This photo I took in London last week reminds me of the lyrics of Silver Bells. I could feel the Christmas classic’s rhythm in the busy sidewalks, hustle and bustle, and general air of festivity and expectation as folks hurried on their way in the December dusk of this great city.
Silver Bells, by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Silver bells, silver bells It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling) hear them ring (ting-a-ling) Soon it will be Christmas day
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks Dressed in holiday style In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas Children laughing, people passing Meeting smile after smile And on every street corner you hear
Silver bells, (silver bells) silver bells (silver bells) It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling) Hear them ring, (hear them ring) Soon it will be Christmas day
Strings of street lights, even stoplights Blinkin’ bright red and green As the shoppers rush home with their treasures Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch This is Santa’s big day And above all this bustle you hear
And in memory of my Dad, who would probably be listening to this right now while drinking his coffee and reading the paper if he were still with us, here’s the iconic recording of that ubiquitous holiday song by Bing Crosby. Perhaps Dad and Bing are harmonizing on it in heaven.
London during the holidays is teaming with people admiring how it glitters and glimmers with over-the-top decorations. Here are a couple of photos I snapped from the top of one of those iconic double-decker buses as it passed through Regent and Oxford streets.
In stark contrast, here’s a little tree that was all by itself in a long, lonely hallway between terminals at Heathrow Airport.
Dear Reader, I stood outside this butcher shop and charcuterie at 110 Holland Park in London and gawked.
And then I went inside C. Lidgate’s and gawked some more.
Oh, to have a local butcher shop like this nearby when planning a dinner party or Christmas feast! It’s a carnivorous cook’s dream (with apologies to all of my vegetarian friends). There’s a huge selection of meats, fish, poultry, sausages, cheeses, house-made pies and casseroles, condiments, cured meats and deli items (even Scotch eggs!), and everything is displayed beautifully, looking almost Victorian in its lushness.
From a review by author and food writer Hattie Ellis on the Lidgate’s web site:
Chefs, dedicated carnivores and the locals of this foodie neighbourhood come here for anything from a lunchtime sausage roll to a magnificent rib of grass-fed beef for a dinner party.
The staff are super-friendly and were quite welcoming to this Texas foodie gal, telling me that the shop has been in the same family for 5 generations since it originally opened in 1850. They didn’t mind my gawking at all.
I refrained from snapping photos inside Lidgate’s, because there were customers eager to be waited on, and I was something of an interloper, a traveler who could only window-shop and imagine what it would be like to have a neighborhood butcher shop like Lidgate’s where I could source all of my meat. I think I may have emitted a bit of a jealous sigh when a man asked for a chicken carcass to make stock, and the butcher said, “Right away!” That just wouldn’t happen at my local grocery store meat counter.
But if I’d been willing to annoy those regular customers going about their meat-shopping day with my shutter-bugging, I’d have gotten images of the house-made pies for you. They were things of beauty. So for you foodie-tourists, here are some of the photos from the Lidgate’s Facebook page.
Oh my goodness! Can’t you just see this bounty on your holiday table?
Just a reminder, Glover Gardens is not a commercial blog and has received no compensation from Lidgate’s. I’m just sharing as a public service, so you can window shop along with me.
And for the family, I’ve put Lidgate’s cookbook on my Christmas list. 🙂
It Started with Mom’s Food Crush on Paul Prudhomme and Her Collection of His Cookbooks
My Mom, an excellent cook, had a food crush on Paul Prudhomme. She bought every cookbook he published until her death in 2000, and those books were well-used. Marked-up, dog-eared and stained, they are family treasures.
As my first culinary teacher and mentor, Mom made sure I also got a copy of every one of the cookbooks, too, so I could share in the Chef Paul magic. I was a very young adult when Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchenwas published in 1984, and I’m sure that his recipes influenced my tastes and later, my recipes.
When she died, I inherited Mom’s Chef Paul cookbooks (and lots of others). I instantly started using her books instead of mine, because there’s a lot of love and family history encrusted in those pages. Along with the cutting boards my Dad made, these cookbooks are at the top of my Prized Possessions list. My own dog-eared copies of Chef Paul’s complete works are packed up and waiting for my son (known as the Musical Millennial in these pages) to have his own home and kitchen (after college and grad school).
Mom and Dad Fell in Love with K-Paul’s Restaurant
Even with Mom’s food crush on Chef Paul, it took a while for my parents to get to K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, the restaurant in New Orleans that he ran with his wife, Kay. Together, their names are the origin of the restaurant name “K-Paul’s”. Finally there on a culinary road trip in the late 80s, Mom and Dad absolutely loved their dining experience at K-Paul’s and raved about it from that day forward. (It was one of their first big empty-nester trips, and I’ve never really forgiven them for not taking me along.)
Mom was ill for the last few years of her life and definitely too sick to cook, but she was a devotee of all of Chef Paul’s cooking shows on PBS in the late 90s. It was fun to visit her and watch his shows, commenting on his recipes, reminiscing about the dishes we’d made from the cookbooks, just being foodie nerds together.
Well, I never made it to K-Paul’s with Mom and Dad, and Chef Paul died in 2015.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen is Alive and Well
K-Paul’s is still in daily operation in the French Quarter, and you can still find tried and true Louisiana Kitchen dishes there. The Grill-Meister and I took a tenth anniversary trip to NOLA this summer, and finally visited this family legend restaurant. More than 30 years after Mom and Dad’s discovery trip, it was everything they said it was, updated for this century. And yet, still a little homey, which is the promise of the sign, the original from the late 70s (as far as I can tell from online research).
Let me tell you about it.
The bread basket sported jalapeño rolls and two different little muffins, one of which, the carrot-pecan (and molasses, I suspect), had the Grill-Meister enthralled.
We shared Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp, and it was heavenly. Just the right amount of crisp batter on the tomato slices, with shrimp in a piquant brown sauce sandwiched between them.
Oh, the main courses! We ate, and we ate, and we still couldn’t finish them. I had the pan-fried fish and shrimp with jambalaya and the Grill-Meister had the blackened drum. Both came with gloriously sautéed vegetables and the drum was accompanied by a very creamy, very large dollop of garlic mashed potatoes.
Our waiter was magnificent: well-versed in the intricacies of the menu and daily specials, funny, solicitous and there when we needed him – but without hovering. Exactly the qualities we hope for in a waitperson.
We made friends with interesting folks at other tables.
The ambiance at K-Paul’s is casual and fun, with recipes on the walls.
It’s a well-oiled machine – we enjoyed watching the food come out and get served within moments.
Some folks say that K-Paul’s is a tourist destination, and they’re right. That’s just fine. It’s worth the trip. It was for Mom and Dad back in the 80s, and for the Grill-Meister and me last June.
And as for those heirloom cookbooks, they’re still in use here at Glover Gardens. We make Chef Paul’s blackened fish about once a month – check it out here.
Gumbo Recipe (and Stories) Coming Soon
I’m in a Paul Prudhomme mood because I’m making gumbo tonight, and he was one of my gumbo mentors. I’ll publish my version soon, hopefully in time for Thanksgiving and those turkey leftovers. Turkey makes marvelous gumbo.
A few weeks ago in Paris, when the day’s work was over and my time was my own, I strolled through the busy streets with camera in hand. Dinner can wait, I thought, as I took in the champagne-tinted light on the buildings during rush hour. The image below inspired the post Something about the Light in Paris.
And now I’d like to share the rest of my little jaunt. A little boy and his grandfather out on their own evening walk stopped to say hello on a quiet residential street.
As I approached it, Place Victor Hugo captured my fancy. Take a stroll with me around the circle that honors the famous French author and politician, and you’ll see why.
The sky was dark and interesting, a perfect backdrop for the roundabout and its fountain.
There were cars and buses and taxis whizzing by atop the charming and picturesque cobblestones.
There were motorcyclists doing dinner deliveries, and others zipping through the traffic.
There were brave bicyclists, everywhere.
Pedestrians were pausing to stare at their cell phones, perhaps waiting to hear where to meet companions for a glass of rosé.
There was a big fruit and vegetable market, and a small one. The vendor at the small one was very friendly and posed for me.
The customers at the larger produce stand were on the phone, perhaps asking what to pick up for dinner.
On the phone
Making a selection
There were people lingering by the Victor Hugo metro entrance, and others rushing to get to platform, passing under the gorgeous art deco archway sign. This metro stop has been open since 1900.
Street crossings happened only on green; traffic lights were well-respected in this busy roundabout.
Dogs were being walked.
Let me at ‘im!
After catching the sun’s last golden rays on the buildings (see the first photo above or Something about the Light in Paris), I finally stopped for a quick dinner of smoked salmon at one of the canopied little bistros.
I have realized that I perceive my surroundings more clearly when I’m out snapping pics. What a wonderful unintended result.
i see more of life
looking through the camera’s lens
framing it for you
Life is good.
For more Glover Gardens posts about the City of Light, click here.
One of my two fabulous nieces is headed to Europe for a week with her boyfriend (that’s them in the photos below), and they’ll spend just over two days in my beloved Paris.
Young, smart and eager to see the world, Melyssa and Steve can be frequent travelers because of their frugal planning and careful research. Plane tickets purchased about 4 months ago for their three-country spree were surprisingly cheap. I’m thrilled that they wanted my input about one of my favorite cities and happy to share my experiences. I also can’t wait to hear about their discoveries and see their pictures.
General Advice from Aunt Kim
Melyssa and Steve, walk as much as you can, slowly, taking in not just the sights, but the sounds, the smells and the people. With only two days, I would do more walking than anything else and just get a sense for the city. You can go up in the Eiffel Tower or see the Louvre on another trip. I know you’ll be going back, because you will fall in love, just like I have.
The Metro in Paris is great for getting around the city, and usually a lot faster than a taxi or Uber. The traffic jams are reminiscent of large American cities. Get Metro passes and ride when you’re not walking. Your Metro map should be well-worn by the time you leave Paris.
Some more practical tips:
Bring super-comfortable shoes.
Have your camera (or phone) ready at all times, because unexpected magic will happen.
Order food you don’t recognize, keep an open mind and don’t be surprised to fall in love for life.
Be ready for rain, but don’t let it cramp your style. Forego an umbrella for a €5 plastic poncho.
Be careful of pickpockets and aware of your surroundings, but not afraid, never afraid. Paris is very welcoming, and those age-old stories of Parisians being rude when Americans try to speak French just aren’t true.
Don’t miss Montmartre! Take the Metro to the Abbesses stop, get out and make your way to the Funiculaire de Montmartre, riding it up alongside the famous steps of Montmartre.
Or you could take the steps, but it is a loooong way up, and you’ll already be doing lots of walking. Walk all around Sacre Coeur, where you’ll see wonderful views of Paris.
Pop over into the tiny little village of Montmartre and check out the shops and artists, looking out for pickpockets. You may encounter roaming artists wanting to draw your picture, but be prepared to pay for it if they do. It’s ok just to say no and walk away. This part of Montmartre is touristy but still worth doing.
If La Maison Rose is open, you should eat there. It is famous and fantastic. Your cousin Thomas (AKA the Musical Millennial here in the Glover Gardens blog) calls it “The Pink Restaurant,” and we had a very memorable meal there. On a cold, gray day, we sat just outside the front door at a tiny table that only comes out when they’re open (which is sporadic) and had steaming hot plates of pasta that revved up our energy for more traipsing.
All the little cafes in Montmartre are great, and the pasta dishes are what I’d recommend.
The Museum of Montmartre is wonderful, too. It’s in a series of old houses where famous painters like Renoir painted. It’s not expensive and there are great views. Here’s a post about it.
Rue des Martyrs
I like to walk back from Montmartre down the Rue des Martyrs after crossing over Boulevard de Clichy. You can walk all the way to Notre Dame, which takes about an hour. Rue des Martyrs is a historic street that’s protected by city rules governing what kind of businesses can come in (no chains), so you’ll see “real Paris”. You and Steve will love it, Melyssa – it’s like a great big farmers’ market. See my post called April in Paris: Rue des Martyrs for more.
As you leave Montmartre and cross over Boulevard des Clichy, to get to Rue des Martyrs, you’ll be walking through the Moulin Rouge area where you’ll see a bunch of ads for sex shops and erotic dancing shows, but it’s not scary. I promise.
When you get to Notre Dame, you can go in without waiting in line if you are going to a church service or to pray. (Say a prayer for me!) You can walk around inside afterward and should – it’s beautiful. I was there last summer just after Papa died, and the building gave me a sense of peace and connection to him. See my blog post about it here.
After Notre Dame, you can walk over to the Pond Neuf bridge. You’ll probably want to take selfies there with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Pont Neuf is where a famous scene in The Bourne Identity took place; remember when the Conklin boss-man character was on the bridge waiting to meet fugitive Jason Bourne, who then called Conklin from his own office in the building above? That was the Samaritain building, pictured below. Thomas was doing a Bourne moment there.
It would be fun for you to rewatch the movie after you get home from your trip and check out all the Paris locations you’ll be newly familiar with. I absolutely love watching movies set in Paris and reliving my walkabouts through the City of Light. Hey, maybe we can do a Paris movie night over the Christmas holiday!
While you’re in that area, be sure to walk along the River Seine and see the artists and little shop-booths that open during the daytime and close up like little flowers at night.
Cruise Along the Seine
If you have time, take a river cruise! This one, Vedettes du Pont Neuf, is only about 10 Euro and takes off from near the Point Neuf – I highly recommend it. Take it in the evening and you’ll see the Eiffel Tower all lit up.
Public Gardens at The Tuilleries and Jardin des Champs-Élyées
Another great walk is from the Tuilleries Garden through the Place de la Concorde through the Jardins des Champs-Élysées. I love these public gardens so much that I try to get there every time I go to Paris, no matter the weather, no matter the time of year – as you can see in these photos from various trips over a dozen+ years.
After the gardens, you can walk all the way up the Ave de Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triumph. The Champs-Élysées has high-end shopping and quite a few pretty people in designer shoes, but stick to your guns and wear the comfy ones.
Place du Trocadero
The Place du Trocadero by the Eiffel Tower is also a great place for a view of that iconic landmark.
Galeries Lafayette and Passage des Panoramas
There’s a great view of Paris from the top of the shopping center Galeries Lafayette roof terrace on Boulevard Haussmann, which is free. It closes at 7:30 p.m. In that area is one of my favorite little places, the Passage des Panoramas, this cool little set of passages between buildings that has great restaurants in it. I found it when Thomas and I did the Paris and London trip in 2011 for his 14th birthday.
The Italian restaurant on the left (on the right in this pic), just a little way into the passage from Boulevard Haussmann is supposed to be one of the best Italian restaurants in Paris. I haven’t been able to get a table there yet.
My favorite restaurant in the Passage des Panoramas is Canard & Champagne, a “modern French restaurant” that mostly serves duck and champagne. It is divine! And not super-expensive.
The duck burger is fabulous. The paté is fabulous, The duck breast is fabulous. The duck leg is fabulous. The address is 57 Passage des Panoramas. Go there, taste, and be happy.
It’s a great place to eat before going on the boat tour from the nearby Pont Neuf.
A Vietnamese Restaurant Extraordinaire in a Area with Superb Street Art
There’s a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant that only the locals know, Comptoir Vietnam at 15 Rue Esquirol, 75013. I found it through a blogger friend and raved about it in a blog post. It’s in the 13th arrondissement, which has lots of street art, so if you go there, be sure to give yourself time to walk around and view it.
The Latin Quarter
Walking around in the Latin Quarter at night is also fun. It isn’t far from Bistro des Augustins and comes alive at night with live music. No pictures of that yet – maybe you and Steve will collect them and do a guest post!
Have Fun, Be Safe and Collect Those Memories
There’s so much more to do! You’ll have to go back. Maybe one day we can go together.