Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Well Preserved

I love canning and preserving  - not sure exactly why -- unlike many of my Southern friends or my farm-boy husband, I didn't grow up with a family heritage of preserving foods - and yet, I am deeply attracted to the art, science and ritual of "putting up". 

It started about 5 years ago - while visiting Charleston one fall I stumbled upon Steve Dowdney at the Farmer's Market in Marion Square.  Steve was selling a wide variety of jams, jellies, pickles, chow-chows and chutneys - and while I was drawn to the bright colors and fresh flavors, I was even more intrigued by Steve and the stories he told about growing up in a house steeped in the tradition of canning and preserving.  He captured these stories and the recipes in a book called "Putting Up...A Year-Round Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition".  I left the Farmer's Market that warm fall morning with several jars of jam, a new book and a rapidly building interest in canning and preserving. 

Well, I have to admit, since then I've pretty much been hooked.  I started out my first year with just a batch or two of pepper jelly - using Steve's recipe and technique.  Each year I've expanded my preserving repertoire - jams, jellies, and pickles - we've got a very large stash of preserved food in our basement and most of my friends and relatives now get their holiday gifts in a mason jar. 

So why do I like canning and preserving so much?  Why am I so attracted to (ok, maybe obsessed with) putting up? 

For one thing, it's a great way to capture food at its peak of ripeness - canning and preserving fresh fruits allows you to hold on to their fresh flavors and beautiful colors beyond the short summer months.  There's nothing like opening up a home-made jar of blackberry jam in mid-January - you are immediately transported back to a hot July day.  It's not quite the same as a handful of fresh-picked berries - but it's as close as you can get!  Case in point - is there anything prettier than this fresh fig jam -- seriously, that color pink is just irresistable!  There's not alot of extras or fancy additions to this recipe - figs, sugar, orange juice, orange zest and a little bit of pectin - so you end up with a lovely, chunky jam that keeps the beautiful color and rich, sweet flavor of fresh figs.  (This happens to be one of my husband's favorite jams).

Fresh figs - most usually gathered from the tree of a generous friend or neighbor - one of my favorite fruits of summer for "putting up". 

These luscious and lovely fruits of summer need little adornment - the goal is to highlight the sweet, lovely, ripe taste of the fresh figs.

Pretty in pink - beautiful, fresh fig preserves.
I'm committed to using only fresh and local produce in everything I preserve  - which has led to a side benefit of my growing canning addiction (OK, there, I've admitted it!).  In my search for fresh, local fruit and vegetables, I've gotten to meet some really interesting and inspiring local farmers - the folks who actually do all the hard work to bring that fresh food to market.  I love the fact that these friendly, down-to-earth folks always have a story to share about their crop - details of their farm, their families, a recap of this season's weather and how that has impacted their harvest.  These stories, this way of life and this deep commitment to the land - all of this is as much a part of what I'm preserving as the fruit that ends up in jars on my shelf. 

In addition to neighborhood farmer's markets and local pick-your-own farms, one of my prime sources of fresh produce is the Atlanta Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia.  There's a section of this large, expansive market (sheds 11-14) that is reserved for Georgia-grown produce.  You have to go early in the morning - but it's worth it - there's a great selection and the prices can't be beat!

The Atlanta Farmer's Market has been my go-to-source for local peaches this year.

Each basket of fresh Georgia peaches costs only $18 - quite the bargain, especially since it comes with a sample (cut with a pocket knife), an update on the local growing season and a commentary on the recent Atlanta Braves game.
So - while it is true that most of my recipes are simple and focus on pure fruit flavors, I did pick up a recipe for Peach Bellini Jam that I have grown especially fond of - after all, the only thing better than fresh peaches is fresh peaches with a little bubbly added in! 


Peach Bellini Jam - thanks to Canning-Maven Brenda Hill for sharing this tasty recipe that combines some of my favorite things - fresh peaches and Prosecco!

Makes 8 half-pints
7 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups finely choppped, peeled ripe peaches
1 cup Prosecco or other sparkling white wine
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 of a 6-ounce package (1 foil pouch) liquid fruit pectin

--In a 6-to-8-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot, combine sugar, peaches, Prosecco,  and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.
--Quickly stir in liquid pectin. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon, avoiding peaches.
--Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
--Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.
--To distribute fruit, cool for about 20 minutes, then gently turn and tilt jars without inverting them; repeat as needed.

But, even more than the bright and beautiful jars filled with fresh flavors  -- by far the thing I love most about canning is preserving the stories that come with each recipe - the family memories and traditions that are a part of this ritual of "putting up".  One of my favorite example of this is "Aunt Alice's Bread & Butter Pickles" - hands-down the best pickle recipe and, more importantly, a touching example of preserving family traditions.
I have to confess - I don't have an Aunt Alice - but this doesn't stop me from making pint after pint of Aunt Alice's Bread & Butter pickles each year (38 pints is the 2013 tally).  "Aunt Alice" is actually the aunt of my best friend's husband - sadly, she's no longer with us - but, she was known and loved by all for her sweet spirit, warm smile, and killer pickles!  So, when I mentioned in passing to my best friend that I was looking for a good pickle recipe, there was no question about it - I had to use Aunt Alice's recipe.  The recipe itself was quite simple - but, it was passed on with several sweet stories and fond remembrances of Aunt Alice, some from recent years, and some from years gone by.   

Alice DuBose Fowler, "Aunt Alice", always willing to share a warm smile - and, her famous pickle recipe!
When "Aunt Alice" wasn't making pickles, she knew how to have fun!
"Aunt Alice" maintained her warm smile and sweet spirit, no matter what life threw at her - always an inspiration to her family and friends.
I've been making Aunt Alice's pickles for a few years now - and, I admit, my husband and I have  become addicted.  I love their crispness and the just-right balance of tart and sweet flavors.  Each year, as I make them, I think about Aunt Alice - about a woman who was known for her kindness and sweet disposition.  And, each year as I share these pickles with friends and family, they invariably ask me about my Aunt Alice - I chuckle and then share the story of a sweet, beloved Aunt who touched everyone she met.  I'm inspired to think how strong an influence a woman can have on her family and friends - and how touching it is that this influence is living on well after Aunt Alice has passed. 
So, it's more than fresh fruit and vegetables, jams and jellies - this ritual of "putting up" is more than just preserving food, it's about preserving traditions -- and, it's more than just sharing recipes, is about sharing memories. Open up a jar, sit for a minute, share a bite and share a story!  Here's to you, Aunt Alice!! 

The 2013 batch of Aunt Alice's Bread & Butter Pickles

Aunt Alice's Bread & Butter Pickles
Makes 12 pints

25-30 small to medium cucumbers
8 white onions1/2 cup salt
5 cups vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric

--Slice cucumbers very thin and sprinkle with salt.  Let stand 3 hours.  Rinse well and drain.
--Slice onions and combine with cucumbers in a large stockpot.
--In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and turmeric.  Bring to a boil.
--Pour mixture over drained cucumbers and onions in a stockpot.  Heat but do not boil.  Pack pickles into hot, sterilized pint jars and seal.  Process in hot water bath canner.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pick Your Own!

I hate to admit it, but when I think of berries, I immediately picture the little square, plastic packages lining the shelf at the grocery store cooler - and I dare say most of you probably do the same - how sad is that?

While this is indeed a colorful display - I still think we can do better by searching out fresh, local berries...

I've been trying more and more to re-program myself - to buy fewer fruits and vegetables grown far away and transported to me by the truckload in pint/quart sized plastic containers and instead seek out these foods in their native surroundings - to get them as close as possible to where they were actually grown.  It's about getting fresh foods, foods that have had as little as possible done to them and have been grown as near to me as possible.  Buying fresh, local food tastes good and feels good for lots of reasons - it's healthy for me, my family and my community - what more could you want?  While at first it may seem a little daunting to bypass the grocery store cooler, you'll find it's actually pretty easy to find fresh, local berries here in Georgia - we've got a long growing season and we are blessed with easy access to local farms and farmer's markets.  So, this summer I've resisted the temptation to toss a a few plastic packages into my cart and instead, I've been PICKING MY OWN!

Since strawberry season hits first, this was my first step down the Pick Your Own (PYO) pathway.  Earlier this year, I hit the road with my friend and berry-picking-partner Rosie in search of red, ripe treasure.  In addition to the expected nutritional benefits of PYO berries, we were reveling in the secondary benefit of the PYO approach - spending a morning in the great outdoors on a sunny and warm early summer day.  It was a glorious road trip - we put the top down on Rosie's convertible and cranked the radio up as we headed south to Deb-Deb's Strawberry Farm near Locust Grove. 

It was my first time at Deb-Deb's - and, let me tell you, it was quite a treat! Rows and rows of big, beautiful red berries just crying out to be picked!  We picked up our buckets and headed out to the fields - it wasn't long before our hands were red and out buckets were full! 


It took us less than an hour to pick 4 buckets of berries each - who knows, it might have gone even faster if we hadn't been eating so many (that Rosie - she has no will-power)!  We finished picking and headed back in -- spent a few minutes talking to the friendly owners and enjoyed a cup of fresh-churned strawberry ice-cream before loading back into the convertible for a short ride back to ATL.  What a morning! 
Fresh strawberry tart - buttery crust, rich vanilla pastry cream and a topping of fresh berries - the perfect showcase for PYO berries fresh from Deb-Deb's!

Just a few short weeks later it happened all again - this time in a different color, though - the bounty was black and not red - blackberries were ripe and ready to be picked!  I headed south again in search of PYO berries - my destination this time was Southern Belle Farm in McDonough. 

And, again, I was rewarded with sweet, ripe treasure - Southern Belle Farms had rows and rows of THORNLESS blackberry bushes loaded with rich, luscious berries.  At the end of an hour or so I was hot and sweaty but I didn't care - I had buckets of plump, beautiful blackberries -- Black Gold! 

One of the best parts of visiting these farms is getting to meet the owners/farmers - friendly, hardworking folks who love the land and are happy to share their bounty with you.  At Southern Belle I met Mimi - she runs the market shop and snack bar at the Farm - she sold me some fresh sweet corn and filled me in on the history of the family farm while dishing up some warm, homemade blackberry cobbler.  I gotta tell you - this beats picking plastic packages out of a cooler at Publix anyday!!

Fresh blackberry jam - berries, sugar and a little pectin - sweet, rich and chunky.  I know I will remember my time at Southern Belle Farm each time I open a jar!
The next color is blue - that's right - blueberries were the next fruit to ripen.  This time, however, I didn't have to take a road trip to Pick My Own  - I just went to my own backyard.  Several years ago we planted a few blueberry bushes in our yard -- each year they've grown and given us a handful of berries - this year, however, they really took off.  I loved watching them grow - changing from small, hard, green balls to full, ripe, berries ranging in color from bright blue to deep purple.  We didn't get buckets of fruit - but we did get several large bowlfuls of berries - enough for eating on our breakfast yogurt and making a berry galette. 

Berries from our very own backyard PYO blueberry patch - I'm pretty sure these are the sweetest blueberries I've ever had! 
Berry season is pretty much over for this year - but - mark your calendar for next year.  Bypass the grocery store cooler filled with plastic containers and head to the great outdoors - Pick Your Own! I can highly recommend both Deb-Deb's and Southern Belle Farm - but there are many PYO farms close to metro Atlanta (or whereever you might be!).  If you don't know where to find PYO berries, check out the following website - -- it's a great resource for finding local farms, farmer's markets, recipes and tips for preserving all sorts of fruits and vegetables.
Rich, sweet berries - no matter what the color - are one of summer's best treasures - enjoy them, eat them up! And, if you can, try to PYO - Pick Your Own! I promise you'll enjoy the entire experience - the farm, the picking and the eating!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Prodigal Returns

I know, I's been too long...way too long.  I appreciate all of the inquiries, concerns about my well-being (and no, PAB, I am not dead!), even the slight badgering I've received - I've missed you all, terribly!  I wish I had some great excuse - but let's just get this over with quickly - yank the proverbial BandAid off with one fast pull - I don't.  As a matter of fact, I've got a really lame excuse...I've been busy...I know, that's really (really) lame.  So, as with the Prodigal Son, I am returning - full of shame, acknowledging my wrong-doing, admitting my guilt..and, yet hopeful that you will forgive me and welcome me back into your blog-reading need for a fatted calf, however - I'll bring the food.

So, even more important than the questions about why I haven't written is the bigger question - what the heck have I been doing for the past two months?  My last blog was about Paris - YIKES!! - and I've been home for months now - so, I think I owe you an update on Mon Voyage Culinaire - my Culinary Journey.  If I really dig deep and think about it, that might be part of the reason that it's been so hard for me to pick up my computer and write - this need to explain to everyone what I'm doing with my life after pastry school in France...quite frankly, that's been a little intimidating.  It's not that I haven't been doing cool, foodie stuff (and, I have some good recipes and great pics to retrospectively blog about and catch you all up) - instead, it's this gnawing feeling I've had that I need to have some deep and meaningul "TA DAH" give some great decision about what I'm doing with my life...and, of course, I don't have one.  There - I said it, it's out there - the truth is, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is I'm doing - whew!! what a relief! 

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go to Pastry School in France, and especially to do a stagiere at a pastry shop in Paris - it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I learned so much - not just about the mechanics of making pastry, but it also helped me think about what I wanted to do in the culinary world.  I loved learning the techniques and making beautiful pastry - but, the truth of the matter is, I'm not so sure I want to make food every day for a living.  I love food, I love the culinary world, and I especially love baking and pastry - but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to bake everyday for a living.  As much as I enjoy it - I just don't see myself standing day-in-day-out over a counter rolling bread and/or making scones.  That's all well and good - but, if I don't want to bake everyday - what exactly do I want to do, you might ask.  Now that's a really good question, I might reply....not sure I have a really good answer, however.

Luckily for me, some opportunity has presented itself at each turn in my culinary journey - and, my return from France was no exception.  Just as I was finishing my stagiere and wondering exactly what I would do when I returned to the US, I got an email from my friends at Cook's Warehouse with an opportunity there - they were looking for someone to serve as their Cooking School Lead at one of their stores.  As you know, Cook's Warehouse and the folks I have met through there have been a major influence on my culinary journey - and I was thrilled with the opportunity to be a part of the Cook's team.  In this role I get to work with the Cooking School staff and the chefs to make sure that all of the cooking classes in our store are executed with excellence.  It's a blast - I get to work with lots of chefs (both local and traveling), store employees and volunteer assistants - it's a great group of people that love food and love the cooking school.  I'm learning a ton, having a great time and constantly being exposed to new food, new techniques and new recipes.

My job at Cook's is 20-30 hours a week - so, when I'm not doing that I'm lucky enough that I still get to work for my friend and mentor Gena at Culinary Works doing crazy-fun, amazingly cool culinary events.  Since returning from France I've had the opportunity to work with her at the Taste of Derby (a major charity event featuring 19 chefs preparing food for 1500 guests, put on by Churchill Downs the week of the Kentucky Derby) and the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival.  We're now back at it planning the 2013 Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival - which will be even bigger and better than last year - I can't wait for that!

So, while I might not know exactly what I want to do, I have discovered quite a lot about myself through the various experiences and opportunities I've had so far in my culinary journey.  I've come to realize that I really enjoy the operational aspect of the culinary world (i.e., the work that gets done to make the "event" happen) more than I like the production aspect (i.e., the actual making of the food).  I have discovered that I like working on "events" and "projects" more than I like day-to-day delivery of food.  And, I definitely know that I need to work with a team, to work with people - sitting on my own making tarts or piping macarons would certainly be the death of me! 

You may recall that, when I quit my job, I gave myself two years to figure out this whole culinary career change - well, I'm a little over one year into that two years (hard to believe how fast time flies!!).  I feel amazingly blessed and lucky to have had such great experiences over the past year - and, as I said above, I feel that I am a little closer to figuring out exactly what I do (and don't) want to do.  At times I get a little frustrated/nervous/worried that I don't have it totally figured out - but then I have to remind myself that it is a journey - that I am on "mon voyage culinaire" - and I can breathe just a little easier.  So, here I am - a mid-life work in progress - it's quite an experience and quite a lesson.  I'm happy with where I am right now - learning lots in my current jobs -- actually making a little money - and still trying to gain as much knowledge and experience I can to help guide my future. Thanks for your support and staying with my through the journey!

So - in addition to all of my deep thoughts and self-revelations, I thought I would leave you with a few pictures from one of my recent learning experiences -  my first ever real "catering" job.  My fabulous friend Casey asked me to cater part of her recent birthday party  - appetizers and desserts for 50 people!  It was great fun and a great learning experience - and, I actually think the food turned out pretty darn tasty!  Just one more step along my culinary journey!

"Southern-Inspired" Appetizers - Vidalia Onion dip served with chips, Pickled Okra Roll-ups, Roasted Tomato chilled soup shooters, Pimento Cheese Toasts topped with Bacon Jam 
These little babies were super tasty - Pimento Cheese toasts with Bacon
Jam - after all, who wouldn't like anything topped with Bacon Jam?
Southern Dessert Sampler - Red Velvet Cupcakes, Coconut Cupcakes, Georgia Pecan Brownies, Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Parfaits

I thought I'd never make another cupcake again after last December - but I couldn't resist.

These little guys were a big hit - salted caramel is the perfect touch for this old-fashioned favorite.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Eating and shopping my way through Paris....

So, I'm home - and it's great - really great.  Hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago I was in was an amazing experience and I'm so glad I did it (more to come about that in a future post).  I was sitting down to write a post about settling back into life in Atlanta - but, I got caught up in my pictures from Paris - and just couldn't stop myself from writing one last post about my time in France.  As I looked at my pictures, I was struck by how many pictures I had of food - no, seriously, I mean alot of them feature pastry, markets or a food store.  Looking at this collection of pictures, you might be tempted to think that all I did was eat in Paris - and, quite honestly, I would be hard pressed to TOTALLY disagree with you.  In my defense, I was there as a culinary student - so, I think I can classify all of that eating as part of my "studies".  I know, that's pretty lame - but I thought it was worth a shot!  Well - I guess I'll own up to it - when I wasn't working at the patisserie for my stagiere, I pretty much ate and shopped my way through Paris - and I loved it! 

So, here it is - one last post about my time in France - and, quite fittingly, it's filled with pictures and reminiscences of food! 

While we were in school we put together a Paris Pastry Hit List - a list of 15 or so top pastry shops we planned to visit once we got to Paris, often with a signature item from that shop that we wanted to try.  So, on our days off, we would head out, a marked up map of Paris in hand, determined to work our way down the list.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to all of them, but I made a valiant effort ...and I have the pictures to prove it!

A favorite was Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki - a sleek, elegant and peaceful shop that featured slices of layered cakes with a rainbow of colors and unique flavors.  Aoki's masterful blend of Asian influences and French pastry techniques resulted in lovely pastries presented with an artful aesthetic. 

And, of course, we had to make a visit to the famed Le Notre...ok, I confess, maybe more than one visit.  They deserve the fame - both the look and the taste of the pastries was sublime.

After quite a bit of searching, we finally found Cafe Pouchkine - it's actually tucked inside the Printemps department store on Boulevard Hausman.  The small, ornate boutique presents classic French pastry with a decidedly Russian influence - the result is elegant and delicious.

On the other end of the spectrum is Chez Bogato - this homey pastry shop (located in the 14th Arr, outside of the main tourist area) is focused on making cakes, petit fours and treats for children (and adults who want to feel like kids for a moment).  The owner, a graphic designer turned pastry chef, creates a world of fantasy and fun with pastry - it was colorful, imaginative and quite a treat!

No visit to Paris would be complete without a stop at Laduree - the folks who made macarons famous!  Although the line to get in is always long, it's worth the wait.

My favorite chocolate in Paris came from Hugo & Victor, a sleek, high-end boutique in the 7th Arr.  Their chocolate bonbons were beatiful to look at and and even more lovely to eat - decorated with splashes of bright colors and filled with smooth, rich ganache in all sorts of flavors (raspberry, cassis, salted caramel, hazelnut...the list goes on and on). 

Additionally, their packaging was quite unique and impressive - rows of their brightly colored half-spheres lined up in a "little black book". I have to admit, the picture of the chocolates below is from their website - I don't usually post pictures I didn't take - but I had no choice.  When I was trying to snap a shot of these delectable chocolates I was sternly reprimanded in French by Hugo  - or was it Victor?  But - it doesn't matter where the picture came from - these chocolate bonbons were stunning.
The minute you step into Patisserie des Reves - literally, Pastry Shop of Dreams - you are drawn in by the futuristic and inviting displays - bright colors, lights, glass, metal - all highlighting sleek, architectural and modern versions of classic French pastries.  Even if you don't try a pastry, you need to visit Patisserie des Reves just to experience the boutique...

...but, I wouldn't recommend this - it would be quite a travesty to visit this shop without indulging in at least one of their delicious pastries.

It's not all about pastries - sometimes I went in search of bread!  The unmistakable Parisian champion of bread is Poilane, best known for their large, round sourdough loaves, marked with their signature swirling P.  This bread is delicious just as it is, but it is perhaps most famous for its use in restaurants throughout Paris as the base for tartines, rustic, usually open-faced sandwiches that can be covered with all sorts of toppings. 

By far, my favorite pastry shop in Paris was Pierre Herme.  He is known for his macarons - he was part of the Laduree dynasty - but, he's much more than just the King of Macarons - every pastry in his shop is simply amazing.  Fresh flavors, bright colors, beautiful designs - ooh la la! If you can only stop at one pastry shop in Paris, Pierre Herme gets my vote.

I must confess, these are just a few of the pastry shops we visited...but, they are some of the best.  When we weren't "studying" at Parisian pastry shops, we did a little other shopping.  One of my favorite places to shop in Paris (actually, just about anywhere in the world) is E. Dehillerin - a cookware store that is crammed to the rafters with every sort of pan, gadget, serving dish and utensil you might ever need or want- from the smallest dessert fork to a copper pot that will hold soup for 200.  It's kind of dark, musty and crowded and the salesmen (all men, of course) are a little condescending - it's Cooks Warehouse with a French accent and attitude.  None of that matters, though - it's a wonderland of cookware and everytime I go in there I just want to get one of everything!   

One of my other favorite places to shop in Paris is Place de la Madeleine - this lovely neighborhood has some amazing food boutiques, like Hediard and Fauchon, where you can get everything from house-made fois gras to fruit pastes to champagne to petit fours to fresh raspberries to chocolate mousse cakes.  This little corner is a must for any foodie who visits Paris.

Not all shopping has to happen indoors, however, the weekly outdoor markets in Paris are not to be missed.  I spent a few mornings roaming around some of these markets (like the one below in Place Monge) and enjoying all the fresh flowers, produce, breads, cheeses and meats - but, most of all, enjoying watching the Parisians as they shopped for their provisions for the week.

I really felt like a local when we spent a Saturday morning at the Marche aux Puces (flea market) de la Porte de Vanves.  We rode the Metro out to the fringe of the 14th Arr and dove into the swirling mass of people and goods that stretched for several blocks.  This wasn't a touristy market - this was a real, neighborhood flea market where you could find everything from chandeliers to rugs to buttons to hammers to dog sweaters to soap -- ranging in price from 5 to 500 Euros. 

After a enjoying some local color at the Marche aux Puces, we spent the next day at the opposite end of the city - in more ways than one - strolling the magnificent Champs Elysees.  This wide boulevard, lined with some of the most luxurious shops in Paris,  is a must for people-watching and window shopping.  It ends at the Arc de Triomphe - which was lovely at dusk.

Of course, all that shopping can make a girl hungry...and, you can't survive on pastry alone!  I made a point of stopping for some fortification while shopping - always looking for a place that would offer a true taste of the city. After a busy day of strolling the shops along Boulevard Saint Germaine des Pres, I made a lunch stop at the touristy, but famous Cafe de Flore.  This crowded, bustling cafe is quintessential Paris...and, of course, I had to have the quiche du jour.

And, although I did love to take a cafe au lait break during shopping, it was quite a treat one day to stop at the Mariage Freres Salon du The for a pot of afternoon tea.  This serene tea salon is surrounded by a peaceful and aromatic shop that is lined with hundreds of tins of tea - different blends, flavors, colors and fragrances from around the world.   

Cheers to Paris - after all, where else can you stop for a champagne cocktail in the middle of the afternoon for a little shopping break - it just seemed like the thing to do!

Now, lest you think I didn't do anything cultural in Paris, you must know that I visited a few museums during my time there. Both the Rodin Museum and the Musee D'Orsay were food for my soul.
I wish I could capture all that I saw, felt and tasted in Paris - it was such a beautiful and captivating experience!  I loved every minute of shopping and eating my way through Paris and I feel very lucky to have had such a delicious adventure.