Friday, April 30, 2010


As children, we question everything. Why is the sky blue? Why do moths flock around lights? Why does she get ice cream? Why should I? And then the older we get, the less we ask why.


Maybe we lose our curiosity (a sad thought). Maybe our observation of other peoples’ exasperation (all those questions!) becomes keener. Maybe we get tired of hearing the response, “Hmmmm, I don’t know.”

Why, why, why. It’s been running though my mind so much lately.


A dear friend was dealt a really cruel hand, and I keep wondering: why her??

I’m finishing up The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which contemplates luck and fate and how one event in life can influence every subsequent one thereafter. And I keep asking myself: why am I so lucky? Why am I here in Paris? Why?

And then for the past few days, my relatives and I have been sharing all kinds of wonderful and loving and funny memories of my grandmother in honor of the 20 years that have passed since she died. She was the kindest, gentlest soul, as all these messages remind me. Despite having had a tough life, she never got angry or resentful or raised her voice to anyone. Even this makes me ask: but why? Why did she have this disposition? (And why don’t I??)

Why do things happen the way they do?

As I’ve been thinking about this—realizing more often than not, I just don’t know—I’m trying to convince myself that it’s okay not to have the answers to everything. That not everything has to happen for a reason. That sometimes life is about not knowing and therein lies some of the beauty and magic.

This brings some peace and relief. Let there be mystery. Be okay with not knowing. Resolve to live life to the fullest, regardless of how much of it is clear and certain. After all, how boring would it be if we always had the answers (like that annoying know-it-all in the third grade)?

But somehow this is still not satisfying. I still ask: Why her? Why me? Why not?

And the answers? Who knows. But whether we’re four or 14 or thirty-something, I think it’s important that we keep asking why. We might not get the answers we want. But then again, we might discover something—a memory, a friendship, a truth—we didn’t even know we were searching for.

Please Give

When I went to the Cynthia Rowley party a couple weeks ago, I was deliciously close to one of my all-time female idols. My other, Catherine Keener, comes out in a movie today.

I cannot wait to see this—I anticipate Nicole Holofcener’s biennial movies like nobody’s business. But something tells me their distribution in France could be pretty limited.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Last night's moon

Looking out my little kitchen window, over the rooftops and through the chimneys... magic.

Happiness is riding your bike to work on a warm spring day in Paris

I’m working back at the Champs-Elysées office today and tomorrow. Which gives me the opportunity to retrace my routine of yesteryear. Which makes me happy.

Renting a Velib (hello, you)… biking through Place Vendome and Place de la Concorde, under the blooming trees, past Le Crillon and parking outside Ladurée… catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower every time I go to the water fountain… sitting next to Jo… being surrounded by warmth and comfort…

Happiness on a spring day in Paris.

French word of the day: d'acc

Def: ok (Short for d'accord, bien sur.)

What took me so long to pick this colloquialism out from all the conversing going on in Paris? It was only when I was sitting in my doctor's office, waiting for her to turn her attention back to me after taking a phone call, and listening to her say, "d'acc...d'acc...d'acc..." that I picked it up. D'acc? D'acc!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And on that note...

“The Spring Wind does not distinguish between high and low, it reaches everywhere. And the flowers and branches of plants and trees, themselves grow longer and shorter.”
—from "The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment"

Flower Power

Even with the trees and flowers blooming around the city, the florists are still guaranteed to deliver a 1000-watt jolt of happiness.

Who doesn’t know and love L’Artisan Fleuriste in the Marais? If their killer arrangements and adorable plants don’t lure you in, the bright, cheeky wagon will.

Weather check: I'll take some of that

I know I missed a glorious weekend in Paris, while it rained in Sicily. And yesterday, when I came back, it was cool, as if I brought the air with me. But the forecast is promising 70ish for the next few days. Oh, happy days.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Vegan Mondays*

• An oversized bowl of fresh and dried fruit: pineapple, melon, kiwi, orange, figs and dates, with a dash of flax seeds
• Whole wheat bread, still warm and doughy at 7am, slathered with peanut butter—I think only the second time I’ve had glorious peanut butter in over a year
• The same warm and doughy whole wheat bread, slathered in blood orange marmalade—as amazing as it sounds
• Fresh orange juice
• Coffee with soy milk


• Banana, orange, apple—in that order
• Falafel sandwich


• Tea + a tummy ache (I was going to spin to repent for my Italian overeating sins, but I didn’t have it in me. The good thing is, I am finally full.)

* Do you have any idea how hard it was starting this particular Monday as a vegan?

In two short days, I had become addicted to the resort’s buffet breakfast. You know those buffets at which you can consume your entire day’s calories with two return trips to the counter? It was one of these. But I didn’t even indulge in the pastries, breads or cakes (I’m loyal to French and American pastries; not a big fan of the Italian varieties). I didn’t order pancakes or frittata or smoked salmon or waffles with maple syrup. Instead, I consumed shameful amounts of fresh ricotta with dried figs. And Bircher muesli with sweet pitted dried plums. Of all the beautiful, indulgent things at the resort—and there were many of them—the breakfast buffet was my favorite. And skipping out on the ricotta and figs the last day was a bit crushing. Though maybe worth it for the taste of peanut butter.

I am lucky, the self-conscious girl declared

Sometimes I worry that I sound like a real asshole on this here blog. That people think I just flit about, rhapsodizing about pastries, skipping around as if all that mattered was my opinion about Parisian architecture and foreign travels. I know I do flit and skip and go on a bit too much about pastries, but I do it, knowing how lucky I am. How very, very privileged and fortunate I am to be living in Paris, working on Louis Vuitton, traveling to foreign countries, and that I have the freedom to do so much of this on a whim, and, most important, the support and encouragement back home, egging me on. Trust me, I think about it all the time.

I had one of these moments at Verdura, where I was walking along a lit path at night, on my way to dinner, under the moon. I started thinking about how this was a resort that neither of my parents would probably ever visit. That I was in a pocket of the world that not many people get to see. Indeed, just what was I doing, walking along this beautiful path in Sicily, of all places? How did I get there? Not literally, but it was a moment of feeling so present, and so aware and grateful for it.

And the best part was that this moment wasn’t tinged with sadness because I had no one to share it with. I’m in a phase where I’m content being single. As thrilled as I would be to find that notch for my nook, I am used to being on my own. I realize that seeing things with only my eyes doesn’t make them any less lovely.

Life at Verdura

Wake up. Contemplate the weather. Not so good. What to do…

There’s the spa and fitness center (but a girl can only lift so many weights). The beach and golf course and bicycles to tour it all (muddy, from the rain).

Four restaurants and a couple of bars (it’s already dangerous when I eat only at meals; if I started snacking out of boredom, my skat would be a profoundly disturbing issue). My own suite, which was bigger than my New York apartment and had movies and a bathtub that begged for bubbles to fill it. And then there was the balcony overlooking the Mediterranean and sunset. (Pas mal…)

Si, si, it was a tough three days by the sea.

Of course it was lovely. It was a brand new five-star resort. Totally elegant surroundings and indulgent services (um, can you drive me in this golf cart the 100 yards to my room? It’s drizzling.). But I was there to research an article, so I couldn’t totally kick back and be lazy. I had to do a lot of driving and exploring on my own, which, if you’ve ever driven on the Italian “Autostrada”, you know is an experience. And for two of the three days, the weather was crap. So it wasn’t all sunshine and skipping down the beach. Even so, I can’t (and won’t) complain. It was wonderful.

I was pretty taken by the landscape the very first day, flying into Palermo. I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect the rugged, mountains that seemed to pop out of nowhere.

But I was hoping for the turquoise water, and I got it. Yay.

Then I took the long way to the resort in order to see the “salt road” from Trapani to Marsala. Tons and tons of sea salt is mined between these two port towns, and plenty of grapes are grown for sweet Marsala dessert wine. I drove through the towns themselves but didn’t see anything urgently charming or omigod beautiful, so I kept going.

In fact, I saw many slummy apartment buildings, reminiscent of Soviet bloc buildings and, between the grey skies and my too frequent wrong turns, I was on the road for five hours and had to admit my trip wasn’t starting on the most auspicious terms.

But then I got to Verdura. Which is omigod beautiful.

My room…

The grounds…

The main building…

On Saturday, I awoke and it was still cool and rainy, but I took advantage of breaks in the weather to bicycle the grounds. I was wowed by rampant wildflowers, mini olive groves and batches of orange trees.

Close your eyes and imagine the sweetest orange blossom scent.

That is the smell that wafted randomly through the air across the grounds. Heavenly.

And Sunday, the sun finally shone between giant, fluffy cumulous clouds. I took my little Fiat 500 out and about and liked how it looked against the old buildings.

But I liked it even more when I found some old, back roads that went up and down and all around rolling hills of vineyards and olive groves and farms. The beauty was breathtaking, and I loved having the road to myself and even the occasional good song on the radio (note to self: pack Mr. B’s mixed CDs next time).

Of course I had a couple moments of, if not panic, then at least exasperation, because I knew I was driving in circles. There were times when I’d reach a fork in the road and there was absolutely no indication of which way I should go. But it was a charming sort of lost; I knew I would eventually find my way and it wasn’t scary or stressful.

Even after the beauty of the countryside, back at the resort, it became really clear to me how special Verdura is. Nearly 570 acres with incredible vistas. Rolling green hills. Old, golden buildings. The turquoise sea.

By Monday, driving back to Palermo—now a passing-fool on the Autostrada—I was entirely smitten with Sicily. The landscape just wouldn’t quit: all vineyards and olive and orange groves and green hills, not yet blighted by big, ugly shopping complexes. Instead, there were old, decaying ruins with serious history and a gorgeous golden color that was perfect against all the green.

Three days just wasn’t enough. Let me know if you want to go back…

Friday, April 23, 2010


Fingers crossed I’m flying off to Sicily.

I’m going to indulge at the new Vedura Spa, sample the sea salt of Trapani, maybe taste the wine in Marsala, smell the Mediterranean, eat fresh seafood, drown everything in local olive oil, and probably break down and eat some bread. The weather is supposed to be crap—it will be warmer and sunnier here in Paris—but I’ll take it. Three nights in Sicily sounds really swell right now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Delayed gratification

It feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve sold a good article or had something published. So I’m feeling a little better that a few of my projects saw the light of day this week.

Do Overs for The Moment

Shopping Rue Etienne Marcel for Girls Guide to Paris

And the teaser phase of the new Journeys campaign broke. Full site to launch next month.

What’s next, what’s next? Bring it on!

My attempt at being Robert Doisneau

It doesn't exactly have that je ne sais quoi that comes from the Frenchman's camera, but a moment and scene like this still deserves to be captured by a girl in love with the city.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Simply perfect

How good can a dinner be?

Even here in Paris, I forget. Le Gaigne, Koba, Le Temps au Temps… macarons, croissants, chocolate-caramel tarts… this past week has been an absolute orgy of incredible food. But tonight took the cake.

Ben’s friend had suggested he check out either Café Constant or Les Cocottes while he’s stranded here. Both restaurants were on my List and, seeing as they’re next door to each other and neither accepts reservations, we decided to meet on the street, explore the menus, see what our options were, and make a decision for dinner. We opted for the more traditional Café Constant and got the very last table available and what incredible luck it was.

But let me back up. I worked in our Champs-Elysées office today, a tres rare event these days, next to my girl Jo. What could be better than that? Already, I was feeling happier and warmer. Our LV office is nice; they tried. But working with the Ogilvy crew, in an agency environment, in exquisite offices on the Champs-Elysées. Well, that’s nicer. So I felt tired but content leaving work to hop on a bus that would take me across Le Pont Alma to the seventh arrondisement to meet Ben.

The never underwhelming view of the Eiffel Tower made me smile among the commuters. And then Ben and I got to this most amazing dinner.

In fact, I think this is one of my best meals to date. The menu was surprisingly large and well priced: 8-10 entrées (11 Euros) and plats (16 Euros) each, plus plats du jour. We were going to split three entrées just because so many looked good and we couldn’t decide. Thank goodness we skipped the deviled eggs and just ordered two entrées: a towering crab salad atop potatoes and asparagus with poached egg, parmesan and jambon.

Just look at these creations and imagine that the bread and wine were equally exquisite, and imagine our utter contentment.

I think I was too entranced and enchanted with the meal and, by this time, the Cote du Rhone’s effects that I forgot to take photos of our plats. They were as equally beautiful as the entrées and rivaled the first course in terms of deliciousness. Ben got quail, stuffed with foie gras, atop a sea of creamy Puy lentils. I got perhaps the best chicken of my life. Served with maybe the best potatoes of my life. Seriously. Delicious.

We certainly didn’t need dessert. But not one other table skipped out and we figured it was our American duty to at least split something. Chalking it up to old age, Ben admitted to a new affinity for rice pudding so we ordered the vanilla rice pudding. And promptly put it away (yar).

Next to us at dinner (it’s a petit restaurant; like it or not, you get cozy with your neighbors), were the two sweetest, most beautiful old French ladies you ever could imagine. They were probably in their 80s, but wonderfully made up, drinking a carafe of red wine, indulging in three courses, and smiling and laughing and talking throughout it all. Such inspiration. By the end of the meal, we were chatting with them, and it just made the experience that much more perfect. (They assured Bennie that he would get out a-ok on Friday.)


And to top it off, we strolled. Bennie wanted to cruise by the Eiffel Tower before so we did that. I had somehow forgotten how magnificent it is.

Then we walked past the Musée du quai Branly, which I must visit, to Les Invalides before taking a cab ride through the most beautiful city in the world.

English phrase, just for today: cheap as chips

I'd never heard this expression that Jo oh-so nonchalantly said today, and I thought it was too cute and funny to not share.

Doorways, pipes and bananas

They’re all equally inspiring, in the right circumstances.

Now that the weather is finally bearable, and the days longer, one of my favorite things to do is walk around new neighborhoods in the evening. The air is warm, my nerves are calm, and there is no hurry.

Last week, I strolled Rue du Bac, where I was inspired by a number of different things.

The grand entrances to the grand apartment buildings. So Parisian. So lucky, the people living inside.

The art gallery vitrines. Most in the neighborhood are antique-y, but some of them are modern and surprising.

And I’m always delighted by how shopkeepers arrange and display their goods. But I’ve never seen bananas hung on a tree like this.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Le Pont Alexandre at night

More good music

I am still loving my iTunes shuffle. The most recent plays:

Kiss and Make Up – Saint Etienne
The Prayer – Bloc Party
Travailler remix – TTC
Just Like Honey - The Jesus and Mary Chain (sigh)
Can We Still Be Friends – Todd Rundgren (I mean, where did that come from??)
Airport Disco – Athlete (merci, Goob!)
Twin Peaks – Surfer Blood
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z
June Evenings – Air France
Marble House – The Knife
Personal – Stars

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Vegan Mondays

Last week was sort of epic. I did four days of veganism. Four days! Not only was it easier than I anticipated, I sort of got off on it.

But I also really enjoy my cheese and fish and almond croissants. So this week, I’m back to just Vegan Monday, book-ended by more gluttonous eating, I’m sure.


Un peu de pain
A pear


A giant salad of grilled veggies, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, carrots and green beans
Dried figs
A crazy-delicious blood orange


A bike ride along the Seine (yay, spring!)
Whole wheat pasta with roasted broccoli and sundried tomatoes
More dried figs (my new obsession)

Caught on film

I came into work today and my heart sank when one of the art directors happily said, “Amy! I found a picture of you on the Internet!”

Since she had shouted it across the room, everyone started buzzing and tittering and gathering around her extra-large art director computer screen.

“Really? Where?!” I asked, slowly, dreadfully, approaching her computer. What picture could this possibly be? Did she find my blog? Did Sarah post more photos of me stalking that cute photographer? Did some atrocious just-rolled-out-of-bed photo from Christmas-past mysteriously surface?

And then she loaded this site and we all started cracking up.

Looks like I unknowingly had my photo snapped at last week’s Cynthia Rowley party, while I was practicing my best case of Parisian ennui…

Capoeira for your centimes

You hear the thump, thump of the drum and the rangle of the tambourines and suddenly you know a) spring is here because b) here come the capoeira dancers.

It’s still a little chilly for these Brazilian dancers to go shirtless, but it won’t be long now. From Montmartre to Montorgueil, they’ll be kicking, sweeping, flipping, clapping, thrusting—and asking for your centimes.

Weather check: nice

Nice. It’s that simple: it’s finally nice outside. However, I sat outside at a café for lunch and was still a bit chilled as I wasn’t in the sun. And I couldn’t for the life of me understand the women walking by in sandals. I guess because I’m still swathed in a scarf and leather coat.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

French word of the day: engoué

Def: infatuated

I'm not, but I wish I were.

A weekend in the sun

It appears that spring might actually be here to stay in Paris. At least if this weekend’s weather and activities are to be believed.

Friday night started in classic Parisian style: café terrace aperos with a parade of hipsters to admire. Ben brought me a salted caramel macaron from Arnaud Delmontel, a prelude to a weekend of sweets.

We then gave up our coveted spot outside at Le Coeur Fou to go to Koba for sushi, and then called it a night. Perfect.

Saturday rang bright with blue skies and art-gazing and park-lounging on the agenda. We started in classic French style: with a croissant, which was, as expected, ridiculously delicious (sigh).

Then it was over to the 14th arrondisement to catch the last day of the Robert Doisneau exhibit and see Beat Takeshi at the Cartier Fondation. I’m more of a sucker for the dreamy, evocative photos of France in the 40s than the crazy-genius pop art of this Japanese artist. But what a great balance of the two.

We then gathered lunch bits—rotisserie chicken, baguette, brebis (sigh)—and foraged two chairs in the Luxembourg Gardens. Between the food and the sun, it was pretty close to heaven.

I think all of Paris agreed. I’ve never seen such crowds.

Could the day get any better? Yes. And it did. After splitting a Nutella crepe (sigh), we had a little rest before meeting our beloved Mel at Le Temps au Temps.

Ben is responsible for introducing me and Mel. Without her, life in Paris would never be the same.

Our toast to one another with a bottle of Chinon just wasn’t enough to convey this. But, several hours of talking and eating and enjoying each other’s company hopefully did.