Wednesday, July 14, 2010

And… the return of … 10 Things I love About Paris this Week

1. Les Chasseurs Alpins…

…Aka “Alpine Hunters.” These veritable French “skiing soldiers” are the elite mountain infantry of the French army (I know, how hard-core does THAT sound?) They keep the French Alps safe from … well what exactly threatens the French Alps? Drunken skiers? Wild bears or unfriendly deer? Untamed snowboarders? In any case, they wear the most chic white uniforms complete with funny long white berets nicknamed the “tarte” (pie). They look like what would be the offspring if the Pillsbury Doughboy mated with Gerard Depardieu. But they are totally cool (literally, they work in the French Alps in the winter.) Their motto? “Be All That You can SKI!”

2. Speaking of Gerard Depardieu …

…He’s #2 this week. Pourquoi? Simply because he’s super-famous and still rides around Paris on his motor scooter. Spotted: on Bastille Day, driving past the tanks and Alpine Hunters (see #1). We had a moment. Depardieu you see him riding away there in the distance?

3. Pousse-Pousse

Pousse-Pousse, aka “Sprout-Sprout” in French, is my new favorite restaurant find. Located in the world capital of foie gras and steak frites, Pousse-Pousse offers vegetarian – and mostly vegan, may I add, a rare thing for these parts let me tell you – cuisine that offers – gasp! – FLAVOR. Pousse-Pousse’s owner Lawrence Aboucaya and her team prepare fresh soups, interesting salads, grains, juices, wheatgrass shots, tarts and desserts that are healthy without sacrificing taste. Daily specials may include a vegan quiche with red peppers and artichoke “cream,” millet with pumpkin and curry, buckwheat with pesto or a lentil salad and the dishes are always served with a vegetable or legume “caviar” and salad topped with – you guessed it – sprouts! Not to mention their homemade “raw crackers” – très addictive. Located on a tiny street in Montmartre near the Notre Dame de Lorette church, Pousse-Pousse is a zen haven from the craziness of Parisian life and a refreshing way to have your gateau and eat it (healthfully!) too. Aboucaya also shares her culinary secrets during her cooking classes all year round. Check out their website for more info:

4. This banana sculpture.

Seen at a French art gallery. Does anyone actually think putting this in their living room is a-peel-ing? French high art has gone bananas. Literally.

5. Bread & Roses

This lovely café is located on “my” street aka la rue Fleurus. Just a hop, skip and a jump away (or a few steps if you have long legs like me) from the Luxembourg Gardens, Bread & Roses sells delicious breads … and roses. No, I kid, no roses on the menu but their organic breads are divine. I am officially addicted. Try the “power 10,” a mix of all of their different flours, the spelt bread or the muesli bread – Roses are BREAD, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and these amazing – and I repeat, totally organic – breads are too! Honorable mention to their scones and excellent 6th arrondissement-chic people-watching.

6. This Tropicana ad.

In French, it says “Save the Best for First” in support of breakfast. My sentiments exactly! A very un-French campaign, but I’ll take it! Vive le breakfast!

7. Worth.

Italian designer Giovanni Bedin’s new haute couture collection is gorgeous and original. Can’t wait to see it on the catwalk, not to mention his soon-to-be-lauched ready-to-wear line. Because we’re “Worth” it!

8. Glamour Magazine: France, August issue, page 93. Because, quite simply, I’m on it.

9. Monsieur Myrtilles…
…Or so I’ve named him…

It’s officially blueberry – aka “myrtilles” in French – season and there is now a blueberry man at the Raspail market on Sundays. The blueberries are big, organic and delicious - and - bien sûr! - picked by hand by Monsieur Myrtilles himself! He even sells blueberry jam so you can enjoy them all year round. Not to mention they hail from St. Exupéry and are called "Délices du Petit Prince." "Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." These blueberries are essential and I love them with all of my heart!

Not to mention the result of my "fruit"ful labor - these blueberry muffins!

10. Les vacances. I love Paris when it’s empty! Aside from the tourists, it appears that 99% of the Parisian population has fled the city for long summer vacations (well, if you’re French they’re not long, they’re just normal but to anyone else, namely an American, they are extremely long). This means, a feeling of calm permeating the streets, available tables at restaurants without reservations, only a few people in my most recent yoga class allowing me to place my arms to my side without hitting the stranger next to me in the groin, buses that aren’t packed with dozens of smelly people (just a few) and quite a lot less to be done on the work front.

11. (OK, I know I said Top 10 but there's just too much I love about Paris this week, what can I say?) INCEPTION
Christopher Nolan brings audiences into the complex - and highly entertaining - world of dreams. Stay tuned for my red carpet coverage of the Paris premiere, but here's a quick snapshot from the evening complete with the king of my world, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy. A must-see film coming to a theater near you (unless you live in a remote village in Africa, but otherwise odds are you'll be able to see this soon-to-be blockbuster.)

Bastille Day à Paris!

Celebrating Bastille Day with French "Alpine Hunters" (aka skiing soldiers, how fabulous right?) - Vive la France!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Merce, the Muse and Moi

Merce Muse of the recently opened Merce and the Muse café in Paris pronounces her name like the French word for thank you, namely « merci. » An appropriate moniker since, after visiting her café for the first time today, I just want to say, “Merci, Merce!” Finally – an American café in Paris that’s actually, well, an American café in Paris and a far cry from places like Coffee Parisien or Joe Allen serving up greasy diner-like American fare. The new petite shop on the rue Dupuis in le “Haut Marais” (the très chic part of le Marais and my current favorite neighborhood) offers good coffee (and, may I add, delicious tea), freshly-baked scones, muffins (or, as the French call them, “les moo-feenz”) and cakes plus quiche, sandwiches and creative salads for lunch. The café feels like a New York coffee shop with a cool vintage look – old magazines, a typewriter and books (including Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” an excellent choice) are spread out all over. A winding staircase leads to the second floor kitchen where Merce and her team make their homemade food every day … well, every day but Monday when Merce and her muse take a break. The café opened just a couple of weeks ago, but is already the talk of the town, or at least the village of the Haut Marais crowd. I definitely plan to go back soon - you might say I like Merce beaucoup.
So merci, Merce, and thanks for muffin'!

Here's a scene from the café (special thanks to videographer Nikita Croissant) :

Friday, July 02, 2010

Vive le Cinéma!

France's Cultural Minister Frederic Mitterand hosted a party to celebrate the 7th art on Wednesday night at the lovely Ecole des Beaux Arts building. It was a gorgeous night and a who's who crowd of producers, actors, actresses, directors and journalists from the Gallic film biz came to sip champagne under the blue sky to celebrate the country's film industry. Voilà a little glimpse at the evening. And ... cut!