Best of January

Dawn in the Sacré-Coeur gardens

2016 is off to a delicious start for me, and I hope it is the same for you! Here are some highlights from the month. Please share your own in the comments below: I want to know what you’ve been up to, in the kitchen and elsewhere!

Best of January

• I am perpetually blown away by the overall quality of baguettes in Paris. Just recently I walked into a semi-random corner bakery to appease my son’s late morning munchies, and walked out with the beauty pictured above. It was every bit as good as it looked, and as I pulled it apart for my son and his playground buddies to share, I reflected on how lucky they are to grow up thinking this is what normal bread is like. What’s the one local food you’re pleased your children (real or prospective) get to experience daily? (And if you don’t have access to a good French bakery, though, check out my recipe for stellar homemade baguettes.)

• I’ve had a couple of delicious lunches at Soul Kitchen, a charming coffee shop in the back of Montmartre that serves a super fresh, daily-changing fare with a vegetarian slant. It’s the kind of place so lovely you want to keep it in your pocket like a pretty pebble. Pictured above is a sunny veggie chili with homemade cornbread, and a side salad with quinoa, chickpeas, and orange segments.

• I’ve been wanting to improve my food photography skills, and have been learning A TON from the Minimalist Baker’s Food Photography School. Dana is a generous and relatable instructor, and the courses are broken down into short, easy-to-digest videos, so you can commit to watching just a couple every night — at least that’s what I’ve been doing. The lessons cover a lot of ground, from composing your shot and choosing the right angle and props, to taking action shots, setting the mood, and editing your photos, and it’s been amazingly enlightening and empowering. If you’re interested, you can sign up here. And you’ll have to let me know if you see a difference in my shots! (See my top resources page to see what photo equipment I use.)

• On a day that my son didn’t have school, we got to do a little baking together, which we don’t do nearly as much as I wish we did: he’s only recently reached the right age and maturity for it, but in the meantime a younger brother has been thrown into the mix (not literally, don’t call social services) and my good intentions got lost in the shuffle. But that day he and I baked a banana chocolate marble cake, and it was the purrr-fect project for four-hand baking: we each had our own batter bowl, one chocolate, one banana, and did everything in parallel. I’ll be sharing the recipe soon! (Plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free.) Is there a particular recipe you like to make with your own kids/nephews/godchildren?

Find my top Paris spots on this map of favorites, and follow me on Instagram to see many more food shots and Paris recommendations throughout the month!

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5 Cool Links

  1. I’ve signed up for this wonderful 31-day drawing challenge on CreativeBug, and have been having a blast with it. I’ve always thought of myself as average with a pencil and paper, but I enjoy the creative outlet so much. And you should see the chairs I’ve drawn! ^^
  2. The 100-Hour Rule states that you can become fairly competent in any field if you can invest just one hundred hours in it. 100 hours sounds so achievable! What skill do you most want to develop in 2016?
  3. I’ve just discovered the concept of the Pecha Kucha, a format for short presentations — just 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide. Have you ever come across this? There are Pecha Kucha Nights hosted around the world, and you can view some of the best presentations shown.
  4. In Paris without a centime? Here are fun things to do for free in the city.
  5. If you read French, check out the 1-minute project: every day in 2016, a new and inspiring idea is presented that takes just one minute to grasp (but possibly more to implement).

Follow me on Twitter and like the C&Z Page on Facebook for many more links throughout the month.

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  • I love your list. I cannot agree more about there being no bad bread in France. I live near Le Bugue, a small village in Dordogne, with 4 bakeries – all amazing! Although everyone has their favourite. My husband takes the photos for my blog and I am signing him up for the Food Photography School. Looks amazing.

    • Actually, my stance is that it’s hard to find bad bread in Paris, but there is PLENTY of bad bread elsewhere in France. You would think and hope that every little village bakery makes splendid bread, but I’ve often been sorely disappointed in places where there isn’t a lot of competition. So glad you have “l’embarras du choix” in your neck of the Dordogne woods!

      And I hope your husband gets as much value from the Food Photography School as I have. I hope you and/or he report(s) back!

  • rachelsloan79

    My year’s gotten off to a delicious start as well – I gave myself an Indian cookbook for Christmas and have been cooking out of it ever since the New Year! (The book is Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy Vegetarian, which is as unintimidating as the title suggests and I’ve loved everything I’ve tried from it so far – highly recommended.) I’ve also been enjoying exploring your map of Paris favourites… I’ve got a work trip there coming up in March and look forward to visiting a few of those places for real, rather than virtually. :)

    • Thanks so much for the book recommendation. I’ve always heard marvelous things about Jaffrey’s books but wasn’t sure where to start.

  • I’ve just started baking and cooking with my 2 and a bit year old and he just LOVES it. He wants to smell everything and try everything (though sometimes that definitely backfires!) but best of all likes using the spice grinder :) We made a German apple cake before Christmas, and last weekend made the (vegan gluten-free) banoffee pie from Anna Jones’s Modern Way To Eat. I am so happy he is so curious in the kitchen! I also had a couple of really fantastic food trips to Berlin and London in January, the highlights being tapas for lunch at Donostia (London) and a fantastic Sauerkraut and Strudel workshop in Berlin :)

    • How super sweet! It can be really fun when the child is old enough, and when the grownup is ready to let go. ^^

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