…to make customers feel good and open their wallets. That’s what they really understand perfectly at La Grande Epicerie on the left bank of the Seine river next to Bon Marché: to stage food, and to let even simple staples look like precious goods or even art. The Epicerie is kind of a Parisian brother of Harrod’s in London or KaDeWe in Berlin, a highly over-priced food store in the end, yet a very beautiful one. I’m sure they have […]
…containing cherries, strawberries, raspberries, girolles mushrooms (their season in Europe starts now) and lots of other good food. I’ve got fresh garlic and two hands full of delicious new potatoes from famous Noirmoutier island close to Nantes (or maybe the potatoes were famous first). Then there’s other vegetables I’d consider staple food like sweet pepper and eggplants, in the paper on the upper left some veal escalopes are hiding, the bananas will serve to cool down my kids; the Chinese believe […]
…and gives birth to the herbs I need day by day. There’s basil and thyme, rosemary and mint, they’re standing in clay pots like brave little soldiers ready for combat in sauces and terrines, in stews and salads. I’ve never understood why people spend money on those basic ingredients that everybody can grow at home. You really don’t need a garden, you don’t need much space. It just takes half an hour, if at all, to plant these green friends […]
…and they deliver the products you need to cook all the great recipes your cook books may contain. The one on Boulevard Richard Lenoir (named, by the way, after two industrials who once upon a time brought the cotton to Paris) is an excellent, yet unpretentious, non-touristic market held every Tuesday and Friday – and shopping there is really worth it, it’s a place to save money and get great products in return! I wasn’t aware of its quality but […]
…at dinner time in central Paris. I see people all around – chatting, eating, drinking and, yes, I feel somewhat indiscrete, like a voyeur, yet living in the city of lights means living in perfect anonymity, so nobody really cares about being photographed, gazed at, or being of any interest to somebody else. I just stuck my nice little Canon camera out of the window and this is what it brought home, it’s a snapshot of a good life:
…once you’ve entered the Passage des Panoramas, built in 1799, inaugurated in 1800. It’s one of these places you dream of, it’s kind of a remote island in the sea of the very metropolitan Grands Boulevards. You enter – and you’re elsewhere; you leave the city to only really get there, you see, the passages of Paris are a magical mystery tour. You stroll along windows and mirrors, which invite you to think about yourself and other peoples’ lifes. And you […]
…after two weeks of travelling in South Africa I’m back, and I’m tempted to say: finally. Weather is worse, yes, temperatures are lower, light is somewhat pale compared to sparkling Africa. Yet I’m happy: the silver & sand colours of the streets and roofs and buildings let me rejoice, the silly honking of stressed Parisians make me smile, the beauty of the pâtisseries, the sound and taste of fresh baguette seems like a dream, and all my hero butchers are still […]
…like I did this morning in the Tuscan Wedding Village close to Johannesburg. There’s many of these, not necessarily Tuscan, it’s exclusive venues where you can celebrate the great day behind fences and at ease. Meet Siphokazi (that’s her) and Khulile, two bright young people of the New South Africa who were shining like a new dime today. I’ve attended the church service, I’ve been there when they said YES to each other – and sentimental as I am I’ve […]
…on a crisp and clear morning sipping on a mug of rooibos tea (on a balcony!). Behind the mug? That’s Africa, and if you heard the birds singing (and squeaking and whistling), if you could breathe the fresh air, you’d be convinced like me right now that this is going to be a good day.
…you have to get out there whenever the tide is low regardless the weather, the wind, the temperatures. Today, they were lucky though, the tough guys from Normandy turning the heavy shellfish loads on their rusty tables – the oysters that you might find soon on a well-dressed “plateau de fruits de mer” in Paris, Lyon or wherever you roam.
…when walking the Normandy beaches. Between Isigny and Grandcamp, there’s large banks where they’re grown by the “farmers of the sea” as the producers are nicknamed. On weekdays, when the low tide is at its lowest point, you can watch them moving their machines offshore, between long “tables” where the shellfish ripens in black bags like the one you can see below. This one though had been ripped off its table during stormy weather. And if the seabirds had not […]
…recipe writing is to be found in The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostman and Jane L. Baker. I wouldn’t have thought that such a book existed at all – yet I’ve found it in London by chance, while killing some time at marvellous Foyles flagship store in Charing Cross Road. Since then, I’m happily reading. The authors treat their subject as if world peace was at stake and they ask the right questions right away: “What is the soul […]