My Philips super-blender-juicer-[insert function here, this machine can do it]
Juicer, blender, food processor, - there’s an attachment for everything. 10 to be exact, with more than 30 different functions. If I actually read through the whole instruction manual, I’m sure there would be a “build a house” or “solve world peace” or “cure cancer” function in there somewhere. It does EVERYTHING. Well, other than actually cook for me, which would be quite spectacular. (Hey Philips, want to invent an “Alain Ducasse attachment” ?) Or clean up, mind you…
Let’s start with the professional juicer function. Not sure what makes it professional, other than the fact that it makes such good juices, I could probably change career paths and make a fortune on Philips-made carrot-apple-ginger drinks. According to Philips, it’s the stainless steel micromesh filter that squeezes out every last drop, but I think there must be some magic involved.
The machine has some food processor basics like an adjustable slicing blade, chopping and crushing blades, a balloon beater for whisking and whipping, a citrus press, plus an amazing blender that now has me embarking on a warm-weather “how many smoothie combos can I invent?” mission. (More ideas welcome please!) More importantly, it’s quite compact and it’s 3-in-1 setup allows it to fit into even the tiniest of Parisian kitchens (cough cough) no problem. So what if it’s about half the size of my entire kitchen? Philips HR7775, I think I love you.
I call it “the Vanity Cam.” Samsung’s full HD camcorder has a flip screen that allows one to film oneself! (Yes, one is extremely vain, but one is very happy that one no longer has to ask a friend or stranger to film one, one can do it all by one’s self.) The camera is small, yet powerful, professional and so easy to use (even one has no problem shooting and downloading oneself with no help. One is very proud of this.) Just point, shoot, then plug in to download and edit. The sound quality and image are great, and it’s compact enough to take anywhere. The camera even manages to drown out background noise and produce great sound quality even at crowded, noisy parties. Check out this video of my interview with French actress Julie Ferrier at Gerard Darel’s launch party for their new boutique with Robin Wright Penn. As a nomadic (and, admittedly, party-hopping) journalist, the Samsung camcorder has actually changed my life – I am Samsinging its praises!
Gregory Marchand, I love you…r cooking. There’s actually nothing better in Paris. Certainly nothing better for 38 euros. Every time I return to Frenchie, I think “It can’t possibly be as good as last time. I will inevitably be disappointed.” And, every time, without fail, Marchand manages to regale me with his down-home (well, if your home happened to be an authentic French country kitchen) cooking with a modern twist. The vibe is relaxed and the small room with only around 20something seats makes for a quaint and calm backdrop to enjoy the great wine, delicious food and, if you’re lucky, wonderful company. We drank a fabulous Spanish red wine then dined on smoked mackerel with pickled onions and a creamy sauce, a hake filet served atop stewed lentils and a green pesto and garlic sauce (that I happily mopped up by the delicious country bread served at the table) and without hesitation the best panna cotta I’ve ever had in my life served with a creamy avocado sauce (and a chocolate sauce, but mine was sans chocolat in true Lafleur fashion). The other option du jour was a spring salad with veal madallions, a steak filet and a lemon and passion fruit tart with a brûléed topping and caramel sauce. It’s worth the weeks and weeks and months and months of waiting for a reservation for this gem of a restaurant. And, exciting news: Frenchie is opening a wine bar across the street in a couple of months complete with a fantastic wine list, Marchand-made tapas and, I predict, a fun, young, 2nd arrondissement crowd. I am a New Yorkie in love with Frenchie!
I have a “cru de coeur” for these delicious crackers that may be low on cooking temperature, but are high on flavor. These raw, dehydrated snacks come in both salty and sweet varieties. I’m currently addicted to the olive-onion flavor and the coconut date sesame variety (the sweetest date I’ve had in awhile!)
My Maje perfecto jacket
“Perfecto” is an appropriate name for this short black leather jacket that goes perfectly with pretty much everything I plan to wear in Spring and Summer by day or by night. It’s Maje-ical!
I’ve been a little bit nuts for coconuts lately. The flakes (in muesli or muffins), the oil (in my fantastic coconut lemon cupcakes with coconut vanilla frosting), the milk (in cupcakes, soups and smoothies) and the water (in smoothies or by itself), not to mention my new Alba coconut-flavored lip balm I picked up during my last trip to the US. I imagine that kissing me must taste like coconut cream pie…or like my coconut cupcakes (even better!) And, this just in, coconut macaroons! A Passover-friendly recipe that would make Moses’ mouth water.
I’m currently addicted to Vita Coco coconut water.
They sell it at Beyoga, but that’s the only place I seem to be able to find this incredible substance. It is incredibly refreshing and, while I do love an overpowering coconut flavor don’t get me wrong, the subtle coconutiness (not sure if that’s a word, but it should be) is just enough to infuse my mouth with hydrating goodness. It’s like all-natural Red Bull – no caffeine, just nature’s own version of a pick-me-up perfect for this beautiful weather we’re having in Paris.
In America, they call it “spring fever.” In Paris, the appropriate translation is “terrace-fever” (well, actually, the appropriate translation is “fièvre de terrasses” but you get the idea). The French are crazy about les terrasses – so crazy that they’ll actually do anything necessary to get a spot on one in the sun during peak hours. As soon as the sun makes its way out from behind the clouds, every Parisian and their mother (and likely their father, brother, sister, cousin, and distant aunt) are terrasse-bound. Sitting – gasp! – INSIDE to eat lunch when the weather is nice outside is an offense punishable by death according to French law. Well, maybe not death, but certainly ridicule from the Parisian community which isn’t far off. I am quite certain that Marie Antoinette MEANT to say “Let them eat cake … on a terrace!” And the Napoleonic Wars must have started when someone wouldn’t give up their seat in the sun for Napoleon. Try finding a spot at La Palette around 7 pm on a weeknight on a 70-degree night – I dare you. Want to meet me for lunch at 1 pm at Café Charlot on Saturday when it’s 80 degrees? If so, then go sit there around 10 am, order a coffee then three cheeseburgers and wait for me, otherwise sorry, but we’ll have to make other plans. Yet, it’s worth the wait to partake in this unique Parisian experience of watching as cafes place more and more chairs outside to accommodate the lines of customers waiting to sip wine with friends and enjoy the warm weather. Walking down the rue Montorgueil last night after dinner as people spilled onto the streets smiling made me remember why, despite all of the inconveniences, despite the horrible winter weather, the strikes and the daily, as the French say, “galères,” we do love la vie Parisienne.
“Do you, Rebecca Leffler, take Jake Gyllenhaal to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold in sickness and in health until death do you part?” “I do...” That is, I do, on occasion dream about my marriage to Jake Gyllenhaal. While we’ve never actually met, it is clear that he is my future husband.
I recently watched “Love and Other Drugs” on the airplane and, just when I’d gotten over my Jake-lag, I went to a screening of “Source Code.” The premise is absolutely ridiculous – Jake is dead, yet still alive, travels back in time to uncover a terrorist plot, jumps in front of a train, deactivates a bomb, saves the world and even has time to drink a cup of coffee and fall in love with Michelle (I warned you: ridiculous) yet, despite the too-esoteric-for-its-own-good plot, the film is, I dare say, entertaining. The special effects are impressive and, thanks to a strong cast (Gyllenhaal and Monaghan and the always wonderful Vera Farmiga), we don’t mind being stuck on a train for two hours. I, in fact, would welcome the idea of being stuck on a train for two hours (or even twenty two) with Jake G and friends (well, forget the friends – Jake, you and me, it’s ON.)
Gogo Paris iPhone app
Just when I thought my iLife couldn’t get any better (see: my new ipad2 – love it!), Gogo Paris came out with an app for the iPhone. I’ve been a Gogo fan for years – Kate Van Den Boogert and her hip Parisian team always know about all of the new hot spots in the city and if there’s a new restaurant opening, gallery expo or soirée, Gogo will tell you about it. Admittedly, I haven’t had much time to peruse their pages lately, so their new iPhone app (which, by the way also works on my iPad2!)(did I mention I have an iPad2?)(Yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with my new “toy” can you tell?) is just perfect. The Gogo app has all of the hottest spots to eat, drink, sleep, shop; sleep, hang out and party in the city. You can filter addresses by neighborhood and category (think: EAT in the 6th or SLEEP in the 17th) plus stalk your favorite neighborhood celebrities. So, in sum, Paris for just 1,59euros – a bit less than a plane ticket, oui ? http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gogoparis/id428497937?mt=8
I hesitate to share this spot, since I like my privacy (can’t you tell from this blog? ;) However, I absolutely adore the Passage Dauphine, a little alleyway that separates the rue Dauphine from the rue Mazarine. I’d walked by likely a zillion times for years before I discovered it. It’s an open passage with trees (yes. Trees. In the middle of my crowded, urban Parisian neighborhood) and cobblestone street and, right in the center, is a cute little café, L’Heure Gourmande. The name “Gourmande” is applicable as a slice of cake is about the size of one’s head and it’s my new favorite spot to sit and write, just around the corner!