Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 10 things I love this week // Paris - NY edition

1. Vanessa Traina for Maje capsule collection at Barney’s
…and their new mini-site featuring yours truly, bien sûr

Check out some of the videos!

2. Pollenergie

I’ve been buzzing about my new discovery : pollen for weeks now. I can’t bee-lieve what it’s done for my health and energy levels. Honey, seriously, try it. OK OK, I promise no more pollen-filled puns.
Fresh bee pollen is filled with protein and nutrients and just a spoonful in the morning will have you buzzing by the time you comb your hair (OK, stopping, really). French brand Pollenergie makes organic, and surprisingly tasty fresh pollen in several flavors including their “zen” chesnut version, their active “maxi cist” version or their anti-aging formula. Add just a spoonful to your morning muesli or eat it plain (it tastes like honey).
(To the tune of Marry Poppins “Just a spoonful of bee pollen…” )
Make pollen SOME of your beeswax!

3. My Tumi suitcase

“It’s like walking a dog!” –My mother (who by the way has never walked a dog in her life) on my new Tumi suitcase
I’m a little bit obsessed with my new Tumi travel case. Not only is it a fashionable black and white tye-dyed color, but it spins around, has four wheels so I can just push it ahead of me and it’s so light that, even filled with clothing, doesn’t break my back (even when carrying it up my 81 steps with no elevator). I can never carry another suitcase again – it’s TU cool and just the bag for MI !

4. The new Air France business seats

What could possibly be worth a trip to Newark airport, you may ask ?
I’m sure you expect me to answer : my family. In fact, sorry Lefflers but you’re the second best thing about a trip from Charles de Gaulle airport to Newark. As if flying business class wasn’t luxurious enough, now Air France boasts new high-tech seats on their business class flight from Paris to NY. The new seats (I’m sorry, did I say “seats”? I meant BEDS!) are so comfortable that one falls asleep in no time at all. But who wants to sleep when there’s a choice of great movies, a gourmet meal, champagne and unlimited mini cups of tea (not sure if that’s actually included in the business package but MERCI to the staff of flight AF 018 for filling up my mini tea cup around 465 times throughout the flight). I felt like I was in a futuristic movie – I pressed a button and my personal TV moved upward until it was at eye level, and the metallic silver seat adjusters with red lights made me feel like I was about to embark on a Star Trek-esque trip to another planet. Unfortunately, the “other planet” in question was Newark, New Jersey, but thankfully my Air France voyage was other-wordly. And, with the push of a button, the closing credits on “Air France Business Class : The Movie” roll and I head back to reality and back to Economy. The end.

5. The Crosby hotel

This boutique hotel in Soho is simply fabulous. As many of you know, two of my favorite things in life include breakfast and nice hotels, and a good breakfast in a nice hotel, well, there’s just nothing better is there? (well, maybe a good breakfast in a nice hotel, waking up with a tall, dark, handsome man and surrounded by diamonds perhaps, but I’ll take what I can get.) The Crosby boasts a lovely buffet breakfast, but that’s not all : the rooms are adorable and comfortable and I may have had the best shower I’ve had in YEARS in their spacious bathroom. Plus, the hotel also hosts a screening room and film club, very cool restaurant and bar area, “drawing room,” and is a lovely spot for afternoon tea with a very cosmopolitan crowd. What really sets the Crosby apart is the extremely friendly staff who made me feel at home during my brief but memorable stay.

6. Angelica Kitchen

When in Rome… eat pizza. When in New York … also eat pizza, but don’t forget to check out places unique to the city that aren’t found in Paris. Enter, Angelica Kitchen, an organic, vegan restaurant that has been around since 1976, an especially long time against the ever-changing dining landscape of New York. At first, all of the rules seem a bit shocking – cash only? No cell phone use? Seriously? – but once inside, the technology-free, zen atmosphere offers a welcome haven from the stressful life passing by outside. Angelica’s food not only tastes good, but it feels good eating it knowing that most ingredients come from local farms and are ecologically-friendly. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy their tasty cuisine including daily specials (with creative names, may I add – as you know, I always love a pun, especially when it tastes delicious) like “The Man Who Stew too Much” stew or “Seitan on a Train” vegetable pie, plus their traditional menu staples like walnut-lentil pâté, tempeh reuben sandwich or overflowing dragon bowls. Their desserts are delectable and do not leave without sampling their famous Angelica cornbread with miso-tahini spread. Unfortunately, Angelica isn’t opening a location in Paris anytime soon, but, thanks to Leslie McEachern’s fabulous “The Angelica Home Kitchen” cookbook, I can make some of their signature dishes chez moi in Paris. Yes, even in my tiny Parisian kitchen since the recipes are all very simple and don’t call for strange ingredients usually found in healthy or vegan cookbooks. I can’t wait to go back on my next trip to NY and in the meantime, I’ll stay soba, try not to lose my tempeh and wakame up happy.

7. Daniel Boulud

Ironically, after almost seven years in France, one of the best meals from a French chef I’ve had was in New York. Daniel Boulud is THE French guy in NY who now boasts a culinary empire across the globe with spots popping up in Miami, Beijing, Vancouver, Palm Beach and London in addition to his already established DBGB, DB Bistro Moderne, Bar Boulud and Café Voulud. The Lyonnaise chef not only wows on the plate but, as it turns out, his personality is as bubbly as the fine champagne he’s hand-chosen to start off the evening. Daniel (“Monsieur Boulud” is too formal I mean, I’ve been in his kitchen, the epitome of intimacy for a chef so I’ll stick with a first-name basis, thank you very much) took us (the “us” being me and Maje founder and designer Judith Milgrom) back to the kitchen before the meal. Ratatouille would have been jealous as we listened to the “oui chef!”s and the orders being placed in the cacophonous yet strangely zen room filled with French, English and some Franglais thrown in here and there. The mostly French staff would make you feel like you’re in France expect for the fact that they were all extremely friendly and ready to accommodate every whim. For each course, waiters and waitresses surrounded the table in a synchronized serving dance worthy of a culinary Olympic medal – elegant and impressive yet somehow noninvasive. Our new “ami” Daniel spoiled us with tiny amuse-bouches including smoked fish, marinated salmon and a mini soup followed by the first asparagus of the season served with a mustard sauce. I followed with a sea bass that made me wonder how any other fish labeled “sea bass” on restaurant menus can be placed in the same category as this sumptuous filet of wonder on my plate swimming in a Syrah red wine sauce and floating next to potatoes stuffed with caramelized onions and leek confit. The 750 types of bread to choose from – I exaggerate, but only a little – were all incredible. The desserts were all delicious – the lemon sorbet was a refreshing twist on a classic and the house-made Madeleines were like fluffy buttery pillows that would bring even Proust to his knees. And, for just over 100 dollars a person for three courses, it’s actually quite a steal when you consider how much a meal of that caliber would cost in Paris (at least triple that amount). Merci, Daniel, Merci. And off I go to dream about those Madeleines…

8. Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” : the trailer

It looks incredibly cheesy, but it’s Woody Allen, Paris, Carla Bruni and time travel – a winning combination. I am anxiously anticipating seeing this in Cannes!!

9. Face Place

Face Place is Sally Hershberger’s swank facial spa in the meatpacking district, just upstairs from her famous hair salon. I discovered it when I saw Meg Ryan heading up there last week and followed her. While a Place that ends with Meg Ryan’s Face doesn’t sound so intriguing, Face Place is a quiet, classy spot that offers the haute couture of facials to celebs like Ryan, and also Bette Midler, Mary Louise Parker and other famous faces. I got the full treatment from Tom Woodhouse who whipped my jetlagged skin back into shape through a series of treatments that were a cross between a doctor’s visit, a yoga class and an alien invasion (see photo – that’s me!) But I left with glowing skin and a smile on my face. Face Place is definitely a place I want my face!

10. Be Yoga

I arrived back in Paris jetlagged and the creature looking at me in the mirror resembled Shrek with brown hair and bangs. I made a Be-line for Beyoga where I regained my zen-itude after a week of New York attitude.
Anne Vandewalle’s detox-themed spring Anusara class was perfect to rid me of the travel toxins and get all of us ready for change as Spring arrives (or so they say – it was SNOWING inches in New York and it’s pouring rain now in Paris, but I have high hopes for SUN very soon). Be Yoga not only offers a variety of classes spanning several disciplines (Anusara, Vinyasa, Acroyoga, Jivamukti, Power Yoga, Yin Yoga and even “soul yoga” and “yoga vibes”) and open to all levels, but they are also a one-stop shop for all things yoga like Manduka yoga mats (their “pro lite” mat actually just changed my yoga life) and Be Love eco-fashionable and inspiring t-shirts. Now, I can downward dog at the height of fashion! Un-Be-leivable right? What sets Beyoga apart are the wonderful teachers – Anusara with Anne Vandewalle or Marc Holzman or a dynamic Jivamukhti with Carol Issa, plus more that I have yet to discover – plus a friendly welcome from Gregoire Pothion or Beyoga founder Marie Marty-Lozac’h that will make you want to (Nama)stay forever! Great to be back “ooooooooohm” but still missing New York – thanks to everyone, especially Maje, for a fabulous trip!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


"Start spreading the news..."! I am packing my bags - my amazing, 4-wheeled Tumi Vapor suitcase in a sleek black-and-white tye-dyed pattern to be precise - and heading to NY with French fashion brand MAJE.

You can follow my exploits in NYC and all of the preparation in Paris here @ :

à bientôt in la Grosse Pomme!