Oof. That was the sound of 2011 whooshing away. It seemed like a good year, at least at first, but as the end dragged on, it just seemed like a good

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Oof.

That was the sound of 2011 whooshing away. It seemed like a good year, at least at first, but as the end dragged on, it just seemed like a good idea to do away with the old and start anew. First on my docket for 2012 was dumping my old e-mail newsletter program and upgrading to a spiffier one. Henceforth, I'm going to try doing a monthly newsletter, which will offer travel tips, stories, links to sites I'm enjoying (yes, including mine) and Paris restaurant suggestions that I'm not putting on the site. I think this one took me 57 hours to format and plan - so excuse any goofs or glitches - and I hope to get better with time.

Since I'm not a restaurant reviewer, per se, sometimes people read the write-ups on my site which I wrote seven years ago and inquire if the restaurant is the same. But as much as I'd love to eat out each and every single day, checking out old places and hitting the new ones, I don't get to go back and revisit all of my favorites as much I'd like to. (Plus if I put them all out there, you and I might not be able to get in anymore...) So I'll be putting hotspots here as I find 'em, just for us. Don't tell.

2012 started off with a petit bang. While I am pretty sure folks were going to town on the Champs-Elysées, I was atop a tall tower at a friend's apartment in the 13th, overlooking the entire city. And on a sidenote, for all those wondering if there are any moderately priced restaurants open in Paris on New Year's Eve, all the good noodle and Pho places in Chinatown were open - and uncrowded.

I've got some great news I'm going to write about on the blog next week, but here are a few posts that I wrote within the last month or so that readers really enjoyed:

A Visit to a Paris Market: A video trip to my local market, then back to my kitchen to make lunch, including a warm tarte Tatin.

Henri Le Roux: This Breton chocolatier and caramel-maker finally opens an outpost in Paris. Needless the say, a path between my front door and theirs is getting worn down.

Mustard Glasses: I think you can only say you're truly French if you have a collection of these in your kitchen (or bar) cabinet. I have two, and I'm on my way to a full set. Stay tuned...

Favorite Cookbooks of 2011: Last year was particularly interesting as I found myself enjoying cookbooks that were more than just collections of recipes, but gravitated to those with stories that offered the inspiration behind the dishes presented.

A Trip to Poilâne: I love this Paris classic and was happy to spend some time in their new branch in the Marais. They've also opened there a branch of their Left Bank bar à tartines, where you can get open-faced sandwiches made on their world-famous bread. (Plus the best dessert in Paris!)

I also changed the font on my site, which no one seemed to notice (!) - which is probably a good thing. Am not sure if there is a word in French for OCD, but it took about six months of checking out a variety of fonts, testing them out, and going back-and-forth with my designer about it. I told my web folks that if they got one more message from me about the font, to contact the closest hôpital psychiatrique. So if you don't hear from me for a while, you'll know where to find me.

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Paris Dining Spots

fromages

It used to be that you could go into any café or restaurant in Paris and get a great meal. A woman was telling me about the food she fondly remembered enjoying in Paris a few decades ago. "Oh, the meals we had!", she said, then looked up to the heavens..

Sure, there are still a number of good places to go, but a lot of the old favorites have waned over the years (especially the classic bistros and brasseries, sadly), suffering from a combination of employee disinterest, cost-cutting accountants, high labor costs, the shorter work week, and the profileration of frozen and pre-prepared food.

To combat the use of pre-prepared ingredients (like the canned green peas that were dumped all over my poulet fermier the other night at a café, and the chocolate cake – from a mix – that we had at a Left Bank bistro recently), the French Sénat is currently debating a bill that will require places that serve frozen or pre-prepared food to state that on the menus, like they do in Italy. While I'm certain the restaurant union here is fighting it, and will likely succeed in not letting it pass, it would be a boon to French cuisine and would reward places that cook with fresh ingredients. And who could argue with that?

There's a number of very good places on the My Paris page at my website, and in my Restaurant Archives, but here are a few new – or new to me – spots in Paris that I've been hitting lately:

Le Siffleur de Ballons

A wave of wine bars has washed over Paris, and the friendly folks at Le Siffleur de Ballons pour natural wines, and prepare lovely charcuterie boards and cheese plates to serve alongside. Cocktail fans might be interested in picking up a bottle of French Dolin vermouth, which is hard to find (even in France), for only €10.

Le Trumilou

Open every day of the week, for lunch and dinner, this unassuming, yet authentic Parisian bistro, is a bargain, with two- or three-course menus running at €16.50 and €20.50, respectively. The food is pretty much textbook bistro fare, with no surprises. But it's encouraging that traditional places like this still exist.

Saravanaa Bhavan

I'm no expert on Indian food, but this chain is an import from India, and serves vegetarian fare at reasonable prices. (Tip: I forgot the name, but the onion pancake is great.)

Le Camion Qui Fume

Belly up to the burger truck in Paris!

Pizza e fichi

Tasty Roman-style pizza sold by the slice. It's a bit tiny, but worth squeezing into a table for a bite.

Cuisine de Bar

The new outpost of Poilâne bakery in the Marais serves open-face sandwiches, in a hip, yet casual atmosphere. I love coming here and snacking on toasted slice of pain Poilâne spread with mustardy mayonnaise, roasted chicken, and topped with capers and anchovies. Be sure the try the Paris-Brest by Jacques Genin.

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Paris Pastry App - Free Lite Version Released

macarons

We've released a free "lite" version of my Paris Pastry app, which has some of the addresses, pictures, and my Top 25 List for Paris for you to taste. If you have an iPhone, go ahead and download it. Since all this technology is relatively new, we're working on ironing out kinks and about to make our first update, popping in some new addresses and making it more stable. I loved adding photos of all the pastries to the app, but like enjoying chocolate and buttery croissants, I should have added them in moderation : )

For those of you whipper-snappers with Android-enabled phones, or fuddy-duddies with no smartphones at all, there's both an Android version in the works as well as a downloadable e-book and Kindle edition on the boards, which we’ll make available as soon as the tech folks tell us it's ready.

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Interviews

paris

I recently did some interviews here and there about Paris:

American Chefs Boost Fine Dining in Paris (Associated Press)

Dijon Mustard (Haven in Paris)

Franco File Friday (Lost in Cheeseland)

Au Revoir, Ketchup (ABC News/Nightline)

David Lebovitz talks about writing, food, and the sweet life in Paris (Laurel Zuckerman)

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Upcoming Paris Event

Lastly (whew!), I've got an upcoming event in Paris on February 12th from 2 to 4pm We'll be having a get-together and booksigning at La Cuisine in Paris to celebrate the Paris Pastry app.

Stop by for a glass, get a copy of The Sweet Life in Paris, The Perfect Scoop, or Ready for Dessert signed - or just to say hi. Although it's not necessary, you can RSVP on the Facebook event page.

See you there!

-David

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