Sunday, July 29, 2012

Triple Threat Sunday Post: Review, Paris In July, & Weekend Cooking.

Do you ever feel like there is a clock ticking in the background of your life?  That has been a strange, overwhelming feeling I've had this week.  I'm sure that having online parent-teacher conference with my online job & work meetings this week all led me to this feeling that summer is ticking along.  Someone slow it down!

I'm still in the game for the Paris in July challenge, even though I feel like I need another month or two to finish all that I've started! Thankfully though, I've finished a great book that was a great challenge read & a great foodie book for Weekend CookingParis My Sweet makes me want to cook, travel, and all the good stuff of life!

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Part love letter to New York, part love letter to Paris, and total devotion to all things sweet. Paris, My Sweet is a personal and movable feast that’s a treasure map for anyone who loves fresh cupcakes and fine chocolate, New York and Paris, and life in general. It’s about how the search for happiness can be as fleeting as a sliver of cheesecake and about how the life you’re meant to live doesn’t always taste like the one you envisioned. Organized into a baker’s dozen of delicacies (and the adventures they inspired) that will tempt readers’ appetites, Paris, My Sweet is something to savor."

Review:  Looking back on that first and only trip to Paris, I'm still kind of sad that we didn't get a chance to explore the treats that the city had to offer.  Thankfully, I was in the group that decided to walk down to Lauderee to try out my first French macaron.  First of all, the store was such a pretty site to see, with pastel colors and sweet smells all around, that my senses were in overload.  I still remember what macaron flavor I picked out and tried first--salted caramel.  It was heaven.  I purchased a small box of these jewel-box delights, with everything from pistachio to cherry, and went on my way.  It was a harried exchange of euros and mercis, with a fast-paced walk back to the opera house, but we had our goodies!

The author, Amy Thomas, dedicates a chapter to these ethereal delights and describes them to us:
Those crisp but chewy, light-as-air meringue cookies...They're delicate yet persnickety.  A feat of mixing, folding, stirring, and timing.  A delightful combination of powdered sugar, finely ground almonds, and egg whites and not much else, save for the luxuriously creamy ganache or buttercream filling that holds the two cookies together.  Firm but tender, shiny yet ridged, with ethereally light shells and heavy middles, they're miniature studies of contrast--and deliciousness.  (105)
What's left to say that she has not, other than the innumerable varieties of flavor combinations that bakers are coming up with.  While I stuck with some pretty classic flavors, these little confections are coming in bold and crazy flavors like green tea, lemongrass, passion fruit, and green apple.  The sky is the limit, and whether you can head to Lauderee in Paris or Kee's Chocolates in NYC, macarons are the much deserved, sweet-treat craze of the moment.  
For me, reading Paris My Sweet was a journey with someone living the life I would love to live.  Because of that, I loved her candor in the book.  You get a real sense that in the midst of her love affair with the cuisine and culture of Paris, she saw its flaws and how it compared to the life she had left behind in New York City.  For every travel story, there really does seem to be "grass is always greener" version that we're not being told.  In this case, the author is very candid about the difficult time she had making friends, meeting men, and missing family.  I really appreciated her candor and felt that her story was less of a fairytale and more about opportunity and vision; she looked for moments to be thankful.  With the bitter though, came the sweet, and that was an even bigger part of her story--the food.  She recognized the invaluable opportunity she had before her, of living in Paris, and she wasn't going to waste it thinking about her New York home for too long.

Mainly told as a personal exploration of sweet delights, we are introduced to the styles of cooking in Paris and New York.  We see the difference in macarons, cookies, carrot cake, cupcakes, and Madeleines & muffins.  What a sweet journey it is!  The chapter on cookies seemed to be the strongest dissimilarity of any of the treats, as Paris prefers a lighter, crunchier cookie to our American mix of buttery-crunch with the chewy.  She also talked about how much she missed French Toast (ironic, right?), which is an American standard and treat for breakfast.  In Paris, however, they enjoyed la pain perdue, an eggy, caramely, bread-soaked dessert served after dinner.  Both were similar in some ways, but very, very different in others. 

I could go on and on about the confections and treats that author, Amy Thomas, shares in her book Paris My Sweet.  If you are at all a foodie or love to travel and soak in the culture through its food, you have to read this book.  My only sorrow is that I didn't have this book last year before we went to France!  Now, I have to make a trip to New York and Paris before these shops and goodies disappear.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a review copy of the book.

As mentioned earlier, this post was done in participation with two great challenges I'm joining in on.  Stop by these sites to see some more great recipes and posts for Paris in July and Weekend Cooking!

Paris in July is a challenge being hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea and Karen at Bookbath.  See their sites for more information and great posts about all thing French.  They have posts up about books, food, music, culture, etc. 

Weekend Cooking is a great, weekly post run by Beth Fish Reads.  There are some really great food-related posts there.  Stop by to check out other great posts from this weekend.


  1. Oh now you've done it. I was going to be good have a light summer dinner. Now I want pastries, cheese, bread, macaroons, chocolate, wine ... all kinds of Paris treats. :) I've said it before, but I really need to read this book.

  2. One of the docs I work with brought back these gorgeous chocolates for 3 of us and unbelievable macaroons for everyone else. Both were amazing. It sounds like this book is a first-class enabler.

    1. I'm so jealous! I've actually contemplated ordering some macarons online. Still contemplating...

  3. I always feel like the clock is ticking on life. =/

  4. This book has been languishing in my bookcase for far too long -- and you've definitely piqued my interest with your review! I can't wait to visit Paris someday, and hope I get to wander around dining on macarons, too. Thanks for a great review!

    1. It feels a bit travel book-ish at times, so be prepared, but I really enjoyed it. It will definitely make you want to travel!