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Rain or Shine, Paris . . . I Love You!

@rgs & Tibö

Oh, Paris, you fooled me again. When I’m away – whether in Boston, L.A. or San Francisco – la vie en rose beckons, making other cities look shabby by comparison. So much so that I forget real life here: the constant manifestations that block your streets, the crottes de chien that decorate your sidewalks, the surly fonctionnaires that populate your public services.

Montmartre after the rain - Magnus D

And most of all, I forget about your weather.

I’m not alone. Movies, songs and countless works of art have celebrated the romance of Parisian weather. In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the signature appeal of the protagonist’s dream girl seemed to be her love of getting soaked by la pluie. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 13 Comments »

Le Chateaubriand: Hip, Inventive and Sophisticated Dining in Paris’ 11th

Erica Berman

Located by Parmentier bobo hipster central and one of my personal favorite up and coming Parisian neighborhoods, Chateaubriand is certainly no new kid on the block.

Gandhu & Sarah

After following the ups and downs and mixed reviews of Chateabriand for years — the best, most creative food in Paris for some, too inventive for others, small portions, amazing service, rude service, not accommodating, very accommodating, noisy, quiet… the list is long — my curiosity finally got the better of me. Being of a somewhat pessimistic nature, my expectations were low. Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 9 Comments »

Leaving Italy For Paris

Coffee is still good. Coffee is still cheap.

The sun is still shining. The Italians are still smiling. My taxi driver was friendly. I got to the airport too early. My check in was easy. Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel | 10 Comments »

Still in Italy, Paris Here I Come

I’m still in Italy.  The coffee is still fast and the Italians are still ever so sweet. I’m still in Italy, but not for long.

Bogliasco (above) & San Disiderio, Liguria, Italy

I will soon be leaving the country of sunshine, smiles and scooters where everything is possible and everything is doable.

Genoa, Italy

I will leave behind, gelato, pesto, focaccia, 1€20 cappuccinos and laundry hanging to dry in the street. I will be welcomed by flaky butter croissants, crispy baguettes, stinky cheese and laundry hanging to dry in my apartment. I will leave the sea, sun and heat for cold, rain and smog. Paris, here I come! Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel | 11 Comments »

Le Conservatoire: An Indoor Parisian Picnic, Italian Style

The Paris weather has been decidedly grey and overcast this spring, with only brief displays of sunshine punctuating what seem like never-ending downpours. The usual sunny Paris picnic season has been mostly rained off—and this is where Le Conservatoire comes to the fore.

Le Conservatoire, the latest private dining experience from Cédric Casanova, is a Sicilian grocery store-cum-restaurant, much like its predecessor and sister establishment, La Tête dans les Olives. Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 10 Comments »

L’Office: A Delicious Paris Neo-Bistro in the 9th

L’Office owner Charles Compagnon

Coming off a string of mediocre Paris meals, I was less then lukewarm about heading out to, yet another Paris neo-bistro. Anticipating haughty service and below average food at a high price in banal ambiance, I almost bowed out of my recent girl’s night out at L’Office.

Going into this meal with a bad attitude and a hungry tummy, disappointment seemed imminent.

What a pleasure it was to be proven wrong, and how so! l’Office may just be my new French ‘go to’ restaurant for tasty food, in a mellow setting with adorable service. Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »

Spoiled in Italy: A Delicious Lunch in Montepulciano

Erica Berman was lucky enough to spend a couple months in gorgeous Genoa, Italy, this summer. She met up with HiP Paris friend and contributor Steve Brenner for a leisurely lunch in the historic town of Montepulciano before touring some villas in Tuscany. After reading his mouth-watering account of their meal, we couldn’t keep ourselves from sharing it with you here! -Geneviève

A square in Montepulciano (Stefano Piemonte)

Yesterday I drove up to Montepulciano to meet (in person) Erica Berman of Haven in Paris and her friend Mattia after literally years of email and skype exchanges.  I’ve guest blogged on her popular HIP Paris blog, and we list a few of her flats on Cross-Pollinate, but we’d never actually met in person.

Bagno Vignoni near Montepulciano where Erica was staying for a night (Elena Vataga)

She was coming from Genova to Bagno Vignoni (above) to see some flats in Tuscany for her site, so we decided to meet nearby.   I checked my trusted Osterie d’Italia published by Slow Food Italia, which has NEVER let me down, and we placed our bet on Acquacheta in Montepulciano.

Giulio Ciolfi, owner of Osteria Acquacheta

They were very insistent on us being there at 12:30 sharp. They will only accept reservations at 12:30 or 2pm, and they were passionate about giving us only one glass per person for both wine and water (per tradizione, apparently). The food was good – started with some amazing pecorino cheeses, one aged in walnut leaves, one with black truffles.  Without a doubt, the closer you get to Pienza, in Tuscany, the better the pecorino. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Italy tips & suggestions | 7 Comments »

Fast Coffee in Italy – Quick, Cheap and Delicious

Coffee and focaccia – Breakfast in Genoa

In Italy, coffee is delicious, quick, and to the point.

You arrive, you order, you drink, you go. Now, your day can start or your afternoon can continue.

Your barrista probably knows your name, the name of first born child, where you live and, most importantly, what kind of coffee you want and how you want it.

Small and quick, the morning coffee fix

Your coffee will be served velocemente…. you will stand at the bar, you will chat about the weather, your vacation, your work, your kids, your partner, your pet …. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Italy tips & suggestions | 13 Comments »

August in Paris: The City’s Still Buzzing

August. An ideal time to be in Paris, as long as you don’t expect endless days of sunny hot weather or being able to work on the perfect tan. Yes, as the current season has shown, Parisian summer weather can be unpredictable! Being in Paris in August is still fabulous (and my favorite month of the year by far), as long as  you don’t need to:

•    Receive medical attention of any kind…
•    Get a haircut
•    Order furniture
•    Perform administrative tasks
•    Renovate your apartment or fix a small leak

Picnicing at La Villette before a movie

As of July 1, the French are either on vacation, planning vacation or dreaming of vacation. When August 1 rolls around, they are pretty much all truly en vacances (if not physically, at least mentally).  Nothing serious is possible in Paris before September and la rentrée. One must know this and plan accordingly.

You can forget about ordering the new couch you’ve been coveting anytime between July 1 and Sept 1. “Oh la la Madame… the factory where the couches are manufactured is closed until the end of August! Zut, alors the 6-8 week delay will bring you to at least mid- October before delivery can be made.”

You can try to get to the dentist to repair the filling that inconsiderately fell out over dinner. Another chorus of “Oh la la Madame, ze dentist is on vacation and will be back September 1.” Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Parisian Living | 7 Comments »

Petrelle: Discreet Dining in SOPI (South of Pigalle) Paris’ 9th Arrondissement

Kim Laidlaw Adrey

Pétrelle is a small French restaurant tucked away in a quiet corner of the 9th arrondissement. It’s not new – indeed it’s been around for 18 years – and it’s not easy to stumble upon, yet it has enjoyed continued success among discerning locals and tourists alike for almost two decades. Erica Berman from Haven in Paris, Forest Collins (52 Martinis), Kasia Dietz (Love in the City of Lights ) and I (I Heart Paris ) decided to go and check it out to find out just why just why this unassuming but charming restaurant is such a perennial success.

Kim Laidlaw Adrey

So, first thing’s first. What did we think of the food?

Erica: The meal was tasty, fresh, honest and uncomplicated with pleasing portions and lovely artistic touches. It felt like a French ‘potager’ had come to my plate since I, unfortunately, could not go to it. The vegetables were perfectly cooked, the fish tender and juicy, and the desserts rich and sinful.

Kasia: Beginning with a courgette and girolle appetizer, the meal was very ‘fresh from the farm’ in flavor and artistic in composition – Basquiat, if I had to pick an artist. My Saint-Pierrefillet was a small but flavorsome portion complemented with a mélange of vegetables and herbs – this dish more a Kandinsky. The rich chocolate mousse left little room for the complimentary meringues eyeing us all evening. Hard to resist!

Forest: Well-prepared fish and proteins were dressed up with pretty veggies and garnishes like fancy hats on racing day. Cheese was served the way it should be: in big chunks on a plate allowing guests to cut off their own portions.

Kim: A very French menu with classics such as ris de veau, beef tournedos and a seasonal fish of the day featured on the hand-written menu. The focus is on simplicity and letting the quality of each ingredient shine through. I chose the fish of the day – a fillet of John Dory, cooked to perfection and served with a selection of seasonal vegetables – followed by a pudding of raspberries in a fluffy creamy mouse and with a crunchy mille-feuille style biscuit. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 6 Comments »

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