Sunday, March 30, 2014

paris in bloom

As you've heard from myself (and possibly others), Paris has been enjoying the most beautiful spring thus far. Dare I say there's been more sun and blue skies than all of last year put together? Pollution aside, of course. The flowers are thrilled! And apparently, so are the ladies and gents of Instagram, who 'like like' the fleur shots most. I doubt this is news to anyone but an Instagram novice like I.
With that said, one of my most liked 'grams was entirely flower-less. I took it a few Sundays ago, after having asked Lorelei to meet me for my favorite meal of the week in her quartier. I'd heard so many good things about Mamie Green. (Un)fortunately, upon our arrival, we discovered the vegetarian resto was nowhere to be found. A new eatery had sprung up in its place. Or Bloom-ed, rather...
Bloom serves a delectable array of mostly Île-de-France-sourced products (read: local) and two brunch menus. We decided to share the sweet and savory at a table outside: dark roasted coffee, pressed beet juice, country bread, preserves, pain au chocolat, turkey breast, julienned vegetables, terrine, brie, tomme des Pyrénées (cheese), baked egg, delicata squash, lentil salad, and apple crumbles.
It was just about the best brunch I've had this year; though today's at my preferred bobo locale comes in a close second. (Sigh). Now, each time such a memory is made with friends, I can't help but think of how I'll refer to it in the not-so-distant future. "When I lived in Paris..." Fingers crossed life's got something that looks as pretty, smells as sweet, and feels as good in store for next season.

Friday, March 28, 2014

whatta snob

You know what gets to me? The distinction between high and low culture. The former tends to be accessible to (and acceptable for) a select few, those who can afford it with either education or wealth. I don't like it. This may stem from the fact that I happen to very much enjoy museums, literature, theater, poetry, classical music, wine, and haute cuisine, and understand such tastes do not bring about superiority. I also appreciate street art and dive bars. As such, one of my favorite things about Paris is the frequency with which exhibitions and performances are advertised around the city, right alongside posters for blockbuster movies and popular concerts. I pointed it out to Leslie to support my 'blurred line' theory. Culture instinctively adopts a more democratic spectrum.
Stumbling across photography exhibitions in parks like the Palais-Royal (or any public space, really) doesn't hurt the cause either. Nor does knowing the loveliest opera singer and classical harpist. They both work with a chamber music organization and invited me to an affordable Cocktails and Conversations recital a few weeks ago. The spectacular combination alone secured my RSVP, ha.
The performances by musicians from around the world was phenomenal. As was the space itself. Marissa just reminded me how much I'd like to return to the Finnish Institute for coffee actually. The caffeine would support thesis dedication and enjoyment of my limited-time-only 'under 26' status a.k.a. free/discounted entrance to most cultural venues. Je ne suis pas snob (<--too funny).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

one day in saint-jean-de-luz

Last night, I watched Kung Fu Panda at an apartment in Belleville. Cute movie. "My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours, until you let go of the illusion of control," the old turtle told the tiny red panda. However juvenile the context, it resonated with me as I embark on my last full month in Paris and accept the fact that I still don't know where I'll relocate to after.
It also reminded me of a Buddhist lesson my cousin tried teaching me. “To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
Spending a day in Saint-Jean-de-Luz was a practice in such wisdom as well. Following a series of unfortunate events, Leslie and I found ourselves with 12 extra hours in le Pays Basque and one coastal city we hadn't yet visited. All we could do was make the best of it; and gosh, after all that rain, how brightly the warm sun shone to rouse the process. Paella and ice cream surely helped, too :).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

that time I drove to spain

Please note: when I say "I", I mean "we", and Leslie actually did the driving. We couldn't not go to fall in love with San Sebastián.
You see, we were so, so close by in Biarritz. It's a popular vacation itinerary to seaside town-hop along the Basque Coast. There are various public transportation options to bring locals and tourists to and from in the summer. But we were visiting in off-season, which meant international buses and trains were limited, making a full day in Spain seemingly impossible. The best solution: rent a car, of course! So although neither of us had ever driven in Europe (let alone across any European borders), rent a car we did.
We look trustworthy of such responsibility, right? Most definitely. Leslie got used to the endless traffic circles and I brushed up on my navigation skills. As mentioned, we did get stuck at a toll on the way because we didn't quite have enough money in coins and the machine wouldn't accept our credit and debit cards... but we made it to the charming and sophisticated San Sebastián eventually.
Then we wine and pinxto-ed all damn day. That is, once we'd parked, stopped for coffee, found a group of Spanish men and women to follow into a bar, and asked the server how to do so. "Hola... no entiendo cómo esto funciona..." He offered Leslie a plate to choose from the cold dishes on display and handed me a menu to order a few hot bites. I'm not sure which pinxtos we ate in the end, but they paired perfectly with the house red. We payed honor system-style on the way out. Afterwards, we walked along the Playa de la Concha and hiked up Monte Urgull before stopping by Bar NestorBar Zeruko, and Gandarias. We also wandered through the San Telmo Museum and lusted after every item in Noventa Grados. And now I want to drive to Spain again. Come with?

Friday, March 21, 2014

springtime saturday

Happy second day of spring! Autumn may be my favorite season in New York (and overall), but printemps takes the cake in Paris (especially when March 21st is also Café Loustic's birthday and they're serving free cupcakes). Yesterday was festively sunny and mild, too. Case in point: Rachael, Lorelei and I caught up over a crisp bottle of white wine. Picnic-weather's a comin'. And clearly the prospect of that has me in brighter moods. To belatedly celebrate, let's review another gorgeous day, Leslie's last in Paris:
On the accidentally perfect agenda: brunch at Rose Bakery (with scones, of course), flea market browsing, an unexpected brass band show, Montmartre shopping, a stroll through the Promenade Plantée, Palais-Royal break, apéro at Juveniles, and a Strobi dinner.