Archive for the ‘Americans in Paris’ Category

Award-winning Author Reviews Dining Out in Paris

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
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Dining Out in Paris

Indispensable! Tom Reeves’s Dining Out in Paris doesn’t just recommend places to eat. This is a guide book that decodes all the little customs, cultural quirks and expressions of speech a visitor to Parisian eateries will encounter. A longtime American expatriate who knows and loves his adopted city, Tom Reeves proposes restaurants that are off the beaten tourist tracks. Best of all, this book celebrates the multiculturalism of Paris, in all its variety and vibrancy. For visitors in search of an authentic Parisian dining experience, this book is indispensable!

Jake Lamar, author of Rendezvous Eighteenth and Ghosts of Saint-Michel.

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Paris under the Occupation – A Guided Walking Tour with Thierry Heil

Sunday, July 20th, 2014
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Lily Heise, our friend and manager of Context Paris, recently invited us to join a new walking tour that Context has organized called “Lights Out, Paris under the Occupation.”

Thierry Heil of Context Paris

Thierry Heil of Context Paris
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We met the group leader, historian Thierry Heil, at the Cadet metro station in the 9th arrondissement for a three-hour trek that began in the Jewish quarter that lies to the north of the Grands Boulevards and ended at place de la Concorde. Along the way, Thierry narrated somber stories of life in Paris under German occupation during WWII: razzias, deportations, executions, resistance, collaboration, denunciation, and finally liberation.

Plaque in Memory of Orville J. Cunningham

Plaque in Memory of Orville J. Cunningham
Located on Rue Boissy d’Anglas

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Heil pointed out buildings where the Germans established their headquarters, a synagogue and schools that Germans and their French police collaborators raided to capture Jews, plaques on walls that recalled executions and deportations, and locations of street battles between German forces and members of the French resistance. One plaque that he mentioned (that wasn’t on the walk) was placed in the memory of an American resistance fighter, Orville J. Cunningham, who was captured by the Germans on September 24, 1942 and executed on December 4, 1943.

Travelers to Paris who have an interest in French history or the history of WWII will find this walk to be fascinating and enlightening.

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Are We There Yet? – 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
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Author Shari Leslie Segall and publisher Lisa Vanden Bos have collaborated to produce a witty little book, 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French, in the guise of a checklist for Americans living in Paris to help them determine how well they have integrated into French culture.

Colorfully illustrated by artist Judit Halász, this concisely-written book challenges expat readers to reflect on how much they have adapted to what they initially must have perceived as quirky customs when they first arrived in the French capital: stores closed at inconvenient times, crossing the handwritten number 7, addressing people with the formal “vous” rather than the informal “tu,” eating bread without butter, putting on a stoic face—rather than a happy one—when walking down the street…the list goes on.

I took exception to a few of the depictions of the French, not finding them to ring true from my experience. But Segall has been living French corporate culture—she is a consultant in cross-cultural communication—and her experiences are necessarily different from mine. I find, for example, that the French are quite punctual, and I am always surprised when I hear people declare that they are not.

Americans living in Paris will enjoy reading this book, and those first-timers dreaming about living a Parisian adventure will profit from the knowledge they gain before setting foot in the City of Light.

90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French can be purchased on Amazon. Click here to learn more!

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Sally Hemings in Paris

Saturday, April 12th, 2014
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Marisa Williamson as Sally Hemings

Marisa Williamson as Sally Hemings
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Artist Marisa Williamson came to Paris recently in the guise of Sally Hemings, the slave-mistress of Thomas Jefferson. Williamson was turning a film about Hemings, who could have chosen to remain a free woman in Paris rather than return with Jefferson to the United States to live as a slave.

From left to right: Avery Williamson, Charlotte Bayer, Monique Y. Wells, Marisa Williamson

From left to right: Avery Williamson, Charlotte Bayer, Monique Y. Wells, Marisa Williamson
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Dressed in period costume, Williamson played the role of Hemings, a young woman who was “struggling to decide whether to claim her freedom in a foreign land, or return home…” She interviewed a number of African Americans to learn why they came to Paris and how they perceived themselves as blacks living in France.

Marisa Williamson and Monique Y. Wells

Marisa Williamson and Monique Y. Wells
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Williamson was assisted by Charlotte Bayer, who filmed the encounter of Hemings with our own Monique Y. Wells on a park bench in Paris, and her sister Avery Williamson, who photographed the shoot. The film is scheduled for release in August 2014.

Information about Marisa Williamson’s film project can be found here: Hemings in Paris.

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Meet Michael D. Poole – Chocolate and Pastry Maker

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
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Chef Michael D. Poole

Chef Michael D. Poole
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael D. Poole, firehouse chef from Seattle. He’s in Paris honing his skills on macarons, one of the products that he sells alongside his French chocolates back on the West coast.

Michael has been coming to Paris for a few weeks every year since 2000. He first came to study basic cooking at the Cordon Bleu and continued at that school year after year until he received the Grand Diplôme in 2003. He returns every summer to work with chocolate and pastry makers, learning new techniques and reviewing old ones. He has applied his skills to chocolate making and now sells French chocolates at six different retail outlets in Seattle, as well as on his Web site.

He recently began offering macarons at a couple of the retail outlets, hence his current interest in perfecting his macaron-making skills. This summer he is working at Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Pascal Pinaud on rue Monge, where he has learned to get the consistency he was seeking in his macaron batter (which consists of egg white, almond powder, and powdered sugar). He wanted his macaron shell to be a little bit firmer than what he’s been producing until now. Michael is a perfectionist in his craft and doesn’t stop until he gets it just right. Not that any of his customers back in Seattle were complaining, mind you!

Macarons

Michael’s Macarons
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Back in Seattle, Michael offers four different flavors of macaron to his customers: lemon, pistachio, coffee, and chocolate. He will soon add a fifth, orange. Hence, I purchased these five flavors, all of which he had made at Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Pascal Pinaud using Mr. Pinaud’s recipe. I took them home to try. Here are our tasting notes:

  • Lemon – mild, sweet lemon flavor
  • Pistachio – the almond in the macaron is more pronounced than the mild flavor of the pistachio.
  • Coffee – thick, creamy filling; relatively thin lower macaron shell.
  • Chocolate – this macaron felt heavy in the hand due to the density of the flavorful chocolate cream.
  • Orange – this was our favorite. A strong orange taste that reminded me of the Dreamsicle of my youth. My partner declared that it tasted like candied orange.

    All of the macarons had light but firm shells, which allowed us to pick them up without crushing the delicate crust. When bitten into, they were chewy. They all had a creamy filling.

    We think that Michael’s customers in Seattle will be pleased with the new orange flavor that he plans to introduce!

    Check out Michael’s Web site!

    And if you are in Paris, stop by Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Pascal Pinaud to try any of their nineteen different macaron flavors:
    70, rue Monge
    Tel.: 01.43.31.40.66

    Metro: Place Monge (Line 7)

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  • True Love on the Pont de l’Archevêché

    Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
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    California Couple

    A California Couple Locks In Their Love
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Yesterday while strolling across the Pont de l’Archevêché I spotted a couple reaffirming their love by attaching a love lock to the mesh of the guard rail.

    They told me that they are from Sacramento, California and that they were near the end of their two-week stay in Paris. Their children had given the trip to them as a gift. What a great idea!

    They also told me that they had been married for 32 years!

    Husband Prepares to Throw the Key

    Husband Prepares to Throw the Key
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    First the husband threw the key into the river, symbolically locking their love for another 32 years.

    Wife Prepares to Throw Spare Key

    Wife Prepares to Throw Spare Key
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Then the wife prepared to throw the spare key…

    Key Has Been Thrown

    Spare Key Has Been Thrown
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    …it’s gone! With no spare key around, that love has been locked in forever!

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    Tasting Cupcakes at the Paris Cookbook Fair

    Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
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    The Festival du Livre Culinaire was held from February 22 – 24 this year at the Carrousel du Louvre. There were publishers from around the world displaying their culinary books and non-stop conferences and cooking demonstrations for three days.

    Alisa Morov

    Alisa Morov
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    The first demonstration on Saturday featured Alisa Morov, an American who moved from Los Angeles to Paris in 2002 to found Sweet Pea Baking. Alisa showed the audience how to bake cupcakes. This may sound easy, but according to Alisa, it can be frustrating if you don’t combine the ingredients properly. Baking is chemistry, and Alisa explained how to do it correctly.

    Sifting the Flou

    Sifting the Flour
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Alisa said that some people who buy her cupcake cookbook (Sensational Cupcakes, Simon and Schuster, UK) complain that they don’t get good results. She said this is because they combine all of the ingredients at once, rather than following the step-by-step instructions. The trick is to combine the ingredients in stages so that they get a chance to react with one another chemically. And here was her big tip: use real buttermilk in the cupcakes, not a buttermilk substitute, such as regular milk mixed with lemon juice. Buttermilk, she said, is one of the ingredients that helps the cake rise.

    View from TV Camera

    View from TV Camera
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    And so we watched as she added flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, real vanilla, eggs, butter, buttermilk…all in the correct order…

    Putting Batter into the Cups - TV View

    Putting Batter into the Cups – TV View
    www.DiscoverParis.net

    …and then put the batter into the cupcake pan and pop the pan into the oven. Each cup was lined with a paper cupcake liner. Alisa said that cupcake liners are not necessary with modern non-stick pans, but that people like to peel the paper liner off their cupcake…it’s like opening a gift!

    Squeezing Pastry Bag

    Squeezing Frosting from the Pastry Bag
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Then she made buttercream frosting and squeezed the frosting from a pastry bag onto a batch of cupcakes that had already been made (the other cupcakes were still in the oven)…

    Cupcakes by Alisa Morov

    Cupcakes by Alisa Morov
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    …and distributed them. We each got one!

    The cupcake tasted rich and buttery. It had wonderful flavor but was too rich for my taste. Alisa staunchly defends the use of butter and heavy cream in her cupcakes and frostings, and she made comments during her presentation indicating that these products are not meant to be diet food. I found myself wondering why, in this era when Americans are becoming alarmingly obese from eating fat-filled and sugary foods, Alisa appears to blithely ignore the dangers that fat and sugar pose to health…clogged arteries and diabetes…just to name two.

    As is true for everything, moderation is key to consuming these cupcakes—particularly if you have a weakness for sweet and buttery baked goods!

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    We participate in Wanderfood Wednesdays. Head over there to explore food from around the world!

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    Alexandra Makes Chocolates

    Friday, December 14th, 2012
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    Alexandra Whisnant

    Alexandra Whisnant
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Alexandra Whisnant presented her chocolates last night at Mococha, our favorite chocolate shop on rue Mouffetard.

    She tells us that she fell in love with chocolate while studying for her physics finals at university. Her chocolates were sublime! I’m all for science when it can produce results like this.

    Alexandra Whisnat and Marie Gantois, Proprietor of Mochoca

    Alexandra Whisnat, Chocolate Maker and
    Marie Gantois, Proprietor of Mochoca

    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Alexandra’s chocolates will be on sale at Mococha through Valentine’s Day 2013. More information about her adventures with chocolate can be found on her Web site Gâté Comme des Filles.

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    Monique Y. Wells on 60 Minutes

    Monday, November 12th, 2012
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    Monique Y. Wells and David McCullough at U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Paris

    Monique Y. Wells and David McCullough at U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Paris
    Screenshot from 60 Minutes Video Segment

    Just when we were despairing that Discover Paris! co-founder Monique Wells might never get the recognition that she is due, we woke up this morning to a mailbox full of messages from friends in the U.S. declaring that they saw her on 60 Minutes last night. What a surprise! We rushed to our computer and watched the 60 Minute video segment and indeed, there she is at the U.S. Ambassador’s reception that was held on May 25, 2012 for two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough. Monique had approached Mr. McCullough and asked him to autograph her copy of his book, The Greater Journey — Americans in Paris.

    Monique Y. Wells and Tom Reeves at U.S. Ambassador's Reception for David McCullough

    Monique Y. Wells and Tom Reeves at U.S. Ambassador’s Reception for David McCullough
    Screenshot from 60 Minutes Video Segment

    To top things off, when we closely examined the video segment, we spotted ourselves standing together while we listened to Mr. McCullough’s talk. In this photo he lets out a cheer because he had just kissed British-American film and stage star Olivia de Havilland, who was attending the ceremony. Oh, lucky man!

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    Entrée to Black Paris Blog is One of 10 BEST Paris Blogs

    Saturday, October 27th, 2012
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    Monique Y. Wells’ Entrée to Black Paris blog is finally getting the recognition we believe it so richly deserves – it has been named one of 10 BEST Paris blogs by award-winning travel writer Mike Gerrard!

    Gerrard is a full-time, award-winning author, blogger, and publisher. His numerous publications about Paris include the Top 10 Paris – Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide (DK Travel; penned with his wife, Donna Dailey), Colors of Paris (Thunder Bay Press), and Paris: A City Revealed (Metro Books). As a man who knows the city intimately, he recently made his selection of 10 best Paris blogs. We were thrilled to find our blog among them!

    Here’s Mike’s description of Entrée to Black Paris:

    What it is: Monique Y. Wells covers a fascinating niche subject – black history, culture and contemporary life in Paris.

    Why we like it: Specialist passions make for some of the best blogs, and the relationship of Paris with its black population (for better or worse) provides some stimulating reading. Monique doesn’t just cover the well-documented ground of black writers, musicians and other artists in Paris’s past, like Chester Himes and Josephine Baker, but keeps it current by interviewing black chefs, lawyers and other prominent figures.

    Find Mike’s entire list of 10 BEST Paris blogs on the Web site 101 Holidays.