A Warm Night in Paris

It’s been exceptionally warm this summer, but evenings cool to a modest 23C(about 75F), which is more than tolerable. The sky is light until almost 11 p.m, and lately the clouds have been mare’s tails, energetically swooping above, leaving sprinkles of stars.

I arrived last evening in Paris, in preparation for a flight to the U.S., resistant. Not resistant to my favorite city, but simply sad to have left the country, its lush cool, a swimming pool at my disposition, truly clear, starry skies. My schedule dictated I must, and I could only give in gracefully. How could I have known how lovely the evening actually would turn out?

I had a date, with a friend. Too tired to “cross the river” he invited me to his apartment. Allergic to the idea of getting on the hot, stuffy metro I searched out a “velib”, or rental bicycle. Either the stands were empty or they were full – the full ones were out of order, leaving hundreds of un-used bicycles just sitting there. I finally found a free bike and was soon pedaling through the warm evening, cool and swift. I dreaded my arrival simply because the apartment I was visiting is on the sixth floor, and it has windows on just one end, so no cross-breeze.

I needn’t have worried. Right out the window is a slate roof commodious enough for two chairs, and offering a breath-taking, heart-stopping view. We, and a chilled bottle of rose, perched ourselves out there and proceeded to chat the evening away. The sky went from gold to purple, from purple to indigo. The Eiffel Tower kept jittering with light; neighbors all over the city flicked lights on and off as they moved from room to room of apartments stacked one upon another.

My friend and I did what the French call “refaire le monde,” or “remake the world.” We discussed work, love, life, friendships, fame, fortune, and food. At one point we sampled a fresh strawberry ice cream that captured the mara des bois like none other I’ve tasted. From now on, I’m a convert to strawberry ice cream (something I have never been able to eat), if my friend makes it and I eat it on a Parisian rooftop.

Where do nuts fit into this story? Now where, if the nut is edible. As the title of this blog suggests, Life is Nuts, and trading a country garden filled with gnarled apple trees, a near-Olympic length pool, soft breezes for a night in the city felt nuts. It turned out to be as perfect as anything could ever be.

I cannot share the recipe for strawberry ice cream because I didn’t ask for it. But I can share a recipe for strawberries – which one might say aren’t in season but one would be wrong. Somehow we all blinked, and strawberries have become not just a late spring fruit, but one that persists, with grace and flavor, throughout the long, hot summer.

Strawberries (and a raspberry or two) in Red Wine

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/4 to 1/2 cup raspberries

3 tablespoons red wine (I like a Cotes de Blaye here, a nice floral ruby one!)

Freshly ground black pepper

Mint sprigs – for garnish

1. Place the berries in a shallow serving bowl. Pour over the wine and mix very gently. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Just before serving, sprinkle the berries with a bit of pepper, and garnish with a mint sprig or two.

4 – 6 servings

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