Join me for a (pictorial) visit to my new favourite park in Paris. I feel like I say this about all the places in Paris, but the Buttes Chaumont could very well be my utmost favourite. This unique and enchanting space of greenery tucked in the north-east edge of the city, has a temple, waterfalls, caves, streams, bridges, cliffs and a lake with its own small island! Ancient trees and plants from when the park opened in 1867 can still be found here.
The park is full of so many distinctive features, like a 65 metre long suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel.
At the top of the steep cliffs on the rocky island is a tower, the Temple de la Sibylle surrounded by an artificial lake.
I hear there are stunning views of Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur from the temple, but we couldn’t get up there on our visit because it was closed off for restoration.
At the start of every winter, I usually convince myself that I’ll love it, with the same abandon as I loved autumn.
I tell myself that I don’t mind the cold. I don’t. And there’s this chilled breeze that flows through my small kitchen window that reminds me of dry harmattan mornings – those are good memories.
Yet, soon enough I’ll find that I’ve had enough of winter; it’s the darkness that generally does me in.
Even when the days start getting longer, it’s still dark by the time I get home and all I want to do is crawl under the covers and hope for a better day tomorrow.
That said, there’s a quiet gentleness to winter that speaks to me. It’s a sort of reminder not to take on too much and enjoy the season for what is it. Then there’s the hankering for comforts foods, as if the body is replenishing itself.
There’s this quote I love and think about whenever I’m making bread. I found it on the back on a book, as part of its blurb; it said, “bread rises, pain fades, the heart heals, and the future beckons.” I thought about that quote again recently when friend told me how bread making helps her get through tough times. Apparently, the act of mixing, kneading, shaping and watching dough rise is therapeutic.
With this in mind, we made bread this past weekend, after a bizarre drama-fraught few days.
Last week, I made a salad of mostly things left over from the holidays, and ate it every day for lunch.
I threw together brown basmati rice, black-eyed peas, fennel and some slow-roasted tomatoes and made a lemony mustard vinaigrette to go with it, and then finished it off with some saffron and lime roasted cashews. I feel like it’s going to be a great year for food!
The slow-roasted tomatoes, we made a few months go, put them in jars and kept in the freezer. We ate a ton of lush and flavourful tomatoes over the summer. We discovered a new (to us) market that had gorgeous varieties tomatoes; so we spent a few hours one afternoon in October roasting late-season tomatoes. We like to think we’re preserving summer all year long with these tomatoes.
We use them like you would sun-dried tomatoes; slow roasting deepens and intensifies their flavours; they add rich savouriness to everything you put them in.
We stayed in a cozy little attic on lively rue Montorgueil, just where it runs into Les Halles by the église Saint-Eustache (yay church bells!).
Our apartment was tucked up five flights in one of the historic buildings lining the pedestrian market street, and like our last apartment, this too had steep spiral stairs and no elevator. It seems we enjoy torturing ourselves.
What it lacked in terms of space and accessibility, it made for in natural light and charm. The apartment was incredibly bright; ample windows and skylights drown the space in so much light, it felt as if we were living in the sky.
Once you’ve schlepped all the way up those winding stairs, there’s yet another set of stairs (I guess that makes it 6 flights!) inside the suite that takes you up to this cozy hidden gem with all the comforts you’d need for a few weeks’ stay.