Archive for the 'Travel' Category

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Adventures in Paris, Part II: Café Society

Another reason to move to Paris?  The Cafés!

Some of my most relaxing afternoons have been spent sitting in a cafe watching the world go by.  I can’t wait for warm weather in New York when restaurants spill over into the sidewalks and you can sit outside to enjoy your newspaper and a good cup of coffee.  In Paris, that good cup of coffee is accompanied by a buttery, flakey, melt-in-your mouth croissant.  But the real difference is that in Paris, all of the café chairs face the street rather than one another.  Why?  All the better to see and be seen of course!

I think my favorite cafe in Paris is Les Deux Magots in Saint Germain des Prés; I know it’s got a reputation for being a bit touristy, but real Parisians really do go there – it’s where our friend Eun Hwa suggested we meet up.

The name, Les Deux Magot, comes from the two wooden statues of Chinese commercial agents (magots) that adorn one of the pillars.  The last time I was there was almost 10 years ago, but nothing’s changed.  The only difference is that then it was a cold March day and my sister and I were doing our best to keep warm while drinking their famed hot chocolate and trying not to look like tourists.  This time around, it was 80 degrees and I was drinking Perrier and sitting with Parisians!  Summer, Spring, Winter or Fall – it’s a scene.  It’s definitely a place to see and be seen from back in the day when intellectuals like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre intellectualized and writers like Albert Camus and Ernest Hemingway thought deep thoughts and artists like Pablo Picasso soaked up the landscape.

If the walls at Les Deux Magots could talk, oh what stories they’d tell!

Adventures in Paris, Part I: Vivre Le Macaron!

Long live the macaron!

I’ve always liked French macarons, but now I’m a bit obsessed with them. The French macaron differs from what we traditionally think of as macaroons; they are very light sandwich like cookies filled with cream or butter and can be found in a wide variety of flavors. I love the way they taste, but I’m a sucker for how visually appealing they are too.

So, we get to Paris and on my list of things to eat/drink are a Cafe Creme, a Croque Madame and macarons.  On Day 2 while having my second Croque Madame (I was hellbent on finding the best one in the city) at a bistro recommended to us by our concierge (it was just ok, so the bistro shall remain nameless), people kept walking by with little white bags that said Pierre Hermé on them.  Inevitably, as they walked past our table, they began pulling out the most scrumptious looking macarons.  Disappointing Croque Madame No. 2 finished, we exit the bistro in search of this Pierre Hermé.  It was literally two doors away from us at 185 Rue de Vaugirard. (In case it’s not obvious, we kind of ate our way through Paris  . . . I mean come on, it’s Paris! Great wine and fantastic food, the word diet became a 4-letter word).

LUXE lists Pierre Hermé as one of their standout stores, they describe it as “mmmelt-in-the-mmmouth mmmacarons” and they were right!  It was melt in your mouth deliciousness that just made me want to move to Paris right then and there, but at about 225 calories a pop I probably need to keep my behind right in New York where temptation isn’t around every corner.

Caloric count in check, my macaron hunt sated, I was good.  That is until the next day when our friends Eun Hwa and Olivier took us to their favorite patisserie in St. Germain de Prés, Gérard Mulot.

We couldn’t be rude, right?  Who cares if each macaron is 225 calories?!!?!  Each was 225 sumputous calories of some of the best confections I’ve ever had.  And, I mean you only live once, right?  Eun Hwa filled up a lovely gift box for us to take home on the plane.  Finger. Lickin’. Good!

Now, we did not make it to Ladurée, which has a reputation as being the best macaron shop in the world.  On my next trip to Paris, I will have to make it by to sample their delights.  For the time being, I’m still savoring the memory of the macarons we had.  My favorite flavor was caramel with sea salt. To. DIE. For.

Don’t ‘cha want one right now?  . . .

P.S. If you watch Gossip Girl, which I do not, look for Ladurée to make an appearance this Fall when the girls from The Constance Billard School for Girls head to Paris.

Paris: Bastille Day!

I’m feeling a little Frenchy since my trip to Paris a few weeks ago.  The Francophile in me is definitely re-surging!  I have loads to tell you about my time in the City of Lights and what better way to kick off my Paris story than to wish my newly adopted countrymen and women Bonne Bastille!  July 14th is Bastille Day in France. Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille fortress-prision on July 14, 1789 when the French overthrew the monarchy and created their own democracy.   Festivities are held on the Champs-Élysées (which I think must be one of the best streets to shop on in the world!) in Paris.  So stay tuned  . . .

P.S. - Oh, and by the way, it’s official, I am a macaron junkie.