Monday, January 14, 2013


Are you a list maker?  I currently have three going for my upcoming trip... personal stuff to take, gifts and school stuff to take, and things I am supposed to bring back.  Wouldn't it be great if I could actually find the lists?  Or if they were in the same notebook, whether in the little notebook I carry around in my purse or on my iPad?  Oh non, that would be way too easy and organized for moi.
Before you go somewhere, do you read up?  Google museums?  Read guidebooks?  These are my three current bedtime reading books.  Clothilde's book was a Christmas gift from the BFF.  And she didn't even know that I follow Clothilde on Chocolate & Zucchini.  Clothilde recommends restaurants in every arrondissement of Paris, as well as markets and food shops.  She says that Pierre Hermé's macarons are her favorite.  That is definitely on my Paris to-do list.  Oh, that brings the lists up to four.  I've actually eaten at four of the restaurants in her book, too.  Maybe I can add another this go-around.
Forever Paris was also a BFF gift. It is filled with 25 walks in the footsteps of the likes of Chanel, Hemingway, and Picasso.  It seems that Julia Child haunted some of my favorite spots--in particular Rue Cler, with a lunch stop at Café du Marché.  I am going to follow this one and see where she and Paul lived.  She loved Au Pied de Cochon.  I've seen it but have never eaten there.  Their soupe à l'oignon is supposed to be délicieuse and that will be just what is in order because it is going to be a cold weekend in Paris (as opposed to 70˚F here in Durham, NC-- icky weather for January, in my humble opinion...)  Julia is quoted as saying "I am half-French and that's all there is to it."  I am adopting that one.  There is also a Hemingway walk that includes the Luxembourg Gardens , Shakespeare & Company, Brasserie Lipp and Deux Magots.  A chocolat chaud or un verre de rouge, perhaps?  Hemingway's quote-- "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."
Wandering Paris was a gift from Arles Lucy last year.  Its author, Jill Butler, is an artist, as is Arles Lucy.  I used it last year to find the Marché d'Aligre, a wonderful open air market in the 12th arrondissement.  She also recommended the Monoprix on Rue de Rennes, but I wasn't very taken with it.  I have plans to visit the one on Avenue des Ternes.  I was in there very briefly last March with the students.  It needs to be explored further.  I love Monoprix.  The French equivalent of Target only French!
So, I'd best see if I can find the lists and get to packing.
I leave you with my favorite Looney Tunes character, that lovable French-speaking skunk, Pepé le Pew.

One of my work buddies, GB, came in my room this morning to tell me that he saw a building on his way to work, engulfed in fog with a blinking light on top that made him think of the blinking Eiffel Tower in my classroom which made him think of this cartoon character.  He wanted to know if Pepé had anything to do with my passion for French.  And, as a matter of fact, the answer is Oui, mon chéri. His French was certainly the only French I heard spoken until I signed up for Mme Buchanan's class my sophomore year.  And to be initiated into the Cercle Français, we had to dress up like Pepé.  Ah, high school memories.  Pepé was first introduced in 1945.  He thinks that he is irresistible but actually smells bad and never takes no for an answer.  He was created by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese and voiced by Mel Blanc from 1945-1988.

I made this soup last week when it was actually chilly outside.  A big thumbs up from the Ex-Ex.  Would Pepé like it?  Mais oui, mon amour!
 I started with a recipe from Taste of Home as my guide and improvised a bit.

Potato Cheese Soup
6 servings

4 russet baking potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 small onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil or a mixture of both)
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
3 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bacon, fried crisp and crumbled  (if desired)

In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat.  Sauté the onion and celery until soft.  Add the garlic for the last minute.  Add the potatoes, cover with water, cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.  Do not drain.  Add milk.  Stir.  Keep on low heat.
In a small bowl, blend the melted butter, flour, parsley, and pepper.  Stir into potato mixture.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat; adjust seasonings; add cheese and gently stir until almost melted.
Ladle into bowls, top with bacon and a bit more cheese, if desired.

Bon appétit, Pepé!  Paris, here I come!
Next installment-- le Provence list...

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