Sep 2006

French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure – Mireille Guiliano

About: Stylish, convincing, wise, funny and just in time: the ultimate non-diet book, which could radically change the way you think and live.

French women don’t get fat, but they do eat bread and pastry, drink wine, and regularly enjoy three-course meals. In her delightful tale, Mireille Guiliano unlocks the simple secrets of this “French paradox” -– how to enjoy food and stay slim and healthy. Hers is a charming, sensible, and powerfully life-affirming view of health and eating for our times.

As a typically slender French girl, Mireille went to America as an exchange student and came back fat. That shock sent her into an adolescent tailspin, until her kindly family physician, “Dr. Miracle,” came to the rescue. Reintroducing her to classic principles of French gastronomy plus time-honored secrets of the local women, he helped her restore her shape and gave her a whole new understanding of food, drink, and life. The key? Not guilt or deprivation but learning to get the most from the things you most enjoy. Following her own version of this traditional wisdom, she has ever since relished a life of indulgence without bulge, satisfying yen without yo-yo on three meals a day.

Now in simple but potent strategies and dozens of recipes you’d swear were fattening, Mireille reveals the ingredients for a lifetime of weight control–from the emergency weekend remedy of Magical Leek Soup to everyday tricks like fooling yourself into contentment and painless new physical exertions to save you from the StairMaster. Emphasizing the virtues of freshness, variety, balance, and always pleasure, Mireille shows how virtually anyone can learn to eat, drink, and move like a French woman.

Sample of recipes: Magical Leek Soup (Broth), Blueberry Baby Smoothie, Halibut en Papillote, Cooked Pears with Cinnamon, Grilled Pineapple, Endives with Ham without Béchamel Sauce, Pork Chops with Apples, Homemade Yogurt with a Yogurt Maker, Fancy Cream of Carrot Soup, Chicken Au Champagne, Chocolate Rice Pudding

My thoughts: I read an interview with Mireille Guiliano a couple of years ago in the New York Times right about the time when this book was released. Readers wrote in to ask her specifics about why French women don’t get fat. Ever since reading that article I have wanted to read this book, but only recently got the chance.

During the introduction and initial chapters I was slightly put off by the author’s tone (think: teacher/student) because I wasn’t trying to lose weight and I didn’t like a haughty French woman telling me how to approach food. After the lecturing subsided, Mireille’s approach became much more palatable and even insightful.

This book is filled with great advice about the importance of balancing food in life. While none of the information was exactly new to me, her advice was well articulated and resonated with me. A great lesson to take away from French Women Don’t Get Fat is the concept of input/output. When Mireille indulges in a three-course feast, she takes the stairs and eats lightly before the meal. Another fabulous lesson is embracing the pleasures that food offers, rather than feeling guilt-ridden as a lot of women tend to do.

Perhaps the best lesson that the French can teach us is their impeccable taste for everything. The foods that American’s go gaga for (i.e. Krispy Kremes, KFC, Taco Bell) the French would scoff upon. American’s need to develop their taste buds to become more discerning. We should crave fresh baguettes from a corner bakery, not Snickers bars.

Sep 2006

Crepêrie Beau Monde – Philadelphia

August 12, 2006
Cuisine: French, Desserts & Bakeries, Other

624 S 6th Street, Philadelphia 19147
At Bainbridge St

Phone: 215-592-0656

Appetizer: Escargot with garlic butter, crostini and bread

beau monde 8

Entree I: Saumon Fume Buckwheat Crêpe – Smoked Salmon served with roasted leeks & creme fraiche

beau monde 8

Entree II: “Rich Man’s Egg McMuffin” Buckwheat Crêpe – eggs over easy with ham and goat cheese

Dessert I: Sweet Crêpe Special – Filled with peaches, blackberries, a ginger creme anglaise, and topped off with vanilla ice cream

Dessert II: Wheat Crêpe with Bananas and Dulce de Leche

Earlier this week I was reading the Astronomer’s travel journal from his trip to Europe and started craving crêpes, especially since the Astronomer thought that the crêpes he enjoyed in France were on par with the ones served at Crêperie Beau Monde in terms of taste and authenticity. I think that food tastes best when I’ve been craving it for a couple of days.

We started off our feast with some escargot with garlic butter, crostini and bread. I was hoping the escargot would be served inside their shells, but sadly those preparations are only executed outside the US. The crostini and bread were excellent vehicles for dipping and consuming the escargot.

For our savory crêpes the Astronomer ordered the Saumon Fume, while I ordered my all-time favorite combination of eggs over easy with ham and goat cheese. Both crêpes were spectacular. The crêpes were a good size and expertly filled with the perfect amount of each ingredient. The crêpes themselves were made of buckwheat flour, as is traditional in the region of Brittany. It always surprises me how crêpes manage to fill me up even though it seems like very little food.

For desert the Astronomer ordered the sweet crêpe special of the evening which contained peaches, blackberries, a ginger creme anglaise, topped off with some vanilla ice cream. I ordered my favorite dessert combination of dulce de leche with bananas. While the special was tasty, I adored my sweet crêpe more. There’s just something about ripened bananas accompanied by a caramelized sauce within a crisp crêpe that gets me every single time.

Crêperie Beau Monde has been a constant in my restaurant rotation since Swarthmore and remains a favorite today. The Astronomer and I have dined at Beau Monde at least four times together, maybe five. We love this place.

Beau Monde on Urbanspoon

Sep 2006

Ajia Japanese Fusion – Philadelphia

September 16, 2006
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi

3131 Walnut St, Philadelphia 19104
Between 31st & 32nd Street

Phone: 215-222-2542
Website: none


Round I: All U Can Eat


Round II: All U Can Eat

Three friends and I went to Ajia this evening for the All U Can Eat Sushi offering priced at $21.95 per person (tax and tip not included). This was my fourth visit to Ajia and my third time doing the All U Can Eat special. As always, Ajia did not disappoint. My eating companions and I gorged on a ridiculous amount of sushi:

  1. Sweet Potatoes
  2. Salmon Avocado
  3. California Roll
  4. Philadelphia Roll
  5. Salmon Skin & Cucumber
  6. Boston Roll
  7. Tuna Avocado
  8. West Roll (Smoked salmon, cream cheese & scallion)
  9. East Roll (Salmon, avocado, cucumber)
  10. Spicy Tuna Roll
  11. Spicy Salmon Roll
  12. Rock N Roll (Spicy tuna inside wrapped around avocado)
  13. Kani (Crab Stick)
  14. Tofu Skin
  15. Surf Clam
  16. Ika (squid)
  17. Tako (octopus)
  18. Tuna sashimi
  19. Salmon sashimi
  20. Yellowtail sashimi
  21. Spicy Crunchy Tuna
  22. Spicy Crunchy Salmon

The sushi rolls were of high quality fish and were not overly stuffed with rice. The sashimi pieces were very fresh as well, but unfortunately were accompanied by rice. Oh, fillers. My personal favorites are the shrimp tempura roll, inari sashimi (tofu skin), Philly roll, and crunchy spicy tuna and salmon.

We did not keep track of exactly how many rolls of each kind, but I assure you that it was well worth our paying price. I left completely drunk off mercury poisoning. Whatta feeling!

Service at Ajia is usually pretty horrible. Luckily the evening we went was fairly quiet so service was pretty decent. Note to self: avoid Friday nights, go early Saturday evenings. The waitress was quite militant about us finishing our sushi before ordering more. I don’t remember them being so adamant about the whole ordeal during my previous visits, but I guess that’s how it goes with an All U Can Eat special.

I crave Ajia every couple of months, so I’ll definitely be returning for another sushi fest soon.

Ajia Japanese on Urbanspoon