Friday, December 2, 2011

Picasso, Whipped Cream, & Cookie Cutters - just another week in Paris

It is gray most of the time these days.  But its not depressing, at least not yet.  A bit somber, perhaps, but I mostly feel like it is now even easier to imagine Paris as it was in previous eras.  Sunshine in Paris almost feels artificial, like this city is too good to be true when it is beautiful and sunny.  Gray and cloudy is the real Paris.  And with a only a few sprinkles of rain here and there, we have still been out and about.  Adorable baby peacoat and all.
Clouds and chilly weather can't stop Baby Oil

Last week, with grandparents B'nana and Papa P, we saw a fantastic exhibit at the Grand Palais about the art collected by the Steins (as in Gertrude, but also her siblings).  Definitely one of the most phenomenal collections of Matisse, Picasso, and other artists of that time that I've seen in one place.  And one of the things we really liked about the exhibit was that it wasn't just about the art - it was also about the people who bought the art, who talked about it, who held those famous Saturday night salons to debate art and politics and who-knows-what-else.  Don't we all wish we could live in a time when we'd be invited over to a small left bank apartment replete with not-yet-famous Matisse and Picasso works, to drink wine and have lively discussions?  Very Midnight in Paris, I know, but no less true for me anyway.   I have to think that Gertrude Stein did not worry over much about what to make for dinner every night, which seems to be a major topic of "lively discussion" in our house! 

But the highlight of the exhibit was when an older woman came over to me, as I held Baby Oil, and said, in English with an elegant European accent, "Thees baby iz more beautiful than all of theese expenseeve paintings."  I turned to Papa P and said, "Well, I think our work here is done." 

On their last day in Paris, we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is lovely in a different way in the winter than it is in the summer.  There are no flowers in the flower beds, but the flower pots along with the upper level of the main garden hold huge bouquets of brightly-colored mums in orange, yellow, or purple.  We walked through some of the charming small streets of the surrounding neighborhood and made our way to Patisserie Viennoise (hat tip David Lebovitz) to make sure that Papa P could get his whipped cream fix.  And if you like an iceberg of thick whipped cream on top of a not-hardly-sweet, thick-but-not-too-thick hot chocolate, then you too should brave getting side-swiped by a bus on the ridiculously narrow Rue d'Ecole de Medecine.  Only after we got there did I remember the warning that David Lebovitz gave when he wrote this place up (which was basically that you could easily be hit by a bus).  But here was our reward:

And to make sure that the grandparents did not leave France hungry, we went to an excellent dinner at Yayin on their last night.  This kosher restaurant in the 17th opened two years ago and bills itself as "nouvelle cuisine juive."  Duck with an amazing spiced sauce, chicken with savory yet not over-powering Indian flavors, bass served flambe (literally, the waiter lit my mother-in-law's fish on fire at the table - so cool!), veal schnitzel, etc.  Molten chocolate cake for dessert, of course. Yum.

I love being served things in mini Dutch ovens (cocottes)!

Yesterday I checked another item off my ever-growing, ever-changing list with a visit to E. Dehillerin.

If you want to buy (crazy expensive) copper pots or other (crazy expensive) kitchen wares, this is a great place to go.  You walk in, and immediately feel like you are in a store room.  If you walk down into the basement, then you really feel like you are in a store room.  Because why would you send customers into this:

In a few weeks, I am supposed to be hosting a holiday cookie-decorating event for the expat English-speaking moms group. I have no idea if anyone will come.  And Baby Oil doesn't even eat cookies yet (because chouquettes and brioche are totally different, right?).  So naturally I treated myself to some (overly expensive) very authentic cookie cutters from E. Dehillerin.  And really, how could I not buy a cookie cutter shaped like the Eiffel Tower!