The Sweet Life in Paris

May 11th, 2009 by Dawn

Pierre Hermé Ispahan croissant

Eric and I are just off the plane last night from our vacation in France and now recovering from jetlag.  Our typical routine when we return is to awake by 4 or 5:00 a.m. (since it’s impossible for us to sleep any longer) and head out to breakfast somewhere.  Last time, we discovered that Seattle breakfast places don’t open until the oh-so-late hour of 8 or 9, which is no good for hungry people wandering Seattle at 6:30 a.m.  So this time we headed to The Original Pancake House, which we were certain was open.  Nothing like a good American breakfast to welcome us back!  This afternoon, we’ll finish up the last of our bag of Parisian pastries we delicately hand-carried on our return flight – canalé, financiers from Maison Kayser, macarons from Pierre Hermé, and my favorite bite of the trip, an Ispahan croissant from Pierre Hermé, which is filled with their signature rose-flavored almond creme, raspberry gelée, and studded with red flecks of raspberry on top.  The croissant is only one delicacy from the famous Ispahan flavor family from Pierre Hermé, which includes Ispahan macarons, Ispahan bûche de Noel, and more.

Standard parallel parking distance in Paris; breads at Maison Kayser; cheeses at Fromagerie Laurent Dubois.

Now it’s back to reality, work, unpacking, and getting our photos downloaded to our computer.  We’ve found that putting together our photo album and writing our travelog usually takes a few weeks, and even more so this time around since we’ll be busy attending the first International Food Bloggers Conference next weekend.  So hang tight for a little while, or if you can’t wait, go back and read about one of our past trips here (note that we typically only write travelogs for the trips of two or more weeks – try clicking on one of the European links).

In the meantime, I encourage you to pick up a copy of David Lebovitz’s new book, The Sweet Life in Paris.  We headed over to WH Smith just to get a copy while we were in Paris, where their window display was plastered with copies of his book.  The lady at the checkout reminded me that he would be there to sign books only a week later, which would be after we’re back in the U.S. – what I would give to get my book signed!

Les Papilles bistro; our Paris kitchen; Pierre Hermé pastries.

I read it cover to cover, sitting on the Metro, and while giving our feet a break in our Latin Quarter apartment.  We dropped everything to try out his mouth-watering recommendations, which for a lucky week were just a Metro ride away, and we were laughing on every page at his accurate descriptions of Parisians.

Case in point was this excerpt:

“Oh, you were waiting in line?” more than one person has said to me when I’ve busted them for trying to cut in.  “No, not really,” I want to come back with, “I was just standing here in the supermarket with a basketful of items at the register, since I had nothing else to do today.”

One dame who stepped right in front of me at the busy Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées actually turned to me when I spoke up, and said, “Is there really a line?”

To clarify it for her, I pointed out the ten people in single file in front of me and the twenty people waiting behind.  I don’t know how her definition of “a line” differs from mine, but I gave her plenty of time to ponder that as she skulked back to the end of it.

Eric witnessed this in action at the airport on our way home.  He went to purchase a bottle of water for our flight and was standing in line directly behind the tallest person he’d ever seen (Eric didn’t even come up to this guy’s shoulders), with a clear line of people behind him.  This guy was wearing NBA gear and didn’t look like someone you’d want to mess with.  So a Parisian steps in front of him and starts to get out his change to pay for his Perrier.  The basketball player says in a low, deep booming voice, “Hey, this is a line.”  The Parisian looks at him, pauses, and says, “Sorry.  I did not see you.”  What!?  There is no way you could walk into this store and not see this tall guy dressed in bright white.

Page after page in David’s book are hilarious real-life stories like this.  When I’m feeling nostalgic for Paris in a month, I definitely plan to re-read this book.  In the meantime, I’m going to pretend I’m still in Paris as I eat my Ispahan.

12 Responses to “The Sweet Life in Paris”

  1. Kairu says:

    I stayed up late the other night to finish The Sweet Life in Paris and desperately wanted to a) book the next flight to Paris or b) cook every recipe. Note to self: always maintain a supply of heavy cream in the fridge, should the craving for Ile Flottante arise. I can’t wait to read more about your trip, but what you’ve shown so far makes me feel like I was there. Sort of. I will have to settle for baking myself a batch of croissants some weekend to savor with a café au lait, and, of course, re-reading David’s book.

  2. Kye says:

    Eric and I can attest to how amazing those Parisian pastries were. We were the lucky ones that got to pick you guys up from the airport and scored some priceless treats. The Pierre Hermé croissants were amazing (much better than the ones in the Seattle croissant blind tasting). I absolutely loved the Ispahan croissant and canalé. Thank you!

    I cannot wait to read your posts and see your photos from the trip. I am so jealous that you guys went to France!

  3. Robin says:

    Great peak at the time in Paris. I look forward with great anticipation for the rest of the story along with the pictures. Happy to hear of your safe return! Cheers-

  4. Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. says:

    Ohh, I love that story. Sounds familiar too (but not in Seattle). Also the photo of the parking. Hillariuos.
    I definitely should buy a copy of DL book. Going to do so right now.
    I’m full of envy of anyone who goes to Paris. Don’t see myself visitng there again before the kids grow up a little (OK, a lot).

  5. Dawn says:

    Nurit, don’t give up all hope of Paris with kids. Check out this recent David Lebovitz blog posting:

    We couldn’t believe the size of the playground in Luxembourg gardens. A ton of great play equipment and the kids there were having a blast!

  6. Anticiplate says:

    I need to read his book. I really liked Paris, but I was very intimidated when I went and I have had much more fun culinarily and socially in other countries. But, so many people just ADORE Paris that I think I need to give it a second chance.

    I wonder how your taste test of scones in Seattle compared to the original in Paris?

  7. A Seattleite in Paris says:

    Paris pastries are definitely dangerous (in a good way).

    Anticiplate – definitely give Paris a second chance. A lot depends on which part of Paris you visit. If you stay in the posh touristy areas, you get a very different image of the city.

  8. Charles Thompson says:

    I don’t think we met at the IFBC (unfortunately) but I was there too. I love your blog AND my boyfriend and I are leaving for Paris (then the Languedoc then Barcelona) this weekend – can’t wait. Will try to buy DL book in Paris as well.

  9. Dawn says:

    Charles, that sounds like a great trip! Too bad we didn’t chat last weekend at IFBC – we could have told you about our favorite places in the Languedoc and Barcelona. You can read about it here if you want. Have fun!

  10. Charles Thompson says:

    Thank you Dawn – I just read through your trip journals and photos of your France and Spain trip. Looks like it was an amazing trip! Thanks for all the tips. 🙂

  11. Connie Chiu says:

    Dear Dawn and Eric

    Hi! I followed a link on David Lebovitz’s website and started reading your wonderful blogs. I am planning a trip to Paris in Aug 2009 and was perplexed by the endless choices in hotels and things to do. Do you have any recommendations of accomodations in Paris which is convenient (centrally located to and safe!)?
    I would love to hear if you have any insider tips on planning a splendid vacation!

    Connie Chiu

  12. Dawn says:

    Hi Connie,

    We didn’t stay in a hotel, but rented Chef David Tanis’ Paris apartment. I highly recommend it if it’s available for the time you’re there. It’s in a great location in the 5th, and convenient walking to lots of things to do.

    We still do promise to post our trip journal (I know it’s taken us a while), so stay tuned for that if you’re interested in our recommendations, particularly for food.

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