Saturday, December 28, 2013

This feels like the perfect picture to start with, in spite of the fact (maybe because of it?) that Max is a tad blurry.  Who isn't a little blurry when the jet lag is fresh?  I love these stairs leading to our apartment's front door, even though I will say that I think twice before running back up them to grab something forgotten, and even though my legs are more than un peu sore a week into this adventure.  

It gives new meaning to "l'esprit de l'escalier," when you think of the perfect retort to a snarky remark once you're already on the staircase and it's too late for your comeback.

After walking 3 miles up to Sacre Coeur and back yesterday, Dana told me that her legs were so sore that she felt like a newborn colt.  The strange thing is that I swear I walked all the time in San Francisco, too, especially the past month when we didn't have a car and were walking Max to school every day.  Is it the cobblestones?  Or are these stairs to blame?  But they are beautiful, and I like imagining their installation, and the fact that they've endured since the apartment was built in 1820.  One of my favorite places is my friend Stephanie's family's vacation house on Blakely Island, an island that is only accessible by small plane or boat, where the house feels like a 60s time capsule as a result because it's so hard to get building materials and furniture on and off the island.  This 5th floor walkup reminds me of that in its 1800's way.  Need a new floorboard?  New bathroom fan?  But do you *really*?  

I can see why our landlord hasn't cleared out a lot of her family's things, and I'm grateful for her book collection.  One of my favorite things is having a limited and subjectively curated collection of books from which to choose.  When I lived in Japan, the selection in English at the local public library was: 1) The Bridges of Madison County, 2) Breakfast at Tiffany's, and 3) Alice in Wonderland.  Here at the apartment there are a lot more to choose from (thanks to the fact that we're renting from a couple of profs, one of whom is British) and it includes a few Harry Potters, PD James, Bleak House, Julian Barnes and Rentata Adler.   

Lest I seem too virtuous going on about reading and walking, let me add that Dana and I were on a "tour de pastry" as we walked, using a poorly functioning David Leibowitz "Paris Pastry" app that lets you find his favorite bakeries and read about his favorite pastries wherever in the city you are.  The lemon yuzu tart that we ate at Gontran Cherrier bakery was incredible.  In its uncloying tanginess, with a perfectly crisp yet eggshell thin butter crust, it put to shame the formerly delicious seeming lemon tart we'd bought at a nameless bakery.  We also got a pitch black squid ink baguette to take home and eat with a cheese so runny you could puncture it with your finger.  The bread was a novelty but I'll take a regular baguette next time.

I will say--I like a culture where every single time you pass a patisserie, no matter the hour of day, people are sitting in the window, eating the most beautiful pastries you've ever seen, and the bars are similarly full of people drinking wine and enjoying themselves at all hours.  My own puritan work ethic has not caught up with me yet, and I'm hoping that it doesn't find me for a while.


Robin said...

That staircase is gorgeous. Tell Dana she needs to fill her carry on with cheese and pastry. Just kidding. Well, sort of.

Malena Watrous said...

Robin, we so wish that you were here because you would be a much better member of the tour de pastry. I fear that I let Dana down with a comparative lack of zeal. She wants to do research on every patisserie. This morning we are going to L's favorite new creperie. They also serve champagne with the lunch special. Doesn't that have your name written on it?

Robin said...

You're killing me, and you haven't even been there one week. I think I may need to assign you patisserie reports (like book reports) with specific pastries in mind!

Heather said...

Hi Malena! I have a question about your blog! I'm Heather and please email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

Maria Hummel said...

Malena! Sad I didn't get to see you before your truly epic journey to Paris(!), but glad to hear you are settled well now and sampling the best flaky and buttery offerings. I highly approve of Robin's idea for a Pastry Review.

And Happy New Year! I miss you!

Malena Watrous said...

I would happily accept pastry assignments, any and all. Robin, just yesterday I was thinking of "le tigre" and wanting very much to have one!