i’m pretty sure bookstores don’t stay open very late. i start freak-out session #2 and start power-walking to the bookstore near N’s apartment.

and at 5:45, i come skidding to the halt in front of open glass doors. YES! i check their hours: 10H-18H. 6PM. that leaves me 15 minutes to browse and find my perfect book. oh no!! okay, well, at least they weren’t closed!

amazing05b as much as i love browsing… i knew it would be impossible to pick a good book in 15 minutes. so i employed the help of the shop keeper.

i held up 3 potentials, and asked, “quel livre est le plus quebecois?” [which book is the most quebec-ian (?) ? ]

she points to one of them, and says, “celui-là. absolutment.”

i chat with her about how the other one was actually a french author, while the other was from quebec and that it would be pointless of me to buy a book from france when i was in canada. but then she says there are more that i need to see.

plus!??? ahh! beaucoup de choix mais pas beaucoup de temps!!” i say. [more!?? lots of choices but not a lot of time!]

she laughs, and pulls out more books for me.

5:55 PM.

i start browsing through them all, trying to figure out which one i liked best.

and then…  i stop at one…. and keep stopping… and i know it’s the one.

and why? just look at my photo. look at all the pages dedicated to strawberries from quebec! BINGO, this book was mine! any book that focus on local products, especially when its my favorite fruit, and especially when i have a huge basket of them with me, is an instant winner.

so off i go with Parce qu'on a tous de la visite: cuisiner en toutes circonstances by ricardo larrivée along with my strawberries, cherries, and cheese.

*ps for those who are interested in buying canadian books, the publisher to keep an eye out is Les Éditions La Presse – i noticed every book that had their logo was published in quebec. it’ll help you save time if you find yourself in a situation like mine.

6PM, and i am done. this is what happens when you put all your shopping off at the last minute.

and the day couldn’t have gotten better, but it did!

amazing06 i return to N’s apartment, and we chat, and she starts to make crepes.

except.

crepes need milk. and thanks to me, there wasn’t much much milk left. i volunteer to run out and buy some milk, and i’m really only sharing this mini-story because i love the name of the brand of milk here: quebon. is that not the best pun ever? quebec, quebon! [bon = good] i have a soft spot for puns, and the more clever or stupid they are, the more i adore them.

amazing07 crepe #1: foie gras + green onions grown from n’s parent’s garden + a sprinkle of maple syrup.

YUM.

amazing08 crepe #2: cheese i had bought earlier + pepper + maple syrup

YUM.

amazing09 crepe #3: strawberries that i had bought earlier + maple syrup + sugar.

YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM. i was so full. of food. and happiness, too.

amazing10and then, you’d think after all that, i was done, right? nope! cirque de soleil puts on a free outdoor show during the summer, and so we went to that.

and that, was the end of my last full day.

the next day, i got up at 5AM because there was yet another show I wanted to see.

amazing11it’s called: the sunrise. and i can’t rave enough about how much i love this show! i don’t really like how it always performs so early… but it just makes it more worth it.

amazing12see? the best things in life truly are free.

amazing13sunsets are also pretty, but the problem is that they are often crowded and it’s to get a good view. sunrises, on the other hand, are pretty much virtually empty all the time.

amazing14and on my way back… croissant delivery!!! oh, the extra bonus of waking up for sunrises!

amazing15and you don’t leave quebec without eating at tim horton’s. i almost did, but thankfully they have a kiosk at the airport so i bought my obligatory donuts before i left.

and that, is the end of my favorite day ever in quebec.

posted by cathy about her travels in quebec a few weeks ago at 12:29 am in evreux on october 1st 2009, but it really is just a late late late night on sept 30th! the day does not change until i go to bed and wake up.

29 September 2009

why it feels safer in france

street01no city, town, village, or whatever is any more safe or less dangerous than any other. bad things exist everywhere, and you just have to hope that it doesn’t find you.

but in my little town of evreux, it feels safer just because it’s smaller and quieter.

and a little detail that gives it that feeling of safeness? there are people watching you everywhere you go. little people. can you see the one staring right at you in the above photo? he’s watching to see if you’re doing anything wrong!

street02no? okay, i’ve circled him for you. you may be wondering why he’s stuck there observing passerbys all day long. and here’s why: his job is to hold window shutters open! those wooden panels you see on the left are the shutters, and once opened, they need to stay open. so thats the job of the little man.

windowsand they’re just everywhere. so next time you go for a walk in france, look out for the people looking right at you. so make sure to be on your best behavior, because they see all!

posted by cathy at 9:54 am in evreux

28 September 2009

one of the million ways that the french make crepes

crepe01in my third time observing how people make crepes, i’ve discovered there is no “one way.” each time, the methods and techniques have been completely different.

which makes it more fun, anyway.

crepe02for example, to grease the pan, my neighbor C uses a potato dipped in oil. never thought about doing that, but it works!

crepe03then you pour in the batter, swirl it around…

crepe04and you use this odd shaped wooden spatula to flip your crepe. i can’t but help of toy wooden swords when i see it.

crepe05and voila, a crepe! with the texture of the moon. last step: sprinkle normal sugar on top… instead of powdered sugar, which surprised me because powdered sugar tastes so good.

posted by cathy at 9:21 am in evreux

25 September 2009

sweet spot for sweet stuff

not much to say, just wanted to share some things from lisieux that inspire me and make me so happy. <3

lisieuxsweet01 lisieuxsweet02 lisieuxsweet03 lisieuxsweet04 lisieuxsweet05

churches

churchlight01 i’ll be honest here, i really don’t care too much about the history of all these european churches… and the stories of all the saints and and all… i mean, it’s nice, but it just doesn’t make me tick, like say, a cake does.

and photography wise – i’m not a fan of taking pictures of churches because aside from the fact that they don’t interest me a lot, the postcards for sale have waaaay better photos, thanks to the angle/light/etc.

churchlight02but! i still enjoy them very much, and here’s why:

1. usually free

2. usually very cool inside (i hope they’re warm in the winter… i’ll see!)

3. chairs to sit on and rest

but today, i added a 4th reason.

we all know this: churches (or any building for that matter), architecturally speaking, are all about light.

churchlight03light. i love light. sunrise, sunset, light is the most crucial ingredient in making a photo. without, i’d rather not make a photo. and flash? never. ever. i hate it.

churchlight05 so with their stained glass windows and flickering candles, amazing possibilities open up!

churchlight04 for me, the photo on the left is too literal – there’s too much going on, and you know it’s related to jesus. but on the right… it’s a blur. a haze. it could be any religion, anywhere, at any time. for anybody.

that interests me more: the spirituality that people experience and feel, rather than their religion.

hmmm. i think i have another idea i want to explore now…!

plus i’m in love with the perfect lines of circles.

posted by cathy at 11:58 pm on september 25th, 2008 in evreux about a basilicia she visited in lisieux earlier on in the day.

23 September 2009

why the 11th is is my favorite

if you didn’t know already, paris is split into areas called arrondissements. and everyone has their favorites. some love the 1st for the louvre, others are enamored with the eiffel tour in the  7th, and of course any fan of amelie is obsessed with montmartre in the 18th.

but me? i like the 11th. specifically, the nation metro stop. way out in the east side where there aren’t any museums or famous monuments to see. which makes it paris without tourists. i’m very selfish and i don’t like sharing with non-parisians that i’m not friends with :)

an extra bonus is that nation has 5 different lines that meet here, which makes getting around so much easier.

and i just have to show you the apartment that i rented for a week.

nation01i found it through craigslist, from a lovely lady who I shall call H. and although craigslist might have a bad rep at times, without the riskiness you might lose out on something wonderful… but still, always be careful + ask for references + run at the first sign of something fishy + have a backup hotel nearby in case something goes wrong. but above all, just use your common sense.

the apartment was so perfect. not only was it very french, but it had so many personal touches from H’s travels and interests – exactly what makes a home feel like home!

H even had tons of paris guidebooks and brochures for me to dig through. just look at that pile of papers!

nation02 I <3 this amazingly embroidered chair. heart heart heart.

nation03a peek into the kitchen, the entry way, and a fun fish-eye mirror hanging on the wall.

nation04look at those couches. don’t they scream “come and sit on me, i know you’re tired from running around paris!” and that duck. and that postcard of hula hoopers in front of the arc de triomphe!

nation05bookshelves = my favorite. they reveal so much about a person’s personality, and i just love browsing them.

bed = sorry i’m not very good at making beds, but doesn’t it still look so comfortable?

nation06and H has way too many adorable plates. which were used to hold all the crumbs that are made when one eats a croissant. and lovely cups. which were used for lots of orange juice drinking, as i need my vitamin C!

nation07but the best part was being a few steps away from chez prosper, my #1 favorite restaurant in paris. i might note i have two #1’s because they are equally amazing and i couldn’t pick one over the other. however, the other one i love is waaay on the other side of town and requires a metro ride home, and i like to walk home after a nice meal. it just feels better, that's all.

but aside from actually eating here and tasting the deliciously enormous salads, experiencing the prompt and nice service from the waiters, and savoring the oh-so-delicious poire belle-hélène… this is how i knew that chez prosper would be a good restaurant:

1. It was always crammed with people (always. always. you needed to squeeze in and out of here. emphasis on squeeze.)

2. No english translation on the menu (you know who they are really catering too.)

3. No photos of food on the menu (they don’t need to superficially entice you.)

breaddo i need to explain this? i don’t think so. but i will, anyway. anywhere in paris is walking distance to a delicious boulangerie. but this one… the la fournée d'augustine, was awarded a gold medal for best baguette in 2004. so chewy, so good, so perfect. and i took advantage of being near it. many times. in fact, it’s a good thing i don’t live permanently at nation… but while i was there, i was living happily on the fluffiest cloud ever.

there was also the fact that i lived right next to a grocery store, a department store, a tri-weekly market, etc, etc, and i can’t write anymore because i will become sad thinking about not being there!

however, i’m only one hour away. i’ll be back, no question.

posted by cathy at 11:03 PM in evreux about the most adorable apartment ever that she rented in paris about two weeks ago.

20 September 2009

rainbow high

pierre01EYES.

pierre02HAIR.

pierre03MOUTH.

pierre04FIGURE.

pierre05DRESS.

pierre06VOICE.

pierre07STYLE.

pierre08MOVEMENT.

pierre09HANDS.

pierre10MAGIC.

pierre11RINGS.

pierre12GLAMOR.

pierre13FACE.

pierre14DIAMONDS.

pierre15EXCITEMENT.

pierre16IMAGE.

nearly one year ago, i was crushed when i arrived at pierre herme on my last day in paris… during the august vacances. i stared at the closed shop, and the the words FERME stared back at me.

but i wasn’t down for long. it only fueled my motivation to find a way to return to france. and voila, i started researching jobs in france, i started my little journal, i started baking like crazy, i started mixing baking and art, i graduated, i continued my efforts in learning french, and voila, i got my #1 job choice in france, and voila, i came back, and voila, pierre herme was open, and voila, i bought my beloved pastries that were meant to be bought a year ago!

or maybe they weren’t meant to be bought a year ago. looking back, i think it was a good thing that the shop was closed. it inspired me to pursue the things i love… pastries, language, art, france, etc. Because if i don’t pursue what i want, they’ll just be FERME forever. It’s up to me to make things OUVERT. (open)

so, no such things as closed doors. just doors that you have to figure out how to open.

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and about the captions…

I don’t care if you don’t like madonna or the musical evita, rainbow high is one of the best songs ever in the musical world. period. no debate. and i thought that it would accent these photos of pastries from pierre herme perfectly. and they do.

I mean – just look at some of the lyrics. Swap out a few words, and you’d never know they weren’t originally about pastries!

I came from the people, they need to adore me
So Christian Dior
Pierre Hermé me from my head to my toes
I need to be dazzling, I want to be Rainbow High
They must have excitement, and so must I

I'm their product, it's vital you sell me
So Machiavell
pâte feuilletée me, make an Argentine Ispahan Rose
I need to be thrilling, I want to be Rainbow High
They need their escape, and so do I

etc. etc.

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as for the flavors, in order:

millefeuille ispahan - rose, framboise et letchi, réinterprétée en version millefeuille [rose, raspberries, and lychees, reinterpreted in a milllefeuille form]

huile d’olive & vanille – biscuit macaron, crème à l’huile d’olive et gousse de vanilla [macaron with olive oil and vanilla bean cream]

jasmin – biscuit macaron, crème à la fleur de jasmin et thé au jasmin [macaron with jasmine flower and tea cream]

mogador – biscuit macaron, ganache au fruit de la passion et chocolat au lait [macaron with passion fruit and milk chocolate ganache]

montebello – biscuit macaron, crème à la pistache, compote de framboise [macaron with pistachio cream and raspberry puree]

posted by cathy at 10:08 pm on september 20, 2009 in evreux about her trip to pierre herme on 72 rue bonabarte in paris last friday.