Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weather check: a welcome reprieve

After two weeks of premature winter weather, the temperatures in Paris have returned to a seasonal norm. For the first time this year, it's about as warm here as it is in New York (not that I'm comparing or obsessing... except I am). Which means the cafe terraces are jam-packed and everyone would rather be outside than in—just like at Le Baron Rouge last night.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Friday

I am using my remaining vacation time to take Fridays off for the next several weeks (merci, France, for five weeks plus RTTs!). Ostensibly, it’s so I have time to write. But today was the Salon du Chocolat. And I was hungover and tired from dancing until 3 a.m. at ChaCha last night. So after I binged on a few too many chocolate samples this morning, and wandered aimlessly around Saint-Germain for a couple hours in the afternoon, I settled down for a mid-day drink that had me gazing at Notre Dame.

Life in Paris. What’s not to love?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mange, mange, mange!

Rino: 46 Rue Trousseau, 11eme
Went with: Sarah, Jo and Kyoka on a Friday night
Had: What was offered—a four-course, 38-euro menu. Which, that night, included wild mushroom ravioli with squid; a small sliver of fish; duck, served with cheesy polenta and spinach; and two petit desserts which consisted of prune ice cream and a financier. The meal was accompanied by great wine and pain du campagne.
Impressions: The super cute all-Italian team was wonderfully charming and accommodating. We made reservations not realizing that it’s one-shot fixed menu, and there were two vegetarians among us. On the fly, they made veg options, replacing the fish with a big veggie platter and offering risotto instead of the duck. Beyond the cute Italians, I liked the casual vibe. It was friendly and modern in a distinctly European way—almost like being in someone’s (cool) apartment for dinner.

Racines: 8, passage des Panoramas, 2eme

Went with: Michael on a Wednesday night
Had: The 34 euro piece of wild turbot—one of only three plats offered. And the second bottle of wine we ordered as we actually rejected the first bottle. This was a first for me here in Paris, but it seriously tasted rancid.
Impressions: Phooey. I guess it’s our fault—we were late to the game by about a year. The original Racines was helmed by Pierre Jancou and received all kinds of fanfare. With the acclaim ringng in my ears, I was keen to check it out. But the vibe was dead, the menu uninspiring and the food mediocre. Plus, my one plat was more expensive then the divine three-course menu at La Régalade Saint-Honoré.

KGB: 25, rue des Grands Augustins, 6eme
Went with: Cheryl and Ana on a Friday night
Had: Six “zors d’ouevres”, which are surprises from the chef: a veggie-coconut milk soup, veal, rabbit, a spicy chicken meatball, scallop with raspberry sauce and a white fish carpaccio. Ana and Cheryl both had pasta dishes, which were gorgeous and hearty. But my cabillaud, served in a crock with a coconut milk foam and veggies, was amazing.
Impressions: Lovely, lovely, all around! The staff was actually smiley. The crowd was cool but not too-cool-for-school. And the value was outstanding. I would love to go back to sample more dishes. (If there weren’t already a gazillion other places on the list… zut alors…)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

French phrase of the day: rien de neuf?

Def: nothing's new?

This is what my French tutor always asks me. It's not that there's nothing new. It's just that I don't know how exactly to say...

I'm stressed at work, I need to join the gym for some endorphin rushes, it sure would be nice to go on a date, all I want to do is eat, eat, eat, my fingers feel like they're going to fall off in this weather, there is so much I want to do but sometimes I can't move, early morning has become my favorite time in Paris, I want to discover a new band, I need to let loose one night soon, is it really so terrible to eat a pastry every day?, why aren't I fluent yet?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The sparkling lining

I had to work late last night, missing a final glass of wine with Cheryl and nearly missing Mel's birthday. But at least I got to see the Eiffel Tower light show during the blue hour from the conference room.

What's going through their minds?




Monday, October 25, 2010

Give thanks for good food

I have a new favorite lunch spot: the cantine in Merci’s basement.

I had eaten in the bookstore before. And on several occasions, I had drooled over the display at the cantine en-bas.

But finally Jo and I lunched there, and I am ready to go back again and again.

Everything is so fresh—the water, the juice and the coffee.

(Jo agrees.)

And the space is nothing short of adorable.

In a design-y way.

As Jo said, a plate quinoa, lentils, beets, bulger would be torture for many people.

But we were happy girls.

French phrase of the day: "Respirer Paris, cela conserve l'âme."

Def: Breathing Paris preserves the soul.—Victor Hugo

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The morning moon

What's prettier than a rising full moon over Paris?
Seeing it, in all its glory, still hanging over the empty streets the next morning.

It's going to be a great Sunday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Full moon over Paris

Actually, tonight is the full moon. But the past few evenings have been nothing short of spectacular. I was walking towards the Seine from L'Arc de Triomphe, paused for a traffic light and - oh, hello - a beautiful moon rising...

And the sunset around the Eiffel Tower?? Come on!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ride, baby, ride

My friends JP and Kyoko shot this stop-motion video for the darling Vélo Vintage bike shop in Montmartre. It’s a great promotion of the bike shop, oui, but an even better celebration of Paris.

I promise you will want to hop on a bicycle the minute it is over.

Bon vendredi!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

French phrase of the day: ça fait chaud au coeur de voir

Def: it is heartwarming to see

Apropos of nothing. Just a nice, new phrase for me. And maybe you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

French phrase of the day: faire la gueule

Def: (slang) to have a cold or frown-y face – or, in other words, to be in a bad mood

This is a good one for me to know. I am mercurial. Moody. And right now it’s a bad mood.

It’s nothing major. One of those “everything and nothing” situations. I am stressed. I feel stretched too thin. I overschedule myself and know I shouldn’t but I do it any way.

It’s the same with candy. I get in a place. I can’t stop. I know it’s not good for me, but I keep dipping into that 300g bag of Haribo Tagada. Dis-gusting! (But the sugar’s so good!)

And I get annoyed with myself for doing it.

I can’t put an outfit together. I can’t afford to shop.

I am sick of my hair and my makeup and I am putting on weight.

It’s so cold outside. And often, inside.

Work is super stressful right now. Politics and personalities.

On the freelance front, I want more success than I’m finding. Would some editor pul-eeze buy one of my pitches??

It’s everything and nothing. But bad moods happen in every language. C’est la vie.

Winter in Paris, life in Paris

If Paris is a city devoted to pleasure, then there’s is no use being miserable, right? I turned my heat on this past weekend. I am denying on the onset of winter. At least, trying to. But it’s not easy when my alarm rings out at 7:30 and it’s still pitch-black outside. I don’t think there’s anything worse than waking up to a cold, dark bedroom.

Coincidentally, I am still reading Lucy Wadham’s The Secret Life of France and, after a year and a half here—much of it which has felt like winter—some things are beginning to make sense.

The French are the biggest consumers of psychotropic drugs in the world, Lucy reports. Contrary to popular belief, they far outstrip the Americans. Recent research by scientists from Bordeaux found that almost a quarter of all French, more than 15 million people, admitted to having taken either anti-depressants or tranquillisers in the past year — five times as many as in Britain and a third more than in America…

… The widespread use of these drugs does not alter the fact that France has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. According to OECD figures, approximately seventeen out of every hundred thousand French people take their own lives each year, compared to seven Britons. You might ask why – in a society where the quality of life seems to be superior, where fertility and life expectancy and literacy are higher, where the crime rate is lower and teenage pregnancies fewer – so many people want to kill themselves.

She goes on to (modestly and cautiously) propose some theories: All the values that form the bedrock of France’s collective unconscious – the Cult of Beauty, the Tragic (rather than the Comic) world view, the Cult of Reason – leave French people particularly ill-equipped for the harsher aspects of reality.

On a lighter note, I will add the climate. The cloying, tenacious grey. The chill that sits in your bones and refuses to leave.

As easy as it is to be in love with Paris, and 17 years after first being bitten, I am still very much in love, it is hard to live here.

Easy to fall in love with the place. But living in Paris is hard.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Golden eggs and Larry Gagosian

Gagosian opened in Paris today. They’re having a major opening night soirée right now. But, I don’t know, my invitation got lost in the mail or something.

Still, I got to peek at the space this morning.

Even better, I bumped into Mel, who was there with her artnet crew. A beautiful way to start the day.

(Beaucoup more beautiful than the Cy Twombly paintings, wouldn't you say?)

There’s been lots of fanfare around Mr. Larry coming to the City of Light. Local architect Jean-Francois Bodin renovated the former hotel particulier next door to Christie’s. Now it’s a crisp white contemporary gallery.

As soon as I make my first million, I think I’ll go back for one of these amazingly beautiful but disturbing paintings.

More on Guilo Guilo

If lunch at Le Grand Vefour was my best dining experience yet, dinner at Guilo Guilo was not far behind.

This itty-bitty, black-lacquered gem of a Japanese restaurant up on Montmartre’s hill doesn’t have the history, beauty or poshness of Le Grand Vefour. But it’s such a non-Parisian joint. It was such a fun experience. I loved everything about it, from the care and attention to all the little details… dining with new girls... indulging in eight courses of deliciousness.

Just a wee start up: smoked tofu with a peanut sauce and an edible fleur.

(Beautiful, no?)

A delightful assortment of amuse bouches. Fresh, fun, dee-lish.

To go with these delicate creations, I had prune liqueur, which was really light and fruity and went down really easily.

Next came a yummy, creamy broccoli soup with tamago (Japanese omelet) and taro chip.

One piece of tuna sushi topped with a mushroom puree.

And then my least favorite of the lot: skate that was a little too difficult to eat (served with the bones), atop a paste-y puree.

Sixth course: honestly, I can’t even remember! I think it was a flash-fried root veg of some sort. In any case, it was tasty.

Then came a simple and modest rice soup. (Are you getting full yet?)

And au final, dessert. My experience is that dessert isn’t usually a standout at Japanese restaurants, but this final course was every bit as delicious as all the savory plates.

There was a dollop of chocolate mousse with banana cream. Two bites of apple tatin caramelized heaven adorned with a matcha financier. And a gelatinized orange, which I thought would be the low point of the plate, but there was something about the unusual texture and thick flavor that was amazing.

It was a true adventure in eating. Surprising, delightful and delicious. A perfect little Parisian memory, filed away to keep me happy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Vegan Mondays

Truthfully, I haven’t been doing so well with Vegan Mondays. The challenge and extra effort of finding meals without dairy has gotten tough. And the past two weeks, I’ve dined with colleagues. Not seeing anything vegan on the menu, and not wanting to make a big spectacle, I’ve gone vegetarian for the meal (sorta).

But happily, this week, I went to the Sunday marché. I shopped and cooked properly. Today, was a return to Vegan Monday.

Wheat toast with peanut butter (the very last of my jar)

Lentil and sweet potato salad
Handful of peanuts
And a few Haribo gummies. I know these have gelatin and, therefore, disgusting as it is, they have animal by-products.

Roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts over mache
Dried apple

French phrase of the day: L'appétit vient en mageant

Def, literal: Appetite comes with eating

Def, familiar: The more you have, the more you want.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

American speak

There’s Bagels & Brownies in the 6eme, and Twinkie right around the corner from me. But nothing speaks to the Frenchies' weird and un-ironic obsession with American food culture like the name of this cafe:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ladies who blog

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a growing phenomenon here in Paris.

The female expat blogger.

I Heart Paris, Prete Moi Paris, Posted in Paris...

So much love for Paris!

Even those who live in other fabulous cities—Carol, Candice, Andi—can’t help but blog about Paris.

Some bloggers are cheeky. Irreverent. Self-deprecating & modest. Just plain hip.

Some came for Love.

Some love the cocktails. The sweets. Just eating in general.

There’s the lovely Alien Parisienne, the hilarious American Mom in Paris and… Just Another American in Paris.

Some help us discover Paris, know Paris better, live in Paris—if only for a few weeks.

Every month that I'm here, I'm more and more aware of this growing phenomenon. Sometimes it makes me self-conscious. That I'm just another Anglochick blogging in Paris, gushing about its views and pastries and gardens and fashion and exhibitions and quirky customs and—gasp!—don't you just love Paris?! (I do.)

But then I've been having the chance to meet more of these women—last night, grace à the efforts of Andi & Erica (merci, mademoiselles!)—and it makes me feel happy and a little bit proud and quite connected. Which is no small feat in Paris.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Karl, but more Yves

If you haven’t read A Beautiful Fall, you must. It’s Alicia Drake’s parallel biographies of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, and it’s super.

If you haven’t seen L’Amour Fou, well, that’s okay. I saw the documentary about YSL and Pierre Bergé the other night with Marga and, aside from being blown away by the duo’s homes and art collections, the doc was a little boring.

I missed the YSL retrospective at the Petit Palais this summer. Or, more accurately, the one time I motivated to go, the line snaking around the building deterred me from going in.

But Karl’s Parcours de Travail exhibition at the Maison Européene de la Photographie—I checked that one off my list last Sunday. He’s definitely a talented photographer, more than I ever would have given him credit for. But very fashiony and nothing that really moved me.

But now I am super keen to get to the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent. A David Hockney exhibition opens next week and, already, I’m in love with the vibrant colors.

(I’m also super keen on the grey YSL Roady bag. But it’s more likely that I’ll get to the Fondation than I’ll get the bag.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daily life in Paris

I normally feel worlds apart from my colleagues. Different countries, different lives. Different experiences, different perceptions. But then every once in awhile there’s an actual exchange—a lunch, a party, a meeting, a conversation—where you realize, oui, nous sommes tout le meme. We are all the same, no matter how we dress, how we ad-dress each other, how we work (or don’t) together. We’re all the same… but different. At the end of the day, everyone in this silly little world—English, French, German, Canadian, whatever—is pretty much the same. We all just want to be recognized and appreciated. For who we are.

The little things I love

The way the cafes stack their chairs at the start and end of the day.