Thursday, December 29, 2011


Off to Aspen for some skiing, silliness and fine food—hooray!

Wherever you are, wherever you're spending New Year's Eve, here's to a 2012 filled with adventure, love, peace, happiness, fulfillment and everything delicious. xo

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Five weeks and counting

If 2011 was all about writing my book, then peeking through the window of 2012 seems to be all about launching the sucker.

The cover's been designed and the advance copies have gone out.

Paris, My Sweet hits stores in just over five weeks. Soon thereafter, I'll start launch events, sweets smackdowns, readings and anything else required of me (after all, what better excuse to travel back to Paris?!).

If you haven't already joined me on Facebook or Twitter, well, what are you waiting for?! You know I can't get enough of you. In the meantime, I hope you're having a sweet and delicious holiday season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, mes amis!

Thinking of you all, from Buenos Aires to Stockholm; Sydney to Seattle; and, of course in New York, Paris and everywhere in between. You’ve stuck with me through 2011 and I love you for it.

May the holidays bring you much joy and obscene amounts of chocolate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's been a good year

Only 10 more days of 2011. Amazing, isn’t it?

When I think back to a year ago, well, I think I was still nursing a hangover from the Ogilvy/Paris holiday party. And getting ready to tear open gifts with my niece and nephew in London. I was starting to pack up nearly two years’ worth of memories and novelties of living in my Parisian treehouse. I was teary (probably about as much as I am writing this, remembering that amazing time in my life. Oh, bittersweetness). But so, so excited about moving home.

So 2011 was the year of my return. The first bitter, blustery months were cruel. New York didn’t welcome me with a warm embrace. I kept getting sick and felt more than a little bit adrift. Still, I was happy to be here.

And then things got better. And better. I spent so much time with my parents and friends. I got reacquainted with the city. I dated, saw movies, shopped at Whole Foods and enjoyed all the American pleasures I dreamed about in Paris.

Then summer brought great weather. More time with friends and family. Better health, and more comfort. Best of all, I was done with my book and had time to breathe and relax. Until I started my new job in September and life got crazy again.

All that is to say: 2011 was a pretty great year. Not an easy one, but really introspective, unique and rewarding. From amazing meals to major goals, here are some of the standouts and highlights.

Best movie

Beginners (feature)
Bill Cunningham New York (doc)
It was a crap year for movies as far as I’m concerned, but these little gems made me happy and believe in movie magic again. And Bill Cunningham? Only the most amazing person to take NYC—in a blue windbreaker, on two wheels—by storm…

Best book
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Unlike movies, it was a super fulfilling year of reading. These three—with their language, characters and stories—made me simultaneously excited, jealous and content.

Best decision
Moving home
Taking the new job
Trying spin classes
The best decisions aren’t always the easiest. Of course I miss Paris. I’m also exhausted by the long days of my job. And about 22 minutes into a spin class, I want to do nothing more than dismount the bike and return to bed tout de suite. But that's what life is: succeeding at challenges, both epic and tiny. No regrets.

Best sweet
Lola’s ridiculously fudgy brownies
Cowgirl Bakery’s vegan brownies (RIP, snif)
I’ve obviously done my fair share of binging this year. It’s not easy to come up with what stood out the most. But, then again, it sort of is. The Lola’s brownies that I brought to a dinner party in Paris were nothing short of mind-blowing.

Best purchase
My mega LV bag. What can I say? It had to happen. I needed a memento of my time working on Vuitton, so I splurged on one of those ugly monogram satchels. And I love it.

Best trip
Both trips to Paris were awesome. I had a great time in Brussels and loved my weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. Going to London for a week of work was bonus. But my trip to San Francisco was pretty perfect.

Best challenge
Finishing my book
Doing the alkaline diet
Acclimating at this new job
Finding time and balance in life

Best meal
Sigh… Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It was the food, the service, the presentation and fulfilling the dream of going there. And it was with my very best friends on my birthday. It was heaven.

I also loved my meals at Buvette, Vinegar Hill and Sfoglia—while the food in Paris was untouchable, I’ve had many euphoric meals back here, stateside.

Et toi? What were your 2011 standouts??

Monday, December 19, 2011

City of Light

Desperately missing the holiday lights of Paris this season...

From the city's epicenter, Notre Dame...

... to the sparkling Place Vendom... the tip of the Eiffel Tower.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Long live Verjus!

When I got into Hidden Kitchen last spring, I was blown away. Not only were the atmosphere and assembled dinner guests lovely, lively and fun (let’s face it, both things a crapshoot in the “private supper club” genre) but Braden’s cooking was to die for. And Laura, pairing the wines and serving the desserts, was equally impressive.

So when I heard they were opening a wine bar this fall, and then when friends told me they were going and I read early reviews, I was, in a word, jalouse.

Then I got a reality check from the dynamic duo. And my admiration for and belief in what they’re doing skyrocketed.

In the last month, a water heater cracked open and leaked. Carpenters stole money and left a bathroom unfinished. The city denied our license, then forced us to wait two additional weeks to serve wine. A neighbor threatened to call the police on us. French police visited twice, both times looking for free drinks. We broke off the door of a moving truck on the narrow driveway of a parking ramp. Our new carpenter covered two thirds of the outdoor tables of nearby restaurants in plaster dust during lunchtime service as he sawed down a wall. Our plumber turned the water off to all the buildings surrounding us as everyone was showering for work. And we had our laptop stolen.

This after everyone in their universe, wisely told them:

When the idea to open a restaurant was just a tiny flickering candle in the back of a very dark room, the advice we got from our parents, restaurant owners and dog walkers in the park was unanimous. DON'T DO IT! This was followed by a litany of reasons. France is anti-owner. The high cost of opening a company is only slightly less than the extremely high cost of closing a company. The euro is going to fail. France doesn't support small businesses. It's hard to hire anyone. It's impossible to fire anyone. You will lose all your friends. You will go broke. Your life will be over.

Well, thank goodness they didn’t listen. They followed their dreams. They listened to their hearts, their guts, and they took a risk. Forget the amazing food and support of local farmers. Ignore the appreciation they have for what they do an their belief in treating everyone—vendors, neighbors, clients, staff—with respect. That they, two American expats, with passion, talent and moxie, decided to plunge head first into French bureaucracy and defy all odds and expectations and succeed with elegance and panache and temptation to spare, well, it sort of makes me want to go back to Paris and see just what is possible when you put your mind (and heart) to it... (n'est-ce pas?)

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

Needless to say, after the carnage in San Francisco (Bar Tartine, Tartine Bakery, Ho Wing’s General Store, Anthony’s Cookies, Specialty’s, Cocoa Bella, Christoper Elbow, Miette, Acme Bread, Mission Beach Café, Susie Cakes, The Plant, Ragazza, Delfina Pizzeria, Starbelly…) I needed to take a breather. A polite way to say, I needed a healthy purge. It's been two days back in NYC, and two days of vegan eating. Yesterday I had salads from Whole Foods and sidecars at Bemelmans Bar. Today was just a mellow Vegan Monday.

Coffee and cereal with soy milk

Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter
Naughty chex mix foisted on me by a colleague

Lentil soup
Pumpkin seeds
And just a wee bit of chocolate…

Sunday, December 11, 2011


One of the many great things about San Francisco is that there has been so little turnover, the same classics still exist.

Gino and Carlo, where I used to drink beer and play pool at the ripe age of 22.

City Lights and Vesuvio, where I used to stalk Lawrence Ferlinghetti and channel Jack Keruoac’s ghost.

We used to drink cocktails and listen to opera at Tosca.

I never went inside the strip clubs on Broadway, but they—and Enrico’s and Tomasso’s and Café Trieste and Greens, all nearby—are still kicking.

I went to at least one wedding at the Fairmont and definitely had more than one tiki bowl at the Tonga Room.

I used to sit and brood over mochas and books of poetry for hours at this Royal Ground on Polk Street.

Mr. Bing’s, House of Nanking and Budda Bar all still happily (grubbily) exist.

The Bus Stop, Blondies, Bottom of the Hill, Ella’s, Dalva, Zuni, Cha Cha Cha, Real Foods, Tadich Grill… it’s so great to see all the signs—neon or California cool—that they’re still in existence.

Saturday, December 10, 2011



Magic, magic.

I am so glad I got to hug a few fine trees on this visit.

And then chow down on bread pudding for breakfast. (Pourquoi pas? I’ve been on the vacation diet.)

(Besides, I told Mer I’d have some for her.)

I had to squeeze in an Anchor Steam at Vesuvio after inhaling deeply inside City Lights.

And load up on international chocolate from Fog City News.

Alex and I shared the epiphany of pairing triple-cream Brillat-Savarin cheese and 62% Scharffen Berger chocolate (holy miam)…

… along with port and sherry and gewuztraminer. (Although I think it was only intended to go with the sherry. In a more dignified way.)

My week is winding down. I’ve met three new amazing babies in the world and seen two impressive home renovations. I ferried north to Marin and trained south to Menlo Park. I saw my beloved green parrots, heard eucalyptus trees creaking in the wind, and rode one of the screeching street cars down Market Street. I got to watch Zack’s amazing movie and ride around the city with him like we did in the good old days. I’ve overspent and overeaten, and I couldn’t care less. I’ve had heart-to-hearts, laughed my head off, reminisced and caught up with my friends, whom I’m so happy and thankful to still have in my life. I’ve had so many fun and funny flashbacks and memories and have decided to come back in March to promote the book. I am fulfilled, restored, happy, happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cypress trees

They’re amongst my favorite.

So majestic and magical.

And so abundant in San Francisco.

An early morning stroll through the Presidio brought me up close (and under) the beauties.

Along with spectacular views.

Succulents, too.

So much inspiration and restoration, while the rest of the city woke up and got ready for another gorgeous day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Talk about feeling like a rock star.

There I was this morning, walking across the Embarcadero on my way to the Ferry Building when I heard someone call my name.

I turned around, did a quick pass at the handful of people around, but didn’t recognize anyone. So I went on my merry way, to start ogling the cakes, breads, cheeses and chocolates at the glorious markets before hopping on the ferry to Marin.

But then I heard it again. “Amy??”

It was a fan. Of this here blog. I was floored. This lovely girl, Christine, recognized me from this blog! Hi, Christine! Thanks for making my day!

And then the day only got better. I bumped into another friend inside the ferry building, while I was drooling over the cupcakes, chocolates and macarons at Miette.

I did succumb to the gingerbread cupcake, before venturing over to Acme to pick up a doughy, sticky brioche from the genius breadmakers…

Then I watched them set up the cheese wheels at Cowgirl Creamery…

…and checked on the Dungeness crabs. After all, as Andi said, it’s crab season.

Then it was off to Marin to visit my girl, Alex.

Imagine if this was your commute every day.

How did I forget how flippin’ pretty San Francisco is??

It was a beautiful 35-minute ride through the bay.

And, as expected, Alex’s home is to-die-for: chic and modern and sweet and homey all at once. A girl after my own heart, this sweet spread... the eggnog-French press coffee she served up from her sunny Marin kitchen, was our breakfast.

And, this…

… our most adorable sidekick.

My company yesterday wasn’t so bad either.

Remember Connie and Nina? We walked all over Paris about a year and a half ago. But when I come to San Francisco, we almost always walk along the water. Yesterday’s glorious weather made it a no-brainer.

It was a bit too brisk for bathing suits, in my opinion, but a killer day nonetheless.

I’ve also been eating my face off at all the amazing restaurants, taking nice walks, doing a little shopping and yoga, and, well, just feeling happy. I think I’ve been so focused on Paris and New York for so long that I forgot about all the beauty and uniqueness of San Francisco. It’s definitely been one long walk down memory lane, filled with love and emotion for all of my friends here. And I’m loving every second of it.