Best of June

Paris Courtyard Fountain

The pretty fountain that greeted me in the coolness of a Parisian courtyard at the height of our June heatwave.

• In June, we celebrated Father’s Day with lunch at brasserie La Mascotte, one of our neighborhood favorites, where Maxence shared mussels and fried smelt with his two adoring boys.

• If you’re curious to know what I eat in a day, you can find out over at MindBodyGreen! I am starting a collaboration with this site, which I love, and they’re asking me to cover all kinds of things people want to know about French women’s approach to health, beauty, and lifestyle. If there’s a question you’ve been dying to ask, please let me know and I’ll add it to my list!

• German newspaper Die Zeit also did me the honors this month and featured a few of my recipes around the theme of French picnics. If you want to practice your German, it’s right here.

Related: My Best Picnic Recipes.

• I developed a serious restaurant crush on Pink Mamma, the new restaurant from the trailblazing Big Mamma Group, which just opened in my hood, mere steps from Place Pigalle. Like all restaurants of the group, they serve pizzas and pasta and antipasti, but the star of the show is the meat, which is French and raised by them directly.

I shared a photo of Maxence’s rib steak below, but I confess I didn’t feel like eating meat, so I got the gorgeous caprese salad instead. The place is a total knock-out, especially the top floor under the glass roof, and every detail is carefully chosen, every square inch thoughtfully decorated. Reasonable prices, and not yet as crazy-crowded as the others, so now’s a good time to go!

Pink Mamma

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Vegetarian Batch Cooking for Summer: 1-Hour Prep, 6 Meals!

Vegetarian Batch Cooking for Summer

In addition to planning my menus, I have been doing more and more batch cooking these past few months.

The idea of batch cooking is to block out time one day of the week to prep or cook a bunch of ingredients in advance, which you can draw from and combine for low-effort homemade meals the rest of the week.

It is the shortest path to feeling like a kitchen superhero, saving you brain juice and money along the way.

And today, I am offering you the vegetarian batch cooking plan for summer I’ve created and test-driven with great success: 1 hour of prep work for easy 6 meals on subsequent days.

  • Meal #1: Ratatouille and Rice Bowl — the beauty and simplicity of an in-season roasted ratatouille, served over rice to mop up the juices.
  • Meal #2: Bell Pepper and Chickpea Green Salad — a simple stir-fry of bell peppers, onions, and chickpeas over simply dressed greens drizzled with tahini sauce.
  • Meal #3: Ratatouille Wraps with Eggs and Tahini — inspired by a delicious sandwich from Miznon in Paris!
  • Meal #4: Zucchini Pasta with Olive and Almonds — super easy pasta dish ready in the time it takes to cook the zucchini.
  • Meal #5: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Olives and Almonds — the same topping brings zest to roasted sweet potatoes.
  • Meal #6: Everything Salad with Avocado and Eggs — turning bits and bobs from the previous meals into a lovely salad so the process is entirely waste-free!

Below you will find:
– A shopping list (of which you can get a free printable) — everything is available from the organic store or supermarket (they cost around 30€ ($34) in my store; your mileage may vary),
– Your instructions for the prep work — allow for about 1 hour of active time, and 1 1/2 hour in total,
– Your instructions for each of the six meals — active time ranges from 5 to 15 minutes, time to table from 10 to 30 minutes,
– Suggestions of variations to adapt the plan to various dietary constraints.

If you’re new to batch cooking, this plan is an easy and lovely way to dip your toes in and see how deliciously freeing it is. If you’re an experienced batch-cook, I hope it provides some ideas to enrich your current practice. And please share your best tips with us!

And if you find this first plan helpful and useful, I will offer you a new one at the start of each new season; let me know how that sounds.

In passing I recommend these French-made glass containers for storing your preparations (I have two sets; they nest perfectly and take up very little room) and this dual kitchen timer to keep track of two preparations at the same time!

Without further ado, here’s your vegetarian batch cooking plan for summer!

Vegetarian Batch Cooking for Summer

This is what you’ll make during the 1-hour prep time.

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10 Tips for Picking a Paris Restaurant

Paris Restaurant

All photos in this post by Anne Elder.

Whether you live in Paris or you’re just visiting, chances are you spend a lot of time thinking, reading, talking, and fretting about restaurants.

It’s entirely natural. Paris is an international capital of good food and gastronomy (the birthplace of it, even) so you want to make every meal count, yet you know its 40,000 restaurants are not created equal.

This is fertile ground for FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and its sneaky cousin, FOPTWR (Fear Of Picking The Wrong Restaurant).

So before you make yourself crazy, let me offer you my Ten Paris Restaurant Tips.

Tip #1: Be clear on your wants and needs

This is the most basic thing, but many people skip that part.

Before you go down the rabbit hole of searching for “Best Restaurants in Paris”, take a moment to list (in your mind or on paper) the features you’re looking for. How many people are you eating with and what kind of diners are they? What style of cuisine are you into? What kind of ambiance do you want to spend the night in? What price level do you want to go for? Any food preferences or dietary constraints?

Keep all of those at the forefront of your mind during your search, so you can swiftly brush aside anything that looks kinda cool but isn’t the focus du jour. A huge time saver.

10 Romantic Things to do in Paris

Tip #2: Follow the locals

It is generally more reliable to get recommendations from people who actually live in the city, and can put a restaurant, chef, cuisine, or trend in the context of many more dining experiences. This is not to dismiss the reports of short-term visitors; I myself like to write about my forays in other cities, but I don’t claim expertise and expect my readers to double-check against local sources.

Take the time to identify a few locals (native or not) whose voice and opinions resonate with you, whose dining temperament seems to align with yours, and follow their restaurant adventures. It can be bloggers, magazine columnists, or collective websites; what matters is that there be a consistent viewpoint from one review to the next.

I like to follow friends such as Caroline Mignot, Lindsey Tramuta (author of The New Paris!), and Aaron Ayscough. I get the weekly review from Le Fooding and the My Little Paris newsletter. I use the website Paris by Mouth and keep an eye on Esterelle Payany’s reviews in Télérama and François-Régis Gaudry’s blog at L’Express (he has a TV show on Paris Première and a radio show on France Inter if you can’t get enough of him). I don’t read everything they write (hello, overwhelm!), but when I need fresh recommendations, these are my go-to’s. (For content written in French, Google Translate is your friend!)

I have no use for crowd-sourced review websites: without knowing the people writing and their background, the litany of random opinions is meaningless to me.

Planning a trip to Paris?

I am available to take you on a private walking tour to show you some of my favorite food spots. Please get in touch and I will be happy to provide more details!

Paris Restaurant

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Slow Cooker Filipino Chicken

Slow Cooker Filipino Chicken

I have been meaning to share my review of the Instant Pot for a while now, and since I’ve received several inquiries about it, today I am sharing my recipe for this Slow-Cooker Filipino Chicken Adobo, and taking the opportunity to tell you about this seven-in-one appliance I love.

I have been hearing about the Instant Pot for years through the cooking websites I read, and my interest grew and grew as I noticed the adoration some bloggers have for it. It is an appliance sold by a Canadian company, and offers seven main programmable features. It is all at once:

  • A slow-cooker, for low-temperature cooking over several hours,
  • A pressure cooker with two pressure settings, high or low,
  • A sauté pot, to brown ingredient before stewing or pressure cooking,
  • A rice cooker, to cook rice, grains, and legumes,
  • A steamer,
  • A yogurt maker,
  • A hot plate to keep dishes warm, which is very convenient for entertaining and parties.

I finally took the plunge and bought myself the 6-quart model last fall, taking advantage of a good deal on Amazon. I immediately adopted it, thereby replacing my pressure-cooker, my steamer, and my yogurt maker, which I gave away or sold. (For now we are keeping our rice cooker because we are very attached to it; I told you about it when I shared my recipe for coconut spiced rice.)

Slow Cooker Filipino Chicken

My Instant Pot, available on Amazon.

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French Gift Ideas for Father’s Day

French Gift Ideas for Father's Day

Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June in many countries in the world, including the United States and France. In 2017, we will celebrate la fête des pères on June 18.

If your Papa (or significant other, if you’re getting him something on behalf of your children!) is a lover of all things French, I have gathered a long list of French-inspired gift ideas that will show how much you love him, and how highly you think of him.

Not knowing the particular tastes of your own father, I readily admit to playing into a number of gender generalizations; I hope you’ll forgive me. Feel free to draw even more ideas from my French Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day and my Best Gifts for the French-Loving Cook.

Bonne fête to Papas everywhere!

Father’s Day Cards

I love these two cards — whimsical and very French.

Super papa fathers day card

This one has glitter on the moustache.

Mon coeur est a papa card

This one says “My heart belongs to Papa.”

Moustache Mug

moustache mug

This mug doubles up as a fun game: you have to guess who each famous moustache belonged to.

Opinel folding knife

Opinel folding knife

The legendary French folding knive still manufactured in Savoie! A very affordable little gift.

Corsican folding knife

Corsican folding knife

For a slightly bigger budget, I love the slender look of that Corsican knife, manufactured in the center of France.

Pencil holder and desk organizer
Pencil holder and desk organizer

A desk organizer or pencil holder is a typical gift made by French kids at school for their Papa, who then think of them every day at the office. If you prefer to buy it than craft it, I like this leather one.

Vacuum wine sealer

Vacuum wine pump

Handy and efficient to preserve wine in half-empty bottles; Maxence and I use this one all the time.

Wine decanter spouts

Wine decanter spouts

It’s frustrating to pour wine and have that little drop dribble down the bottle and stain your tablecloth. No more with these reusable pouring spouts!

Decanting wine carafe

Decanting wine carafe

Some precious wines need a little decanting time to express their full personality, and owning a decanting carafe makes one feel very accomplished. If you can, get your dad the matching stand to dry the carafe fully between uses.

Wine/Beer Passion Journal

Wine and Beer Passion Journals

If your father is serious about his wine or his beer, get him a passion journal to organize his tasting notes!

Metro map of French wine regions

Wine map

This is such a fun print: it represents all the French growing regions in the style of a metro map. Get this simple picture frame for it.

Online French Lessons

Frantastique French Lessons Online

Has your father always wanted to learn French? Sign him up for Frantastique, a fun and well-crafted French course delivered by email, that he can customize to his level and preferences.

By using this link, Chocolate & Zucchini readers get one month totally free. It would be so fun for you and your Papa to try out the service together, non?

Paris Passport Holder

Paris passport holder
If your father does a lot of traveling, perhaps you can give him a passport holder? I like this vintage traveler’s design, but there are many more to choose from. And if your dad is also a fan of Harry Potter, this one will keep him smiling through every flight delay.

Mon Papa children’s book

Mon papa children's book

The popular children’s book is just as cute and popular in its French edition.

Coloring book for cool dads

Coloring book for dads

This is a really fun coloring book that markets itself as a manly coloring book. For the artistic dad!

Papa shirts

Classy papas deserve cool shirts.

Papa shirt

Papa shirt

Super Papa Magnets

Super Papa magnets

Cute magnets for your superhero of a dad!

French Men’s Soaps

French men's soaps

This assortment of French soaps in masculine fragrances comes in a nice gift box.

Deodorant and after-shave alum block

deodorant and after-shave alum block

This natural alum block is a traditional remedy for shaving nicks and cuts. Comes in a charming old-school package.

Habit Rouge by Guerlain

Habit Rouge by Guerlain

My Papa smells the best, and this is his secret.

Pétanque set

Petanque set

You know what would be really fun? Playing pétanque with your dad! Get him this starter kit and immediately set a date for your first game.

Milk chocolate bar from Pralus

chocolate from Pralus

This bar of milk chocolate garnished with praliné and hazelnuts will delight sweet-toothed fathers. Made by French bean-to-bar chocolatier François Pralus.

Vincent Delerm’s A Présent

Vincent Delerm's A Present

The latest album from one of my favorite French songwriters.

Bénabar’s Inspiré de faits réels

Bénabar's Inspiré de faites réels

Another one of my favorite French singers.

French Feasts by Stéphane Reynaud

French feasts by Stéphane Reynaud

A best-selling cookbook of French recipes for every occasion.

Or his Barbecue & Grill

Barbecue and Grill by Stéphane Reynaud

If your father is a barbecue champion, perhaps he’ll enjoy adding a little bit of Frenchness to his practice.

The French Market Cookbook

The French Market Cookbook

For dads who also like vegetables, and those who grow their own, my cookbook of French vegetarian recipes will give them lots of fresh ideas.

Paris Walking Tour

Paris walking tour

If your Papa has a trip to Paris planned in the coming months, consider booking him a private walking tour with me! Please get in touch and we’ll discuss the possibilities.

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase through them, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. All opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for your support of my work.

French Gift Ideas for Father's Day : Does your Papa love all things French? This Father's Day, treat him to one of my French Father's Day Gift Ideas!

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