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Friday, April 25, 2014

Paris by Margot Justes










Periodically, and lately rather frequently, I get a hankering to go back to Paris. I spent a year in that incredible city, and have gone back a few time, but it always beckons me back. The city is my first love, it was a time of my youth and extreme freedom. It was the stuff of dreams.

I write about art, travel and romance. My novel A Hotel in Paris is set in the most romantic city in the world, and since summer and the travel season is almost upon us, I would like to offer a few tips to the city of light and romance that may be a bit off the beaten path.

By all means go to all must see places, and there are so many, but save some time for the other-must see places-go to the intimate and magnificent Rodin museum, it was his home, and his presence can still be felt in every piece exhibited, inside and in his gardens.

It is by far my most favorite museum that I have ever visited.  His work is passionate, ardent, and profound. Every muscle strained, every sinew defined. Agony, joy, and in the case of the Balzac work, arrogance masterfully portrayed.  Walk through the gardens, stop in the café in the garden and savor your brew in quiet contemplation.  

Don’t neglect a stroll in the contemplative Luxembourg Gardens, find the Medici Fountain and the reflective pool, sit down on a bench and ponder…

For a taste of local wonder, lose yourself in the back streets of the left bank, start with Rue De La Huchette off Blvd St. Michel, pick a narrow cobble stoned street and start walking-do wear comfortable shoes. Aromas from many ethnic restaurants beckon you in, you can explore one narrow street after another.

For a romantic stroll do take the time to walk along the Seine, right alongside and back of Notre Dame, and the books stalls. Do so in the early morning, before the crowds and the stalls open, just when the city starts to wake, stop in a café and enjoy a respite. It is so quiet and peaceful and so incredibly romantic. It is equally enchanting late in the evening as the bookstalls start to close; a pervasive hush comes with dusk.   

You will see a different Paris, an enchanting Paris; different from the hassle of the tour buses and the rush to get from one point to another without ever savoring the essence of the city. Take the time, and savor the city of lights.  Don’t be afraid to get lost, carry a map with you. Paris is a walking city filled with treasures, and you will always find your way back to the next monument.

I had to share with you my favorite work of art at the Louvre-The Winged Victory. A powerful, and  magnificent piece.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Katic Breads by Margot Justes








This morning was one of those wonderful surprising moments. I went with next door neighbors and friends to a train station for a croissant and coffee.

The Palatine train station utilizes the space well, every second Saturday of the month they allow vendors to sell their wares. One such vendor is the Katic Breads Bakery, situated right next door to Starbucks, and they couldn’t be better positioned.  

They open at eight, we got there ten minutes before eight, and they were already busy. The plain croissants are superb, brought back memories of Paris for me, but they were sold out. I got an almond croissant instead, then went next door to Starbucks for my coffee. It was a delicious continental breakfast. A slice of heaven.

The croissant was flaky and moist, and you could actually taste the almond filling. I loved the idea of sitting in a train station enjoying a decent cup of coffee and savoring a delicious croissant.

The vendors are there every second Saturday of the month through May. In June they’ll be in my neck of the woods, at the Northbrook Farmers Market. I plan to be there for coffee and a croissant, and I’ll go back to Palatine in May.

I bought a baguette, a Kalamata Olive bread, and a whole wheat sourdough. I’ve tasted their breads before, and everyone was a success. I happen to love good bread, and as you can see will go out of my way to find it.

There isn’t a bakery you can visit, they travel to farmers markets, but contact information is 605 Plum St. Aurora, IL 60506 www.katicbreads.com. The website is worth a visit because they post their schedule, and you’ll get an idea of the passion the baker holds for a good product, and it clearly is reflected in the taste of the breads, and the brisk sales I saw today.

I loved my Saturday morning. Hope yours was wonderful too.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Red Apple and Polish Food by Margot Justes










Once in a while I crave a bit of stick to your ribs and everywhere else type of home cooked goodness. Polish food, specifically the Red Apple restaurant in Chicago delivers the perfect meal. They are located on 6474 N. Milwaukee Ave, in Chicago. 773/588-5781. It’s a bit of old home for me, one of those places that bring back many memories.

As with most Polish restaurants, it is a buffet filled with potato pancakes, pierogi, sauerkraut, sausage, tongue, tripe, chicken, ham, roast beef, you name it, the buffet has it. Even a few things you won’t name unless you have an Eastern European background, things like tripe, tongue and gizzard stew-all delicious and worth a try.

I go there for the pierogi, sort of like an Italian ravioli, often filled with potatoes, (my favorite) meat, cheese, sauerkraut, plums, really any filling you prefer. The potato pancakes and tongue are my favorite dishes too, of course there is the schnitzel, sort of a elongated moist meatball perfectly seasoned, along with the mushroom gravy that goes well with everything. The bigos, or hunter stew made with meat and sauerkraut is delicious too.

There is a salad bar with the usual selection, along with shredded beets and herring in vinegar sauce, cucumbers in sour cream, and many other choices. The sweets are tasty too, from kolaczki, to assorted cakes, cookies, puddings and fruit.

I imagine there are babcias (grannies) in the kitchen cooking the food, it does taste homemade, and really yummy. The atmosphere is bright and cheerful, and I could hear Polish spoken at a few tables. Like I said, many happy memories.

If you haven’t tried Polish food, this would be a perfect place to sample the cuisine, it’s basic, hearty and just plain good food.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com