06 November 2009

Freezing Frenzy in Paris

What do you look forward to in Paris at a time of sporadic showers, cold weather and gray skies? No, not depression, but I assure you there is a way to cope with Autumn/Winter chills and even enjoy it!

Being a native of a country with only warm and wet weather, I welcome the cold season and fancy the opportunity to compose winter outfits combining coats, vests, scarves, hats, gloves and boots--and maybe sometimes even wearing all at the same time..haha!

It's understood that we each have our technique in keeping warm whether it be layering or accessorizing with textiles like cashmere, wool, fleece, knits or leather but more importantly, the primordial step is to be well- equipped!

Preparing for the cold season, I would think, is every woman's dream as it gives us valid reason to shop for warm clothes , beddings and pick out fat-storing ingredients for winter recipes like in Paris' iconic 19th century old department store, Galeries Lafayette.

With its glass-stained roofing and iron dome looking almost as regal as a museum, who
wouldn't have the urge to buy, buy and beautify especially during its seasons of discount (soldes)!?

And these are clearance sales --winter and summer-- as high as 70% off from bare necessities, house ware, designer labels to specialty foods! 

Galeries Lafayette also devotes a building each for items catering to men/ Lafayette homme,  and for the home/maison. 

My favorite section to visit after scoping the shoes and bags is the Lafayette Gourmet-- what a surprise, huh? It is located on the 1st level of Lafayette Homme and is composed of a wine shop and a specialty food grocery tempting shoppers to pause for a  quick bite at its international food stalls.

In the middle of a shopping frenzy, how about warming up with a glass of wine and choosing between Greek appetizers, Spanish jamon serrano, Chinese noodles, Italian pastas and Moroccan stews?

Reputable Petrossian stall selling its famous caviar, smoked salmon and vodka

 All about Jamon Serrano: sandwiches, charcuterie 
Morrocan delicacies: couscous, taboule and numerous tagines

Greek appetizers from Mavrommatis , a Mediterranean gastronomy restaurant

Recently I  headed my way up to dine at another food area, Galeries Cafe. It is a good alternative to the busy ambiance of Lafayette Gourmet, where you can comfortably sit down, profit from some rare sunshine--surprisingly I did!--and enjoy the view from above. Food options with typical canteen prices(less than 10 euros per main dish) include grilled meats and fish, salads, pastas, french plates and sandwiches.

located on the 6th floor

The Happy Spectator turns hungry--a glass of Merlot and lasagne for 10,60

                                       rear view of  l'Opera Garnier

Another department store I like to coze up in is Bazaar d' Hotel de Ville/BHV known for its  its wide selection of home products. I adore kitchenware and ever since I moved to Paris, shopping for our home somehow lessens the guilt of buying items which not only benefit me but my husband, too. All year round they seem to have promos and discounts which, I,  a gullible consumer, fall for in a snap. Although stay away from their online shopping. We bought a set of Tefal pots on sale and it took several charged calls to their customer service and another re-ordering to get it safely delivered to our home after 2 months! More of BHV in another entry but had to mention it in this post as it serves as another warm refuge from the outside chill.

BHV located in front of the famous Hotel de Ville

So the next time you wake up to a seemingly tragic, icey morning,  steer clear from the alarm snooze button, benefit from your morning's coffee high and start mapping out a full winter shopping itinerary! It could be freezing outside but imagine a well-heated home, cashmere robe, fuzzy slippers, lambswool sofa blanket and specialty ingredients for soupe d'oignon --a worthy cause to thaw yourself in Paris stores and go on a shopping spree, a valid one, that is!

Bonnes courses! Have a happy winter shopping frenzy!

Useful Tips:
  • Summer and winter sales, during the months of July and January respectively, are state-regulated and dates have not been announced as of yet. Normally they last for 5 weeks ranging from 20-70% discount.
  • For tourists or non EU resdients, you can avail of a 12% tax refund so don't forget to inquire with the stores' representatives.
  • Mostly all stores welcome exchanges and refunds on items newly purchased. Be careful with the price tags!
  • Not only are the stores well-heated, likewise are Paris' outdoor terraces, so go ahead if you feel the need to sip on hot chocolate, chocolat chaud, while observing chic Parisians decked out in winter clothes.
  • Since food plays an important role during the cold, below is my Onion Soup recipe totally easy to do!! Try it  and let me know how it turns out!
Onion Soup in 4 Steps!

Preparation : 10 min
Cooking Time : 40 min

Ingredients (for 6 persons) :
- 12 onions medium-sized
- 45 g or 1/4 cup of butter
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 15 g or 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1.5 l or 7 cups of water boiled with 2 beef or chicken cubes (boullion)
- 1 laurel leaf
- pepper, salt
- 6 slices of bread
- 60 g or about 2 cups of grated gruyere cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 450 F, 220 C.

1. Chop the onions lengthwise and leave to cook with the butter in a pot for about 15 minutes, medium fire. Onions must be transparent.*

2.  Add the flour and garlic to the pot. Stir in the flour properly and when it changes color, pour in the hot water-bouillon mixture, together with the laurel leaf and let it cook for 15 minutes. 

3.  Season accordingly with pepper, salt and herbes de provence (mixture of dried thyme, rosemary leaves, sage, basil). All supermarkets carry these combined dried herbs in a bottle. Its price is very affordable and I must say, a key ingredient in most of my cooking.

4.  Rub some garlic on the slices of bread. Pour over soup in 6 bowls topping it with the bread and a generous sprinkle of cheese. Leave to grill inside the oven until the cheese melts (5-8 minutes. Serve soup while hot. 

After step 1. , add 1-2 cups of white wine and leave to cook for 2 minutes before proceeding to step 2.

 Bon Appétit!


Ryan said...

Mmm, good French onion soup recipe. I make mine w/ President's butter and make sure the Onion is a red one, cooking it until it is completely soft and almost liquid. Rest of the steps are the same, the gruyere cheese is a must.

Should look into herbs de provence, I'm sure the Tesco here will carry that. Interesting.. this should be a new flavor spectrum to my masterpieces. Naks! BSS(bilib sa sarili)!

The Happy Spectator said...

President is the bomb! herbes de provence you can also use for pastas, stews, sandwich fillings, omelettes..For sure it is available in Prague.

Jennifer said...

anne! you made me soooo hungry. love your blogs...they're so entertaining! definitely made my day :)

Tricia Matoto-DeSanto said...

not even your lovely blog entry will make me miss new york winters. dressing for winter is only fun for...17 minutes. then it's cry-kitty-cry!!!!! your lasagna dish looked yummers!!!!!!! thanks for the morning read. fun stuff! except for when you used the word AVAIL. pinoys use that word like in every other effing sentence. in advertising, used like everytime you blink. more entries, pullleeze!!!!!!!?

Anonymous said...

Hi - thanks for the info on the discounts - always good to know when shopping - especially with the euro/dollar exchange rate!!

So if I want to get the tourist discount (12%?), I just tell them I'm a tourist? Is it up to the store to give it? Is this for all stores? And for the state regulated dates - how can you get more info on that?


Tessa said...

Délicieux! Especially with lots of cheese! Can't wait to walk around Paris all clad in winter clothes with you happy spectator! Soon, soon :)