Growing up, I never had imaginary friends, but in my adult life, I have plenty of imaginary homes. In addition to my beach house and mountain cabin, I have a French country home. A girl can dream, right?! And when I need touch of inspiration, I trot off to Les Fermes de Gally. It has everything you could possibly want for a picture perfect chateau and manicured gardens, including gorgeous show roosters, adorable chicken coops, rabbits, garden goodies, housewares, decorations, and more.
I love to stop by Les Fermes for a touch of lunch at their cozy country café followed by some retail therapy. I especially like to go out at Christmas time to pick up a tree. Not to mention, they have a great food department with a wide selection of regional goodies and locally grown produce.
If you have little ones, you can certainly make a morning of it. Visit the farm animals, pick your own seasonal fruit, and a finish off the day with a few sweets at the café. Keep in mind, the café is small and it seems to always be busy at lunch. You can call ahead for a reservation.
Les Fermes is about 20-30 minutes by car outside of Paris, on the edge of Versailles. If you like the French Country home look – you will love this place. Leave your Chanel heels at home, though!
One thing I love about the city is being transported to another world in a matter of minutes. This week I went from Paris to India, all for the price of a metro ticket, no jet lag, and no lost luggage. Gone were the boulangeries, the creperies, the Zara’s, and the Gaps. Instead I was welcomed with saris, bangles, fruits I couldn’t name, and the smell of curry wafting down the street. If you are craving a change of pace and some good Indian food – La Chapelle is the area to find it. I shared a lovely vegetarian lunch with some friends at Saravana Bhavan (http://www.saravanabhavan.com/) followed by grocery shopping at a local market. It was seriously another world – fruit from Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic, and India to name a few! It was a feast for the senses. I mean, where in the Wilson Market am I going to find banana blossoms to cook??
If you are like me – I was overwhelmed by the variety of ingredients. I ended up with mangustan (delicious Sri Lankan fruit with reported great health benefits), amazing smelling fresh curry leaves, plus a few other goodies. And what to do with the banana blossoms you bought on an impulse?? Check this out: http://www.thekitchn.com/ingredient-spotlight-banana-bl-120394
I know, I know, say it ain’t so, but sometimes you want something that is not a croissant. Sometimes you just want green tea or red beans right in your pastry – MMM! Right now, I am reading a funny travelogue about a trip through Japan (Hitching Rides with Buddha by Will Ferguson) and I was inspired to stop by a Japanese bakery that I had heard about ages ago: Aki Boulanger. I forget how, but this place came to my attention about two years ago, yet I never visited. I stopped by about a month ago, but alas, it was August and the doors were firmly shut for vacances. So – today I had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and stroll over to Rue Sainte Anne. I was not disappointed.
I didn’t know what to order, so I picked out three simple things with green tea: Matcha Cake, Blanc Matcha Azuki, and Melon Matcha. All delicious. The matcha cake and melon matcha bread were as I expected: sweet treats with the earthy flavor of green tea. I sliced into the blanc matcha azuki and to my surprise: red beans! (I know – azuki should have given it away, but I didn’t notice that until I read my receipt later.) I felt like I won a prize! Super yummy. I did not see the Marbré Azuki Matcha bread, so I will definitely go back in search of that, plus sample some other things.
Although I took my items to go, there are tables outside and small lunch tables on the inside. It looked like a nice spot to stop for a tea or coffee if you are in the Opera/Pyramides area. In addition to the Japanese baked good items, there were also traditional French items and a few lunch items.
Special bonus, the Rue Sainte Anne is lined with different Asian restaurants that I am dying to try – so if anyone is up for a lunch out please let me know!