I know it's bad form to post holiday pictures two days after the actual holiday. (And I know it's also bad form to open a story with a negative.) But that's kind of where I am tonight: 48 hours behind, and too beat to deny the truth or spin it into something else. Thankfully, these pictures do a pretty good job of telling a sweet story about our Easter.
We hosted Easter brunch in West Marin for all our families this year. Somehow, we managed to do little beyond opening the front door and providing ample seating for eveyone. Twelve kids and ten adults and it all worked out just fine. Our kids were lucky enough to have all their cousins on both sides for a day.
Unlike our Easter parties in the past, I did very little prep or cooking this year. In fact, if heating up a Sun Farms ham doesn't count as cooking, then no, I didn't cook. The most effort I was planning on putting into kitchen sports, was making a couple boxes of theseas a nod to my in-laws from NOLA. But when all our family arrived carrying bags filled with of warm quiches, lemonade, *spicy fruit salad*, rainbow jello cups, cookies and deviled eggs, we decided we had enough. I can't believe how little I got away with! Thank Peter Cottontail for the invention of potlucks and the blessing of a functional extended family!
My mom's deviled eggs are damn fine. She couldn't even tell you (or me) how she makes them. It's just something she feels her way through each year. And she'll wait until you're hooked and mid-moan with deep appreciation before she raises on eyebrow and nails you with a, "Ya know I only use French's yellow."
It's spring break for us and we've decided to take a short trip to a wonderful place, right in our backyard. A mere 45 minute drive from home, West Marin delivers a punch of the good life. Tiny towns, secluded beaches, and small-time agriculture, including oyster farms - it's all here. It felt like we had died and gone to heaven!
Down the road a short way from our house is our favorite beach, Chicken Ranch. We set-up camp with our next door neighbors from home, and rented kayaks to paddle across the bay for a couple bags of fresh oysters. It was a first for the kid and me, but not for our friends. What we found on the other side of the bay was something that had us scratching out heads and asking ourselves: Er, uh, why haven't we done this before?!
Tomales Bay Oyster farm was nothing short of rocking! The place was literally pulsing with music and good vibes. Every available picnic table was packed with daytrippers, young and old. My favorite moment was when I spotted a little ten-year-old surfer boy, shucking oysters for his mama. I wish I had taken his picture!
After taking in the magic a bit more, we threw our bags of oysters on ice, loaded up the kayaks, and headed back to our place for a dinner of fresh oysters doused in elixir, followed by some hearty burgers for all.
Arriving Saturday, late morning, we had an hour to kill in our new neighborhood before the manager arrived with our apartment keys. We grabbed a quick lunch at a corner shop. Quiche du jour for me, croque monsieur for her.
After a long nap in hopes of pulling our jet-lagged selves together, we ventured out into our neighborhood and settled on a fairly nondescript brasserie with minimal ambiance. I was worried at first, but then dinner arrived.
Chicken Grand-mère for myself and Beanie to share, the other ladies devoured salads with tuna, goat cheese, bread and vegetables. We were all blown away by our meals.
After a morning at the Musee Carnivalet, Beanie and I enjoyed another incredible meal with my mom at Crêperie Suzette. The three of us shared a ham and cheese crepe with egg, as well as a spinach and cheese topped with a dollop of sour cream and marinara. We probably did a banana and nutella one for dessert as well...I can't quite remember at this point. I just know we ate dessert about three times a day. Everyday.
A stop at Jacques Genin - where everyone and their mother told us to go for the best chocolate in Paris. We heeded the call and found ourselves waiting (first in line) for 45 minutes to get one of about eight tables for dessert. We finally gave up, bought some chocolate to take home, and three tables cleared out! Regardless, we got to enjoy the goods and it was worth all that waiting!
The walk from Jacque's to our apartment had us meandering through an adorable neighborhood park. These pictures have nothing more to do with food other than the fact that I was holding a bag of chocolate when I took them. But I love them just the same.
Sunday night and we ventured out to the Latin Quarter in search of Mediterranean food and people watching. Beanie ate a PLATTER of falafels while I opted for moussaka last minute. I have fond memories of eating moussaka daily while backpacking through Greece almost twenty years ago. I forgot to snap of picture of my meal until I was already a couple bites in. I need to make this here at home - everyone would love it!
I think I skipped breakfast on Monday, too full already from all the indulging. I'm certain Beanie had a croissant, she had one in some form every morning. By 2pm, we still hadn't had lunch and so on our walk from Luxembourg Gardens to Le Bon Marche, we stopped a Bread & Roses, threw caution to the wind and ate dessert tarts for lunch. I figured, we're enjoying dessert after every meal, why not just cut out the extra calories of a proper lunch?
Later that night we shared tastes from a local market down the street in the quiet comfort of our tiny apartment.
It's Tueday and all six of us have just spent the late morning at the Rodin. We walked across the street to have lunch before heading out to find the giant ferris wheel that is no longer actually there. Thankfully our tummies were full from a shared bowl of boeuf bourguignon.
Others enjoyed a salad with goat cheese, herring, pasta with pesto and lasagna.
Later that night, we had dinner at a super fun neighborhood spot. The ambiance was rockin', the food was pretty good and relatively affordable.
More crepes from a great restaurant near The Pompedieu. We talked about how we need to make these for all our boys back home.
For dinner we did take-out falafels from the well-loved L’As du Fallafel just ten minutes from our place. Incredible!
These fruit cups (above) were sold at a bakery two steps to the right of our front door. The girls loved them, and enjoyed several, usually with a croissant, of course.
Off to the d'Orsay but not before making our first visit to Laduree. We grabbed sixteen macarrons to go and met my mom for lunch at the museum restaurant.
Beanie and I shared fish and chips, my mom had a salad.
And then we shared a creme brulee. :)
Chicken-to-go is just so much more exciting in Paris. Forget the ridiculous two-piece plastic containers we have to wrestle with, look at this civilized to-go bag! We brought it home with some potatoes and enjoyed it with left-over salad from the market. It was probably the best roast chicken I've ever had.
Later that night, we got silly and tried to match macaroons to our new pairs of shoes. I failed.
We are a family of hazelnut lovers. Or should I say...Nutella lovers. Anyway, I came across this hazelnut yogurt while stocking-up on basics at the grocery store. I first fell in love with the beautiful glass jars it came in (yes, I really did bring eight home for future desserts), but back at the apartment, we all fell in love with the flavor. Hazelnut flavored yogurt served in the beautiful single serving jars - you will be missed!
We were busy Friday, busy, busy, busy. We walked and explored lots of things, things I haven't even posted yet. We took a restaurant recommendation from my mom and enjoyed hot chocolate and French onion soup right near Notre Dame.
Then, a second visit to Laduree where we actually sat down to enjoy the macaroons.
My absolute favorite will always be their caramel macaroon.
Later that night, we headed up to Montmartre for some touristy fare - and I'm not ashamed to admit it!
Lunch at a garden restaurant at Versailles.
A quick eclare while walking back home from the train station.
These pictures show one of our busiest days in Paris. Sometimes we'd get off to a late start, a few times we'd miscalculate travel times and miss out on something by the time of our arrival. But this day, we hit it all right. Beanie was such an incredible trooper! She powered through absolutely everything and barely ever peeped a complaint. She seemed to just instinctually know that this whole experience was an incredible treat. Here she is with a tummy full of croissants, getting creative with her pose!
I will never forget the squeals Little Miss made running back and forth behind my sister and nieces during this photo op. Jumping up and down and making bunny ears, she was so happy to just be a goof.
My sister read about the Parisian sewer system and wanted to go. It was walking distance from the Eiffel Tower and so we strolled along the Seine until we reached our destination. The sewers were...interesting. You really are down there in the thick of it, if you know what I mean.
You can just see the horror on Beanie's face. The grid flooring we are standing on has us about ten feet above the flow of waste. We saw and smelled everything.
On our way out, we had the opportunity to buy a souvenir sewer rat. Instead we kept our hands over our mouths the noses, and walked ran back up to street level. I'm not familiar with the story of Les Miserables, but after touring the sewer, and having the connection drawn between the two, it's definitely on my short list.
The Pompedieu! We read up on this crazy building a bunch before taking off, and so Beanz was super excited to finally get there. We were equally excited for her to have the opportunity to take one of the art workshops the museum offers after school on Wednesdays. The guide books said that they were taught in French but that they could be attended by non speaking tourists. We got a different story when we arrived, and so she was turned away. She was crushed and so was I!
Stay tuned - tomorrow I will post pictures of Parisian food porn!