I don't know where to begin. Paris was amazing. To say that I am completely smitten would be an understatement. We somehow managed to see a tremendous amount in such a short time, without getting too exhausted to enjoy our surroundings. And the food. Oh my goodness. The food. And the pastries. All the pastries. There was nowhere near enough time to do a proper tasting of all the pastries that caught my eye. I would have eaten myself sick if I had the chance. I suppose I will just have to return someday and continue my pastry-tasting mission.
Our first evening we arrived at our hotel from the airport, dropped off our bags, met up with our friends from Belgium, and headed out to the Eiffel Tower. We were not about to miss out on a clear night sky to see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. Sadly, I am not able to share photos with you of the tower all lit up until I receive a response to my request for permission from the authorities that operate the Eiffel Tower. The lighting is a copyrighted work of art, so I can't share photos without permission. I'm working on it, but until then you'll just have to believe me- it was gorgeous! (Or you could Google one of the many photos that have been posted around the web, probably without permission.)
A very late dinner after our visit to the Eiffel Tower was just what we needed to end our first evening in Paris on the right note. Steak with Herb Butter, French Fries, Juicy Cheeseburgers, Steak Tartar, Salad, and of course, French Bread. Our table had a good variety of delicious food.
Day two's mission was to see a little bit of everything, and keep our plans flexible. I would say the four of us were all in perfect agreement about where we wanted to go, so it made for a wonderful time to catch up with friends while we strolled from landmark to landmark, stopping for snacks and photos along the way. By the way, can I just point out how incredibly lucky we are to have friends who speak French? Although we did find Paris to be very English-friendly, much more so than other places we've been.
As you may know from reading my About Mandy page, every time we visit a new place I make it my mission to find a cookbook related to the area as a souvenir. My collection is growing leaps and bounds these days. On this trip, both my friend Cindy and I wanted to visit Shakespeare and Company, the very famous independent bookstore on Paris's Left Bank. It is an institution, and if you happen to pay it a visit, you'll see why. It is oozing with charm, packed to the gills with books on every topic you can imagine. It feels as if it has been left untouched for generations. It just feels good in there. They haven't sold out to the tourist crowd or abandoned their authenticity in an effort to make more money or to "keep up" with the latest technology. I just HAD to buy my cookbook souvenir here.
After careful deliberation, I chose Sweet Paris: A love affair with Parisian chocolate, pastries and desserts by Michael Paul. The photography is captivating, and makes you want to stay up for a week straight making every single recipe within its pages. The writing is informative and inspiring. I can't wait to spend more time reading and baking from it. Also, if you buy a book at Shakespeare and Company, they stamp the inside of the book with a stamp that says "Shakespeare and Company, Kilometer Zero Paris". The perfect souvenir. By the way, "souvenir" comes from the French word for a memory of a remembrance. How appropriate.
This is certainly not my first book related to Paris, but it is the first I purchased IN Paris. Some other Paris/France-related reads that I highly recommend are:
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz. Fantastic photography, recipe, and insight into life in Paris. I love all of his books.
The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz. This is not a cookbook, per se, but a food-related memoir with recipes sprinkled in.
The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes by Rachel Khoo. Beautiful book with delicious recipes.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 Volume Set) by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle. The ultimate guide to French Cooking, and one of the most reliable cookbooks I own. Everything I make from it turns out amazing. It doesn't take much time to realize that the recipes indeed were tested vigorously, which is why some recipes are so elaborately explained. Julia wanted to set everyone up for success, which is probably why her French bread recipe (in Volume 2) is 29 pages long. Some people find the sheer size a bit overwhelming, but it truly is an asset to have as much information as possible when tackling French techniques as a home cook.
Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller. A coffee table-worthy cookbook if ever there was one. It is HUGE and magnificent.
My Life in France by Julia Child. Consider yourself warned: You'll want to drop everything and move to France to attend culinary school by the end of this book.