Monday, March 29, 2010

Ou est la boulangerie?

Ah Paris.....

City of lights. City of lovers. But most importantly, city of delectable baked goods.

The detail and time put into the pastries in Paris is amazing... and noticeable. I've never had sweets as tasty as in Paris.

And we got our macarons! Two different times actually. This is a picture of the first time. We bought a sampler pack, walked to the river and sat for a snack. Little Evie (brother) didn't like them very much but my mom and I were in heaven!

This next pastry was an accidental favorite. We stopped by a shop on the way back to our hotel to get a bite for dinner. It was a walk-up, walk-away shop. So we were kind of rushed as there was a long line and they were trying to move people through quickly. My mom, Evan and I got our sandwiches, then at the last minute my mom asked for a pastry for dessert. She pointed at one and got the one next to it. There was really no time to attempt to break the language barrier and sort out the confusion, so we went with it. And boy am I glad we did. This little guy was so tasty! Each of the pastry parts was filled with a vanilla cream and the caramel disk parts were a hard crunchy candy, it was delectable!

The next morning my mom and I set out for a museum. Of course we had to stop and get some bakery first. We walked into an amazing store that was set up more like an expensive jewelers than a bakery. Beautiful, pieces of art protected from the public by glass. We selected to treats to take with us, but they didn't have coffee, so I tucked them in my bag and we went of in search of coffee.

Finding coffee was interesting in Paris. There are all of these amazing bakeries, but none of them sell coffee, and the only "coffee" shop you can really find is a Starbucks. And you can bet your bottom puff pastry that we were NOT going to a Starbucks in Paris. The people who were drinking coffee were sitting at one of the many cafes dotting the streets of the city. But I wasn't sure if you could get to-go coffee from these cafes. So, realizing both of us desperately wanted coffee, we decided our pastries could wait and stopped into a cafe for a "French breakfast."

What is a "French breakfast" you ask? Well, it's simply the most brilliant idea in the world:

A French breakfast includes a slice of pound cake, a baguette, butter, jam, coffee and orange juice. I know, carb overload! When the waitress set everything down I thought, we're never going to finish this.... silly me!

After breakfast we continued our way to the museum. Along the way stumbled upon a bakery that multiple friends had suggested, Laduree.

This is an amazing place that could not be passed up. Of course we had to go in, and of course we had to purchase something! We bought some more macarons and that purple delight on the right side of the picture below.

Since we had just eaten breakfast, I threw these guys in my backpack as well. I said, "Mom, I probably have almost $50 worth of pastries in my back pack right now. No more pastries until we eat something first!"

We finally made it to the museum, which of course was closed on Mondays. And it was Monday.

So, we sat on the steps and pulled out our treats. This was the one I got at the first bakery of the day. I had no idea what it was, but it was pretty, so I thought it must taste nice.

And it did. I'm not sure what kind of berry it was made with, but it was scrumptious!

My mom had selected a custard tart. Very tasty as well.

After walking around a bit, we decided to stop at a cafe on a tiny island in the Seine for lunch. We had a cheese plate and wine. What else do you have for lunch when you're in Paris?!

It was heaven.

We toodled around Paris for the afternoon, stopping at parks, people watching and enjoying each others company.

For dinner... more pastries! Here is a picture of the black licorice macaron that I bought at Laduree. It was unexpectedly delicious. Not a strong anise flavor, but just enough to be interesting.

And my mom's beauty was a violet religieuse. This was also exceptional. And I just discovered that I have a cookbook that contains a recipe for this. We'll see how adventurous I get!

This is a good peek at how we ate our way through Paris. Good thing it's a very walkable city and we did tons of trecking around to different sights. We had a wonderful time and I'd love to go back!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bonjour from Paris!

This will be short because the keyboard is driving me crazy and I have no picutres to post (those will come soon!). I'll just say that our feet are sore and our bellies are full almost all of the time. Paris is great and we'll see some museums and sample more pastry tomorrow. Then Tuesday it's off to Amsterdam!

Love from Parreeee!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


It's hard for me to put all of the emotions and excitement of today into words, so I'll let the pictures and video do most of the talking.

Mr. Z and I went out to the barn for my very first lesson on Pixie. I new that I'd need pictures, lots of pictures, so he brought out his fancy camera. The first surprise of the day was Horse Whisperer Paulette showing off Pixie's mad soccer skills! I was totally shocked! I didn't know they had been practicing and it turns out Pixie loves the game.

The next surprise was a doozy. Paulette was riding in her new saddle and she is very careful of her tack, so when I left to get my helmet and came back to find it covered with a sheet to protect it from bird poop, I wasn't too terribly shocked. But it was my turn to ride and I wanted to get the show on the road!

Attached to the saddle was a note that read, "To Bonniejean, From Eric (Mr. Z), All of my love!" (by the way, did you notice in the video how Pixie stood as still as a statue as I screamed like a banshee?!)

Unbelieveable! Mr. Z had been saving his pennies for months and working with Paulette behind the scenes to find me the perfect saddle on Ebay. It just so happened that the arrival of the saddle timed perfectly with my first lesson on Pixie. I lead a very charmed life with a very charming husband.

So here we are, off to the races!

I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I felt on her. I wasn't scared to trot, to play with the soccer ball or to just stand and be still. She's amazing. She is a playful, curious and gentle soul.

We have so much more to learn together, but to think back and reflect on how far we've come is kind of mindblowing!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Macaron (not Macaroon)

A prospective new love has entered my life... Lauduree macarons! Not to be confused with macaroons. My mom and I are leaving for Europe next week and I've been collecting bakery tips from all of my friends. I believe these to be a Parisian winner!

What is a macaron? Here is the scoop from a very trusted source (no, not Fox news):

From Wikipedia - A macaron is a confectionery whose name is derived from an Italian word “maccarone” meaning paste. It is meringue-based: made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar. The confectionery is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference, and flat base. Connoisseurs prize a delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The French macaroon differs from other macaroons in that it is filled with cream or butter like a sandwich cookie, and can be found in a wider variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the exotic (foie gras, truffle). Making macarons requires a great deal of discipline and is a process that is highly dependent on exactitude, technique, and proper equipment. For this reason it is a notoriously difficult recipe to master and a frustrating endeavor for the amateur baker.

Que magnifique, no? I mean look at all of the different flavors!

More about my trip later. I'm getting so excited!

Tomorrow's Lesson

Trainer Ted and Horse Whisperer Paulette have been working really hard on getting Pixie rider ready.

And tomorrow I will get to reap the benefits of their hard work! I'm taking my first lesson on Pixie tomorrow morning! And Mr. Z will be there with his camera ready, so stay tuned for some awesome pictures! This has been a very long journey that begins a new chapter tomorrow. I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Morning Snack

Lately my morning snack has consisted of Greek yogurt and a granola bar. This morning I added some peanut butter. Yummmmmy! I've found that Greek yogurt definitely keeps me full longer. Probably because it has 15 grams of protein in it (compared to 5 in regular yogurt)!

Why does Greek yogurt have so much more protein? I have no idea. I went online to try to figure it out and it has something to do with draining it and removing the whey. In any case, it's tasty, creamy, fat free and filled with protein. A perfect morning snack.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Up Nort'

My family went up north to Minocqua this weekend and we had a wonderful time!

The only thing missing was little Evan. He's studying in London this semester, but we brought a special picture so his presence was felt (that's him, center stage).

We even took him ice fishing with us!

I got to take my first ride ever on a snowmobile! I even got to drive!! It was so fun. I told Mr. Z if I didn't already have a horse, I'd want a snowmobile.

This is our ice fishing setup: my dad and his friend Tugger orchestrated the whole thing. The setting was absolutely beautiful!

Time for a beer. But how will I open it without a church key? Never fear, Tug is near! And he has a pair of pliers. Will that do the trick?

Of course! Tug saves the day.

Sister Bear and I took a long walk through the woods along the lake. It was such a gorgeous day!

Mr. Z and Brother Kent built an amazing shelter/igloo/fort thingy, it was pretty cool.

I think Mr. Z was pretty proud of it. Isn't he a cutie?

As you can see, "ice fishing" really means fun snowmobile rides, beer, long walks, good conversation and fort building. They did catch two fish. But of course, I didn't get pictures of them!

When we got back we made an awesome taco dinner and got into Tugger's bounce for dessert. If you're not from Wisconsin (or even if you are) you probably haven't heard of bounce. Imagine taking a mason jar, filling it with a cup of sugar, a bunch of berries, and then filling it to the top with vodka. Then letting it sit in your refrigerator for years. I mean YEARS. One of the bounces we tasted was from 1994! We tried cherry, raspberry and black raspberry. It was ok. I guess you have to like vodka.

After dessert, we had a good old fashioned Hutchison family dance party. There was some break dancing.

Boy, it's too bad I didn't get any video of that shenanegry. Really, too bad...

It was a wonderful weekend with great people. Lots of good food and love. What more could a girl ask for?