La Vie En Rose

In France these days, nobody is drinking red wine. I brought a nice Cotes du Rhone to the home of friends in Paris; they thanked me, tucked it away, and brought out the rosé.

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“It is hot,” friend Sebastien offered by way of an explanation, “We are not drinking red wine.” More

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Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Normandy — In Love with a Lawnmower

After a long and richly wine-ambered dinner with some friendly Finns at the table next to us and our friends the Schneiders who showed up mid-meal at the Bastille-area restaurant Chez Paul where we had last eaten 15 years before on our honeymoon, we slept hard and set out in the morning on the train for Normandy.

Whelks & periwinkles at Chez Paul

Whelks & periwinkles at Chez Paul

We would be visiting with my wife’s friend Anne, whom we had also last seen 15 years before in Paris. Like us, she now had three children and was living the French country dream near the harbor of Honfleur.

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Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Paris — A Tale of Two Cities

It took me a little while to get my bearings in Paris. It’s a city I know well — I’ve spent a lot of time here — but after the easy, laid-back intimacy of Italy and the French Rhone-Alpes, Paris was a jarring awakening.

Arc de Triomphe, Bastille Day

Arc de Triomphe, Bastille Day

The entre, after two weeks of meandering country roads, was driving the rental car into the heart of the Marais to drop the family and luggage off at the Airbnb, and then trying to navigate my way along the frenetic Rue du Rivoli to the subterranean Hertz offices at the swirling mayhem of the Louvre Carousel. More

Vive le France!

“I need to eat more French food,” my wife, who has lived in both the Alps and Paris, announced the other day.

As it so happened, the day after she made this proclamation was Bastille Day. And always good for an occasion to build a theme meal around, I pulled out what is and will always be the best French cookbook of all — Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry.”

The master at work

The master at work

I don’t use cookbooks so much for recipes as for inspiration. I had picked up three plump soft shell crabs a few days before, and wanted to see if any of Keller’s preparations caught my eye. Sure enough, there was a Chesapeake Bay Soft Shell Crab “Sandwich” — the quotation marks being Keller’s and indicating that the recipe was a playful riff on something you might be familiar with. More

In Praise of the Unpasteurized

My biggest regret about not living in France is cheese.

A few weeks ago, my friend Brian (he of 90/60 blood pressure and 48 bmp heart rate) arrived to a small birthday celebration I’d hastily thrown together for myself with several raw-milk cheeses he’d just brought back from France. I can’t even remember what I cooked — the cheeses were the stars of the night.

Contraband French cheeses

Contraband French cheeses

You are not allowed to bring soft unpasteurized cheese into the United States. Which technically makes Brian a smuggler. But these are cheeses worth any risk — rich, deep and complex in a way you just can’t find in the imported stuff. More

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