Sunday, October 21, 2012

September Snapshots: Friends, Food, & Bikes

Ah, September. You lasted but 30 seconds and were gone.  Just a few highlights...

September was off to a good start.  On the 1st, I spent the day frolicking in the Luxembourg gardens on a gorgeous sunny day.  It was the kind of day that made me feel good about welcoming fall.

Kicking my feet up on a chair and reading in the sun became so relaxing I couldn't stand it anymore, so I decided to join the throngs of other Luxembourg sun-lovers laying in the grass.

I wasn't sure I'd find a spot. Parisiens know that when the sun is out, it's time to lay in the grass in front of some beautiful monument and soak it up.
but voila, my very own spot in the sun.  I sprawled out napped while some model guy sat nearby, I mean there was no question he was a model, and I pretended not to stare at him by using the super stealth technique of sunglasses.

Later in the week, Sadie, Jillian, and I decided to have a weekly Thursday night "Master Chef Night", where we would cook something delicious together and watch Master Chef after work. On our first night of watching, one of the challenges was themed around classic French pastries.  

The pastries were numerous and beautiful, propelling us into a pastry-craving tailspin that could only be rectified by having a pastry party the next day at lunch.  Here everyone expresses their excitement to dig into our giant box of Secco pastries. I wish I could show you the before and after. We destroyed them.

Jilly's friend Khaia comes for a visit, so we're off to eat at Dans les Landes.

where we eat delicious fried calamari out of a wooden shoe.

I've been wanting to try this place called Eggs and Co. near St. Germain for ages. They have about 4,000 different ways of making eggs, and they all look delicious.  They decided to have me and another solo guy sit together at this tiny space at a mini counter that can barely even fit two bar stools, and I mean tiny, so we were practically hugging each other while eating, aware of the awkwardness of our situation of being forced together as a couple and yet not speaking the whole time.

It was like when you get on an airplane and sit shoulder to shoulder with someone for 8 hours but both pretend the whole time that the other isn't there.  I wanted to put some Tabasco on my eggs at one point but felt like my silent stranger boyfriend might judge me.  And of course I'd look like a weirdo taking a picture of my plate of eggs, so I couldn't do that either.  Once he left, I at least documented part two of the brunch, my first pancake in Paris.  (Pancakes are not a French thing. But they the beloved crepe is the French pancake, so I can't complain).

I don't mind eating solo, but forced stranger-dining is just too much when a girl just wants to enjoy her eggs.  I'm partially annoyed/don't want to go back, and partially dawning upon the discovery a brilliant new blind date opportunity in Paris.  Maybe one day the model from Luxembourg gardens will walk in.

Other highlights include...

Master Chef Watching #2

We used our chef skills to whip up some boneless pork chops with fig & onion confit and minted green beans

 And a home-made fig tart. Fig season, we welcome you.

A relaxing Sunday morning perusing my beautiful gift from Mindy. (Thank you!!)

Paris has 20 neighborhoods called "arrondisements" that start in the center and spiral outward like a snail's shell. For Simon's 30th birthday party, he hosted an event called "20 in 20", a big group bike ride that has stops in every neighborhood.

There were balloon mascots, Pooh Bear and Zebra.  Unfortunately, there was a tift while riding.  Pooh, in a jealous rage, wrapped his string around Zebra's leg and severed it completely.  As you may or may not know, balloons cannot survive long with a severed extremity. It was a sad moment, as we loved Zebra dearly.  You can see the pain in Aurelien's face here as Zebra deflates before our eyes.  I hung on to his leg, and we did some reconstructive surgery later in the evening.

Our group took up the entire bike lane.  It was a blast riding all over Paris as a massive balloon-touting bicycle gang.  I joined them in the 15th at 5:30pm, and by 1:30am we were still in the 6th.  At least I made it to 10 neighborhoods.  After that, I headed back home, leaving the brave ones to finish the rest.

Having dinner with two new friends, Ludo & Svetlana. Ludo is a chef with an Italian restaurant who I met one night at Chez l'Ami Jean when he was there with his friend, Nicholas. Nicholas is now the chef at this new restaurant, Atelier Vivandaand the three of us had a great time together trying everything on the menu that night.  Talk about a perfectly cooked steak!  I'm loving hanging out with these fellow food lovers.  

We stayed til the end to see Nicholas and the team celebrate their successful opening night.  The restaurant's concept is focused on meat, perfectly cooked in the open kitchen right in front of you.  They offer 3 options for the first course, 4-5 meat options (steak, pork, lamb, sweetbreads), and just potatoes as the side dish, but you choose how you want them cooked (baked, au gratin, mashed, boiled, roasted).  I would return in a heartbeat.

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