Friday, January 29, 2021

Paris Hearts Bears


Bears still on the brain. 

Bear wanted to see Cévé’s bear sculptures at Village Royal on 25, rue Royal, even if it was gloomy and rainy. One does not have a choice in these things. 

Across rue Royal Haviland Limoges had bears on the brain too.


In the metro station We are assaulted with Tediber incredible mattress posters. 

Paris’ empty cafes and restaurants have taken the Gobelin nounours/bears to their hearts and filled their empty windows with bears instead of people. It makes things cheerier. 

On one of my Paris stays I ended up on Bear Street/rue aux Ours. Was it karmic destiny?

 This is all before a certain Bear entered my life in 2010 and nudged me to move to his home town 2 years later.

 Did you know many top Paris cooking schools like Ritz Escoffier, Cordon Bleu and Lenotre have teddy bear mascots? Cordon Bleu’s teddy is named ‘Béchamel’. I learned a lot in this job...

Every Christmas Paris pharmacies have a penchant for polar bear in their windows. They are still up. 

All French kiddies have a doudou to drag around, usually a bear. The attachment starts early. 

My bear attachment continues 

With the January Paris Letter (in the post 📮this week). Thanks Empress E. for some news of a real bear cub, baby Giant Panda Xiao Qi Ji in his habitat at Smithsonian National Zoo c/o The Washington Post. Click for 51 seconds of the cutest thing you’ve ever seen 🐼

Paris January 21, 2013 in the 15th arron. when we first moved here. 🐼🐻❤️

Monday, January 25, 2021

Sauteed Steak - Jacques Pepin / Youtube


Haven’t we all made surprising changes to our lives during the Pandemic. Me, I never watched cooking videos one after the other in a trance-like state until recently. 

Certainly Jacques Pepin is one of the best out there to watch. What a terrific teacher! What a terrific guy And I rarely ate or cooked red meat (no pun intended). I never bought a steak in the US. I ate mostly veg + seafood. Moving to France changed that fast. Under Confinement I’ve developed a hankering for hunks of red meat - needing more iron maybe? 

Watching Jacques Pepin sauté a steak it was clear I was doing it all wrong. Thank you Jacques 👏👏

I’m learning the names of French cuts of meat

Next challenge I’ll get the nerve to visit a proper butcher like Le Boucherie Gardil on the Île. 

I used to see Jacques Pepin now and then at the James Beard House, when I was a volunteer house photographer. We shot for our supper several nights a week and I sketched the chefs as well. When I had a Chef portrait exhibit at the house, I painted the chefs on a jacket to wear to the opening. 

Guests wanted the painted chefs jacket, not the portraits = my newest profession. The top chefs offered dinner at their restaurants instead of payment. I ate very well that year.

 I’m still sketching ‘chef’ bears for the January letter.

Along with watching cooking videos, I’m obsessed silly cat videos. Are you?

And painting their portraits among other things. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Creating December Map - Ourson Guimauve


We had the annual snow spritz yesterday! Bear was thrilled. 

I was thrilled to by chance land on Le Figaro’s very serious analysis of the best chocolate marshmallow bears in Paris. Perfect for the (late) December map👏

I’d sketch these bears for a Salon du chocolat post. 

1st sketches made on the bus last Saturday while doing galette des rois research

1st idea = Chocolate Bear balloons floating over a Paris skyline (thank you Pompidou) + monuments. 

7 days later and too many bears consumed KISS (keep it simple stupid) kicked in🤸🏾‍♀️.

Tourists visit Paris for fine food; wine, foie gras, 365+ fromages, tarte tatin, macarons etc.  But the French love best les bonbons de notre enfance,  l’ourson guimauve! 
Ourson means bear cub. 
Since 1962 French kids and adults have been wolfing down annually 400 million chocolate-covered marshmallow bears! 

I tasted quite a few too many of Le Figaro’s best bears this week. The ourson guimauve is a hot Christmas item. À La Mere de Famille was cleaned out completely. The bears are a high/low product. You can spend a lot of dough for bears from haute cuisine chefs like Christoph Michalek or Cyril Lignac. Or buy Cémoi bears in any supermarché for under 2 €. I love ❤️🐻 these too much. 

Personally I like the smaller bears to the giant fancy bears, which are generally of finer quality. Its a little snack.

I loved ❤️ Jeff de Bruges bears #2 on the list. 

New big discovery = Fauchon makes ourson in a gorgeous teddy tin for mail-order. 

A new marshmallow kid on the block is artisanal NWAJ popup shop in Hotel Chavenal. Guimauve is their specialty. Their bears come in many flavors including passion fruit. 

L'ourson guimauve have been around Since 1962, candy inventor, Michel Cathy got the idea. He had to fight to get it produced. Confisieur Cémoi bought the rights 40 years ago. In 2015, the bears made their French producers 900 million euros. Will you try l’ourson guimauve next trip to Paris? Your Paris map art is finished and going in the post tomorrow 
          🐻💌📮👏Stay well and safe dear PBers 🙏❤️💋🐻

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Best Galette des Rois Ile de France


Bear 🐻 loves doing galette research every January. Early Saturday morning we went to find the Best Galette des Rois (King’s Cake) in Ile de France according to the soc of Boulangeries

I’ve done it before. Its always an adventure visiting the hinterlands of Paris where few tourists venture, me included.  

La Fabrique aux Gourmandises is in the further reaches of the 14th. Its an excellent boulangerie. The line was short at 9:30 am. Much longer when we came out. 

Bear made a big study. 

The winning boulangerie gets to keep the smaller cup. The grand trophy cup is passed on to next year’s galette winner. The golden winning decal stays forever on the window or on roof. La Fabrique won best croissant in 2019 (see facade shot). 

These feves are unusual (the hidden porcelain charm in each galette) - portraits of the boulangerie chefs.

It’s very unusual to get a feve and a crown with the smaller size galette. 

It was instant love when Bear saw Cyril Lignac’s little bear charms. Guess who gave in to 🐻. 

Back home a stop in Boulanger de la Tour to taste test galettes. 

Outside, the street cleaning guy was ‘leché vitrine’ de la Tour’s pastry window. I said,”they’re good aren’t they?” He said, “j’aime le tartelette citron ❤️“ I said I preferred Pierre Hermé’tarte, “plus de citron.” He said, “trop sucrée ici?” I nodded yes. I asked, “ever tasted de la Tour’s viennoisserie? Jamais. Stay here” I ran inside to get him a Pain aux raisin (the best in the city imho).

The last 4 days I’ve been eating, 

Sketching and painting galettes. And putting a bird on them 🐦 Back to finishing the December map💌📮 XOXO 🐻😃