Friday, October 28, 2011

What I'm doing this Weekend....

An interior designer friend recommended to me an interesting find at the Louvre. She suggested that the next time I'm there, skip the Mona Lisa and head straight to Napoleon's Apartments. She knows me well-- I would much rather immerse myself in gaudy interiors than fight a crowd for a peak at a painting. Hints of former French opulence can be seen all over Paris (the Opera house right by work, for one), however, I'm excited to see it up close and personal. I also heard there's a nice restaurant around the corner from the apartments -- another thing I love is eating at musuem restaurants (better in some cases than going in them).

If you're interested, here's a youtube video of the large dining room. Much cheaper than the 20 euro entry fee and flight to Paris. Technology these days.

Bon Weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Relish & Quaff: Le Baron Rouge

I told you it was worth its own post, so please head over to Relish & Quaff for a full revealing of the Baron Rouge -  one of my favorite wine bars in Paris (well, so far).

Monday, October 24, 2011

My new favorite place

If it's Saturday and I'm in Paris, this is where I'll be found playing Parisian-- Marche D'aligre. It's a huge market about a 10 minute walk from my house and it's amazing.

Markets are an institution in France and everyone shops at them. It's a family event and it's incredibly popular -- and I can understand why. Shopping at a market is such a fun experience, the products are fantastic, and finally...the prices are CHEAP. Everything is expensive in France, except for produce from the market. Andrew and I went here a few weeks ago and left with two bags full of fruits and vegetables after spending only 10 euro. Let me tell you what we got for the equivalent of 13 dollars....1 HUGE thing of mushrooms, a handful of figs, leeks, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, an avocado, and I"m sure there is something that I've forgotten. We were amazed at the value and the quality was top.

We made this incredible soup -- cauliflower leek, using Thomas Keller's recipe found here (Recipe). I highly recommend (we even made our own croutons!). 

Oh and if you're nearby and want some amazing oysters you should stop by the baron rouge...but it's worth another post in itself so I'll leave that for later.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paris Syndrome: A truly bizarre affliction

If you're looking for a chuckle and a WTF moment, I suggest you peruse the following article from the Atlantic titled Paris Syndrome: A First-Class Problem for a First-Class Vacation . Apparently, there are documented cases of tourists visiting Paris, having it not live up to their expectations, and basically having a panic attack.

"The shock of coming to grips with a city that is indifferent to their presence and looks nothing like their imagination launches tourists into a psychological tailspin which, in at least six cases this year, necessitated the patient being flown back to his or her country under medical supervision. Usually, though, bed rest and hydration seem to take care of the problem within a few days. The Japanese Embassy, though, has had no shortage of people who, in the throes of the Syndrome, call or visit to be reassured that the city is not going to collapse in upon them."

Really?? Some people are too funny. I mean, sure, you can be disappointed but having to be sent home because there isn't red wine flowing through the streets and accordion players on every corner? C'est bizarre, n'est-ce pas? 

Having had 'the dream' of living in Paris since I was a wee tot (I even had a Paris themed bedroom, the remnants of which can still be seen in my parents house), I can share in their disappointment somewhat. The fact is usually when you have such high expectations for something it can never possibly live up to your imagination -- and that's exactly where those types of fantasies belong. In some ways, it was one of my hesitations of moving here because I've always had this dream and I didn't think it could be as good. And to temper those expectations I did a lot of research before I came, reading blogs and speaking to co-workers from France. Living somewhere is very different from visiting and I tried to grasp those differences before setting foot on european soil. (New York on the other hand, I knew very little about before moving and was BLOWN away by how cool it was after moving. Different strategy)

So in that way, I think I've come out on top. Living here has been great so far -- it may not be a fantasy, but it is fantastic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Death By Chocolate

So I had planned to write an 'ode to the history of french chocolate' but according to French chocolate is a relatively modern development, with actually the Spanish, Germans, and Belgians leading the way here. Hmmm It does say we can credit the French for its "chocolate for breakfast," (otherwise known as Pain au Chocolat). Apparently, the regent for Louis XV, Phillipe D'orelans, invented it. Merci!
Bored with the history of chocolate? Me too, so let's get to the good part. I think French chocolate is delicious, far more so than its American imposter, and am planning to go the prestigious La Salon Du Chocolat this weekend. La Salon Du Chocolat is a chocolate festival! Did you hear that? A FESTIVAL FULL OF CHOCOLATE. According to the website, it's the festival to discover the world of chocolate and cacao. It has everything from hot chocolate, to bars, to chocolate novelties and more. YUM
And if you're in Paris next time might a recommend a chocolate walk? Or you can do it yourself thanks to the blog Paris by Mouth with their incredibly useful map of chocolate shops. Bon Appetit!
Courtesy of

Monday, October 17, 2011

Things I don't like

One thing I dislike about living in France is that there are no dryers (or Europe really). I know, I know, it's probably better for the environment, our electricity bills are lower, blah blah blah.....but it's so incredibly annoying to hang your clothes everywhere and then they have that crinkly, rough feeling (especially the towels!!!). It's probably just the influence of American marketing (well done P&G), but there is nothing better to me than a towel that's soft and fluffy just out of the dryer.
This guys knows what I'm talking about
Le Sigh. Clearly, this isn't the end the world, but since I've been pretty positive towards living in France I figured I should show both sides of the coin :-)

Also, when I googled "fluffy towel out of the dryer" looking for an image this one came up. Thought it was quite a coincidence. It's even spelled correctly!

This has nothing to do with France, but I need to vent. I also HATE when I opt out of an email list and then they send me a confirmation email. I am opting out because I hate your crappy email, please don't send me another one! Thanks for letting me write that, I feel much better.

....And I'm back

So this whole 'no internet in your house' thing is really cramping my blogger style. (First world problem much?) Anywho, the internet is still not connected (apparently "1 week" is open for interpretation in French culture), so I'll continue to squeeze in time to blog during breaks at work (SHHHH!).

If you are in France sometime in the near future, RUN, don't walk, to Bordeaux. Bordeaux was such a lovely city -- beautifully quaint, good food, awesome vibe and of course it is SURROUNDED by delicious wineries. YUM. I've only ever been to wineries in and around San Fran (sonoma and napa), which are superb, but there is definitely a different feel while touring wineries nearby a typical french chateau. I learned all about the wine making process and the types of grapes that are found in the bordeaux region. One fun fact unkown to me was why they put rose bushes at the end of each row of vines -- apparently the roses get the same 'diseases' as grape vines, but 2 weeks in advance so they can diagnose before it ruins the vine. Tada!

We also toured the adorable town of St. Emillion. It's a bit touristy, but makes sense seeing as it's so beautiful.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Things I love about Paris: THE METRO

Coming from a city with a fairly stellar public transporation system, I feel like it's hard to impress me. But I must say, the Paris metro is superb. I have now taken the metro for an entire work week from the new place (metro stop Voltaire, as pictured). I've taken it at various times between 7:30 and 9:30....and I've gotten a seat every single time and have never had to wait longer than 2 minutes (and I know this because there is a countdown clock). The Paris metro is clean, fast, and thorough... I am a HUGE fan. (Same timing going home at night anywhere between 6pm and 10pm ...always a seat!)

Another cool thing is that my work is required to pay for half of my travel costs. Thus, my monthly pass is ridiculously cheap. YAY French Gov't!

Speaking of other yay french gov't tactics, work is also required to subsidize and pay for half of my lunch. We have a cafeteria (which is also superb), which means my lunch is around 3-4 euro a day. For others with no cafeteria, you buy tickets from your company for 50% of the cost. So they give you a 10 euro ticket, you actually only paid them 5 and you can use them at restaurants around the city.

How do I say awesome in French?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

I was sleeping when it happened, but during my waking hours yesterday as Steve Jobs was dying I said these exact words to the question what do you miss most from living in the US? "my iPhone." I love it so much, I yearn for it. (I know, I know...I can get one here, but it's complicated and I don't have it yet and I feel like I'm living in 1999).

It may be a sad thing to admit I miss most (I mean, showers with curtains could be a more appropriate answer..or Shake Shack), but it's true. Steve Jobs has revolutionized how I communicate, how I keep in touch, and most top of mind for me how I discover a city. I desperately need google maps, Yelp, and all my other apps which help me explore and get the most of where I live. Thanks Steve, for everything.

I leave you with this quote I found on my awesome friend Ashley's blog -- A little Dash of Ash

I truly believe this and I try to follow it everyday. Thanks for the motto.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Things Parisians Like: STRIPES!

This one is sort of an obvious one, but it's sterotypically true! I see them everywhere and luckily stripes have been "in" other places in the world lately so I own a few striped sweaters already.

Wanted to share this adorable picture from the blog Mrs. Lilien Styling House ... So cute and I love how she uses the bread as an arrow and says croissant is for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. True!

Also, the scarves is another obvious thing that Parisians Like :-) (and my friend Andrea...tee hee) beautiful as everyone says.

Prague truly is a beautiful old city. It has a rich, rather turbulent history, which is evident in every aspect of its culture. It also has, of course, Czech Beer. According to one travel brochure I saw, "Czech Beer is a part of every day life in Prague." OY is it ever. It's cheaper than water and coca cola combined and it flows throughout the city at every hour of the day (even breakfast for some...not me, I promise).

I've been told to go to Prague by multitudes of people since I was 18 years old and was so excited to make it 10 years later. However, I feel like those people were 18 years old when they went. Prague is swarming with tourists and backpackers (and this was september, I can only imagine in the summer) which becomes tiresome. When I travel, I like to do a mix of touristy things while trying to feel like I'm living in the city (with emphasis on the living). We had a very hard time finding out where the 'real' czech were located and constantly felt like we were in a touristy part of Epcot (it was that beautiful it felt fake).

 Also, not only were we always in the touristy part, the locals weren't all that friendly. Finally, on our last day we met Jacob, a Czech man about our age who had recently spent a few years working in Canada. Jacob apologized for his 'people' saying that do have the tendency to try to rip off tourists. Tendency, may be downplaying it a bit. As a group of fairly well-travelled tourists, we were ripped of left right and center from taxis whose meters went a million miles an hour to double charging on bills at restaurants or corner stores. (Or my personal favorite--being sold a tour ticket to something that was closed...hmmm) It was truly incredible and I must say it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth about the country (it happened in Czesky too).

To be fair, if my city was inenduated by tourists like that I would be annoyed too (hell I was annoyed and I was one of them). And the fact that we searched and couldn't find evidence of real life meant that we were probably out-numbering them, which is a little disconcerting. In general, I'm glad I went, but I wouldn't go back and I probably wouldn't recommend it without some serious research on how to approach (or maybe for a short weekend?).

Sunday, October 02, 2011

And I'm back.....

This was my outfit for the past 3 days of incredibly good times. I think I might start wearing a Drindl more often - they're incredibly adorable and comfortable too!

After 4 days in Prague, 1 in Czesky Krumlov, and 3 in Oktoberfest my body is beat. Mainly from Oktoberfest, so I'll start there.

Oktoberfest (or Wiesn to the Germans) is truly an incredible event that only the Germans could pull off. First of all, when you walk up it looks like a huge state fair, which was surprising to me in how familiar it seemed. There are rides, booths with games, stalls of food etc. The difference lies in the fact that there are 14 huge 'tents' (more like small stadiums) FILLED with people eating and drinking. OH and by the way they're all in drindls (above) or leiderhosen. When you walk into the tent the roar of the crowd is truly awesome and you could go deaf by the loudness of the singing. The germans love to sing (who am I kidding, I do too) and there are about 5 different 'toasting' songs, songs with dances, songs with hand gestures, etc etc. Needless to say my voice hates me right now (and the liver, but that's a given).

I had many a conversation about how there is no way an event of that scale, centered mainly around drinking massive quantities of beers, could exist year over year anywhere else. The Germans are incredibly law abiding and efficient people, which is why the event continues. I'm pretty sure if something like this were to exist in the US, half the people would be fighting in the street, passing out in a gutter, or driving home drunkenly-- ending with people sueing the organizers and it would never happen again. I'm sure all of that happens to some extent at Oktoberfest, but you just felt like no one wanted to ruin the fun by doing something really stupid.

Anywho, I highly recommend it for a weekend. 3 days was almost too much (ALMOST!). And definitely don't forget your Drindl.