Thursday, July 29, 2010

Paris - The Other Sighs of Paradise

I mean, "Les Soupirs de Plaisir"........

trans:  SIGHS OF PLEASURE.......

Because the real reason some of us go to France

and especially to Paris,

is because we REALLY just want to eat

like those other guys do 

yeah, those Frenchies......a whole life long......





Are you having any for the weekend?  Here's a link to a recipe that you might like:

Andrew Testa for The New York Times


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

L.A. Food Life - Bottega Louie

You may ask yourself, is this Paris or Milan?  Is this Cairo, or Buenos Aires?

But you would have to tell yourself, no, this is L.A.   And if this is L.A., then it must be Bottega Louie!

Could your idea of L.A. actually still be of wizened old cowboys with tin stars?  Or voluptuous blond starlets with poufy hair and orange tans?  But maybe not so much Laduree and star chefs,

locally grown, gaily colored, and elegantly presented foodstuffs?

Well time to think again!

Bottega Louie is enormous, it covers ALOT of bases.  It misses some.  It is slightly stark, could use a little warming up, if you ask me personally.

But it is trying really hard, and finding it's inspiration in the very best that the universe has to offer, like it's version of teeny Laduree-style to-go sandwiches, 

the best in rustic bread varieties, 

and basic but satisfying

crowd pleasers.  Did this style of eclairs first show up in vitrines at perhaps Fauchon, in Paris?

Did Pierre Herme ever come up with such a similarly cremeux chocolate mousse tarte?  Probably, yes, FIRST!  (But did he know better than to pair the mousse with a fairly tasteless bitter chocolate pastry, or to garnish it with mystery gel and red-colored hard candies?  YES!!!!  Again!   The French understand that cooking is about making flavors taste MORE, to attain the height and optimum expression of whatever their main flavor themes are.  Many young ambitious American chefs haven't entirely figured this out yet.)   However.........I would eat that chocolate tarte a second time!

The Bottega Louie space is enormous.  It is right in downtown L.A.'s (surprising to some) financial neighborhood, and if you were adventurous you could also reach it fairly conveniently from the new L.A. LIVE entertainment district. There are many eating options here - cafe bar style upfront, take-out counters also at the front, cafeteria style mid-way through and at the rear, behind the gilt desk, the "Fine Dining" room


it is rumored, Chloe Kardashian and husband Lamar Odom like to come for pizza and pasta late-nights after a Lakers game.  NOW.  You KNOW!

So.  Me.  As a newly minted juror, on a prospectively month-long jury assignment in Downtown L.A., I am DESPERATE for every kind of consolation or I mean, diversion/distraction, to break up the tedium of a long courtroom day.  And since that seven-block rush down the hill and back (sweaty-though-it-may-be) after sitting sitting sitting scribbling notes and scrutinizing testifiers, is EXHILARATING and the BEST feeling I've had all day!........... 

Because of all that, and in the interest of BLOG SCIENCE, I will this evening offer you my pledge.  That I will return to Bottega Louie.  On a frequent basis.  Over the next month.  To sample it's many and various offerings. And give you a FULL REPORT!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

SO.   I do believe they've got me.  I have one more card to play tomorrow and if it fails me, I may be tied up for quite sometime.   Meanwhile let's pretend I do NOT have to go back to jury duty, that it's still summer, and that I have the whole month of August unfurling ahead of me, within which to laze, dawdle, and dream.  And let's pretend that I am still here, in a village in the Yvelines, just 55 minutes on the slow train from Paris, in the middle of wheat fields, oak forests, and blackberry brambles.

Yes let's!  Pretend.

Deep breaths.


Back to basics.

Just the breezes.

The buzzing of winged insects.

Shiver......................Sleep.  Hope all the rest of you are having a more carefree week!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Paris - The Other Guise of Paradise

Where are we now?

Rue Oberkampf again, one passage up from "Passage Paradis".

I'm sure that Paris is full of little streets like this.  It would take a lifetime to record them all.  But it's a job that I would be glad to have!  

This one is quite a bit more humble than Passage Paradis now looks.  A reminder that Oberkampf is still a neighborhood "populaire".  Where regular people live.  And maybe some quite poor people.  Cheek by jowl against Edith Piaf's old neighborhood Menilmontant.  Where she herself grew up in poverty, and a little wild.

But changes are afoot.  Paris life can be so fluid.  That, above, is the office of a film-making company.

And what lies behind this shabby-chic vignette?

With it's rustic charms?

A "design" furniture store?  Or maybe I mean "atelier".  Something between a retail space and a workshop?  Paris is always full of surprises.

Giant zinc letters?  For me?  Yes, please!   

At the end of the passage, two little boys playing in their "front yard".   For young people their age, this passage might seem an expansive universe of possibilities for exploration and play.  And yet they are sheltered and apart.

Suspended somewhere between the past and the present.

Fete Champetre - Rambouillet

Acquired by Louis XVI for it's hunting, where an elegant dairy was built to divert the queen, site of the Bergerie Nationale where merino sheep were brought by Louis XVI from Spain to supply the court with their soft wool, summer home of Presidents of France and meeting place for dignitaries and diplomats.  On a broiling hot summer day in 2010, it was full of long vistas, and peaceful picnic corners.  Long swathes of grass for napping.  Barely an hour outside of Paris.