Tuesday, April 29, 2014

c'est cheeky

As I posted on Instagram this morning, I will be twenty-six years old young in just one month. It's crazy how many transformative experiences I've had, inside and out, since last year's stressful entrance into my mid-20s. Dare I say I'm quite ready and willing to embrace the next 365 days? Surely a master's degree (and almost two years in Paris) have equipped me with some capability at life...
By the way, I'm using my upcoming birthday to legitimize an early June departure from the City of Lights. No longer will I be able to enjoy the under-26 discount at Parisian museums nor on European trains. And how I could I possibly stand for such absurdity?
That said, Lorelei, Lou, and I's visit to the Maison Européen de la Photographie (preceeded by a La Caféothèque coffee date) was unforgettably special in a very simple my-friends-are-the-loveliest kind of way. I was especially impressed with the Martin Parr, Luciano Castelli, and Bruno Mouron/Pascal Rostain exhibitions, as well as the poetic words by Fouad Elkoury above (translated).

Sunday, April 27, 2014

la pharmacie

While in New York earlier this year, I boasted to a friend about not having ever gotten sick in Paris. It must be because I eat so well there, I half-joked. But it's true. And not just because "science compared every diet, and the winner is real food"; which, apparently, is not already a given. (For the record, I made a visit to a Parisian doctor's office in late February. Karma: 1; lack of humility: 0).
Science has also proven that we value experiences above all other purchases and that meaningful relationships promote well-being. As if I don't say it enough: there's something so wonderfully special about sharing a meal, whether at home or in a restaurant.
Last night, I was lucky enough to meet Rebecca for dinner. (She spent the last day of a Euro-work trip in Paris.) I made reservations at La Pharmacie, an especially convenient choice as I've been lusting after it since last summer when I first passed its pretty exterior.
My à point steak with chimichurri sauce, roasted potatoes, and salad was fantastic; our pichet of red wine, even more so. And don't even get me started on their butterscotch molten cake. My god. I've since added it to my list of favorite restos and am already eager to bask in the warm ambiance and convivial environment once more. I'll likely be pressed for time, money, and occasions to do so though. Have I mentioned I'm leaving Paris in early June? Well, I am. So it's as good a time as ever to share my nine other top eateries :) Semilla, Le Garde Robe, 3 Pièces Cuisine, Septime, Holybelly, Le Richer, Artisan, Caillebotte, Lockwood. Bon app !

P.S. The last time I dined in a pharmacy--also awesome.

Friday, April 25, 2014

pour l'instant

"It's just... so instant!" I exclaimed to Rachael a few evening's ago, in praise Instagram. It's no wonder some call me well-spoken. In my defense, the statement above only introduces why and how I've become so recently obsessed. Since I'm living abroad, far from most family and friends, and am not always surrounded by confidantes here, it's especially nice share visual tidbits of my day as I experience them. Unlike on Twitter, I feel less superficial while observing the aesthetic details. The world was right to insist I join.
If you're not already, I'd be thrilled to have you follow me. Then I can get a glimpse at the pretty moments sprinkled throughout your everyday life, too. And therein lies the true beauty of instant Instagram, I think--the reminder to notice and appreciate them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

how to seem brave

Last week, I received a card: "Family isn't about where we are. It's about who we are, And how much we mean to each other. You're always in my heart. Happy Easter." My mom and dad both signed it, adding, "We are so proud of your bravery and strength." I smiled while reading. How sweet and silly. If anyone is familiar with the frequency with which I'm frightened by real life, it's them.
Then again, they're right in that my best experiences have been driven by such nervous adrenaline. I think it's because my greatest fear of all is being stuck in the midst of what ifs. In other words, it's less "I think I can" (go, confidence, go) and more I insist on "knowing better". If most of our lives are defined and articulated by what we believe should and shouldn't be, I prefer to challenge the mediocracy, ya know? Though I trust everything takes place as it should, I also believe we give it the opportunity to do so. To let our lives happen at all. To play that small yet significant role in who and what comes our way, where, why, when and how...
It means I'm vulnerable, I get my hopes up, and I'm sometimes hurt by disappointing people, places, and things--nouns, basically. But it also means when I'm far away from my family and ma famille on Easter Sunday, I have friends to clink Kir Royales (and more) with on the Seine. And how I adore them. Brave or not, I wouldn't trade our memories together for anything else in the world. Life does work out in our favor every now and again; and when it does, it's so oftentimes better than we'd ever imagined.

Friday, April 18, 2014

the dreams that come true

{Auxerre, France}
He told me he wanted to sail a boat around the world,
He wanted to take me with him.
We'd explore faraway lands and love each other and live exceptionally,

I smiled warmly as I sat in front of the computer screen
1,230 miles away. Northeast.
Thank God for AIM
and the college prep summer program that brought us together.

I was entranced by his intelligence and sense of adventure,
by the way his opinions varied from my own,
by his accent, of course.
I wanted to live his dreams in all their vastness.

That was for eventually though.
For now, I had a boyfriend and a part-time job,
and we were only entertaining a someday idea;
no harm in that.

There was, of course,
I just didn't let myself realize it until later.
We never did sail around the world,
and we fell out of whatever love we thought we were in.

Nothing turned out
as we'd so naively planned.

It was never supposed to.

He chose planes over boats.
I accumulated more dreams of my own,
and have gone about living them.
Still inspired by memories of a high school romance.

Also inspired by the recent passing of Colombian novelist, Gabriel Garcíá Márquez, who'd "entwined tales of time, memory ... love".

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

biodynamic in bourgogne

Putting together the first draft of my master's thesis has kept my brain rather consistently scattered (i.e. the sequence of recent posts: blog curation, neobistro lunches, actual 'good' peoplesimple, seasonal menus?). I hope it's forgivable as I've compared the process to "knitting a quilt for a giant." Are quilts even knit? Should I ask someone? There I go again... luckily, a milestone has been reached. I just submitted it for review! And I doubt I could have done so without last Saturday's much-needed break in Burgundy.
Lorelei and I joined fellow AUP students on a day trip. Though I fell asleep soon after boarding the bus, I awoke to fields of vibrant yellow flowers as we approached the town of Auxerre. We wandered past quaint, timbered houses for two hours, stopping at all the major sites: the cathedral, tour d'horloge, and abbey. Then, we had boulangerie sandwiches by the river to bask in the gorgeous sun.
Afterwards, we went to Chablis to visit Jean-Marc Brocard's vineyard and learn about biodynamic agriculture--a system that views the vineyard as an ecosystem, accouting for astrological influences and lunar cycles. It produces a natural (not quite organic) wine.
And, as I happily discovered, it also produces a wine that is just lovely to taste on a warm, sunshine-y afternoon in the countryside. Good to know: Chablis is a white wine (almost entirely Chardonnay) from the northernmost area of the French Burgundy region. It's crisp and dry, with a refreshing acidity brought about by the fossil-rich limestone soil. I highly recommend you sip some soon :).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

le plat du jour

Though I do sometimes enjoy restaurant meals with friends--and love to photograph and write about them so as to relive the special occasion, I mostly cook for myself. Breakfast at home is simple: banana oatmeal; muesli with yogurt; yesterday's toasted baguette with butter, raspberry preserves, and a handful of almonds. Lunch and dinner are, too. I get into seasonal routines, cooking for one.
This past winter, the dish above was a favorite of mine. Broccoli and carrots were oh-so plentiful! And I'd make a dozen of these falafels at a time. Recently however, I've been changing the à la maison menu for spring's vegetables. This sautéed zucchini with feta cheese, capellini/penne with garlic, olive oil, lemon [and spinach], and this roasted asparagus, parmesan-poached eggs have been parfait. Up next, ratatouille with chickpeas. Have any go-to meals to share? La cuisine and I can always use more inspiration...

Friday, April 11, 2014


While catching up on the Daily Show recently, I saw an interview with Samuel J. Jackson promoting his latest blockbuster, Captain America. I've been thinking about good guys and bad guys ever since; mostly because there's no such thing. And yet, I also believe "character is the culmination of daily action" (to borrow Brianna Wiest's words). So I've been pondering the really good and less good people I know, and based on my own experiences with them, what actually makes one a better human being than another.
Clearly I'm writing this post because I've got it all figured out :). My working theory is that goodness is equal part intention as it is reaction. Although when it comes to poor choices, "not meaning to" doesn't take away from the negative effects of having done so, we shouldn't reduce the value of effort in redemption and forgiveness--especially, and for instance, after the most horrific events.
{Bois de Vincennes}
Soon after coming to this conclusion, I received an email from ScienceDaily. This headline--People with higher bonuses don't give more to charity--caught my eye. Apparently, "higher earners are less inclined to give, and donate a similar share of their money compared to those on lower incomes." Disappointing, I thought, though not all surprising. (I've been following Kristof's opinions on related issues.) Research lead Dr. Tonin said, "the distorted feeling of entitlement [coming from monetary bonuses that are often a result of skills, effort, and luck] may furnish subjects in the higher earner group with the moral ground not to act more generously."
Then a recent conversation with Lorelei about 'the halo effect' that accompanies benevolence came to my mind; as well as research findings I've shared previously: "Next to quitting smoking, giving is the best possible thing you could do for your health--making virtue truly its own reward." Upon closer examination though, as much as we may feel good by doing good, this hardly selfless feeling encourages a "positive feedback loop" that, in turn, encourages more altruism. Not bad, right? It's likely those great people I spoke of are reveling in such a state of being. And... they deserve to. Amidst more sad news, this world needs more like them.
*For the record, "altruistique" is entirely Franglish-ish. It has no meaning whatsoever yet accurately reflects the way I tend to communicate on a daily basis in Paris. All good, right?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

caillebotte impressions

I met Mia for lunch today. It was phenomenal--mostly because she is, and because it's been a year and a half since our brunch at Sésame. Oddly enough, I only just recently complained about their less-than-stellar bagels (as I flexed my New Yorker muscles). Anyway :) 'twas a very "welcome break". And we were so impressed by the accompanying gourmand meal with génial service.
We sat at the bar because, when she called to make a reservation yesterday, they were otherwise completely booked. Now we understand why. The simple veal and mashed potato plat du jour was spectacular; as was my spring asparagus appetizer and her grilled banana dessert. We very much enjoyed camera-shy glasses of their Pinot Noir and petit cafés as well. This is the second time I've tested a younger sibling of a cult bistro with French friends, and I have to say, I kinda wish I could make it a forever-trend.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

recueil de bêtises

"I'm so tired of good stories though. I just wish something of great tangible and lasting significance would happen, for once," I said, standing on the metro, tears in my eyes, many, many moons ago.
That particular night, of course, was never mentioned here. I've made the conscious decision not to share my weakest moments nor those memories I'd rather not hold onto. You may get the real story--I promise you do--but you also don't get the whole one. It feels better that way. More comfortable. And yet I need to say so, to provide some explanation for my safe distance from blogging these past few months. It aligns with my concerns about online social networks; the many way in which, as Lou and I recently discussed, we can actively curate our life's photogeneity, and as Mary Beth eloquently articulated, speculate on the portrayed lives of others.
It's why I deleted the Facebook page for this blog. It's why I resisted Instagram (until now), too. And maybe that is what's meant by Ian Maclaren's "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Seems plausible for us and our good but not too-good-to-be-true lives. That said, there are also quite a few dear-to-my-heart details I forget to mention here by chance. These in particular:
  • the hardcopy of A Moveable Feast thoughtfully gifted to me a few days before I left for Paris.
  • the impressively lovely meeting with a friend of a friend of a friend in Reykjavik.
  • the ride from CDG airport that paved the way for my first-in-France friendship with Amy.
  • the kindness of my former neighbor who helped me carry suitcases up into my chambre de bonne.
  • the afternoon tea with Marie and her family, "the first time" we reunited.
  • the cab driver who taught me the word for stoplight is the same as that for fire (le feu).
  • the email from Edna that led to a coffee date and my first blog friend in Paris.
  • the many times I efficiently gave directions around mon quartier (neighborhood).
  • the market visit with a classmate and her adorable family of three.
  • the snail mail from Laura, and Katie, and Anna, and Debra, and Elizabeth and my little sister.
  • the election night conversation and fun that inspired Lara and I's trip to Prague.
  • the support of then-new friends Rachael and Lorelei when I received especially upsetting news.
  • the first date with a globetrotting Northern Irish doctor that I didn't want to ever end.
  • the ongoing WhatsApp conversations we had for almost a year after we'd met in London.
  • the most thoughtful email chain with Karen during a tough time.
  • the hysterical Franglish game night in Bretagne with Amy and Marie.
  • the sweetest reunion with the German guy that would soon after become my boyfriend.
  • the sight of the first snowfall on Parc Monceau.
  • the unexpected flowers from Anna and Leslie at the end of their visit.
  • the romantic weekend sunshine in Rome during Paris' endless winter.
  • the special seafood lunch with my old neighbors in Portugal, complete with vinho verde.
  • the reiteration that Lara and Lorelei make perfect travel partners as we reunited in Lisbon.
  • the "I missed you" note he left on groceries he'd stocked my fridge with after spring break.
  • the so-French dinner with my Mom's cousins on their way back to the States.
  • the generosity of his parents as they introduced me to Berlin.
  • the moving out apéro with my former landlord as he told me to keep his number in case I ever needed anything.
  • the first sight of Laura and Matt at their rehearsal dinner.
  • the extended (and often, emotional) happy hours with friends as I came to accept he and I would break up.
  • the Bastille Day picnic that reminded me how very real the friendships I've formed here are.
  • the post-yoga peace as I walked home from Parc de la Vilette.
  • the breath of fresh air Sweden, its Swedes, and its Media Evolution conference sent me off with. 
  • the non-stop happy high of Catherine's impromptu weekend visit.
  • the bookshelves at my professor's apartment that reminded me how much I miss living in a house with young children.
  • the introductory note a secret admirer (new neighbor) left for me one morning.
  • the thrill of exchanging numbers with a new French crush.
  • the bus ride with my coworker that lay the foundation for our out-of-the-office friendship.
  • the "finally!" meeting with Gillian and our adventures that followed.
  • the continuous and generous invitations to all kinds of wonderful expat events.
  • the friendly banter between the flight attendants on my way home for the holidays.
  • the visual proof of my brother thriving at work.
  • the dinner conversations with my mom, dad, grandpa, and eventually, siblings during their winter breaks.
  • the optimism-infused acknowledgement that I won't be an expat forever.
  • the endless night of French housewarming and birthday party-hopping with Leslie.
  • the joy of listening to Irish accents on Saint Patrick's Day.
  • the welcome breaks with friends during otherwise solitary and productive "thesis days", in New York and Paris.
  • the Bonpoint photobooth pictures my Mom, sister, and I took post-Thanksgiving avec moi. See above :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


It's official! My parents are coming to Paris, for my graduation, in less than two months. Not even (April Fools) joking. I'm in awe of how soon that is. Excited, too, since it'll be my dad's first time in Europe. As such, I've been brainstorming ways to trick him (an anything-but-average Parisian tourist) into falling in love with this city. Thus far, I've got casual tacos on the canal, wine tasting on the Seine, and many unpretentious gastronomic restos. A love of good food and wine runs in the family. Bringing him to appreciate the art and history will be tougher. Thankfully, there's THATLou: treasure hunts through the Louvre and (THATRue) Latin Quarter.
Last Sunday, Daisy invited me to launch THATRue with dozens of other bloggers and entrepreneurs. It was even more fun than expected; "zigzagging between Jardin du Luxembourg and Place Saint-Michel" with my Musketeerette teammates, Faye and Elodie.
And we won! Somehow. It wasn't at all mostly my doing. Nonetheless, we all received generous gift bags from The Chamber, and, as a personal bonus, more ideas for commemorating this invaluable experience in Paname with my parents. Always a bon dimanche.