Where to Drink Specialty Coffee in Paris

13 December 2013

Wine, cheese, coffee and pastry- the bedrock of most idyllic Parisian holidays. And while the city delivers on nearly each of these crucial comestibles, they’ve fallen terribly short for years when it comes to the swill masquerading as coffee. That’s right, le café has been much maligned (I’ve alluded to this HERE and in this interview) and with good reason – the beans (typically Robusta) tend to be substandard in quality and over-roasted; the machines are old and ill-managed and the baristas are either poorly trained or completely indifferent (or both). I can no longer count on two hands the number of times I’ve been served espresso that had been sitting at the bar, completely forgotten in the shuffle of other orders (or in many cases, conversation that distracted the waiters), only to have it arrive cold and undrinkable. If you’re used to drinking watered-down coffee in your hometown – and this is by no means a reproach; the average home-brewed coffee seems to naturally produce a weak, tasteless product -you may not find Paris coffee that offensive. I started drinking coffee upon moving to Paris but it was really only once I traveled to London and New York, homes to […]…

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Franco File Friday: Emperor Norton

3 August 2012

As pervasive as American comforts have become in Paris, a number of foods remain poorly executed, modified for French tastes or entirely unexploited, motivating nostalgic expats to take matters into their own hands**. Doughnuts, glazed and glistening, are one such lacuna – and precisely where the story began for Omid and Alannah, a couple from San Francisco who moved to Paris four years ago for work. Although settled and immersed in their new home, it was after viewing a scene in Iron Man 2, where Robert Downey Jr. is sitting in the Randy’s Doughnuts sign in L.A. eating doughnuts, that the urge to make some of their own old-fashioned cake doughnuts grew with force. After hours of toiling and experimenting in the kitchen, A + O had their deep-fried prize. Experimentation became a recurring activity. They tested corn tortillas, tamales, and a plethora of other Mexican-inspired dishes, blogging about their creations and encouraging friends and locals to provide feedback. When their personal taste testers begged for more (and offered to pay), they began hosting dinner parties out of their home and quite naturally, Emperor Norton was born. (The name is a nod to the 19th century San Franciscan who declared himself […]…

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Expat Comforts

10 April 2012

During the first couple of years as an expat in Paris, waves of homesickness and leaden spirits were frequent and initially made worse by too many trips stateside. When things were good it was because Paris generously fueled my resolve to make the city my permanent home but a number of recurring expat roadblocks meant that she dispirited as quickly as she inspired. Six years later and it’s the reverse scenario that causes unease. The U.S. will forever be a source of travel excitement and adventure but not where I want to spend my everyday -a decision made even easier by these halcyon days of globalization which have brought countless Anglo imports to the capital. The meteoric rise of the cupcake, the arrival of legitimate Mexican food and the growing availability of treasured foreign food products- all are part of the city’s current reality and represent a far more familiar landscape for American expats than the uncomfortable unknown it fostered in years past. The beginning is often turbulent for expats but if you can persevere and identify a set of comforts, weathering the inevitable highs and lows will become a welcome challenge. Here are a few of mine: | Familiar faces Not only […]…

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Colunching at Coutume Café

27 September 2011

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of moving abroad is the inevitability of starting over. Even if you’re fortunate enough to know a few people in your adopted city or town, it probably won’t be enough to constitute a solid network. That’s exactly what my parents were concerned about when I made the move to Paris – that I would struggle to form connections other than those facilitated by entering into my husband’s network (but as I mention in this interview, I didn’t win over his friends immediately). It wasn’t until I went to grad school in Paris that I developed an extremely tight group of friends, some of whom eventually left to return to their home countries. While those are people who will forever be in my life, regardless of their home base, I attribute my social wings to blogging and heavy social media use. Whereas it was once unacceptable to meet strangers online (let alone admit it), it has become the fastest way to integrate and make friends in Paris. Fortunately for those without blogs, Twitter accounts and only mild internet addiction, there exists a fun, free, social service to facilitate meeting locals. Colunching is a communal dining social network […]…

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