paris

northwest niçoise salad

Image: Olaiya Land

A few weeks ago, I threw together this salad with my haul from the farmers market. I wasn’t aiming for anything in particular as I grabbed ingredients from the fridge, just a quick supper. But as it came together, I realized I had made a sort of a Pacific Northwest version of a Niçoise salad.

After I made the salad again a couple weeks later, my thoughts turned to the many little ways I’ve managed to weave pieces of my travels to France into my Seattle life.

Unlike the many books out there suggesting you can transform yourself into a Parisienne overnight with a little red lipstick and a few glasses of heart-healthy red wine, I don’t think the French mystique can be exported wholecloth to the other side of the globe. Let’s be honest, most Americans are not ready for 5 sinful weeks of paid vacation or multiple glasses of wine over lunch on a Tuesday. 

Image: Olaiya Land

Though it would be challenging, ridiculous even, to go full-on French here in the U.S. of A., I happen to think there’s a lot to be gained by folding cherished bits of another country’s way of life into our own. So I sat down and made a list of some of the Paris-inspired habits that have improved my life:

First up is walking. Seattle is not a particularly walkable city. It’s easy to get in your car for every little trip. In Paris, you walk. Once I started going everywhere on foot in Paris, I realized that those walks around the city gave rise to my best thinking. They created a space to disconnect and unfurl my thoughts in a way I can’t behind the wheel of a car or crammed against a stranger in the Metro. Now I walk everywhere I can. It’s helped me drop a dress size (while still eating croissants and cream puffs on my tours), shake stress more easily and come up with better ideas than I would otherwise. I've decided walking is one of the best (and easiest) things I can do for my body and my mind. 

Next, is the very French art of making yourself feel beautiful. It is no secret that Parisians don’t run around grocery shopping or dropping their kids at school in their sweats. In Paris, when you leave the house, you dress like an adult, preferably an attractive one.

Before traveling to Paris often, I was a bit more--shall we say, lackadaisical--in my get-out-the-door routine. Especially since, as someone who works from home, I don’t actually need to get out the door most days. But all-day pajama parties are a thing of the past! I may not be pulling on my sexiest heels for a trip to the butcher (though don’t put it past me), I have discovered that I feel more confident, competent and beautiful when I take the time to wear clothes I love, brush on a coat of mascara and apply a hint of my favorite perfume. 

Image: Olaiya Land

On a related note, I’ve decided to prioritize skincare over makeup. For the most part, French people have gorgeous skin. I have developed an elaborate, Beautiful-Mind sort of theory as to why this is the case. But the short version is that they seem less stressed than Americans and they learn to care for their skin at an early age. (It's a thing. If you have a French friend, ask them at what age their mother introduced them to a formal skin-care regime!) 

Having not been born into a culture that teaches its youth how to cultivate glowing skin, I've had to hack my own quasi-French skincare routine. It involves some fancy-sounding French cleansers and creams--and even a dramatic spritz of thermal water! But it works. My skin has never looked better, which means I spend almost no money on makeup and still get to feel like a total babe. 

Parisians are also great at turning a few stellar ingredients into an amazingly satisfying meal. I’m talking a plate of creamy burrata, fruity olive oil, some aged ham and a handful of Sicilian almonds. Or maybe a pint of perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, feta and dill spooned over a slice of toast or a pan-seared lamb chop. Or, a personal favorite: a whole steamed artichoke accompanied by a bright, lemony aioli. You get the idea--delicious, sophisticated flavors that come together in a flash. I’ve made it my mission to master this kind of weeknight dinner sorcery and I think you should, too. It’s creative, delicious and way more satisfying than grabbing take-out.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

This one has been the biggest game-changer for me: Sitting down at the table for all meals. No phones. No TV. No scarfing a burrito over the kitchen sink or shoveling a sandwich into my face while I drive. 

Eating a meal undistracted allows you to slow down and fully taste what’s going in your mouth. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass; I want to grab something quick and run out the door. Or answer emails over lunch. But I am amazed at how much more delicious food has become since I started eating this way! The bonus side effect is that I need less food to feel satisfied. (Why has it taken me so long to figure this out?!?)

Last, and most certainly not least, is wine. Yup. Wine. Before Paris became a regular part of my life, I was more of a weekend drinker: maybe a cocktail with friends before dinner or glass of wine if we had a bottle on hand. Now we always have a bottle on hand! Not that we’ve turned into great lushes. But I’ve fallen in love with some of the natural wines I first tasted in France. And there's something magical about how a glass of wine with dinner serves as a marker of sorts, a signal that the work day is done and that things can become a touch looser, more fun. With friends, the best conversation always seems to start after a bottle of wine has been opened and everyone’s feeling buzzy and bright and a little more open than usual. (And then of course there's that whole heart-healthy thing.) So when it comes to pouring myself a glass or two, I'm most definitely a convert.

Image: Olaiya Land


There you have it, friends: Some of the things Paris has taught me about how to live a beautiful life. I hope this list encourages you to work the most inspiring elements from your own travels into your everyday life. Drop me a line in the comments below if you do--I’d love to hear what habits you're making your own!

XO,

Olaiya


To experience the best of Paris for yourself, join my September Paris Revelry culinary & culture tour! There are still 2 spots left. Click here to grab yours!


Northwest Niçoise Salad

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 lb. young wax beans (or green beans), stems removed
  • 1 cup shelled English peas (from 1 pound unshelled peas) or thawed frozen peas
  • 6 breakfast radishes, shaved lengthwise
  • 1 cup cherry or other small tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon mint, cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
  • 3 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves
  • 8 oz hot smoked wild salmon, broken into bite-size pieces

*Notes: If peas aren't your thing, try subbing in shelled fava beans or cooked chickpeas.

- The vegetables (except tomatoes), eggs and vinaigrette can all be prepped up to 2 days before serving. Store covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature before assembling the salad.

Image: Olaiya Land

Heat enough water to cover the egg in a small saucepan over high heat. When the water comes to the boil, add the eggs and cook for 10 minutes. Pour off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool to the touch. Peel, halve and set aside.

On a separate burner, fill a large saucepan ⅔ full with water. Salt generously (it should taste like the ocean) and bring to the boil over high heat. (You’ll use this to blanch your vegetables in a moment.)

While the eggs are cooking, make the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, mustard, vinegar, a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Adjust seasonings and set aside.

When the salted water has come to a rolling boil, add the fresh peas and cook for about 1 minute (no need to blanch if you're using thawed frozen peas). Remove with a slotted spoon or spider to a small bowl and cover with ice water. Add the beans to the pot and cook to your desired doneness (I like mine to remain a little snappy). When done, transfer the beans to a medium bowl and cove with ice water. When completely cool, pour off the water and dry the peas and beans well.

To assemble the salad, place the beans, peas, radishes, tomatoes, herbs and salmon in a large bowl along with the herbs. Salt lightly and toss with some of the vinaigrette. Add more vinaigrette to taste. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and arrange the eggs over the salad. Salt the eggs and pour a bit of the vinaigrette over them just before serving. 

Makes 4 servings.
 

Image: Olaiya Land

paris food & photography workshop with Yossy Arefi

Paris food and photography retreat with Olaiya Land and Yossy Arefi

I've got big news for you today: I'm teaming up with the super-talented Yossy Arefi of Apt. 2B Baking Co. to bring you a food & photography workshop in Paris this May!

We’ve planned 4 glorious days of cooking, shooting and styling in our light-filled Apartments Actually flat. We’ll visit local markets, boulangeries and cafes as we stroll the streets capturing the light Paris is famous for and tasting the city's best chocolate, coffee, pastries, cheeses and natural wines. And of course we'll gather around the table to share meals both in our beautiful workshop apartment and out and about in Paris.

Paris food and photography retreat with Olaiya Land and Yossy Arefi
Paris food and photography retreat with Olaiya Land and Yossy Arefi

We've designed this workshop for all skill levels. It will be a great opportunity to learn to shoot manually and master the settings on your camera if you’re new to that. More experienced photographers will benefit from our hands-on styling and editing sessions as well as our guided photo tours through the city.

All you need to do is book your ticket, pack your bags and show up. We’ve got all the details covered so you can focus on taking in the incredible beauty of Paris. You’ll leave feeling more confident in your photography skills and full of creative inspiration!

There are only 8 spots available. My last Paris retreat sold out in a week, so treat yourself to one of them before they're gone!

XO,

Olaiya

Paris food and photography retreat with Olaiya Land and Yossy Arefi
Paris food and photography retreat with Olaiya Land and Yossy Arefi

 

 

the love list

the love list on millys-kitchen.com

Hello!

This week I’m working on some new features for the blog. My friend Kyle stopped by yesterday to cook up an amazing dish I’ll be posting next week. I’ll also be announcing the dates of the pop-up dinner I’ve been talking about for what feels like ever. Kyle and I will be teaming up to bring you a menu of bright summer fare served under the stars. I’m thrilled it’s finally happening! Stay tuned for details.

the love list on millys-kitchen.com

I’ve been having so much fun collaborating up with other cooks, photographers and creative souls lately, I’ve decided to make that more of a regular occurrence around here. So I’ll be sharing more recipes and stories from some of my creative friends here on the blog.

If you are interested in working on a food, photography or travel project together, shoot me a mail. I love getting to know new folks and sharing knowledge and inspiration with each other!

While I edit the pile of images I shot with Kyle, here’s a little Love List to brighten your weekend!


- First up: The delightful instagram feed of Elie Obeid. I met Elie at Fragments coffee shop the last time I was in Paris. Not only does he make a perfect cup of coffee, he also takes beautiful pictures of his favorite spots in the city. Following along via his feed, I feel like I’m taking a little walk through the streets of Paris every day!

- As long as we're on the topic of photography, there’s an Eggleston exhibit at the Portland Art Museum until August 21. I’m super jazzed to take a little road trip down the coast and check it out. Also, it’s a great excuse to go eat at my favorite spots in Portland. (Hello, Blue Star Donuts!) All my PNW people: see you there!

- If you’re looking for a great recipe for your next bbq or summer shindig, check out this Potato-less Potato Salad. (Is your brain hurting yet?) Sherrie over at With Food + Love made this little gem of a salad from lightly blanched, perfectly tender radishes. It has all the classic flavors of potato salad, without all the carbs. Even if you aren’t trying to lay off the simple starches like me, this salad is a refreshing reinterpretation of a classic that’s delicious in its own right.

- I love, love, love this article on scruffy hospitality my friend Lillian posted on Facebook! Scruffy hospitality entails: “Not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home.” I’m definitely guilty of feeling like I can’t have friends over if the house isn’t in perfect order. This was a good reminder that inviting friends into our home is first and foremost about connecting with the people we love.

- And no Love List would be complete without a cocktail! Check out these Golden Raspberry Lillet Cocktails Heidi Swanson posted over at Quitokeeto. Lillet cocktails, always and forever.

photo:  Heidi Swanson

Happy Weekend, friends!

Olaiya

the love list on millys-kitchen.com