Bonjour Praline!

While New Orleans may be known for their delicious fried doughnuts called beignets, they are also home to the famous praline (pronounced two ways: “prah-leen” or “pray-leen”), a type of candy made with pecans and caramelized sugar.

Praline is believed to have come from the French term, praliné, which is the process of cooking nuts with a cream, sugar, and butter mixture.

The original French version uses almonds, while the Belgian praline is a chocolate candy with a hazelnut filling. The American version was developed by French Creole chefs who replaced almonds with pecans, which were abundant in Louisiana.

The first time I tried a New Orleans praline was when my boss brought back boxes of Aunt Sally’s Creole Pralines from her trip to “The Big Easy.” I was hooked after the first bite! Aunt Sally’s Creole Pralines has been making pralines since 1935. They’re gluten-free and they’re made without preservatives.

When the craving strikes, you can order them online (they ship worldwide). I purchased a box of 12 original pralines recently:

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday. It’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of the Christian tradition of Lent. During the Lenten season, many people fast or abstain from indulgent behavior during the 40+ days before Easter. Basically, Mardi Gras (February 16 this year) is the last day to have fun!

Instead of fasting, many people choose to give up something they enjoy, like smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling, social media, using profane language, or eating sweets!

praline crumbled over chocolate chip ice cream

These pralines are so decadent, I just might give them up for Lent! 😉

Michoko Noir: Dark Chocolate Covered French Caramels

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I love Michoko Noir, the dark chocolate coated soft caramels made in France. I discovered them in France and, thankfully, I’ve even seen them at my local French pâtisserie sold by the piece (for $0.75 each)!

They’re buttery and delicious and totally worth it, but I wanted bags of the stuff!

Recently, I ordered a couple of bags of Michoko Noir through French Wink, the digital multivendor marketplace and store located in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. They feature many made-in-France items: beauty products, kitchen linens, toys, and more.

Of course, I suppose I could just eat another popular chocolate covered caramel candy that’s widely available here in the U.S.

But one reason I prefer Michoko Noir is that it has a higher cacao content (64%), so it’s less sweet, but more intense. Plus, it just feels a bit more special knowing that it was made in France — I’m a Francophile, after all!

Have you seen the movie “Ratatouille” where Rémy sees fireworks after taking a bite out of cheese and strawberry at the same time? 🧀 🍓💥

Ratatouille GIF by Disney Pixar - Find & Share on GIPHY

Well, that was me after dinner one night! I savored a Michoko Noir and then took a sip of a California Cabernet Sauvignon and the combination tantalized my tastebuds!🍷🍫

Get some Michoko Noir from French Wink today!

Halloween Costume: Coco Chanel 🦁

For Halloween this year, I dressed up as the one and only Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel!

To imitate the fashion legend’s style, I wore the hat I bought from a souvenir shop in Montmartre:

… and the black and white blouse I wore in Toulouse:

me at Le Capitole in Toulouse | photo by my dear friend, François

Then I added a faux pearl necklace and earrings.

I got a sample of Chanel No. 5 Parfum and put some on my inner wrists.

Finally, I bought some mints, sugar cookies, and mini chocolate bars from a party store and glued on a clip-art logo.

Voilà! DIY Coco Chanel-inspired costume and sweet treats!

What was your Halloween costume? Tell me in the comments below! 🎃

Halloween Costume: The Son of Man 🍏

My 2018 Halloween costume was an homage to The Son of Man by Belgian Surrealist painter, René Magritte.

An exhibition featuring the renowned artist’s popular works recently wrapped up at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Unfortunately, I missed the exhibition and the chance to see The Son of Man painting in person.

But then I thought: wouldn’t it be fun to portray the bowler-hat wearing man, whose face is obscured by a green apple? 🍏

Voilà! My 2018 Halloween costume:

photo styling by Jennifer

Trick or treat: caramel candy and Granny Smith apples

What’s your Halloween costume this year? Tell me in the comments below!

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[This post was originally published November 2, 2018]