Place Settings #45: February 1, 2015


Eat | Definitely a what’s-left-in-my-refrigerator kind of breakfast. Egg-in-a-hole, avocado, and bacon.


Drink | It looks like a beer, but it’s not. It’s a can of Guayaki yerba mate in a pretty glass. Yerba mate is a plant in the holly family that can be brewed like tea to make a tasty beverage. I wasn’t really familiar with it until I spent a month in Berlin and was converted into a Club Mate addict. Club Mate is head and shoulders and torso above any other yerba mate drink I’ve ever encountered and it’s very difficult to find in the US, a fact that makes me cry every so often. (more…)


Place Settings #36: April 6, 2014

Place Settings #36

Eat: Asparagus season is in full swing and you can’t go anywhere in Paris without seeing bundles of thick green and white stalks for sale. I picked up a fistful of spears in La Grande Epicerie, a magical food store that I’ve mentioned before. I steamed these for a few minutes, coated them in butter, and topped with a poached egg and a bit of salt.

Drink: English breakfast tea with honey.

Read: After I finished Bird by Bird, I looked at my stack of books and hesitated before selecting Girl with Curious Hair. Part of me wanted to take a longer break from David Foster Wallace (I finished Infinite Jest at the end of February), not because I’ve grown tired of him, but because I didn’t want to binge on him.  (more…)

Place Settings #31: March 2, 2014


Eat: This is yet another installment of I-need-to-go-grocery-shopping cooking. I scrambled some eggs, finished off some sad lettuce, and topped a baguette with goat cheese and avocado. I ran 16 miles this morning as part of my marathon training, which means I’ll be spending the rest of the day eating and napping.

Drink: Nespresso, or I would have fallen asleep immediately after my post-run shower. (more…)

Place Settings #27: February 2, 2014


Eat: Eggs, scallions, mayonnaise on a baguette. Italy and France have the best eggs, in my opinion. Every time I eat an egg here, I wonder what on earth I was eating in New York. The yolks are a deep golden color and they taste much richer. I also picked up Mayonnaise des Normandes at Le Grande Epicerie (my new favorite place on earth — probably deserving of its own blog post); it tastes like a cross between mayo and mustard, and I cannot stop eating it. Seriously, I spread it on some bread and eat it. And speaking of bread, I have officially found the best baguette in my neighborhood. I also love watching the businessmen pick up baguettes on their ways home in the evening and rip off a chunk of bread to eat while they walk. I can’t blame them though; I have no idea how they bake so  much happiness into a baguette, but it really is that good.

Drink: Nespresso. Le sigh. I was gifted some beans the other day though, so I’m brainstorming a cheap pourover set-up for myself. Do we have any thoughts on hand grinders? (more…)

Place Settings #25: January 19, 2014


Eat: Fromage cremeux, eggs scrambled with bacon, and avocado on a baguette. I moved out of my host/employer’s guest room and into her spare apartment this week (hence the slower posting), so I was finally able to go grocery shopping and have my own food around. I will never be able to eat enough French bread or eggs (cheese goes without saying).

Drink: Nespresso seems to be the national beverage over here. Every home I’ve been to has one, and many restaurants use Nespresso machines. Pod coffee is not my favorite, so I’m brainstorming alternatives. The real obstacle is getting my hands on a decent burr grinder. Decent burr grinders aren’t the cheapest, but they are essential for everything (including cold brewing). Still meditating on this one. Maybe I’ll just drink tea at home and pop over to Le Bal when I want a real cup of coffee.

Read: I’m working on finishing Never Any End to Paris (I forgot how much reading time Proust takes up). It is strange reading it having just moved here. Sometimes Vila-Matas references a specific location in Paris or a particular French attitude and I enjoy recognizing it, but most of the time, I feel like he is discussing a completely different city. Of course, on some level he is discussing a different city: mid-1970s Paris rather than 2014 Paris. I can barely imagine the New York City of the mid-1970s, so I don’t even attempt to claim knowledge of how much Paris has changed in the past 40 years.  (more…)

Place Settings #8: September 1, 2013

20130901-112610.jpgEat: Some mango and deviled eggs with paprika. I don’t even want to talk about my relationship with mayonnaise (Kewpie is my favorite), but suffice it to say that in my personal lexicon, “deviled eggs” is a euphemism for eating all the condiments in my refrigerator.

Drink: It is still hot and humid in New York, but I’m advocating for fall weather by switching from cold brew to hot coffee.

Read: I’m taking advantage of the long weekend to get some serious editing/writing done. I’m much better at editing than writing, so it’s always kind of a relief when I reach the editing stage. I make notes by hand in red pen, and then highlight each correction once I fix it on the computer. For some reason I have very low reading comprehension on the screen, so I always make edits on hard copies. It’s possible that this is just stubbornness on my part, and that if I just tried a little harder, I could edit just as well on my computer. What do you think? Can you read as well on a computer?

Place Settings #2: July 14, 2013

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Eat: Breakfast sandwich of roasted salmon, hard-boiled egg, and dill mayonnaise (using my favorite Kewpie Mayo from Japan); strawberries on the side.

Drink: More iced tea from my mason jar. Today it’s a mint tea and a little wedge of lemon.

Read: Last weekend I was walking around my neighborhood when I spotted this on a table of books outside a second-hand shop. It’s been loitering on my reading list for a while, so I picked it up for $2.99. The inside flap describes it as a “novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting,” and I can’t think of a more apt description (I can hardly believe I’m taking a break to write this blog post). It starts in 1960s England as the present-day narrator tries to recall a series of events starting in his adolescence. Memory is one of my favorite subjects about which to read and write, on top of which, Barnes’ sentences are beautiful. I can already tell I’m going to read it again (it’s short — 163 pages — and as I mentioned, easily read in a single sitting).