Last night while teaching a class on winter soups from Sunday Soup, I mentioned to my students that I had just returned from Paris where I had spent a good part of a three-week stay trying new restaurants. Whenever I give a course, I can’t stop, as a devoted Francophile, from talking about the French, their customs, their food, their art. So, it wasn’t surprising that at the end of this class several people (a few with plans to visit France this year) asked me to recommend some blogs, and web sites.
It then dawned on me that my followers would be interested in the French blogs and sites that I read. Here are my top five favorites.
: Kristin Espinasse, an American married to a French wine-maker in the South of France, recounts her daily life with her husband and two teenagers. In each of her three weekly posts, she includes French words and expressions in touching stories. At the end of each narrative, she lists the vocabulary words with definitions and an audio for pronunciation. I love her honest, direct style and have become one of more than 30,000 people reading her tales of French life.
Hungry for Paris
: Alec Lobrano, a former correspondent for Gourmet Magazine
and one of Paris’ best known American restaurant reviewers, has an amazing site filled with the latest news about restaurants in Paris and throughout France. His posts are detailed, intimately written and will make you long to be at the table with him.
John Talbotts’ Paris
– John Talbott posts several times every week on his restaurant forays in Paris. His style is brief and to the point, and his posts are filled with practical information and photos about the newest and most interesting places to dine in Paris.
Paris by Mouth:
This is a fabulous site about all things culinary in Paris. It’s a collaborative effort that includes restaurant reviews by such notable American writers as Alec Lobrano, John Talbot, and Patricia Wells. French gourmands as well offer their opinions. You’ll find information and reviews for restaurants, wine bars, pastry, bread, and cheese shops and more.
The Provence Post:
This is a blog written by Julie Mautner, an American who lives in St-Remy-de-Provence. You never know what Julie will post, but her style is so warm and engaging that I always read every word. One day she might describe an art exhibition or a concert in a nearby town; on another she shows you the photo of a fabulous villa for sale in her area. She might share a favorite restaurant or culinary experience another time. With each post, she makes you wish you were living in Provence.
They take eating outside seriously in the South of France. The house we rented in Provence, like most in the region, included a terrace. Right off the living room and the bedrooms was a beautifully stoned area covered by an overhead arbor of trailing wisteria. It was an irresistibly inviting spot to read, snooze, or enjoy a meal. Our family loved snacking and lunching at the round metal table surrounded by those quintessential French folding chairs. Many afternoons we spread tapenade on crusty baguette slices, tried different cheeses, and sipped rosé, and midday we often savored lunch outdoors.
One of the easiest déjeuners I prepared included Goat Cheese and Radish Panini. I spread slices of good peasant bread with creamy chèvre scented with lemon, and then added a layer of paper-thin radish slices, and a mound of arugula. There was no panini machine in our kitchen so I simply cooked the sandwiches in a heavy skillet coated with olive oil until the cheese melted and the bread was lightly browned and crisp. Olives, French pickles, and chips made simple garnishes.
Picholine, Niçoise, and countless other varieties abound in Provence’s markets. Black and green tapenades are produced from the local crops, and make great appetizers to spread on crusty baguette slices. Of course, olive oil is sublime in Provence, and replaces butter in most recipes.