Category Archives: food markets

Saturday Morning At The Market

I got up early Saturday morning, borrowed a hotel umbrella, and walked over to President Wilson Market.The vendors and customers were exchanging New Year’s greetings (“Bonne Année!”), and people appeared to be in good spirits despite the misty rain. It felt like everyone was happy to be back. I know I was!


Let’s begin with a few shades of pink, shall we?

This fancy Vespa was parked near the market.


I am not familiar with this pink lettuce but it's gorgeous!

I am not familiar with this pink lettuce but it’s gorgeous!



These heads of cabbage were gigantic!


The scallops always look so fancy in their beautiful shells.













It all looked so good- I wished for my little red shopping cart more than once.

It’s nice to revisit familiar scenes here, but always a little bittersweet that I am now just an observer. But I am not complaining! I loved my life here and I am excited about returning to my life in Texas in a few weeks. In the meantime, observing is not half bad, n’est-ce pas?


Filed under flowers, food markets, grocery shopping, Paris, Uncategorized


The last few days of our vacation to the north were spent in Seattle, a city about which I had heard so much and long wanted to visit. Happily, it lived up to my expectations! Seattle was a potpourri of delicious smells, gorgeous foods, beautiful sights, and a vibe that was cool without trying too hard.

Neon signs were everywhere, and appeared to be vintage (even if they weren’t).







Of course I was eager to see Pike Place Market, Seattle’s most famous food market located right on the water. It was divine.








Also not to be missed is the Space Needle and the Chihuli Garden and Glass Museum. Try to go at night when the garden is lit.





Ballard Farmer’s Market was also a knock-out, and not quite as crowded.


precious girls in hats- always in season!

precious girls in hats- always in season!

We stayed at the Hotel Monaco, a very cool Kimpton in downtown Seattle.

that wallpaper, tho!

that wallpaper, tho!

The room came with a very quiet pet.


The Purple Bar down the street had a great wall of bottles.


The downtown library was amazing.


The downtown streets were lined with great shops. I loved this Veuve Cliquot tray.

Seattle also boasts some good street art. This image was on my phone screen for the longest time.


One day Mark, Martha and I took a plane out to the St. Juan Islands for some whale watching. The view from the plane was amazing.






The whale watching was fabulous- saw many orcas cavorting near our boat.

Such a cool city, Seattle! Don’t miss it.


I am far away from Seattle but watching Seattle-like weather as I watch the rain out my London window. Friday we go to Paris for a night and then on to Normandy for a few days before spending another night in Paris and then returning to London. So come back soon if you are hankering for another Paris fix. I know I am!


Filed under food markets, Pike Place Market, Seattle, travel, Uncategorized

Attempting Re-entry

Bonjour Friends! We are back home after two weeks in Vancouver, Alaska, and Seattle. The trip was fabulous and, as always, it was fabulous to get back home. Except for the unpacking, laundry, and “where am I?” part, of course. I am powering through the chaos, and for some reason these cookies seemed vitally important to that effort.


This recipe caught my eye because it calls for milk powder, which I happened to have from that time I made Barefoot Contessa’s Dog Treats. (I know- right? They were super cute and would have received a resounding “thumbs-up” if the lucky recipients had thumbs). Of course, the cookies also needed cream cheese, milk chocolate, and Oreos, which I did not have in my pantry,  but those things are easier to use up than the milk powder is. So that, my friends, is how I ended up making these cookies by the sparkly Joy The Baker when I should have been sleeping or paying bills or doing something useful. Sorry not sorry.

But let’s talk about Vancouver, shall we?

I made the most of my window seat and the clear day on the four-hour flight from Houston. I loved the way the topography changed along the way.

from lush mountains

from lush mountains

to dry swirls

to dry swirls

to fertile valleys

to fertile valleys

to crazy pie charts

to crazy pie charts

and finally some coastline!

and finally some coastline!

This was my first visit to Vancouver and I was totally bowled over by its beauty and how spanking clean it was!




This tree wore a groovy crocheted accessory, making it almost as groovy as my niece Juju.

IMG_3269We took the water taxi to Granville Island, where we enjoyed perusing the market.


fruit or

fruit or

fruit flavor

fruit flavor?


how come my cupcakes never look this good?




I loved the copper at Liberty Distillery.

I loved the copper at Liberty Distillery.

I would rent an apartment in this building just for this floor at its entrance!

I would rent an apartment in this building just for this floor at its entrance!

One night we were treated to a gorgeous fireworks display, which was much appreciated since we missed both Fourth of July and Bastille Day fireworks this year.


We had the joy of traveling with my sister’s family and my mom on this trip. They loved smiling for the camera.

Lookin' good, Sistah! You too, Meredith!

Lookin’ good, Sistah! You too, Meredith!

maman et moi

maman et moi

Selfies with Eloise!

Selfies with Eloise!

Oh yeah- we had a couple of dudes with us, too.

Oh yeah- we had a couple of dudes with us, too.

Our next stop was aboard the Celebrity Millennium.


More about that later! I have still got some unpacking to do.

Enjoy your weekend, homies!


Filed under cooking, family, food markets, travel

First Day Back

I have been back in Paris for just over 24 hours and am still feeling a tad fuzzy-brained. I spent some time with my old friend Jet Lag in the middle of the night, and am not yet completely in this time zone. So please forgive incoherence or typos or weirdness of any kind.

Yesterday I managed a quick trip to my neighborhood Franprix for a few essentials. Guess what? It’s no longer the “stinky Franprix”! She has had a complete makeover and looks and smells infinitely better. Hooray for enclosed refrigeration of the cheese!  If I could just figure out where they moved the hummus I would be completely satisfied.

I picked up some gorgeous strawberries and this morning I mixed them with some frozen mango, plain yogurt, and a touch of honey to make a decadent smoothie for breakfast. Twas very delicious.

Hello, lovely.

Hello, lovely.

Feeling fortified, I grabbed my little red shopping cart and walked to the Wilson Market to see what new produce was in season. I found abundant strawberries, happy cherries, tiny bunches of wild asparagus (so cute but not sure what to do with them), rhubarb, artichokes, and eggplant. Here is what i bought:


I don’t know why I never buy prepared food at the market, as it always looks and smells delicious. The huge saucer of paella reminded me of the amazing paella we ate in Madrid, so I bought some. Dinner: check.

Are you as intimidated by artichokes as I am? I love to eat them, but they are thorny and fuzzy and I never know how long to cook them. The market was full of these baby artichokes and I had just read a Smitten Kitchen post on Crispy Frizzled Artichokes, so I decided to give it a try. As you can see, I only bought five, just in case I don’t get it right.

Paris is cool and overcast this morning but the sun promises to peek out this afternoon. I think I will take a nap and hope for a sunny walk when I wake up.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!



Filed under cooking, food markets, Paris


Bonjour again, my faithful friends. My older daughter is spending a semester studying in Madrid, and having a child in my time zone has made me very happy. You know what else made me very happy? Meeting her in Budapest for three glorious days of sightseeing. I am not sure why I had relatively low expectations for Budapest. Maybe I had cast it with the dull pall of Communism and thought it would be dingy and in a state of disrepair. How wrong I was. Budapest was beautiful. In many ways it reminded me of Paris. It’s divided by a river (the Danube) and connected by several pretty bridges. The city is built of a creamy white stone similar to that of Paris. Many of the buildings are adorned with pretty carved embellishments like those found on so many Paris structures. Also, there were cafés and coffee houses on almost every street. I felt very much at home.

Our first morning we took a three-hour bus (and a little walking) tour with Viator tours. It was a great way to get an overview of the city and figure out how things worked.   The first stop on the tour was Heroes’ Square, commissioned to commemorate the country’s 1000th birthday in 1896.  This grand square is home to statues of fourteen of Hungary’s most famous leaders. It’s an impressive place, and also marks the entrance to Budapest’s sprawling City Park. IMG_5310


Our next stop was a gorgeous hilltop view of the city.




We crossed the river to Buda and walked around the impressive Matthias church, which is next to a beautiful terrace offering more views of the city. IMG_5335

Matthias church

Matthias church

Fisherman's Bastion- beautiful terrace by Matthias Church

Fisherman’s Bastion- beautiful terrace by Matthias Church





Hungarian Parliament, modeled after the British House of Parliament

getting my artsy on After our tour we visited an old covered market which reminded us of the market we liked so much in Madrid. The Great Market Hall is enormous, covering three floors. The ground floor is for produce, meats, and other foods. Upstairs you will find souvenirs and hot food stalls. The cellar is reserved for fish and pickled things. Lots of pickled things.








IMG_5361   Many of the stalls had been in the same family for generations. Often there was a glass case containing memorabilia of the family’s history in the market. IMG_5351



so bummed I didn't buy any honey

so bummed I didn’t buy any honey

or paprika

or paprika


but I did buy one of these local delicacies- a langos- deep-fried dough with cheese and sour cream

but I did buy one of these local delicacies- a langos- deep-fried dough with cheese and sour cream

we gotcha pickled

we gotcha pickled


Can you tell we loved the market? It’s well worth a leisurely visit.

That’s all for today, folks. Enjoy the rest of your day, and don’t get fooled!


Filed under Budapest, food markets, travel

More Madrid

Life Chez Mai continues to be a whirlwind. We said goodbye to Claire and to Madrid on Sunday afternoon, flew to Paris, and then got on a plane to Houston Monday morning! I think I have adjusted to the time zone but am still catching up on household chores and doctors appointments. We are here for three weeks, when we jet back to Paris with mother and niece in tow. I am looking forward to showing Paris to my fifteen year old niece on her first trip requiring a passport! But I get ahead of myself. Let’s finish Madrid, shall we?

We did lots of walking around and I loved how different it felt from Paris. The colors, the architecture, the plazas- it all seemed much more casual than the elegance of Paris.









Apparently “yarn bombing” is a thing. This light pole was whimsical, but check out these images from all over the world. So happy!


We went to another covered market full of tapas and drink vendors. I loved the lights made to look like chef’s hats!

Our hotel lobby was so pretty. I couldn’t get enough of the flower arrangements.


Mark and Claire were very enthusiastic about the Prado Museum, which is indeed a treasure.


and so are these two nuts

We had such amazing food in Madrid! The first night’s paella was perhaps the best I have ever had. The next night we found a simple but delicious Indian restaurant. Our final night was a lively restaurant/bar that served us divine tapas. I loved that there was such a variety of food offerings- meat, seafood, veggies, soups- all so tasty.

tapas restaurant

tapas restaurant

Madrid also had lots of pastry shops and, unlike Paris, they all offered coffee and seating space so that you could pop in for a sweet snack at any time of the day. We did not sample any pastries, but there were plenty from which to choose.


Sunday morning Claire and I went to a flea market and then walked back to the hotel. Unlike the Paris flea market, there were no old treasures to paw through. It was kind of like Wal-Mart in different stalls. But nicer, of course.



fun tiles






biggest damn peppers I have ever seen!

biggest damn peppers I have ever seen!




he was made of CD's!

he was made of CD’s!

Maybe I will be lucky enough to go back in the spring, when the plazas and sidewalks and parks are full of people and leafy trees. I bet the sangria tastes even better when it’s warm outside!

I hope you all are staying warm, wherever you are.

Thanks for stopping by, and y’all come back, ya hear?


Filed under flea market, flowers, food markets, Spain, travel

Girl Time In Paris

When I came back to Paris this time I was lucky enough to be joined first by one daughter, and then the other, and THEN three of her friends from Texas. Do I even need to tell you how wonderful it was having 4/5 of my family here? Pret-ty darn fabulous. We missed our son/brother, bien sûr, but sent him pics until he begged us to stop.

My two daughters were here together for a few days. We did some shopping and some dining, and enjoyed Paris at Christmas time.


Then Martha’s three friends/roommates arrived, and the apartment quickly overflowed with girls and boots and good smells and laughter. I was one very content mama, I can tell you.

The girls made the most of their six-day stay, and were admired by many a man about town. They may not have noticed, but I was behind them, picking up the rear, and I can assure you that they never went unnoticed. But I guess they are used to that. Ah, youth.

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde

I can't remember where this one was taken.

I can’t remember where this one was taken.

on the one sunny day....

on the one sunny day….




That same sunny day they also had a pricey drink at the top of the Pompidou, followed by gelato at Amorino.


Martha and I shared the tour guide umbrella. One day I took them to Saint-Germain because, you know, j’adore.

bus stop beauties

bus stop beauties

We went to Luxembourg Gardens, which was pretty empty on a cold winter’s day.



We also visited Au Bon Marche, Cire Trudon, Coton Deux (we love their pajamas), Hermes, Rue de Buci, and finished at Cafe de Flore for hot chocolate and wine (for moi).

Another day we went to the fun and feisty Marche d’Aligre, where the girls got A LOT of appreciation from the spirited vendors.


We had fun looking at all the produce and enjoying many juicy citrus samples. The small flea market just behind the outdoor market revealed treasures to be explored. One friend bargained hard and bought this framed pencil sketch for her mom. I think she ended up getting it for 1/2 of the first price he quoted her. The girl’s got skills.


From the flea market we entered the old covered market, which was still festive with Christmas decorations and lights.





I loved having these girls in Paris with us. They were perfect guests. They were super enthusiastic about everything, even through jet lag and winter grey. They were all adventurous eaters, which automatically earned my badge of approval. No one needed lots of primping time, so they were able to get out of the apartment early each morning, making their tour guide very happy. They helped in the kitchen and cleaned up after themselves, and they even let Mark and me hang out on the couches with them. And did I mention that they loved to eat??? Gold stars all around!

It sure has been nice living in a city that people want to visit. Mark and I have had such fun entertaining guests during our time here. It’s hard not to have a good time in Paris. We miss our family, and we miss our friends, but sometimes they meet us in Paris, which is always a good idea.

Merci, girls, for making Paris just a little more sparkly for a week.

Now get to work. And Hook ‘Em Horns!


Filed under Cire Trudon, Eiffel Tower, family, flea market, flowers, food markets, gardens, Luxembourg Gardens, Montmartre, Paris, Paris in winter, Sacre-Coeur, Uncategorized