Sunday, August 27, 2006


I've got an upcoming trip home, and I've been running around stocking up on all sorts of French products for the family. The Grandparents can't get enough of Bonne Maman jam (though now the jelly IS available back home, it just doesn't compare to the real French stuff); the Aunt loves Gavottes; the Uncle loves dijon mustard in all its forms, including the mustard flavored cheetos by Belin; Petit Bateau for all the little ones; a Star Academy compilation or two for the tweens; filterless Gitanes to inspire my smoking friends and family to quit (they are just so nasty and hardcore - my cousin will only use them when he is broke as a joke, and even then he shudders at the thought, sometimes preferring no cigs at all to the Gitanes); and unfortunately, no more cider or wine for my parents. I just don't trust the airlines enough to consider checking them.

While I'm working actively on packing and acquiring all these French goodies, I'm also thinking ahead to what I'll do while back home and what I'll stock up on.

Things I can't wait for:

Publix fried chicken and sweet tea
A real meatball sub
Free refills! Iced water as soon as you are seated! True cocktails (maybe even frozen ones)!
Bagels & cream cheese
Sales/never paying full retail price/weekly sales ads!
Using the dollar!
Orange juice by the gallon!
Gustafson's chocolate milk
Fruitstands on the side of the road
Boiled Peanuts on the side of the road
Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches!
Customer service
1-800 numbers
Air conditioning
The Daily Show
The Colbert Report

I'll probably stock up on all the toiletry basics that are so much cheaper in the US; the American food items that I miss, like popcorn, raspberry walnut salad dressing, Muir Glen salsa, Twizzlers, Reese's Pieces, Orbitz gum (in bulk, Costco member holla!), Jell-o; Levi's; and anything else that catches my eye.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

A sweet, naive friend of mine just moved from the US to Europe. It is the first time she has been out of her region, really, much less a whole new continent and country and language, but she's doing quite well adjusting so far. We were recently discussing the baggage restrictions (how I long for the heyday of three 70-pound bags. Sigh.) when I learned that she has fedexed an additional 3 suitcases here. She is only here for a year, so I politely inquired about the contents of this baggage. After traveling back and forth between University and home, and now France and home, I have learned how to pack very frugally, usually only ending up with half of what I thought I needed and making out OK with that half.

My darling friend has not yet learned this lesson, as evidenced by the contents of just *one* of her fedexed bags:
-industrial power convertor (it apparently weighs 15 pounds itself!)
-juice maker
-rice cooker

*head against wall*

She has broken one of my cardinal rules of moving and/or international shipping, which is:
Never pay more to ship an object than it would to buy it (new).
This does not apply to gifts.

I guess if she thinks she *really* *really* needs all these appliances then it is worth it. I don't know how much she paid to Fedex it (and how much will La Poste charge her to get it *back* to the States?!) but I wonder how much it would be just to buy them here...I held my tongue, only laughing as she revealed the industrial power convertor that resembles a bomb. She's lucky she didn't fly with that because I'm sure the TSA would've had some questions for her!

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

La 25eme Image

Around the corner from Antoine and Lili, you'll find the 25ème Image, a bright bar and restaurant that is also a gallery, with photos lining the walls and sculptures hanging from the ceilings. The one pictured at the right was directly over our heads at the table, tilting and rotating ever so slightly throughout the meal. We were seated in the back room, where the ceiling is a sunlight, under a canopy of trees and a caged parakeet belonging to the person living above.

Their menu is simple, offering your basic salads, a few daily specials, and some desserts. (click to enlarge)I guess most customers come here to chill and end up eating something light, or maybe come by later for just dessert, because the offerings are so limited that I couldn't imagine coming here only for dinner. We came here to have a drink on their terrace, and moved inside when I got hungry and wanted something to eat.

At the risk of sounding boring, I have my favorites and I stick to them, so I ordered the Toasted Chèvre Salad (11€), which hit the spot. The only thing that set it apart from other similar salads was that it had the thinnest layer of minced marinated onions underneath the toast, which were great with the fresh tomatoes, and the dressing was an oil & vinager mix (as opposed to the typical mustard vinaigrette - no complaints either way). R. had the jambonette (13,50€), a pork dish, but the portion was very small and he was not satisfied.

Our waitress was very nice, and their location makes it the perfect place to go for a drink after a lazy afternoon at the canal. And don't forget to check out the art!

La 25ème Image
9, rue des Récollets
75010 Paris
01 40 35 80 88
M: Gare de l'Est
Open Monday - Saturday


Monday, August 14, 2006

I was cleaning out my bathroom this morning, throwing out old lotions and medicine and soap, and I came across this set of Dior makeup. I bought it back in the summer of 2002, before I spoke French, before I ever took my first French lesson, and it has taken me this long to "get" the name. The set is called Summer Hits in English, and in French, Les Tubes de l'été. Tubes - get it? Summer Hits, but also Summer Tubes, literally, because it is eyeshadow and lip gloss packaged in tubes. I'm sad that it has taken me this long to have a eureka moment about something so simple and dumb, especially when I've had the set for almost 4 years. However, little moments like this are crucial when you're living in a foreign country and I couldn't help feeling the tiniest twinge of pride this morning at uncovering the double meaning, even shouting it out to R. in the next room.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Citroën Méhari

Back home, the beach vehicles are mostly sporty fun things -- convertibles, dune buggies, jeeps -- but here in France utility seems to be key. Thus I present the Citroën Méhari, at a beach near you this summer!
I don't know what I like best: the buckles on the hood, the particle board rear gate, the raw interior, or the lackluster paintjob. There *are* some more fetching Méharis around, like the green & white striped one -- with matching striped interior -- that I saw but failed to photograph, so it does have potential as a summer fun-mobile.


Monday, August 07, 2006

I found the international trailer for Brice de Nice on DailyMotion:

A few questions. "The Brice Man"?! And why is "Ca farte" translated as "How's tricks" - that doesn't even make any sense. I don't know how I would say it in English but I'm sure there is a better translation than that. Finally, when was Brice de Nice released internationally? Did it ever come out in the US? Canada? The UK?

DailyMotion has lots of good quality clips from the movie and from Jean Dujardin's original sketches, including the very first one ever when he was doing stand-up. I don't know what year it dates from but he looks so young and so skinny in it! FWIW, I think DailyMotion has a better selection of French clips than YouTube, so check it out if you're looking for something that you can't find on YouTube.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Jean-Pierre Frelet

As you may know from reading this blog, I have been making my way through the Bib Gourmand restaurants in the Red Michelin Guide. The Michelin guide is one of the most reliable guides I have come across, and I have only been disappointed a few times when going by the trusty Michelin man. Looking for somewhere to go on a Saturday (you'd be surprised at how many of these restaurants are closed all weekend), I finally wound up at a Jean-Pierre Frelet, a small, serious restaurant in the 12th. I say serious because it seems like a place my grandparents would take me to - the decor is simple but classy, and there is enough space to almost forget about your neighbors while still remaining aware of their conversation (making me feel like I had to whisper).

They have a 3 course set menu at 26.50€ (pictured at right), which changes daily. By the time R. and I were seated the chef still hadn't returned from the market with his fresh picks; when he pulled up a few minutes later his wife hastily erased one of the main dishes (the brandade de morue) and replaced it with encornet, a type of squid. Market fresh, indeed!

We both went with the daily menu, since it is much cheaper than à la carte (which would be at least 40€ for 3 courses), and for the first time ever we ordered exactly the same thing: the bavaroise de homard, the encornet, and the soupe de fruits. The meal got better with each course. Neither of us liked the bavaroise, which was a heavy, whipped lobster cream. Something was just off -- was it too sweet? almost cloying? a clash of flavors? -- and I couldn't eat more than a spoonful. It came with a side of toast and a very garlickly tapenade that I would stay away from if you are going on a first date! The main dish was great - sliced squid served over a bed of julienned vegetables with a light pesto sauce - and the fruit soup was delicious. More of a fruit salad, really, this was a large bowl with whole strawberries and raspberries and quartered figs that were bobbing in a sweet sauce. We both tasted the liqueur in it and R. insisted that it was Grand Marnier or Cointreau, but when we asked the lady about it she informed us that it was a mulled wine -- and tea! -- reduction. Perfection, and just like the main dish, appropriate for the season: so simple but so good.

I would recommend Jean-Pierre Frelet for the fresh daily menu, which offers a very good value for the quality of the meal. The service is a bit slow, to be expected with only the wife running the floor, so don't be surprised by the leisurely pace (even by French standards). I have posted the menu below to give you an idea of your other options if the daily offerings don't appeal (click to enlarge):Jean-Pierre Frelet
25, rue Montgallet
75012 Paris
01 43 43 76 65
M: Montgallet
Open Monday - Friday, Saturday dinner only.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I changed to Haloscan commenting...didn't know that all my old comments would get deleted in the process...oops!

EDIT: OK, now my changes have disappeared, yet I didn't touch a thing...all old comments are back...strange, I think I'll just leave it as is for now.