March 31, 2018

A place in the sun

In desperate search of the sun the Expat family flew in from Paris, Dubai and Geneva to reunite for a long weekend in Ibiza. Much to our surprise the island season does not begin until May?!? It is a pleasure not being surrounded by tourists constantly and though we don’t exactly blend in we have a good gang of friends that make us feel at home.

And since it’s a bit too chilly to lie on the beach and the wind is so strong it practically blows you off the cliffs, the only alternative is to enjoy the delicious food along with the exquisite company and memorable sunsets. Viva Ibiza!

March 28, 2018

A quick flight back home

When your friend celebrates a big birthday there are no excuses not to party, no matter how far away she lives. Friendship is a precious gift and life is worth celebrating.

With that in mind I travelled to Lugano from Paris for a weekend and treated myself to flying straight to Ticino with SWISS rather than the usual easyjet to Milano Malpensa and then having to trek up from Italy. And what a treat it was...

Taking Switzerland with me from now on...

A little treat from the Lugano tourist office... a traditional Easter "colomba" nicely wrapped up in a mini-suitcase! Ready for take-off!

A spectacular bird's view onto Lugano.

Silserli und Süessmost... the chocolate was eaten before taking off.

Sunset over Lago Ceresio bordering with Italy.

A U-turn and we are traversing the snowy peak of the Swiss Alps.

Thank you SWISS for making me feel at home all the way to Paris Charles de Gaulle.

March 26, 2018

Absurdity of French administration

The time has come to throttle someone from our French insurance company. If I weren't already used to France's bureaucracy I believe I would be having a serious breakdown. I am very close to staging a major tantrum only it would be of no use.

Over the weekend I just read somewhere that Thomas Jefferson once said: "When angry count to ten before you speak: if very angry count to a hundred." Well, I've been counting since this morning...

I will not bore you with details but I have been fighting it out with the public health service and the private additional health insurance that is customary in France since beginning of November last year!

We are going round in circles and although at least my phone calls are being answered, none of the terribly bored-sounding assistants the other end are able to assist me. My twenty something e-mails have been left unanswered (not one has received a response!) and every letter I send - including original prescriptions and invoices - comes back in its integrity asking for more proof. We are now at round 7 I believe and the paper trail just keeps getting heavier.

The French phone company is making a fortune off my telephone calls. If I did not speak French I would have learnt it over the phone by now! Thank Goodness I can communicate in their language but the lovely bureaucrats still don't seem to understand what I am saying... or, they just could not be bothered.

I feel like I am battling with a computer that just keeps on producing the same monotonous moves and can do so until eternity. So, where can I pull that plug?

Is there even a chance of out-living French bureaucracy? I fear they will ALWAYS get the better of you in the end... and should anybody ever be in doubt the bureaucrats will go on strike the Friday before Easter weekend just to make sure you remember who rules the Nation!

March 23, 2018

Sweet memories...

Sometimes I just can't help myself... I admit to taking pictures of food, especially sweet food.

Looking at the photo lets me travel back to a specific moment and will often put a smile on my face. Without wanting to revel in memories, it is nice to remember the smell, the taste, the atmosphere, the occasion and the company of that place in time. You remember conversations, feelings and situations without having to see a person's face or a place.

Nothing beats a box of chocolates in my book... those who know me well will confirm!

Homemade mousse au chocolate is a close runner-up.
Best made with Swiss chocolate!

Pavolva is high on the family favourite list of desserts.

Les merveilles de Fred are a truly Parisian discovery

Les macarons can vary widely in quality and taste!

An authentic crema catalana is also hard to come by.

Parisian interpretation of a tarte tatin and a lemon meringue pie

Parisan rooftop honey is hard to find.

A modern version of a chocolate easter egg, I wonder?!?

March 20, 2018

Snow in spring

Waking up to yet another snowy day. This mid-March weekend feels more like January but hey who's keeping track of the sunny days anyway?!?

A nice invigorating jog up Avenue Foch

No break for the die-hards

March 18th and spring is nowhere in sight

Keeping warm if only in my heart

Food is always a good remedy... especially if it's Italian! 

The next morning and we are still covered in white

Voilà a bit of hope for the coming season!

March 16, 2018

The gastronomic meal of the French

During my first year in Paris I participated at many a cooking class. I started with a bang by signing Expat Girl and myself up for a macaron class the first Saturday afternoon we have arrived nearly seven years ago. Over the months I took French croissant classes, chocolate ateliers, how-to-serve-a-French-meal-in-30-minutes, cheese tasting and wine tasting seminars. The highlight must have been the Valentine's Day Chocolate workshop chez Cordon Bleu.

Today I returned to Cordon Bleu for a conference on the gastronomic meal of the French at Unesco. Try getting your head around that as a foreigner! However, having read a few weeks prior that Naples had managed to register the pizza as a cultural heritage I was intrigued as to what the French had to offer!

I learnt that the inscription of the gastronomic meal of the French on Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, in 2010, reflected a desire to promote culinary practices, to the point of positioning them in an official heritage framework. The profound story of a "good meal" is influenced by the history of the relationships between agriculture, trade, religions and rituals.

This "good food" portrays the important moments in the lives of individuals, with family or friends, celebrating the moment and enjoying life. A living heritage is created on a daily basis in homes and restaurants. This dormant patrimony, made up of forgotten grape varieties and recipes, is a heritage built by mankind, for mankind, on a daily basis.

In other words: the gastronomic meal of the French at Unesco is the representation of a good time!

Where culinary geniuses are born: Le Cordon Bleu

Just look at that view at the end of the line-up.

A serious workstation

Only LE chef is allowed to access this fridge!!!
I wonder what's in it?!?!?!?

Patisserie laboratory... sadly empty at this hour!

One piece of work leftover from a student

Can you spot la Tour Eiffel?!?

Who knew le Cordon Bleu had a "potager" (vegetable garden) on their roof?

The secret to any delicious dish... the herbs!

 After months of renovation the Cordon Bleu moved in to its new Headquarters in 2015.

March 11, 2018

MoMA comes to Paris

Back in Paris mode it was time to hit the Fondation Louis Vuitton to check out the MoMA exhibition before it closed. Rising early to discover it had snowed AGAIN overnight this was to be the perfect backdrop for my photos.

On a freezing cold morning I made my way out to the Bois de Boulogne and arrived way ahead all the crowds... lucky me! No queueing! Living in Paris you do become rather blasé about waiting in line, after all I am NOT a tourist, I live here!

The Louis Vuitton Fondation has done it again and this time they have gathered some unique art pieces, never showcased in France before, under the room of their magnificent foundation.

It’s not every day that the MoMA lends 200 works abroad all at once. Thanks to this exhibition I got to see some great pieces. Paintings, sculptures and digital art by Jasper Johns, Walker Evans, Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Klimt, Edward Hopper, Frida Kahlo, Dalí, Man Ray, Lichtenstein, Mondrian, Rothko, Walt Disney, Jackson Pollock and Brancusi.

"Le MoMA à Paris" not only showcased works rarely seen in France, but also retraced the history of the famous New York museum through the works it bought along the way to becoming one of the most famous and important museums on the planet. And since many of those paintings have ties to Paris, and ended up in New York because patrons were following the waves of modern art emerging out of both cities, the exhibition feels, at various points, like a mirror being held up from the other side of the Atlantic.

My only regret? The terraces were closed due to ice and sleet, and although the views through the glass panels were magnificent they did not allow for great photography.

Sailboat, vessel, fish or cloud?

From an initial sketch drawn on a blank page in a notebook to the transparent cloud sitting at the edge of the Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry constantly sought to "design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolising the cultural calling of France"

Sporting a glittering LV logo at the front door, 
it could also be a gigantic Louis Vuitton perfume bottle.

For 90 years now, the MoMA gives itself over to contemporary fine arts by purchasing the best of world interdisciplinary production. This was its first catalogue.

In 1939, Goodwin, a member of The Museum of Modern Art's Board of Trustees and an architect practicing in the traditional Beaux-Arts style, teamed with Stone, an ardent modernist, to create a building appropriate to the Museum's mission.

With its exhibition “Being modern”, Fondation Louis Vuitton makes a big splash.

A splash of colour that caught my attention.

A detail of the original, dismantled UNESCO steel construction
that nowadays classifies as modern art!?!

Definitely modern art ... but still classic.

Campbell soup cans... a true classic!

Could this shot classify as modern art?

Geometrical lines everywhere you look.

Snow patch and yellow light beams... how about that for modern art?

Listening to the Forty Part Motet (2001) by Janet Cardiff 1957.
The collection, is comprised of 40 standing speakers, each one presenting a different singer from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir singing “Spem in Alium Nunquam habui” by English composer Thomas Tallis (1505–85).

A dense thicket of steel struts and wooden beams that have been forced into improbable shapes.

The terraces are designed to catch particular views – across to the towers of La Defense and Montparnasse, the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre... not today, unfortunately.
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