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A Day in the Life: Paris vs. New York

I’m recently back in New York from Paris and am suffering a particularly acute bout of withdrawal. I think part of the problem is that the structure of my days changes completely when I cross the ocean. On the European side, time expands and flows and I rarely even know (or care) what day it is. Here, on the rational side of the Atlantic, I’m over-scheduled from morning until night. It goes something like this.

Janelle Mentesana - Paris streetJanelle Mentesana

New York Day
• Wake up when my alarm goes off (or when my upstairs neighbor’s alarm goes off—the perils of living in a poorly insulated industrial loft).
• Go running, as need to expend all energy for the day before settling into a chair for the next ten hours.
• Eat cereal. Healthy, practical cereal.
• If have time, stop for an espresso at Euro-favorite Cafe Gitane. Pretend to be Parisian. It’s not the same.
• Brave the Canal Street crush, which involves dodging aggressive pashmina vendors and dozens of dawdling tourists.
• During overcrowded subway ride, contemplate moving back to Paris for the thousandth time. Listen to Serge Gainsbourg to twist the knife in my heart even more.
• Get to work. In essence, I like my job, but I have such restlessness and A.D.D. that it kills me to think I have to spend a day in a chair, when I could otherwise be spending it roaming quiet Parisian streets.
• Post-work, sprint to event / drinks / dinner. Inevitably show up late. Friends annoyed, because they won’t give you a table in New York until all party members arrive. Friends even more annoyed when I accidentally double air kiss them.
• Then stay out too late.
• Then go to bed, way too late.

Dave Bloom New YorkDave Bloom

Paris Day

• Go wandering. On my last trip, I loved heading south from Belleville, crossing the Canal St. Martin, and conveniently finding myself at Du Pain et Des Idées, one of Paris’ best rustic boulangeries.
• Decadent pain au chocolat in hand, I begin my loitering for the day by lounging on the edge of the canal.
• Get restless, so wander through the Marais, stopping at Cafeotheque for a café du jour, before strolling across the Pont Louis-Philippe to the Ile St. Louis, where I install myself at the western tip of the island and gaze off into space for a while.
• When restless again, meander to the Left Bank, stopping to take in the Institut du Monde Arabe, and then strolling over to my old neighborhood, where I stop in at the market at Place Monge and the traiteurs along rue Mouffetard. One shop owner still refers to me as “la plus belle” whenever I see him (I’m always up for some good French-style ego-stroking).
• Inevitably end up lounging by the Fontaine des Médicis, stopping in for macarons at Pierre Hermé, poking around Repetto, and making a pit-stop at Deyrolle (to fuel my inexplicable taxidermy obsession).
• Before you know it, it’s time for an apéro. Convene with friends at Le Baron Rouge for wine. Everyone will be late; no one will care.
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Posted in Parisian Living | 15 Comments »

Hungry? Paris’ Best Spots For Man-Sized Meals

Flickr Geir HalvorsenGeir Halvorsen

An American friend once told me that when he spent his semester abroad in Paris, he was starving the entire time. It’s true that portions in France are generally smaller than those in America (hence the svelte population), and those who are accustomed to an all-you-can-eat, 2-for-1, super-sized food culture might feel a bit of culinary shock upon arriving in Paris, the land of moderation. But there’s no reason to be nervous, guys. I promise there is plenty of fabulous food to go around. Some restaurants do better than others when it comes to satisfying the “rugged American appetite” that some guys bring to the table, but it’s just a question of knowing where to go—and what to order once you’re there. Luckily, we’ve eaten our way through this city and tackled our share of man-sized meals. Our top picks:

Chez l’Ami Jean. Helmed by superstar chef Stéphane Jégo, this resto dishes up rustic southwestern cuisine (that’s the southwest of France) in a casual setting that’s part neo-bistro, part Rugby-den. While there are plenty of à la carte options, the three-course menu (35 EUR) is where it’s at if you’re looking for value. I went for an American friend’s birthday dinner, and he thought he had died and gone to meat heaven. The highlights were various terrines de campagne, a steak for two, and a seriously decadent riz au lait (rice pudding) with the restaurant’s signature caramel sauce. I normally don’t enjoy slipping into an after-dinner coma, but this one was well worth it. 27, rue Malar, 7eme. Tel: o1 47 05 86 89. Metro: La Tour-Maubourg (Line 8).
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Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 12 Comments »

In Celebration of Lunch: Top 5 Prix-Fixe Menus in Paris

Café des Musées - MatinSoirCafé des Musées – MatinSoir

For Parisians, lunch is where it’s at. Breakfast usually consists of coffee and cigarettes (and maybe a tartine), and weekday dinners are often simple affairs as well. But lunch is the moment when many kick back and enjoy every last second before returning to the office. Weekday lunches can extend to 1.5 hours and weekend lunches are nearly interminable. Both often involve wine, philosophizing, and simultaneously savoring / complaining about life (a finely tuned Parisian art). But unlike dinner, you then have all afternoon to walk, nap, or work it off. In case you couldn’t tell: I am a fan of lunch.

table-glasses-miroirLe Miroir – Maggie Battista

More importantly, lunch is also the best time to sample some of Paris’ best cuisine at reasonable prices, as many restaurants offer a prix-fixe lunch menu that highlights the day’s specials. While your options are limited, they will likely feature the freshest, most seasonal ingredients. So kick back and relax, knowing that you are in gastronomically capable hands. My top 5 picks are as follows. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 12 Comments »