Thursday, April 24, 2014

L'Orient Express

I love riding trains and no doubt a trip on the Orient Express would have been most thrilling.
You can easily do so until August 31st. Just take yourself off to the Institute du Monde Arabe at 1, rue Fosses St. Bernard 75005 Metro Jussieu
It's an exhibit with 2 parts - the passenger cars standing out in the open and the 2nd part inside Jean Nouvel's historic building downstairs featuring posters, artifacts and tea salon.
Getting through the exhibit (for me at least) was almost as convoluted as riding from London to Cairo.
I thought I'd arrived early enough at 10:30 am (the exhibit opens at 9:30 on the dot) and like any good train, it leaves on time.
But in fact there were a slew of people ahead of me, many bought tickets online.
Once inside the cars it felt pretty claustrophobic and after passing through 2 cars I knew I wasn't going to make it to the end. I simply had to get off the Simplon Express. No two ways about it. The folks behind me were not best pleased for sure. It is tight in there.
Never mind. I returned next morning just at opening time. Granted at least 25+ ticket holders were in front of me, but being French, they stopped to read every word of the display cases outside the trains while I sashayed on the train unimpaired.

I almost had the cars completely to myself. Fabulous! Of course if you all follow my example you're in trouble...ahem
The tables are laid out to illustrate different celebrities who rode the train or wrote about it
Like Agatha Christie(Murder on the Orient Express).
Or Graham Green (Stamboul Train).
Films are a James Bond movie, From Russia with Love.
And murder most foul is illustrated. Some sleeping compartments even emit heavy snoring to make our experience more realistic.
Every detail of the original fabrications is seen to.
With gorgeous Art Deco wall decorations

Really a very fun exhibit.
The space inside the Institute is happily more spacious with interactive maps etc.
Old movie posters
And travel posters
Reek of travel in the 30s ambiance.
Plenty of travel photos though I didn't see any sketchbooks or journals...
At the end of the exhibit you can restore and relax with Mediterranean sweets topped up with tea in specially designed tins from Dammen. This is a don't miss exhibit in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Paris Chicks

A not-to-be-missed essential icon of French Easter is chicken little
Why ever did I leave my chicks back in New York?
Last years egg chase poster
Almost every window has hatching chicks present
Some are sitting in their nid/nest admittedly...
Hatching chicks of marzipan at La Mere de Famille
Just because it's the day after Easter doesn't mean the fancy eggs are 1/2 price or marked down. We have another week of vacance here. And anyway I've yet to see a chocolate egg go on sale. They must all be eaten up.
While checking out an apartment for a PB reader I was stopped in my tracks by this adorable hatching chick eggcup. I was taking pics for the renter but I'm sure the owner thought I was nuts shooting her egg cup. *Let me know if you'd like me to check out a possible future Paris rental for you.
The kitchen supply shops on rue Montmartre are full of relaxing chicks.
This one is vacationing in Tahiti.
By the way these little chicks are called 'Piou Pious'
It's the French sound they make of course.
Here's a hot song about Piou Pious on Youtube. With 40 million hits it's got to be hot no?
I'm very tempted by these bunny night lights but that's another Easter story.
La Tour d'Argent shop has beautiful Limoges eggs purely for decoration. Baker Eric Kayser has a box of a dozen mini Piou pious in dark and white chocolate. No one can top the French for Easter goofiness in my opinion but what do I know?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday Brunch at Hotel Fouquet Barriere

Among with the invasion of hamburgers, Sunday brunch has taken Paris by storm the last few years.
Coco (here demonstrating the ivy and laurel leaves climbing up Paris' original lamp posts in her neighborhood) invited me to join her and other bloggers at Hotel Fouquet's brand new Brunch service at the Barrière.
And I invited Janice. The Hotel is on 46 Avenue Georges V a few steps away from the Champs-Élysées 75008
Bear insisted on the grand tour before we brunched.
A splendidly landscaped terrace awaits if you're in the mood to eat out doors.
As do barbecue chefs wait to take your order...
And deliver it to you hot off the grill (I want to say 'barbie' for the Aussies out there...)
Other chefs are waiting to make you fresh pancakes with bacon and syrup. Janice dived in, being from Canada. 
I was saving myself for the Mediterranean feast in the other room. There are at least 3 buffets if not more.
First asparagus of the season !
Artichokes in France are the best. I love the extra long stems.
A Lebanese feast was calling my name. I have to buy fresh Tabouleh and hummus at the Sunday Bastille marché every week. I've become addicted.
All kinds of cooked meats and Morel mushrooms!
My plate. I tried not to totally make a fool of myself but still...
Bear did make a fool of himself over the raspberry fool.
This is Janice's dessert plate.
I was admiring this gorgeous cake, but one doesn't like to take the first slice and ruin the symmetry does one? So I abstained from dessert believe it or not.
Chef Charles Ducrazet and his team created this fabulous giant chocolate egg-birdhouse, but they weren't slicing that up either...
Here are some other intriguing chocolate eggs around town: Puyricard went all out with a gold-leafed giant egg (how many kilos is this one is?) with a Pont Neuf landscape etched into it.
Dalloyau had an egg-like white chocolate gateau in their windows yesterday filled with fresh strawberries.
I'm still in love with Dalloyau's giant strawberry, carrot and Spring pea eggs but I made do with their mini eggs filled with raspberry and apricot. Heartbreaking the choices one has to make...
I'm mad for this witty chocolate cloche/bell of Alain Ducasse placed under a bell jar. All at the brand new Ducasse chocolate shop recently opened in the 6th, 26, rue St. Benoit a step away from Café Flore.
These eggs are NOT filled with little chocolate fish/friture. Instead they are called 'feuilleté' and have different layers of dark chocolate, feuillantine and praline - very unusual indeed.
Post-brunch Janice and I wished we had run the Paris Marathon earlier but instead ambled down the Champs-Élysées and through the Tuilleries almost all the way home. Still I'd jump at the chance of another Sunday brunch at Hotel Fouquet Barrière.