Katherine Watt found Montmartre filled her soul when she moved to live in Paris
Guest: Katherine Watt
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Katherine Watt has lived and worked in many countries around the world but it has been Paris that has captured her heart! So four years ago she made the leap to resign from her job and move to France! Katherine has family, children and grandchildren in the US and in the pre-COVID times they could visit and she would return annually.
So where to start with a leap like this?!?! That’s what I wanted to find out!
Katherine started by drawing a line in the sand with the end date for her job. She planned three years ahead and told her boss she would be resigning. Katherine had stayed in Montmartre and even in the apartment she is in now during the period before she moved permanently.
During lockdown, Katherine loved being in the Montmartre area where she found a little community in her 1km zone. Being surrounded by the beauty of Montmartre was food for her soul during that tough time when travel and connecting face-to-face with family was not possible.
Moving to a new country across the world is not without its challenges though. Katherine found finding French friends was key to working through tough times. She has formed beautiful friendships with neighbours and regulars to her fave jazz clubs and local cafés. Any challenge is overcome though by her connection with the history of her area. She lives on the same street where Suzanne Valadon and Toulouse-Lautrec had a studio. Her fave museum is the Musée de Montmartre, fave place to hang out is Le Grand Comptoir and fave parc is just behind Sacre Coeur Square Marcel-Bleustein-Blanchet. Katherine wrote a book in her first two years living in Montmartre and is part way through her second book. She also connected with her inner artist by starting to experiment with paints and watercolours.
The blurb for Katherine’s first book “Ninon and Me at the Grand Comptoir” sings so much to my soul! I am eagerly awaiting the paperback to arrive in my letterbox so I can dive right in and escape in her world.
“Katherine Watt was a stressed out, burned out Silicon Valley executive tired of making corporate decisions, traveling the globe to meet with bureaucratic bodies in Malaysia, China, Singapore, India, Australia and points beyond. She was ready to leave all that behind and to create a new life; a second chapter. She heard the ghosts of the City of Light calling to her and moved to her perfect little apartment in Montmartre where her only decision each morning was where to write today. Armed with her old high school French and level 72 Duolingo skills she jumped into the deep end of the pool. In her efforts to design a new Parisian life she found Ninon. Beautiful Ninon de L’Enclos was life coach to the who’s who of the 17th Century, covering Literature, Art, Politics to matters of the erotic. Add to her curriculum vitae courtesan, writer, and hostess to the most sought after Salon of the day where any afternoon one might find Moliere doing a reading of his newest play, de La Fontaine sharing a Fable or watch Ninon artfully fend off the advances of Cardinal Robespierre. Across the centuries Ninon’s spirit helps Ms. Watt find a self she didn’t know she could be.”
I found talking to Katherine quite inspirational. It helped remind me that there is no time limit on finding yourself. No limits on who you can “be” through life and no limit to finding who you truly are. Katherine’s more Parisian way of thinking has made her realise there can be a different way to view the world.
Katherine has befriended wonderful and talented Irish singer Liv Monaghan who also resides in Montmartre. Katherine recommended this beautiful tune by the Liv Monaghan Trio singing in French.
We are so fortunate to have this little preview from Katherine’s upcoming book!
(By Katherine Watt)
Stephane Jego’s Parmesan Soup
I have two deathbed food items. This is number one. L’Ami Jean features this sinfully rich and very creamy soup on their menu many nights. The first bite will send you to heaven.
There are a few different versions of this recipe floating around on the internet. I have followed a ten minute video on Youtube multiple times to prepare to make it. It’s also found in one of my favorite Paris cookbooks, “Bistronomy, Recipes from the Best New Paris Bistros”, by Jane Sigal. Ms Sigal has made the recipes in her book more American friendly, with suggested ingredients more easily found in the US. I’m in Paris though so to prepare this for mon homme sauvage I stole a little from Youtube videos and a little from the Bistronomy book. The result was relatively easy to make with Bossy Boy sitting in the other room (fortunately distracted by his phone) and it did not fail to impress!
Ingredients: 2 bacon slices, cut crosswise ¼ inch thick
2 slices of firm, day-old white bread, crusts removed, cut into ¼ inch cubes
¼ cup thawed frozen peas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 finely chopped shallots
7 ounces Parmesan cheese
* 5 ounces cut into smallish chunks
* 2 ounces shaved
2 cups liquide creme fraise (or heavy cream)
1 cup chicken stock
Freshly ground pepper
Snipped chives for sprinkling
Directions: In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and lightly browned, about five minutes. Transfer to paper towels.
In the same skillet, cook the bread cubes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden, about five minutes. Season the croutons with salt and add them to the paper towels with the bacon.
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chunks of parmesan and cook, stirring often until cheese is melted. Gradually stir in the cream and stock and bring to a simmer, scraping up any cheese stuck to the bottom. Cook over medium-low heat stirring often for ten minutes.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth and creamy.
Spoon the shaved cheese, bacon, croutons and peas into soup bowls. Pour soup into the bowl and sprinkle with chives.