Posts Tagged ‘French’

63 Degrees of Deliciousness

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

I, Jessica Davies, am a very lucky girl. For many reasons really, but on Saturday night my good fortune was highlighted, underlined, set off in fireworks, and served on a plate by a singing penguin in a suit. I was taken out for dinner at one of Manchester’s top restaurants, 63 Degrees, for delicious French food and wine. I felt like I had been transported back to Paris as I read the menu and saw all of my favourite words – foie gras, vin blanc, et chocolat. Trop bon.

Matt had tried to go to 63 Degrees when he had been in Manchester a few weeks ago, however he hadn’t been able to get a table. So some forward planning and gentle prodding from a nagging Virgo meant we scored a table at the ridiculously early time of 5.45pm. Thankfully it is dark in Manchester by 4 o’clock so stomaches start grumbling much earlier. Plus we were running late so by the time we were seated it was an acceptable dining hour.

The restaurant is run by the Moreau family with Eric, a very handsome and very French-looking chef, out the back working his magic in the kitchen. We were served by a young waiter who was… well… a frenchman. Confident and ready to tell his clientele who was in charge, he kept our wine glasses filled and he briefly allowed me the pleasure of speaking French to him. Briefly.

I talked Matt into sharing the foie gras entrée – two rounds of rich foie gras served with a crunchy brioche and fruity fig compote. It took me straight back to Christmas last year eating excessive amounts of foie gras and drinking cheap wine with friends in Paris – only this was the fancy-afied version and definitely not cheap. It was just delicious. I want more.

Continuing along this theme of my morally challenging meat-eating tendencies, over previous weeks I had been thinking about the delicious small birds (quails, pigeons, spatchcock) that I ate in France so when I saw pigeon on the menu I couldn’t go past it. The dainty roasted bird was served with cabbage and mushrooms with a creamy, buttery sauce. I would have liked the skin to be a bit crisper but the flavours were moreish and warming. Matt’s lamb was the winner though – juicy and tender, it melted in your mouth and was perfectly accompanied by a sweet potato mash.

Pigeon rôti avec petit chou

Pigeon rôti avec petit chou

Of course I was waiting anxiously for the dessert and was extremely concerned by the fact that there were TWO chocolate items on the menu. How was I supposed to choose? But then angels sang and glitter fell from the ceiling as Matt suggested we share the fondant chocolat et caramel and the poire chocolat. It was like winning the lottery twice.

The chocolate and caramel fondant was served with a chestnut cream and ice cream. The fondant oozed as it should and was deliciously dark but quite sweet due to the caramel. I would have preferred a plain chocolate fondant but I wasn’t about to send it back.

Fondant chocolat et caramel avec glace marron

Fondant chocolat et caramel avec glace marron

Then there was the chocolate sphere – served as a hard-cased chocolate ball, our smooth waiter friend poured a hot chocolate sauce over the top, melting the ball and revealing rounds of poached pear inside. What remained was essentially rich, dark chocolate soup with pieces of pear. HOLY MOLY.

Sphère chocolat avec poire

Sphère chocolat avec poire

I starred at it for awhile, unable to accept that I was allowed to eat it. And eat it I did – I think I may have defended the chocolate and pear delight with my spoon and not allowed Matt to have a very fair share… I ended the evening at 63 Degrees a very happy girl on an extreme chocolate high (my preferred state of being.)

I am very pleased to have found another restaurant in Manchester that delivers gastronomic experiences that take me to my happy place. I still have a long list of restaurants that I want to try and my experience at 63 Degrees has kicked my foodie taste-buds back into action. Thanks, Matt.

What Did I Do?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

I am currently sitting in my apartment, attempting not to move or do anything that may result in some sort of outcome. Writing this is risking everything. I really don’t know why the universe is against me but it is. And it is MEAN. Horribly mean. It keeps kicking me in the shin, right on the bone. I keep asking it nicely to stop but will it? NO! Instead it ups the anti and throws something even worse at me. I am contemplating just going to bed and giving up on today because at least that way I might not get hit by a bus or break my leg. But then again, with my current luck, a bus will probably somehow find a way to drive into the building, up two flights of stairs, along the corridor, through my door, up to the mezzanine and BAM! Got her!

Right, so I have already explained the spilt soap story which then led to my money being eaten by the machine. At 10.30am, I was told that the machine was working again and so I went downstairs to the laundry and inserted more money. It wasn’t working. So back I went and told the girl that it, in fact, was still broken, to which she was quite surprised but wrote herself a note to ask someone else to have a look at it. She would let me know when it was fixed. Goodo.

At lunchtime I hadn’t heard anything so I asked if there had been any progress but no, a technician had been called. At 2.30pm I received another email saying that the technician had come and the machine was fixed. Excellent! I was outside working at the time so I packed up my things, came inside, went back downstairs, inserted more money… Of course, it didn’t work and I now have 5 Euros stuck in the machine. Fantastic. Back upstairs I went where I was told that she had seen a man leave the general vicinity of the laundry and she had presumed it was the technician and that he had fixed it. Apparently not.

By now it was 3pm and I wanted to get my washing done so I put it all into my shopping trolley and walked to a laundromat in a street nearby where they had a long row of machines, all of them available, all of them working. I did manage to choose number 13 without realising it but figured it just made sense. I sat around and read a book as my clothes got washed and then headed back home, happy to have clean underwear.


Number 13 worked remarkably well considering my luck today.

To get from the laundromat and my apartment, I only had to walk on two streets. Surely nothing significant could happen in those three minutes. WRONG. As I walked along, my shoe came off so I had to stop and put it back on again (that isn’t the significant thing). As I did this, a guy who was tall and relatively good looking walked past me, and then turned around and started talking to me. I was at a stage where I’d probably have spoken to anyone because I had clean washing and nothing bad had happened in the last 20 minutes. So when he asked me if I was doing the shopping I said no, and that I had just done my washing blah blah, where are you from, Australia is a nice country… etc etc. He spoke English, he seemed normal and didn’t appear to be a COMPLETE sleaze.

We reached my place and I said goodbye and he continued to chat for a little while and he seemed like a genuinely nice person. Then when I started to leave he kind of moved towards me, which is just annoying and unnecessary but I decided it would just be easier to do the French two-kiss thing and then run away. So I turned my head to enough of an angle to have that happen but then this weird, pathetic look of “Oh you are so bootifulll” came over him, as he then attempted to kiss me on the lips. NOOOOOOOOOO WWAAAYYYYYY!!!!! I pushed him away and walked off, seriously annoyed at myself for getting into that position. But why, why, why did he go and do that? What was he thinking?? Is he INSANE? Because up until that point, I was actually enjoying myself but then he turned into a creepy Frenchman and thought I’d want to kiss him after knowing him for an entire three minutes.

It did result in me briefly bursting into tears once inside the safety of my convent because I felt so abused. I know it isn’t THAT bad but still… who wants strange men kissing them randomly on streets? Not I. Maybe this will mean I will never find myself a nice French man but I really, really hope there are some who aren’t creeps and who don’t think that’s an ok thing to do. I am now completely turned off all men. Maybe that is what the point of today was – to make me feel good about being single. Actually no, because if I had a boyfriend then I wouldn’t have to worry about meeting someone and therefore wouldn’t have stupidly decided that talking to random strange men was an ok idea… Please make today STOP.

Good Translations

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

On Saturday I escorted Becky to the Running Expo – the pre-marathon event where all of the competitors collected their bibs, bought new shoes and sampled brightly coloured energy drinks. The expo was huge and there was a large range of sporting companies selling their wares as well as information stalls about up and coming marathons, long distance runs and cross-country adventure circuits.

As part of the bib collection, Becky also received a handy backpack full of goodies – free energy supplement samples, a nifty bandana, and information about Sunday’s run. There was an A5 booklet containing all of the information you need to do the marathon such as starting times and dinner suggestions for the night before (eat rice.) The booklet was in both French and English and it soon became obvious that the English translation was done by someone who can’t actually speak English. As we stood in line waiting to buy a coffee, we flipped through the booklet and discovered this page, the results of which had us almost falling on the floor with laughter.

Marathon information

I think I need to offer my editing services.

As the image is small and it may be hard to read, allow me to highlight the most interesting of the ‘Last advices before start’ – Don’t forget 2 small bandages for your tits. How exactly they got this from the French version which says “Two bandages to fix on the nipples to avoid abrasions” I’m not sure. There were many interesting translations throughout the booklet – I wonder how I get them to let me have a quick read through the translation before they press print. Considering the fact that a large proportion of the marathon competitors were from countries other than France I would have thought they would put more effort and money into checking the English translation. Or maybe they were wanting to slow down the English-speaking runners by making them laugh so hard they got stitches and therefore the French would win. Ooh… sneaky!


All Smiles

Monday, February 20th, 2012

It has come to my attention over the past few weeks being back in Perth, that Australians (at least those in Perth or country Western Australia) are 300 million times friendlier than the folk of Paris. I’m not saying you can’t find friendly people in Paris, because that is one of those awful stereotypes about the French that just isn’t true. I have met some wonderful French people who have made my life in Paris very special. However, on your average day in Paris, you don’t often have random conversations and laughs with people you meet. In Perth you do.

While in Denmark, I had numerous occasions where I sat back and thought, “Whoa… they were so friendly…” and needed to take a few moments to comprehend the situation. A visit to a bottle shop to buy some wine involved a particularly helpful manager who chatted about the wine we were buying, suggested other options and wished us a really great stay in Denmark. Cheers, mate! Then when Velia, Alex and I had dinner at Pepper & Salt, once again we were served by some of the easiest, most relaxed and generally chirpy people that I have met in a long time. It is lovely and refreshing to be surrounded by people who have smiles on their faces and appear to be enjoying what they are doing. I do get a bit sick of having a cup of coffee dumped on my table with a Parisian sigh and a negative attitude. Maybe it is the sunshine and warm weather, but Australians do tend to have a lighter, brighter way of being. I have to say it makes me proud to be part of a cheery nation. Cheer up, Madames et Monsieurs. La vie est belle.

This Time Has Come

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I have spent the afternoon reading, highlighting, re-reading and then crossing off every word in the “Things You Must Bring to the Interview” information for my visa application. Tomorrow morning I get on a plane (hooray… gosh I love planes/airports) and fly to Sydney. Monday morning I will put on my nicest smile and eyelash extensions and then flutter away as I ask oh-so-nicely for a visa. I will then either cry or jump for joy, depending on the outcome. This result will, of course, be duly noted on here for everyone to either cry or jump for joy with me. I’m hoping to hear a lot of feet slamming back to earth early next week.

As with all bureaucratic adventures, there is a large list of things that I need to do and pieces of paper I need to find when applying and I am feeling particularly anxious about forgetting or overlooking something. I am fearing the worst in the hope that that will mean it’ll all go ridiculously smoothly. The old reverse psychology. In addition, I ask that everyone crosses all of their fingers, toes, arms, legs, and any other crossable body part in order to increase my luck. When our powers combine, we will conquer the French embassy. I appreciate the help.

Relaxing Times are Fun Times #4

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Some of you may remember my initiation into the world of beauty treatments in December 2010 when I had a facial and massage in Perth. It was one of the most gloriously relaxing moments of my life and so I had been contemplating having another for quite some time. While living in France, I have managed to sign up to various websites that offer promotions and deals on a wide range of awesome things and one day I decided to purchase a facial and massage for the bargain price of 35 Euros. The other day I realised my voucher was going to expire so this week I made an appointment.

Yesterday was the big day where I psyched myself up and entered the world of beauty treatments. I hate doing this – I really do. I feel so uncomfortable and out of place, and I’m fairly certain everyone is staring at me thinking “What is she doing here?” The girls running the salon were relatively nice but it is always a bit difficult when they realise I am not from these parts and I don’t know how to answer “What is your skin type like?” in English, let alone French. Apparently my skin is “sensible et reactif” to which I strongly agreed and further agreed when she started putting stuff on my face and my skin started to burn. I decided to go with it as it was quite relaxing and I couldn’t feel my skin peeling off just yet.

The facial was nice although obviously cheaper and it didn’t smell like biscuits like the last time. It finished fairly abruptly and I was happily dozing and almost asleep when I realised she was talking to me and telling me to get dressed and to meet her at the “vistabulle“.

When I purchased this ‘beauty treatment’ I thought I was buying a massage, with hands, nice smelling oil stuff, soft music and me feeling awesome at the end of it. Turns out I had signed up for the electric chair. Well, not quite but I was made to sit in a big leather chair that then proceeded to ‘massage’ me. Unfortunately the chair was designed for French people who are generally at least a head shorter than me. When I first sat down, my legs were raised and my knees almost came up to my chin. The girl frowned and suggested I move my legs so that my feet were hanging off the end as I am “bigger than most”. Once I was settled, I was handed this weird headset that blew oxygen up my nose and I was then left alone in the room for half an hour.


I sat in one of these.

The chair thing wasn’t bad – but it was hardly the same as having someone give you a real massage. The main problem was that I was too big for the chair so when it was supposed to be massaging my shoulders it was hitting me on my shoulder blades. Boney things, shoulder blades. I eventually started to enjoy it and then it stopped. And I waited. And no one came. So I leaped out of the chair which had turned off in a reclined position, put my shoes on and went down stairs to where the girls continued to look at me strangely and bid me farewell.

I can’t say I will be going back and next time I will make certain that I am getting a human massage rather than the electric chair. I did manage to then wander through Paris looking like a puppet on a string, my arms and legs flopping along, and I walked ten times slower than I ever have in my life. But after an hour or so it had worn off and I was back to myself. Shame.

Fun Times Count Down #3

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Yesterday was one of those days in Paris where the beauty of every street corner, every tree, every canal, every cloud, every everything is multiplied by a thousand plus one. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and there were little fluffy white clouds everywhere. Birds were singing and I’m fairly certain I saw Bambi prancing down the street. Mary Poppins would have been pleased.

Riding a bike through this general scene of gloriousness put me in the perfect mood to tackle French crowds at the Paul Klee exhibition. I knew it was going to be busy and I knew there would be too many people trying to look at a picture and then read the little text stuck on the wall next to it. As Ben and I had already attempted to get into the exhibition last Friday with no success, I booked a ticket in advance to avoid waiting in line. It was a great idea and I don’t know why I don’t always do it. I could get in straight away and give looks of pity to those waiting to buy tickets. Les pauvres.

Cité de la Musique

Paul Klee exhibition

Of course no matter how many tickets you buy in advance, there will always be far too many people inside the actual exhibition space and those people you cannot avoid. The exhibition was about Paul Klee (a Swiss artist who worked in the late 19th/early 20th centuries) who I had previously only know (and admired) for his paintings. It turns out both he and his family were highly musical and a large amount of his paintings are inspired or even derive from musical theory and practise.  The exhibition was located within the music museum of Paris and hence the focus was more on how music affected his work than what I have previously seen in other exhibitions. The exhibition wasn’t particularly well laid out and the information provided jumped all over the place and didn’t seem to fit with the images associated in that section. However, Klee’s work was as interesting to see as usual and I was very interested to learn about how music and Klee’s studies into colour theory influenced his choice of colours, patterns and layouts in his paintings. Some of my favourite Klee paintings are made up of series of squares of varying colours, which I had previously taken for granted as just being pretty things. In this exhibition I learnt that Klee developed a mathematical system connected to his favourite classical music to work out what colours would be used next to other colours within the painting. Very interesting indeed.

There was a video which showed some of Klee’s work and then the music that influenced the work was played over the top. Instantly the image changed in meaning and became a significantly more powerful piece.

Generally the exhibition was interesting but I’m not certain why it has become the hit exhibition to see in Paris this month. It seems to be the thing to do for those over the age of 60, plus, as it is school holidays, the gallery was full of children. Yes, yes, I think it is good that kids go and see art and that they’re not stuck in front of their Nintendo Wiis, however I do think they need to be told NOT to run around like maniacs through the gallery. I also think old people need to be told not to talk so loudly, not to stand in the middle of thoroughfares and to watch where they are going so that they don’t walk into you all the time.

So that was my fun activity for the day. I enjoy walking through galleries although I prefer it when I am the only person there. The real highlight was riding to and from the Cité de la Musique along Canal Saint Martin. It was good to be in Paris.

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.

BFFs with the Baker

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

I forgot to mention a significant event that occurred over the recent galette season that has further solidified my position as loyal customer at my favourite boulangerie. When I went with Ben to buy our second galette for the day and two baguettes for our lunch, we arrived at the boulangerie to find it was jam packed with customers buying sandwiches for their lunches. The queue was reaching out the door and the bakery lady was running around serving people with efficiency and speed. I turned to Ben with a gleeful smile and declared that I would be able to jump the queue and receive my baguettes without having to wait in line. “Watch this.”

The bakery lady continued to serve two or so customers until she noticed me and made a call out across the bakery that anyone wanting to only buy bread should “Advancez!” to the cash register. My moment of glory! I excusez-moi-ed my way past people waiting to be served, held my head high and said “Bonjour!” to the bakery lady. She had already prepared my usual baguette for which I thanked her before then asking for a second baguette. I was nervous about my next request as I had declared that I simply wanted a baguette and that I would be leaving her establishment as soon as I had received it, but really I also wanted to buy another galette. So in my politest and most “You are so wonderful” voice I asked, “What it be possible that I also take a small galette?”
“But, of course!” she replied as she dashed over to the galettes and returned within a split second to take my money and wish me a good day.


A mini galette to finish off lunch

And so I strode out of the boulangerie, two baguettes and one galette in hand, having avoided waiting in line and being served before at least 15 other customers. I have to say I prefer the relationship I have developed with my bakery lady over the creepy lean-over-the-counter-and-stare-with-seedy-eyes I received on my return to another bakery I have to go to on Sundays or when I am feeling lazy. It appears the man in charge at this other bakery was pleased to have the foreign blonde girl back in his shop.

This does lead me to another point which is that I was instantly aware of my return to the land of Frenchmen as Becky and I headed out on our jog the morning after I got back and were wolf-whistled and had eyes stuck to us like magnets. I can’t say I missed it and it was nice to have two weeks in Germany and Holland where no one seems to find me visually pleasing. Although having fat old Frenchmen declaring that, oh la la!, we are “courageuse” and “sportif” can be quite amusing.

Back to Business With Galette

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Happy 2012 to one and all! My year started with insane Dutch people setting off fireworks in their back/front yards, carparks, petrol stations etc., plus lots of olliebollen, appelbeignets and general consistent eating.


Mmm... olliebollen.

It is strange to think that I have come back to Paris with the idea of now being able to eat ‘normally’ and hence hopefully return to my original pant size. I have hit one slight set back – La Fête des Rois. Also known as the Epiphany when the three Kings or wise men visited Jesus and gave him birthday presents, the French have taken hold of this great day and turned it into something even greater. Everyone eats galettes – a round puff pastry delight filled with almond paste goodness. OH, IT IS GOOD.



Inside the galette, the bakers place a small item (yesterday I was witness to the discovery of a jigsaw puzzle piece, a green cow, and a miniature ScoobyDoo) and when the galette is divided, the person who finds the item in their piece of galette is crowned the King. They then get to wear a crown for the rest of the evening, lucky buggers.

While we had plans yesterday evening to have a galette party with the other residents at the Récollets, as Ben is a budding baker, we went in search of a GOOD galette (as opposed to one from a supermarket) for morning tea. We decided to go to Julhès, a family empire of deliciousness where you can buy bakery goods, wine, cheese, tapenade, foie gras, chocolate, and every other delicious thing you can think of. Ben, Tom and I divided the galette into 12 pieces and then invented a complicated mathematical formula for deciding who received which piece of galette. Ben was the winner with his second piece of galette and wore, with pride, the golden crown.


Keeping things fair

The second rule of galette is whoever is crowned King is also, therefore, rich and must purchase another galette for his lowly citizens/friends/family. So Ben bought a second (smaller) galette from my favourite boulangerie to have with lunch. As this was a galette for one or two persons, there was no item hidden inside so no one had to buy another galette. HOWEVER, we did then meet my fellow residents in the evening for dinner and galette eating. Almost everyone brought a galette so there were plenty to go around. This time we followed even more traditional methods and the youngest person was sent to sit under the table to call out names of people and select which piece of galette they would eat.

The youngest person at the table was three months younger than me, and as he was quite insistent that I take the honour of sitting on the floor, I spent the next 15 minutes or so calling out names from under the table. What fun! I failed at choosing a winning piece of galette for myself on both the first AND second round of galette distribution. Once everyone had had two pieces, there were still a few kings missing but everyone was a little bit sick of puff pastry and almond so the rest of the galettes were attacked with knives to find the final items. It was a lot of fun and galette is definitely high on my Deliciousness list. The search for the hidden item is highly entertaining and the fact that you’re eating delicious galette instead of looking for a penny inside stodgy plum pudding is definitely an additional benefit.

Things are returning to normal now after the Christmas and New Year’s break. I have just dropped my brother off at the train station and sent him back to England to continue his baking. My plans for today mostly involve cleaning as I still have christmas presents, decorations and general “I’ll deal with this later” items scattered around my apartment. We returned from our two week trip in Germany and Holland with a lot of excess baggage in the form of presents and food. Lots of food. Tom got excited by the price and availability of Jagermeister in Germany, while I went a bit nuts buying chocolate sprinkles and biscuits in Holland. Luckily there’s no such thing as customs when crossing European borders. Ben is currently travelling back to England with a two kilogram bag of flour in his suitcase. That flour has been through Holland, Belgium, France and now England.

I am trying to work out how I can bring everything that is delicious from France to Australia. I have 20 days left in Paris until I get on a plane and fly away home. While everyone around me is telling me how great Australia is and how much fun I am going to have, the whole process of having to get on a plane for 24 hours, have jet lag, fly to and from Sydney, and spend the entire time crossing my fingers that I am allowed a visa isn’t really making me jump for joy. Yes, yes, beaches, sunshine and family. But also a lot to think about and hope that the French government doesn’t think of a stupid reason not to let me come back to France. What will I do then? Plus what cheese am I going to eat in Perth?!

Well this post is getting very long and I have cleaning to do. Spread the word that Zaum is back in action for 2012 with more stories, more adventures and plenty of photographs of food.

Stroop wafel

Like this fresh stroop wafel I ate in Gouda