Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Friends Have Been Terribly Busy...

So what do you think we do all day here in France? Sit around eating foie gras, drinking fancy wine and sniffing lavender? Well, ok--fair enough. But many of us are also hard at work producing awesome things to help you get more out of your precious time in the country. Here are five new goodies that might interest you: an eBook, an app and three book books. All were produced by friends or by online blogging buddies.

Incurable homesickness was only the beginning of Ellise Pierce’s troubles when she moved to Paris five years ago...she was soon out of cash, out of work and barely able to speak the language. But as those things often go, her longing for home led the way to a whole new career. To ease the blues, Ellise--originally from Denton, Texas--began making tacos, rolling out tortillas, and blending up salsas. Word got out among the American expat community—et voila!—a business was born: Tex-Mex catering and cooking classes under the name Cowgirl Tacos. Next, Ellise launched the CowgirlChef.com blog to chronicle her culinary capers. “When I first moved to Paris, I wanted to reproduce my favorite foods from home,'' she remembers, ''so I figured out how to swap Thai or Moroccan chiles for jalapeños, and to use a blend of mozzarella and mimolette cheeses (both are quite melty) for enchiladas. But the longer I lived here, the more interested I became in what was right in front of me. My life became one big culinary adventure.” Ellise's new cookbook, her first, is called Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent and it came out last month. Cowgirl Chef is a love letter to this period in her life—an assembly of her best Franco-Texan recipes accompanied by personal stories that provide a peek into the joys and frustrations (both culinary and cultural) of living with a Frenchman in Paris.  Plus, the book is full of Ellise's favorite “Cowgirlified Frenchy” recipes, such as Chicken Empanadas with Cilantro Yogurt, Cauliflower Galettes with Chipotle Crème Fraiche, Peanut Butter-Chocolate Soufflés and Cowgirl Quiche. The message? You can make simple, inventive and comforting dishes wherever you hang your hat. Ellise is currently on book tour in the US and you can see the schedule (under ''calendar'') on her website here. Meanwhile, Cowgirl Chef is widely available but you can order it from Amazon here.

Planning a trip to Paris? The creators of the Paris Insiders Guide have emptied their Rolodexes and opened their little black book of gourmet food addresses in Paris. And it's all in The Paris Gourmet Food eGuide, 2012 Edition. Diane Shaskin and Mark Craft, who are also authors of the award-wining culinary travel book, How to Cook Bouillabaisse in 37 Easy Steps, have written this 75-page, full-color downloadable guide, packed with the latest tips to help you find the best culinary addresses in Paris. It includes Paris chocolatiers, epiceries, boulangeries, speciality food shops, fromageries, cooking classes and 70 of their favorite Paris restaurants. Diane and Mark have spent the past 15 years visiting and living in Paris, where they spend their time culling Paris addresses, interviewing Paris food store owners, taking cooking classes and dining at endless Paris restaurants. ''We've cooked and eaten their way through a small fortune,'' Mark tells me. The Paris Gourmet Food eGuide also includes a live-link map with all the best addresses at your fingertips (if your fingers happen to be on a computer keyboard, that is). To download the $8.99 eGuide, click here. 

Two Canadians with a shared love of Provence have created a new app for mobile devices. Just launched in time for summer, Edible Heritage is an audio walking guide for Aix-en-Provence. This app is suitable for both Android devices (from Google Play) and Apple (from iTunes). The idea was hatched over a few glasses of wine by business partners Laurence Bry (Provence Confidential) and Carolyne Kauser-Abbott (Ginger and Nutmeg). The app was designed for travelers who want more than just a tour of the must- see sights. ''It's a journey that allows the user to understand local customs, to delve into the tastes and meanings of local food and wine,'' says Carolyne. ''We've created just the right unstuffy balance between bits of history and bites of delicious treats.' Users will learn about things just as historically relevant to Provence as art and architecture, such as food and personal comforts. ''We've uncovered many little-known facts about these specialties to help travelers better appreciate the delightful world of Aix,'' Carolyne says. Best of all, the app requires no network or wireless connections for full functionality; all info, photos, audio and mapping points are integrated within it. Edible Heritage is $2.99 (Canadian) or roughly €2.30. For more info, click here. You can also like Edible Heritage on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and check them out on Pinterest.

An American writer (from Florida) married to a French man and now living in Banon, Carrieanne Le Bras wrote the book that she wishes she had found when she became pregnant in France. ''As my vocabulary and knowledge of the medical system grew, so did my confidence,'' she reports. ''This book is for expats who need help with pregnancy-related terminologies, and want to know what to expect from the French medical system.'' Chapters are in English and French, with key vocabulary words that every pregnant woman should know. It's loaded with facts, observations and personal stories about being pregnant in France. Practice sentences and answers are at the end of each chapter. Also included is an emergency contact page for placing near a telephone and an appendix filled with additional medical terminologies. To read more about Carrieanne, click here. You can buy the book in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon here while other formats are for sale on Carrieanne's blog here.

Best Paris Stories was released in paperback last week, bringing together the winners of the 2011 Paris Short Story Contest. Under the direction of Paris Writers News, the anthology features stories selected by leading figures from the English-speaking literary community in France. Judges included Diane Johnson (author of Le Divorce), Elizabeth Bard (author of Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes), Charles Trueheart (director of the American Library in Paris), Nicola Keegan (author of Swimming), Janet Skeslien Charles  (author of Moonlight in Odessa) and others. Best Paris Stories is available at bookstores such as The Red Wheelbarrow and on Amazon in both ebook and paperback. You can follow them on twitter at @parisshortstory on on their website here And if you'd like to buy the book, it's on Amazon here.  

And in case you missed it, my recent story about Patricia Wells' new Food Lover's Guide to Paris app is here...


  1. Wow, such great information! Definitely helpful! Thanks for sharing these great guides, books, apps etc...It's so nice to hear about them.

  2. Love your opening sentences! So fun. It is a pleasure to read about all of this exciting creativity. Can't wait to be back in Provence this summer.

  3. Julie, outstanding, as always! Bill Gottfried, Houston

  4. Julie,

    This is outstanding information. Thank you!! It also inspires. Maybe I should get cracking on my Parisian au pair tell-all.


    P.S. I'm esp. curious about the Aix foodie app that serves up "many little-known facts"...

  5. What a plethora of usable information! My next séjour at our house in Provence includes a trip to Paris. I can't wait to dig in to that online guide. And the cookbook would be a worthy addition to my provençal library. Thanks so much!

  6. OK, I confess - I do love foie gras, wine, and lavender - all plentiful here on the Cote d'Azur!

  7. O.M.G. Frenchified Cowgirl cuisine....how sweet is that!! Thanks for such a value-packed post!! Emailing to my French son in Holland from here on the Carmel-by-the-Sea coast ;)

  8. HI Julie as always, fabulous post and information about our beloved Provence! I am sharing this all over the place!

    a bientôt