31 March 2010

My First Winter in Paris

It was a L-O-N-G winter. Snow in Paris and even in Cannes. What's up for next year's?

                                                             Parc Vincennes

          tredging our way through the parc's snow-filled path for a snack

                                  how much longer do we wait for sunny picnics?

To take the edge off next winter's blues, let me share with you a recipe of homemade chai tea latte which I snagged from an online forum. This is for the "homies" who not only have limited access to Starbucks (or even better, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) but including those who would like to switch from time to time their morning coffee to a smooth and spicy milk/tea blend.

If your kitchen cooks up indian curries then you will have pas de problème in gathering the ingredients.

2 cups of water
1/2 cup of milk
3 tea bags of Black tea (surprisingly, Lipton was the only brand I found in franprix)
 2 tbsps of honey or sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1  teaspoon ground nutmeg
1  teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 crushed pods of cardamom
Once water is boiling in a pot, add in all ingredients and allow to blend and dissolve(sugar) for about 4-5 minutes. Adjust sweetness according to your liking then pass it through a strainer. Voila!

a gift from husband's trip to India

For those unwilling to purchase the spices, then hopefully your cupboard is well-supplied with varieties of tea like masala chai or plain chai. If so--c'est simple comme bonjour!-- just add hot milk, honey and some cinnamon!

Interested to know how the french take their coffee or tea? 

In the morning, it is either tea or coffee poured in a cereal bowl which is used for dipping their toasted bread smothered in honey or confiture (jam). Even my husband's 3 year-old nephew has accustomed his young tastebuds to this french ritual although, it's the lesser evil of tea for him.

For their petite pause and le goûter as they would say, referring to their 10am & 4pm coffee break in the office or elsewhere, it is definitely an espresso taken by the bar or counter. Although you will notice the subtle infiltration of the Starbucks culture or other boutiques like so, for coffee on-the-go along major boulevards with its loyal customers, mostly tourists, sipping on their cups while window shopping. 
Although in the minds of the french, it seems that they would rather enjoy their coffee peacefully in cafes either seated or standing, while reading le journal (newspaper) or during their moment of outdoor people-watching.

Why not? Pourquoi pas?

                                                        un goûter dans le marais
Useful Tips:
  • If it's your first time in Paris, try to avoid Starbucks and head your way to local-living at a cafe. The bar men are generally nice and will give you that "upper" instantly! It's cheaper and a fun way to be a part of the "culture parisienne", seated outdoor, closely next to another coffee-drinker.
    Starbucks branch along l'avenue de l'Opera
  • Just sit down in any empty table (no need to wait and be ushered) and sure enough, a waiter will pass by and take your order. Un cafe s'il vous plaît! Or un cafe crème (with milk) s'il vous plaît!
  • Differentiating types of coffee: Café court(short) is a dose of black coffee with added water while café long(long) is the same dosage but with more water, thus having the weaker taste. Café noisette is a shot of espresso with a bit of milk.
  • For non coffee drinkers, you must go with chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and if you can, at Angelina's for their l'Africain. It is a very, very rich and thick hot chocolate   equally praised by tourists and locals. Here is their address.