Monday, May 30, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

This week, it will be a Vegan Tuesday. Please forgive me. But after three+ weeks of alkalizing and non-stop writing, reading, editing, revising, I needed a break. I was actually going along so well today. Green juice… avocado toast… carrots and hummus… But when my dear friends from LA asked if I wanted to join them for dinner at Balthazar, all bets were off. There was no way I wasn’t getting that goat cheese and caramelized onion tart.

Needless to say, dinner was over-the-top delicious. Balthazar remains my favorite restaurant in the city, especially when shared with great friends. Chris and Butch got the three-tiered Balthazar seafood platter: king crabs, lobster, oysters, shrimp, clams, ceviche.... I nibbled some of that, had my tart and chicken pallaird and butter on my bread. Plus champagne and chocolate cake for dessert. Pourquoi pas? I’m celebrating. The book goes in on Wednesday, the article on Friday, and I am a free woman come Saturday. Hallelujah!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The little things I love

French blues...



Ohh, I love, love, love the chairs in les jardins...

And the street numbers...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The final countdown

It’s sunny and 80 degrees in New York City (ahhhh). Memorial Day weekend is on the horizon (yay!). I have dear friends from LA coming to town (so fun!). And… one week to finish the book (gulp). One week to finish the book!!

It’s a blockbuster start to summer, mes amis! What’s on your agenda?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Listen to Coco

"Since everything is in our heads, we had better not lose them."
—Coco Chanel

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

I did it! Two full weeks without sugar, chocolate, caffeine, dairy or meat. Since 70% of your food can technically be acidic on the alkaline diet, I am still theoretically doing the diet. But I’ve had fish and booze and Haribo Tagado (ohhhh) and one sublime Jean-Paul Hévin truffle (mmmmmm). My goal this week is to really see how these acidic foods affect my energy and body when I eat them. Do I notice a difference?

Overall, the diet was a success. It was an interesting exercise in being really, really mindful of what you put in your body and being in control of what you eat. I’ve enjoyed relying so much on greens. But, for me anyway, it’s just not sustainable. I love food too much. Sandwiches and oatmeal and fish and toast, to say nothing of cupcakes and bonbons and wine and chocolate chip cookies. I could never give that stuff up for good. But here are a few rules I will try to implement:

I’ll try to keep my morning routine of green tea, green juice and fruit.
Pizza no more than once a week.
Peanut butter toast no more than once a week.
Baked goods one day during the week and one day during the weekend.
As often as possible—at least 4 or 5 days a week—a giant salad as one of the day’s main meals.

As for today, it was back to regular Vegan Mondays:

Green tea
Green juice (kale, celery, parsley, lemon juice and banana)

Pasta with tomato sauce
Green salad

Roasted asparagus and carrots

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'd rather be...

...taking a cooking class in Paris.

In a big fancy kitchen...

...the sight and smell of fresh ingredients everywhere.

Getting my hands messy, learning a trick or two, and anticipating the feast.

Creamy parsnip soup...

...sole Meuniere...

... and fruit carpaccio.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Fire up the questions

My head has been swimming in Paris in the weeks since I’ve been back. It was such a great trip. The perfect balance of visiting mes amis (miss you!), writing and working on the book, and basking in Paris’ charms and graces. The sublime weather didn’t hurt either. (Nor did the almond croissants.)

Then I came home to New York and got sick. Again. It’s been raining for six days in a row now, making this an epic Bad Hair Week. And, in case you haven’t heard, the world is going to end tomorrow.

In other words, I’m starting to wonder just what the hell I’ve been up to since I’ve been back in NYC. Has it really been three weeks? Sheesh. I did have that most lovely meal at Buvette, plus a heavenly lunch at ABC Kitchen. I saw the Generationals. I’ve taken walks in Central Park and along the Hudson River Park and have gone shopping at Chelsea Market. But mostly I’ve just been eating kale and trying to finish my book. 10 days and counting. It’s time to start thinking about what kind of champagne to get when it’s done. (Ruinart Rosé. Duh.)

The fiercest part of the alkaline diet is over and I say that with a Haribo Tagada in my mouth. Done. I’ll still go big on greens and maintain a healthy pH as much as possible, but 14 days is a long time to resist sugar. Sugar may not good for you, but it’s so good.

And then there’s this idea I have of investing in a life coach. I feel like this has been a major transition, returning to New York. I haven’t had time to really figure it out but things are percolating. It seems like it’s the right time to make a change. To go for something big. To take a risk. Or just get a new wardrobe or something. I’m taking notes and trying to really focus on what my next chapter will be. What do you think? What should the next chapter be? ?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The back side of Paris

I'm not so crazy about my own backside...

...but in Paris...

...don't forget to turn around...

...and what you see...

...just might be the most magical thing ever.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

People, 10 days with nary a drop of dairy, a splash of sugar, an ounce of caffeine and obviously no meat. I have “cheated” with a glass of alcohol here and there, and I finally had a bit of wheat on Sunday: one slice of whole grain toast (hiding under delicious alkaline avocado, lemon and olive oil). But otherwise, I have been fiercely alkaline. Last week, I was really enjoying the challenge of this diet. This week I want to eat.

But the effects are nice, I must admit. I’m lighter on my feet and my jeans are looser on my ass. That’s a relief.

Green tea
Green juice (cucumber, celery, parsley, lemon juice and green apple)
Soy nuts

Giant salad of kale, sprouts, celery, red pepper and cucumber, sundried tomatoes
More soy nuts
Sliced carrots and celery

This was my big splurge. I met the lovely and talented Kasia Dietz, who’s in town from Paris, at Angelica Kitchen for dinner. There, I had a nice warm meal of vegetable croquettes made with millet and quinoa, two of the three alkaline grains permissible. And French lentils and green beans. It hit the spot. As did Kasia's company and conversation.

Four more days! What should be the first acidic treat? A cheese platter? A gigantic sandwich with the works? A Cowgirl Bakery cupcake? The other 500 gram bag of dried apple I still have from Paris??

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Un petit pause

I adore Le Petit Atelier in the Marais, as well as Joanna Concejo's artwork, which is often on display there. Now they've partnered to produce these darling bols à thé.

Someone needs to go there and treat themselves to them...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Holy crap!

The end is in sight, mes amies! Three weeks until I submit my book. Can't wait, can't wait...

More Paris street art

It's taking over buildings...

... showing up in alleys...

Getting kinda of earnest...

... or not so much.

My favorite, a classic.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

Not only did I not eat dairy today, but I haven’t had dairy, sugar, wheat, meat or much of anything besides veggies and some fruit for the past four days. I’m on the alkaline diet.

This is a tough one. The premise is that our bodies should ideally be about 7.3 on the pH scale. Owing to our Western “evolved” diet (processed foods, sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy, alcohol), our systems are pretty acidic (mine started at 5.5). The “ash” that is left behind when our body processes these acidic foods are what allegedly lead to chronic illness and disease like cancer. Mind you, I’m doing this all for an article. It’s a good excuse to purge my system from Paris. But I miss my sweets.

Green tea
Green juice (kale, celery, banana, lemon & ice blended together, which is tastier than it sounds)
Soy nuts

Giant salad of kale (kale is super alkaline), sprouts, tofu, celery, red pepper and cucumber

Roasted asparagus and carrots over arugula

Four days down, ten to go!

Weather check: spring break

I know, I know... it's been positively balmy in Paris (for weeks!). But in New York, we're finally getting a lovely taste of spring.

Bonne semaine, tout le monde!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brunch in Paris

I love how Parisians have adopted the idea of "le brunch". When I was back in town, Jo and I picked up our Sunday ritual. We love our eggs and coffee, so normally went to more Anglo-type places—Twinkie, Super Nature, Coco & Co, Hotel Amour—where we could pick à la carte options instead of the overpriced prix-fixe menu. But this time we went to La Bouche, a cute little spot in the 20eme.

We succumbed to the prix-fixe option. In fact, we had no choice. It was, in fact, quite delicious if a bit odd: some greens topped with mandarin orange; a beet purée, good for sipping or spooning; one piece of not-quite-French-toast; a soft boiled egg; and a banana baked in its skin (mind you, the non-vegetarian option had half the banana and a couple slices of pork).

Of course we got juice and un boisson chaud, plus tartines (no vienoisserie), with a lovely spread of Nutella and lemon curd. The syrup was for the French toast.

Bon dimanche!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Take flight

"It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves—in finding themselves."
—Andre Gide

Friday, May 6, 2011

Scarfood: The world is yours

You heard me. And, if you're anything like me, you said, "Quoi?" What does that mean?

Qui sait. More than the fast food joint in Pigalle being called "Scarfood", I love that they're promising us the whole world. It's a good thought for a Friday!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

French food in New York

I have a new favorite restaurant in New York. Buvette.

Look at that adorable bicycle parked out front (on Grove Street) and imagine all the other thoughtful, fun and darling (but not precious or self-conscious) details inside. (I won’t list them, you must go and discover them for yourself).

The staff is polished and professional, but also cool and laid back. And the food: amazing French (and Italian) classics: tartines, fromage (all local and, the two we had, utterly delicious), coq au vin, rabbit, lamb, lovely veggies (we missed the salsify but had an incredible escarole and fava bean combo) tarte tatin, chocolate mousse... and incredible wines to boot. It’s my new hit of Parisian heaven in the city.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

Needless to say, last Monday blew by with nary a thought to veganism (and clearly, almond croissants contain more than a little dairy). I didn’t know what day of the week it was. I was on vacation. All I could think about was consuming as much as possible in my limited time in Paris. Which I did. For better or worse.

But now I’m back in New York. Soon I won’t be able to hide in sweaters. Time to get with it.

Three cups of green tea (temporarily off the coffee—go me!)
Oat cake

Falafel sandwich
And some fries. But only a few. They came with the sandwich. And they’re vegan.

This beautiful veggie pie from Life Thyme: layers of quinoa, kale, squash, sundried tomato—it’s truly delicious
Dried apple, imported from G. Detou, Paris. This is my VICE.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A night at Hidden Kitchen

The clock was ticking, my final hours in Paris weighing on my mind. I had plans for dinner at Chez l’Ami Jean and intentions of going to Musée d’Art Moderne beforehand. But by late afternoon, the weather had turned raw and damp so instead of Velibing or terrace surfing, I found myself in front of my computer. On Twitter. And then I saw it. “Just got a cancellation of 2 people for tonight's dinner @ 20:00. E-mail if you want the seats.”

I had never tried getting reservations to Hidden Kitchen while I lived in Paris, but only because I heard it was next to impossible. With a relatively steep price tag of 90 euros, it also seemed like a special occasion treat. But on Thursday, I jumped at the chance and luckily Michael was willing to forgo the charcuterie and rice pudding at l’Ami Jean for an intimate dinner for 16 at Hidden Kitchen.

Braden and Laura, the sweet couple from Seattle running the show, started the underground supper club about four years ago in their amazing first arrondissement apartment.

Braden is the brawn behind the stove.

Laura is his accomplice with a special knack for wine and dessert. I was also excited that the fabulous Meg Zimbeck was on hand and that they had an adorable Boston Terrier (though he didn’t put in an appearance until the end of the night).

Each course was plated as exquisitely as anything you’ve ever seen in New York or Paris (or on Top Chef—yeah, you). Braden came out and explained each dish, while Laura shared what wine they had selected to go with it (I loved this Ze Bulle “Zéro Pointé” by Chateau Tour Grise in the Loire Valley that we had with dessert).

My photos are atrocious. But with these few, you get a sense of the artistry and skill that goes into every wee plate of the 10-course dinner. The flavors were so layered and beautifully orchestrated and nuanced.

For example, this perfectly cooked piece of smoked salmon was balanced on top of a fresh ravioli filled with fava bean. It was topped with dill, mustard seed and had a sliver of radish.

How does he come up with these pairings? I have no idea, but it was delicious.

I’m sorry I missed Van Dongen at MAM and that Chez l’Ami Jean had to wait until next time. But finishing a week in Paris at Hidden Kitchen (actually, we finished by shutting down Experimental a couple hours later, but that's another story) was a little like la cerise sur le gateau.