Tag Archives: French

Beat the Heat – Five of The Best Ice Creams of Paris

28 Aug

The “canicule”, the canicular days, seem to mostly be over but we still have around 27°C (about 80°F) here, which gives us a very good excuse to continue trying out the very best of Parisian ice cream creations.

Above you see the Amorino ice cream parlour opposite the Centre Pompidou, after a much-needed half hour cloudburst a few days ago.

But now the sun is back, and with the city being one of the centers, or THE center, of fashion, talking of French ice cream artists, I have to start with Pierre Hermé.

French Vogue referred to him as “the Picasso of Pastry”, but calling him “the Karl of Pastry” and in every case, “the Godfather of sweet delights” would neither go amiss. More on him and his wife, Austrian designer Barbara Rihl, in an upcoming post, but for now I can tell you that 1) should you visit Paris, try his macarons or you will miss out on your taste buds doing the Cha Cha (seriously, I thought I had tried all of the best macarons, but his are the epitome of macaron-mastery) and b) his ice cream creations equally wonderful.

On a recent trip to one of the Pierre Hermé boutiques, I tried the caramel-and-salted-butter version of his Miss Gla’Gla ice cream (above, in its chic silver packaging), ice cream sandwiches fit for kings and queens, and I also enjoyed one of his 2012 macaron creations, the “Mosäic”, a vanilla macaron with pistachio cream, flavoured with cinnamon and griottes (morello cherries). Bliss!

Pierre Hermè ice cream is also sold at Galeries Lafayette.

Back to Amorino. First, have a look at this:

Looks really nice, isn’t it? May I introduce you to one of Amorino’s (addresses here) specialities, the “Foccacina”. The Foccacina consists of two scoops of ice cream you may choose yourself (I had mascarpone with caramelized figs and Cantaloupe melon, a 2012 Amorino novelty) hugged by a delicate, freshly made warm bakers-biscuit-doughnut-like shell which tastes of Panettone.

Founded in 2002, Amorino’s ice cream truly tastes like real Italian gelato. Also, Amorino does not use artificial colourings or flavors.

What’s more, there are many different ways to enjoy your Amorino gelato: In a foccacina, as did I, on freshly-made warm Belgian waffles or in a cornetto with the ice cream shaped into a beautiful rose form.

And speaking of rose-shaped gelati, “Gelati d’Alberto” also offers them. I fell in love with them a few years ago.

Legend has it that Caterina de Medici brought Italian ice cream to Paris, when she arrived, about 500 years ago. And did you know that it is said that in 1686, Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, perfected the first ice cream machine?

Ice cream making is an ancient craft, dating back to the ancient Romans and Egyptians, serving frozen treats, but  until now, one of the loveliest ways to serve ice cream is in rose form. For Gelati d’Alberto’s ice cream, 12, rue des Lombards, find the full address and map here.

If you are looking for the most original ice cream spot: Glaces-glazed‘s Citroën food truck, find its current locations on facebook or on their blog (now you can only get their ice cream at Colette) and additional points of sale here. All the flavours are to die for – but if you live in Paris you can even get a subscription for additional members-only Glaces-glazed creations like Black Sugar Sex Magic (black chocolate, wasabi, ginger), Tunnel of Love (woodland strawberry, sansho pepper) or Kaoua (Brazilian coffee, cardamom).

And you may find French ice cream with the greatest touch of nostalgia at A la mère de famille”.

Founded in 1761 “A la mère de famille” is Heaven for everyone with a sweet tooth. Not only will you discover all sorts of French sweet delicacies, and all of these are truly fabulous, but there you will also find the very best marrons glacés (sweet syrup candied, glazed chestnuts). My suggestion: add them to cupcake dough and glaze the baked cupcakes with icing sugar frosting, sprinkle with thinly chopped marrons glacés…

Find all addresses of the A la mère de famille boutiques here.

Natacha Birds – One of a Kind Souvenirs

9 Aug

Yes, this is a post mostly for women… so girls, read on…

We have all received, at one time or another, souvenirs, that where so, uhm, “special”, that until this day they are displayed in an exquisite place at the very back of some cupboard.

Bring-alongs somewhat have the right to be kitschy and over the top, but if you are looking for something really individual for a dear friend of yours, look no further than Natacha Birds’ illustrations. If you like a whimsical, yet clean style, combined with the usefulness of bags, totes, baby onesies and more,  you have found your souvenir.

You don’t even need to travel to Paris, Natacha has an online-shop here (or click on any of the illustrations in this article).

And, to be honest, I will order my bag right now, not as a souvenir, but just for me… Hey, I have to see how it turns out, in case I want to give more bags as a Christmas present to girlfriends 😉

Natacha Birds, self-portrait

It’s just very hard to decide on what type of girl/fille you are. We women are normally very versatile, after all.

Do you love gardening? You’re a “fille à jardiner”

You love butterflies? You’re a “fille à papillons”

Knitting is your passion? Bonjour “fille à tricot”

Or are you maybe a “fille à macarons”?

If you need more inspiration, check out her website or the examples below.

Natacha Birds illustrations

Ordering your bag is really easy, just submit your photo, tell Natacha what kind of “fille” you are and what you would have represented in the picture, choose your hair colour and length… et voilà, your very own design will be created.

Apart from treating yourself to a nice gift, I could also imagine a baby onesie and matching tote to be a unique and cute gift for a friend’s baby shower. And did I mention, I love the stickers.

But well, I haven’t decided what kind of fille I am, apart from a fille who likes to blog. Stay tuned though, since I will put a picture on the blog once I’ve decided and received my design.

Degas, Ballet and a Trip to Paris

19 Nov

Little street in the Marais

In honor of famous French impressionist painter Degas, grand master in depicting human motion, the Royal Academy of Arts in London is presenting ‘Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement’. The exhibition will be open until December 11, 2011.

Santa Baby, we’ve been awful good girls, but we probably don’t need you this year: There are two competitions with fantastic prizes, related to the exhibition.

The Royal academy has teamed up with UK-based company French Sole. The company’s founder and designer Jane Winkworth has created a unique collection of ballet flats based on Degas’s color palette and works, especially his ‘Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” sculpture. Cute detail: The Little Dancer is also featured on the shoe’s mirrored silver sole. Love them? Enter the Royal Academy’s competition.

Reading a blog about the City of Love and Fashion is fun, but visiting is even better. TimeOut London celebrates the Degas exhibition with another exciting competition. Unfortunately this second competition is open to UK-residents only. So if you’re from the UK you may become the lucky winner of a weekend trip for two to Paris. The package includes flights and two nights at four star hotel The Regina opposite the Louvre and the Jardins des Tuileries, plus two-day Museum Passes.

Soon you may be enjoying Paris in winter or getting admiring glances at your beautiful jewel encrusted new shoes. Good luck!

Eiffel Tower Cookie Cutter

18 Nov

Eiffel Cutter

Today my Eiffel Tower cookie cutter has arrived. No, it’s not a Parisian one, it’s from US-company Ann Clark (they ship worldwide).

Ah, the joys of thinking about all the cookies I will make with it.

Arizona– or Florida-shaped cookies anyone? Glazed penguin cookies for a baby shower in winter? Shaken not stirred Martini cookies for a bachelorette party?

Not only do you find just about every shape you could ever imagine cookie cutter wise, the site also offers just as many recipes, so you can put your newly-bought cutters to good use straightaway.

Cookies are great the whole year round, but ’tis the Season to bake even a bit more right now, don’t you think?

Turinois – My Grandmother’s Family Recipe

11 Nov

Turinois vichy

Turinois – French Sweet Chestnut Truffle Cake

Whether you are the proud owner of a high-end kitchen that would even make Martha Stewart dream or whether you have a mini-kitchenette without an oven, this dessert is for you.

Over the years my grandmother Teresina has built a huge recipe collection and she’s happy to share some of her favorite ones with you. The first recipe even is an heirloom one, she got it from one of her best friends, it’s for “Turinois”, a French chocolate and sweet chestnut cake reminiscent of a large truffle.

Turinois coupole

Teresina was born in Rome, Italy, and together with her parents and siblings, spent many years in Paris, due to her father’s job which required frequent travelling.

Teresina

Next month she’ll turn 90 and she’s still very interested in cooking and crafts.

In the picture below you see the original recipe she wrote down many, many years ago. She uses sweet chestnuts which she prepares and cooks all by herself. I used frozen chestnuts, which work very well, I’ve adapted my version of the recipe accordingly and translated it into English for you.

Turinois

RECIPE:

Turinois – French Sweet Chestnut Truffle Cake

Serves: 4-6

Important: Needs time to set, if possible prepare 1 day in advance

Measures indicated in g/grams, if needed, convert the metric measures into your desired measures here. If you want to keep it simple just use sugar, butter and chocolate in a 1:4 ratio to the chestnuts.

400 g – 450 g frozen sweet chestnuts

100 g icing sugar / powdered sugar

100 g non-salted butter

100 g milk chocolate (I used about 80 grams  milk chocolate and 20 grams dark chocolate)

A pinch of vanilla (I used some seeds of a fresh vanilla bean/pod)

Preparation

  • Put the chestnuts in a pan, cover with water and cook until they are very soft
  • in the meantime, take the butter out of the fridge, cut into little cubes and put these into a bowl
  • grate the chocolate with a coarse grater, add to the butter
  • add the sugar
  • add the vanilla
  •  vigorously blend the butter cubes, chocolate, sugar and vanilla with a fork, really work the butter into the other ingredients  (if we did that twice daily we’d have perfectly toned arms forever…)
  •  When the chestnuts are cooked through, drain them thoroughly and immediately purée them (use the famous robot mixeur if you like/a cutter/blender, or if you don’t have one, mash the chestnuts with a fork, but really well).
  •  Add the still warm/hot (but not steaming) chestnut purée to the bowl and mix everything together with a fork. The chocolate, butter and sugar should melt and form a homogeneous, creamy purée.
  •  Pour the not too hot purée into a cake tin lined with wrapping film, into a silicone mould, or into little pâtisserie mini-cake forms like I did and leave until the Turinois is cool enough to put in the fridge. The Turinois needs time to set and become firm, leave in the fridge at least overnight.

 Tip:

If you use 400g chestnuts, the Turinois will become firmer and easy to cut/slice, with 450 it’s delicious as well, just a bit softer, you could probably even put it in a  piping bag and give your cupcakes a Turinois-frosting with it (the cupcakes would have to be put in the fridge afterwards and served soon).