May 28, 2010
My boyfriend recently informed me that he had made a dinner reservation: “Someplace new… someplace I think you haven’t heard of.”
“That’s not possible,” I replied, and I meant it. For the past six weeks, in preparing to launch a new website, I’ve been following the restaurant press quite closely. If I hadn’t heard of it, I thought smugly to myself, then it probably wasn’t worth knowing about. I then proceeded to mock his choice. “Rino (the French pronounce this Reeeno)… will there be gambling after dinner?” He looked puzzled, knowing nothing of the Nevada town, and then decided to drop the subject. His redemption would come soon enough. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 3 Comments »
May 26, 2010
As a New Yorker, I find it equal parts utter insanity and totally logical that as soon as I moved to Paris last year—with visions of millefeuilles, pains au chocolat, artisan chocolates and good old Nutella street crepes dancing through my head—I wound up Velib’ing through the back streets of the eleventh arrondissement seeking the city’s then cupcakes-only bakery. It took a few wrong turns down some side streets, but I found Cupcakes & Co, with sunlight happily spilling across the sole café table—an auspicious signpost pointing to the delicious display case of American delights.
Rebecca and Maggie Bellity, the two sisters who opened Cupcakes & Co in 2008, pride themselves on using natural and organic baking ingredients for their petits gateaux. And even though the concept arose from their travels to the states, their recipes are all French. They’ve dreamed up combinations like jasmine and vanilla, lemon and coconut, coffee and hazelnut and over a dozen others that set my heart racing and ensured many weeks of repeat business.
That was well over a year ago. And as my American obsession has waned (grace à new obsessions with macarons, violet éclairs and salted caramels), the Parisians’ has exploded. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food | 23 Comments »
May 24, 2010
NOT the Eiffel Tower. We’ve seen it so many times! From the Lumière Brothers’ 1897 Panorama to Merchant Ivory’s 2003 Le Divorce. You can also forget Sacre Coeur (Amelie, 2001) and Notre Dame (all the Hunchback movies). But there are hidden romantic movie locations all over Paris waiting to be discovered…
L’Hôtel Du Nord – Hôtel Du Nord – Michel Carné (1938).
Now this one’s complicated so listen carefully. When Michel Carné made his classic movie of doomed love and dreams of escape in 1938, the decrepit Hôtel Du Nord on the Canal Saint Martin had already closed. So set designer Alexandre Trauner reconstructed the building and a whole stretch of the canal (complete with bridges) on a soundstage outside Paris. The real-life hotel was saved from demolition by its newfound on-screen fame and is now a restaurant of the same name, capitalizing on the movie’s retro glamour. It’s well worth a stop for its boho setting as well as its manouche (gypsy jazz à la Django Reinhardt) nights every Thursday. Sadly the hotel does not actually rent out rooms.
La Place de Furstemberg – L’Appartment – Giles Memouni (1996)
I’m finding it difficult to track down the ‘little Place near the Luxembourg gardens’ where the lovers in L’Appartment, Giles Memouni’s 1996 little-known but impossibly romantic and twisty Hitchcockian thriller, meet, or fail to, but I think it’s the Place de Furstemberg in Saint Germain. Additional romance factor – Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, the Brangelina of French film, met on set. While you’re there, you can also visit 19th century painter Delacroix’s house and studio, now a museum, in the corner of the Place. Continue Reading »
Posted in Arts, Events, Tours and Classes | 6 Comments »
May 21, 2010
I miss Paris – the gorgeous gray buildings, the bridges over that little river, the cranky taxi drivers. Oh, let’s be real for a moment; I miss the food more than anything else. And since my initial post on Paris Foods You Must Eat (part 1) did so well, I thought an encore was in order.
Let’s start with the chocolate mousse, that luscious mix of cream, sugar, cocoa and air. Only this mousse is featured in a chocolate mousse bar – that’s right, folks, an entire bar of mousses made from all different types of chocolate – that is scooped out by the spatula-full into a tiny paper cone (or into pint containers, if you’re so inclined). You gotta try this good stuff, made in a shop tucked away on a sleepy section of St. Germain. Chocolat Chapon is located at 69 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, Tel: 01 42 22 95 98.
If thick chocolate mousse is not quite your speed, try the best gelato in Paris. I waited in line for 30 minutes in order to spoon some creamy deliciousness from Pozzetto (39 Rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004 Paris, Tel: 01 42 77 08 64) into my waiting belly. Well, I spooned it into my mouth and it traveled into my belly and… I loved it.
If sweets aren’t your thing, perhaps cheese is? It better be if you’re in Paris. And frankly, there isn’t anything better than a selection of cheeses from your local fromagerie, a fresh crispy baguette and a bottle of organic French wine. The moment you visit Paris, put the fancy restaurants on hold and gather supplies for your own makeshift picnic in your rented flat or hotel room. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food | 7 Comments »
May 19, 2010
Since the days of Hemingway’s “Lost Generation,” Paris’ English-language bookstores have been vibrant gathering spots for the city’s Anglophone community. To this day, they all keep a ready supply of ex-pat classic A Moveable Feast on hand, and it’s no secret that the legacy of literati past continues to inspire Paris’ contemporary writers.
Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or just a literary lurker (yeah, we can see you hiding behind the stacks), you’ll want to check out our list of the top five English-language bookstores in Paris. Most hold regular readings, which provide the perfect opportunity to mix and mingle with like-minded literary folk.
1. Shakespeare & Co. Founded in 1919 (in another location) by Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare & Co. has long been the grande dame of English bookstores in Paris. It was a regular hangout for the likes of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce, and over the years, nearly every major writer of the 20th century has passed through its doors. Nowadays, regular readings and workshops make this colorful spot a necessary pilgrimage for readers and writers the world over. Young “tumbleweeds” (aspiring writers on the go) still blow through to read, write and camp out in the shop’s upstairs room. For a calendar of upcoming events, click here. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 5eme. Tel: 01 43 25 40 93.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Arts, Events, Parisian Living | 5 Comments »
May 17, 2010
When I heard that the lovely Lily of Context Travel was organizing a dinner at Hidden Kitchen hosted by David Lebovitz and Meg Zimbeck, I jumped at the occasion. I was lucky enough to attend Hidden Kitchen over a year ago and was itching for the chance to return and experience Braden’s cooking again … The problem? It’s always sold out! This particular dinner was to be a combination gourmet meal and chance to get to know David, Meg, and Context travel in an intimate setting (there are only 16 guests at a time at Hidden Kitchen).
The lucky guests were to hear all about David’s decadent new dessert cookbook and the inevitable trials and tribulations of his life amongst the frenchies. We also got to learn about Meg and her culinary adventures. Meg is a Paris food writer and is currently in the final stages of developing (along with quite an impressive team) a new Paris foodie website, “Paris by Mouth” to be unveiled on June 1…..more on that soon on the HiP Paris Blog! As my friend Claudia from Miami is in town doing decorating wonders for a client, I invited her to join in the fun. It was an evening of fabulous food and conversation galore – one to remember and hopefully repeat. Below Claudia reminisces about this unique Parisian experience. Enjoy! – Erica
Friday night was truly one I will never forget and feel privileged to have been invited to such a soiree magnifique. It felt like we stepped back in time to a salon gathering of some of the great young minds and talents residing and making their marks in Paris.
From the moment we walked into the foyer and were handed champagne, the night was pure magic. As the 16 guests arrived, we mingled and chatted and the air was palpable with what our palettes were about to experience!
If you’re in Paris, I highly suggest you make a reservation at hidden kitchen. Our host and hostess, Braden and Laura are the most charming and talented American couple you could hope to meet on your trip, and the exquisite beauty of everything from the decor of their apartment to every morsel served was sublime! Continue Reading »
Posted in Events, Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews, Tours and Classes | 10 Comments »
May 13, 2010
All photos Erica Berman (Marcus’s flat, his courtyard and his stairwell)
On a recent Paris Sunday, Heather Stimmler Hall of Secrets in Paris invited me to meet her for an afternoon tea at artist Marcus McAllister’s painting studio, in the semi-underground and very interesting neighborhood of Goncourt. Meeting new people is always cool — but if artwork is involved, it’s even cooler. Goncourt is a hip, little, off-the-beaten-track quartier of the 10th, not far from the trendy Canal St martin, the up-and-coming St Marthe area and the Asian restaurants, outdoor markets and exotic supermarkets of Belleville.
I was met at the door by a smiling, American Marcus covered in paint with his cute doggy Grover at his heels.Marcus, an American from Arkansas, has been in Paris for 14 years and living in this sunny 1st floor studio for 11 of those. Marcus has been hosting Sunday afternoon tea and talks for 8 years now. Having crowds of strangers chez lui has become second nature and a tradition he enjoys immensely. Continue Reading »
Posted in Arts, Events, Parisian Living | 8 Comments »
May 11, 2010
I can already tell I’m going to get into trouble with this post, but I’ve never been afraid to ruffle a few feathers (especially of the French variety), so here goes. As a female ex-pat, living in Paris is no guarantee that you’ll automatically become a local. If you’re not a Parisienne and you want to be, these are the rules.*
1. Cultivate austere beauty. Today’s Parisienne has natural beauty down to an art: very little make-up and a fresh-faced complexion. Hair should be un-“done” (bonus points for bangs and / or a careless ballerina-inspired bun) and brown. With a few rare exceptions, blond hair is a red flag that screams foreign and/or fake. Beware! You want your look to seem unstudied—even though we know it’s not. For inspiration, look no further than Jane Birkin and Jane Birkin 2.0 (her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg).
2. Don’t smile much. You might be surprised to learn that smiles are, in fact, a limited resource in Paris. They’re not to be wasted on the undeserving, and they play no part in most daily interactions. When deployed, a well-timed smile is a Parisienne’s deadliest weapon, but your default expression should always be set somewhere between deadpan and “subtle scowl.”
3. Nail the “I don’t think so, but I guess if you do…” look. When someone says something you find wrong / distasteful, don’t openly object. Passive judgment is much more effective. Just raise your eyebrows, and look down / sideways to see if anyone else is noticing how absurd the statement was. Note: This is also a good way to establish solidarity with other true Parisiennes in the group, who will undoubtedly be giving the same look.
4. Be thin. But not just thin, a particular kind of thin that I like to call “healthy frail.” Other than a few moments spent standing on a mysterious vibrating plate from time to time, Parisiennes don’t really exercise. As a result, they don’t really have muscles, so they’re diminutive but vibrant, waifish but not gaunt. Damn them. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 50 Comments »
May 10, 2010
Hipparis blogger friend Zeva, from fabulous blog Paris by Appointment Only, was recently asked to be the community manager for popular U.S. site Yelp’s first France edition. We are truly excited to welcome this much-needed addition to the online Paris restaurant scene, and wanted to share her enthusiasm with you!
You have no idea what an amazing and crazy adventure I’ve been on for the last few months. Of course you don’t, because I had to keep it a secret from you all. That means several months of torturous silence because for those who know me well, keeping secrets is not my particular forte in life.
Today I can finally lift the veil on the incredible project I was recruited to be part of by a fan of this here blog (yes, it’s true!)
So ladies and gents, I’m pleased to introduce you to my new baby —— Yelp France! Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 1 Comment »
May 7, 2010
I was pleasantly surprised to discover Pramil with Rosa Jackson and Paule Caillat for a tasty dinner of refreshingly delicious, and reasonably priced French fare and excellent company. Pramil is a tiny bistro tucked away on a small side street in the hip Arts and Metiers neighborhood of Paris. I’m already plotting my return and thanks to Rosa’s great write up, I can re-live the savors and the experience until I’m able to find my way there again! — Erica.
When it comes to restaurants, I’m not really that demanding. I want the basic ingredients to be seasonal and good. I want the cooking to show restraint: nothing puts me off more than an overly complicated plate. And I want the chef to have a heart that shines through in the food.
Sounds simple, right? Yet these three elements come together more rarely than you might think, even in Paris. That’s why a recent meal at Pramil felt so refreshing.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Tours and Classes | 2 Comments »