Friday, January 29, 2010
Paris Fashion Week just ended, but the trendiest thing on the streets of Paris isn’t the latest couture collection, but in fact … BIO (pronounced “bee-oh”). “Bio” is short for “biologique,” the French word for “organic.”
Suddenly, in this town of steak frites and red wine, small organic markets are popping up all over town, restaurants are taking pride in their “tout bio” menus, French skincare lines are going natural and many magazines now have a special “bio” or “vert”* (*green) section devoted to a more organic lifestyle. Yes, the “organic revolution” has been building up gradually in the US over the past few years, but it’s finding a home as well here in Paris (those French, always late, but they do show up eventually.) However, I’ve found that, as Kermit the Frog so wonderfully put it, “It’s not easy being green.” It’s certainly not low-cost. If they’ve nicknamed Whole Foods, “Whole Paycheck,” then the organic market at the Blvd Raspail on Sundays is “Whole Paycheck…and whole months rent and mortgage.” Those bio butternuts don’t come cheap. So why buy organic? And when I don’t have time to stop at the organic markets, which fruits and vegetables are OK to eat that aren’t organic? And if my building doesn’t recycle, how can I stay green at home? So many questions. I was going bio-bonkers trying to figure everything out. I mean, EVERYTHING I read today is “bio” this, “bio” that – wait a minute, those carrots you ate weren’t bio, OMG YOU’RE GOING TO DIE! You mean, your face cream has chemicals in it, OMG THE END OF THE WORLD! Not to mention, the temperatures have reached tundra-like conditions here, so how can I worry about staying green when my fingers and toes are blue and my skin is white ?
That’s when I decided I need a BIO MAKEOVER. In stepped my favorite BIOlogist, “Agent L.” Agent L is, in fact, code for Louise Walter Hansen, a Dane living in Paris. In Copenhagen, Louise worked in advertising for 10 years before starting her own company. “With my own company, I’m able to use my skills as a project manager on projects that are closer to my heart,” Louise told me. So what makes this Agent’s heart beat? “Food, taking better care of our world and us, Among other things,” she said, adding: “I love exploring, cooking, trying out new recipes and new restaurants, discovering new ingredients, but with special attention on the good stuff!” Louise is dedicated to a BIO life and has been for a decade. So what does being BIO actually mean? “All things organic or well produced by small and dedicated local farmers. I’m continuously working undercover to snoop up the latest and the best in the name of BIO,” she explained. Louise’s new operation “How To Bio” offers her own personalized consulting services for how to BIO-ify your life. Agent L will come to your house (or tiny Parisian apartment!), open your refrigerator, check your bathroom to see what cleaning products you use, then offer advice on how to gradually bring bio into your life. She’ll send you updates and personalized tips just for you including recipes, ideas or motivation.
In fact, according to Louise, it IS easy being green, you just need someone to show you the ropes. Here are a few tips from Louise for how to stay chic AND Bio in Paris during these cold winter months. And, a shout out to #1, for those of you who have been reading this blog and know my sentiments on breakfast and to #3 for those who know of my recent love affair with the Blvd Raspail Sunday market !
5 (winter) tips for staying chic – and BIO
1. A good and healthy BIO breakfast is very important – this cannot be said enough! Something that fills you up, gives you energy and keeps you going until lunch. In the winter time this agent prefers her porridge on those cold mornings. And you can swop the classic oats for different flakes – quinoa, rice, millet – whatever your preference. Add a little cinnamon, it is known to lower blood sugar levels and at the same time it tastes great and warms you up. Add a little fruit and nuts as topping… be creative! Yum Yum.
A tip: Soak the flakes before you go to bed… it makes a creamier porridge and saves you time in the morning.
2. Don’t have time for dinner on those busy days…? So easy to end up eating bad takeaway food. But there is absolutely no need to. Why don’t you make a delicious soup from one of all the great winter vegetables? Butternut or Hokkaido, just to mention a few favorites. It is very easy… make a big pot and freeze in portion size.
A tip: OK, so you can also buy a nice BIO soup and keep that in the fridge. Make sure to always have a few handy. I can recommend the BIO version from Marc Veyrat.
3. It’s has become a lot easier to find BIO greens, fruits and other products lately. You can even find good quality in most supermarkets. But a few words of advice from an experienced agent… go to the market. Most of the markets in Paris will have one or two BIO stands. But the absolute heaven is the one on Blvd. Raspail on Sundays. Did anyone say kid in a candy store? Lots of nice cooked up BIO treats too, that you can try out while you shop!
A tip: The time issue is no excuse here either… if you find it hard to chase down the BIO products why don’t you have a basket of BIO vegetables delivered once a week at your doorstep? Try www.natoora.fr
4. Take care of your skin! Once you start living BIO your skin will also start glowing. But even so, it might need a little extra love and care on these cold days… it dries out from the cold and all the heating. So make sure to pamper yourself with certified BIO products that do not have any parabens in them. This agent’s motto: better safe than sorry! Try mixing a little bit of facial oil into your cream it works wonders.
A tip: This agent is a big fan of the Rudolph Care line… boosting with antioxidants from the fierce little ACAI berry. You can get it online at www.rudolphcare.com. Once you’ve tried the pure ACAI facial oil you’re addicted!
5. Let’s stay chick and BIO… get ready for the launch of the new BIO collection from H&M hitting stores this March - The Garden Collection. Wearing my chapeau and a warm cape you’re sure to find this agent in line.
A tip: And remember that when you have to wash those clothes that you must fill up the machine every time.
Thanks, Agent L for this great tips, I can feel myself turning green already.
For more information on Bio life in Paris, check out
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Voilà ! This week's France 24 movies show about the films nominated for the upcoming César Awards on February 27th. Some great films this year, so check them out!
I am convinced that I was a bee in my former life.
I mean, I look awful in yellow, but I do have quite an affinity for honey. It’s a sticky situation – I could be quite content putting honey in just about every beverage and food I consume (and I do.) Honey is the perfect addition to any meal – Breakfast (Honey in a yogurt and muesli parfait, honey on top of waffles, honey in muffins), Lunch (Honey in my winter soups, honey in my salad dressings), Dinner (Honey on roasted sweet potatoes, Honey grilled chicken) and Dessert (Honey in dessert cookies and cakes). That little plastic bear ubiquitous in the US (but who I have yet to see in these parts – is he afraid of air travel I wonder? Poor bear) is my favorite meal companion.
My current favorite honey (yes, I do have a favorite honey. If I can have a favorite outfit, restaurant or celebrity crush, why not a favorite honeycomb?) is Wilkin & Sons. I discovered the honey while having tea at my (un)official HQ, l’Hôtel, on the rue des Beaux Arts. There’s nothing better in this bitter winter cold than (okay, I take that back – a private jet to a Brazilian beach with George Clooney and an unlimited supply of mojitos and Chanel swimwear might actually be better) a hot (Kusmi – what else?) tea in the cozy bar room of l’Hôtel. When I ask for honey with my tea (which is every day, mind you), they bring out tiny pots of Wilkin & Sons. honey. It’s the perfect size for a tea, and even better for travel. Wilkin & Sons mini honeypots are a freelance journalist’s dream. They are perfect for a long day on the go, and a great airport companion. Not to mention the fact that they are soooo cute!
So thank you Mr. Wilkin, and your sons, for sweetening up my days. And, happy birthday ! The Wilkin family has been farming on the Tiptree farm in Essex for almost 300 years and they are celebrating their jam-making 125th anniversary this year. Arthur Charles Wilkin made his first strawberry jam at Tiptree in 1885 and today, his great grandson Peter Wilkin is continuing the family tradition. The company is planning a series of events to celebrate its 125th year. Wilkin & Sons make a wide variety of honeys – I enjoy the mini-acacia pots, but they also make English honey, orange blossom honey, organic honey, New Zealand clover honey and comb honey. They also make jellies, conserves, marmalades and savories. They’re most famous for their “little Scarlett” variety of intensely-flavored strawberry jellies. These berries are only picked during a 3-week period in June, but Wilkin & Sons. have the products available from May through October.
Check out Wilkin & Sons. fabulous honeys and jams on their website:
…Or, come join me for a tea at l’Hôtel soon !
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Melvil Poupaud -- a difficult decision. Both are fabulous actors and both have captured my heart. Here's a clip of this week's France 24 culture show featuring two great new films about brothers featuring my two on-screen crushes from both sides of the Atlantic - Jim Sheridan's BROTHERS and François Ozon's LE REFUGE.