A few weeks ago, I fell down the stairs and broke my foot.
This will surprise no one, seeing as I’m remarkably prone to tripping over my own feet or in this case, tripping over nothing at all.
It’s not a bad enough break to put me on crutches (thank goodness), but it has landed me on the couch even more so than usual. And recently—during one of many sedentary hours—I ran across the first episode of No Reservations in which Anthony Bourdain hits Paris.
Have I mentioned before how much I adore Tony B? He has the most perfect job in the world, if you ask me (travel + food + great company); and to be honest, my crush on him is not small. A friend of mine told me she met him at a book launch party one time, and I nearly had a heart attack.
This episode was perfection, and set the standard for the show’s success. Between trying absinthe and hallucinating in the hotel bedroom where Oscar Wilde died, and enjoying a croissant for breakfast in one of Paris’s many cafes, Tony cruises up and down French streets taking in the daily atmosphere of one of the world’s most luxurious cities. Heaven on Earth, I say. I can almost taste the cheese.
Paris fascinates so many of us Americans for a lot of reasons, but I think it’s mostly because we think Parisians live a life that is diametrically opposite to ours. The slow, daily romance of Paris stands in contrast to the American grind. Long Starbucks lines versus a leisurely pastry and cup of cappuccino in the morning. Aged wine versus Coca-Cola. Utilitarian office buildings versus Montmartre.
Like most girls my age, I wanted to visit the Paris of Amelie.
And that’s exactly what I did in 2002.
I spent my twentieth birthday in Bayeux, Normandy, and Paris, eating quiche and frolicking along the Seine like a fool. We gawked at the lights along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and ate nutella crepes until we wanted to barf. My friends and I stalked photo booths in Paris Nord, looking for our own version of Mathieu Kassovitz. We spent five hours at the Louvre, though we could have spent five days. I was so exhausted from taking it all in that I fell asleep against a wall in the Musée d’Orsay. It was an incredible time, and looking back on it now, I cannot believe how it was almost ten years ago.
So as I sat on the couch feeling sorry for myself because I could barely walk down the street (let alone travel anywhere), I thought bringing Paris to me would be the next best thing to being there with Tony. And what says “Paris in the morning” more than a hot, flaky butter croissant?
I’d made these once before and had been so impressed with the recipe that I tried it again. You can find it all here at Epicurious.com.
It’s not a quick procedure, making croissants. It basically takes two days, and lots and lots of rolling. But once the dough is ready to take shape, it rises and rises on its own, which gives it that light-and-airy quality.
After being shaped on a baking sheet and allowed to sit (in a garbage-bag balloon contraption) for a few hours, the dough rises beautifully. You can already see the layers forming.
The first time I made these, I could not believe how well they turned out. They looked like the real thing, and they tasted pretty good too. This recipe is a labor of love, but it was worth the payoff. And if I can do it, you most definitely can too.
Anyone else feeling wanderlusty right now? Any tips for taming the anywhere-but-here beast?
Au revoir, mes amis!