Bonjour mes amis!
Yes, I may have taken a brief hiatus, but I am back and blogger than ever.
Lots to discuss. Let’s start with…
10 people I love this Fall:
Yes, he does have a last name – it’s Vongerichten (Say that five times fast. No, don’t. Let’s stick with Jean-Georges. Just like Madonna. Or Bono. Or Cher. Only I bet those one-named wonders can’t make a cheesecake like JG.) The French chef has made a name for himself across the globe – from his trendy modern restaurants in NY (think: Spice Market, Vong, Jo Jo, Perry St., Jean-Georges, Mercer Kitchen, Nougatine and Matsugen) to Asia, the Bahamas, Bora Bora, Las Vegas and London. He even made a guest appearance recently on the only reality TV show worth watching, “Top Chef.” I have been a fan of his Paris spot, Market, for years – their cheesecake is the best in the world (sorry, Mom) and the modern French cuisine with an Asian accent has my taste buds singing ooh-là-là every time I go. (Unfortunately, my wallet sings the same tune.) I’ve often dreamed of waking up one day in the Market kitchen, with black truffle and fontina pizzas coming out hot from the oven, hundreds of pieces of cheesecake to wash it down, and Jean-Georges hanging out to supervise it all. Last week, this dream came true …
I was having lunch at Market with a friend one Monday afternoon. It was a typical November afternoon, the restaurant was filled with French businessmen munching on tuna rolls and discussing the financial climate, waiters handing out fresh bread and butter and – wait a second, was that Jean-Georges who just walked by? No way, I must have had too much Chablis 1er cru. Actually, says the waitress who overhears me exclaim “Was that Jean-Georges? Holy merde!”, “Oui, it’s him.” I stood up, walked across the restaurant, and approached the man himself, sitting in a corner talking with the restaurant’s manager. “Bonjour, I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Rebecca Leffler, I simply adore your restaurants …” yada yada yada I will spare you the details of my sycophantic speech. J-G informed me that my timing was impeccable, as he was only in town for one night, to celebrate the seven-year birthday of Market with a private party/cocktail. Would I like to come? He inquired. Is the sky blue? Is the earth round? Bien sûr I’d love to come. Later that evening, I arrived at Market. My new best friend Jean-Georges saw me come in and exclaimed “Rebecca!” before giving me a welcome kisses on each cheek. He then brought me downstairs to the kitchen, where, to my left, black truffle and fontina pizzas were coming out hot and fresh from the oven and arriving directly into my mouth, as hundreds of tiny pieces of cheesecake were being served on platters to my right, and Jean-Georges was hanging out in the middle observing it all. Oh, and may I add, that Jean Reno walked by during this scene.
It seems only natural that a (French) girl named La Fleur would find herself at La Rose … Rose Bakery, that is. And to think I’ve been here for four years and just discovered the wonderful Rose Bakery. Or shall I say, Rose BakerIES because they just opened up number deux in le Marais. The original Rose Bakery is nestled near the top of the rue des Martyrs in the 9th arrondissement. Though it takes a good climb up the steep hill of the rue des Martyrs, the hike is worth it – inside, Anglo-Saxon comfort food awaits. While the mostly English-speaking staff fluctuate between indifferent and just plain rude, it’s worth putting up with the abuse for the fabulous organic cuisine made in the kitchen. Choose from the fresh organic “crudités” made daily – and usually gone by 2 or 3 PM (yes, there is a global financial crisis, but definitely not at Rose Bakery !) such as quinoa or rice salads, roasted seasonal vegetables such as pumpkin or celeriac, and their signature carrot salad with sunflower seeds. Their mini-quiches are excellent, as are their homemade soups, and entrées which range from the risotto du jour, grilled tofu with veggies or, on the weekends, a cheese scone and scrambled eggs. Their scones are the best in Paris – I recommend the maple syrup variety – and their muffins also the best in the city (though that’s not saying much, the competition is far from vast!) The new spot on the rue Debelleyme, filled with Haut Marais hipsters, is a bit bigger, has a cleaner look and the staff actually – gasp! – smile!
Are Anglo-Saxons the only ones with the brilliant idea to bring healthy to the streets of Paris? Bob, or alias Bob, since his real name isn’t Bob, but Mark, had the brilliant idea to make healthy juices, salads, sandwiches, soups and muffins (ok so the muffins aren’t heathly per se, but I’ll continue to tell myself they are.) The original Bob’s Juice Bar is located in the 10th arr. in the hip Canal Saint Martin, and, great news for us Germanopratines – he has a temporary stand set up in the Galerie Imaginaire on the 2nd floor of the Bon Marché department store through the end of the year. You can sip a smoothie and munch on a carrot muffin while you observe the financially unchallenged clientele of the Bon Marché do their holiday shopping.
The second B.O.B. is also American – but this B.O.B. isn’t human, and, as far as I know, doesn’t offer a cook book of muffins. This B.O.B. is a gelatinous blue blob that eats anything in his path (sounds just like the last guy I dated!) B.O.B. is one of the stars of Dreamworks’ latest animation coup – the 3D film “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Dreamworks topper Jeffrey Katzenberg came to Paris last week to present exclusive footage from the upcoming March release (April, in France) featuring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Rainn Wilson and one of America’s funniest men (only natural, he’s a Dartmouth grad, so his wit and brilliance are to be expected) Stephen Colbert as the President of the United States. The three scenes alone that I saw made me never want to see a 2D film again (not a wise decision for a film critic/journalist, I know). I led a Q&A with Jeffrey Katzenberg as part of Ile de France Film Commission initiative – special effects conference ParisFX.
5) Carine Roitfeld
“You look so chic!” –Carine Roitfeld, Editor of French Vogue, to moi at the Louis Vuitton/Vogue soirée for Vogue’s 2009 calendar complete with Terry Richardson’s photos. Also spotted at the très private cocktail in a gallery with the most amazing view of Paris: Marc Jacobs, Vincent Perez, Estelle, “The Haitian” from “Heroes.” Roitfeld, contrary to her reputation for being the French devil wearing Prada, was actually quite nice. Carine, you mentioned you had a son living in NY? If he’d care to marry me before December 31st of this year when my carte de séjour expires, I’d be much obliged. Merci…uh, can I call you Maman?
6) The lovely people of Sony France
Dear lovely people of Sony France,
Thanks for the new Sony Walkman!
Love, the girl taking photos with men with orange faces on stilts all night at the launch party for the new Sony store on the Avenue Georges V.
7) Nicolas Sarkozy
Please let me stay in Paris. I belong here – just look. Rebecca Leffler + Paris, France = love. Please don’t kick me out of the country when my carte de séjour expires at the end of the year. You love America, remember? Just think of me as the female Barack Obama.
The most Parisian of all Parisians, Rebecca LaFleur
(from “Gossip Girl”)
You might be waay too young for the likes of moi, and you may have an affinity for 15-year old girls (see: the Jenny Humphrey files), but we also know you like a good cougar once in awhile. I’m sort of in between the two categories. You’re gorgeous, I’m … in awe of your gorgeousness. Let’s make out? You’re homeless, come on, even my tiny studio in Paris is a step up from the street. Xoxo Gossip Girl
9) Mon Lapin (my rabbit)
The latest addition to my life, my new Antik Batik rabbit-fur coat has been keeping me warm this winter. Little bunny foo foo, hopping through the Paris forest …
10) Carla Bruni
This former model has not only become the First Lady of France, but has managed to do this – and release an album at the same time – despite a sordid (read: slutty) past that everybody seems to have forgotten about. Let me refresh your memories, or, if you’re American, I’m sure you haven’t even heard this crazy story, so I will regale you with tales of Franco-Italian debauchery. So our dear Carla was dating an older guy (a young woman dating an older man? It’s as common as drinking water for the French) – a well-known literary publisher old enough to be her father. So, let’s call him “Papa Publisher” brings Miss Carla on vacation where she proceeds to sleep with his son, a young, good-looking, well-known philosopher/professor, despite the fact that Papa Publisher and his son’s WIFE were under the same roof at the same time. Said (now former) wife went on to write a book outlining all of the dirty details – titled “Nothing Serious” (perhaps, because, in France, something of this nature is indeed, considered “nothing serious”) in which she calls Carla a “preying mantis” and a “leech of a woman with a Terminator smile.” Well, this Terminator is back and, despite her ostensible inability to keep her pants on, has become a global glamour icon and is married to the most powerful man in Gaul. She’s beautiful AND smart – she’s gone from the runway to hanging out with the Dalai Lama and the Pope. Not to mention, that her sister, director Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, has already achieved my life dream: she’s currently dating the gorgeous Louis Garrel. If these sisters taught a class on the art of seduction, I’d sign up asap.
French expression of the day: Ne vendez pas la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué. (“Don’t sell the bear skin before you’ve killed the bear.”) In English, we say “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” This is pretty representative of the two culture, don’t you think? In America, we hatch chicken eggs, and in France, you kill bears ! In any case, it means don’t get your hopes up for something until it’s 100% sure it is going to happen. A nice piece of advice for this global economic recession.