Friday, March 28, 2008

Paris, Part 2: the food!

Le Suffren, 73 Avenue de Suffren 75007

Le Suffren is an old school brasserie in a very traditional neighborhood. It's Master P's dad's favorite place to go in Paris and it was just what we needed on our first night. What blew us away at Le Suffren was the steak tartare. I've eaten this quite a bit and this was the best we ever had. I attributed it to the super strong French mustard. Master P couldn't say. We both agreed it was phenomenal.

Les Pipos, 2 rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique 75005
Les Pipos is a very tiny, very rowdy restaurant. It also happens to be around the corner from where we used to live. Our friend, Alexis, a very big, very rowdy Norman, introduced us to this place back in 2002. I always knew I wanted to go back and I was thrilled that we did. They serve simple, traditional food. I think the menu was exactly the same as I remember it. Les Pipos is also the place where I first ate oysters and I had them again this time. French oysters are huge and briny and fantastic!

Bistro du Peintre, 116, Avenue Ledru Rollin 75011
I adore this restaurant. My good friend Lindsay (who was my roommate when I was a student in Paris) took Master P here in 2002. He took me and our two friends back when they visited us later that year and it always delivers.
This is a very traditional French bistro, but in an up and coming neighborhood, run by cute young guys wearing t-shirts and jeans. If it existed in NYC, I would say it would be in the LES.
We had the most enormous trenches of bone marrow. Again, I've had my fair share of bone marrow in NYC, but never like this. I felt like Fred Flintstone! But it was so good!

Pierre Herme, 72 rue Bonaparte 75006
I could not leave Paris without a visit to this extraodinary bakery. The owner used to work for Fauchon and left in the 1990's to open his own business. We got a box of macaron, in flavors ranging from chocolate to rose, and we devoured them!

La Cigale, 4 rue Récamier 75007
So I don't have a picture from La Cigale, but you're going to have to trust me. This is the most refined experience you'll have in Paris for under $200. They specialize in souffles and you should definitely order one, or two. For a starter a main or dessert. I had oysters (again) to start, a souffle for my main and Master P and I shared a dessert souffle.
La Cigale was the first time all week that we encountered Americans in a restaurant, but don't let this deter you. The clientele here is very sophisticated - mostly journalists and media types. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Le Rubis, 10, rue Marché St-Honore 75001

I had a long list of places that wanted to go to that were recommended by blogger and cookbook writer David Lebovitz. This was the only one we made it to, but it was fantastic. Le Rubis is a old school wine bar that serves sandwiches and small plates of cheese and charcouterie.
We stopped in here and shared a bottle of wine and some (more) delicious pork products. The place was packed with locals and some tourists, but was lively and fun. It's in a very chic neighborhood, but is very affordable. It's definitely worth a stop for a very French experience.

Les Cocottes, 135, rue Saint-Dominique 75001
Our last dinner in Paris was at Les Cocottes, which I had read about in Metropolitan Home Magazine. I was a little concerned that it would be a total scene and filled with tourists, but it was, by far, the best dinner of the entire trip.
A cocotte is a type of little cast iron pot that is traditionally used for cooking in the south of France. Master P and I thought that this place was a little "New York", but that was a good thing. It was a new space that didn't have traditional tables. We sat at a counter and our server waited on us from behind it. Though the feeling was casual, the service was outstanding. We never had to ask for a single thing - our water was always re-filled, etc. I contributed this to the fact that our waiter was "trapped" behind the counter, but the result was a fantastic experience.
And the food? The food was sheer bliss. Following with the homey nature of the cocottes, the food was rustic, but (and this was the thing that made me feel like this was a "New York-style" restaurant) elevated. I had a perfect braised lamb shoulder. Master P had confit potatoes stuffed with shredded pig's feet and a little frisee salad. Everything was served in a little cocotte, so when the salad was added to Master P's dish, it wilted a little bit and the mustard-y, vinegar-y salad cut through the fat from the potatoes and pork. Perfect.

Ah, so that was our trip to Paris. A little bit about the shopping, but mostly about the food. I hope that my recommendations help you when you take your next (first!) trip to Paris!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This is all the yarn I bought in Paris. I really could not justify buying yarn that I could easily find in the US at a terrible exchange rate. Then I found La Droguerie. Their walls were lined with yarn of every color and fiber! I could hardly contain myself! I had to get something! Anything! Master P (thankfully) steered me clear of the bright turquoise mohair claiming that it was "crazy" and "the same color as all the yarn you have already". (He's totally right, of course.) Instead he said, "What about this one?" (He was right again.) These babies are what I (we) decided on - destined to be a very large scarf of somekind. Worked together.

The jelly beans? I brought them home from NJ, where I went to celebrate Easter with my family. Last night, Monk discovered them. He, in the middle of the night, trasported more than one - perhaps at once, maybe making more than one trip - upstairs into the loft, where he deposited them into the bed. I awoke, around 4am, to the sound of him scuffling about and with jelly beans in my bed. Crazy cat.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hello, there. I had a long, long post planned (part one of two, in fact) about our trip to Paris yesterday. I was simply too bleary-eyed after about 12 hours of travel hell to write anything clever, so I decided to spare you all and just hit "save post".

I'm still feeling oh, so romantic about the trip though, and wanted to share something with you. So here you go. A little video of Master P at the Louvre on a particularly magical evening.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Paris, Part 1: the crafts

I may have mentioned this before, but Master P and I used to live in Paris. We had a strictly bohemian life where he worked on his screen play and I worked as a nanny. We drank wine all the time (but not while I was with the toddler - come on guys!) and were kind of broke most of the time.

This time around we were a little more flush, and a little less bohemian. We had a really rough list of places we wanted to go that I scribbled on the back of an envelope. It was a mixture of old haunts, restaurants we could never afford before, and for me, yarn shops.

Shopping for yarn in Paris is kind of hit or miss. There's a lot of other crafty loveliness to behold. Here's the deal:

Cat'laine, 19, rue Saint-Marc
This was the second spot we visited, in one day, that was just not there. I had a little guide book from 2006 that was way out of date. This would have been a shop called Cat'laine. I was so frustrated at this point that I took a picture in disbelief.

Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen

If you take the metro all the way to the northern edge of the city, on the weekend, you will find the enormous flea market. There was no yarn to be had, but it seemed as if every vendor had boxes and boxes of vintage buttons. I was totally overwhelmed and couldn't decide on any at all. In hindsight, I should have just bought a bunch. I'm still kicking myself. I did score a Cartier scarf and lovely necklace, thought. Not bad.

Le Bon Marche, 22, rue de Sevres

My American friend who lives in Paris (mother of dear Nathan) told me that the best place to shop for yarn in Paris was at the top floor of their chicest department store, Le Bon Marche. Sh wasn't wrong. They had an impeccable selection of Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Button d'Or, Anny Blatt and Phildar. If I lived in Paris, I would probably shop here. The floor also houses sewing notions and fabric, buttons, ribbons, and embroidery. However, it was a little old fashioned and didn't have anything I couldn't get (yarn-wise) in the states. I took some surreptitious pictures and skedaddled.

La Droguerie, 9 et 11, rue de Jour

This was the one place I *knew* I wanted to visit and it did not disappoint! La Droguerie is hip and young and vivacious. As is the case with most stores that sell yarn, they have buttons and ribbons lining the walls. They also sell their own private label yarn which completely won me over. The wall were lined with different fiber (mohair, silk, cotton , bamboo, wool) all in the same spectrum of colors. I had a serious problem resisting buying one of each, but had to settle one two skeins (which I'll show you later). They sell them by weight and weight them in this cute scale before you pay. If you're going to Paris, make this your number one stop! (I also bought the cutest dress and my new favorite shop around the corner on the same street. Bonus!)

Stay tuned for Paris, Part 2: the food!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

We leave for Paris in 2 1/2 days, and counting! I've already laid out all the clothes I wanted to pack and even found my old Paris Metro ID card. The main decision that is confounding me is what knitting projects to pack!!! Faced with a 7 hour flight each way, I'm panicking a little bit.

So, I'd like to enlist the help of you, gentle readers. I've prepared several options below and whichever you vote for, I will take with me! I'm thinking I'll need about two projects.
Vote away!

Choice A) The long, languishing Owl Cardi. I started this almost a year and half ago. The intarsia kind of drives me crazy, but if I'm stuck on the plane, I'll be forced to knit it!

Choice B) My current project, The Alpaca Super Cowl. I could potentially finish it and wear it in Paris!!

Choice C) A brand spankin' new project that I've been itching to start. Manos silk blend! Cute Rowan pattern!!

Choice D) Yet to be named, Very First Lace Project. I've been afraid of lace for so long, but maybe long flight will be the perfect place to concentrate on a new skill.

Choice E) Quick and dirty beret made out of lovely Rowan Felted Tweed. Fool-proof pattern and slightly mindless knitting. Will definitely have a hat when I come home!

Friday, March 07, 2008

With Daylight Savings this weekend, and Spring right around the corner, I've managed to finally snap a pic of my winter hat.

I had about 2 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky left over from Master P's sweater. I had been in love with the yarn and the color so I made myself a "beret" from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. It's a little loose, but I love how slouchy it is. It pretty much hasn't come off my head all winter.
That is except for the days when Master P is wearing his sweater. Then he forbids me to wear my matching hat. I guess I can understand that.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ah, yes. I started this little number back in December, when I found out that two dear friends of mine had their first baby. They are the first people I know to have offspring! Yay!

I knit this with Mission Falls 1824 Wool. I used size 8 needles and improvised the pattern from the top down.
I did run into some problems. I made some grave miscalculations and the jacket came out huge. At The Point on Saturday everyone was laughing at me, saying that maybe little Nathan will wear the sweater in 5 years!
Also, I ran into my typical "back and forth" vs. "in the round" gauge problems. The body was knit back and forth on size 8 needles. The sleeves were knit in the round on size 10.5's. It took forever to finish this sweater because I kept going back and forth with needle size for the sleeves, buying needles, knitting and ripping out and generally pulling my hair in frustration.
It is, in the end, complete with mere days to spare.*

FYI, I washed and dried this according to the label's directions. I must say it came out looking kind of folded. It was definitely fuzzy is spaces and it did (fortunately) shrink, though I did not do a before and after measurement.

*I say "mere days to spare" because this ensemble will be traveling with myself and Master P to Paris where I will hand-deliver it to Nathan!! We leave in exactly one week, and will be staying exactly one week! More later!!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Whoa baby! This is a linen and alpaca mix from Punta del Este Yarns. Also known as my own personal knitting hell. I thought that 100% cotton was bad, but, mama, this is worse.

The end result is interesting, textural. A little 70's granola for my taste. The knitting of it was pure torture. I did my swatch on a size 5, but I think I could have been knitting on 3's. And getting 4.5 stitches to the inch.

If Patty and I hadn't agreed that this baby needed to be a pattern of the month for The Point, I probably would have never picked it up. It's good to be able to experiment with yarns and not feel the guilt of paying for something you dislike out of your own pocket.

If you like linen and your like knitting for the home, then this is for you. Me, I'd rather wear my knitting, thank you.