There was a time in Paris during which I bicycled to my office, from the 7th to the 4th, over the river and past tourists and bookshops and beauty. Every morning I would roll my bike into the elevator and squeeze in with it, then descend to the ground floor. (Dean and I were sharing an apartment, and the evenings on which we rode our bikes through the city, dodging cars and buses and people and stopping at a restaurant for a meal before heading home, are magic in my memory.) I’d ride past the Musée Rodin and stop by my patisserie for an almond croissant, then proceed to the small café near the Basilique Sainte-Clotilde et Chapelle de Jesus Enfant. The bike left leaning against the outside wall, I would take my seat at the bar and order un café. Sometimes I had two, and if time permitted would walk my bike across the street and enter the park near the church and sit on a bench and watch the dogs play. The sun warmed my face. I considered my ritual the perfect start to a morning. I consider it perfect still.

For some reason, I am experiencing difficulty when it comes to finding a good espresso in Houston. They are often bitter, often lukewarm. It is especially egregious when I order an after-dinner espresso at an Italian or French restaurant, one that prides itself on its “authentic, excellent food” and “attention to Old World values and tradition.” No self-respecting restaurant would serve such an espresso. (And to those of you out there who order a cappuccino after noon, don’t.)

One morning this past week I ground some French Roast from The Kaffeeklatsch and prepared un café in my Bialetti. I poured the liquid into a warm demitasse and added a touch of sugar. It was hot, it was fresh, it had me back on that bike in Paris, and my day began well.