3 Best Things about my Holidays in Paris
This must be the second time in the last TEN years, that I have spent Christmas with my DH. Christmas is always quite busy at his work place… and I end up running off with the kids to go “home” — where Christmas is the biggest event of the year. The decor, the christmas carols that start playing in September, the gift-giving, the frenzy. For me, it beats no other occasion in terms of spending time with the family… and having an excuse to eat like it was your last Christmas. 🙂
DH gave me a whole year’s notice (since Dec 2008) to warn me that I was staying put this Christmas. And so, like a good girl, I stayed in Paris — and was thrilled because my dear sister came all the way from home to visit me. 🙂 That is like Mohammad coming to the mountain. And I love her for that. (Her spending Christmas with us is, of course, the very very bestest thing beyond this list of 3!)
It was not so bad though… my first Christmas in Paris. And here are 3 good reasons why:
1. Eating Christmas Log cakes never meant much to me … until Paris. Here, they take these logs very seriously. They are called les bouches de Nöel which turn out to be a design competition of who comes up with the fanciest, most chic, most memorable Christmas Log of the Season. Mind you, they don’t quite end up as logs anymore (I mean, how creative can you get with a log?) — but some do manage to retain the general shape with great success! And with designers like Kenzo or other grand chefs teaming up with grand chocolatiers and patisseries… you can imagine what price you could end up paying for these designer logs! One that I saw reached a whopping EU280 — enough to buy me a handsome pair of boots! 🙂
If you don’t believe me, check out some of the most spectacular logs this year right here.
Here is the one we happily ended up with, and set on our dinner table. I thought it was pretty special, delightful for my 5-year old, and surely gastronomically pleasing for my DH’s meticulous palette. It even turned out to be quite reasonably priced too! It was one of Lenôtre‘s interpretations of le bouche de Nöel.
2. The next wonderful thing about spending the holidays in Paris still has something to do with — yeah, you guessed it. Food! Well, ok. They didn’t say “T’is the Season to be Jolly” for nothin’, right? Christmas Holidays AND Food AND Paris. Could not get any better. Turns out, apart from the christmas logs — the French also make a big deal out of the Epiphany. Alack! Another new discovery for me!
On the feast of the Three Kings (or the Epiphany), again, most patisseries and chocolatiers whip out their own rendition of the “Galette du Roi” (The King’s Cake). In the old days, tucked into the galette, was a little bean (these days they use ceramic cars, toys, cherries, or whatever small thing that seems exciting to discover within a cake). Whoever finds the “bean” gets to be King or Queen of the Day — and he wears the crown that comes free with the cake! How fun is that?!
So.. who ever said that eating would cease on January 1? Non, non, non — bien sûr!
We were lucky enough to have been given a Galette du Roi from one of my favourite patisseries (Carette). The flakiest layers of pastry, filled in with frangipane (almond paste) with crusts crumbling down as you bite into it, coffee in hand. Heaven!
I found the bean not only in one Galette but in the two galettes that we had at home! Guess that means I’m having one heck of a foodie year, don’t you think? 🙂 I passed on my crown to my little prince… which he happily accepted.
3. The third best thing about being in Paris during the Holidays is… THE WEATHER! It is so freakin’ cold… you would have no inclination to get one foot out the door! And this could be a good thing, you know. For one, I was able to cook quite a bit — proud to have managed making Paule Caillat‘s most revered Tarte aux Pommes au Sucre Roux. Her pate sucree, goes against all the normal rules of pastry-making… and yet ends up as the most delicious, buttery, sinful crust you will ever taste. (My stumbling block was the center of the tarte… when I didn’t have enough thinly sliced apples to construct the center beautifully!)
Anyhow, quite proudly, my Tarte aux Pommes was inhaled by willing family guinea pigs in two sittings.
Hmmmm. So it seems… that all three points have something to do with FOOD after all!
Voila, mon amies! Holidays well spent… my first Parisian Christmas. 🙂
With this, of course, comes the many resolutions. I’m thinking… should I write it down here for all to see? Maybe not. Just know that two, in my long list of about five, include:
– cooking Julia Child recipes alongside (cyber-ically speaking) my old college friend (who lives in the U.S.) once a week. We are currently working out the rules and guidelines of this serious affair… but you will surely hear all about it in the blogs to come!); and…
– paying more attention to this very neglected blog of mine.
So join me, cheer for me, and inspire me to stay true to at least these two resolutions!
Here’s hoping you all have counted your blessings in the past year… and have started a new slate for the Year 2010.
Bonne Annee 2010!