Posts Tagged ‘amazing’

Percival the Pig

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

My friend, sewing-and-cooking inspiration, and ex-boss, Claire, recommended I read a book she had recently read with her children. Yes, at the wee-ages of two and four they are slightly younger than me but I feel we have similar interests when it comes to well-written and beautiful illustrated children’s books. The ABC Menagerie by M.H. Clark and Elena V. Targioni is a book for everyone – it is so beautiful, funny and heartwarming that even robots would feel emotions while reading it.

ABC Menagerie

ABC Menagerie - image from LiveInspired

Each page of the book introduces a new animal and their particular habits and the rhyming text is accompanied by a photograph of a felt/material version of the creature. Similar to my sock creatures, these guys are slightly odd and always have something ‘different’ about them. There are many amazing personalities and the creatures themselves are so wonderfully crafted that you feel like you could reach into the page and pat them.

abc menagerie

Jesenia the Jaguar – image from LiveInspired

I thought I would share the text from one of the pages as I currently feel like this animal. Last night I went for dinner with friends at Le Jardin D’en Face and ate far too much and therefore wish I had the same release mechanisms as this guy:

Percival the Pig

Percival’s dinners are rich and gourmet,
with plenty of chocolate éclairs.
Whenever he’s had one too many that day,
his safety valves let out the air.

Buy and read this book. No matter what age you are, it will make you smile. Thanks for the recommendation, Claire.

A Week of Food Miracles

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

I don’t know what it is – maybe it is the arrival of Spring and the warmer temperatures. Maybe there is something in the water. Maybe there are some higher, more powerful beings at work. Whatever it is, I am, and will be, eternally grateful because this miracle worker has brought me two cuisines that in the past year of living in Paris I have missed greatly.

I’m certain that I have previously complained about the lack of decent Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean restaurants in Paris. Generally speaking they lack flavour, spice and/or have strange ingredients that only the French would use.

Dear France, Japanese food does NOT have cheese as a main ingredient. From Jess.

However, some sort of divine spirits (namely my friends Becky and Vivien) have led me to a Thai restaurant a mere 5 minute walk from my house that ticks every box in my “Thai food must include” rules. It is wonderful. A group of us ate there last night, sharing a tasting plate for entrée and then five main dishes. Each dish was flavoursome, hearty and exciting to the palate. One dish was beef with spicy sauce and wow, it actually was spicy! I even experienced a burning back-of-throat moment as a chilli flake got stuck on the way down. It was glorious. Another highlight was finally discovering pad thai that actually tasted like pad thai. A year’s worth of searching and finally!

The restaurant is owned by a lovely old Frenchman and his thai wife and has a very homely feel about it. It is hidden away in a side street so not many people have discovered it yet and it was therefore easy to get a table on a Saturday night. Hopefully enough people come and try it so that it didn’t close down within a few months, but at the same time I hope it stays a local hangout for Thai food lovers.

Miracle #2 happened last Thursday when Tom and I invited our friends Sonia and Guibril to try a new burger restaurant I had spotted near the canal, Le Mal Barré. I walk past it every day as I return home with my lunch time baguette and the menu has sparked my interest. Burgers with ingredients OTHER than plastic cheese and non-bacon bacon. What was this? We had to try.

Sonia and I were both undecided over the same two burgers so we decided to try both and share. A fabulous idea. The first was chicken with fig and spinach – very tasty and the fig was certainly a great addition. The second burger was chicken with avocado, sundried tomatoes and cantal cheese and was my favourite of the two. Both had juicy pieces of chicken and were really well cooked. The boys both went for the double steak burger – two beef patties with salad, tomato and onion and they both had huge grins as they munched away. Clearly impressed.

Chicken burger

Mmm... chicken burger.

The only downside of the burgers was the bread – why, oh why, do the French insist on using sweet, American-style burger buns when they make such amazing bread? When I suggested baguettes would be better to Sonia and Guibril, their French faces told me I had just uttered the worst possible sin – baguettes are baguettes, not burger buns. Sorry. But they did agree with me that the bread was too sweet.

The burgers were served with a side salad and homemade chips – big pieces of potato with the skin still attached. Now that’s a chip worth eating. The American theme of the restaurant continues in its dessert menu with your options being either cheese cake or cupcakes. I went for the ‘originale’ cheese cake and it was good! Apparently it is baked by an American so there aren’t too many French additives, other than a speculoos biscuit base. Very tasty.

Cheesecake

The presentation could do with some work but still tasty

So my week of food has been particularly wonderful, and the miracles continued today when I baked a banana cake that when I first put it in the oven it appeared to not want to rise but simply burn from the top down. But that Food God stepped in once again and my cake suddenly decided to rise and the end result is a rather delicious afternoon tea. Ahh food. How I love thee.

Can it be?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

I don’t want to speak too soon but I am going to anyway. Today I may have discovered the one bureaucratic, paperwork-related activity that is easier to do in FRANCE than in AUSTRALIA. This is essentially unfathomable and yet it appears to be the case. I am shocked to the core and while it still appears to be true I must write and tell the world. Of course, as soon as I press “Publish” and this entry goes live, someone in the French Government will read it and make up a new rule that changes everything. But for now I am happy.

In order to apply for my new Visa for France, I need police clearances from the countries I have lived in over the past three years – Australia and France. I sent my Dad on a mission to the Post Office in Perth to investigate whether or not he could apply for my Australian police clearance on my behalf or whether or not I could do it from France as I only have one week in Perth before I fly to Sydney to apply. The answer was no – I have to go to the Post Office in person, fill out a form, have a Post Office worker watch me sign it and then wait for it to come in the mail. For some very obvious reasons, such as what if I was applying for this visa in France and wasn’t returning to Australia to go to a Post Office, this is ridiculous. It is a particularly archaic method that hasn’t progressed with the rest of the world. Boo, Australia.

I was expecting worse from France and had put off the trip to the Prefecture (the local police/general authorities office) in the hope a police clearance would magically appear in my hand without me having to ask for it. Not the case. I realised time was running out and previous internet searches for how to apply for a police clearance and what exactly it is called in France had not been successful. But today I gave it one last try, googling “How do I apply for a police clearance in Paris?”. To my immense surprise, the answer came! On the Australian immigration website there was information for French people wanting to move to Australia and who would therefore need stupid pieces of paper, such as a police clearance. It provided very clear details (in English which is helpful for me but maybe not so helpful for the French person wanting to move to Australia) about how I could go to a website and apply online.

Wait a minute… apply online? For a police clearance? In FRANCE? The land of mega-paperwork, red tape and having to know the exact question to ask to get the answer you need. How on earth can France have a website that allows you to apply for a police clearance and state that by simply sending them a copy of your identity you can receive it in the mail within a few days? French people don’t know how to use the internet let alone make websites! But there it was, in its horrific nineties styling and layout, providing me with instant solutions. Oh happy day! I didn’t need to leave my apartment and hopefully within a few days a police clearance with arrive in the mail. I’m a little bit worried that they will get me confused with the other Jessica Davies who lives in France who killed her lover during a moment of passion. Hopefully they remember that she is in prison and probably doesn’t need/want a police clearance.

Are My Eyes Deceiving Me?

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Are you seeing what I’m seeing, J1?
I think I am J2.

IT’S A PACKET OF TIMTAMS!

TimTams

Now THAT'S a biscuit.

TimTams in Paris?! Surely I was hallucinating. Yet as I reached out and touched them I discovered they were as real as the Oreos on the shelf next to them. It appears that TimTams have finally broken through the tough French market and have made their way into the supermarket near me. I checked to see they were definitely made in Australia and yes – they have been sent to me from my good friends at Arnotts in New South Wales.

I made this discovery on Friday night while at my local Monop’ (a small version of a big supermarket chain in France) and almost had a heart attack. I then came back to life and died once again when I saw the price. Three Euros and 15 cents for a packet of TimTams. That equates to AUD$4.30. I haven’t bought a packet of TimTams in Australia for quite sometime but I would be horrified if they cost more than that. Still, I bought a packet and shared it with my fellow residents at the usual Friday night gathering, proudly declaring that I had discovered some Australian biscuits in France. They were all very impressed and eager to know more about Australia’s baked goods and deadly animals. Now all I need is for Arnotts to start exporting the dark chocolate versions because they are so much better.

City Hopping

Monday, August 29th, 2011

A monumental fact has just dawned on me that I probably should have realised earlier but it wasn’t until I sat still and thought about it for long enough that it all hit me in the face. I shall announce it in point form.

  1. Yesterday I was in London.
  2. Today I am in Paris.
  3. Tomorrow I will be in New York.
That’s three huge, giant, overwhelming, heaving, crazy cities in three days. Awesome.
P.S. It’s my birthday in three days.

Fantastic Work

Friday, August 5th, 2011

I have just discovered three videos entitled “Eat“, “Move“, and “Learn” put together by three Australian guys and supported by STA. You have to go and watch them – this is what travelling is all about. How do I get to be in a position to produce this sort of work? It’s beautiful.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

What are the Chances?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

You’re in a foreign city with an area of 86.9km² and a population of over two million. You know less than 10 people who live in the city. What is the likelihood that you will see a friend who arrived on the plane just an hour earlier in the metro on the otherside of the train line? Apparently quite high. Last night Tom and I saw our friends Sarah and Brandon (a Frog and a Yank who are touring Australia this year and who we met before we left for France – they are back in Paris to apply for visas etc) standing on the opposite platform at a random metro station in Paris. We all had dumbfounded looks on our faces and all I could do was whack Tom in the arm and point at what I was seeing. Remarkable.

Venture Right

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

I fell in love with Paris again today. I do most days (sometimes I want to divorce it) but I have just returned home from a walk to find a shop called The Collection and feel I need to tell you about my experience. I had found this store via random website clicks and vowed to find it. I was particularly happy to note that it is within a not-so-distance walk from my place and so this afternoon I ventured out into the sunshine to try and find it.

To get there I had to take a route which Tom and I have taken on various occasions to get down to the Marais district. According to my map, the shop I was looking for was slightly to the right of where we usually go and so when I came across an intersection with various exits, I chose the road to the right of the one I would usually take. The usual road is lined with wholesale stores selling fairly ordinary clothes. This new road I had discovered was something else.

My eyes bulged and my chin dropped at the number of COOL designer stores selling homewares, clothes, jewellery, bags, linens, vintage. I even found a shop selling beautiful felt bowls/mats/balls. All over priced but WOW. Some of the stores required you to be the son of a rich man, but others were reasonably priced and just generally interesting. Unlike Perth, they weren’t selling all of the same products that you see in every other ‘designer’ store.

I found The Collection and spoke to a lovely lady who told me about the products available. They sell wall paper which is designed to be used in single pieces – ie. you just have one strip of wall paper on the wall and it blends into the room. The wall paper either had images of chairs, bookshelves, vases etc or were really unique and would make an impressive statement. I wish I had my own house to decorate. Maybe that should be my new profession… Interior designer. No. I don’t think that’s a good idea. I would be terrible at it. All of my room designs would be very ‘eclectic’ – aka. lots of stuff just thrown together.

On my walk I also found a market called Marche des Enfants Rouges which smelt DELICIOUS. I think I need to go there for lunch… It had stalls selling food from various parts of the world. Pity it was about 4pm when I got there.

The street was full of ultra stylish people but not in an evil snooty Claremont sort of a way. Such a great afternoon walk. I didn’t buy anything though… the egg cups that I wanted to buy from The Collection were out of stock. So I have to go back. What a pity.