Saying cheese in French

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The tastes of autumn… Fall is a lovely time to stroll through a Paris market and take the opportunity to reconnect with local merchants. Your cheese vendor, wineshop keeper and greengrocer can help you celebrate France’s autumn bounty by pointing out in-season foods that complement each other, such as fruit, cheese and wine.

Knowing what is in season is easier with fruit than with cheese. It is obvious when fruit is ripe for picking but how do we know when a cheese is in season? Christian Lelann, proprietor of three Paris fromageries: La Ferme Saint Aubin, La Cave aux fromages, and La Ferme des Arenes, says: “Like a fruit, a cheese is ripe when it is ready to be enjoyed.” He should know, being devoted to authentic production methods as president of the Chambre de metiers et de l’artisanat de Paris.

Hard cheeses like Beaufort and Comte are made from milk collected in the summer and their production method dictates that they be aged one or two years after the end of the summer when the milk was collected from alpine cows.

Mont d’Or, the soft cheese from the Jura, delicious eaten warm with potatoes, is in season also when its recipe calls for it to be so. This is from September 10 until March. Cheese shops buy Mont d’Or half-ripened from the producer and wait two weeks before selling it, first rubbing it with white wine.

As with fruit, some people prefer cheese less or more ripe. Goats cheese is aged according to the tastes of the fromagerie’s clientele and can be enjoyed in September, but will have more milk flavor in October.

The perfect autumn partnerships

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La Cave de Georges Duboeuf © L. MacDonald

Enjoy creating delicious combinations by following these guidelines offered by Charles Varin-Bernier, owner of the cheese shop La Fermerie.

When it comes to selecting cheese and fruit combinations, he recommends simply selecting cheeses and fruits that are at their best in the fall. They are a good match in flavor and texture for cheeses that peak at this time of year.

Indulge yourself in goat cheeses – either soft and fresh ones or hard, older ones – and complete the taste experience with a dry white wine.

Creamy Reblochon Fermier cheese from Savoie is also an autumn treat. Varin-Bernier describes its intriguing aromas to include “a delicate perfume of stables with a hint of milk and damp cellar.” Serve this one with a light red. Beaujolais is often paired with Reblochon.

In fall, another fantastic cheese is Munster from Alsace, especially the farmhouse variety. A matured cheese like this will be full of strong flavor with a fruitiness that complements the white wine Gewurztraminer.

And there’s more combination fun to look forward to too, with the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November. When sipping on the 2006 vintage, Georges Duboeuf, the winery that produces the most Beaujolais Nouveau, recommends munching on a young goat cheese.

La Fermerie, 37 rue Carnot, Levallois-Perret., La Ferme des Arenne, 60  rue Monge,
La Cave aux Fromage, 1  rue du Retrait, La Ferme st Aubin, 76  rue St Louis en I’Ile
8e La Cave de Georges Duboeuf, 9 rue Marbeuf

Tea Time in Paris

Mosquée © DudleyAlthough Paris is known for its cafés it also has many cosy and elegant tearooms where you can pass an afternoon enjoying fine-quality tea with delicious cakes and pastries. While many people know about the city’s most famous tearooms such as the “Mariage Frères” and “Angelina’s,” there are also plenty of excellent lesser-known tearooms worth a visit.  Here are some of our favorites:

L’Oisivethé

L’Oisivethé is a cute knitting-themed tearoom and yarn shop in the heart of the “Buttes aux Cailles.” The tearoom is quaintly decorated with all manner of yarns, as well as knitting-based kits, books and accessories, which are all for sale. L’Oisivethé (the name plays on the French words for both idleness and tea) proposes an overwhelming choice of gourmet “Løv Organic” teas – of which the “Løv Zen Rooibus” blend is definitely worth trying – American-style cakes and desserts, a light lunch menu with vegetarian options, and brunch on the weekends from 11am to 4pm. The tearoom also holds weekly knitting and crocheting workshops on Wednesdays from 7pm. 1, rue Jean-Marie-Jego, 75013, Metro Corvisart, //www.loisivethe.com, closed on Mondays. The price: A pot of tea and a cake costs around €7.50.

Merci

Located in the trendy Oberkampf district, Merci is a lot more than a simple “salon de thé.” It is also a charity store which is run by the founders of the luxury Bonpoint brand. It is not at all like a traditional charity store, but more like a large and stylish concept boutique. It’s a huge and eclectically decorated loft-style space set over 3 floors, where you can shop for both new and vintage clothing, trendy home-wares, perfume or even flowers from the on-site florist. One of the best things about Merci though is its cosy in-house tearoom, called the “Used Book Café,” where you can sink into a couch with a pot of tea and a cake while flicking through a secondhand book. You might pay a little bit more for a cup of tea here, but it’s all for a good cause. Profits are donated to a charity for disadvantaged children. 111, boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003, Metro Saint Sébastien-Froissart, //www.merci-merci.com, closed on Sundays. The price: A cup of tea costs around €5.00 and cakes start from around €6.00.

La Fourmi Ailée
Just a few minutes’ walk from Notre Dame, this is the place to come if you want to relax after a day’s sight-seeing in the Latin Quarter. Popular with the locals, it is a converted former library with a beautiful old-world decor. It is more of a restaurant than a tearoom, but has a wide selection of fine loose-leaf teas (their Earl Grey de Ceylan blend is particularly good) served in traditional Chinese teapots, which can be enjoyed by a log fire. For a little something to eat before your tea, quiches are their speciality. The chocolate fondant is just divine. 8 rue du Fouarre, 75005, Metro Cluny – La Sorbonne, 01 43 29 40 99, open daily. The price: A pot of tea will cost you a somewhat pricey €4.50 (it is, afterall, in the Latin Quarter).

Café Maure de la Mosquée de Paris

If you’re in the Latin Quarter and looking for something a little less expensive and a lot more exotic, the Café Maure is totally different from most Parisian “salons de thé.” It is a North-African tearoom set within the Mosquée de Paris – Paris’s first Mosque, which was built in honour of the French-Arab soldiers who were killed in the First World War. Here you can enjoy “thé à la menthe” (sweet mint tea) and delicious traditional pastries in a laid-back setting, either in the leafy courtyard or in the indoor oriental-style tearoom. As pleasant as it is though to idle on the terrace drinking tea in the shade of the fig trees, your visit shouldn’t end here. You can also enjoy the Turkish baths, which are very reasonably priced and open at set times depending on gender. There is also an on-site restaurant serving Middle-Eastern cuisine, and a small market where you can pick up some authentic traditional handicrafts.  39, rue Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire 75005 Paris, Metro Place Monge, //www.la-mosquee.com/htmluk/entreeuk.htm, open daily. The Price: A cup of thé a la menthe costs a meagre €2.00, and pastries are also just €2.00 each.

Tea Corner

This delightful little tearoom is set on a quiet street, just a few steps from the busy Montorgeuil pedestrian market. It has a modern yet unpretentious atmosphere and offers free Wi-Fi. It is an ideal spot to linger on a wintery afternoon, with a choice of over 50 flavoured and pure “Palais des Thés” blends. Tea Corner takes the art of tea drinking seriously. Their flavoursome blends are served in special tea-infusing cups, accompanied by a sand timer, allowing you to get the perfect brew. They also offer the most authentic-tasting chai I’ve had in Paris, and their Muffins “au coeur de nutella” are simply delicious.  6, rue Mandar, 75002, Metro Sentier, //www.teacorner.fr closed Mondays. The price: A mug of tea will cost you €3.50, or you can choose the tea plus cake/dessert option for €7.90.

Tea and Tattered Pages

Run by a lovely lady and her big orange cat, Tea and Tattered Pages is a warm and welcoming respite from the chaotic Parisian streets. It is a secondhand bookstore that incorporates a small country-style tearoom. It offers a variety of affordable teas and infusions (of the tea-bag variety here), and British-style snacks, such as carrot cake, scones and fruit crumbles. Nicely tucked away off the beaten Parisian track, it’s an ideal place to quietly relax to some classical music with a tea and some home-made scones. With the nostalgic smell of old books, the cluttered bookshelves and the dainty floral tea cups, this unassuming homey charm sets this place apart from other Parisian tearooms. 24, rue de Mayet, 75006 Paris, Metro Falguiere, //www.teaandtatteredpages.com, open daily The price: A pot of tea will cost you €3.20 and cakes and desserts are around €5.00.

Canal Saint-Martin

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Canal St Martin ©  Atherton

With its swinging footbridges and tree-lined quais teeming with people on long hot summer afternoons, the Canal Saint-Martin is yet another example of how appealing Paris is when it lives up to its clichés. Rooted in the city’s industrial past, today the canal offers plenty of opportunities for biking, sightseeing, and enjoying Parisian life at its most relaxed.  

Saint-Martin is one section of an 81-mile waterway network, including Canals Saint-Denis and Ourcq. Commissioned by Napoleon in the early 19th century to provide Parisians with clean drinking water, the canals also kept the Seine free of industrial boat traffic.

 Connecting to the Seine just east of the Ile-Saint-Louis, Saint-Martin runs underground between Bastille and République. It ends in the 19th arrondissement, where it meets Canals Ourcq and Saint-Denis. The latter flows down from the northern stretch of the Seine at the Ile de Saint-Denis. Both are fed by the 68-mile long Canal de l’Ourcq, which runs north-east of Paris.

The populaires neighborhoods that sprung up around Saint-Martin served as inspiration to a number of artists before World War II. Its most famous reference point is in Marcel Carné’s 1938 classic “Hôtel du Nord,” starring Arletty.  The film was shot in a life-size studio replica of the canal, but the original hotel still stands at 102 quai de Jemmapes (Mº Jacques Bonsergent).

The canal network has become the focus of a 6-year, $85.7 million preservation and development project, launched by former Mayor Jean Tiberi in 2003. In addition to renovating the canals, which were in need of major repairs, the Mairie de Paris is developing recreational programs that appeal to both locals and tourists.

Biking
On Sundays, the quais of the 10th – between Valmy and Jemmapes – are closed to traffic from 10am to 8pm during the summer and 10am to 6pm the rest of the year.  Bikers can also follow the canal-side bike path, starting at République, before turning onto Canal Ourcq, and pedalling out of the city for a day trip. Parc de la Bergère offers a nice backdrop for a picnic lunch. The path ends a few miles out of Paris, near Claye Souilly.

Bikes can be rented from Cyclo-Pouce, a small bike shop at 38 quai de la Marne, 19e Mº Ourcq,  Also Maison Roue Libre Bastille, 37 bd Bourdon, 4e, has over 100 bikes to rent and is open daily from 9 to 7. Mº Bastille.

Canal Cruises
Canal cruises enable you to explore the one-and-a-half mile subterranean section of Saint-Martin, only accessible by boat, and to pass through the canal’s four double locks as they rise and the gates open. (Traditionalists will be glad to hear that time hasn’t quickened the process.)  “Paris Canal” cruises have been operating on Canal Saint-Martin for 28 years. Boats cruise past the major sights of the Seine as well as along the canal. The “Canauxrama” tour offers a variety of special options, including lunch and cabaret cruises, in addition to their standard cruise along Saint-Martin.

 Canal Cruising Details
PARIS CANALCruises last roughly 21/2 hours. The morning cruise departs at 9:30am from the Musée d’Orsay (Mº Solférino), arriving at Parc de la Villette (Mº Porte de Pantin). At 2:30pm the boat heads back from the Parc to the Musée d’Orsay. Boat-hire for a day-cruise or reception is also available. From mid-March to mid-November, 19-21 Quai de la Loire, 19e, Mº Laumière, //www.pariscanal.com

CANAUXRAMA Bassin de la VilletteThree boats – the Marcel Carné, Alliance, and the Arletty – drift quietly between Parc de la Villette and Port de l’Arsenal, via the Saint-Martin Canal. Departure from 50 bd de la Bastille (M° Bastille) at 9:45am and 2:30pm. Additional high season only departures from 13 Quai de la Loire at the Bassin de la Villette (Mº Jaurès) at 9:45am and 2:45pm, 13 quai de la Loire, 19e, Mº Jaurès, //www.canauxrama.com  

Exploring on Foot
If you’re not a biker or short on money for a cruise, Canal Saint-Martin makes a great place for a leisurely walk. The canal-side path runs from République to Parc de la Villette. You could bring a picnic to eat along the edge of the quais, or pop into one of the tiny bars or restaurants dotting the canal. If you can handle the cobblestone, the section of the quai that’s closed on Sundays is good for skating.   

 

Memories of 9/11 seen from Paris

For the 9/11 anniversary we are re-running a commentary written by Parisvoice’s David Applefield on how this event was experienced by American expats in Paris at that time. The edition with these observations appeared two weeks after 9/11.

 Candles and Condolences… For Americans in Paris the existential task of reflecting on our own identity is one that we are used to already. Almost daily, we are reminded that there are ways — other than our own — of looking at problems, of working, talking, understanding history, or doing almost everything.
With the horrendous, live images of our boldest symbols crumbling (in nightmarish repetition) before our screen-abused eyes, being an American in Paris throughout this extended moment of treachery has been an experience drastically different to being an American at “home.”

We test this truth in every long-distance call we conduct. 
Graciously, we’ve been showered with genuine expressions of sympathy and solidarity from non-American friends, colleagues and neighbors, many of whom we might otherwise have spoken to rarely or with whom the daily cloisson of reserved Parisian behavior remained a barrier. Following the initial shock of disbelief, my first tears were neither in front of a CNN report nor upon hearing the voice of my brother from his New York office saying that he was safe. I choked up, though, with emotion when my Algerian butcher in Montreuil, the guy whom I’ve known only for his lamb chops and sprigs of mint leaves, looked at me with the saddest eyes on earth and said “Je suis vraiment desolé, mon ami. ”
I knew then that I was directly connected to the devastation in southern Manhattan, and that the planet’s geo-political fragility would play itself out on every street corner of every town from here on in.

Thinking back to all those reports of innocent throats being slashed by fanatics in my butcher’s homeland, how sorry I am now that I never expressed my sorrow. And the 500 Angolan civilians slaughtered on a train just days before the suicide skyjackings, how sorry I am for those people too. And where on earth were my heart and mind during the ten days when 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death with machetes for no other reason than their ethnicity? How extraordinary it is that the Slaves and Iraqis in Paris continue to smile and extend their hands.

The gregarious Congolese man at the Total service station around the corner watched his entire city of Brazzaville be crushed. These people have known what we are just learning, and their handshakes and “Comment ça va?” are laced with this knowledge that little people everywhere are crushed not only by highjackers but by the machines of state terror.
 With each hour on the television, with each new telephone call, and each new article in the numerous publications distributed each morning, our perceptions shift. An American neighbor here in Paris tells me that her family reports of candle vigils in Seattle in front of a local Mosque. We have to protect the innocent, they chant. An African friend calls from Nigeria to check that my family is okay — I’m the only American he knows.
Every American in Paris that I know has had a score of concerned calls.

These acts of kindness bring us closer to a consensus: there is an abundance of good will and love in the world, and yet a fear that our country may have been provoked into spoiling the future as we attempt to save it. Stateside, the focus remains on the mourning and the revenge, as if evil wore a uniform and commanded a county, while here dialogue is shifting to the dangers of a cause, and the threat of an oversimplified and muscular response.

My family in Plymouth, Massachusetts tells me that a local pizza parlor owned by an Iranian has been burned down. Sikhs, mistaken for Arabs, have been attacked. The rhetoric intensifies daily and the sadness that has slid into anger now takes on the cold rationality of reactive plans.
 Our laws are being adjusted to fit acts of reprisal, our personal freedoms are being trimmed to accommodate intelligence requirements, our immigration policies are being re-struck and our collective energy focuses on a new ism: the irradication of terror. We skid from the humility of loss to the industrial bravado of revenge. We sense the shifting of sands, the partitioning of sensibilities, the world taking sides.

As individuals, we must help our leaders by voicing a whole host of opinions that reflect wisdom and experience. The American living overseas is particularly well placed to help in this way. 
In this instance, we’ve been spared the immediacy of falling concrete and shattered glass, yet we’re sitting on the front lines of the future. Here in Paris, half-way to the Middle East, at the heart of an expanded Europe, on the plaque tournante toward Africa…

We’ve been loved and criticized for a while. But we’re foreigners, even if we are respected and privileged ones. We need to share what we know with other Americans, for whom the diversity of the world is an Iranian-owned pizza shop in Plymouth, Massachusetts, or an olive-toned man at a bus-stop in Texas.
We are closer to the non-American world, because we live and work in a country that isn’t the United States. Aside from French friends, colleagues and neighbors, our streets and offices are dotted with Algerians and Turks and Pakistanis…

We have had our metro and RER shattered by terrorist attacks. Our garbage cans are bolted shut. And our train stations echo with the voice of loudspeaker warnings.
As rubble is being cleared and pained relatives are still searching for loved ones, it may still be too painful and certainly too inflammatory to really explore the origins of hatred directed at us, but we must edge quickly to the deeper “why” if we hope to emerge into a safer world. 
As clearly as we sense that our first concerns are with the victims, a nasty truth lurks right behind — all forms of deliberate violence are rooted to causes. We now share a unanimity that living in fear of targeted attacks is intolerable and must be remedied. But, we must also channel our new commitment to safety into radically different ways of participating in a progressively more secure world. Investing in new ideas as unpopular as they are. That, for me, is patriotism.

Velib’… easy riding in Paris

Paris pushes the pedal to the ground all over town with its free-use bicycle rental service that makes cycling the streets as accessible and affordable as taking the metro.  A tourist from Quebec was recently celebrated as Vélib’s 100 millionth customer.

The Mairie de Paris’  environmentally progressive innovation in urban transport of unprecedented ambition has revolutionized Paris’ cityscape since its launch in July 2007. With each bike being rented 8,000 times clocking an average of 16,000km the Marie estimates that this represents a saving of 40,000 tons of CO2.

The city of Paris has been working to become more cycle-friendly for some time, continually developing its 371 kilometers of bike-able paths and such initiative as “Paris Respire” for which select streets are closed to motor traffic on Sundays and holidays.  Since June 2010 the mayor’s office has done much to make many improvements to bicycle traffic signals, parking and has even legalized bicycle paths going against traffic on about 90% of one-way streets.

While such programs encouraged leisure cycling, city officials now turn an eye to functional cycling to meet head on evolving urban challenges of traffic congestion, parking and pollution.
The city-wide Vélib’ campaign, short for vélo libre,  features the free use of thousands of bicycles available at 1,800  rental locations which dot the city at intervals of 300 meters.  Anyone over the age of 14 is welcome to rent a bike 24 hours day.

The campaign, which was launched four years ago, is geared toward short-term use, encouraging utilitarian mileage rather than leisure use. “We want to show people that the bicycle is a viable mode of urban transportation,” says Vélib’ project chief Céline Lepault.  Based on the successful pilot in Lyon which debuted May 2005 the Parisian counterpart offers a first half hour of use free for each journey with incremental increases per half hour: one euro for the second, two euros for third, and four euros for each supplementary half hour. A 150 Euro subscription fee is paid prior to participation.

How it works

There are a few choices that make for all around easy riding.  For those whose use is likely to exceed occasional, two year long membership options are available:  Vélib Classic for 29 Euros/year with the first 30 minutes of each ride free of charge; Vélib Passion for 39 Euros/year (29 Euros for 14 – 26 year-olds) with the first 45 minutes of each ride free.  Visitors are just as welcome to use the cycle system with either of two short-term subscriptions: One day and one week rental plans are available at 1.70 Euros and 8 Euros respectively; these lesser engagements may be purchased directly at automated rental stations, which offer service in eight languages, including English.

In all cases, a 150 Euro security deposit is required, either in the form of cheque (in the case of one-year membership) or as credit-card pre-authorization in the other two arrangements; however the credit card must have a smart chip as most European cards do, but most North American cards do not.  This issue can be side-stepped by purchasing the subscription on-line in advance.

For those who find themselves in Paris with only a credit card with a magnetic strip and no “puce” one can purchase a reloadable Master Card with a smart chip from Travelex on the spot at any of their locations in Paris; the most central location is 8 place Opera.  The “Cash Passport” is valid for five years and costs 10 Euros plus a 1% fee.  You can also get a second card with a different number and PIN on the same account for free.  The minimum you need to load onto the card is 200 Euros, but if you have money left on it when you leave France and do not think you will be back to Europe to use it before it expires, then you can go back to the Travelex office with your passport and get your money back off the card for 6 Euros.  There is an information booklet available at the Travelex office with all of the rules and fees explained in English or go to //www.cashpassport.com

The system of payment functions on the basis of membership card: a pre-authorization on a credit or bankcard is issued with the initial purchase of the membership at departure. Upon return of the bike to a docking station, the cost of the journey is calculated and debited from the account.  Resident users may also choose to combine payment to their Navigo card, with which Vélib’ is also compatible.

But the system offers much more than mere convenience. It represents a decisive step toward alternative methods of urban transport and has inspired similar programs in London and around the globe.  With now nearly 20,000 bikes, the program has doubled the number of cyclists on Paris’ streets.  A map of the bike lanes can be downloaded from the website or picked up from any bike shop or mairie. Parisians and visitors alike have an opportunity to cycle the sights while participating in an initiative that has already begun to revolutionize metropolitan transport. Tel: 01 30 79 79 30, //www.velib.paris.fr

Link to the official Velib site in English: 
//en.velib.paris.fr/

E-Dehillerin, Paris’ Aladdin’s Cave for Chefs

The discreet, green façade of the store makes no effort to pull in a crowd and some of the cooking implements in the window look tired.  Yet if the light catches in just the right way, you might spot a gleam of copper through the open door.  If you have a food-loving bone in your body, you’ll feel a flutter of excitement and decide that this unassuming place merits a look.

Pause on the threshold to behold.   To the left, gleaming copper pans and moulds line the wall.  Directly ahead, a staircase leads thrillingly down to who knows where?  To the right, shelves reaching from floor to ceiling hold giant whisks, out-sized rolling pins and heavy duty saucepans.  Congratulations!  You have found E-Dehillerin, the Aladdin’s Cave for chefs.

The E-Dehillerin family business has been supplying equipment to the catering trade since 1820 and you can sort of tell.  Some of the stock looks as if it hasn’t moved an inch in that time.  Other products are flying off the shelves as tourists fill their baskets with cake tins in every imaginable size, not quite believing their luck.  Enormous salt spoons, crêpe pans, mini patîsserie moulds; the tourists don’t need them, but the shop has unleashed their inner chef.

The basement offers quiet relief from the hustle upstairs and there’s a sense that this is where the professionals do business.  Truly enormous pans are stacked carelessly on the floor or heaved onto a shelf.  These pans would be the ideal place to play hide and seek or – serious chef hat on – to whip up a stock for 200 people.

The current manager – Eric Dehillerin – agrees that the store is different adding ‘we didn’t plan this concept, it just happened naturally.’  He is a descendant of the founder, Eugene Dehillerin and explains with quiet pride ‘we don’t have everything, but it’s a shop which has a soul.’

Part of this soul is the idiosyncratic staff.  Kim is often first to the door to greet visitors and can apparently slip into any European language at will.  Other staff members are pleasant enough when approached but seemingly adhere to the old school rules of French customer service; the customer is only occasionally king.  As the queue of clamouring tourists grows, only the most persistent hold their place in the unruly line.  Forget the softly-softly approach, brash is best in the eye of the shopping storm which regularly occurs at E-Dehillerin.

This is a cookery store like no other, housing an array of heavy-duty catering equipment mixed with tourist fripperies such as Eiffel Tower cookie cutters.  Clutter? Check.  Cramped aisles? Check.  Charm? In spades.  Mr Dehillerin sums it up well, ‘we’re not the only catering shop in Paris, but we are a ‘must visit’ for those who love cooking.’  

E-Dehillerin.  18 – 20, rue Coquillière – 51, rue Jean- Jacques Rousseau – 75001 PARIS Métro: Châtelet/Les Halles
Phone: +33 1 42 36 53 13 – Fax: +33 1 42 36 54 80

Open on mondays from 9 to 12.30 and from 14 to 18 and on tuesdays to saturdays from 9 to 18. //www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/index.php

What’s Cookin’ in Paris

Juliet Harbutt is a brave woman.  In March 2011 she is coming to Paris with the aim of educating the French about cheese.  The British cheese expert will attend the Paris Cookbook Fair to ‘dispel the myth that only France can produce amazing cheeses.’  Wow.  But wait, there’s more.  She is planning a parallel taste-test with cheese from the UK and cheese from France.  Stilton going head to head with Camembert?  It sounds like an encounter not to be missed.

And that’s just the start of the food buzz expected at the Cookbook Fair.  From March 3 to March 6, the Fair will showcase the talent of the latest food writers and promises a programme of conferences, food and wine tasting and 25 chefs cooking for your pleasure.

The charismatic Bob Blumer is one of those 25 chefs.  Canadian-born but based in the US, Bob will be in Paris to promote his latest book, ‘Glutton for Pleasure’.  He describes the Cookbook Fair as ‘a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with the masters and present my signature presentation style to an international audience.’  And the food scoop?  He plans to make salmon cupcakes, chocolate wontons and ‘a few other surreal surprises.’   With an irreverent, refreshing approach to food it could be standing room only when Bob wields his knife in the kitchen.

Italy is the featured country of this year’s show and what better ambassador for Italian food than Benedetto D’Epiro, better known as Benny the Chef?  He will be in the show kitchen on Saturday at 12pm and his demonstration promises to be a lively display of the best of his ‘Roman Style’ cooking.  Benny’s book ‘The Art of Cooking According to Me’ will certainly be worth a look.

Holding their own against the culinary outsiders will be the French cookbook authors.  Jostling for space in a packed programme will be former Crillon pastry chef Christophe Felder promoting his ‘Crazy Tarts’ book, Katherine Khodorowsky revealing ‘Everything about Chocolate’ and Alain Alexanian explaining ‘The Art of Organic Eating.’ The organisers of the fair, Gourmand International, promise a four-day event that will be ‘the perfect place for networking, cultural exchange and the discovery of new cuisine stars.’  They are offering four days of Paris, food, wine and cookbooks.  Think talented chefs, delicious smells, cheese in abundance, wine a-plenty and gorgeous food photographs.  This is one Fair not to be missed.

The Cookbook Fair at “Le 104”, Centrquatre, 104, rue d’Aubervilliers-5, rue Curial, 75079, Paris is open to the public on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March 2011, from 10am to 7pm.  Professional days are Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th March.  Tickets priced at €8 are available at the door or online: //www.cookbookfair.com/paris.php

Parisian soul-blues diva Janice deRosa

La Vie en la deRosa
Image "Life doesn't come with a guarantee tag," says Janice deRosa, smiling slyly as she takes another pull off of a slender brown cigarette, "ya know?"

That may not be one of the song titles on "deRosa," her new solo album released this month on Rue Stendhal Records, but the theme pervades the record. It's an early summer afternoon in Paris, and I'm spending it with French American diva Janice deRosa. Instead of watching her in a club illuminated by a pale indigo light, she's lit by sunlight in her Marais apartment, an area she calls "the center of the center of the most beautiful place in the world."  

Image Over cigarettes and ice water, we talk about her new album in a camouflaged way-chatting about the thoughts that inspired the lyrics-stories of love gone wrong, love gone right for awhile, fantasies of love, waiting on love …lovers here and there. Janice prefers to use the term ‘lover' to describe her relations rather than ‘boyfriend', because as she says, ‘boyfriend' is an outdated term, and makes her envision herself wearing Capri pants and meeting the parents.  

This native Harlem girl gone self-proclaimed Parisian diva is a woman who has defined her own way in this city and on the international music scene. She moved to Paris in 1990, playing clubs ever since and working her way up to a sort of fame not only in Paris, but Europe as well. She's produced five records, two of those with Warner Bros. Last year her recording of "Groovin" was at the top of French radio charts for weeks.

Her new CD "deRosa" is a blues-flavored concoction that triggers Janis Joplin flashbacks with a graceful pace reminiscent of a Tom Waits album. There's a wisdom in her lyrics that women relate to. Several world-renowned musicians, from Cambodia to New Jersey, contributed to the new CD such as Sam Andrew-the guitarist and songwriter for Janis Joplin- and Paul Breslin, the bandleader for Percy Sledge.

Like her previous albums, most notably "Afroblues" (1998), "deRosa" is a melange of world music traditions. The album is a mix of covers and original songs, featuring redrawn classics such as "Little Wing" by Hendrix, "Sure Had a Wonderful Time Last Night" by B.B. King and "Baby, Baby, Don't Cry" by "Smokey" Robinson.

The original tracks are equally captivating. In the first song "Hoodoo," a harmonica mixed with Janice's soulful voice summons a traditional blues flavor. The following song "Runaway" has a smooth jazz feel. "Mystery of Love" begins with a soft percussion and weaves through more of her lyrics landing on a key line in the album that brings it all back to Janice-"I am a painter, I paint in the world I want to see. Not what is out there, but what I want it to be." 

Janice came to Paris in October 1990; as her paintings were featured in an art show at the Galerie Medicis. After that exhibition, Janice was invited to take part in an international show the following summer. She had bought herself more time in Paris to paint; but according to Janice; her artisitic inspiration doesn^t come from hours of isolated quiet reflection.

"I'm not the type of person who likes to listen to the radiator clink," she says, "I like to be with the people." So, that led her to getting out into the Paris club scene. She began frequenting the jazz and blues clubs, and toward the end of the shows when the musicians were riding out the tail end of their whiskey buzz, she'd ask to sing a song. Slowly, she built up a rep around Paris and started getting her own gigs. Her popularity grew, and she crawled out of the small joints into the established Paris jazz venues. And she's been here ever since. 

This new album brings together Janice the painter and Janice the singer, as the album's cover art is a stylized self-portrait. 

When I asked Janice how Paris has influenced her music, and how it's different than playing music in New York City, she replied that all places are really the same to her. 

"I could be in a really chic celebrity kind of a place, but by the end, everybody's hootin' and hollerin' and it feels like you're in a bar in Texas," says Janice.  "[With music], all of a sudden you realize you have a heart that's beating, you're alive…people tend to hide all day from their feelings. Then at a moment, the tears come down-doesn't matter what language it's in. People get it on the vibrational level," says Janice.

After 17 years, she still hasn't made that return flight back to New York except for the occasional visit. But the spontaneous nature of her life tells her that even though there are guarantees, that this just makes life all the more interesting… and gives her something to sing about. 

Check out Janice this July as she plays around the city, at the Petit Journal Montparnasse on July 12, 2007 with show times at 9:30 pm & 10:45 pm Watch her on TV, France 2, on "les Mots de Minuit" on June 27, 2007. Hear her at  //www.myspace.com/janicederosa   

 

“Forever” revisiting Pere Lachaise

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Yoshino Kimura practicing © 2006 Cobos Films BV

Why are people drawn to Pere Lachaise-if not dead or related to those who are? Heddy Honigmann’s new documentary, “Forever”, explores the answer in a series of conversations with visitors of the cemetery, each musing on gravestones.

The first conversation is with a young Japanese musician, standing in front of Chopin’s grave, praying. Her face is tender and passionate as she explains that Chopin is the “soul” who inspires her music: the reason she came to Paris to study piano . Her dead father liked Chopin, and she imagines he listens to her as she plays.  

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Heddy Honigmann, director 2006 Cobos Films BV

The director–a Peruvian woman who has made over a dozen acclaimed documentaries since her immigration to Holland—was inspired with this project on her own visit to Pere Lachaise in 1988. There, on George Méliès’ grave, was a passport photograph of a girl. On the back was written ‘merci’.
 
Why merci?
 
An Iranian opens his heart to the documentary filmmaker. He stands before the writer Hedayat’s grave, hidden in tree branches. He comes to visit the grave, he explains, because the writer was someone “exceptionelle.” He dared say what others could not. He wrote a story about an abandoned dog: clearly a metaphor, the Iranian explains, for the human condition. He wrote the phrase: “Moi je suis fatigue des gens autour de moi.” The Iranian was also tired of the people around him in Iran : it is why he is now in Paris driving a taxi.

ImageDoes he do anything else besides drive a taxi, the off-voice asks. “Yes,” says the taxi driver, humbly. “I sing. I always carry a book of poetry and music in my cab. I sing to keep the culture of Iran .”   “Will you sing for me?” The Iranian shrugs in embarrassment: no.
 
A moment later, he sings to the camera.
 
The music carries to the next scene: the daughter of an artisan is at her father’s grave, explaining that she is telling l her dead father about all the art exhibits she has seen that week. “My father loved art,” she explains.
 
We scoot out the cemetery into the Louvre. A woman Valerie is before a painting by Ingres. “I come here,” she explains. “Because here I have the impression to be with a great family. Here, I have a concentration I normally do not have, something that takes me far. As a girl, I thought these people in the gallery all existed.”
 
The woman gazes with ecstacy at Ingres’s lounging forms.
 
We return to the cemetery, this time at the grave of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret. We flash to three blind people on a couch watching the film “Les Diaboliques.” They are enraptured by the film, guessing what is happening. “I suppose Simone just slapped the man,” says one woman. “Yes,” her blind partner to the right claps his hands. “Ah! She is extraordinary, Simone Signoret. Such an actress. So authentique. She plays so well here!”
 
The three blind spectators lean forward, not wanting to miss a scene.
 
Blindness leads back to Proust. “Proust is a blind painter,” a visitor explains. “He writes what he cannot draw.” He arranges a flower in a vase.
 
It is a gesture repeated often in this film’s homage to art: hands cleaning gravestones, wiping the name clean of moss. The respect for the realm of the spirit, of art, of a permanence beyond the circumstantial is the key to this film—and the Dutch filmmaker’s trademark. Raised in French schools in Lima, daughter of Holocaust survivors, Honigmann’s acclaimed documentaries—made in Israel , Europe and South America -all explore the need for the poetic. Her range includes films about immigrant musicians in the Paris metro, widows from Bosnia clutching mementos of their husbands, and cabdrivers in Lima speaking about dreams.
 
Honigmann herself followed her dream: as a young girl, she went to Rome to study film, before launching her career in Holland. In between was a wonderful year in Paris. The Pere Lachaise film is, in a sense, her own “merci.”
 
And who would the director like to visit? Felix Nadar, a French photographer who took aerial photos and photographed all the celebrities of his time. He had an extremely dedicated and inventive life, faithful to his art and faithful to his wife.
 
It is a dedication the director shares as well: ” Art is my lover when I am not with my real lover,” she says. “Art caresses me, consoles me, inspires me.”
 
The film ends with the resounding music of Chopin: the Japanese girl’s concert to her father. It is clear what Honigmann means by “forever.”
 

In a Paris Moment

 Zen and the art of waiting

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Le Pecheur © Meredith Mullins

Following in the footsteps of the great classic 35mm photographers Meredith Mullins has just come out with a new book on Paris, which captures the city in timeless tones of black-and-white. The book is an artfully presented collection of photographs and stories that capture the essence of Paris.

 "I wanted to share the beauty, humor, rhythms, and characters that are so much a part of Parisian life," Ms. Mullins said. "It's a book for everyone, but particularly for people who love Paris or those who dream of going."  In A Paris Moment includes stories about Paris and a special section of travel notes. "It's not just an art book or a travel book," Ms. Mullins said. "It's a book of life stories, both visual and written."

Image  Describing her approach to taking pictures, "It's about the moment. It's about telling a story and it's about making a connection. I take pictures of things that move me, make me laugh or surprise me." What I love about being a photographer is that it heightens your senses. You are always looking, seeing more than most folks who are hurrying by. It also builds a bridge for that connection with people. You reach out. Many of the relationships I have built in Paris, started with a photograph. I introduce myself with my camera."

"Sometimes I see things that are graphically beautiful, but the image needs some activity, some humanity. A decisive moment (as Cartier-Bresson used to say). Then, I wait. I don't mind. I have no sense of urgency as I often did with my job. It's very freeing. Zen and the art of waiting. And, when the "moment" actually does come it's very satisfying."

In Paris the book is available at Shakespeare and Company, The Red Wheelbarrow, The Abbey Bookshop, W.H. Smith, Galignani, and Village Voice. It can be ordered at //www.meredithmullins.artspan.com