February 11, 2008

Blogging from Hawaii

A major benefit of living in Seattle is that we are relatively close to Hawaii. (Given the cloudy winters in the Northwest, we often say that living close to some other location is a benefit of living here, a bit of logic which may not hold up under close scrutiny.) Anyway, my wife S and I are spending a week on Kauai, where it is currently 80 degrees and sunny.

Some friends warned us that it's very dangerous to spend too long in the direct sunlight here, so I'm taking that excuse to do a little noon-hour blogging from the hotel's sheltered outdoor computers.  I've set up my phone to be able to blog by email too, but that's probably crossing the line, no?

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October 26, 2005

Exceptional Things to Do in Paris: Salon du Chocolat

Chocolate_fashion_show_model_mediumThe Salon du Chocolat is held in Paris each autumn.  Latte's first photo blog covers this year’s expo, which featured a fashion show with chocolate dresses, a chocolate Mona Lisa, a chocolate fountain, and more.

(Note to parents: the last photo in this album features a chocolate Kama Sutra which is not suitable for children.)

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June 09, 2005

Exceptional Things to Do in Paris: La Fromagerie 31

Chees_tasting_2La Fromagerie 31 is famous, in Paris’s sixth arrondissement, for its camembert. Unpasteurized, the cheese is creamy and intense without being sharp. It is perfectly delicious.

Alongside standard fare, the shop sells a range of the stinkiest cheeses. These include the Normand au Calvados, the Munster au Cumin, and the Trou du Cru (whose name is a vulgar pun). If you are looking for something less likely to be ambulatory, the knowledgeable staff can help you choose according to your taste. They may ask you when you plan to eat, in order to select a wedge or wheel at the ideal temperature.

If you have more time, have a cheese-tasting lunch on the outdoor terrace. The meal includes salad, bread, and a selection of five, seven, or nine cheeses, served in order of increasing pungency. At such a tasting I discovered the Selles sur Cher, an excellent mild goat cheese.

Fromagerie31smallLa Fromagerie 31 is located in Paris’s Saint Germain de Prés quarter (Metro Mabillon), known for its phenomenal shopping. The shop is closed Sunday afternoons and Mondays, and daily from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The staff speaks English.  (Click the business card for a larger version.)

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June 06, 2005

Exceptional Things to Do in Paris: Dans Le Noir ?

A few weeks ago I wrote about Yoshino, an excellent, reasonably priced Sushi restaurant in London—and therefore, a rare find. However, the review was lost in a jumble of 1’s and 0’s caused by the rapid descent of my computer equipment from a height unlikely to favor its continued usability.

So this is my first travel post.

Danslenoir_2Until I had dinner at “Dans Le Noir ?” in the Marais district of Paris, I had never been in total darkness. Even in a bedroom at night, there is always a light source: a digital clock, the red LED of a cell phone, the glow of a watch’s fluorescent hands. None of these are permitted at Dans Le Noir ?, where you drink or dine in pitch black, served by blind wait staff.

As their English Website puts it:

If this idea seems to be a little strange to you at first, it is maybe because by suppressing the dominant sense of the sight, each person naturally starts a deep self-questioning.

With the help of our blind guides you are going to completely re-evaluate the notion of taste and smell through our gastronomic and pedagogical process.

Being a control-freak, I had been nervous about the whole idea. But the staff helped us navigate the suddenly unfamiliar world, and quickly put us at ease.  (There is also strong emphasis on safety, including surveillance by infra-red camera.)

It took a few minutes to figure out how to fill our cups and locate items on the table (“hey, a basket of bread!”). I had ordered the secret menu, so I didn’t know what was on my plate until my fork reached my mouth. But my remaining four senses had quickly intensified. Two weeks later I still recall the exact taste of the fettuccine noodles and steamed broccoli that accompanied my main course, and I remember our conversations as if they had been recorded.

Dans Le Noir ? was developed in association with Paul Guinot, the second largest foundation for the blind in France. Dinner costs 37 € per person for a three course meal, including wine. The experience is surely worth it, and your check supports people who might otherwise have trouble finding work. 

(Click the business card for a larger version.)

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