Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Market To Market

As promised-a follow-up to my quest to find the most amazing farmer's markets in the hamptons, I finally  made it to Round Swamp Farm stand this past weekend.  While smaller than the Amagansett Farmer's Market, it was no less packed with goodies!  I have to admit, I was slightly overwhelmed to the point where I couldn't even pick what I wanted to get!  Good thing is, it's close to our house so I'll be making weekly visits for the rest of the summer I'm sure.
Can't you just imagine these two saying "come on mom, let's go we're tired of waiting in the car!"

There are two sections in the market, one is an entirely refrigerated room for fresh fruits and veggies!

These might beat out the blueberry at Amagansett....

Their pies come right out of the oven and were still warm!  These will definitely be capping off a few house dinners throughout the summer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Taste of Summer

Ever since moving to NYC I've had the dream of experiencing a "share-house" in the Hamptons for a summer.  I've slowly dipped my toes in the Hamptons pool, with random weekends here and there with friends.  But this summer is the first time that I actually have a place to call my own.  A group of girlfriends and I are renting a charming cottage in East Hampton.  We've now had 3 weekends, and I'm slowly learning the ins and outs of the area. 
Our second weekend I was introduced to the amazing-ness that is the Amagansett Farmers' Market.  Having spent weekends attempting to recreate my Parisian market experience and the NYC greenmarket just not cutting it, I was pleasantly surprised by the goodies at this stand.  All the perfect offerings for a beach side picnic-we picked up freshly brewed iced coffee, bacon/egg/cheese sandwiches on brioche rolls, a beautiful prosciutto baguette, veggies for dipping in fresh spinach dip, and a basket of rainier cherries.


I never knew the levels to which coffee cake could be brought!

Can't wait to come back and try these blueberry muffins!

There were so many yummy looking items, can't wait to come back and try a little bit of everything!  

Next up, Round Swamp Farm Stand....I've heard great things!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Paris part deux...The Markets!

Part of my goal to live like a Parisian included shopping at the local markets.  There's something about a farmer's market that really gets to me, the open air, beautiful fresh produce, fresh cut flowers, and people strolling about.  My previous trips to Paris had been long weekends, jam packed with agendas to see the museums and tour the sights.  This time, I was determined to not be such a "tourist". 

As mentioned in my previous post, as soon as we arrived at our apartment, we dropped our bags and made our way to the closest market, Marche d'Enfant Rouge.  We had our beautiful lunch, sat outside, then wandered through the stalls selling produce, fish, flowers, cheese etc.  I spotted a crepe stand with a long line, I knew it must be something good.  Turns out it was a beautiful buckwheat galette, stuffed with prosciutto, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and grated parmesan cheese.  Having just had lunch that first day, I made it a goal to come back at some point throughout the week to try it!  It was AMAZING!  I had never been a savory crepe person, but this was right up my alley!
Peonies are my absolute favorite flower! 
Like a floral bouquet!
In addition to the food markets, another goal was to explore the antique fairs and markets throughout the city.  My mom and I have a slight addiction to "treasures" as we call them.  I'm not going to lie, I've scheduled a flight based around the Alameda flea market.....so I was beyond excited to check out the Parisian markets.  We woke up early our first day to hit up the largest and oldest market, Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.  I had been once before, but it had been a Monday and the majority of the stalls were closed.  It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for flea scavenger-ing! 
Map of the oldest market-Marche Vernaison

My dear friend and former roommate Emily happened to be in Paris at the same time.  We used to spend Saturday mornings roaming the antiques garage in NYC so it was fun to have her there as well!
My mom has a collection of clock faces-this shop specialized in all shapes and sizes!
We spent the day exploring the different markets within Saint-Ouen.  My favorites were Vernaison and Paul Bert.  In true french style, the various dealers came together with others in their respective areas and set out beautiful elaborate lunches, all using real serving dishes and utensils, not exactly the picnic we're used to in the States.  And of course, bottles and bottles of wine.  It was so nice to see people sitting down and enjoying each others company over a lovely meal, something I aspire to as many of my meals are at my desk at work, or at home in front of the TV. 

While Le Puces was amazing for strolling and imagining what I would ship home in a giant container to sell at my imaginary home-goods store or decorate a wealthy client's home with if I were an interior designer, it wasn't exactly the best for collecting small "treasures" that would fit in my suitcase to bring home.  Thankfully, we stumbled upon the most amazing market later in the week.  

Our intent for that day was to wake up, walk towards the Carnavalet museum and grab a leisurely breakfast along the way.  As we made our way down the street, we came upon people setting up for some type of market.  I figured it was a typical street market like in NY, with the fruit smoothie stand, kebabs, discounted sheets/towels, and other random things!  But no...as we start to get closer, we see that it's an antique market!  At the first stand I immediately spot a pleated Ungaro knee length skirt!  From then on we were in trouble, but the best kind!  5 hours later we still hadn't left our neighborhood and hadn't even made it to all of the stands!  It was amazing, more like Alameda/NY garage in that there were smaller collectibles at reasonable prices that we could take home.  I must say it was quite an experience having absolute no French language skills and attempting to barter with these dealers, I didn't a pretty darn good job!

Other finds included a vintage pleated dress, almost identical to this one (fashion sure is cyclical), decorative accents for my dresser, a burlap "poste" bag for my mom, a vintage tin with beautiful gold filigree, and perhaps the best purchase, a vintage black embossed hat box!  This makes more sense when I fill you in on my exciting purchase in Brussels.  We happened upon a vintage shop with gorgeous period pieces and a lovely, chapeau!  Now you might ask, how often does one have the opportunity to wear a formal hat (the royal wedding parties are over for now...) but I just figured that if I EVER had an occasion that called for a hat, I would be covered with this one!  Finding a box to carry it home in was the icing on the cake.  If only travel were so glamorous these days, it felt so fun to walk through the Paris airport with my hat box!
Breakfast was long forgotten once we started treasure-hunting so by the time mid-day rolled around we were starving.  Just my luck, we happened to be right by L'Estaminet (I was worried we wouldn't make it back there for a second meal throughout the week!)  The sun came out, we sat outside, I had the prosciutto tartine while my mom tried the grilled chicken with apples and brie!  We even had wine to celebrate our fabulous finds!
I seriously wish I could have shipped stuff home, there were so many great things, I kept thinking if only I could take this home!  The market happens twice a year on Rue Bretagne, this was the last weekend in May, the other weekend is either end of October or early November, no one was really sure, or they just didn't understand what I was asking!  I love bringing home souvenirs that every time I look at them (or wear them) I am reminded of our trip.  Sure beats a postcard (although I did pick up a few vintage black and white postcards of Paris!) 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Paris.....the FOOD post!

So, part of the whole "turning 25" renewal (I sound like Ramona Singer) was fulfilling a long-sought dream of taking a trip with my mom to Paris. We've talked about this for years, but I finally brought it up seriously back in November, I sure didn't have to ask her twice! We started planning and before we knew it, we were on the plane. This is when I start to say "this trip is going too fast already" because I truly like the planning/anticipation of something, once it actually starts I tend to focus on how quickly it's going by! Ugh something to work on, but this time, it was 10 whole days in Paris. We had an apartment in Le Marais, and my full intention was to live like a Parisian, shop the markets, wander the streets, and not feel like we had to rush ANYWHERE. Oh, and a huge focus on the AMAZING food, we certainly didn't starve.

I always feel like the best day of vacation is the first day. The excitement is in the air, you have the entire vacation in front of you. As soon as we arrived at our apartment and dropped off our bags, we went out in search of a market that I had read about. L'Estaminet in the Marche Enfants Rouge was the perfect place to begin our trip and soak up the sun to cure our jet-lag. A salmon tartine for my mom and a pesto pasta salad with fresh grilled veggies and a beautiful slice of proscuitto for me. (This place was so good we ended up eating there again later in the week!)

I had researched restaurants through google/blog searches as well as travel guides and personal recommendations. You know when you hear of something for the first time and then all of a sudden you start hearing about it everywhere?? That's sort of what happened with this vacation. I tore out magazine articles, book-marked pages in books, and then ended up at the same places without even realizing that they were in the magazines (our first night, our waitress at Le Petit Marche recommended we get a drink at La Perle "everyone stands outside and it's cool and crowded but you don't really know why it's cool" turns out, it was the sight of John Galliano's Hitler rant back in March!). Our second night was dinner at Cafe de Musees, which came highly recommended on several blogs, Rick Steeves, as well as a recent NY Mag article!

Other highlights included white asparagus soup with foi gras ice cream at Pramil, fried goat cheese and seabass at Le Taxi Juane, to-die-for chocolate mousse in a giant vat at Chez Janou, grilled shrimp tart and artichoke and mushroom salad at Cafe Constant, and perfectly tender veal at Hotel Thoumieux (along with the best bread/butter of the trip!)

Dare me? I promise I put my serving on my plate.....

Cafe Constant-a perfect lunch

Like a dream-we finished dinner just in time to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle!

I have to say that my hands down favorite meal wasn't even in Paris. We took an overnight trip to Brussels and had dinner at this amazing brasserie, inside the Galleries Saint Hubert, recommended by our innkeeper. They tried to seat us in the stuffy upstairs dining room, but after a little sweet-talking, we got to sit right in the hustle and bustle, my favorite way to take in the action. This meal was also special because of a few certain realizations that only a bottle of wine and your mother can help you come to, all part of the new year, new me program!

I'm still too emotional to talk about how good this meal was....

Not sure if I was able to properly express my gratitude to the chef!

Back to Paris; we spent our days walking from meal to snack to meal seeing sights along the way, the perfect way to truly "see" and experience Paris! There was a daily search for bread with figs baked in, something I experienced last time I was there (life changing let me tell you), crepes sucre and chocolate croissants, afternoon macaroons (you must try the giant, fudgey macaroons at Boulangerie Vavin on Rue de Vavin, out of this world! And such a better deal than the tiny Laduree ones!), my first fallafal experience (good, but not something I would crave), cocktail hour in our apartment with a bottle of wine and a cheese plate assorted at the local fromagerie, and beautiful fresh fruit (apricots, cherries, tiny cantloupes, and white peaches) from the fruit stands that seem to be on every corner.

Sorry-couldn't wait to take a bite before a picture!

The good life


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