Noel, Now in Paris, Bookstores, Extraordinary Flavors & Dangerous Math …

Like most years this millennium, spent the holidays in the countryside about 50 miles from Paris.  Relaxing and calm, laughter and indigestion.

Joyeux Noel

Joyeux Noel

Holiday desserts mean good times, especially the galette des rois (“cake” of the kings), which is only available a few days (give or take) before and after the Christian holiday of Epiphany.  Simple but really tasty, especially when served warm, the cake is filled with two things:  (1) Frangipane, a stuffing made of almond and (2) a small toy trinket which, if found in your slice of cake, gives you the right to be king for the day (if you’re a kid and have tolerant parents).

Galette des Rois

Galette des Rois

A couple more American chains opened in Paris this last year, one noteworthy for the building it’s in and the other, for the taste it brings.  Abercrombie & Fitch opened a store along the Champs-Elysees that looks like something fit for royalty.  You enter through a gate trimmed with gold, walk along a perfectly manicured pathway to the main entrance doors, also trimmed out in gold.

Ambercrombie & Fitch Entrance - Champs-Elysees

Ambercrombie & Fitch Entrance – Champs-Elysees

Ambercrombie & Fitch Entrance - Champs-Elysees

Ambercrombie & Fitch Entrance – Champs-Elysees

If you make the mistake of stepping on one of the square patches of grass along the way, there is a guard there carefull watching each patch telling you to stay off.  Once you enter, you’re greeted by the now-famous shirtless male model and as you move around, you see plenty of female employees scantily dressed serving no other purpose than adding to the ambiance by dancing in place.  Not your typical shopping experience.

Ambercrombie & Fitch - Champs-Elysees

Ambercrombie & Fitch – Champs-Elysees

Ambercrombie & Fitch - Champs-Elysees

Ambercrombie & Fitch – Champs-Elysees

The other notable opening this year is, yes, a Chipotle Mexican Grill.  Finally tried it and it really does taste just like it does in the US.  Not the most refined cuisine out there but it does well in the belly when the urge for Mexican pops up.

Chipotle Mexican Grill - Boulevard Montmartre

Chipotle Mexican Grill – Boulevard Montmartre

The French Still Flock to Bookstores – from the NY Times:

PARIS — The French, as usual, insist on being different. As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States and Britain, the book market in France is doing just fine. France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent.  To read the article, CLICK HERE.

In past blog postings, I’ve mentioned one of my favorite spots on earth:  Fatamorgana gelato in Rome.  Never experienced anything like it.  If you go to Rome, you’d be a fool to miss trying this place.  If I had to choose between seeing the Sistine Chapel or trying Fatamorgana, the most difficult part of that decision would be which flavors to choose.  Speaking of which, here’s a PARTIAL list of some of the flavors they make, all organic (but only some of which are available at any one time):

ANDALUSIAN GAZPACHO
ROSEMARY CHOCOLATE
TZATZIKI
CARROT CREAM
PEPPER CREAM
SALTY NOUGAT
ROSE, ORANGE AND HIBISCUS FLOWERS
PEAR AND GORGONZOLA CHEESE
PUMPKIN WITH CARAMELIZED SEEDS
BASIL, HONEY AND WALNUTS
PINK VENUS (BLACK RICE AND ROSEBUDS)
LAPSANG SOUCHOUNG CHOCOLATE (SMOKED BLACK TEA)
APHRODITE (CELERY AND LIME)
SEADAS (SARDINIAN PECORINO CHEESE, CHESTNUT HONEY AND ORANGE PEEL)
LITTLE DEVIL (PACHINO TOMATOES AND HABANERO CHILI)
DUKKHA (THREE-SPICE NUT)
MOZZARELLA CHEESE
DATTERINO (SICILIAN TOMATO)
SALTED MOULATTA (MILK CHOCOLATE WITH SALTED CARAMEL)
TAGGIASCA BLACK OLIVES AND DRY MARTINI
CARAMELISED POPCORN, CHIPS AND RED CAMPARI
GORGONZOLA CHEESE
PARMESAN CHEESE
BRIOCHES
RICOTTA CHEESE AND FRUIT MUSTARD
BRUSCHETTA
GOAT RICOTTA CHEESE WITH TRUFFLE HONEY
WILD FENNEL
FOSSA PECORINO CHEESE
LOBSTER AND VODKA
WASABI CHOCOLATE (CHOCOLATE WITH EASTERN HORSERADISH)

Ever seen anything like that?

Read an article this last week that included a quote I quite enjoyed; the last line I think is good advice for anyone:

“Mathematicians find the concept of infinity so useful, but it can be quite subtle and quite dangerous,” said Ian Stewart, a mathematics researcher at the University of Warwick in England and the author of “Visions of Infinity,” the latest of many books. “If you treat infinity like a normal number, you can come up with all sorts of nonsense, like saying, infinity plus one is equal to infinity, and now we subtract infinity from each side and suddenly naught equals one. Youcan’t be freewheeling in your use of infinity.”

Happy 2013 wishes to all … and can’t wait to see McKenna in Paris soon!

Some photos of the week:

Cat House

Cat House

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel

Little girl along the Champs-Elysees

Little girl along the Champs-Elysees

Old men along the Champs-Elysees

Old men along the Champs-Elysees

In the category of "Things you see in Paris"

In the category of “Things you see in Paris”

New Year's Eve at the boulangerie

New Year’s Eve at the boulangerie

Chipotle menu in French

Chipotle menu in French

Colorful Poles - rue Charlemagne

Colorful Poles – rue Charlemagne

26 weeks

26 weeks – Luxembourg Gardens

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