"Non, non, madame...merci!"
Physically, I briskly walked away from Bagels & Brownies; psychologically, I fled to another country and got cosmetic surgery to change my identity. It was my first time being informed that I couldn't take photos of a shop's foodstuffs through their outside window, and while I could understand their rule (hey, it's only a thin layer of glass from taking a photo inside the shop, which can be a no-no), I wasn't prepared for it. Because it never happened before. And it never happened before because most people don't give a crap if I'm taking photos of something from outside their establishment. Or maybe they do and they just don't catch me in time...
The woman wasn't mean about it (I've felt more disdainful vibes from shopkeepers who may have been merely handing me a sandwich), but if my camera is unwelcome, I also feel unwelcome. (That's just my take; I'm probably over-sensitive and overly possessive of my baby—I mean, camera.) For anyone else who has been asked to not take a photo of a window display in a foreign country (which I'm sure applies to so many of you), how did you feel about it afterwards?
Of course, I did get some photos. Bagels & Brownies is a cute place with cute plates stuffed with cute desserts. I can't recommend or not recommend it since I didn't try anything (after I left, I got a swift case of appetite loss), but if you do go at least you know 1) what it looks like and 2) that you shouldn't whip out a camera since it might cause a lifetime ban against your admittance to the shop.
(It may seem rude of me to take photos without asking permission, but if I had to ask every store I pass whether I can take photos of their windows, I wouldn't take photos at all. My life would be more pointless than it already is.)
bread, bread, bread and other stuff
I bought three baguettes this week. That means I ate three baguettes this week. There is baguette matter digesting in my stomach as I type this.
Of course, I supplement my baguette diet with other necessities, such as these cookies. If you can't get to Poilâne you may be able to buy their punitions from Casino, which is what I impulsively did while buying groceries there last Friday even though I do live close to a Poilâne. Punitions are addictive, small, round shortbread cookies that are 75% butter and 150% delicious, making them 225% awesome (yeah, I can do math). Sweet, slightly crispy, slightly tender and conveniently bite-sized so that you can kill 10 of them in one sitting, these babies are great if you're looking for an easy way to incorporate more fat, carbohydrates and sugar into your diet. I managed to make the 200-ish gram bag (19.90€ per kg—it's a steal!) last a week, but there were definitely times when I mindlessly popped them into my mouth until I had consumed roughly one stick of butter in the form of cookies.
Last Sunday I tried my assortment of Fauchon macarons (72€/kg) a day after carrying them around in damp weather for a couple of hours. Such an environment is not conducive to keeping those lovely "crispy shell and "light yet moist innards" characteristics that makes macarons awesome intact. Oops. They were good, but I knew they could've been better. Although the flavors (pistachio, caramel, passion fruit, and the non-pictured fig) were better than average, I was distracted by the nearly cloying sweetness. Are they abnormally sweet, or were my taste buds off? Overall, the macarons were good, but nothing I'm dying to go back and try.
Now I understand why it's important to live near a good bakery; if it takes you more than 5 minutes to get from your bakery of choice (Poujauran) to your home (not next to Poujauran, thank god), you may find yourself tearing into your fresh baguette while waiting for the metro (which isn't a bad location if you want lovely gray backgrounds for your food photography). There's nothing terribly wrong with this. I mean, it's not an act that will keep you out of heaven. I think.
Poujauran didn't make Steingarten's top baguette list, but I'll keep it on mine for the time being. Their 1€ baguette tradition transported me to a world where I believed that nothing else was important as long as I had a constant supply of fresh, thinly cornflake-crispy crusted baguettes with soft and chewy innards riddled with holes of all sizes. Nooothiiing. My god, it's like a drug. Beware of bread that is so tasty it makes you think that the joy received from human relationships can't compare to that from the symphony of wheat and yeast.
When I'm old and alone, instead of being surrounded by cats I will be accompanied by baguettes.
For another 2€ I got a macaron au chocolat (hell yeah, my meals are balanced) to accompany my carbohydrate feast. The bag it came in felt oddly heavy—could the woman have given me two macarons instead of one? I turned the bag upside down and out plopped what looked like a whoopie pie. Damn. It didn't look that large through the window.
I never thought I'd say this, but I think this macaron was...too big. The problem with little macarons is that by the time you've decided that you want more of the bite-sized taste, you've already digested the whole thing. The potential problem with large macarons is that after eating 75% of it, you may feel like you've had enough, but must force yourself to eat the last 25% since not finishing a macaron is a crime punishable by the suffocating guilt of countless food-loving people who have never even been in the presence of a macaron and would glady trample over a few babies to get to yours. It's too much of a good thing. Of course, I finished it anyway because it's tasty. Besides that it has a large diameter, Poujauran's macaron (the chocolate one at least) is quite heavy. It might be somewhere in between a macaron and a whoopie pie in size and consistency.
Macarons. At. McDonald's. Or McCafe, to be more specific. Only in France, I tell you. Pete excellently noted that they should've been called MCarons (or perhaps McArons?). Maybe they thought the name would've reinforced the McDo brand too much.
No, I didn't try it. Do you really want me to? Also, is "I'm lovin' it" really "C'est tout ce que j'aime" in French? It looks like the motto grew by 100% in translation.
There are a few boulangeries within walking distance from my apartment (how I wish I had that in NYC), the closest one being Au Bon Pain on rue des Belles Feuilles. I figure if I go there enough times they'll start to recognize me and maybe look forward to my carbohydrate refills. Or loathe them. One or the other.
I bought a demi-baguette (half baguette) for 0.40€ since I knew that the presence of a whole baguette outside of my stomach would eventually result in the presence of a whole baguette inside my stomach, even if its taste was just okay as this one was. My partial baguette after slicing it's belly and slathering it in butter turned into...
...a camembert and lettuce sandwich. Mmm, tasty. I honestly had no idea how stinky camembert was until I opened the box and was asked by my homestay mum to leave it outside on the window ledge. Now if I see cheese hanging outside someone's window, I'll know why. It smells like feet (thankfully doesn't taste like feet, although there is some subtle pungent stinky cheese flavor), but has the runny consistency and gooey texture of any "normal" melted cheese; I suppose if you heated it, it would turn into cheese soup. I made another camembert and lettuce sandwich for dinner tonight and upon unwrapping the cheese found that after a day its runny innards had exploded all over the wax paper lining. I could've scooped it up with a spoon.
The tuna sandwich (3.80€) I got from Au Bon Pain on Tuesday tasted better than the sandwich I made. Maybe I need to be more generous with the butter or slather on some mayo. Or maybe sandwiches always taste better when someone else makes them.
Au Bon Pain's palmier (1.60€) is so far the most impressive item I've eaten from there. Something that never amazed me much in the states has become mindblowingly delicious in Paris, either because it's much better here or because I'm biased against America. It's the opposite sensations all packed together (along with the 50 layers of dough) that make me want to tightly hug whoever invented such an awesome thing. Think crispy and tender puff pastry, light on its own yet dense when rolled together to the 100th power, buttery layer upon...buttery layer. Yes, that last one wasn't an opposite. What's the opposite of butter? Sadness?
Pretend I'm not going wildly out of sequence and go back to when I fled the Bagels & Brownies scene. On my way to my next class I filled my tummy with a nutella and banana crepe from the crepe stand at the corner right outside the La Tour Maubourg metro stop. I know there's such a thing as salty crepes, but I can't bring myself to actually try one when I'm naturally programmed to go for the sweet stuff. The crepe man (who automatically spoke English to me because I am PAINFULLY AMERICAN) happily presented me with a warm, thin, floppy crepe whose folds oozed with nutella smooshed with banana slices. I ungracefully chomped it down while sitting on a bench outside my classroom's building. Thankfully there weren't too many students around on a Friday afternoon to watch the crepe massacre.
After walking by Poilâne on blvd Grenelle and sadly thinking, "My god, that bread is ginormous; there's no way I can eat it," while peering through the shop's windows (no photos since I was a bit apprehensive after the morning's experience), I went to the Maison Kayser near my apartment at the corner of ave Raymond Poincare and rue Saint-Didier (can't find the address on their website for some reason) and waited in line for a baguette de monge. Crispy, chewy, soft, with a hearty wheaty taste, if ye know what I mean (the translated MK page describes the bread as having "a hot cereal taste, and an odor of harvest", which is probably not the best translation, but sounds infinitely better than anything I could come up with), I rate it as "very awesome". Another awesome thing is that they have little baskets of samples around the cash register. Five of them. You could eat a loaf of bread before you even buy one. They'd probably frown upon that kind of behavior, but hey, it's free and god knows how much leftover bread they have at the end of the day.
Bagels & Brownies
12 rue Notre Dame des Champs, 6th
18, rue Jean Nicot, 7th
Metro: La Tour-Moubourg (8)
Au Bon Pain
somewhere on rue des Belles Feuilles, a bit past Galerie Saint-Didier, 16th
Metro: Trocadero (6, 8)
La Tour-Maubourg Cafe something-or-other (aka, crepe stand)
Corner of rue de Grenelle and blvd de a Tour Maubourg
Metro: La Tour-Moubourg (8)
Corner of ave Raymond Poincare and rue Saint-Didier (maybe...it's somewhere around there)
Metro: Trocadero (6, 8)
London, where are youuuu
UPDATE (10/1): I'm most likely not going next weekend because I want to check out Nuit Blanche, which I so far can't figure out much info about (translating the page only helps a little bit). I definitely have to go at some point!
I was thinking of going to London next Friday for a night or two, was thinking because I realized I should probably plan these things more in advance. Haven't bought tickets or made accomodations, obviously. I don't suppose there's anyone who lives in London and would offer their couch in exchange for some macarons or other French goodies? I'm serious. I could spend the same amount of money on a hostel, but then no one would get macarons. And that would suck. Next weekend is still open for me (I figure train ticket prices will increase the more I linger, doh); it just so happens that my second Friday class is cancelled, thus I could leave early Friday afternoon, and do...something...
...See, I don't plan things well. Maybe I should just go on a Saturday morning, visit the museums I haven't visited yet, fill up on Jaffa Cakes (I forget what tasty things I ate the last time I went) and come back on Sunday afternoon.
This is my favorite view on the metro, line 6 between Bir-Hakeim and Passy. Not this frame in particular, but for those few seconds over the Seine I have a tendency to crane my neck towards the window. :)
I had a grumbly "I feel like crap" session while walking around today since having too much time to myself results in much self-loathing (I constantly debate whether I should just eat at restaurants by myself or wait until someone else can come with me since eating out is almost always more fun accompanied by another human), but I'm too tired to get into that now and I'm actually not terribly alone since I got a new housemate who's from Park Slope, of all places, thus I have someone to relate to NYC with.
OH WAIT I remembered something! Magnet is touring the US this November and December to open for Imogen Heap. HE IS ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE HUMANS. He makes me happier than food, for god's sake! You should considering seeing him and Imogen. And then you should record his performance and give me bootlegs. I'll remind you again later.