Merci Shop, Paris

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I’m a dreamer; my mind is always wandering of to far off places I’d rather be… sundrenched fields of wild flowers and breezy huts shaded by mango trees. Sometimes I’d wish myself back to the memorable places I’ve loved, and moments when I’ve felt truly content.

I took a short trip to Portland this past weekend, a long scenic train ride that didn’t feel long at all.
I brought my laptop along, finally ready to tackle photos from my vacation last year – and unearthed these photos of our final day browsing the enchanting Merci store and stealing a quick breakfast at the Used Book café.

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Processing these pictures on the train amidst the spectacular landscapes of Pacific Northwest made for such a perfect moment – almost as if I was in two of my favourite places at once, and at that instant there was no need to dream.

I’d heard and read many good things about Merci and I knew I’d like it even before I set foot there.

From the café, we ate hot delicate scones slathered with thick smooth echire butter, and zesty fromage blanc with nuts and honey. And lots of café au lait

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And then we lingered, as one would in a store that carries a little bit of their favorite things, all delightful and covetable – understated and stylish clothes, functional and elegant furnishings and household wares, and dreamy eclectic products that you didn’t even know you needed.

You could wander here and never tire, the displays are beautiful, alluring, they change with the season; artsy and cultural with a dash of whimsy – Ideal for browsing and garnering design inspiration even if priced a little out of range.

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And the staff; attentive and informed, with all sorts of tips – from cute gift ideas to suggestions to check out a chic optical store on rue de Turenne.

The store is a little bit like the city it inhabits, cozy, original and conceptually stimulating.

The Fiat 500 at the entrance is adorable, a theme of minimalist elegance and cheeriness carries throughout the store.

There’s also a unique philanthropy facet to this already awesome store, profits are used to ‘finance acts of human development’

~Hope you enjoy the pictures…

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Merci Shop, Paris
111 boulevard Beaumarchais
75003 Paris

Click through for more photos!

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

I very much favour sweet breakfast foods over savoury ones; it’s how I get to satisfy my incredibly sweet-tooth daily, but I also do appreciate a good savoury breakfast, I reserve meals like this socca and cilantro sauce for special mornings.

Weekend mornings where I do manage to get out of bed and go for a run or a long walk along the seawall.

Coincidentally, I got the recipe for this cilantro sauce on the seawall.

Walking the seawall is amazing like that; sometimes you meet the most interesting people, and last year a kindhearted woman gave me the recipe to this cilantro sauce – I rushed home, wrote it down and proceeded to make it straightaway.

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce Socca with Cilantro Sauce

I’d made the batter for my socca the night before and kept it in the fridge, I left it on the kitchen counter to come to room temperature while I was out for my walk.

We must have both worked up an appetite because the woman and I got talking about breakfast, specifically what we were going to eat in the next hour or so… hers were savoury pancakes, which she pairs with this tart herby cilantro sauce.

This is how I got the idea to try it with socca, and it was absolutely special, it’s got to be since almost a year later I’m still eating socca with cilantro sauce, and can’t seem to stop talking about it.

It’s a convenient way to use up excess cilantro or other herbs; I should point out that it’s not just for socca, this sauce is for just about anything… I use it like ketchup or a dip and sometimes even stir it into soups or over roasted potatoes.

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce

As for socca, I don’t think I’ve said enough to express how much I love socca!
I love that it has just so few ingredients, it’s easy to make and so very satisfying and filling.

It usually takes less than fifteen minutes to cook once I get back home and the cilantro sauce can also be made ahead of time.

A few weeks ago I piled on some caramelized onions, sometimes I top my slices with leftover roasted vegetables.

Have I mentioned that it’s naturally vegan and gluten free?

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Breakfast – Yogurt and Cereal

Breakfast - Yogurt and Cereal

For me, spring begins with cherry blossoms, when streets and parks are awash in pink fluffiness – that is when I know spring has arrived.

I’ve seen a handful of cherry blossoms in my neighbourhood and we’ve been basking in some spring-like weather these past couple of days, all clear and exciting signs that we’re moving into wonderful weather.

A few nights ago a friend went down to the beach wrapped in a giant blanket to have dinner and catch the sunset.

I’ve promised myself I’d do more of that when it gets warmer – I want to watch the sunrise with breakfast and eat dinner in view of the setting sun.

Breakfast - Yogurt and Cereal Breakfast - Yogurt and Cereal
Breakfast - Yogurt and Cereal

Except the rain came back yesterday and it almost felt like spring had deserted us even before it begun, so we had a little bit of spring for breakfast – yogurt and cereal.

This simple breakfast of cereal and yogurt is convenient for lazy rainy days – a colourful cereal that looks decidedly spring-like, made with corn flour, coloured and flavoured with vegetable juice.

The cereal, some cheery oranges, almond milk and cultured coconut milk yogurt and it almost feels like spring again.

Breakfast - Yogurt and Cereal

Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

We’re slowly springing out of the dreary days of winter.

Through the incessant rain and cold, there are gentle signs of spring’s emergence; this morning I noticed the tiny red buds of the magnolia tree across the street.

Our winter wasn’t as bad as it was in other places, it just felt like a long dark one; I’m ready for daffodils and cherry blossoms, and longer days as our clocks spring forward this weekend.

Meanwhile we’re enjoying the last bits of winter with the warm comforts of soup – that’s exactly what this mushroom tortellini and vegetable soup is, it’s a hearty comforting soup that warms the soul.

Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

This type of soup usually starts with a text from my sister; she found dried mushroom filled tortellini at the Italian market thought of the classic Italian tortellini en brodo (in broth) but with chunks of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, to add a bit of colour and vibrancy.

My sister and I try to get together and cook once a month, being a far better cook than I am, I always jump at the opportunity – she mostly does all the cooking and I get to reap the benefits – like this awesome soup.

Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

We’ve been making soups like these all winter long, particularly for those gloomy rainy days, and there’s been quite a few of those days.

And the soups are always so tasty and filling and nutritious and warming. It literally melts the chills away.

And the best part is this soup is even better the next day and days after, just keep leftovers in the fridge and reheat before serving.

Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup
Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

Mushroom Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

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There was a restaurant in Kits, it’s long gone now, I was so hooked on their sweet potato fries I was convinced they put something in them.

The rest of the food was subpar at best; nonetheless, we practically hung out there every Friday night for those crispy and salty sweet caramelized fries.

Served with a bright peppery aioli with hints of tomato and rosemary, they weren’t like anything I’d had before.

I didn’t go back for few months and then I heard the restaurant had closed, I wish I’d asked for the recipe, but I wasn’t much of a home cook back then.

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Sometimes I wonder if my idealist brain has created a far more impeccable sweet potato fry than the actual fries were, which is why none other has come close.

Now I always order sweet potatoes fries if it’s on the menu at a bar or restaurant… comparing and judging and chasing that illusive perfect crispy soft-inside savoury sweet taste.

And then other day I started this quest of creating my own perfect sweet potato fries, the one to knock the other off the pedestal – I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but these baked sweet potato wedges are a pleasing start.

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Sweet delicate wedges with a bit of crunch, tender on the inside and a touch of tomato and rosemary – it’s my little cheer for this lengthy winter we can’t seem to shake.

I used garnet yams for this recipe, which in fact are sweet potatoes and technically not ‘yams’ – these are sweeter and richer in colour than the classic sweet potato, also rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), and a good source of other excellent vitamins and dietary fiber.

These potatoes are versatile and probably one of the easiest things to make; I cut them thinner sometimes and change up the spices – they make a great side or snack, and are surprisingly very filling, and of course slightly addictive.

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