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31 posts from May 2007

Nefles (with thanks to Orangette)


How fortunate to have read Molly's post on Paris while I still had time to rethink the bruised fruit that I, too, had been turning my nose up at: Now nefles have been breakfast since Tuesday, and I impressed my French teacher immensely by knowing the word.

But now...


I must be good and go on studying!



I got powdered sugar all over my coat and syrup all over my fingers, but I couldn't resist the trays of sweets in Murciano's cool interior. The cigar-shaped pastry with its perfumed ground almond filling was the perfect balance of crisp and yielding.

Murciano, 16, rue des Rosiers, 75003 Paris

Restaurant Astier/Lunch in Paris


What's a girl in Paris to do when on Sunday night she realizes she needs lunch plans for the next day? (And this is a serious question too.) David had a last-minute work appointment on Monday afternoon and I was loathe to let a baguette suffice me. After careful contemplation I settled on the Restaurant Astier around the corner, which I'd noticed during a baguette run the day before.

Arriving at 12.30, I watched the place fill up: two groups of middle-aged businessmen, a table of two retired couples, a man and a woman in their thirties on a shopping break. I have overcome shyness about dining alone, and shyness about ordering in French, but the two combined made me stiff for some initial minutes before the faultlessly kind waiters relaxed me to leisurely enjoyment of the place and my meal (an entrecôte charolaise poêlée followed by a moelleux caramel, both perfect).

Restaurant Astier, 44, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris

Belleville Portes Ouvertes / Open ateliers


Easily the most marvellous art event I've attended in ages (not least because I bought my first painting there!) and a great opportunity to explore Belleville. Watch the website for next year's installment.

Arnaud Delmontel/Caramel macaron (2)


Within, our second caramel macaron; I refrained from photographing it because it was such a lurid shade of orange. (Which could bring me onto the theme of why French products seem not to have caught on to the obsession with Natural and Organic: the packaging of the cleaning products in our flat is similarly straight out of the 80s...) Such observations notwithstanding, the boulangerie/pâtisserie is well worth a visit: Arnaud Delmontel's baguettes were declared the best in Paris for 2007.

Arnaud Delmontel, 39 rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris
Open 7 - 20.30

Rose Bakery


'The last thing I expected,' said David, 'was to find British food fetishized in the middle of Paris.' As the American sidekick to his Scot, I am guilty of finding British sweets impossibly quaint (fools! syllabubs! sticky toffee pudding!) but even I have been surprised to see how many Parisian dessert menus sport crumble.

Sitting in the Rose Bakery I did feel I was in the UK, and tried to analyze why: the dented last-century dark metal pans and hands-in-pockets presentation of (yes) crumbles, brownies, and lemon-curd tarts were a part of it, as were the desktop-published menu and the virtuous moss-green cups and plates, but most of all it was the waiters: they rushed, they were frazzled and harried, they looked, eyes darting here and there, keeping track of the covers, speeding back and forth in their trainers, swiping their brows briskly, wearing effort on their sleeve. This, after a couple of days of Parisian waiters serenely circulating, surveying their domain (and, preceding that, long years of indifferent, unflappable, efficient Berlin servers) made me take note.

Maybe it was just the Sunday afternoon lunch rush, and normally things are more tranquil. I didn't mind. I liked watching them, watching everyone, marvelling at the coiffed foursome of French men, tanned dark to a one, forking up their crumble and telling stories in voluble French, backdropped by the Maldon sea salt and the triangular oatcakes (the same brand that David's father eats his Tesco cheddar on).

Rose Bakery, 46 rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris