Tag Archives: France

Comeback attempt

Time flies when you are having fun, but also when you have a baby… And not that much really changes when the baby becomes a toddler!

Nineteen months have gone by since the birth of our daughter and not a week has gone by without a thought “tomorrow I will write a new post”. But by the time tomorrow arrives, something has already happened; my mind has already traveled miles away from blogging, priorities have directed me into doing something else, or extreme fatigue has decided to pay a not-so-rare visit.

Having a child at 40+ is not a piece of cake. Lack of support network adds its own challenges. Time has never felt so precious and “did you sleep well?” has become a question associated with irony. I know there are things I could do differently in order to increase the amount of free time and to decrease the level of fatigue, but the reality is I want to make decisions that I am comfortable with, that I believe are the best in the long run. Have I made decisions that are thought to be typically French -no. Have I done things in the Finnish way -not really either.

Despite all this lack of this and that, life has been treating us well during these special months. Choupette (a nickname given to our daughter by a doctor –also known to be Karl Lagerfeld’s cat’s name lol) has embraced the world with open eyes and we have tried to shower her with love, wisdom, kindness, humility and patience. At the daycare where she goes part-time four times a week she eats four-course meals. Based on my latest calculations, she has already tasted nearly 20 types of French cheese. She has been to more restaurants than I did during the first ten years of my life. Choupette has already accumulated quite a bit of travel experience, too. Five trips to Finland, Sicily (https://pearlspotting.com/2015/09/16/palermo-with-a-baby/), island hopping in Greece, Liguria and Côte d’Azur (trips I would like to write about on day…), and this week she will discover Venice. In January she will travel to her first exotic destination: Sri Lanka. Elephants, Buddhist sites, beach and culinary discoveries are to be expected. Luckily she has been expanding her palate at Saravanaa Bhavan (https://pearlspotting.com/2013/10/31/my-love-affair-with-saravanaa-bhavan/) here in Paris!

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Just the tip of the iceberg, more to follow inch’allah! Meanwhile, please drop me a note to tell me how your life has been. Inside tips about Venice and Sri Lanka will be highly appreciated too.

What is for dinner this summer?

This week chez nous in Paris the menu has been cantaloupe starters, tomato mozzarella salads, grilled eggplants, stuffed courgettes, Asian prawns with broccoli, peppers and coriander, spanakopita with lots of onion, and sliced peach for dessert.

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All these fruits and vegetables from the Bastille Market for just 10 Euros! Enjoyed with excellent (and cheap) rosé from our favorite wine shop (see: Christmas preparations: wine). Cannot complain!

What has been on your plate this summer?

Christmas preparations: poultry

A typical French Christmas meal consists of either turkey, capon or goose –stuffed of course. These are the most common poultry to be served at Christmas, but other types exist too. Some of the more rare ones can only be found during the end of the year season.

As we have tasted all of the “common poultry” (see e.g. French Christmas meal: stuffed goose from Les Provinces), and wanted to discover something new, we headed to our favorite butcher Les Provinces (also a restaurant),  near Marché d’Aligre.

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Les Provinces near the hip Aligre market provides not only an amazing choice of poultry but also friendly service.

After a lengthy discussion, we opted for a a guineafowl capon from Chaumes, Bourgogne. Endemic to Africa, guineafowl is one of the oldest gallinaceous birds and leaner than chicken. Its meat has a gamey taste. How it compares to our other poultry experiences –to be seen!

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We chose guineafowl capon on the left to feed us Christmas Eve.

Have you experienced guineafowl capon, or other more exotic poultry? Suggestions, opinions, comments?

PS About wine pairing, see Christmas preparations: wine

 

Christmas preparations: wine

Finding the right wine for one’s meal is serious business in France but even more so when it comes to Christmas meal wine pairing.

Carrying the baby and groceries (read: already about 12kg…), we headed to a wine shop called La Cave des Papilles, located a few steps away from Montparnasse Cemetery. It is not located in our arrondissement, but so worth the visit. This charming wine shop specializes in “le vin naturel“; wine made with minimum technological intervention. Lots of wine offered by independent winemakers, biodynamic wine, etc.

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La Cave des Papilles is a wonderful address for natural wine.

Our visit took about 40 minutes. The shop is not enormous but the choice is extensive. Lots of labels we have never seen before.

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Discovering new labels is a lot of fun.

We listened to the seller –very knowledgeable– and finally based our decision on his recommendations and our taste. AOC Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine (Loire Valley) for oysters. AOC Jurançon (South West of France, near the Pyrenees) for foie gras. AOC Rasteau (Rhône Valley) for poultry. We are big fans of the southern Rhône Valley appellations, home of some fantastic wines like e.g. Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and instead of going with wine from Bourgogne (as recommended by the seller), we opted for our usual region.

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So many labels, so many regions.

We didn’t buy anything for cheese but should we need some more wine, we have a lovely bottle of Irouléguy from 2010.

….and just in case you wondered –no need to buy champagne as we have Canard-Duchêne in the fridge!

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I told you. Serious business.

Is your wine and food pairing as exhaustive this Christmas?

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La Cave des Papilles: 35 Rue Daguerre, 75014 Paris. Metro: Denfert-Rochereau. Closed during lunch hour!

 

No Bastille Market today

As a consequence of Friday’s tragic events the markets remain close today. This is a pity because we love going to the Bastille Market every Sunday, and would have gone also today. All those colors bring us a lot of joy. Not to mention that we bring home several bags of fruits and vegetables that last at least until Thursday –the day the market opens again.

The Bastille Market, open on Thursdays and Sundays, gives a lot of joy to us.

The Bastille Market, open on Thursdays and Sundays, gives a lot of joy to us. Today the market remains close.

Many Parisian have preferred to stay indoors since yesterday but I believe this is exactly what the terrorists want. And I don’t want to give in. I have never been good at doing what I am “supposed” to do…

Yesterday afternoon we left our secured home and wandered through the streets of Paris. First Rue de Charonne where we met with a friend, then la Place de la Nation and Rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine. The 11th arrondissement  was very quiet indeed but calling it a ghost town would be far-fetched. Near Faidherbe-Chaligny metro, a few steps away from the shooting sites, we said good bye to a friend who headed home. We started walking towards our arrondissement, the 4th, and did groceries in the heart of the lower Marais, Saint Paul. Shops, cafes and restaurants were open and alive. By the time we were ready to return home it was lheure de lapéro. I paid attention to a church that was unusually full of people of all age. Hundreds of candles were lit.

In a few minutes we are going to check the market anyway. Maybe an odd vendor will be selling aubergines and grapes? Probably not. In this case we are going to have a walk. Should we stay inside and prepare for the worst, minimize the risk by skipping our usual habits? No, I don’t think so. I have never lived by fear, even in countries where I probably should have because the risk of terrorism was very high. So far my intuition and luck (or destiny if you prefer) have kept me alive and I trust they will continue to do so. Maybe I am naive but I refuse to live under fear.

PS I was going to end this post by referring to the Western values like freedom etc., but I don’t want to fall under this East (“bad values”) versus West (“good values”) thinking, which I believe is another trap, something terrorist want us to start believing too. The global situation is by far much more complex….

Return to Paris

It has been one week since I returned from Finland to Paris –one long week of missing Finland, its gorgeous weather (that got even better after my departure!) and the summer house.

Few days ago I composed a long post about all of the above but I lost it (WordPress no longer automatically saves one’s posts?) and haven’t felt like rewriting everything again. Maybe it was for the better!?

Over the years I have learned to like Paris, and my life is here, but somehow this year the return has been quite difficult. So, in addition to getting back to the daily routine (regular exercise, healthy eating, less wine drinking) I have tried to do things that make me happy here in Paris. Long walks, spotting history in almost every corner, enjoying the abundance of ethnic kitchens, the endless number of individual book shops and cinemas, to mention a few. I have also enjoyed the fact that Paris is a Latin city. Strangers greet each other, bus drivers say hello, strangers ask where my tropical-looking tan comes from, my fruit and vegetable vendor finally dares to ask where my accent comes from, etc. I like the small talk here. This is not the South of France but getting there…

During the heat wave the sky turns pink in Paris

During the heat wave the sky turns pink in Paris.

Weather-wise it has been quite hot, the air has been heavy, and it has felt very “southern”. Somehow I think that these clouds I photographed this week have also suffered from the heat wave  –they look so heavy, full of heat and ready to explode. It has been a pleasure watching these beautiful sunsets this week and to realize how much happiness some pink clouds can bring!

How has your return been?

A Virtual Blog Tour

A Virtual Blog Tour is a project that asks each participant to compose a one-time post to be published on a specific Monday. Its purpose is to introduce different bloggers through a series of questions about the creative process and what inspires us to do what we do. The same set of questions will introduce a blogger to another blogger’s readers, as well as the wider blogging community.

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Last Monday Vasilis from Traveller’s Tree sent me an invitation to join a Virtual Blog Tour and here I am, one week later, participating (see my answers in the end of this post) and about to introduce the next participant, Sarah from

However, before moving to South Korea where Sarah lives, a few words about Vasilis. Vasilis introduces himself as “Dad bitten by the wanderlust bug. Exploring the planet with his family”. He is a Greek man born in Athens who after studying paleontology in Japan made it to the other side of the world, Finland. I don’t know much about Vasilis, but what I know is that he takes cool photos and that he has interesting comments and analysis about Finland, my country of origin. He moved to Finland around the same time when I permanently left Finland, and I admit being intrigued by his life in Finland. Or rather by his observations should I say! Life of an expat is always interesting to another expat… So, thank you Vasilis for inviting me to a Virtual Blog Tour, keep Traveller’s Tree growing and be happy in Finland!

Finnish lake somewhere in the Mäntyharju district (Photo copied from An ode to a Finnish lake at Traveller’s Tree)

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Now, let’s move to the other side of the world, South Korea, where Sarah has been writing her blog since March 2011. When I first saw this photo of her I said to myself “she looks like a kind, happy person”. And I started following her. IMG_3641-001

Similarly to Vasilis, my relationship with Sarah is purely virtual. I know very little of her, but I like reading her posts because she is another expat living abroad. She writes about food, restaurants, travels, weekend visits, her husband and friends. These photos below are from her 4th of July diving trip to the East Coast of South Korea. Beautiful shots, aren’t they!

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Ever since I tasted my first bibimbap in Paris I have been fascinated about South Korea, so through  I get my weekly dose of a country I have not yet visited. I appreciate the fact that Sarah is a regular writer and that her posts are quite lengthy. I don’t mean to say that blog posts should always be long (mine certainly aren’t!) but I admire the fact that Sarah finds time and energy to create long posts and at a regular basis. We all know that writing is not always simple and it certainly doesn’t come without effort. Even if I may have some idea about her motivation, I am curious to know more about her and I am looking forward to Sarah’s answers to the questions below (where you also find my answers)! Welcome Sarah!

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1. What am I working on?

I am working on moving my mind from Finland to France. My body was transported to Paris last Saturday night but my mind is elsewhere and resisting. Our holiday in Finland was really very lovely and the summer house is one of those places where one can get lost forever; get lost in the rhythm of sauna, swimming, wood cutting and cooking (what else would one need in life?). Unfortunately I had to return to Paris but I would have liked to stay longer (tears).

In terms of my blog work, I will write more posts about the summer house and Helsinki because Helsinki is a fantastic capital to visit, ansd because our summer house is a paradise on earth (quoting a young French boy who visited it some years ago)! Some posts from last year can be found here: The Midsummer Weekend in Finland and more is to come!

Midsummer, Finland

I also want to finish my series about my first trip to India, Rajasthan, and write more about my fourth trip that took place in April this year (especially about Fabulous Ayurvedic Treatments).

I  love India and I hate when people observe this huge, diversified country purely through violence and you-know-what. I want to show that nothing in India is so black and white as it seems, and that beyond the surface that we think is brutal, dirty and primitive one can find extraordinary beauty, wisdom and sophistication.

I am also working on other personal projects but let’s limit this answer to the blog world.

2. How does my work differ from others in it’s genre?

Pearlspotting is a travel and lifestyle blog. I have traveled in more than 70 countries (and worked in many of them) and my writing is based on the accumulative experience of visiting the world and everything it contains. Happiness, joy, sadness, astonishment, beauty, cruelty, injustice, etc.

For living I write about economic development of emerging markets, and I believe this professional experience provides me with a good foundation to understand other sectors such as for example tourism.

In my blog, I do not really list typical places to visit –there are enough of those guide books. I try to guide people toward experiences and feelings; towards some kind of a fusion where travel becomes lifestyle and lifestyle becomes travel, and where travel doesn’t always need to be geographical…

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

In the beginning Pearlspotting was about a desire to create (a basic human need!) by writing and taking photos. Very soon I realized that having a blog makes me very happy. Writing about food, wine, restaurants, travel, design, architecture, religion etc. in a positive light sort of became a self therapy, and as my husband now jokes, Pearlspotting has made me fall in love with Paris again!

wedding in Paris by the Seine

So, to put it simply, living abroad is not always easy but writing a blog has made it nearly wonderful (lol).

Secondly, I also write because I want to memorize experiences I have had around the world. Sometimes it is a way of showing respect and gratitude toward people I have met during my travels. For example, The man who lived is a sad story about someone I met in Sudan and who passed away. On the happier end, I wrote a post about lovely Cretan bakery owners I met last summer. They were so kind and their products were so delicious that they had to be immortalized in Sfakian delights.

4. How does your writing creative process work?

First of all, I write about positive things. If I eat at a bad restaurant, I do not write about it. It is rare that you find negativity in my blog. You may find sadness and longing, but not a lot of criticism. Why? Because life is hard enough as it is and I want to focus on positive aspects! In the beginning this positivity aspect was not so conscious but I do now keep it in the back of my mind every time I write a new post.

I know that I should probably schedule my posts to be published at 9 in the morning but I am a night person… I often write in the evening and I often publish at night (like tonight).

I always read over what I have written, but I rarely wait until the next day. Some posts take longer than others, like for example the aforementioned story about my friend in Sudan, and Understanding Finland by Art and Helsinki by Food.

Sometimes I just take a look at the view from our balcony, see a beautiful sunset, take a photo and publish a post with a short text (for example That Parisian view). It depends!

Parisian balcony in spring

I try to write as much as I can, sometimes every day and always at least once a week.

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Well, my answers became longer than planned but I hope you liked reading about my thoughts. It is now time to send this post out so that Sarah from can start preparing her post! Good night for now.

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