Burning question #1: What’s with the radio silence?
Answer: Due to the extreme incompetence of my phone/internet/tv provider, I have been without internet service and tv for the last week. (I’ve also been without phone service since the day I moved, which you may or may not recall was SIX WEEKS AGO. Ahem. Anyway. Now I am at Nick’s work, on Sunday evening, just to use the internet.)
I’ll answer some more burning questions later, but first I want to tell you all about a spiffy new website called Paris By Mouth. I attended the launch party last Monday, and it was a blast. Dozens of Paris-based Anglophone bloggers, podcasters, authors, foodies and wine enthusiasts gathered at Spring Boutique to celebrate. Daniel Rose, Josh Adler, and the rest of the Spring team saw to it that no one’s glass went dry, and no one’s palate went unsatisfied. I had a great time catching up with Ann, chatting with Heather, David, and Lily, and meeting Katia, Catherine, and many more interesting, enthusiastic people. The soirée was organized by Meg Zimbeck, the editor of Paris By Mouth, and her assistant editor, Barbra Austin, both of whom I really enjoyed getting to know a bit better. You can see more pictures of the event (including one of yours truly helping herself to bread and cheese) at the website. Speaking of the website, I think it’s going to be huge. Meg has assembled an all-star team of contributing editors, among them some of my local favorites: Alec Lobrano, Dorie Greenspan, and Clotilde Dusoulier (for whom I was mistaken at one point in the evening – when I got a chance to tell her about it later, it was concluded by the nearby group that she could hire me to be her stunt double, so Clotilde? If you ever need anyone to go to Japan in your place, I’m your woman!). With so much talent and passion behind it, there’s no way that Paris By Mouth won’t succeed. So far, my favorite features are the restaurant database – searchable by neighborhood, price range, or day of the week – and the Five Great which highlights top spots to find baguettes, steak frites, and other Parisian goodies.
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In other news, I have recently been graced with not one, but two awards from Hannah of Wayfaring Chocolate. I am proud to be the recipient of the Kreativ Blogger Award and the Beautiful Blogger Award. These things generally come with rules, but I’m choosing to interpret them “Kreatively.” Instead of simply telling you seven little-known things about myself, I’m going to answer six (There’s one at the beginning of the post, remember?) of the questions I am most frequently asked, both in person and as judged from some of my most popular search engine terms. So back to the burning questions:
Q: What are shallots?
A: Shallots are a member of the onion family. They are small, brown- or purple-skinned, elongated onions with a mild flavor. They are commonly used in vinaigrettes and pan sauces.
Q: What is a scallop?/What does a scallop look like?
A: Despite their orthographic similarities, a scallop is nothing like a shallot. (Although I do find it interesting that these are two of my most popular searches.) A scallop is a sea creature, a bivalve to be specific, which means that it has two shells, joined with a hinge, as opposed to say, a conch, which has only one shell. Between the two shells is a large muscle (the part you eat) and a mess of other organs (which some people eat, notably the roe, if the scallop has it). They are delicious, but it is very important not to overcook them, as they become rubbery and unappetizing. I like them best seared, with the centers just warmed through, maybe served with some combination of bacon and vanilla.
Q: How do you work as a pastry chef and stay so thin?/If I had your job, I would weigh 300 pounds.
A: This one’s multiple choice.*
a) It’s a very physically demanding job – I’m on my feet all day, and those 20-kilo boxes of chocolate don’t exactly lift themselves.
b) My job is making pastries, not eating them.
c) Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve always been thin, and part of me is terrified that I’m going to wake up one day and my metabolism will have decided to quit and I will, in fact, weigh 300 pounds. And have diabetes. So while I rather dislike this question, I will be very sad when people stop asking me. It’s a fine line.
d) I try to eat lots of vegetables at home.
e) All of the above.
Q: Your job must be so FUN!/I’ve always thought that if the research/teaching/law/medicine/whatever doesn’t work out, I’d go into pastry.
A: More of a comment than a question, but I get this an awful lot. Frankly, I find it to be a demeaning and insulting thing to say to somebody. I’m tempted to reply with something like “Yeah, I always thought that if the baking doesn’t work out, I’d go into research/teaching/law/medicine/whatever,” but I usually just smile, nod, and move on. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy my job. It just isn’t super fun happy prancing around in a frilly apron shoving cookie dough in my mouth all the time. It’s hard work and it takes a lot of dedication and training.
Q: Do you have a good recipe for a French fruit tart?
A: As a matter of fact, I do.
*The answer is (e), but the one you’re most likely to hear if you ask me is person is (a).
On this day in 2008: No-Knead Bread Update