Sunday, January 31, 2010

The best sandwich in Paris

The man making my sandwich said he made the best sandwich in Paris and—though he was dancing and schmoozing and obviously full of shit—I’ll be damned, but I think he was right.

I was inside the Marché des Enfants-Rouges, a fun little hall off rue de Bretagne filled with the expected stands: fruits and veggies, flowers, organic wine, cheese... But there are also some good “fast food” joints: sushi, falafel, and this bio boulangerie that also makes nocca, crepes and—sandwiches. I told him I wanted one but that I didn’t eat red meat and this is what he did:

He took one of those thick ciabatta loafs used for paninis. Doused it with olive oil and smooched the oil into the bread. Opened it back up and then he sprinkled on beautiful pieces of red leaf lettuce, tomato chunks and slightly sautéed onions. He reached for the mushrooms but I told him I don’t like them. Avocado? Do I like avocado? Oui, s'il vous plait!

A few slices of avocado and then he sprinkled on chives and added cheese. I don’t know exactly what kind (I have to find out), but it was a semi-hard, creamy cow’s milk cheese, sliced thinly and added sparingly. Then organic smoked salmon, also distributed in modest, thin slices. More olive oil and then lemon juice. Voila.

He put it on the crepe burner and pressed it down and then just let it heat up for bit. While he did that, he popped a mini pain aux raisins on the other crepe burner and toasted that up for me. A heavenly little treat while I waited.

He flipped the sandwich on the other side, pressing, heating and toasting it evenly until it was done, dancing and singing the whole time. I took the sandwich to go, giving it about 10 minutes to all meld and congeal before eating it. When I did, it was soft on the inside but crunchy on the outside, and an unbelievable mix of flavors, textures and ingredients. I really think it was the best sandwich I've eaten, and I am dying to go back for another.

The little things I love

• The church bells
• The smell of crepes being made
• The mini communities that anchor small businesses—that you can go to a restaurant and see that some of the servers and customers and proprietors have been sharing meals and conversations for years, if not decades
• Vin chaud
• Plane trees
• The echo of footsteps in the quiet streets

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A week of loving life

Monday night, walking home from work, Sarah texts and invites me to an art/fashion party, Kris Van Assche’s “Picaflor”. I drop my bag in my treehouse and meet her.

As a special bonus, Mel is there—it’s turning into a very small, special world here. After several glasses of champagne (and just a little bit of stalking the event photographer), Sarah and I finish the night with pizza at La Briciola. Dee-lish.

Tuesday, I had a much anticipated, lovely date with Mel at my neighborhood staple: Experimental. They finally came out with a new menu for 2010, but I reverted by to the old standby, The Experimental. (How lucky that I live near this gem. How lucky I am to have dates with Mel).

Wednesday was the Avatar work outing. Though I wasn’t really psyched to see the movie, it was fun: explosive, 3D entertainment, free popcorn, and gummies for dinner. Oh to be eight-years-old again.

Thursday I had to take a breather. Essential to regroup, decompress, spend time at home, with Milo, in front of the fire. Ah, yes, the fire.

And last night, Michael and I threw a party at his lovely little apartment in the Marais. It was a fun and successful mélange of Frenchies and Americans, whiskey and red wine, chic- and crassness. Exactly as a house party should be.

I got to the gym, I’m chipping away at Stephen King, I had a nice chat with my landlord, I made soup and stocked up on lentils and couscous. We had one of our petit dej’s at work, so yesterday I grazed on pastries, cake and fruit for nine hours straight.

Tonight, I’m going to some kooky cabaret thing with friends from work, and I have a brunch date with Jo tomorrow.

I often feel tired, I never do everything that I want and plan to do, and it’s easy to complain. But life sure is good.

Only in France

A little to-go cup of wine—white, rosé or red!—from the local boulangerie.

Weather check: bright skies

It’s still cold. Still winter. But it’s amazing what it does for the spirit, waking up to a crisp, bright blue sky.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Le pain perdu

I remember as a kid, sometimes having breakfast for dinner. Mom would make French toast with a loaf of Home Pride white bread, or scramble up some eggs. Those nights, dinner was fun! Hey now, festive! Syrup on the dinner table?! Cuh-razy! No frozen veggies? Aww-right!

Now, as a single girl, I’m wont to have dessert for dinner: a Nutella crepe, warm Tollhouse cookies, a big slice of pear and frangipane tarte from the boulangerie, or… oh, you know me, I’m happy with anything sweet.

So I was very happy last week realizing that, here in France, they’re down with putting breakfast on the dessert menu: le pain perdu. French toast.

My boss was in town from New York, and we had dinner on Friday night and at Au 35. The restaurant—which had been on my list for a couple months—was darling but, sadly, not as good as I was hoping. Not that it mattered. We gorged. After aperos, we had appetizers, entrees, wine, bread and then the dessert menus came out.

I have become a huge tarte tatin fan since coming here and if I see it on the menu, I sort of have to get it. Witold was really gunning for the warm chocolate cake after seeing a neighboring diner eat hers. But our waitress told us the pain perdu was the best thing on the menu. So we ordered it—a third dessert, “just to look at,” Witold said. It was—ridiculous. Imagine: warm French bread, saturated in milk, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. And then topped with caramel ice cream. It was just out of this world. I neglected my tarte tatin so it wouldn’t go to waste. It was probably the best decision of the weekend.

L’Institut de France at night

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

French phrase of the day: viens voir papa

Def: come to papa

Oh yeah. I got that beauty from Avatar. That’s right. I got suckered into going. After pooh-poohing it and swearing that I wouldn’t, there was suddenly a work outing. To see Avatar in 3D. It would have been rude of me not to go. Besides, I got to sit and relax in the dark for three hours, watching an action flick and eating a mélange of gummies and a Milka chocolate bar for dinner. How bad can it be?

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The corporate bonding and the movie itself. I mean, it’s super, super cheesy. But, yes, visually amazing. There were so many points in the movie when I thought, how did he (James Cameron) do that? How did he see it?? It was pretty incredible and reminded me of being a kid and seeing Star Wars and Superman and just getting sucked into an alter universe that I never knew could exist.

But I’ll be damned if Cameron didn’t squeeze in some of that Titanic soundtrack that goes on and on inside your head…

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What’s been eating at me

I had drinks with Mel tonight. What can I say. Real, deep, soulful friends in general, and Mel in particular—well, if you’ve had the joy of having a soul sister, and if you’re lucky to know my Mel, you know it was a good night. To connect, to share, to support and be supported. To laugh at ourselves, at each other, but mostly at the douche bags who make themselves known in a bar after a certain hour. It was a short, sweet, very much needed night.

As is often the case after a good heart-to-heart, I have to pause and think what’s going on with me: in my mind, my heart and my spirit. There’s a little ennui and winter doldrums happening, bien sur. But a few things have been percolating lately.

• Work. My new creative director is awesome. Ahhh, I am relieved and elated and couldn’t be happier with him as a person or a boss. Gone are the days of feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. I can’t believe we had no leadership for five months.

And yet.

I’ve been having that dreading-going-to-work feeling. I walk into the office and feel deflated and defeated. What is it exactly? The space, for one. It’s a mess. I’ve had four desks in two months. They’re totally out in the open—we’re all sitting together in the same room, computers exposed, no telephones, no privacy, just huddled together. But there’s no togetherness. There’s no character, no soul, no fun. And that’s how I feel about my colleagues and the French in general: cold. Unfeeling. Unwelcoming. When I do get a tremor or warmth or compassion or a glimpse of goofiness, I swell up a water balloon that’s going to pop. What’s this feeling?! Where is it coming from? Where has it been hiding? It’s been absent for so long, I don’t know what to do with it. Because I don’t really trust anyone at work. Everyone is there to do a job and that’s all. There’s no empathy or bonding or spirit, and when I have experienced those one day, they're gone the next. It's a totally different culture.

• Milo. He’s so needy. Yes, he’s adorable and I love him and am so happy I have him here with me. But he’s literally always meowing for more food, more attention, more play. And the more I give him, the more he needs. He drives me batty.

• No time. I’m trying to do too much. This is something I do all the time. I don’t like saying no to social or professional opportunities. But I also know I’m a cranky mouse when I’m tired and spread too thin. So I need to make commitments to some projects and drop the others. Hmmm… on the to-do list.

And I’m pissed I haven’t met anyone. There. I’ve said it. I try to be a good sport about being single. I try to rationalize and defend and really understand why I’ve had not one date in 10 months in the City of Loooove. But I walk down the street and see all the misfits who have found someone, I see the idiots who don’t know how good they have it, I see gorgeous creatures staring into each other’s eyes, oblivious to any- and everything except their elation and emotion and connection to this one other person. And I think, what about me? I’m not Giselle, but I’m not chopped liver. Why haven’t I met anyone? This is bullshit.

Voila. State of the union. Stay tuned.

I dream of Moschino

I don’t really. But I always love their vitrines on rue de Grenelle. Especially the way this picture came out—so dreamy: the black, the white; the earthling, the animals; two worlds, merging into one.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eiffel Tower at night

I know it's not as awe-inspiring as a close-up shot, but there's a certain magic to seeing the Eiffel Tower from across the city...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Heart & soles

If you ever see some Lanvin shoes on sale, I suggest you buy them. If only for the shoebox.
I thought the chocolatiers delivered their goods in decadent and generous boxes, they have nothing on this beauty. It will make the perfect letterbox. (So please send me some mail, amigos!)

So, do you love 'em?

French phrase of the day: peu importe

Def: whatever

Or, what-ev-eeerrrrrr.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A day in Lille

It was cold and rainy, and it was no Nantes or Biarritz, but I had a lovely day in Lille.

I would have liked to absorb more of the Flemish architecture but, huddled under an umbrella, it was too challenging. So I took just a few to capture the rich, ornate and distinct look of this once-Belgian city.

I did love the crooked, cobblestone streets in Vieux Lille and the cute boutiques and cafes there.

Sometimes it felt strangely like Great Britain. Except the patisseries were undeniably, irresistibly French.

(Oh yeah)

Mostly I just walked around and explored, but I did get to the Palais des Beaux-Arts, said to be France’s greatest art treasure after the Louvre and the d’Orsay. I think that’s a bit of a stretch (well, art is subjective) but I always love visiting new museums.

This sad little bench in one of the grand salons cracked me up. The scale was just so silly.

But this sculpture evoked totally different feelings: discomfort, angst and awe. I’ve never seen a sculpture like that.

I snapped a couple more photos of some of the more peculiar facades before jumping on the train...

...that, in just an hour, brought me back to a fire, in my treehouse, in… Paris.

I am back

Back, in love with Paris.

I went through my three-month spiral in the late fall/early winter when I felt more frustrated than inspired, down and out instead of open and outgoing, sad and lonely rather than enchanted and giddy.

Thank god I have my joie back.

I know my ups and downs are to be expected. Someone told me that the path of an ex-pat is like a big w: you start going up, up, up and then you plunge downward. But if you wait long enough, you start getting high and higher once again.

So here I am again with Paris working its magic on me. I can’t help but smile when I’m walking down the street (a sign of mild mental retardation to the French). I have even been skipping and singing. I’ll catch a glimpse of Sacre-Coeur or hear church bells clanging and I think, I live in Paris! I walk across the Pont des Arts and see and feel centuries of passion and inspiration. The vitrines are charming. The architecture is arresting. And there’s just that feeling in the air that I only feel here. It’s too, too good…

Ile Saint-Louis at night

Beautiful. Magical. Paris.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

French word of the day: babyfoot

Def: foosball

I just love it. The French call foosball “babyfoot”. Faire du baby!

Magic then & now

"Paris is the city in which one loves to live. Sometimes I think this is because it is the only city in the world where you can step out of a railway station—the Gare D’Orsay—and see, simultaneously, the chief enchantments: the Seine with its bridges and bookstalls, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, the beginning of the Champs Elysees—nearly everything except the Luxembourg Gardens and the Palais Royal. But what other city offers as much as you leave a train?"
—Margaret Anderson

Let’s hear it for Paris

I do like the Friendly Fires. But Au Revoir Simone smoked them with this song.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weather check: teetering

It was a cold, rainy day. But it was above freezing, which makes me happy.

But the best part of the day was leaving work at 5:30 (early for me). It was actually still light out. The days are getting longer! Soon, I will wake up in light and leave work in light and it won’t hurt to be outside and I will be able to ride the Velibs again. And then soon thereafter that, it will be sandals and picnic weather. And soon thereafter that, it will be light until 10 o’clock. Summer, I can almost taste you now…

French cinema, French legends

Soon, everyone in Paris is going to be talking about this new movie:

But last night I saw and loved this one:

Coco & Igor was fascinating, titillating (how often do you get to use that word?) and absolutely gorgeous. I love the Belle Epoque and Art Deco interiors and fashion—so much eye candy packed into two hours (including Mads Mikkelsen). Oui, a little melodramatic, but isn’t that what period pieces are for?

French word of the day: hyper

Def: super

The French use “hyper” like we (I) use “super”: “C’est hyper bon!”… “C’etait hyper coo!”… “J’ai hyper faim!”

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Pompidou at night

My French sub remarked how ugly the Pompidou Centre is last week.
No way. Je l'adore.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A good week for eating

Glou: 101 Rue Vieille du Temple, 3eme
Went with: Michael on a Saturday night, sans reservations
Had: Mache salad with three plump scallops and pasta in a creamy truffle sauce. Michael had chacuterie and couchon—pork on pork.
Impressions: Glou is good, not great. This is one of those restaurants that’s been on my must-try list for awhile. I heard great things when it opened last year, the location in the Marais is ideal, the menu and interior are up my alley, and I was excited that we were seated at 8:30 on a Saturday night without reservations. But the food blew neither of us away. And I had a touch of food poisoning that night. Boooo.

Olio Pane Vino: 44 Rue Coquillière, 1eme
Went with: Jo on a Thursday night
Had: We split an assiette des legumes and each had one of the three pasta specials, which was ravioli with braised cabbage.
Impressions: This is the kind of place you could envision anywhere—San Francisco, Brooklyn or some beantown in Connecticut—and is always great. It’s just so simple: the décor was sort of rustic, with shelves of provisions (olive oil, cookbooks, etc.), black and white photos of the Italian country side on the stone walls and wooden communal tables. The menu is also simple: mostly salads, chacuterie plates and a rotating selection of fresh pastas. It hit the spot for a really good, unfussy, affordable and simple neighborhood spot. I’ll definitely be back.

Chez Jeanette: 47 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10eme

Went with: Sarah on a Wednesday night
Had: Just a basic café salad but, with grilled artichokes, asparagus and avocado, it was different than most and delicious.
Impressions: I had been for drinks before and had never envisioned eating there. Why would I? This place is hipster heaven. It’s always jammed with young and fabulous (in a dirty Lower East Side way) Parisians. But our meal was surprisingly decent. The staff flits about, partying with the customers, but they’re super nice.

Derriere: 69 Rue des Gravilliers, 3eme

Went with: Mel and her crew: Keran, Thomas et Brune
Had: Spinach and pear salad with mustard vinaigrette, Beetroot salad and cabillaud cooked in a delicious sauce with cauliflower.
Impressions: I’m done with Derriere. It’s a pity too because the design does warrant all the hype and the food is actually really good and it’s probably Paris’ coolest restaurant. But with the cool cred comes bullshit.

The first time I went, I had a decent experience. But that was before the buzz had lathered up to such heights. And I had an early reservation—8:30. It was a nice dinner: great food and cocktails, decent service and that trop cool atmosphere.

Then I tried making reservations a couple different times after that. The condescending attitude was too much (responding immediately in patronizing English, insisting reservations before 11 were impossible) so I figured I’d take my business elsewhere. But over the holidays, I talked to Mel’s friends about how great the restaurant is, we agreed we’d go in the New Year, and so, there we were, with 10:30 reservations on Friday night.

And there we still were, waiting for a table at 11. And there we were, sitting sans water, bread or wine at 11:20, our waitress totally m.i.a. It didn’t get better from there. A party of three came, ate their platters of chicken (which smelled soooo good), and went before we even got our dinners.

Thank goodness it’s all about who you’re with. The night was long but fun, with us finally wrapping up the second bottle of wine and heading home just before 2. Merde.

French phrase of the day: un gros matin

Def: To sleep in late

The literal translation is “a fat morning”, which I rather like. Almost as much as I like sleeping in late.

I ended up never leaving the apartment yesterday afternoon. I really wanted to get outside and do some exploring but the rain wouldn’t let up so I stayed inside the treehouse. I was worried that I’d never be able to fall asleep since I didn’t do anything all day. But, au contraire, I was fighting to stay awake at 8:30. By 10pm, I threw in the towel and went to bed. And then slept until 9 o’clock this morning. Eleven hours of sleep!? Who does that anymore? It was amazing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Burning bright

Turns out, I can light a fire. I got it going on my first try.

It also turns out, unsurprisingly, that Milo likes a fire.

I still hope the remainder of winter passes quickly. But this new pastime will certainly make it more bearable.

French phrase of the day: un truc de ouf

Def: something that’s totally crazy

Yep. I’m finally rocking the Verlan.

Verlan is Paris’ unique brand of street slang. It started in les banlieues in the ’80s so kids/drug dealers/thugs could speak in code. Now it’s something that even girls with pearls bandy about.

Sometimes a "verlaned” word is just the original word, spelled backwards. In trickier cases, the word is cut into syllables, re-ordered and then put back together again (For example, verlan = l'envers, the French for "reverse". Take the two syllables, “l'en" and "vers", and invert them: "vers l'en". Put them back together, and you get "verslen". Adjust the spelling and it becomes "verlan". Voila.) Several people have explained Verlan to me (gushed about it, really, so excited to tell me about this kuh-razy! Parisian rite), and, while it sounds simple in theory, it’s just a bit too complicated for me. After all, I’m still struggling with simple French comprehension and the pronunciation of words like the aforementioned “banlieues”.

But Mel introduced me to this phrase last night, and I love it. It’s easy, fun to say, plus “fou” is one of my favorite French words.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I’m a Cojean addict. I like lunching at this clean little chain that makes good soup, salads and pressed sandwiches. I like going by myself and reading whatever French fashion or travel magazine is on hand and having my sandwich toasté and taking my little mid-day break.

But sometimes there is no time. And some days, like today, I crave protein rather than another sandwich. So today I picked up a smoked salmon quiche at one of the fabulous boulangeries on run Saint-Honoré and I ended up strolling down some side streets, eating my lunch. I hate doing this. I hate eating on the go; I hate navigating people and obstacles while also ingesting food as much as I hate exposing my food to the elements. It all makes me feel a little barbaric and crass. Yet sometimes I still do it, and today I got busted.

“You eeeet in zee street??” one of my colleagues sashayed up to me, face full of wonder.

“Oui, I know, it’s horrible.”

“Eeeet’s horeeeble!!” I looked down at my chocolate brown coat that was covered in flaky piecrust crumbs. Tres chic.

“Oui, je sais. Eeet’s horeeeble.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

French word of the day: épineux

Def: thorny

With a t.

The impossible happened

I turned down Pierre Hermé macarons yesterday.

Someone at work was passing around a nice, big, fresh box of them. The chewy, little meringue-y cookies, sandwiching rich, creamy ganache looked heavenly and my team members eagerly plucked their pistachio and café flavors. And I just stood and watched. I was halfway through my no-sweets week. I couldn’t blow it then.

Today, I’m more than halfway done (hurrah!) and the sad truth is, I feel a difference. I have more energy. I feel slimmer. I’m proud of all the fruit I’m eating. In other words, I can’t deny the mal effects of sugar and pastries and chocolate and all of those wonderful things in life.

But I’m not being totally pious. To compensate for my dear sweets’ absence yesterday, I snacked on a baguette. And ate nearly the whole thing. Followed by lots of wine last night, which was followed by more bread with dinner. And a dense, chewy roll today chockablock with nuts and dried fruit. Beaucoup de pain, mais c’est la vie, eh?

Three more days. Easy, right? So long as the macarons don’t get passed around again. And then this weekend, I can break the detox with…. hmmm… maybe a warm pain aux raisins in the morning? Or a nice thick chocolat chaud in the afternoon? Or maybe with galette des rois in the evening by the fire. Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who wants to celebrate?

It's Hotel Lutetia's 100th birthday.

I'm dying to have un coup de champagne inside the art deco bar.

The little things I love

• Oyster stands
• The sound of police and fire sirens
• The general politesse—how most everyone will hold the door for you
• 400 movie theaters in one city
• Chocolat chaud
• Old ladies with scrappy dogs
• Le Pont des Arts

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Weather check: there is hope

Oh please, please, please… the forecast for the foreseeable future is a balmy mid-30s to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I can hardly wait for my nose to lose its red, chapped quality.

Funny Steve

"Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything."
—Steve Martin

Monday, January 11, 2010

RIP, Eric Rohmer

What a bummer. The great French filmmaker, Eric Rohmer, has died. I never saw his Oscar-nominated My Night at Maud’s, but Zack and I went through an Eric Rohmer phase when we rented a bunch of his movies and we always saw them in the theater when they played. I always thought of Rohmer as the French Woody Allen: pluming the dynamics of male-female relationships, obsessed with the bourgeoisie, and prolific into old age.

Belated thanks

…To everyone who motivated to send me a Christmas card. It was great to come home to some cute mugs and sweet messages in my mailbox, and it’s even nicer that some cards are still trickling in. Merci, mes amis. Je vous aime.

Sugar-free Amy

I know this is will read funny, coming on the heels of my galette des rois pig-out, but I’m in Day 2 of a Sweets-Free Week. Go, me!

My intention was to start the New Year by declaring a Week of Vegan. When I was in Aspen with Craig, I was inspired by his energy and physique that’s no doubt influenced by his strict no-sugar, no-dairy, no-meat diet. Crap never crosses his plate. And between cleanses and detoxes and the rest of the regimes flaunted in magazines, and the conversations I regularly have with people about Michael Pollan and Food, Inc. and overfishing and the like—well, I figured it would be a good experiment to see what sort of shape I could get my mind and body in by abstaining from all animal products for a week.

And I will do it. I’ll also do a booze-free week. But, since I haven’t had any sweets—no chocolate, no dried fruit, no pastries (sacre bleu!)—since chowing on some gummies at a party Saturday night, the week is ripe for a sugar detox. And Day 2 means I’m nearly 25% there. Pas mal.

I’ve actually been eating pretty well since the holidays. Like, getting in the kitchen to make my own soups and salads and loading up on fruit and snacking on cashews and carrot sticks. I even made salmon and veggies one night. And the fact is, the slices of galette des rois were the only pastries I’ve eaten since my return to Paris. Oh yeah. There was also the one-pound bag of Twizzlers that “Santa” put in my stocking, and which I pounded through as I polished off Glee last week. (It’s a glamorous life, my friends.). But getting through the next five days—even though I have chocolate in my cupboard at home and in my drawer at work—will hopefully be a piece of cake. (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More galette

These French know how to party!
I’m betting it’s to counter the long, dark, post-holiday days.

But although the galette des rois are officially for the January 6 holiday, the patisseries make them all month long. And the French gobble them up.

Friday afternoon, we had another office party featuring scads of the almondlicious cakes and cider.

Once again, they were un peu tiede—warm from the oven. Flaky and delicious.

The perfect close to the workweek.

The cold, dark season

It’s hard to remember how spectacular spring and summer are in this city when you wake up to somber greys every morning. Actually, I wake up in darkness.

This photo was taken at 8:30 a.m.—when it begins to get light out. When the alarm clock—be it my five euro drugstore special or Milo—wakes me at 7:30, it might as well be 4 a.m. I guess it’s the trade-off for late-night summer sunsets.

Friday, January 8, 2010

French word of the day: une trend-setteuse

Def: trend-setter


Portfolio plugs

I forgot to hype the Journeys Awards program I helped develop (super fun) and the Wonderland animation we did for Christmas (that was covered on the LV fan site). But here are one and two sweet animations I’ve worked on since being here—en francais.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pretty. Miserable.

Yes, it's lovely to wake up to a sugar dusting of clean, white snow.

But it's also quite lovely when you can skip the hat and double scarf just so you don't freeze outside.

American speak

From Elle Magazine’s People Awards:

Tiger Woods: “Le Golfeur le Plus Fucker”

Elle’s People Awards acknowledged such notable celebs as Madonna, “la quinqua la plus cougar” and Suri Cruise, “l’enfant la plus exhibée.” But Tiger’s award, I thought, took the cake. After tsk-tsking the 14 mistresses and sharing that, while Tiger has vowed to be a better husband, his wife has filed for divorce, the write-up concluded with: “Tiger part donc avec un sérieux handicap”—he has one serious handicap.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Calling all aspiring actors and precious people

Want to pretend you’re young, fabulous and have royal blood? Or maybe you really do? Have royal blood, that is.

A luxury fragrance brand is shooting a TV spot—hel-lo! Mario Testino, director!—and they’re looking for your mug to shine at the party scene.

If you’re a model, actress or actor, age 25-35, or if you’re just so fabulous that you can pass as a French socialite, email a headshot to:

Final casting calls are on the 19th for women and the 20th for men. The shoot is on January 21 and 22.

Bon chance!

French words of the day: moisi et pourri

Def: moldy and rotten

Two words that just go together, no matter how nasty the image.

Weather check: ready for spring

I’m working in the Champs-Elysées office this week (yay!) and just turned around to look out the window… snow! More snow! It’s pretty, but… I am so ready for it to warm up. It’s been below freezing since Sunday and I just can’t get warm.

The chimney sweeper came this morning, however. Soon, the treehouse will be warmed by authentic Parisian fires. It will be so romantic as I cuddle up with Stephen King’s crazy, dark characters…

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

French word of the day: fade

Def: insipid

I love the English word and now I love the French word. I just don't like les gens fades.

Cake for the kings and me

Tomorrow is the Day of Epiphany, but yesterday I had my first ever Galette des Rois. Consisting primarily of flaky puff pastry and creamy almond paste, it was, as expected, delicious.

The January Sixth holiday is a religious celebration of Christ being visited by the Three Kings on the Twelfth Night. The French, appropriately, celebrate with pastry. It’s a relatively simple cake they make: frangipane (almond paste) inside puff pastry. Maybe a little egg and sugar, maybe some crème fraiche or Grand Marnier. It depends on the recipe and baker. But I’m quite certain all versions are delicious.

There are other strange traditions associated with this celebration that include plastic baby Jesuses being hidden inside the cake and small children hiding under the table, calling out names. But my first fete of the season was at the office, so fortunately there was just a lot of booze to wash down the cake and not a lot of awkward or religious fanfare.

In fact, I love that the French waste no time getting right back into it. I feel like, back home, everyone would have shifted to repent mode, eating carrot sticks and yogurt for lunch, doing Master Cleanses and hurrying out of work at 5:30 to hit the gym. But yesterday a couple creatives gathered money after lunch, went out to retrieve the cakes when they were fresh from the oven at 5ish, and started popping open the cider, wine and champagne at 5:30. Gummies and chocolate bars were also served. France, 1; America 0.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Things to do when you wake up at 3 a.m.

• Fly through a couple chapters of Stephen King’s latest novel (geek)
• Write your thank you notes
• Study relative pronouns in an effort to crack French grammar
• Do sit-ups at the gym—if only 42 of them
• Change your sheets and put your clothes away
• Update your Facebook status
• Flip through French Elle and National Geographic Traveler
• Create your weekly to-do list
• Check your checking balance online
• Download your favorite new single
• Stare out the window as the sky slowly turns yellow
• Sit in a café and enjoy un café crème
• Bring out the recycling
• Give your pet some much-deserved attention

After sleeping for 11 heavenly hours on Saturday, I was tired enough at 10:30 last night and turned out the light and fell promptly asleep. Then, at 3 a.m., I was dreaming that I was smuggling heroin at the office and had a fistful of it when I saw a rat in a hallway. Usually I would scream and jump out of its way, but I decided I wasn’t going to and it started coming after me to bite me so I tried kicking it and that’s when I woke up, kicking the wall. Any Jungians out there who might be able to crack that one?? Try as I could, sleep didn’t come back to me.

French phrase of the day: moitié moitié

Def: Half and half

Jo said this when the bill came at La Famille a couple weeks ago. I figured it out, based on the context ("moitié moitié?") but needed to look up the spelling.

More reason to love Paris

"It's not what Paris gave you but what it didn't take away from you that was important."
—Gertrude Stein

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Let's hear it for New York

Love this love letter to New York.

God, he's cute

Some favorite 2009 moments

While I’m wary of setting New Year’s resolutions, I love looking back on and reminiscing about the previous year. Here are some of my favorite moments and memories of ’09:

• Everything about my first few weeks here in Paris: the crummy hotel, figuring out my route to work, discovering the gorgeous office. What a magical time it was.
AJ’s wedding
• The first Ogilvy rooftop party
• Meeting Mel in the South of France
• Dinner with Anna and Jeffrey
• The utterly random and fun 4th of July with Mel
Mom and Bob’s, Chris and Dana’s and Dad and Lo’s visits
• One night, binging on Top Chef, I got up for a glass of water and giggled out loud about how happy I was, and how crazy it was, that I was living in thls little treehouse in the middle of Paris.
• Looking outside at 10pm on a summer’s night and seeing pink and baby blue skies
• The crazy hailstorm I experienced beneath my zinc roof
• Biking Canal St-Martin and feasting at Spring with Alex
• Nights at Rosa Bonheur
The girls’ visit: lunch at Chez Janou, the boat ride, lounging in the Luxembourg gardens, discovering Didier Paquignon
• My cooking classes
Meeting Frank at the Pretenders concert
• Discovering Airborne Toxic Event and Glass Candy with Michael
• Tasting the warm pain aux raisins from Stohrer

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dangerous snow globes

I don’t mean to belittle the latest terror attacks or the crazy world in which we now live. But sometimes the precautions we have to take and hoops we have to jump through at the airports seems so silly. This sign at the Aspen airport is serious, but it made me giggle.

A new year

I’d say I declare New Year’s resolutions 50% of the time. Some years, I draft a big, comprehensive list. Other years, it crosses my mind, I tell myself to sit and do it, but then it’s suddenly February and seems foolish to begin something on which I’ve already missed the boat. This year, I am making but one resolution: to live fully.

As of now, I have plans to be in Paris through June. That’s when my contract is up. So much can and will happen between now and then that I’m not wagering any bets as to what my decision will be, come the end of June. Maybe I will stay longer. Maybe I will have had my fill and want to return home. Either way, I know that, as of today, I have six months here in Paris. My goal is to embrace every one of the days and live as though I’m on permanent vacation: each day meant to be enjoyed and savored, if only in some small, remarkable way—like having a perfectly warm demi baguette on the walk home from work.

In the next six months, I want to go to the Opera and hike Fountainebleau. And I still want to improve my French. I want to write more articles, take more cooking classes and take advantage of more cultural events and gatherings. I want to go dancing more often, and there’s a long list of restaurants that I must hit. I want to meet more people—both locals and expats—and spend quality time with the friends I’ve already made. And then there’s travel—on the list: Portugal, Corsica, Lyon, Berlin….

When I came to Paris almost 10 months ago, I had my list of goals that I wanted to accomplish by year’s end—much like New Year’s resolutions. Some worked out better than others. Take pastry classes: check. Embrace leisurely Sundays: getting better at it. Obtain French proficiency: well, some days are better than others. Get the best stomach of my life. Cough. Sadly, my stomach is as soft and doughy as a butter croissant from the Croissant Nazi. Worse than it was when I first got here.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that rarely does life cooperate and allow you to go down a list of must-do’s and off-limits and check everything off. We are all works in progress. Some goals take longer to achieve than others. Some require greater effort. Some things, you accomplish almost without even realizing or meaning to. The challenges are good; the feelings of failure are not.

But what like about the New Year is that it encourages us to pause and re-evaluate. It gives us reason to think about where we are in life, what we want, and what’s important. Everything moves so quickly these days, it’s hard to make the time to do that otherwise—it feels unnecessary and self-indulgent. So while I’m not creating a bit list of resolutions this year, I am looking at my months ahead as if I'm standing on the precipice of possibility, hope and anticipation. I am so excited.

Here’s to an amazing 2010—the start of a new year, a new decade and a million spectacular moments!