Drat! It’s taking forever to finish this post! Life interfered…. More to come… xxxxxx Aliss
Drat! It’s taking forever to finish this post! Life interfered…. More to come… xxxxxx Aliss
(What we all want, right? To be welcome, to belong…This place makes me feel that…)
Here’s the deal, all the blog energy got sucked out of my brain by unforeseen other stuff:
Finishing and publishing 4th interview for the Trump Antidote, child’s wisdom teeth removal surgery and complications, endless new administrative BS to renew son’s passport at foreign embassy that shall not be named for fear of bureaucratic reprisals, said son got his hair bleached (resulting in 2nd degree burns to the scalp), planning an author event for an esteemed writer friend who then cancelled… Mother’s Day prep (transatlantic flower order, sending card, calling), shopping for presents and dinner party for a dear friend’s birthday, overnight family escapade to the Picardy countryside, annual appointment with vet for cat vaccinations, organizing a camp out for Boy Scouts in June, managing my new Instagram account…
Lucky me! Got invited to the theater twice (El Cid, The Mercy Seat) plus 2 concerts (Lucy Dacus, Jazz Manouche ensemble) had coffees, tea, lunches and dinners with various friends I don’t see often enough who were suddenly available… Russian visitors, US visitors, planning trip to London to copyright a song co-written with English musician friends, reservations for marathon trip to NY this summer…
Thank God work schedule was light but time to make more appointments… Home-schooling (Yes, me! Who would have ever thought? But that’s another story all together…) Made annual doctor appointments, found new dentist…
Rehearsed and sang briefly at a charity fundraiser for the Emmaüs homeless shelter in the 17th.
Trying to walk and do yoga regularly, meditate, keep up voice exercizes, put together a set of my songs, some covers, and accompany myself on the guitar... Learning some new stuff to sing with US musician friends at Fête de la Musique…
Mainly… I made a commitment to myself on February 20th to finish revising my coming-of-age-memoir manuscript in 90 days, meaning by May 20. This was inspired by Marie Forleo’s webinar “How to get anything you want in 90 days” and the Oprah Deepak meditation experiences…
Went to my canal-side writing nook (pictured above) diligently at every opportunity…
Was off to a running start until all the above mayhem and Spring Break broke my stride, then May 1st, May 8th, May 17th and May 21st French holiday weekends made it hard to get back in the rhythm… Made amazing headway, but still have to go though it one more time, plus finishing touches and formatting. Let’s say I finished a new draft…
I’ll have to ask Marie F what she advises as a back up when you miss your deadline? Maybe I over-committed, set a too-ambitious goal?
I will keep you posted… so to speak… Meanwhile, highly recommend:
In this fantastic (and free) audio training you’ll learn three simple strategies that’ll give you the courage and confidence to create a business and life you love.”
To be continued!!!
PS!!!! That’s not all! I just remembered I also replaced all my plants that got killed by frost during the winter and took a first-aid/CPR refresher!! Yikes!!!
A picture that speaks for itself, the entire city population was outside yesterday, more to come xxxxx Aliss
If you are in Paris, sign up for the next gamelan workshop:
If you are not in Paris, or just want to explore, click on this link to see 5 gamelans from different regions (Java, Bali, Sunda). You can play them using the buttons on the panel at left:
and see how the cycles form sound mandalas!
The workshop leader at the Cité de la Musique is very nice and well versed in gamelan culture. He demonstrates the techniques and gets everyone in the groove. Can’t recommend it highly enough! A musical voyage away from our western habits into a shared experience of soothing, almost transe-inducing, musical relaxation and massage.
Enjoy! xxxxx Aliss
Text about Gamelan adapted and translated from CNED, Éducation Musicale, 4/e, 2018
Theoretically Spring is around the corner, but Winter is still with us, at least until next week’s Equinox, with more snow and freezing temperatures on the way this weekend, now called the “Helsinki-Paris”… So before I say goodbye to the cold, here are two recipes I discovered this year and want to celebrate because they really brightened our spirits and table.
Why do I think about cooking and restaurants so much? Because I really believe that preparing and serving good food consciously is a form of social and ecological activism that fosters genetic diversity and sustainable, human-scale farming! It’s also a way to honor cultural traditions and life in general. When I attended “Les secrets du chef” (Chef’s Secrets) evenings at the Cordon Bleu school, I learned that every dish is a hologram of history, geography, evolution, language, and sensuality. We know how the taste for spices resulted in trade routes across the globe, but did you know that following schools of cod led the Vikings to the New World? The ways this fish was caught and preserved, with smoke, salt, and air drying, provided livelihoods, terms, and tools for many people over centuries…No wonder the Cordon Bleu chefs speak so passionately about their ingredients…
So, recipe number one: Pumpkin and Cheese Fondue, but not just any old pumpkin, please. It has to be potimarron, much sweeter than other varieties. The English call it Red Kuri Squash, other names incude: “Japanese squash”, “orange Hokkaido squash”, and “baby red hubbard squash.” Personally I had never seen or tasted it before coming to France. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_kuri_squash
And not just any old cheese, please. Reblochon is my pick (although some people swear by camembert). In Sainsbury’s Book of Food, Frances Bissell describes Reblochon as “One of France’s great mountain cheeses… made in Haute-Savoie, semisoft, with a yellowish brown rind and a gentle fruity flavor… sold in flat rounds set on thin wooden slices.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reblochon
Here’s one of my favorites, made with raw milk, vive la France:Ingredients:
1 medium potimarron
2 small (or 1 large) raw milk reblochon cheeses, depending on availability
Pecans or walnuts, sprigs of fresh thyme, salt, freshly ground pepper, honey
Cut a hole in the top of the potimarron, large enough to insert the cheeses, scoop out the seeds and some of the pulp (to be saved for soup). Cut off the pointed tip under the potimarron so it sits firmly on a baking sheet or in a glass pie dish. Salt and pepper the inside.
Slice excess rind off cheeses and insert each in the potimarron, making small cuts in each top for pecan or walnut halves. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with honey. Replace the potimarron “hat.”
Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 45 minutes then turn oven up to 410°F (210°C) for 10 minutes, or until the potimarron is tender when tested with a fork and the cheese has melted and blended together.
Remove from oven, take off “hat,” dip fresh baguette chunks (or other delicious bread) in cheese mixture, then use forks to carve out pieces of potimarron drenched in cheese 🙂
Enjoy! PS when I made this the first time, the small reblochons fit inside easily, the times and temperatures were perfect and the cheese was bubbly without further baking. The second time I used one larger reblochon cut into pieces to fit. I followed the instructions to the letter, but had to add cooking time. Third try, I used small cheeses again but had to add cooking time. In an emergency, you can use a microwave for the finishing touch. In other words, improvisation may be required… Leftover potimarron is fabulous mashed and reheated later as a side-dish. 🙂
Recipe 2: Mini Mushroom Crissants, made with Sylvia’s Wild Mushroom-Chestnut Fricassee (courtesy of Sylvia Sabes, my favorite travel and lifestyle guru)
Sylvia’s Mushroom Chestnut Fricassee (great vegan dish to include in holiday menus!)
Go to Picard (France’s gourmet frozen food chain) and buy morilles (morels), baby cèpes (ceps, porcinis), girolles (not the same as chanterelles, but I guess you can substitute these in a pinch) and pre-cooked chestnuts. The quantity depends on how many people you have to feed. Sylvia uses 3 packages of each mushroom for one of chestnuts.
Sauté the mushrooms (in olive oil if going for vegan, otherwise in butter), one kind at a time, being careful to drain off the liquid as you go (and freeze it for soups). Morels 10 minutes, then cèpes for 3 minutes, add chestnuts and girolles and sauté for another 7 minutes (refer to package instructions).
I had this at Sylvia’s for Thanksgiving and it was amazing. All the mushrooms were nicely browned with the chestnuts, tender and chewy. When I made it, I must not have drained off the liquid the right way because it got a little soupy and I had to thicken it for a while, which changed the texture. I added garlic, Adobo (salty lemon and herb mixture), sweet paprika, and lots of pepper. Then I shaped it into a round “patties” with a metal circle form and plated it with arugula dressed with virgin olive oil, balsamic, and fresh parsley. Huge success! I had a lot left over, and a party coming up, which gave me the idea for the mini croissants (pictured above). The day of the party, I bought puff pastry, cut it into triangles, stuffed it with the mushroom filling, and baked in a medium oven until brown. Next time, I’ll baste with egg yolk to get the perfect golden finish. No one noticed I hadn’t done that, big success, and leftovers can be reheated… For more brilliant inspiration from Sylvia Sabes: http://www.facebook.com/LoveOnlyNParis/
To be continued xxxxx Aliss
Winter is still with us, how can we love it? Let me count the ways… Number one: new discoveries and passions like Madame, my favorite woman street artist, whose interactive mural collages I discovered on a recent cold evening at Art 42, a Parisian programming school and street art gallery in the 17th. In honor of International Women’s Day, I posted the one above, shown by the stairs in Art 42’s courtyard: “By calculating everything, we made our lives indecipherable equations…”
From Madame’s website Bio: “…I work with and rework vintage documents and photographs from the last century up to the 50’s and 60’s, to create new, more contemporary images.
These original visuals are always articulated in the following characteristic way: an image and a punch line that dialog, but don’t illustrate one another.
Once these small format collages are finished, they are scanned and then printed in very large formats and affixed in the street, to offer passersby a door to another more playful, offbeat reality.
It’s about offering viewers an image that can be interpreted in many ways, an open door to elsewhere.”
Photo of photo displayed in the basement of Art 42, “Building paper castles, we don’t cause the storm, we defy it.”
And a detail from wall sculpture upstairs, “Day and night always end up in embrace”
Below: “To be sure I’d never find myself, I sowed my heart like a tiny bread crumb” has frames that swing open like windows:
She keeps her own identity and image secret, posing beside “I sometimes embrace the past to stay standing”
To see and find out more, see her website and Instagram:
All the pieces above and examples of her earlier work can be seen at
Cold front blowing in from Siberia, the French call it “Moscou-Paris”, all the better to feed ourselves with…
Before continuing this post, I just need to say how grateful I am to have a roof over my head and food on the table in front of me. I want to thank our city officials for their huge efforts to shelter the homeless. The cold sunny days made me feel intensely alive and also deeply worried for the people and creatures endangered by it. For many years now our family has been contributing warm clothing, sleeping bags, linens, and toiletries whenever possible through various charities, but it seems like a micro-drop in a bucket the size of an ocean. I generally post upbeat photos and information as a way to lift my spirits in the face of all this, not because I don’t know there is great suffering everywhere…
So, recently I was lucky to be invited to sample some of the best restaurants in my area of Paris, lovingly chosen among the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmet selection for the arrondissements near me (X, XIX):
All of them share a commitment to ultra fresh farm to table ingredients in creative combinations, natural wines, original, low key decor and inspiring websites.
At the top of my list of recommendations:
Mensae, http://www.mensae-restaurant.com 23 Rue Mélingue 75019 Paris (be sure to reserve)
Remoulade of crab, rice chips, lobster shell powder (pictured above)
Wild Pollack confit and grilled, broccoli, and brussels sprouts in haddock mousse Wine: Sople e Joios, Mas de l’Escarida, Rhone
Followed by dessert: White chocolate and citrus sundae, clementine sorbet, fresh mint leaves and strawberry accents (Yes, I need a new phone/camera…)
Next on the list, Fraiche, 8 rue Vicq d’Azir, 75010 Paris http://www.fraicheparis.fr/photos/ See my previous post from July 8 2017 🙂
Marinated salmon with its beet “declination”
Scallops, sweet potato chips and Iberian chorizo sausageAnd instead of dessert, roasted St Marcellin cheese with herb sauce and apple confitServed with Domaine Servin Chablis
Last but not least, Les Résistants, 16 rue du Chateau d’Eau, 75010, Paris. For lush photographs and mouth watering travelog, see http://www.lesresistants.fr
Smoked Lake Leman Fera with polenta, lemon, lamb’s lettuce, Atlanta leaks and fromage blanc
Wild pollack with heirloom root vegetables
Winter clementines, Conference pears, Corsican lemon sorbet, nut streusel, custard and fromage blanc
All on vintage dinnerware with an excellent Bourgogne Aligoté and an unforgettable organic Sauvignon from http://www.vinibee.com/nos-vins-naturels/la-pente-de-chavigny/
We are blessed