When In France

photo: cafe la corona
A day unfit for dogs but fine for visiting strollers.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 21. December 1998:- A couple of weeks ago, Linda Thalman extolled the virtues of shopping in a French 'HyperMarché' in these pages. Last week, readers offered their pros and contras.

One of these hypermarché outfits came by and tossed a catalogue, disguised as a magazine called 'Winner' - Gagnant - into my letterbox. Its illustrations make life in the hyper-lane look very lush indeed, and not beyond the realms of the average pocketbook.

My first intention was to cut and paste together some of the ripe photos, to make sort of a college of the good life, as it looks on a plate in France. But I've never used clip-art and this isn't the time to start.

In this week's version of the Festive Program, I've listed the basic and fundamental ingredients necessary for a Réveillon meal. Here are a few other menus for the same occasion:

Tarte friande de truffes aux oignons et lard fumé
Homard aux truffes et marrons en cocotte lutée
Mignonnettes de chevreuil, poêlées à l'aigre-doux
Tarte au chocolat fondant

The wines to go with the above are Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Meursault, Pommard and the sweet wine, Maury, to go with the chocolate pie.

Here's another:

Foie gras d'oie en gelée au vin d'Arbois
Etrilles bretonnes dans leurs coquilles
Ris de veau piqué à la truffe et au lard fumé,
châtaignes croustillantes
Soufflé chaud à la mandarine
The wine: Vouvray

And finally:

Gelée d'oursins en coque au fondant de fenouil
Fricassée de noix de saint-jacques et
chou-fleur aux crevettes grises
Pithiviers de poule faisane, perdrix et grouse au genièvre,
coings confits et jus pressé à l'armagnac
Macédoine de fruits frais épicée, sorbet pomme et citron vert
The wine: Chablis

Bon appétit!

Last Minute Shopping

Since it is the season and you may be searching for last minute ideas, this week's Super Giant Jumbo shamelessphoto: pond tuileries plug is for the writers and publishers who have placed their wares on Linda Thalman's WFI server, for online sales.

The people below are real and live in or near Paris, have done their research here - so what they're offering are 'Paris' products - some of which are possibly only available via online purchase. Despite what all the gloom merchants may say, ordering goods online is no more risky than having hot pizza delivered to your door.

Since I am fond of author Thirza Vallois, the first plug is for her excellent 'Around & About Paris' series of in-depth books about Paris.

While I don't know the artist Alain Kleinmann, he also offers several of his books and 'An Artist' is his latest, I think.

Last summer I blew a chance to meet Rachel Kaplan at a garden party, because nobody thought to introduce us. Her Web site is called 'French Links' and on it you can find her 'Little-Known Museums In and Around Paris' and 'A La Découverte des Plus Belles Routes Ile-de-France.' She also has written books about obscure museums in London and Berlin.

Suzanne Forster's 'Insider's Guide to Paris Hotels Under $100 a Night' might be very handy, especially if I ever get around to offering the 'Metropole Paris Euro-Converter' and keychain. In the meantime, her prediction that this 'spellbindingly rich cultural center needn't clean out your savings account' may be true.

'Rachel Kaplan's Best Buys to French Chic in Paris'. What is hinted at sometimes in Metropole, is set out in full in this book about how to shop and get away with it with some money to spare for necessities, such as food and drinks.

The 'Leeds Good Value Guide to Paris Restaurants' by Adrian Leeds - is not only about 'good value,' but also about finding it in tidy photo: bhv facadesurroundings. Once, while having lunch with Adrian, she was so busy making notes about the tablecloths and curtains, that her meal got cold. Mine was fine through.

'The Best Biking Guide to Paris' is a brand-new book by Rose Burke. Rose has been writing about Paris since she arrived here with her husband in 1994 and began to look for a parking place. Last year when I met her she said they'd given it up and gotten bikes instead; so this book is not based on theory.

Rose has also included nine 'best bike rides around Paris,' descriptions of routes in Paris and around the Ile-de-France with kilometre-by-kilometre directions to two-wheel dream spots such as Versailles, Auvers-sur-Oise and Giverny. Quote Rose: "Paris is kinder to cyclists than most: geographically, meteorologically and psychologically." Rose obviously knows where the hills are and how to avoid them.

Finally, but by no means last, Editions Ellébore Paris has books and videos in French, and you can check out the titles in their catalogue. Many of the titles are for books about better living and improving your lifestyle. You may think living in France automatically takes care of this, but you can never know enough.

In Tocqueville This Week:

One of The Tocqueville Connection's main stories is about France's official reaction to the American effort to get some attention in the Middle East last week.

France's flinty Foreign Minister said he thought Saddam Hussein should pay attention to the message, while suggesting the US should try to think of more diplomatic ways of delivering it. Other French politicians did not see it this way; and thought there were plenty of other available diplomatic ways of making friendlier relations with Iraq.

More interesting, as usual, is Tocqueville's article by Patricia Ochs, about Paris at its Christmas frenzy - not a frenzy at all, she writes. "When you're out of breath, stop off at the Hotel Crillon's piano bar in the Place de la Concorde for a drink, but prepare to pay about 200 francs for a glass of Champagne. Ah, yes, the cost..." Heck, in Paris if you are worried about cost, you can get a plastic cup of near-champagne at 'Quick.' No tinkly piano though.

In another piece, Christine Creech gives some thought to prowling French online shopping centres, and adds a few warnings as well. She says when you may think you are clicking on some image to get more information, but you might be putting a 790 franc scarf in your shopping basket instead. Advice: click slower.

Now That You've Been Warned

French products from the provinces, made by hand, grown by hand, fashioned by hand, are brought togetherphoto: winter trees in a Web-link site that may be called France des Terroirs, which sort of means 'from out there.'

This site also warns users that they provide only links, and are not responsible for the sites they link to. They are responsible, however, for their own profusion of 'You don't have Java' warnings - which can be over-ridden on a well-built site, or are completely invisible. After you get by the hazards-built-by-geeks, there are a lot of links to a lot of stuff not found in Paris.

Eat On Line

This site promises to deliver sandwiches and a whole pile of other food ready to eat, to your door. Since it doesn't come through your modem, you don't actually 'eat on line.' With the options available, the idea is to pick a cooperating restaurant in your neighborhood - to your taste if possible - if you want to eat today. I don't mind enterprise, but the idea of eating is supposed to get you away from your modem. I don't even know why we have modems in France.

The Christmas Card?

I am not making this up. At the very moment I wrote the word 'France' above, I remembered that I told myself three days ago to do a Christmas Card for everybody; to put on the cartoon page. The part I am not making up, is I just remembered I forgot to do it. Geez. It is a small consolation, but I will immediately start to think about a New Year's Card, for 1. January 2000, right now.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 2.51 - 22. December 1997 - Thiscount down Eiffel Tower issue featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'Don't Ask Me to Look Out the Window' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Two Trials and a Nice Guy in Marseille.' The issue had two features: 'Downtown Strolling Without Snow' and ' A Modest New Years' Proposal - 311 Year-Old Café.' Last year's holiday season continued with 'Noël Program III - Even More Opera, Ballet, Theatre, Concerts and Events.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was subtitled, 'Greetings from Paris,' which must have been Metropole's 'remembered' Chirstmas Card.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 376 sweet little days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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