2013: The Highs Get Higher, The Lows Get Lower

1 01 2014

The second half of 2013 went by in a flash. It was a real rollercoaster. Nick quipped sometime in the early fall that it seemed as we get older, our highs were getting higher, and the lows lower. It’s kind of become our motto for the past several months.

So beautiful and delicious!

The highlights of the year:

  • More traveling. In May we went to Corsica for a long weekend before jetting off to the US for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends. In August we went to London, where I fell in love with Ottolenghi (see the picture above for one reason why) and continued my infatuation with St. John Bread & Wine. And just last week e spent Christmas in Rome. It was beautiful, delicious, moving and maddening as only Italy can be.
  • I got a new job that I love. The work at Frenchie To Go continues to be challenging and interesting, but maybe more importantly, my colleagues have become my friends. It’s been a very long time since I got to work with a group of people I like this much, and that makes me feel so fortunate. The very talented Mickaël Bandassak recently spent a week photographing us at work, and the resulting pictures are a great little peek into what our working days are like. You can find them all at his tumblr, Behind the Food.
  • Media attention is usually pretty validating, but never more than when it comes from people whose work you respect and admire. In addition to a fun interview about classic American bakery treats I did with the charming Caroline Mignot for Cuisine Actuelle Pâtisserie, she also wrote about my sticky bun on her blog, Table à Découvert. Speaking of my sticky bun,  over at Chocolate and Zucchini, Clotilde has posted a perfect photo of it as her desktop calendar for January 2014! And I got a shout-out from David Lebovitz in his post about the Rue du Nil, the food-lover’s paradise where I now get to go to work every day. Last but not least, I was delighted to find my name in the acknowledgements of Ann Mah‘s lovely memoir, Mastering the Art of French Eating, and I couldn’t stop smiling reading the story of how we met from her perspective.
  • And I realize I should probably have posted this before today, but I was invited by Qooq.com to film a New Year’s celebration menu. I spent a very fun day at their studio, cooking and baking up a storm. My buffet menu includes Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Spinach Dip with Bleu d’Auvergne, Crab Bisque, Savory Cake with Chicken, Caramelized Onion, and Pink Peppercorns, and a Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart. You can watch it here.

New Year's Buffet

But there were lowlights, too. We lost our apartment, yet a-freaking-gain. (For those of you just joining us here, Nick and I have lived in no fewer than five apartments since moving to Paris a little less than six years ago.) The last apartment hunt was so frustrating, discouraging, and time-consuming, that this time Nick and I just took the easiest apartment available, a former neighbor’s, which we like, but since the place is furnished, we had to get rid of all our furniture which makes it a little harder to feel like the place is really ours.

We’ve both had some troubles on the professional front, too. I can’t say much more about those, in the interest of maintaining Nick’s privacy and my own legal rights.

Looking spry

But the big downer, and it’s really really big, is that we lost our dear cat Snoopy to kidney failure in November. She was young, but we just didn’t catch the disease in time. I’ve been wanting to write a whole post for her, but every time I start looking through pictures of her I just want to curl up into a ball and cry. She didn’t have a big presence on this blog, but that little cat was a huge part of my life. It’s been about six weeks, and I think I’m only just now coming to terms with the fact that she’s not coming back, that I’m going to miss her every day for the rest of my life. On Christmas Day, I lit a candle for her in the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Rome. When we left the church, a cat walked right up to me and Nick, let us scratch its head, and continued on its way. I like to think it was Snoopy’s spirit, coming to let us know she’s ok.

So as not to end on such a sad note, and to offer some cheer and hope for the new year, I want to share with you a very simple, very wonderful cheese recipe I got from my good friend Jennifer of Chez Loulou.

Oh, yeah.

It is so easy and so fabulous, it’s sure to become a staple of our fall and winter repertoire. Here’s what you do: Take a wheel of Camembert and slice it in half so you have two circles of cheese. Place each cheese half, rind-side down, into a half of the box it came in (or, if you’re lucky like me to have found the perfect camembert-sized ceramic dish, by all means use that). Slice up a shallot or two and start sautéeing in a tablespoon or so of butter. Meanwhile, slice a large apple (or two smaller ones) into thin wedges. When the shallots are starting to brown, add the apples and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of sugar. Season with salt and crushed szechuan peppercorns. Cook until the apples are softened and starting to brown. Finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Spoon this mixture on top of the cheese and bake 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and just a little bubbly. Serve warm with slices of baguette or other crusty bread. Nick and I find that one half serves the two of us perfectly as a starter or snack, and the other half will keep, unbaked, until the next time we need it, though I admit we’ve never been able to wait more than a day for a repeat performance.

Here’s to 2014, may it be long on joyous occasions!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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12 responses

1 01 2014
Tammy

Happy New Year! May 2014 present you with the highest of highs and very few lows. It’s great to see you back.

2 01 2014
Sam

Camille, best wishes to you and Nick for 2014! I know how you feel losing a friend and I believe that Snoopy did come to see you in Rome. I am so happy for you in your new job it sounds so exciting. I am in Paris for a week in June and I will definitely try to come to see you at Frenchie to Go and try all (well maybe not all) those goodies.

2 01 2014
Michel

Happy New Year! Very happy to get an update about your ups and downs. Sorry to hear there were any downs at all. We hope you have a very happy and healthy 2024, free from any apartment problems.

2 01 2014
Ann

Happy new year, Camille! I’m so sorry about Snoopy — she was a shy cat but sweet. Wishing you a delicious sticky-bun-filled 2014 (and I’m thrilled you enjoyed my book :)!

2 01 2014
Inger Wilkerson

Wow what an end to the year. I have checked back periodically and just assumed you were busy with the new job. A number of years ago we lost a 5 year old cat (that I called “my firstborn”) after a difficult attempt to save him including a stay at the veterinary school and me crying publicly at work (which I never do).

I was looking for a new appetizer this year, which means I will be looking for new one next year too, so I have pinned yours for then. Best wishes for a great 2014.

3 01 2014
Hannah

So many, many, many hugs and cheers and tears and love to you, my American-French sisterfriend. xoxo

3 01 2014
Jessica's

Sorry to hear about Snoopy :( it’s always hard when you lose someone , furry or not.

The second half of the year did go by really fast! But seems like yours was very eventful!! Can’t wait to hear more in 2014!

Happy New Year!

4 01 2014
hungry dog

Love that you’re back to blogging! I enjoyed reading about some of your many highlights. Sad to hear about Snoopy, of course…I am glad I got to meet her a couple of times. She was a sweet girl. Best wishes to you & Nick in 2014! Hope to hear more about your Rome trip… xoxo

6 01 2014
croquecamille

Tammy – Thank you!

Sam – Looking forward to seeing you!

Michel – I’ll drink to that!

Ann – Thanks, and I hope we can catch up in person very soon!

Inger – That sounds not entirely dissimilar to my experience. Fortunately, I have a really supportive work environment, and my colleagues were generous with hugs and sympathy. Enjoy the cheese!

Hannah – Thank you so much! Miss you!

Jessica – And a happy new year to you, too!

hungry dog – I’m glad you got to meet her, too. Happy 2014!

11 01 2014
Shut Up and Cook

So excited to have found your blog! I’m in Paris for January and February on a personal adventure and culinary exploration. Frenchie is on my list…now I have even one more reason to go!

13 01 2014
croquecamille

Shut Up and Cook – Great! Enjoy your visit, and be sure to say hi when you come by Frenchie To Go!

20 02 2014
french cravings

I just discovered your blog as well! So sorry to hear about your sweet kitty.

Like Shut Up and Cook, I will be in Paris, but March to June when I attend Le Cordon Bleu Basic! I’ve heard lots of good news about Frenchie To Go, so I will definitely stop by! Katie




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