Category Archives: Paris

Leaving So Soon, May?

Bonjour from my new “office”, and by “office”  I mean the porch of my lake house, now offering a view of a very full Lake Travis, which is a most beautiful thing. Hallelujah.

Lots going on in these parts. Spring has been sassy, bringing bounteous rain, flowers, and unexpected cool snaps. Although many folks around here are weary of the rain, we can’t help but be grateful for every drop, and hopeful that it doesn’t disappear again.

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Tomorrow we move all of our stuff from Paris into our new Austin house, even though a large part of that house looks like this.

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After ten months, we want to get our things out of storage, even if it means cramming  all the boxes and cartons into bedrooms and studies and moving it around again when we finish this project (which could be a glimpse into eternity). So that’s my day tomorrow. You?

Later in the week we make one last trip to our Houston townhouse, which we will pack up and vacate next Monday. It will be strange to no longer have a Houston landing spot after so many years. Fortunately we have friends and family there who will offer us beds occasionally. Right? Hello???

Mark and I have been exploring the Austin restaurant scene, which like many other parts of Austin is totally different from when we lived here in the early 2000’s. We are keeping lists of places we have gone and places we want to try, and both lists are getting longer each week. We have already learned that reservations and/or off-peak dining times are crucial at all of the trending eateries. Even with advance planning, the search for parking places at many cool spots can mean that you walk into the restaurant in dire need of a house cocktail STAT. But if you make your reservation well in advance and get lucky on a parking spot, you are likely to enjoy many a fine meal in Austin, Texas.

True Food  is one such place. Turns out there is one in Houston (and other places), but we never discovered it. The Austin location is in a corner of downtown that is being redeveloped and still feels a bit awkward, but no doubt will blossom into something lovely in no time.

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Def try the cocktails.

The interior was sleek and handsome, but all those shiny hard surfaces meant lots of noise bouncing around. We scored a table on the patio that suited us fine.

My favorite dish of the evening was the Mushroom Lettuce Cups. Bonkers good, and not something I would be tempted to make at home.

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Something I have been cooking lots of at home is this Roasted Broccoli. There are endless variations on this theme and all are quick and easy. I make a bit batch, and what we don’t eat that night gets gobbled up on salads or on rice or grains later in the week. Trust me- you will never let your broccoli near the microwave again.

Mark and I loved watching a six-episode show called The Night Manager on Apple TV. Lots of glamour, hard-bodies, and gorgeous European locations. And with only six episodes, you don’t have to commit to a long-term relationship. Yea.

That’s all for now, friends. Thanks for keeping me in your radar. I’ll be back. Just like the fruit flies I finally got rid of in my kitchen this weekend.

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Filed under Austin, Austin dining, cooking, flowers, Paris, Uncategorized

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Paris has been much on my mind the last few days, probably because of the senseless tragedies that continue to be inflicted upon Europe. While missing Paris, I am also reminded that this time of year can be difficult there. You are sooooooo ready for spring (which according to Instagram has arrived in just about every other place in the world), and yet there you are, still wearing your tired sweaters and boots and hating them. It was also difficult to be so far away from home on Easter, and so I’m extra happy to be home to celebrate Easter with family this year. I’m making jambalaya for our Easter feast, because I am ready to swap out the ham tradition (never been a big ham fan, myself) and I think jambalaya could be up to the task of supplanting the pig in the middle of the table. I hope so, anyway.

So shall we lose ourselves in some Paris for a few minutes?

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See- don’t they look cold under that stunning tree?

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Yep- there was a reason those chairs were empty on April 4.

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Eventually the lighter scarves come out again!

Eventually the lighter scarves come out again!

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Wisteria!

Wisteria!

Ridonculous ranunculus.

Ridonculous ranunculus.

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OK. Enough of that. Don’t we all have grocery lists to make? Eggs to stuff? Jelly beans to eat*?

I know I do. Can’t wait to see myimage

*Just reminded me of the time one of my precious kids all dressed in Easter finery took my hand, opened it up, and spit a sticky mass of half-chewed black jelly bean pulp in my palm. I totally understood the impulse but ick.

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Filed under flowers, France, Parc Monceau, Paris, springtime in Paris, Tuileries, Uncategorized

Where Was I???

Zut alors! It has been many days and many miles since my last post! My life has been moving at a more frenetic pace than usual, and I am behind in many areas, including this one. So where was I? Ah oui, I was in Paris and had just spent a delightful half-hour in Astier de Villatte. My eight days in Paris were just what I needed to fill my tank after several months in London, which feels so much busier and is definitely grayer. Don’t get me wrong- I loved my time in London and am grateful to have had it, but we all know London can’t compete with Paris.

This fabulous paper covered the restaurant ceiling in our Paris hotel. Each morning at breakfast I tried to sit directly under the spot where our apartment was located. I’m sure the people who made the mistake of sitting at that table a few mornings wondered why I was glaring at them whilst they ate. (Can I still say “whilst” now that I have left England?)

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Isn’t it cool? I would love to have it in my bedroom, either on the ceiling or on a wall. Or maybe in the giant closet I dream of having one day. If any of you are designer types and know how I can find this paper, please share!

Our visit coincided with the season of Epiphany, when buttery, flakey King Cakes are found in all self-respecting patisseries. Don’t even compare them with those gaudy sweet confections of the same name found in New Orleans. Please.

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I loved how these posts were painted in bright colors.

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I think these pretty blue and yellow balls were outside of a fire station. But I’m not sure. Maybe I should go back and check.

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That’s enough Paris Love for today. There is more where that came from, and also photos from a tropical paradise that was the caboose to our extended European vacation.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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Filed under Paris, pastries, Uncategorized

Astier de Villatte

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Those of you who have been on this Paris gig with me for a while will recognize these gorgeous ceramics made by Astier de  Villatte. I got a serIMG_5943ious crush on them early on, and have never tired of going to the tiny but amazing shop on Rue Saint Honore. I have been there so many times that the woman who works there greets me with a big smile and asks how I am doing. She saw me taking photos of their window this week and actually popped her head out of the door to say hello. Really? Like she thought I wouldn’t come inside?IMG_5945

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As I have mentioned here before, these ceramics are made by hand in Paris. The pieces are left slightly imperfect- you can see bumps and dimples and some of the dark clay peeks out through the white veneer. That is part of their charm for me. Perfection is way overrated.

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These beautiful things can be found in a few stores in the U.S., but I am not sure I will ever be able to buy them anywhere but in this tiny shop, with its distinctive scent and magical old-world charm.

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While the dishes traditionally are white, some have images painted on them.

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They also make these stunning blank notebooks.

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I am pretty sure I took all my guests to the shop, and few could leave empty-handed, despite the challenges of carrying the precious packages home. We still laugh about the man at customs who tried (unsuccessfully) to shame my sister about her expensive cups. Nope. Ain’t no shame in these beauties.

I recently discovered this delightful video about the company and two of its designers. It’s about fifteen minutes long, so go pour yourself a glass of something French and enjoy. You deserve it.

 

 

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Filed under Astier Villatte, decorating, Paris, shopping, Uncategorized

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!

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

This fancy Vespa was parked near the market.

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

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

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These heads of cabbage were gigantic!

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The scallops always look so fancy in their beautiful shells.

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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?

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

Happy New Year, Paris!

Mark and I took the mid-afternoon train on Thursday from London to Paris, arriving just as the City of Light was getting dark. Mark has some business here (hooray!), so we thanked London for her hospitality, kissed her goodbye, and returned to this place that holds so many wonderful memories.

Can I just tell you how happy I am to be back in my favorite city??? I don’t think I have stopped smiling in the two days we have been here. Paris in January is divine-the big winter light is everywhere and the crowds have disappeared. Restaurants that usually require reservations days in advance are happy to offer us a table on short notice. PLUS it’s SALE TIME again! I have virtually no room in my suitcase but I am not opposed to jettisoning all of the clothes I have been wearing non-stop for four months to make space for bargains. Or even for “not quite bargains”. For the first time in several years I don’t know when my next trip to Paris will be, so I might need to take some Paris home with me. And compared with London, everything is a bargain. I think you can see where this is going.

I covered some serious ground yesterday.

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breakfast!

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It’s King Cake time again!

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I stopped by Merci, hoping for bargains.

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Of course I had to go say “bonjour” to the Place des Vosges. It looked a tad woebegone without its leafy green canopies, but still managed to be elegant.

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My favorite fancy hot chocolate spot was sparkly and beautiful.

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With some quick steps I managed to just catch the pink of the sun on the tops of Notre Dame.

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That evening I met Mark and some co-workers at the Mini Palais, one of our favorite places for drinks or dinner. I took the metro, and when I popped up I was pleasantly surprised to find the Champs Elysees still wearing her Christmas best.

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The Christmas vendors were still hawking their wares.

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The Mini Palais sits in a corner of the Grand Palais, and has one of the best terraces in town.

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The food looked almost too pretty to eat.

pumpkin soup with chestnuts

pumpkin soup with chestnuts

the BEST scallops

the BEST scallops

Not a bad day at all.

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Filed under Champs Elysees, Christmas, Grand Palais, Marais, Notre Dame, Paris, Paris dining, Paris in winter, Place de Vosges, Uncategorized

Our Beloved Paris

Like all of you, we are devastated by the senseless brutality and bloodshed in Paris last night. It seems the lunatics who are ripping apart  the fabric of Europe will stop at nothing. How will we ever end this nightmare of terror? How can this be happening in a civilized world?

As my heart aches for the grief that has descended upon so many in Paris this morning, I look for some comfort in my memories of brighter days in that beautiful city. I always knew I would seek comfort from those memories in times of sadness, though I didn’t anticipate those days would arrive so soon after our departure. Life is so fragile. It is also full of questions that cannot be answered, and evil that cannot be foreseen or even fathomed, bound up tightly with beauty and miracles and grace that are equally mysterious. Let us try today to focus on the latter as best we can, so that we can face tomorrow with hope.

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