Goodbye Autumn!

October 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

As Parisians get ready to say goodbye to good weather last week, I tried to take in all the things good weather can offer. The result has been that I haven’t been able to go out and brave the cold wave.

Missoco and I started the weekend early on Thursday evening with some yoghurt cocktails at Le Paradis du fruit(The Paradise of Fruit) at Boulevard des Italiens. My YoYo fruit with Mango was as good as the great fruit of Mango (oh my Mango love! I even made a mango grape jam, recipe soon). The restaurant had contemporary design with a lot of pink to give the paradise feel. I had made up my mind to revisit but one waiter’s rude behaviour put me off. He didn’t like that we stayed for over an hour only for drinks, and gave us change in form of five cent coins. Of course he lost his tip and a future client. Too bad for the restaurant!

The original plan was to dine at my favourite Indian restaurant in Paris, Saravanaa Bhavan. This restaurant is the most authentic when it comes to Indian food. They have a simple service and I don’t mind that fact because I go there to eat delicious food which is spicy and not loaded with cheese unlike so many other places in Paris. Missoco and I ate well and then walked a good thirty minutes to find Gare de l’Est, which happens a lot because I tend to get lost around this station. No one complained as the weather was good to walk around.

It started raining on Friday, so I stay put at home to cook some Risotto with Red Wine. I was preparing myself for the weekend I had planned two weeks in advance. Saturday evening I went to free yoga class at Wanderlust Club. The class had an advanced level for lazy me who hasn’t been exercising enough . There is one more free class this Saturday, 2nd November for those who aren’t travelling during the extended weekend.

Before I could recover from all the stretching I did during yoga, I had trial dance classes for Barre au Sol and Body Ballet at a chic dance studio called Elephante Paname. I extended every possible muscle during the two hours and as a result I have been sore since then. After the two intense days of workout I felt very peaceful. Therefore, there will be more dancing and yoga.

If you haven’t realized until yet that there are no photos on this post, I will mark it out for you. I didn’t take a single photo this time; I just wasn’t in a mood. Sometimes it’s best to keep good memories alive in brain than storing them on disk (fine enough reason for my laziness).

That was all, my pretty and last autumn weekend.

Risotto with Red Wine – Cooking Experiment #2

October 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

I had an unfinished red wine bottle in my refrigerator which I opened almost a week ago. Knowing that it won’t taste very well after so long, I decided to use it for cooking. Luckily, a friend mailed a recipe from the Veggie Thursday blog and as I had almost all other ingredients, I said Perfetto.

Risotto is an Italian rice based dish. This recipe uses onion and red wine to vary the classic way of making this toothsome dish.

Cooking Risotto with Red Wine for Two People

What do we need?

  • 100 gms  Arborio Rice
  • 1-2 Onions
  • 1-2 Tomatoes
  • 100 gms boiled Chickpeas
  • 1 Carrot
  • 5-10 buds Cauliflower
  • 100 gms Mushrooms
  • 50 ml Red Wine
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1-2 cups Water
  • 2 tbps Vegetable Stock

Let’s cook it up

  1. Soak rice in water for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Cut onions in thin ring slices. Heat oil in a pan and sauté onion rings till they change color.
  3. Add the soaked rice and mix well. Wait until the rice is half-cooked.
  4. Add slices of carrot, cauliflower buds, tomato dices and red wine.
  5. Let the rice cook until the red wine evaporates.
  6. Add chickpeas, slices of mushroom, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  7. Just before removing the rice from flame, add the vegetable stock. Cook it for 2-3 minutes.

Let the rice rest for a few minutes to cool before serving it with some bread.

Risotto with Red Wine

Risotto with Red Wine

Buona apetit!

Rösti with Upma – Cooking Experiment #1

October 24, 2013 § 2 Comments

Finally the day has arrived for my first recipe post on this blog!

Since always, I did not experiment with food. Growing up in a vegetarian family, I never had problems learning to cook healthy vegetarian dishes. Things changed a lot when I arrived in France.

As a student I was busy with school and perpetual French learning, I didn’t have time to try cooking French dishes in a vegetarian way. For almost a semester I didn’t learn anything new in the kitchen. I had already bought the essential ingredients and spices from home and used to cook the way I knew. I didn’t dare to try newer French ingredients. But eventually I had to give in since I felt I am not learning anything about French cuisine. Even until now my French kitchen vocabulary is very limited but I am trying.

Here’s what I cooked for dinner tonight. It is an experiment to put together two different countries on a single plate, but it tastes well. Rösti is a Swiss dish based on potatoes and to complement it I added semolina based Upma which is a South Indian dish. Both of these are traditionally breakfast dishes as these are light, but when eaten together they work well for a not so heavy dinner. To add more color I garnished the dish with Kale chips.

Rösti with Upma

Rösti with Upma

Cooking Rösti with Upma for two people –

For Rösti we need

  • 500 gms Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For Upma we need

  • ½ cup Semolina
  • 2 tbsps Oil
  • 10-12 Kale Leaves
  • 1-2 Green Chillies
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3-4 cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Powder

First we cook Rösti

  1. Wash the potatoes well and put them in boiling water for 30-40 minutes on a medium flame.
  2. Check with a fork or knife whether the potatoes are cooked or not. When cooked remove them from flame and wash them with cold water.
  3. Peel off the skin from potatoes and grate them. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Heat oil in a pan. Add the grated potatoes to the pan and shape it a like a thin patty. Cook until the bottom turns golden brown and crunchy.
  5. Turn the patty to cook on the other side until golden brown too.

Once the patty is done we start with Upma

  1. Wash the kale leaves well under flowing water. Cut green chillies into small pieces. Add these to a blender along with lemon juice. Blend until you have a medium to thin consistency.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan and roast semolina until it changes color to a light brown. Add water, the kale – chillies – lemon mixture and coriander powder.
  3. The semolina will start absorbing water. Keep stirring to avoid any lump formation. Remove from flame when semolina stops swelling.

Kale Chips recipe is found here on The Kale Project along with many other healthy and delicious kale recipes.

In a plate, first place Rösti and on top some Upma. Crush the kale chips and sprinkle around Upma.

And voilà, Rösti with Upma is ready. The flavours of lemon with kale and chilly in Upma made it taste well with the slightly crunchy potatoes. There can be improvements in terms of colors with the use of bell peppers; kale can be replaced by mint or coriander leaves or both and potatoes can be replaced by sweet potatoes for a healthier dish and a different flavour. I was very happy with the overall texture.

Looks better in this photo!

Bon Appétit!

Anybody said what this has to do with French cuisine? Nothing much, except the ingredients were all bought in France and I cooked this up in ma cuisine française (my French kitchen). And the life is easy again!

Fashion à la butte Montmartre

October 23, 2013 § 5 Comments

If I visit Montmartre one more time this month, I will file a petition at the Town Hall of eighteenth district asking them to adopt this sweet expatriate girl who can’t get enough of this Parisian village. This week-end I decided to breathe a little and not schedule lot of things. But I had to go out on Saturday evening, the reason being Iva from IvaParis.

Iva is a young entrepreneur who founded IvaParis in 2013, based on a simple observation, “It is not always easy to find clothes that fit us well while having a nice time shopping”. She chose to associate her name to the capital of fashion to offer a fresh vision of fashion. And the girl knows what she is doing.

I first met Iva during a Fashion Night, she organized on a very beautiful spring day in June. I was accompanied by a French friend Missoco (ironic that I call myself Mlle PoLiP while she prefers being a Miss) who already knew Iva. It was a fun night at Emé & Isa Galeries on a cool street named Rue Quincampoix, next to the Centre Pompidou (the modern contemporary arts museum). There were great clothes, shoes, funky accessories and champagne. Along with her dandy team of stylists she hosted an awesome fashion evening. There were not only heavy discounts on everything in the store but also a make-up artist and a hair stylist, could I ask for more? We had a gala time.

Post the late June party I have followed Iva’s blog religiously as her fashion tips are relevant and easy to follow for a dress-up débutante like me. After vacations she had posted an offer for a stroll with a stylist and I signed up immediately. My goal was to discover new shopping boutiques and quarters and consult Iva about colors and patterns that are often not found in regular shops. Iva gave the rendezvous time at 17h00 on Rue Abbesses. I arrived a little earlier and during the wait time I wrote a text reply to Missoco and just as I was about to hit send guess who appeared, Missoco! She calls me her twin, definitely not without a reason and to elaborate more I will need another post. Neither she, nor I had any idea that we had signed up with for the same event. It was a delightful surprise and we had loads of fun. We kick started the evening with some drinks and chatting (the French verb is “papoter” which I just adore) incessantly like girls always do. Another lovely girl joined us and then we started our Montmartre fashion stroll. Our Fashion guide was Iva and Missoco was our Montmartre guide, as she is one of those lucky people who have lived in that area.

We visited three different stores starting with Et Vous (And You, at 46 rue de Abesses Paris 18). This store had some beautiful patterns and a very good combination of colors as well as Paris (by that I mean Gray, Black and White). I liked the blue, orange and white dots pattern.

I like dots

Dots love me!

Next in line was Héroïnes (7 rue de Abbesses Paris 18), the shop for every girl’s dreams. The current collection is very feminine with red and blue as dominant colors. I loved a red dress with blue heart-shaped pockets (somebody tell jess from New Girl) and I was so excited that I didn’t take a photo, silly me!

A girl needs red and yeah some blue!

A girl needs red and yeah some blue!

The last shop we visited was homies (at 8 rue de Abbesses Paris 18). This store was pretty similar to Et Vous but I spotted this so in sheer blue shirt with golden motifs. Missoco also found a cute dress that she has promised to put on very soon.

Sheer gold!

Sheer gold!

We finished the evening by mounting the stairs up to Sacré-Cœur and relishing ourselves with the view of shining Eiffel Tower. A big thank you Iva, it was a wonderful girly evening with so much fashion to absorb. I am waiting for your upcoming events. All the best and loads of love and luck to IvaParis.

The post is not over yet, unless I mention a new discovery, an organic burger restaurant, BioBurger where I tasted the best vegetarian burger since a long time. It is not a vegetarian only restaurant but all the burgers on their menu are available in vegan format. Their restaurant in the ninth district is open through evening and has a casual but cool décor.

My Cheeseburger with salad and chocolate lava cake.

My Cheeseburger with salad and chocolate lava cake.

This was it, a much calmer October weekend. Autumn has started settling in, sky is Gray, and it rains often. Yet this week has had surprisingly pleasant temperatures allowing me to go out with my trench and be enamoured by Paris. I love good weather surprise and who doesn’t in Paris.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”- Coco Chanel

Privacy and Social Networks

October 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Imagine you got late at night, all alone you have to traverse a sketchy street. What do you do? Become alert, try finding some other safer street and take all sorts of security measures to arrive safely at your destination. But why won’t you act similarly with your data on social media?

Péa and I often discuss of me being paranoid about my data and visibility on Facebook (that’s the only social networking site I use). I always try to prove my rational fears but Péa is never convinced. So naturally I had to publish a post on this blog to prove my point. And, the following video on TED by Alessandro Acquisti makes my task a lot easier.

As remarked in the video and in this article about the future of facial recognition, it is very easy to find sensitive information about just anyone on internet and social networks using few basic data that is put up willingly without any measures to secure it. How many of you share photos publicly or with friends of friends on Facebook? How many times you check in with a group of friends and are later tagged in photos which most of the times is accessible to public and often found easily on Google?

Web is changing at the speed of light and it is hard to keep up with ever-changing Facebook and its privacy policies. But we need to take charge and get responsible with what we are putting out there. Here are a few measures that I take to make sure my online life doesn’t fall in wrong hands (again these are only for Facebook, I am sure you can find similar articles for other social networks):

  1. Start by using the tool of “limit audience for past posts” which is found under privacy settings on Facebook. This setting automatically changes the visibility of all your old public posts to friends only.
  2. Do not post anything for public audience. Cover photos on Facebook are public but you need not put anything which reveals your location or human faces, you can also choose not to have a cover photo. When you change your profile picture, it is automatically set to for public audience, always remember to change it to a more private setting.
  3.  Use the option of tag approval on photos or posts by your friends such that at least you are aware of your profile being linked elsewhere and you can always decline being tagged.
  4. Try keeping an organized list of online friends. Out of hundreds or so friends you have on Facebook not all necessarily have to see each and everything you post. In my case only ten percent of my Facebook friends can see hundred percent of my Facebook activity. You can use already available lists like Close Friends, Acquaintances, Restricted etc. or create your own customized lists. It might take some time to organize your friends but it’s worth your privacy and security.
  5. Look carefully at what Facebook applications and games are asking you to give them access to. Most of the time you can restrict the data generated by such apps to be only visible to you.
  6. The easiest advice would be not to put up your address, phone number and email ids on Facebook. In general your profile details should not be visible to public.

These are a few things that I follow religiously on Facebook. While I can’t restrict access to Facebook and governmental organizations but at least I am trying my best and I am fully conscious of what’s at stake here.

Take control of what you share on Internet

Take control of what you share on Internet

I hope by this post I can make few people more responsible about their online lives. LinkedIn is exemplary to have a privacy policy that values its members the most. We need many more such accountable companies.

Caution is a most valuable asset in fishing, especially if you are the fish.” – Anonymous

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