April 29, 2009

paris

Paris is a special place for Mark and me. When I left to study at Sciences Po during my junior year in college, we mutually and regretfully decided that we had to break up. But we missed each other so much that we never stopped emailing, calling, and planning visits. I consider myself so lucky to have spent a year there (although, if I'm honest, it was an extremely difficult year for plenty of reasons) but also... so lucky that I got to spend so much time in Paris with the man I love. And, Paris? I mean, maybe you've heard? It's kind of a romantic place. And in springtime it's the best.



And so it seemed entirely, appropriately perfect to celebrate our first wedding anniversary there.



But what did we do there? I'm not really sure. We just... were. We drifted down to the corner cafe for espresso, watching the shopkeepers open up and locals on their way to work. We wandered through the Marais looking in boulangerie windows for buttery pastries. We found empty park benches in parks and enjoyed the morning, watching schoolchildren frolic and moms push strollers through the neighborhood. We walked through my favorite neighborhoods, holding hands and taking pictures, stopping for long meals with wine and dessert and more people watching. We popped into museums or shops when we felt like it. In a few words, pretty glorious.





Favorite parts?
Musee Rodin, especially the gorgeous gardens.



Taking walks through favorite neighborhoods.





Josephine Chez Dumonet: We celebrated our wedding anniversary at this warm, welcoming restaurant with a thick slice of pate de campagne, crispy duck confit and potatoes, a nice bottle of Bordeaux, and an intensely delicious (and huge!) Grand Marnier souffle. We tumbled out of here after a 4 hour meal, a little tipsy (ok, that was just me) and quite happy.

Laduree: We waited in line behind at least 30 people anxious to try their luscious fruit tarts, glossy religieuses, and perfect macarons. By the time I got to the front of the line to order my macarons, Mark said my face was red with excitement. We tried 10: licorice, jasmine, mango, red fruits, coffee, caramel a la fleur de sel (2), pistachio, orange blossom, and bitter chocolate. Also a kougloff, a perfectly moist little orange-scented cake with blond raisins.



Lunch with my friends, the Abadies. Generous and lovely people. If you are lucky enough to dine with a French family at their home, well.. consider yourself lucky indeed! We had a nice long lunch with them, including the most delicious scallops ever. Mark and I were especially amused to see their dog, a well-bred spaniel, beg for cheese rinds. Even the dogs love cheese in France.

We took a short side trip to Bretagne, where we ate crepes and the freshest seafood, drank cider, and took in the moody beaches. But the best part was traveling with my dearest Mark. He makes everything fun.

April 26, 2009

the art of flower arranging

Had fun this morning arranging a bunch of pink ranunculus blooms into bud vases. It's harder than it looks! They are in season right now and I couldn't resist picking up a good-sized bunch while we were grocery shopping Central Market this morning. These are not quite as big as the yellow/orange ranunculus I bought at a flower shop in Paris, but quite pretty.

Oh, and the "bud vases" are actually glass yogurt containers. These little jars are so great. I like them for impromptu centerpieces using flowers, herbs, and plant cuttings, especially leaves and berries.

April 19, 2009

Sunday breakfast

When I woke up this morning, Mark asked an innocent question: "Tea or coffee?"
My answer: "A pot of tea -- but only if you make scones."
My darling husband responded: "Give me a recipe and I'll make whatever you want."


Cream Scones
from America's Test Kitchen Cookbook

OK, seriously: these scones are pretty close to perfect. The texture is tender and light and moist, light years away from the the leaden specimens you might find sitting in a glass case at Starbucks. Also? Pretty, easy and fast to make. It takes a little skill to cut the butter in, but not much.

I felt a little decadent this morning and served these with loosely whipped cream and Mark's dad's homemade blackberry preserves.

P.S. to Julia: Cut with a biscuit cutter, these would be totally perfect for strawberry shortcake.

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup currants (I left these out this time)
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Add flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade). Whisk together (or pulse, in food processor, 6 times).

3. If making by hand: use two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Add currants, if using. (If using food processor: remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse once more. Transfer dough to a large bowl.)

4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer everything to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, about 5 to 10 seconds. To form scones: Press the dough into an 8 inch cake pan. Then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or a bench scraper.

6. Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet. (At this point, I like to sprinkle the tops with a bit of granulated sugar.) Bake until scone tops are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

April 16, 2009

cherry blossoms





Before I get too involved in Paris photos, I had to post these from our weekend in D.C. at the end of March.

While the cherry blossoms were (obviously) incredible, the best part of the weekend was watching our friends, Robin and Ilan, get married. We were honored to be there to share in their day, and we had an amazing time celebrating with them. Mazel tov!

April 14, 2009

Paris, je t'aime


We're back. Jet lagged, a little sick, and possibly buried under a mountain of dirty laundry. But it's ok because we got to go to France in the springtime, when everything was turning green and the flowers were blooming and Paris was at its finest. Super, really. I'll update soon.