Friday, February 19, 2010


It's not easy to find A Single Man in Paris ... but I did. Tom Ford, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore were all in Paris for the French "black carpet" premiere of Ford's latest film "A Single Man."

The fashion world came out to support Tom - Sonia and Nathalie Rykiel, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Gaulthier, plus Kylie Minogue, Yvan Attal and Charlotte Gainsbourg and other stars from the French movie biz.

The film is excellent for those who haven't seen it yet. Colin Firth was nominated for an Oscar for his beautiful performance as a gay college professor in the 1960s mourning the death of his lover in a tragic car accident. Tom Ford really shows promise behind the camera, and Julianne Moore gives a classy, subtle performance as Firth's best friend.

Check out my coverage of the black carpet:

New blog @

Pour ceux qui parlez français or any of you who want to practice your French, check out my new blog @ !

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Love Paris in the Green&Spring-time ...

Oh the weather outside is frightful…but l’Hôtel is so delightful. It’s true – there’s no better spot in this wintery weather than l’Hôtel, rue des Beaux Arts, my favorite Left Bank refuge. Jessica and Peter Frankopan, the husband and wife duo behind A Curious Group of Hotels including this famed spot and Cowley Manor in the British countryside, have launched their own skincare line, Green & Spring and are bringing it to Paris. The all-natural products, already sold throughout the UK including in Harvey Nichols stores, will be sold at the Bon Marché as of March 8th. Oscar Wilde would be thrilled. (Indeed, while I do claim to have discovered the wonderful spot that is l’Hôtel, it’s in fact been a favorite of many before me, including Oscar Wilde, Johnny Depp, Mick Jagger - and Isabelle Huppert who I just ran into there the other day - among others.)

It’s not easy being Green & Spring... Actually, it is. The products are made with only wholesome, natural ingredients and smell and feel like they are fresh from the British countryside (in fact, they are.) The line features three main categories : relaxing, indulgent and revitalizing. The “Green” refers to their philosophy to use only natural ingredients, and the “Spring” to the fact that the products feature Cowley Manor’s own spring water.


The “relaxing” collection features aromatic scents and oils like lavender and rosemary, the “indulgent” collection combines sinful ingredients such as rose and jasmine, while the “revitalizing” collection will wake up your senses with peppermint and fennel. It’s like a green field in the middle of Springtime in the British countryside … only in a bottle.

Their “Indulging Exfoliating Body Balm” protects the skin with rosehip while sugar and beeswax leave the skin totally smooth - yes, even in winter. The Shower and Bath foams span every product category from a relaxing blend of chamomile, lavender and comfrey (careful – don’t fall asleep in the shower!) to indulging with jasmine and rose or revitalizing complete with vitamin A to tone the skin and aniseed to help relieve muscle and joint pain (after a day of Paris shopping?). Shampoos, conditioners, light bath oils, hand creams and washes, lip balm, candles and body lotions complete the Green & Spring package, not to mention a travel pack feature mini versions of the basic products, perfect for jet-setters (or traveling journalists ! wink wink). The travel pack bottles are perfectly sized to pass in your carry-on luggage through airport security … or in your overnight bag for a weekend getaway to Cowley Manor!

The prices are reasonable - 12€ for the lip balm, shower gel for 24€, hand wash for 18€ or cream for 20€ or body lotion for 28€ for example.

Can’t distinguish between all of the different products? Thankfully, there are British birds to do that for us. I don’t mean a fancy posh British way to say English women, I mean – literally – our winged, flying, feathered friends. The birds represent the British countryside and feature birds from the British Isles. Each kind of bird represents a different product and the colors of the birds refer to the range the product hails from, whether it be relaxing, revitalizing or indulging.
All of the ingredients are natural, most hailing from the UK, and the products are never tested on animals – British or otherwise.

On Tuesday, the Green & Spring team hosted a British-themed launch event for their skincare collection at – where else? – l’Hôtel, complete with cucumber and marmite sandwiches (they're British, forgive their culinary habits please), Victoria sponge cake (a royally delicious treat) and tea and champagne. Green (& Spring) with envy are you ? Don't worry, the products will all be available soon at le Bon Marché. In the meantime, I’m going to take a bath with some relaxing Green & Spring bath gel. Cheerio, mates !!

Take an insider look at the collection with the founder herself, Jessica Frankopan.

For more on Green & Spring:

A cookie recipe from "Rebecca, the Conceited Chef"

Recipe du jour from “Rebecca, the Conceited Chef” (my very domestic alter-ego)

Conceited Cookies

These cookies have become my own personal Proust-like Madeleine – they evoke home (nothing says “New Jersey” like a combo of nuts and spices) and Martha Stewart (who nobody has heard of over here, can you believe it?) They’ve been my winter fuel since the start of the year – they’re incredibly easy to make (yes, even in tiny Paris kitchen conditions) and they’re relatively healthy, as far as cookies go.

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup regular, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable/canola oil (or, if you’re in France, try huile de colza)
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I like “vanille de bourbon”)
1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup or raisins
½ cup of almonds or walnuts
½ tsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Mix together the two kinds of flower and the baking powder in one bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together the brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Mix together. Add the flour mixture until all smooth. Then, add the oats, the nuts and the raisins, the cinnamon and the honey or maple syrup. Mix together. (You can refrigerate for a little while if you think the batter feels too soft/runny.) Spoon into circles, depending on how big or small you like your cookies, onto a non-stick or greased cookie sheet then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or approx. 175 degrees Celsius. Cook for around 7-8 minutes, then rotate cookie sheet and cook for around another 7-8 minutes, or until the cookies are to your liking. I prefer mine golden brown, but I know some prefer less cooked, so really it’s up to you. I recommend sprinkling a bit more cinnamon on top of the cookies right before you bake them for extra cinnamon flavor. Remove from sheet, let cool for a few minutes, then dig in ! These will keep in an airtight container for around a week (if they last that long!) Dip into a tall glass of almond milk or vanilla-flavored rice milk for an extra health kick, or enjoy – as I do – with some Yogi Bedtime tea before you head to sleep (It’s been scientifically proven that the sugar in the cookies is cancelled out by the bedtime-friendly herbs in the tea.) (OK, that’s a lie, but I swear, it’s a fabulous combo.) They’re SO DELICIOUS. Bon appétit, Rebecca the Conceited Chef.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

BELLE EN RYKIEL (and happier too!)

It’s February in Paris. The air is cold, and the people are too. It’s either snowing or raining, and it’s dark when we wake up in the morning and dark again by late afternoon.
The Groundhog may not have seen his shadow, but I can confirm that Spring is coming early this year. On February 20th, H&M will launch its new exclusive knitwear collection designed by famous French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel. You all remember the most incredible party of the year, don’t you? (

Well, after launching the lingerie line in December, the knitwear collection will hit H&M stores all over the globe on Feb. 20th. Now, we can all be “Belle en Rykiel” (“beautiful in Rykiel”) and for even more beautiful prices ! And if the prices – 29,95euros for sweaters, 39,95euros for dresses – don’t make you feel good already, then maybe the fact that part of the proceeds of sales of the collection will go directly to UNICEF’s “All for Children” project will ?

Around 200 H&M locations will be colored with Rykiel’s designs including more basic black knit shorts, skirts and sweaters or schoolgirl-like blazers and more fun and colorful sweaters, dresses, leggings and scarves featuring Rykiel’s classic striped knits. The vibrant colors are like rays of yellow and pink sunshine in the middle of winter. French doctors have confirmed that wearing Rykiel’s colorful knits decrease depression by 98%. No, actually they haven’t but I have. Trust Dr. Lafleur, these sweaters will keep you smiling for hours. Rykiel also added her signature to the collection with bows on striped sweaters or Rykiel-ariffic words like “Mon pull Rykiel” (“My Rykiel Sweater” but it’s in French so that will be so chic everywhere other than Paris, France, bien sûr!) on her signature slogan tops. I love the black knitwear pieces splattered with clear rhinestones, including everything from sweaters to leggings and – of course, this is Paris, after all, more specifically Saint Germain des Pres – a beret.

Not to mention that Rykiel represents all that is beautiful about Saint Germain des pres, and now she’ll be spreading Saint Germain des pres love all around the world ! (Which I attempt to do every day, but they have yet to name a club sandwich after me at the Café de Flore like they have for her).
And, ladies, if you get to the shops in time (read: if you sleep in front of the store the night before, otherwise good luck finding anything after 20 minutes), THE accessory from the collection is Rykiel for H&M’s UNICEF bag. 30% of the proceeds from the bag will go to the project.

So before you start popping those anti-depressants or jumping into the Seine, throw on some brightly colored Rykiel for H&M-wear. Plus, at H&M’s affordable prices, it’s a lot cheaper than a psychologist.* (*Unless of course you buy the entire collection, which I might ☺)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


The kiss on both cheeks - les “bisous” – are the French (contami)national symbol for hello and goodbye. Even in the dead of winter when microbes are ubiquitous throughout the air and “la grippe A” (a very chic, French, pretty way to say “swine flu”) is spreading rapidly, Parisiens insist on kissing each other despite the obvious danger to the kissee. They call this art “La Bise.”
I can’t even tell you how many times someone has “bisoused” me (bisou v. {bee-zoo-d} to give the two-cheeked French kiss greeting) and after I say “ça va?” respond with “oh, by the way I have the stomach flu” or “no, in fact, I have a very contagious strain of ebola.” The thought would never occur to said French person to perhaps – gasp! – NOT give the bisous considering the illness? But of course – bisouing in France is like breathing, you simply just do it naturally. Except of course to perhaps your boss or someone in a business meeting or an elder. But then you get into the whole “vous” vs. “tu” debate and, well, that’s just too complicated for a Wednesday afternoon. The French take their bisous very seriously. Going out to a group dinner is, in fact, one of France’s unspoken national sports. Before one can sit down at the table, one must give two kisses (or three if your fellow diners hail from certain regions of Southern France) on the cheeks of each guest and THEN, before leaving, another table round. For a dinner of 10 people, that’s a total of 40 kisses, and 20 left-to-right neck movements. I’ve figured it out. THAT’S the French paradox. THAT’S how they stay so thin. Forget “the smaller portions sizes” or “their metabolism” – they perform the equivalent of a quarter triathlon before and after every meal.
A message to all Parisians: THINK before you bisou. Have a cold? I don’t. I don’t want one. Shake my hand if you must – I’m American, I always carry Purell in my purse of course – but please, no bisEWWW. And with that, I must go – I have to go do some neck exercises to get in shape for a big dinner with some friends later tonight…