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Paris Breakfasts Gourmet Paris Maps in Watercolour

Carol Gillott is an American artist who has been living in Paris full time now for 3 years.  As soon as I started following her popular ParisBreakfasts blog a few years ago, it didn’t take long to become hooked on such an artistic eye’s view of life in Paris and open my own eyes to a different perspective on a city I’d lived in for over 20 years.

Watercolour map of Ile Saint Louis ice cream from Teatime in Paris

Carol particularly loves the gourmet side of the City of Light. Whether it’s varieties of cherries or Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes floating around the Eiffel Tower, she always manages to paint Paris dreams. It’s no surprise that ice cream also makes a lip-smacking feature, as she lives just a stone’s throw from the Parisian ice cream institution on Ile Saint-Louis.

Paris Breakfasts Eiffel Tower watercolours

While I tend to look up at historical plaques on buildings and put my foot in it (twisted my other ankle this way last month), Carol is more down to earth – spotting spectacular shoes and colour-coded fashions of those around her. I always wondered about the fascination in chaussures until she explained her background in designing shoes which took her around in the fashion world from NYC, Hong Kong, India, and Italy.

As she says herself, her Mom taught her watercolors at 5 and she’s still at it, painting for Champagne Mumm, Peggy Porchen, Guerlain, The Russian Tearoom, the Maharana of Udaipur, and … for my book, Teatime in Paris!

Carol Gillott of Paris Breakfasts sketching maps

When Carol agreed to work on a delicious map as the endpapers of the book, I was overcome with excitement seeing her at work in her studio as she started sketching out ideas based on the book’s recipes.  I knew she was mad about maps already, but I had no idea that this was her first gourmet map of Paris in the making!

hot chocolate and garden maps

Imagine having a wonderful excuse to taste what she paints: as I brought a few madeleines, chouquettes, and buttery financiers from the book, Carol made us the most exquisite hot chocolate with grated cinnamon.  And while we sipped on the chocolate, I realised that we were surrounded: even her placemats were maps of the gardens of Versailles.  And before we knew it, the book was launched in May this year.

Teatime in Paris endpapers map watercolour by Carol Gillott

Then in June, Carol presented us her map of Rue du Bac, which was perfectly fitting for the sweetest street in Paris’s brand new annual event, the Bac Sucré.  Her subscribers were also receiving such treats in the mail while last week, Chef Conticini from La Pâtisserie des Rêves also fell under Carol’s mapping spell.

Rue du Bac map in watercolor by Carol Gillott

And just look what continued? Rue Mouffetard, Rue du Cherche-Midi, Rue Montorgeuil, Rue de Martyrs, Ile-Saint-Louis ….

Paris maps in watercolour by artist Carol Gillott

These foodie streets could all be yours and it’s not too late before Christmas, although you’ll need to hurry to receive Carol’s Paris monthly sketches and maps in your Mailbox.

Paris Breakfasts in your mailbox

Don’t you just love to get mail in the holidays?  Especially from Paris…

Going Macarons at the Paris Salon du Chocolat

How come I’ve never been before? It took my talented artistic American friend, Carol Gillott of ParisBreakfasts, to entice me along finally to the 2011 Salon du Chocolat in Paris. Was I too busy making macarons? Perhaps more because it’s at Porte de Versailles, an area that’s a nightmare to park and with all the exhibition halls for someone with no sense of direction, it’s like suffering an orienteering course for a sports exam when it’s not your sport. Arriving seriously late with a lame excuse of being too nice in traffic jams, she was an angel to still take me under her wing.

Who was more mad about macarons? Check out Carol’s eye-catching gear of tee-shirt and matching macaron bracelet. Not difficult to lose her – although she might tell you the opposite. Each stand visited, we were greeted with “Superb T-Shirt!” followed by more chocolate tastings, thanks to her savoir-faire.

Carol knows a thing or two about Paris fashions – not surprising, as she has the artist’s eye. Macarons are definitely à la mode (by that I don’t mean the American ice-cream on top, I’m talking trendy Parisian fashion here.)

See?  Macaron ruffled necklaces are obviously in.

Another necklace – this time just like her bracelet, plus macarons dotted around the dress.

Should I perhaps give some macarons to the French fashion creator, Jean Colonna? We could create Le Colonna macaron dress. Just an idea…

Meanwhile, looking around, it’s macarons galore – perfect for a macaron blog.

A rather foxy (get it?) macaron-shell tower in all its glory by Gregory Renard and then his Eiffel Tower of macarons…

While we’re gazing at the Paris monuments, what about l’Arc de Triomphe by Léonidas?  It’s the one time I can negotiate the traffic around it without needing a bumper or aspirin.

Eye-spy, my little eye falls on chocolate-dipped macarons by Christophe Roussel.

Then a tasting over at Arnaud Larher‘s stand, even if the taster macaron bits were so near yet so far behind the counter. Pain d’épice (gingerbread) and orange. What a gorgeous filling texture, although I didn’t really get the orange, sorry.  Hm – what’s that electric green colouring for pistachio? Never mind, it’s delicious!

Quite the chocolate treat from Arnaud Larher: these are chocomacs. They’re not macarons but chocolates in the shape of macarons. Now when you see macaron molds, you understand it’s not to make macarons but chocolate-shaped macarons.

There’s also a Professional Salon du Chocolat downstairs, including packaging, equipment and all kinds of tricks for the trade. This macaron-making machine might be rather bulky for the kitchen, n’est-ce pas? It also looks rather complicated but worth it if you need to make macarons in their thousands daily. Give me the simple piping bag any day.

Meanwhile, time to check out the World Chocolate Masters 2011. It’s serious business between the top chocolatiers strutting their stuff until something catches my eye in the audience. I should really learn to concentrate.

Imagine this blissful scene: somebody is just sitting with their arms out, holding these miniature macaron beauties.  Of course, I asked if I could try just one since I LOVE macarons. Wouldn’t you do the same on seeing this sight?

This was a Grand Marnier mini macaron, with a macaron shell on top of the most exquisite chocolate by Spruengli in Switzerland. What lovely people!

Then came Sébastien Bouillet. He’s a pâtisserie legend in Lyon and his speciality?

The Macalyon.  It’s a salted caramel macaron dipped completely in 70% dark chocolate.  Only €6.80 for a box of four…

It was with his Macalyon that I was inspired with this bitter chocolate macaron for the book, but only dipping it in half. Then Christophe Roussel also does it. What do you think? Personally I prefer seeing a macaron’s feet, rather than hiding it all. Although…

Chocolate macaron from my book, “Mad About Macarons”

 

My chocolate! Is that the time already? Now if I was really Smart, I could get in this nifty Salon du Chocolat special edition car and whisk myself home, weaving in front of the crazy drivers, just in time for school pick-up. It’s sweet but macarons were missing on it, don’t you think?

If you’re in Paris, then do check it out: the Salon du Chocolat is still open until Monday 24 October!

It’s guaranteed you’ll have a smashing time!

Ah. Just as well I’d made more chocolate macarons back home for dessert. All this chocolate is making me crave more.  I wonder why?

X-ray of a Macaronivore’s Spine

Things are a bit slow this morning. Who am I kidding? It’s afternoon already and still in pyjamas but what a spectacular firework display last night and fun on Bastille Day, our Fête Nationale en France. I’ll do a post on it but in the meantime, here’s something I want to share with you all.

You’ve got to laugh.  I must be mad to have let this go on for so long.

This could also happen to YOU if you’re not careful.

At the end of May I seized up in front of the computer – just like that.  Stuck in my chair in absolute agony. Doctor came next day, confirmed it was a “sore back” without any examination, “see the physiotherapist”, take painkillers (the ones that gave me an ulcer last time, thank you) and you’ll be as right as rain. Why do people say that?  “Right as rain.”  How can rain be right?

What’s up doc? Shouldn’t we point that the other way?

Things worsened, doc came back same time next week, then the next, then the next.  He was impressive at bringing out the credit card machine, to be fair. I couldn’t even get in the car without seizing up. And I still had no idea what was wrong. Meanwhile, making macarons was one of the few things I could still do…

Macarons for the end of year school bake sale…

After seeing doc#2 six weeks later, infiltration treatment was on the menu for a herniated disc. Following the injection, doc warned, “You may just get a sore head, in which case lie flat”. Mon Dieu! He didn’t tell me I would be flat out for over a week with the most skull crushing headaches, propping myself up with orthopedic pillows, not even able to talk but “carry on as normal” chatting on Facebook, blogging to take my mind off things.  I just couldn’t speak or sit up, that’s all.

This week was the first time I woke up without having the impression that someone was drilling through my head.  In any case, carry out pizzas and sushis were enough motivation to get back in that kitchen. Then came the revelation. I could just see it. Book 2: Mad About Blogging and a Herniated Disc. This photo could be for the book’s spine.

X-ray of a macaronivore’s slipped disc

What would be the main theme of the book?
SIT PROPERLY AT THE COMPUTER! We can all get carried away in front of that screen at times but PLEASE, be careful.  Ensure that you’re sitting with the screen at eye level and have a good posture. I should have read Carol Gillott’s blog post on bad backs at Paris Breakfasts

And now for something completely different…

I’m so excited. Mad About Macarons is featured on THE PARTY TIMES ONLINE, the online magazine that accompanies Party Pieces. A couple of recipes from the book are featured, courtesy of Waverley Books, plus they have now posted a fabulous international competition for you all.  Just pop on over and tell them why you think the macaron is so special...

Party Times Competition to
Win 10
Mad About Macarons! books

Go on, I don’t have to tell you that they’re gluten free, only about 80 calories each, beautifully crispy meringue shell on the outside with a velvety, voluptious centre, so luxurious, lighter than a cupcake, etc. Be creative!  You may just be one of the 10 lucky winners.

And don’t forget to tell your friends – they don’t have to be macaronivores.  Although they soon will be… 😉

A Mad Macaron Weekend in Paris

 

mad about macarons poster booksigning

What a weekend. Still recovering, I’m now bunged up with a horrible cold to welcome Spring 🙁  I’m sure some of you heard that it was the Fête du Macaron in Paris.  Did YOU get your dose of macarons?  To honour the fête, Brentano’s American Bookstore in Paris kindly invited me for a book event.  Thank you, Catherine! It was a total honour to be there.

It was great fun meeting new curious macaronivores-to-be. I do hope they will stay in touch via the website to say hello and even share their macarons with us!  There were readers from Japan, America, Sweden, Slovenia and even France! I was assured the French liked it in English since it’s good for their English practise and what better way to learn through making macarons?  Then the riot police turned up on the Avenue de l’Opéra

riot police paris book event mad about macarons

Riot police and Mad About Macarons!

Had they perhaps heard about the macaronivores in town? 😉
One fascinating lady who was in town over the weekend and who is definitely no stranger to the macaron is Carol Gillott, an artist who paints Paris dreams.  If you don’t know her already you soon will via her website, ParisBreakfasts.  Check out her amazing macaron T-shirt for a start.

Paris breakfasts artist Carol Gillott

 

Hm.  It was tough choosing from the pastry menu plus the best hot chocolate in the city chez Jean-Paul Hevin. His pastries are show-cased like in a Swatch store.

Hevin macaron display

Following my pâtisserie tasting with Carol, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make my own version of Jean-Paul Hevin’s chocolate-raspberry macarons back home.

Chocolate-raspberry macarons: I added plenty of pink food colouring into the shells as well as a few drops of natural raspberry essence (I got that at Mora).  For the chocolate ganache, I followed the recipe in the book on page 47 but replaced the teaspoon of coffee with a teaspoon of raspberry essence and added 100g of crushed raspberries into the melting chocolate (even better, Picard in France do bags of frozen crushed raspberries when it’s not in season.)

To add even more raspberry flavour, I’ve discovered a brand new line of natural mini square fruit pastels that are to die for called “N.A. (Nature Addicts)“.  They’re everywhere in Paris just now at the check-outs and the kids are crazy about them. Just slip one on top of the ganache and add a bit more ganache on top of the square before putting on the top macaron shell.  Wait for 36 hours and you’ll see why you need to wait before eating them.

chocolate raspberry mad about macarons

Chocolate-raspberry macarons

For those of you who missed the Fête du Macaron, it’s not too late! There’s still time before Sunday 27th March to enter our Giveaway.  To celebrate Waverley Books are giving a copy to FIVE lucky winners, so don’t just sit there: pass on the macaron word…

Now it’s time to nurse that cold. They say that when you have a cold you need to feed it, right?  So I’m doing just that and with plenty of garlic.  Last night I started with an extra-garlic-infused recipe for sweet potato gnocchi.  I’m feeling a bit better already.  Just as well there are no booksignings this weekend and you’re all far away! 😉

In the window at Brentano's bookstore

In the window at Brentano’s bookstore