Posts Tagged ‘Jess’

In The Beginning There Was Zaum…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Today is Tuesday. It is the eleventh day of September in the year 2012. It is my Uncle’s birthday and yesterday it was my mother’s. Ten days ago I turned 27 and I am 354 days away from being 28. Today I decided enough is enough and I am taking my head out of the clouds and putting my butt into gear and I am going to make my business, Zaum, what I originally intended it to be. Something amazing.

When I first set up Zaum I had high hopes of completely transforming my life, quitting my steady university job and starting something on my own. I did it to some extent and if I hadn’t decided to go out on my own maybe I wouldn’t be sitting in my apartment in Paris writing this. Perhaps I would have eventually moved up to a more senior marketing role, received a pay increase and taken four weeks of annual leave every year.

I certainly wouldn’t have spent 2010 wondering what the hell I had just done. I wouldn’t have worked at UWA two days a week and I therefore wouldn’t have been able to get an apartment in a residency located in a 13th century convent. I wouldn’t have moved to Paris and I wouldn’t have eaten this:

Caramel tart

One of many cakes I have tried.

I wouldn’t have made friends with crazy italians, mad scientists or staple-artists, and I wouldn’t know the joy of running through Paris at 7.30am and feeling like I have the entire city to myself.

Basically, today I have come to a realisation that while I have in no way wasted my last year and a half in Paris, I think it is time for me to move on the Phase Two: Zaum in Paris. Before it was just Jess – now Zaum has come to stay and is going to blossom over the next few months into something wonderful. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what that is, but in the last five hours much brainstorming, butcher’s paper and black pen action has occurred and things are moving.

The reason why I am writing this is to spread the word in the hope that everyone reading this will support me. I know that I am not one to push myself along and am generally inclined to suggest I give up now and get a “real” job. ARG!!! So I am asking you all to kick me, slap me or throw buckets of cold water on me if I start to turn away from this.

I currently feel like a boxer preparing to enter the ring – I even want to jump up and down with my fists held up in front of my body, ready to take the first swing. Bring it on! Zaum is ready to rrruuummmmbbbbblllleeeeeee!!!

Growing Up

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

As a kid, I suffered from terrible growing pains. The backs of my knees would ache and throb and at the time it seemed like the worst possible pain to have to endure. As a result, I have very long legs, but I have also come to realise that maybe my thirteen-year-old-self had it good. It turns out growing up also involves sharp stabbing pains in the heart, brain, back, stomach, etc etc…

In four days’ time it will be my birthday and I will move even further away from being “in my early 20s”. I think I will continue to claim “mid-20s” for another year but after that it is definitely “late”. Those of you who know me well will be aware of my obsession with my birthday. I live for this day, and every year as it comes along I become increasingly more and more excited as I count down towards the BIG DAY. I always try and make the day as special and cake-filled as possible; I am allowed to do whatever I want and, more importantly, eat whatever I want on my birthday. And the same rules apply for everyone else in the world on their birthday. It is the one day of the year where you can feel important and alive enough to drown yourself in chocolate cake. Hoorah!

This year, however, my birthday has managed to sneak up on me and I am currently experiencing a sensation that I have never felt before. I am not looking forward to it. Sure, I am pleased that my parents will be in town (especially seeing as ALL of my friends are leaving and going on holidays) and my mum’s cousin will be in Paris from Holland on the day, but it just doesn’t seem right. I always say that as long as there is good cake I am happy, but this year I am questioning this logic.

I think it boils down to the fact that I am scared about next year. I have been doing a lot of ‘thinking’ about ‘stuff’ lately and my plans for the future have played a significant role. Bad, bad move considering I have no idea what I am doing on a daily basis, let alone in a year’s time. So maybe it is time to stop worrying about what I am going to be doing then and focus on what I am doing now.

In four days time, I will turn 27 as a single, relatively young, Australian living in a 13th-century ex-convent building in the middle of Paris. I have great friends and a wonderful family. I am the fittest and slimmest I have ever been in my entire life and my thighs are no longer thunder-esque, they’re more just sturdy posts. I am working on creating myself a life that I love, rather than one that pays the bills and is satisfactory. I was in Italy last week, I am going to England and Poland in October and who knows where I’m going to be for Christmas. Today I am having lunch with 0ne friend and dinner with another. Last night I finally cooked myself a real dinner after three months of living on vegetable quinoa.

I wouldn’t normally spill these sorts of beans in such a public forum but I felt that I needed and wanted to. While I might be getting older, my internal wisdom says that that doesn’t mean I need to ‘become serious’ and ‘settle down’ and ‘get a real job’ because that will just reverse everything that I have done and achieved in the past few years. Instead it is about moving forward and continuing on this journey and seeing where it takes me. And I wanted a bit of an emotional rollercoaster so that when I eventually write my “My Life in Paris” book it is actually interesting. This is turning into a best seller.

Wine Time

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

I’m sure I have mentioned this previously, but connected to the residence that I live in is one of the coolest, hippest, and most sort-out cafés for the BoBos of Paris. In case you don’t know, a BoBo is a person between the ages of 21 and 38 who wears a lot of ‘vintage’ clothing and who hangs around in public spaces with other BoBos hoping to be seen. They usually wear oversized glasses and lots of layers. Anyway, the cafe, Café A, is cool. So cool that in summer there is a line of BoBos pleading to come in while my fellow residents and I walk past in our BoBo-offensive clothes and sit at our residents-only tables. You can probably tell I get a kick out of it.

There are often concerts, exhibitions and random events at Café A and this past weekend there was a two-day wine tasting event held within the café and the beautiful chapel that is connected to it. This chapel is part of the original convent building of the Récollets and is rented out by the Architects society (they now somehow own it) for excessive amounts of money. Therefore it is very rarely open and when ever it is, I try my hardest to get in there.

On Sunday evening, Tom and I walked in the back door of the café with our friends and fellow residents, Becky and Vivien. Why go in the front door when you can sneak in the back? We then talked our way into getting free tasting glasses and not paying the 10 Euro entry fee because ‘we live here.’ Seemed fair to me.

Salon du vin – Café A

A blurry photo but lots of people and lots of wine inside the chapel

The chapel was set out with 50-plus tables allocated to different organic and biodynamic wine producers, offering tastings of their wines and information about how they produce the wine and the region it comes from. These wine tastings are particularly helpful to us as there is so much difference between choosing a wine in France than in Australia. Back home, I usually choose a grape variety I like and then go by price and whatever label interests me the most. This doesn’t work so well in France and I have managed to choose numerous very bad wines as a result.

Vivien, the only true-Frenchman of our group, was put in charge of wine selection and we started off with his favourite region – Bordeaux. There were three different Bordeaux producers and we sampled three different wines from each. The flavours between each wine varied significantly and it was amazing to see how different the wines could taste despite containing similar grape blends. It all came down to handling, time, barrels and general competence.

After Bordeaux, Vivien took us on a grape tour of his life in France, moving between regions where he has lived, studied and worked. Every region produced significantly different flavours of wine and each vintage varied just as much. It was a taste-bud sensation and a big learning experience for me. Of course, after sampling a few different wines from various producers, they all start tasting good and there were a fair few people who had clearly been ‘sampling’ for most of the afternoon and evening. It was a great way to get a better understanding of French wine although I have come away with even more confusion about how to choose a wine when at a wine store. No matter what bottle I choose it will taste completely different to the last wine I had from that region. So I guess I have to return to my “try it and see” methods.

Another to Add to the Dessert List

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

I have a few favourite desserts scattered throughout Paris that I seek out in order to satisfy cravings. There is the banana bread at Kooka Boora, gateau chocolate de Grandmère at Le Jardin d’en Face, and the créme brulée at Les Enfants Perdu. At one point there was also a chocolate and basil tart at Hotel du Nord but certain a grumpy waiter named Adrian has removed that from my list of must-eats. Shame, really.

Last night I managed to welcome a new addition to my “Top Desserts” list, something I was very happy to do. Let me state from the beginning that in order to be in my Top Desserts list, the dessert has to be exceptionally good. I don’t hand out this status willy-nilly! I have eaten MANY desserts and only those that really excite my taste buds and make me all gooey inside are allowed into the Top Desserts category.

Tom and I decided to celebrate my 50,000 word writing achievement and his recent skill at easily gaining freelance work by going out to dinner. We La Fourchette-d it and chose a restaurant that I had been wanting to go to for some time, Le Vernissoir. It is a cool and hip restaurant located in a side street that as we walked down it made me feel like I was walking in NoHo in New York. Very cool. Lots of little restaurants and plenty of BoBo’s hanging out and being cool-and-stuff-without-trying.

I wanted to have an early night as we have been going out a LOT lately so we booked the 7.30pm time slot. We were, of course, the only people eating and no one else came until at least an hour later. It didn’t matter – the staff were friendly and didn’t poo-poo us for being there so early. We both managed to order the exact same dishes for both mains and desserts so we didn’t really get to experience a large extent of the menu, but there were plenty of interesting items to choose from. Duck with truffles, a japanese tapioca risotto with mushrooms, and sword fish with sea urchin juice (yuck.) But we both went for the ‘thick cut’ beef with parsnips and we weren’t disappointed with our choice.

Beef

Mmm... Beef.

The meat was tender and deliciously cooked and the parsnips were a wonderful change from potatoes. I never cook with parsnips but I am now excited to do so. The sauce was soooo good although the plate was covered in a soup of olive oil which, while delicious, is sometimes a bit excessive.

Our La Fourchette booking required us to order desserts. DANG. It was an easy decision. The final item on the menu was a ‘mille feuille’ like dessert – two pieces of thin, flaky pastry with a chocolate mousse (with a very slight hint of chilli) inside and then a drizzle of salted butter caramel sauce over the top.

Chocolate dessert

Winner of Jess's Top Dessert Award

It arrived in front of me and I gasped with joy. OH YES. It was rich. It was good dark chocolate. The pastry was lightly caramelised and then the salted butter caramel sauce was just pure heaven. It was one of those desserts that you want to continue eating forever, no matter how sick you are feeling. By the end of it I was feeling very chocolate-afied and I needed a litre of water to quench my thirst but I WANT MORE!!!

And then came the joy of asking for the bill and paying a tiny amount for fabulous food and half a bottle of wine. The accessibility of eating out in Paris is something I am never going to be able to get over. I don’t know how I will survive back in Perth where for the same price as what we paid last night, I would only be able to get one main dish – no dessert, and maybe a glass of wine.

Ten Months

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

It’s amazing what you can do in ten months. Thursday marked the ten month ‘event’ of Tom and my arrival in Paris and it has come as quite a shock. Ten months is a long time and yet it feels like we just arrived. We shouldn’t be thinking about the fact that we only have two months left until our Year in Paris is over. We should still have so much time left with so many things to see and do. But alas, this is not the case.

LUCKILY we have decided to extend for an extra year, so while I would now be bawling my eyes out and chaining myself to the nearest pole and refusing to leave, I am somewhat less sad. I am still a bit worried about my impending return to Australia and visa application, but I am crossing all of my fingers and toes that it goes smoothly. It can’t not, right? What am I going to do if the French Embassy refuses to grant me a visa? Probably bawl my eyes out, fly back to Paris and chain myself to a pole.

Our friend, Phillipa, is here on the same visa as me and hers expires the day after mine. She is currently going through the horrific procedure of applying for a sponsorship from her work. She works at an O’Sullivans Irish pub and they have kindly agreed to go through the whole rigmarole of filling out forms, writing letters, and photocopying pieces of paper in order to help her stay next year. I am also crossing all fingers and toes that it works for her because she has no other visa alternatives in order to be able to stay in Paris. If Pip can’t come back then who am I going to go shopping with?! We have made a pact that we will meet on 1 April next year at a pub in Montmartre and drink to our good fortune of being back in Paris.

SO! I have 55 days left in Paris. What am I going to do in that time? Let’s write a list!

  • Continue to eat lots of food.
  • Go to Koblenz for Christmas.
  • Go to Holland for New Years.
  • Exhibit some sock creations in an exhibition at Café A (the coolest, hippest place in Paris)
  • See snow in Paris (I REFUSE to leave until it has snowed here because otherwise it is likely to do so while I am away and that is NOT fair.)
  • Go to lots of great exhibitions which are coming up in the next few weeks (when my brother, Ben, comes to visit over Christmas/New Years we’re going to see a Stefan Sagmeister exhibition AND a show about monsters puppets!)
  • Decorate my apartment for Christmas (I bought a mini Christmas tree this week.)
  • Start editing my book.
Ok, that’s probably enough. The first dot point is going to take up most of my time anyway so who knows if I’ll be able to achieve anything else. Anyway, those are my thoughts on this wet and windy Paris day. Actually, I am going to finish this entry and start another one about the weather. It deserves to be discussed separately.

Proof of Pain

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I finally downloaded the images of my poor, utterly destroyed knees as a result of my tumble last Monday. Unfortunately the images don’t really look all that impressive but I have made some simple diagrammatical additions to help you see how TERRIBLE my accident was and how I almost DIED from knee banging.

Knee pain

Medical terms as explained by Doctor Jess.