travel

paris → new york

“Paris-New York, the two high tension magnetic poles between life, life of the senses, of the spirit in Paris, and life in action in New York.” – Anaïs Nin

i woke up this morning and decided that today was the day to share one big change: i moved back to the states! i am currently sitting in a teeny-tiny studio squeezed on a corner in the west village of manhattan. i am slowly making this place into my new home and doing all that comes with that: finding my neighborhood bakery, exploring my new running path, wallpapering, and combatting a pair of mice that really wanted to be my new roommates.

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a neighboring building

some of my routine has definitely changed since being back stateside. i’m slowly getting used to larger, american portions. i see my family very regularly, with my oldest brother living just a 20 minute walk away! i remembered just how many people i knew in new york, and am social butterflying around this whole city.

but while my life seems to become more americanized (or back to normal) by the second, there are some things that i learned in france that i just can’t kick. the most important of these being: my morning bread.

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most days my morning bread means just that, a hunk of bread smeared with butter or jam. but on my days off, my morning bread takes on a flakier, sweeter, buttery-er taste. be it a pain au chocolat or un croissant s’il vous plait, these laminated doughs are the hallmark of what i consider “how i start my day.” and luckily enough for me, i’ve found one truly french spot to continue this ritual here in my neighborhood.

meet aux merveilleux de fred:

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each one of their shops has a stunning (and large!) chandelier

the bakery is famous for their signature “merveilleuxs” [marvelous], lovely little clouds of meringue rolled in whipped cream and dotted with toppings like chocolate shavings or caramelized nuts. these i buy for special occasions. additionally, the bakery turns out a selection of viennoiserie and brioche. in france, you’ll find aux merveilleux de fred in most major cities, with heavy lines on weekends.

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they have just one location in the u.s., and it is a 10 minute walk from my new home ! while fred’s is my most frequented french institution in new york, i have already stumbled upon and enjoyed so many others over the past few months. here is a little list for you:

aux merveilleux de fred 37 8th Ave, New York, NY 10014

marie blachere 301 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

a.o.c. l’aile ou la cuisse 314 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

le french diner188 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

cafe select 212 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

french cheese board 41 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

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i have already had luck meeting french people and speaking french in all of these shops, and look forward to finding even more places to do so. do you know of any french institutions in new york? leave a comment if so!

bon appétit!

thanksgiving in paris!

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hall of mirrors at versailles (galerie des glaces)

hi friends!! happy post-turkey week. i hope you and yours had a great holiday. i am a very lucky lady because my whole family came to paris last week to join me for thanksgiving. what a treat it was!

we ate, laughed, drank good wine, ate some more, and on and on. it was the best. i also finally saw versailles! yes, it has taken me over a year and a couple months to get there but boy was it special. and not crowded! i would definitely recommend heading there in the offseason — no lines, space to take your photos, and easy sitting at the restaurants surrounding the beautiful gardens.

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brunch at l’espadon, ritz hotel paris

while my family was here, we celebrated my big brother rob’s engagement (!! yay rob and megan!), made a very special visit to the ritz hotel for brunch, and checked out a number of cool spots. frenchie bar à vins (where my bestie liz works), the smiths bakery in saint germain, and le progrès in montmartre were some of our favorite places we visited. put them to the top of your list for your next trip!

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thanksgiving shopping at a french produce market

above everything, it was just wonderful to spend the holiday week with my family. my french friends at work and pretty much every french person i bumped into smiled widely at me as i told stories of ordering my turkey (known as dinde in french), and visiting the french markets to pick up thanksgiving ingredients. as we collected our turkey on thanksgiving morning, the butcher wished us “bon thanksgiving!

while i made a homemade apple caramel pie, we picked up pumpkin and pecan pies from the cutest american bakery in paris: stoney clove bakery. they were great! and the pie crust on the pecan pie was particularly flaky and buttery. my favorite type of pie tbh.

*p.s. if you ever plan on spending thanksgiving in paris, i would highly recommend picking up a turkey from boucherie le foll in saint germain. place your order in advance!

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anyways, now that turkey week has come and gone and i’ve successfully eaten multiple portions of leftover turkey soup, i’m in need of something a bit lighter to kick off the week. enter one of my favorite go-to’s, roasted eggplant. i added fresh moroccan medjool dates that i found at the grocery store to this version, as well as toasted hazelnuts, goat cheese, mint, and sumac. quick and straight-forward, this recipe will help you make room for the many, many christmas cookies that are coming your way this holiday season.

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r o a s t e d   e g g p l a n t   w i t h   m e d j o o l   d a t e s,  m i n t,  a n d   g o a t  c h e e s e

fixings

roasted eggplant

one large eggplant, cut in 4

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil, the best you can find

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

assembly

1 cup whole hazelnuts, cut in half

1 cup goat cheese

bundle or packet of fresh mint

1 teaspoon sumac and more olive oil for flavoring

directions

roasted eggplant

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit/180 degrees celsius.
  2. mix all the spices and olive oil together, cover eggplant slices in mixture (skins and flesh!). and finish with drizzling a bit more olive oil on top.
  3. bake eggplant for 20-25 minutes in oven. check halfway through and add a bit more olive oil if the eggplant seems dry.
  4. enjoy! spices in this recipe are quite flexible. some additional ones i like to throw in are thyme, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon at the end.

assembly

  1. toast halved hazelnuts on medium heat in a fry-pan until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. finely chop mint until it reaches a paste-y texture and consistency, add olive oil and sumac to mint and mix in a side bowl.
  3. pull goat cheese apart into morsels. top roasted eggplant with dates, mint, hazelnuts, and goat cheese. drizzle with olive oil to finish.

quick roasted eggplant + august snapshots!

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my roasted eggplant with farro, pine nuts, fresh tomatoes, ricotta, and lemon

cuckoo! happy almost end of summer and who am i kidding that is not something to be happy about. i am writing to you from a coffeeshop in my parisian neighborhood of pigalle where the windows are open and it is cool enough that i am reaching for my sweater. sad!!!

to mourn the loss of summer, i am recapping a bit of my august here. sun! beach! fresh veggies! basically drinking olive oil every night for dinner!

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biarritz’s plage du port vieux

i am fresh off a trip to biarritz, an idyllic beach town in french basque country (pays basque). oh how i wish i could’ve spent more than 48 hours there! i started my trip with ice cream for dinner and that basically sums up my behavior on this vacay. a #TreatYoSelf attitude was definitely fully embraced. highlights were my long run along the beach boardwalk, a visit with my travel bud liz to les halles, biarritz’s large indoor-outdoor market, and spending a whole day jumping in and out of the ocean! i’ve listed some of my favorite spots so you can bookmark them if you ever get the chance to visit biarritz!

les halles halles de biarritz, place sobradiel

eden rock café 2-4 espl. du port vieux

le surfing 9 boulevard du prince de galles

comptoir du foie gras 1 rue du ctre

hat shopping in biarritz

other than my biarritz getaway, i’ve been working my little tushy off for most of august. i’ve perfected my butter piping for the tartines i make every weekend and who would think that one day i’d be thrilled about piping butter! the things that come out of my mouth these days are starting to make me giggle. in the photo you can see the apricot version of our tartines at the ritz, served with apricots soaked in their syrup, toasted almonds, and verveine.

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apricot tartines at les week-ends de l’espadon

after long workdays, i’ve been coming home and winding down with a bit of low-stress cooking. lately i’ve been putting roasted eggplant in everything and i thought i’d share my simple recipe. from farro bowls to pasta to just all by itself, roasted eggplant is a great summer to fall transition staple.

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pasta night at home with roasted eggplant and tomatoes


q u i c k   r o a s t e d   e g g p l a n t

fixings

one large eggplant, cut in 4

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil, the best you can find

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

directions

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit/180 degrees celsius.
  2. mix all the spices and olive oil together, cover eggplant slices in mixture (skins and flesh!). and finish with drizzling a bit more olive oil on top.
  3. bake eggplant for 20-25 minutes in oven. check halfway through and add a bit more olive oil if the eggplant seems dry.
  4. enjoy! spices in this recipe are quite flexible. some additional ones i like to throw in are thyme, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon at the end.

o t h e r   s t u f f 

a fabulous meme.

what are your favorite flowers to buy for your house/apartment/just for fun?

post67 // foodstuffs presents: how to pick crab 🦀

while back in the states, i spent most of my time at my family’s home on the chesapeake bay in maryland. oh am i lucky! we swam in the bay, sunbathed in the hot hot weather (aka jumping in and out of the water to cool down), ate my favorite maryland cookies, and most importantly, picked crab!!

picking crab is one of my family’s favorite summer activities at the bay. anyone who has come to visit our house knows that we love crab feasts and if you join our table, you’re going to learn how to eat crab. so come and watch my table side tutorial and learn how to pick maryland blue crab. you’ll be ready for the bay in no time! 


and in other, non-crabby news:

i met molly yeh in paris!! what a wonderful day we had. i’d actually met molly before at the food52 hq but it was so fun to bop around paris with her. read what she had to say about her paris trip and the awesome ice cream we ate!! 

i moved to a new apartment in paris. full debrief on my new neighborhood, pigalle, to come as it’s filled with so much great food. definitely put the Rue de Martyrs on your list for places to visit when you’re in paris!

#spagoals

i haven’t seen this movie in a while and i think it’s about time for a re-watch😂


photography and videography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs.blog with the fourth photo in the video by sean matheson/sonofmath.com

post64 // paris getaways

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lille, france

it’s been a little while since my last post and only one thing can explain that: travel! i’ve been taking advantage of europe’s stellar train system and exploring different parts of france and its neighbors. today, i’m clueing you in on the beautiful (and nearby!) places i’ve been visiting over the past couple of weeks. this was my first visit to each location so you’re getting a true first look. let’s go!


amsterdam 3hr15m by train

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meringues at STACH food

amsterdam is just as idyllic as people make it out to be. i was surprised by how quaint the city was, being quite small and filled with gift shops selling the signature blue-stained pottery, delftware.

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delftware from a shop on prinsengracht street

with just one full day in amsterdam, my friends and i opted for a paddling boat tour of the city. and lucky me, i didn’t have to paddle! (thanks sam and greta.) instead, i photographed and boy did we come across some beautiful architecture. the canals and renaissance architecture make for quite a view, even on a gloomy day!

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fellow boater whose boat is called c’est la vie!

some recommendations:

  • pancakes, the pancake bakery, prinsengracht 191
  • small gifts, spiegel amsterdam, nieuwe spiegelstraat 2a hs
  • afternoon snack, STACH food, nieuwe spiegelstraat 52
  • dinner, breda, singel 210
  • after-dinner drinks, dutch style, de twee zwaantjes, prinsengracht 141

lille 1hr by train

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the reflection at la piscine museum

when first looking for a day-trip from paris, the image above drew me right in. just outside the city of lille is an art museum that’s housed in art-deco swimming pool from the 1930s. cool right?? it was my first stop on my visit to lille, the fifth largest city in france.

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mille feuille at meert

surrounding the swimming pool are sculptures, ceramics, fabrics and artwork. beyond the art, what used to be the pool’s refreshment area is now home to an offshoot of lille’s most famous patisserie, meert. art deco + pastries = i’m there! above you can see meert’s mille feuille, also known as a napoleon, which i ate completely by myself for lunch that day. who said sugar can’t be a good lunch substitute?

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lille’s chamber of commerce

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place charles de gaulle

after lunch and my museum visit, i headed into the town center of lille. lille sits just below the border of belgium and you can tell by their architecture and the friendliness of the people there. similar to amsterdam, lille has many 2-3 story row-houses in colorful paints and darling square windows to boot.

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the bar at estaminet au vieux de la vieille

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a very cool vintage accordion at estaminet au vieux de la vieille

after doing some research, i found many sources recommending the same restaurant and bar: estaminet au vieux de la vieille. it’s located in le vieux lille, a particularly hip part of town. i headed there for just an afternoon pint and bite of cheese but soon i was making a reservation for their dinner. this restaurant truly makes you feel at home, a great pick for any solo traveler!

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the marvelous cheeses at fromagerie philippe olivier

and i even found a church named after me in lille! i was getting more comfortable in lille with each step i took.

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some recommendations:

  • dinner and drinks, estaminet au vieux de la vieille, 2-4 rue des vieux murs
  • cheese shop, fromagerie philippe olivier, 3 rue du cure saint-etienne
  • pastries, meert, 27 rue esquermoise (in-town or at the museum)
  • the funkiest quilt shop i’ve ever seen, la drougerie, 50 rue basse
  • museum, la piscine – musée d’art et d’industrie andré diligent, 23 rue de l’espérance, roubaix

normandy 2hr30m by train

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going to normandy is a trip i recommend for every american. it is a very special feeling being in a foreign country and going somewhere where you see your flag standing so high. after 7 months here in france, it was really moving to see just how america is recognized in normandy.

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coast off pointe du hoc, imagine climbing up this cliff

the coast is magnificent and a little known fact is that normandy is actually a popular vacation spot for many parisians and northern french families in the summertime. much like maine, the water keeps cool!

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outside bayeux’s main cathedral

here’s me playing tourist outside bayeaux’s cathedral in a photo my dad took. i visited normandy with my parents and it was quite a treat for them as they traveled to normandy together 35 years ago! talk about a throwback. we even stayed at the same hotel, hôtel le lion d’or bayeux!

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normandy american cementary

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memorials in the sand at omaha beach

some recommendations:

  • hotel and dinner, hôtel le lion d’or bayeux, 71 rue saint-jean, 14400 bayeux
  • sights,
    • normandy american cementary, 14710, Colleville-sur-Mer
    • pointe du hoc (cliffs overlooking normandy, critical point in ww2)
    • bayeux tapestry museum, 13bis rue de nesmond
    • bayeux cathedral, rue du bienvenu

and in this week’s other stuff, how about some paris food recommendations!

  • must try duck confit here
  • must try chocolate here
  • must try frozen margaritas here

 

all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs.

post63 // where to eat croissants in paris (+video!!)

you’ve asked and i’ve answered! after my last episode of foodstuffs presents here in paris, i asked viewers what they’d like to see more of. requests for croissants came knocking on my inbox, one after another. so here we are! i took the subway on over to east paris — home to the very trendy and bustling “le marais” and bastille neighborhoods — to check out two of the most well-known bakeries in paris.

ride along with me to see which croissant wins out and what bakery you should bookmark for your next trip to paris.


  1. blé sucré (11th arr, bastille) 7 Rue Antoine Vollon, 75012 Paris, open 7am-730pm tuesday-sunday
  2. du pain et des idées (in between 10th and 3rd arr, république) 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, open 645am-8pm weekdays only
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blé sucré’s croissant (left), du pain et des idées (right)

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blé sucré’s croissant, exterior

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blé sucré’s croissant, interior

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du pain et des idées’ croissant, exterior

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du pain et des idées’ croissant, interior

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blé sucré’s croissant (top), du pain et des idées (bottom)


and in this week’s non-croissant related stuff!

current inspo: this hedgehog

my host family showed me the intro to a classic french film with uncanny resemblance to la la land. what do you think?

a great read on new york city restauranteurs


photography and videography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post61 // open this valentine! (psssst, it’s filled with chocolate)

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heavenly chocolate cake douceur chocolat

hellooooo! greetings from my chocolate-filled valentine! since i’m far away from many friends and loved ones on this valentine’s day 2018, i’ve decided to send you a virtual valentine with chocolate creations like the stuff of dreams.

this valentine’s day landed perfectly in the middle of my pastry trimester, which is focused on chocolate work. well done, le cordon bleu scheduling! from chocolate glazes to tempered chocolate to chocolate mousse to chocolate crunch, i’ve been working with a lot (!!) of chocolate this trimester. talk about keeping my uniform supremely white while doing it — the toughest job of them all.

below you can find four chocolately creations that i’ve made in my pastry classes. i’ve listed their core components so that you (yes, you!) can go and make one for yourself!

dark chocolate choux pastry choux au chocolat noir 

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this chocolate choux pastry is filled with chocolate pastry cream and a crispy praline insert. outside, you see a chocolate crunch topping, finished with a dark chocolate glaze.

to get started, check out this recipe for chocolate choux pastry. you’ll quickly see how easy it is!

chocolates (muscadine, praline) chocolats (muscadine, praliné)

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these two types of chocolates are called pralines (the square) and muscadines (the baton). the muscadine is filled with a creamy praline, chocolate, cointreau paste while the praline is filled with a simple chocolate and praline paste. i dipped both in tempered chocolate and rolled the muscadine in icing sugar directly after. to make the “professional” decoration on top, simply use a fork to lightly mark the chocolate 10-20 seconds after dipping, just before the chocolate has set.

don’t have space or a big marble slab to temper chocolate at home? follow this guide for a quick microwave-tempering! thermometer required.

heavenly chocolate cake douceur chocolat

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this three-tier cake is quite the showstopper. the base is a hazelnut dacquoise filled with a praline crunch paste, topped with two layers of chocolate mousse and tempered chocolate rounds. the decoration on top was made with cookie cutters and tempered chocolate.

never heard of a dacquoise? it’s a cake base that’s very popular here in france, made from egg whites and nuts. bonus: it’s gluten free! start this cake by making your first dacquoise with food network’s recipe.

opera opéra

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of all the pastries seen here, you may be most familiar with the opera cake, a parisian classic! this cake alternates between layers of biscuit sponge and coffee buttercream, with a layer of chocolate ganache smack in the middle. on top is a chocolate glaze and the traditional opera writing (my first attempt at writing on cakes!).

you might be able to find this one in a high-end french bakery. but if not, Joe Pastry blog has a great tutorial that matches the authenticity of my recipe from cordon bleu.


just in case you’re wondering

while i’d love to be sharing all my cordon bleu recipes with you, they’re under copywrite. *but* i look forward to testing many of them once i’m out of school and sharing renditions that can be cooked in your home oven. stay tuned on this for next year!


in this week’s other stuff !

a hot new restaurant i’ll be trying in paris this weekend. reviews have been a+++++

books as decor is popping up everywhere (even in my house here in paris!). definitely digging this style trend

wardrobe goals


andddd that’s all for this week, folks! wishing you a very lovely valentine’s day!💖