Thursday, March 31, 2011

Le Tour du Chocolat

Nearly three years ago, before I moved to Paris, before it was even the remotest possibility, I went over for summer vacation. That was when I fell in love with the Velibs. And I charted a path from one chocolatier to another. It was one of my best summer vacations ever, and it went on to become a New York Times article. Given the response to this past Sunday’s piece, I thought you’d like this one—an oldie but goodie, it’s my personal favorite.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Paris Farewell

As much as I’ve always loved Paris, I never expected to move there. And once I moved there, I never expected to stay for two years. And there were many things along the way I never expected—the pure bliss, the utter frustration, depression, celibacy, eating rabbit, going to Uganda, this blog…

Needless to say, I’m so grateful that it all happened. Moving to Paris changed my life. And to have had the opportunity to share my love for the City of Light and Dark Chocolate in the New York Times is another thing I never expected—especially since it started as a basic reportage piece.

So thank you everyone for reading the piece and to everyone who has sent a message. Your words mean more to me than you'll ever know. Thank you, thank you! Merci, merci! Here’s to loving Paris…

Friday, March 25, 2011

In four weeks, I touch down in Paris

I can’t wait to see my friends.

(I mean, c'mon. With friends like these, who wouldn’t be excited?)

To eat my favorite sweets.

And discover some new spots.

Paris in April... oui, I'm officially excited.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Velibs are coming to New York

When I was home last August, I couldn’t help but notice all of the new bike lanes and bicyclists in the city. The friends I chatted with about it and I agreed: it’s so cool that Bloomberg and the City are making such efforts and that New York is getting more bike-friendly.

Then earlier this week, I was doubly excited to read that NY’s pilot for a shared bike program launches this summer. Woohoo! 600 bike stations south of 60th Street; memberships will be available—like the Velibs—daily, weekly or annually; and, again like the Velibs, the three-speed bikes will be uniquely designed for the city—but ours will have GPS. Sweet!

But. The reality is, the city isn’t more bike-friendly just because there are more bike lanes. In fact, as a couple articles I’ve recently read illustrate, new lanes and more bicyclists are pissing a lot of people off. The reasons are as varied as lost business, lost parking, renegade bicyclists, to the lanes being an “eyesore”.

I see both sides of the debate. Of course I’m all for more people biking—to work, for enjoyment, as a simple, healthy, efficient mode of transportation. But I also think New York is such a “concrete jungle". On some level, it is about the cars and buildings and grit and lawlessness, and that’s what we love about it. At the end of the day, it’s not supposed to be a soft, easy place to live.

But there must be a happy medium right? (Separate but related, someone on the Today Show this morning had a sign that said “happy median”. I started giggling but then I panicked and thought maybe I’ve been using the wrong phrase all these years. If Yahoo! Answers holds any cred, then I have, in fact, been saying it right. Phew.)

I’m keen to see how the “Velib” pilot program changes things. For some reason, I think I’ll be more likely to ride these bikes than I am my own Café Racer. I think there will be greater safety in numbers. And I hope drivers and pedestrians get more used to the bicyclists, making things safer and more pleasant all around.

My personal solution would be to have one avenue on the east side and one avenue on the west side closed to vehicular traffic and devoted largely to bicyclists. The other avenues would be for cars, and bicyclists would have to share (ride at their risk as they always have).

In any case, I’m thrilled that the shared bike program is coming. There’s nothing dreamier than pedaling around the city you love.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cocktail hour

Are you a beer and macaron kind of girl?

Un verre de rouge avec des cacahuètes?

Or would you rather take a cup of rosé for the road?

At Pizza Chic, they make you think twice before pouring yourself another glass... of tap water.

At Coco & Co, they know how to sweeten un café creme.

Ah, the lovely champagne cocktail at the Hemingway Bar. J'adore.

What do you fancy?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Here’s to good health

I’ve been home for 11 weeks and it’s been a doozey. I’ve gone through two flights of antibiotics, a prescription for codeine, plus about two pounds of tissues. I have three prescriptions in my bag; two of them will be filled this week. I’ve had five cavities filled (yes, five).

My uterus is “wonderful” and my ovaries are “perfect”. None of my moles are suspicious. I weigh two pounds less than when I went to Paris.

Good lungs, low blood pressure, and my blood work was overall a-ok. I have one more doctor’s appointment later this week (if you consider the podiatrist a “doctor”; my dawgs do) but my final visit with an ear-throat-nose specialist was this morning. Finally, after all these weeks of feeling crummy, I have a diagnosis: silent reflux (doesn’t that sound like it should be said with an evil laugh??).

Brought on by stress, it’s basically gastric reflux without the heartburn. I’ll take some meds to calm my inflamed throat, and I have to avoid certain foods (including, um, chocolate and red wine? C’est trop cruel.). But overall, it’s a relatively benign situation that should be cleared up in time for spring.

Beyond being happy and relieved that I’m generally in good health, I just think it’s fascinating how connected our minds and bodies are. Stress and anxiety—and especially suppressing those feelings—are brutal and debilitating. It’s just as important to be kind and gentle to our souls as it is disciplined and active with our bodies. And, always, to be grateful for the health we do have.

Be good to yourselves, mes amis.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

Little things matter. They do. Here I am, seemingly for no reason at all, carrying on with Vegan Mondays. I mean, really, who cares what I eat every Monday? But the reason I keep doing it is that I truly believe you can’t change the world, you can only change yourself. Not eating red meat (it’s been 11 years now), and practicing veganism one day a week (for over a year) are my small efforts to combat the negative environmental impacts of the industrial farming of red meat.

What do you do? Maybe you can try just cutting back on red meat? Or cutting out all meat? (Eliminating all animal by-products is tough. But also easy. It’s a mindset, I guess.) Maybe you can buy only local produce. Or stop drinking water bottles (imagine how they add up! And where do they go, do you know? Do you think about it?). You can stop buying plastic soap dispensers (after all bars still work—especially lovely olive oil bars from Provence!). You can walk (or Velib!) instead of drive. Little things matter. I double-dog dare you to do something.

(Now, stepping down from my soapbox.)

Coffee & soy milk

Veggie stir-fry with brown & red rice

Lentil soup
Too many dried pineapple rings

French word of the day: ciel!

Def: good heavens!

Why did I never know that all you have to do is add an exclamation point to "ciel", the word for "sky", and it suddenly becomes a big, breathy sentiment?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Art in New York

I’ve been dreadful when it comes to blogging about my New York life. (I guess it feels like TMI; when I blogged in Paris, it was about sharing all these delights and senses; here, back home, it’s just me and my reality. It feels more gratuitous and, frankly, weird to reveal too much. But I think that’s a whole other post to ponder.).

That said, I am excited about everything I’ve been doing since I’ve been back. I’ve gone over to Brooklyn a couple times (falling deeper in love). I’ve had fancy cocktails (Bemelmans Bar and Hotel Delmano, topping the list). Nice dinners (oh, Vinegar Hill House). I’ve seen great movies (my favorite so far was Public Speaking, a documentary on Fran Leibowitz). I’ve been reading up a storm. I’m back at the gym, doing yoga and taking walks. I’m indulging in sweets. I’ve been to the ballet and several concerts. And I’ve seen some great art.

The first show was Edward Hopper at the Whitney.

I love a good exhibition at the Whitney because you’re in, you’re out, you’re sated and inspired. And the great thing about this last visit was going for Hopper, one of my all-time favorites, and stumbling into a couple other fantastic exhibitions: the creepy-genius Charles Ledray and the Whitney’s own unearthing of Singular Visions.

Then there was Herbert Katzman at the Museum of the City of New York. Brilliant, this museum is! A whole museum devoted to Manhattan and its history and artists. Katzman was obsessed with the Brooklyn Bridge, the downtown Manhattan skyline and especially the city’s waterways.

He painted the same views from the mid-fifties nearly until his death in ’04. It was a wonderful collection, and, similar to the Whitney, there were a handful of other great exhibitions to explore.

Most recently, I got to the opening of one my most favorite young artists, Isca Greenfield-Sanders, at Haunch of Venison.

I kick myself for not having bought one of her prints for $1000 a few years ago the same way I kick myself for not having invested in Netflix when it was $15 a share. Her paintings are soft, colorful and nostalgic… dreamy. And they cost about $50,000.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Le Flaneur

I saw this video on Lindsey’s blog weeks ago and loved it then. But then I just came across it again, and it nearly tore my heart out. Paris, tu me manqué.

(Three cheers for The XX.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Vegan Mondays

In fact, yesterday was a Vegan Sunday. Because the peanut butter bomb cupcake from my new favorite bakery in New York is vegan. Lucky me.

Yoga (ahhh)
Coffee & soy milk

Black bean burrito, sans rice & cheese

Cliff Bar
Glass of Shiraz
Mixed nuts
And Steve Martin banjo and bluegrass

I went to Paris last night

The Paris Theater.

Mr. B and I went to see The Last Lions, a sappy-sweet but oh-so-sad documentary about a mother lion and her cubs in Botswana.

I love the Paris Theater. And cheesy National Geographic movies like this one. If you do too, check out Cause an Uproar.

(Since seeing the movie, I just can’t look at Milo the same way.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Back then...

I was browsing through my photos from this time last year. Just out of curiosity, what was I doing?

Velibing, bien sur.

Noticing new street art….

… and emerging from the Hotel de Ville Metro stop in the evening to see it shine in the evening light.

Going to fashion week parties where the people were fabulous, the champagne, abundant, and the men… skinny.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two months, sans Paris

C’est vrai. I’m missing Paris. Missing the life I had there. And it’s been on my mind because I’ve been wondering why, when I lived there, time was on my side. I exercised and worked daily, but then I still got around the city and did stuff. Every day revealed something to me—a boutique or a party, something goofy at the grocery store, a new word or cultural tic. I noticed the light in the evening and the flowers in the park and gargoyles on the buildings. The moon. I was inspired to take pictures of these things and motivated to write about them and it all felt effortless and natural and fulfilling.

I’m happy to be in New York. I am home, and that feels right and makes me feel good. But it’s exhausting here. It’s drudgery. And I miss what I felt in Paris. I want to notice things again. I want to float down the sidewalks and smile at nobody, but at everything, because I am so happy and charmed and moved. I want to feel buoyant and alive. I want to live with this secret inside of me—that because I am in Paris, everything is beautiful and makes sense and is for a reason.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The little things I love... about New York

• Dog walkers
• Taxis, taxis everywhere!
• Egg sandwich and coffee specials
• Peanut butter and jelly doughnuts, crème brulee truffles and butternut squash macarons
• Stoops
• Soho at night
• The Paris Theater

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blog love

I’ve fallen for a few new blogs lately. Fallen hard.

First, there’s the artistic and inspiring Miss Moss, which I found through Erin of one of my all-time faves, Butter + Brass.

Perhaps a little late to the game, but I’m now addicted to Jamie’s looks at From Me to You. She’s as adorable as she is stylish, and I love how she makes her photos come to life.

Speaking of adorable, Marguerite, aka Starting in December, serves up fabulously unique recipes in a voice that’s both sweet and saucy enough to go with them.

More food porn and tempting ways to order up deliciousness, I’ve found at Foodzie and Food52.

And because I’ve been cocooning myself at home, I’m also coveting the interiors shared on Her Little Place and From the Right Bank.

Who else do I need to know about?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The little things I miss

Pralulines (Oh, I miss these a lot)
• Velibing
• The green bookstalls
• The frequent sound of church bells
• The irreplaceable smell of boulangeries
• Looking out from my treehouse across the zinc rooftops
• Rue Montorgeuil
• Being able to train up to London for the day
• All of you

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Get yer creative juices flowing

I owe this man much of my experience in Paris.

He is Matthew Caws, front man of Nada Surf. Mon ami, Bennie, manages Nada Surf. Melissa went to high school with the boys of Nada Surf. They were all tight. And because of this three degrees of separation, Ben made the virtual trans-Atlantic introduction between me and Mel. And that changed everything for me.

Mel’s new mission, Morning Glory, is to motivate people to tap into their creative side, follow their bliss and have fun. Because that’s just the kind of girl she is. In life, she’s surrounded by cool, talented, inspiring people and now she’s sharing some of their secrets, starting at 6 a.m., with you.