Carol Gillott writes the whimsical and mouthwatering blog Paris Breakfasts where she fulfills her French pastry obsession and love of painting watercolors together. Carol recently moved to Paris from New York without looking back, like myself.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Born and bred in Philadelphia and couldn't wait to get away fast enough to NYC.
When and why did you move to Paris?
The big move was on December 25th 2012. My rational was financial. I thought it would be less costly not having to buy so many Air France plane tickets per year. Little did I know it would suit me to a T and I'd fall madly in love with the city.
When did you develop an obsession with sweets and what are some early childhood members?
Travel and sweets were intertwined from the get go. The corner drugstore was a refuge on the way home from grade school to browse candies. Sometimes I wonder if anticipation and browsing are more fun then the actual eating.
When and where did you taste your first French macaron?
I remember seeing them first in Angelina's windows. The bright colors fascinated me but I was still committed to big, old-fashioned meringues. In 2006 I began painting them. I loved the round shapes and the meringue shells but I would scrape out the ganache filling!
What is your favorite flavor and macaroon brand and have you discovered new ones since you moved that you didn’t know about before?
I'm a dyed-in-the-wool passion fruit addict. Pierre Hermé's creation is unbeatable but I'll happily taste any new flavor he comes up with including carrot and olive oil.
If you were marcarooned-oops! Sorry I meant marooned, on a dessert island, oops! Sorry I meant desert island, what one French pastry would you choose?
A box of 36 Pierre Hermé macarons. All different flavors of course.
What have been the biggest surprises you have found since you started living here, both positive and negative?
Daily discovering new tastes and flavors - the seasonal tsunamis that knock you sideways like Buche de Noel, Galette du Roi, the May fraisiers when the strawberries come in. It's a wonderful positive and at the same time sheer hell since I've no resistance to temptation and moderation isn't one of my strong points.
You have had a multitude of careers in the creative arts including shoe design, fashion design, writing and illustrating travel books, and a stint as in house photographer at the James Beard Foundation. What were some of the pinnacles and highlights of those careers?
I've always drawn pictures no matter what. Combining drawing with travel and food continued at The James Beard House in the 90s and hasn't stopped since. A high point was an invitation to Paul Bocuse's MOF luncheon in Lyon in '94 and shooting backstage at the Lyon Coupe de Monde de Patisserie.
How did you come up with the idea of your blog?
I had stacks of Parisian petit dejeuner still life watercolors gathering dust on a shelf. I thought it would be fun to put them out there. i.e. the name Paris Breakfasts. Corey Amaro of Tongue in Cheek Antiques dared me to start the blog in 2006. Et voila!
Has the blog expanded your watercolor painting and has it brought you new clients?
Oh tremendously. A Parisbreakfast reader asked if I could paint her sister's three dogs in front of patisserie Laduree as a birthday gift. I've done hundreds and hundreds of pet portraits since then. Lots of ideas come from readers requesting something special, like painting Paris facades. That led to exhibits at Alliance Francaise in DC, Boston, Philadelphia and London.
Who are some of your favorite watercolor artists and which have had a big influence on you?
My teacher of 20 years, David Dewey and dessert painter Wayne Thiebaut. Both are superb colorists.
What do you prefer about Paris?
You put one foot out the door and the adventure begins. I especially love the constant visual stimulation everywhere.
Top photo of Carol Gillott courtesy of Carla Coulson
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am happy to announce the sale of a new set of prints of my Eye Prefer Paris Photos. I am offering 20 of my most popular and iconic images for sale including my doors, architectural details, statues, and monuments. They will make great gifts for all your Francophile friends, relatives, and colleagues but don't forget to buy some for yourself.
Click here to see photos and for full details including sizes, prices, and shipping. Here is a sample of some of the photos.