Sunday, July 31, 2022

Paris in July: Le Fin!

Just like that we are at the end of July and therefore also at the end of this year's Paris in July event.

I have really enjoyed visiting lots of the other participants in the event, and I am already looking forward to next year!

Here is a summary of the posts that I shared this year

Visiting The Marche aux Puces de Saint Ouen
Vintage Weekend Cooking: Romantics Anonymous

Thanks to Tamara from Thyme for Tea and Deb from Readerbuzz for hosting!

See you all next year!

Paris in July: Bestsellers around the world

A couple of years ago I had a feature called Bestsellers Around the World. The idea was that I would take a look at the bestsellers list for that week and compare it to the Australian bestsellers list. It turned out it could be quite challenging and so despite my best intentions I haven't quite managed to keep it going.  For my final post in this year's Paris in July, I thought I would revive it and share a list of the books the readers of Paris are reading at the moment based on the bestseller list at Sens Critique!

1. L'Anomalie by Hervé Le Tellier (The Anomaly)- This is a sci-fi novel where the premise is that there is an anomaly in the time line which causes a passenger plane to appear twice! I find it curious how plane this cover is (pun intended!)

2. Trois by Valérie Perrin (Three) - Three childhood friends are reunited after many years when a car is found at the bottom of a lake.

3. Les Possibles by Virginie Grimaldi (The Possibles) - When Juliane's father moves in with her, she comes to realise that he is not just unusual but that his health is deteriorating.

4. Skidamarink by Guillaume Musso - In 2004 the Mona Lisa is stolen and and international magnate is kidnapped but how are these connected. This sounds a bit Dan Brown-ish!

5. 1991 by Franck Thilliez - Inspector Franck Sharko is given a cold case to investigate the murder of 3 young women. Maybe plain covers are a thing in France.

6. Par Dessus Bord by Michel Vinaver and Oriza Hirata (Overboard) This was published in 2010 but Michel Vinaver passed away earlier this year.

7. L'Énigme de la Chambre 622 by Joël Dicker (The Enigma of Room 622) - This book was actually number 1 on the list when I last did one of these posts!

8. Tout le bleu du ciel  by Mélissa Da Costa (All the Blue of the Sky)- When Emile is diagnosed with early onset alzheimers  at the age of 36, he decides that he wants to take one last trip.

9. Kilomètre zéro Le Chemin du bonheur by Maud Ankaoua (Kilometre Zero: The Way to Happiness) - Maelle joins her friend on a healing journey to Nepal.

10. Le Cerf-Volant by Laetitia Colombani (The Kite)- A woman travels to India after a tragedy. Every morning she sees a little girl flying a kite and forms a bond with her.

It's interesting that there are a number of authors who have multiple books in the top 30. Joel Dicker also appears in the list with his new book L'Affaire Alaska Sanders  which is at number 11 on the list.

Melisa Da Costa's book Je Revenais des Autres (published in 2021) is at number 12 and Virgine Grimaldi is at number 14 with Il Nous Restera ça. Virginie Grimaldi is an author I think I would enjoy reading, so I have bought one of her books today. Maybe I will have read it by next year!

I had a look back at my post from 2020 and was surprised to see that a number of these books and authors appeared on the bestsellers list two years ago including Joel Dicker, as I mentioned earlier. 

Other interesting entries on the list are two books by Michael McDowell which are horror novels, and also The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley, a book I still need to read.

Do any of these books catch your attention?

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Weekend Cooking: French Onion Casserole

When I look back over the recipes that I have shared as part of Paris in July, I have realised that there are some common things - mainly that they are wintery, casserole type dishes. A couple of years ago I shared a recipe for cassoulet, and last year it was French style chicken. I guess it makes sense since we are in the depths of winter and so we are looking for soups, stews and casseroles  - hearty, warming dinners and comfort food.

Luckily, our local supermarket magazine has come to the party again this year, with the cover recipe for June being French Onion Beef Casserole with Garlic Butter Potatoes.

We cooked this on a cold Sunday afternoon, letting the delicious smells fill the house. It definitely is a slow process with a couple of different steps to the process but it was well worth it. The reality is that a lot of the time that this takes to cook is just in the oven, so it isn't like you are busy making it for the whole time. Plenty of time to read a book, make a cake or watch a movie while the oven does it's magic.

As I was writing this post I was curious about how French this would actually be. I guess it is instpired by French Onion Soup which apparently has it's origins in the 18th century.

French Onion Casserole with Garlic Butter Potatoes

2 tbs olive oil
1kg diced beef/oyster blade steak, cut into 3cm pieces
200g brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
40g pkt French onion soup mix
1 1/2 cups (375ml) salt-reduced beef stock
4 thyme sprigs
50g garlic butter
6 Red Royale potatoes, cut into 1cm-thick slices
1/2 cup (50g) shredded pizza cheese
Thyme sprigs, extra, to serve


20g butter
2 brown onions, thickly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs salt-reduced beef stock
1 tsp thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 150°C. Heat half the oil in a large casserole pan over high heat. Add one-quarter of the beef and cook, turning occasionally, for 2-3 mins or until brown all over. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Repeat, in batches, with the remaining beef.

Heat half the remaining oil in the pan. Add the mushroom and cook, turning, for 5 mins or until golden. Transfer to the bowl. Heat remaining oil in the pan. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until onion softens. Return the beef and mushroom to the pan and sprinkle with flour. Cook for 1 min or until well combined. Add the soup mix, beef stock and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 2 hours or until the beef is very tender.

Meanwhile, to make the caramelised onion, melt the butter in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins or until the onion softens and begins to caramelise. Add the sugar, vinegar and stock and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 mins or until onion caramelises. Add the thyme and season with pepper.

Increase oven to 180°C. Heat the garlic butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the potato and cook for 2 mins each side or until the potato is golden.

Arrange potato and caramelised onion over the beef mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 20 mins or until the potato is tender. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for a further 10 mins or until the cheese melts and is golden. Sprinkle with extra thyme sprigs and season with pepper to serve.

 Weekly meals

Saturday - Out for dinner
Sunday -  French Onion Casserole
Monday - Pork sausages, pumpkin mash and caramelised onions
Tuesday - beef pad see ew
Wednesday - chicken enchiladas
Thursday - Pork chops, mash, gravy, broccoli
Friday - Out for dinner

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Paris in July: I Swear I Know That Song


Earlier in this year's Paris in July event I shared some Paris themed songs.

Today, I thought I would have a bit of fun by sharing some songs that will sound familiar and yet not quite as we know them!

Let's start with Ces Soiree La by Yannick

And now we go old school with Personnalites by Sacha Distel

Here's one I am pretty sure you will recognise

Here is French rock legend Johnny Halliday singing Noir C'est Noir. (I may have spent quite a while watching live videos of Johnny Halliday when I was preparing this post. No idea what he was singing but he clearly was a big star in France!

And finally another old school song, although apparently the words have been changed a little

I thought I would try and find some songs where the reverse happened. Even though there are many examples of English language versions of French movies, I couldn't find any songs which were originally recorded in French and then translated to English.

Do you know of any other French versions of English songs, or vice versa?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books from My Past Seasonal TBR Posts that I Still Haven't Read


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic 

is Books From My Past Seasonal TBR Posts I STILL Haven’t Read (Submitted by Dedra @ A Book Wanderer). Can I just say, I have PLENTY of options here!

Below is a selection, including the list that they originally appear on.

Marriage of Lions by Elizabeth Chadwick - Autumn 2022

10 minutes 38 seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak - Autumn 2022

Go Tell the Bees I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon - Summer 2021 (and Spring 2021)

Act Like it by Lucy Parker (Spring 2021)

The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley (Winter 2021)

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer (Winter 2021)

Road Trip by Beth O'Leary (autumn 2021)

Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr (Spring 2020)

Clap when you land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Winter 2020)

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams(Winter 2020)

Which of these books do you think I should move up the list to read now?

Monday, July 25, 2022

This Week

I'm reading....

Coming up in a couple of weeks, I am participating in a blog tour for the third book in the Bellbird Bay series by Maggie Christensen. However, I have a major aversion to reading series out of order so this week I am reading Coming Home to Bellbird Bay, the second book.

I'm watching.....

We didn't really watch anything this week. Meanwhile, the list of things I should watch gets longer.


We had a busy night on Saturday. We went to a place that has been on our list of restaurants to visit for a while called Tonka. It describes it's food as modern Indian. For me the highlight was the fried cauliflower, garam masala salt, fenugreek and yoghurt which was totally delicious.

We knew that there was a 50% chance of rain for Saturday night, but we managed to get rained on 100% of the time as we attended an event called Lightscape. We got absolutely soaked through but it was still worth seeing.

Finally, we went to a Christmas in July event with some people who I used to work with. It was fun to catch up but ended up being quite a late night. We are not good at late nights any more!

Posts from the last week

Weekend Cooking: Lamington Trifle

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Christmas in Paris in July

I don't know if Christmas in July is a thing all over the world, but it is here in Australia, or maybe it is just in my little corner of Australia. I even went to the bakery and they had traditional Christmas mince pies for sale, so it is definitely more than just in my friend circle. One of the nice things about that is that we can have the full on traditional Christmas dinner when it is cold, instead of when it is very hot! If we are organised enough we can wear our Christmas jumpers, we play Naughty Santa so everyone ends up with a small gift, my brother in law makes eggnog on occasion and generally we all have a lovely time. 

This year we spent time with a friend I formerly worked with who is crackers about Christmas (deliberate pun!) for a Christmas in July celebration so it was great to catch up with all the people I used to work with.

This year, we are planning to spend a week or so in France over the Christmas/New Year period, and the last time I was there nearly 30 years ago (how on earth has it been that long!) it was around Christmas time too. So today, I thought I would share a few Christmas (in Paris in July) related bits and pieces.

When I was last in Paris back in 1994, it was very early in my tour, so we really were a bunch of strangers on a bus who were about to spend 3 and a bit weeks together. We went to a small restaurant, where I tried snails for the time and received a small gift from the tour director. After dinner we went to a local church around the corner and had the most magical experience of midnight mass in French. I wrote more about this experience here.

If all goes to plan we will be in the Netherlands for Christmas then spend a few days in Northern France, followed by a few days in Paris in early January and then onto Southern Italy. I am therefore very hopeful that I will get to Paris in all it's glory, but just in case here are some lights

Last year I discovered Tatiana Eva Marie who is a Swiss born jazz musician who grew up in France but is now based in New York.  She released a Christmas album called Wintertime Dreams: A Parisian Christmas a couple of years ago that I listened to a lot last Christmas. It is such a delight to listen to with it's mix of classic songs, violins and accordians, and plenty of songs that sound like they have jumped out of the typical soundtrack which nevitably accompanies any movie set in Paris.

Here is a taster:

Currently I am reading a book called The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France by John Baxter. I am not going to finish this book in time to post about it for this year's Paris in July event. However, I have read a couple of other Baxter books over the years, most notably his book The Immovable Feast: A Paris Christmas. My full review is here, but I am going to share a quote from very early in the book about Baxter's first Christmas with his new French family.

With Jean-Paul present, the meal could begin. A few minutes later, he took his place at the head of the table, and the other dozen guests arranged themselves, with me at the foot.

The marathon of Christmas dinner commenced.

I'd been warned what to expect. After the foie gras, we'd be enjoying white boudin veal sausage with fried apple, then roast pintade - or guinea fowl - a gratine dauphinois of sliced potatoes baked with cheese and cream, accompanied by green beans and carrots, followed by cheese, and Francoise's twenty-five-egg mousse - each course with its wine, including champagne with the dessert.

The goose liver was delicious enough for one to spare little thought for the poor bird that produced it.We smeared it into fresh white pain, larger brother of the more familiar baguette, washing it down with '84 Bordeaux from Madame's own cave - which was literallya cave, hollowed out of the rock on which this house was built.

The women never stopped handing around plates, offering more foie gras, and returning to the kitchen for bread or cornichons. Jean-Paul exchanged a few phlegmatic words with Jean-Marie, then fell silent. From time to time he would tilt a wine bottle away from him and stare at the label, as if it might have changed miraculously into a better year.

Joyeux Noël en Juillet!

Paris in July is hosted by Tamara from Thyme for Tea and Deb from Readerbuzz.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Lamington Trifle

Hot on the heels of World Ice Cream Day last week, this week I bring you National Lamington Day which was on July 21. 

I have posted before about Lamingtons a couple of times, but I will give you a brief explanation. A traditional lamington is a sponge cake, which is dipped in chocolate ganache or sauce and then rolled in coconut. There are several different versions, including raspberry flavoured lamingtons, or you can fill them with jam or cream or both. 

Today, I am sharing the steps to make a lamington trifle.

 As soon as I saw this trifle mentioned on the Queen website, I knew that I was going to try to make it. It is a bit fiddly, a bit challenging in some ways, but there are definitely hacks that you could make to make it easier. I thought I would share the step by step build up of the trifle. 

Strawberry jam layer topped with lamington sponge 

topped with vanilla bean custard then a strawberry coulis

Then another lamington sponge and topped with cream, lamington truffles and fresh strawberries. The truffles are made by combining the left over sauce with the leftover coconut, such a clever idea!

I am cheating a little bit posting this today as I actually made this a few months ago but it has given me pleasure to see all the images again, and it has reminded me that I could make this when entertaining!

The recipe for this can be found on the Queen website.

 Here are my previous posts about Lamingtons 


 Weekly meals

Saturday - Scrambled eggs on toast
Sunday - Roast beef rolls with gravy 
Monday - Romesco chicken with patatas bravas
Tuesday - Chorizo Rocket and Bean salad
Wednesday - Spanish Tortilla with spinach, sweet potato and spinach
Thursday - Enchiladas with rice and broccoli
Friday - Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Paris in July: The Parisian Agency

I am pretty picky when it comes to reality shows. Unless it is a foodie show, for example, Masterchef Australia, or occasionally a home or garden show (think Love it or List It or UK showLove Your Garden) it is very unusual for me to watch a reality TV show. I have never watched a Kardashian show and have no intention of doing so. I could continue to list off all the different types of reality shows I haven't watched but that would take forever.

Instead, let me get on with posting about a reality show which I have watched not one, but two series of over the last year or so.

The Parisian Agency, or L'Agence as it is known in France, is a reality show which features high end property, predominantly in Paris, although they do ocassionally venture further afield to the French countryside and other locations.

The show centres around family business, Kretz Family Real Estate. The company was started by Olivier and Sandrine Kretz, and now their three sons Martin, Valentin and Louis all work for them as well, based in the lounge room of their house in the Boulogne district of Paris. The youngest son, Raphael, is still at school but there is no doubt that joining the agency is in his future too. And then there is Majo, Sandrine's mother, who lives nearby and drops in and out. They seem to be an incredibly close family. I mean, you would have to be to be able to work together all day, every day and then still spend time family time together too. Which doesn't mean that there aren't moments of conflict between them.

At one point, Valentin says "we’re an ordinary family dedicated to extraordinary places and people". One half of that statement is definitely true. They definitely take us to extraordinary places, and we get to look at the houses through the eyes of the mega wealthy who can afford to pay the eye dropping prices that these houses sell for.

As to how ordinary they are? Well, that's debatable. At one point one of the clients is one of Valentin's close friends, and he talks about how he set his friend up with a French supermodel called Maud. Now, I am pretty ordinary, and I can assure you I am not friends with any supermodels, French or otherwise. The Kretz's have definitely done well for themselves, and enjoy travel and sports like kite surfing, skiing and more.

I really enjoy watching the family and the way they interact with each other. In the first series we watch Majo's adventures in seniors dating, and deal with the fall out when Martin announces that he is thinking about moving to Portugal because his architect wife has a work project there. In the second series there is drama as they decide to bring an outsider into the family firm for the first time.

As entertaining as it is to watch the Kretz family interact with each other, the reality is that the stars of this show are the luxurious apartments, houses, chateaus and more. The places are gorgeous, often with architecturally designed features, and sometimes with amazing views. And yet, for the extremely wealthy who are looking for a new home, often it isn't enough, so the team has to work hard to come up with ever more impressive options

To give you an idea of the types of locations that feature, here is a taste

and here's something a little more realistic

This show is totally Paris porn! Gorgeous houses, the sights of Paris and more!

I just had a thought. Maybe I should see if one of the Kretz family want to sell my small 3 bedroom 1970's house in the outer suburbs of Melbourne? Maybe that will help it sell quicker!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books set in France which I still haven't read


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week there is a freebie, so we can pick our own topics. I am choosing to tie in my participation in Paris in July with a TTT post, so I bring you Books set in France which I still haven't read. All of these, and more, are currently on my Kindle.

The Perfect Meal by John Baxter - I am currently reading this at the moment.

Champagne Widows by Rebecca Rosenberg - This sound so interesting!

The Season of Dreams by Fiona Valpy - I actually have three unread books by Fiona Valpy on my Kindle, all set in France

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower by Rebeca Raisin - I have read a number of Rebecca Raisin books, but not this one yet!

The French Photographer by Natasha Lester - I read The Riviera House by this same author last year, but I haven't read this one yet.

The Second Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith  - There are two books featuring cookbook writer Paul Stuart. The first was set in Italy, but this one is set in France.

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff - I read other Pam Jenoff books years ago, but not this one yet.

The Lost Girls in Paris by Jina Bacard - It appears girls get lost in Paris quite often.

The Dressmaker of Paris by Georgia Kaufmann - Such a clever cover!

A Light in the Window by Marion Kummerow - Sounds interesting!

Have you read any of these? I am also sharing this post as part of Paris in July!


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