Archive for November, 2010

Sunday Afternoon on Rue Boyer

Saturday, November 27th, 2010
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Last Sunday afternoon found me on rue Boyer, in the far-off (from where I live) 20th arrondissement. I happened by a community center called Espace Arts Lebaudy at number 2 and noticed that there was an art and photography exposition going on. I stepped in to take a look, and was glad that I did, because I spoke with some very nice people.

I met Dominique Hervo who was exhibiting color photographs taken by her husband Michel. She told me that the photos that I was looking at were taken last year during the time when Paris had a heavy snowfall. It was Michel’s photo of dappled colors of graffiti on a wall that had caught my eye and brought me in to view the works.

Dominique Hervo
exhibiting photos by Michel Hervo
(c) Discover Paris!

While I was talking with Dominique, the room suddenly jumped to life with the sound of an organ grinder. It was Riton la manivelle, turning the crank of his orgue de Barbarie and singing in a rich, full voice. His music gave a festive atmosphere to the exposition.

Riton la manivelle
(c) Discover Paris!

Next to Dominique was the second exhibitor, a painter named Isabelle Faivre. Many of her paintings were of everyday scenes of Paris. I purchased a postcard of one of them, shown below. While browsing her Web site, I learned that she is also a book sculptor.

Gouache sur toile by Isabelle Faivre
Photograph courtesy of Isabelle Faivre

I purchased a cup of hot chocolate from a woman who was serving beverages and sweet and savory pastries. It turned out that she is the founder of this community center, which, for the moment, receives no funds from the city. Her name is Sylvie Dimet, and she launched Espace Arts Lebaudy under her own initiative in April 1997. The espace offers courses in art and design for children and adults. Sylvie teaches plastic arts and animation. Some of the animated videos that her young students (from 7 to 17 years old) have produced can be seen on the Espace Arts Lebaudy Web site. The espace will host a Festival of Animated Short Films 2D/3D in September 2011. Entry is open to all. Details can be found on the Croq’ Animé Web site. All entries must be received by June 30, 2011.

Sylvie Dimet Founder of Espace Arts Lebaudy(c) Discover Paris!

Sylvie Dimet
Founder of Espace Arts Lebaudy
(c) Discover Paris!


Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
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Thomas Brannstrom
International Excellence Award
Salon du Chocolat 2009
(c) Discover Paris!

We met Thomas Brannstrom at his stand Mälarchocolaterie at the Salon du Chocolat. He and his wife, Elaine Chan, produce handmade chocolates at their facility in Vasteras, Sweden. A photo of them together appears on their Web site.

Brannstrom expressed great enthusiasm not only about his line of chocolates, but also about every aspect of the business, from the packaging of his product to the designing and construction of the Mälar exhibition stand at the salon. He proudly pointed out that the beautiful boxes in which the chocolates are sold are created from the fiber of a renewable wood that grows in the forests of Sweden. He was so keen about explaining the minimal environmental impact of his operation that we were hard pressed to turn his attention back to what we were most interested in—chocolate!

We purchased the smallest box and selected an assortment of nine chocolates to place in it. Each variety is exquisitely designed, and many have unusual flavors. I did not realize until later that Mälar produces a number of exotic flavors, including horseradish. I would like to have tried that!

Here is a list of the chocolates that we did taste:

Wolfberry (goji berry) – The wolfberry is cultivated in China. It is a tiny red fruit, and one can see it on top of two of the chocolates in the photograph (below). I was unable to taste the berry in the chocolate, but my partner could. She said that it was reminiscent of cranberry, but not as intense. We both found the chocolate ganache quite flavorful.

Citron Tequila Salt – Lemon-flavored chocolate ganache with a salted top. We could not taste the tequila, but found the chocolate sublime. A cute idea to match lemon, tequila, and salt with chocolate!

Single Malt Whisky – A mild taste of whisky in rich, dark chocolate with an aftertaste of peat.

Port Melon – We were not sure that we tasted melon in this, but we found the chocolate ganache to be as good as they get!

Apple Calvados (apple brandy) – Intensely smooth, unctuous, refined chocolate. My partner tasted a hint of Calvados in the ganache, but I could not.

In retrospect, we realize that we tasted the chocolates in the wrong order, and that the essence of the more subtly flavored varieties was probably masked by the more assertive flavors of others.

Although we could not always identify the flavors for which these chocolates are named, we agree with Mälarchocolaterie’s claim that its chocolates are a “Swedish chocolate luxury.”

Elaine Chan at the Mälarchocolaterie Stand
(c) Discover Paris!

Mälar Chocolates
(c) Discover Paris!

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Wandering Educators Interviews Tom Reeves

Sunday, November 21st, 2010
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Wandering Educators, “a global community of informed, engaged educators who share their travel experiences, explore their fellow wandering educators’ travel experiences, and dialogue about international education and travel,” has just published an interview with me. A book review of Paris Insights – An Anthology is scheduled to follow soon. Thanks to Dr. Jessie Voigts for her interest in Paris Insights and for asking me to share information about it with the Wandering Educators community!

La Cuillère Suisse

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
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La Cuillère Suisse
Chocolate on a Stick
(c) Discover Paris!

One of the stands that we visited at the recent Salon du Chocolat was La Cuillère Suisse. Founded by two women, Barbara Delsaux and Valériane Tinguely, the company specializes in one form of chocolate, and one form only. It is a hardened sphere of chocolate, roughly 1 1/2″ in diameter, mounted on a stick like a lollipop. The idea is to dip the chocolate ball into a cup of hot milk and stir. Then — voilà — you have a cup of hot chocolate!

The chocolate for the Cuillère Suisse is produced by Durig Chocolatier of Lausanne, Switzerland.

We took two cuillères home with us to test them out. We each poured 7 oz of hot milk into a cup, dipped the chocolate into the milk, and stirred. Sure enough, the chocolate began to dissolve into the milk. At one point, as the chocolate melted, we tasted it straight from the lollipop. It was wonderfully sweet, dark, and rich. However, when we finished stirring and tasted the beverage, we found the flavor disappointingly weak. We think that a maximum of 4 oz of milk is required for a rich, thick serving of hot chocolate.

Priced at four Swiss francs a pop (pun intended!), the Cuillère Suisse is an expensive treat. I believe that one would do better to buy a jar of chocolate shavings from any shop that sells chocolate in this form. A couple of heaping tablespoons in a cup of hot milk will make an entirely satisfactory rich, hot chocolate without the gimmickry of a wooden swizzle stick stuck into a chocolate ball.

Perhaps the Cuillère Suisse founders realized that in order to sell what is, in my mind, an expensive, impractical product, they needed to launch a campaign to sex up its image…literally! At their stand they distributed postcard-sized photographs of a stark-naked black woman in various erotic and sexually suggestive poses. One image displays what appears to be a rivulet of melted chocolate trickling down her spine. At the same time, she is gripping her buttocks and holding a Cuillère Suisse.

Sexing Up the Hot Chocolate
(c) Discover Paris!

More than Mere Nudity
Photograph courtesy of La Cuillère Suisse

I think that most of the images on these postcards are inappropriate for promoting what is, after all, just a beverage. Also, the fact that yet another chocolate company is using a naked, black woman to advertise its product is irksome. (Suchard, for example, often uses naked, black women to lend an “exotic” aura to its chocolate.) Moreover, the use of this model in these immodest poses suggests to me that La Cuillière Suisse has advanced beyond the portrayal of erotic nudity into pornographic nudity to promote its product.

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Dorothy’s Gallery Hosts Artistic Mix

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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Monique Wells, Co-founder of Discover Paris!
and Dorothy Polley, Owner of Dorothy's Gallery
in front of works by Henry Miller
(c) Discover Paris!

November at Dorothy’s Gallery finds Dorothy hosting an interesting mix of artists, from abstract to surrealist, from figurative to photographic. The exposition, entitled De Henry Miller aux jeunes artistes d’aujourd’hui, features eight artists, and includes three serigraphs by the late Henry Miller. Known primarily as a novelist, Miller was also a painter who turned out several thousand watercolors in his lifetime.

The exposition contains three photographs of Miller taken by the late French photographer Denise Bellon. Two show Miller with his third wife Eve McClure, while the third shows him with French writer Joseph Delteil.

Isabel Meyrells produces sculptures in bronze and terra cotta. Ten of her works are placed around the gallery and seem to pop into and out of one’s visual field to demand attention like little elves in a forest. Her Autoportrait is a bronze Chinese dragon tamping his pipe with his finger. When I asked her why she thought that the dragon resembled her, she replied that this was a good dragon that inspires good sentiments and does not frighten. In another room, her sculpture of a dolphin shedding large tears as it climbs a flight of stairs gives one pause for thought.

Isabel Meyrelles with Her Autoportrait

Thomas Levy-Lasne is the only artist at this exposition who represents figurative painting. He produces images with ambiguous themes, such as Marie, a comely, large-breasted woman dressed only in denim pants. While one might be tempted to think that she is available, the artist explained to me that her facial expression indicates she does not want to be desired. Levy-Lasne’s Vacance portrays a group of three young people awkwardly positioned on a sandy roadway on a beach. The idea that they might actually be enjoying their vacation seems improbable.

Vacance by Thomas Lévy-Lasne

Vacance by Thomas Lévy-Lasne

Mariano Angelotti paints landscapes devoid of people. His haunting Piscine, a scene that he painted when he was in the south of France, depicts a swimming pool that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea on a moonlit night. His painting Route portrays a two-lane highway thrusting through the Patagonian countryside, giving a keen impression of the remoteness of that part of the world.

Mariano Angelotti with Landscapes

The three other artists, with whom I did not get a chance to talk, are Artur do Cruzeiro Seixas, whose surrealist images show humans and animals in various stages of transformation; Benjamin Marquès, whose imaginary cartographs conjure up images of continents that might be very dangerous places to visit; and Emmanuelle Fèvre, whose painting entitled Obama for President recalls those hopeful days in 2008 when change was in the air.

Dorothy’s Gallery
27, rue Keller
75011 Paris
Metro: Bastille
Open from Wednesday to Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Tuesday and Sunday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The exhibition ends on November 29, 2010.

Chef Tetsu Goya

Saturday, November 13th, 2010
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Chef Tetsu Goya
L'Epicure 108
(c) Discover Paris!

Chef Goya opened L’Epicure 108 restaurant in 1992, serving French and Alsatian cuisine. He has two seasonal menus, one for spring and the other for winter.

He enjoys preparing wild game for his customers—game fowl in September and October and large game in November and December. We recently dined there on Scottish grouse and truffled beef tail, and wrote a review about it for this month’s Le Bon Goût.

Access to the article is available to paid subscribers of our newsletter Paris Insights. To enter a subscription, click here.

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Fresh-Roasted Coffee at Brûlerie Daval

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
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Brûlerie Daval
(c) Discover Paris!

Passersby on rue Daval will not readily spot this shop selling fresh-roasted coffee. To find it, they have to turn down cour Damoye, a beautiful little passageway that leads to place de la Bastille.

Madame D’Amico opened the Brûlerie Daval with her husband shortly after the end of WWII. It has an old-time look, with open bags of roasted coffee beans on the counter displaying signs with hand-printed labels indicating the names and prices of the coffee. Bins of tea rise up on shelves behind the counter. Inside the shop there is a small table that can accommodate two coffee drinkers. A few tables and chairs stand on the sidewalk terrace in front of the store.

Madame D’Amico sells mostly blended coffees. She states that it is almost impossible to find an unblended coffee that is perfectly equilibrated: these may have too much perfume or too much acidity; if they have good flavor, they are not strong bodied; if they are strong bodied, they don’t have enough flavor; and so on.

I purchased 250 grams of “Nouveau Mélange Corsé” for 3.60€. Madame D’Amico would not divulge the specific coffees in the blend, stating only that one of the coffees was from Central America and the other was a Moka. I can understand her reticence at revealing the recipe. After all, top chefs do not want to reveal their secrets either!

Madame D'Amico
(c) Discover Paris!

Nouveau Mélange Corsé is an Italian roast—its beautiful dark-brown beans glisten with oil. Back at the apartment, I ground the beans and prepared the brew in a French coffee press. The coffee had a bold, robust flavor. As I drank it, I remembered learning that when coffee beans are dark roasted—as these are—it is mostly the roast that one tastes, not the beans themselves.

The second time I went in to buy coffee, Madame D’Amico quoted a few lines of poetry from Rimbaud and expressed her admiration for Beaudelaire. I ordered the “W. goût délicieuse,” which is a lighter roast than the Nouveau Mélange Corsé. I asked Madame D’Amico what the “W” stood for. She said that it is simply the name that she gave it so that customers could identify it if they wanted to order it again. I have not had a chance to brew and taste this one, as I have not yet finished drinking the Nouveau Mélange Corsé.

Madame D’Amico told me that she gets lots of customers from Japan. Apparently, her shop has been listed in Japanese guidebooks and reviewed in the Japanese press. She also said that a number of customers have requested that she ship coffee to them.

Brulerie Daval
12, rue Daval
75011 Paris
Open every day except Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Nouveau Melange Corsé
(c) Discover Paris!

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Discover Paris! and the Toni Morrison Society Conference in Paris

Sunday, November 7th, 2010
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Toni Morrison
(c) Discover Paris!

The Toni Morrison Society is holding its sixth Biennial Conference in Paris, France from November 4-7. Called Toni Morrison and Circuits of the Imagination, it is the first conference that the group has hosted outside the United States in its seventeen years of existence. Highlights of the event were the induction of Toni Morrison into the Legion of Honor; her receipt of the “Medaille de Grand Vermeil” from the City of Paris; a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye; and the dedication of a bench on rue Louis Delgrès, which is one of the sites in Paris where the city commemorates the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies.

Discover Paris’ role in the four-day conference was to give a tour of sites relevant to African / Diaspora history in the French capital. Monique Y. Wells, co-founder of the travel planning service, provided commentary to approximately one-third of the conference attendees during a three-hour bus tour that covered the city yesterday. Wells not only reminded participants of events such as the 1956 Congress of Negro Writers and Artists that was held at the Sorbonne, but also regaled the group with little-known facts about African-American personalities who lived in Paris during the 20th century. In particular, the story of painter Beauford Delaney’s final “Paris years” struck a chord with the group. Wells recently founded a non-profit association called Les Amis de Beauford Delaney to resurrect the memory of this painter.

Monique Giving Bus Tour Commentary
(c) Discover Paris!

Though it rained for much of the tour, the skies cleared sufficiently to allow the group to stop at Place Josephine Baker for photographs. Upon reboarding the bus, Wells relayed the story of Baker’s last performance run in Paris, which took place at the Bobino theater just a couple of blocks away from the square that now bears her name.

Participants Gathering for Group Photo
at Place Josephine Baker
(c) Discover Paris!

Among the various services that it offers, Discover Paris! has been providing private walking tours, self-guided itineraries, museum visits, and excursions on African-American history in the French capital since 2000. This set of activities has recently been rechristened Entrée to Black Paris™. Its new mission is to increase awareness of the contribution of all African Diaspora peoples to the richness and diversity of contemporary life in the French capital.

When asked to describe her reaction to the opportunity to participate in the Toni Morrison Society conference, Wells said, “It is an honor and a privilege to contribute to this historic event in support of Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison and the Toni Morrison Society. Since 2001, Discover Paris! has been working with the conference organizer Professor Janis Mayes on her Paris Noir summer study abroad program. We are very pleased that she selected us to be a part of this program as well!”

Delicious Memories of the Salon du Chocolat

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
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Miguel Laureau
Making a Chocolate Sculpture
(c) Discover Paris!

The 16th annual Salon du Chocolat was held last weekend at the Porte de Versailles in Paris. We attended one of the early salons, some 15 years ago or so, and remember that samples of chocolate were distributed in abundance. Though few exhibitors were giving away samples this year, enough free product was handed out to satisfy all but the most demanding of chocolate lovers.

The salon attracts exhibitors from all over the world. It features not only chocolate makers from countries such as France, Switzerland, and Belgium, but also cocoa-bean-growing countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, Madagascar, and Saõ Tomé and Principé.

Chocolate was exhibited in all its forms, and it was amazing to see what creative minds can do with it! There were standard chocolate products, such as chocolate bars, chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrups, and standard chocolate shapes, such as domes, squares, rectangles, and disks. But there were also chocolate sculptures and chocolate dresses! The latter were displayed on mannequins and were worn by live models during a fashion show that took place at 5 p.m. each day. Chocolate is more than a delightful sweet, it is a way of life!

The following pictures give an idea of the vastness of the salon and the variety of chocolate-based products that were exhibited.

Mademoiselle Cocoa by Victoire Finaz and Olivia Louvet
(c) Discover Paris!

Three Chocolate Fountains
by Baron Cocoa
(c) Discover Paris!

Chocolate Hats by Choc' Chaud
(c) Discover Paris!

Pouring a Bailey's Frostie
(c) Discover Paris!

Chefs Confering at the Meilleur Ouvrier de France Contest
(c) Discover Paris!

Chocolat Cinagra at the Planetequitable Stand
(c) Discover Paris!

See you at the salon next year!

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A Lively Tweet-up in Paris this Evening

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
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Kasia, Michelle, and Igora
(c) Discover Paris!

At least twenty-five Paris tweeps met at Café Livre on rue Saint-Martin to communicate in the old-fashioned way—by chatting face-to-face! Yes folks, even the most advanced form of high-speed, electronic communication known to mankind—Twitter—has not (yet) squelched the desire for humans to get together around a table and shoot the breeze.

So large was the group that it was forced to split into two parts, with sub-groups sitting on either side of the café. Even so, movement of individuals across the café from one group to another could be detected!

The café is a handsome place with wooden floors, a bar with a metal counter top, and walls lined with shelves filled with dozens of books. Hence its name Café Livre. But nobody was reading tonight; people were too busy in happy conversation!

There were new faces there amongst the familiar, but rather that trying to sort it all out, here is a list of their names, Twitter identities, and blogs:



Blog/Web site



















































Here are some additional pictures of the event:

Forest, Ana, and Cynthia
(c) Discover Paris!

Shannon, Tamara, Monique, and Mary
(c) Discover Paris!

Katia, Barbara, and Marlys
(c) Discover Paris!

Colette - A Future Tweep
(c) Discover Paris!

See you at the next Tweet-up!

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