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la vue de Sacre-Cœur, via Jamal
He made it! He’s home! With a cold (obviously), lots of laundry, lots of photos (yay!), and most importantly, lots of presents! Before he left, he made the mistake of casually asking me, “Is there anything you’d like from Paris?” To which I rattled off a list that sounded something like, “Ohmygodyes, I need macarons, and those Monster Munch things, and you know how much better their butter tastes, and what about if you brought back a few baguettes or some cheese and maybe–” and then he cut me off, regretting deeply his offer. But he didn’t let me down. In fact, he even surpassed my wildest expectations about what he could possibly bring back from his short solo vacation in the greatest city on earth (he did not bring back the Eiffel Tower or a French person, but we’re going to give him full credit anyway).
He really outdid himself with this one. Remember this design of Auguste Rodin from the Musée Rodin gift shop? He brought back a kids t-shirt with the adorable little drawing on it. You know, for our future (HYPOTHETICAL) child. I simultaneously wish I could fit into it and that we had a kid right now. That Jamal. He is the sweetest.
And of course, the pièce de résistance: macarons! From the Ladurée on Rue de Rivoli, 15 macarons in salted caramel, rose, pistachio, lemon, vanilla, blackcurrant and violet, and chocolate.
I think we all know what I’ll be doing this weekend.
I’m off Monday for Columbus Day, and decided to make it a four day weekend by taking today off, too. I’m spending the day writing and doing laundry, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. We have a friend’s wedding tomorrow! What are you up to? Have a good one, kiddos!
How cute are these illustrated posters by artist Géraldine Adams? Born in France and now living in California, Géraldine is harkening back to her roots with these delightful drawings. I’m hard-pressed to pick just one; in equal amounts I love le fromage, le pain, et les macarons, but I think the cheese illustration in particular might end up in our kitchen. Now all I want is some Roquefort.
I made it a point to never live in an apartment that didn’t have a washer and dryer in the building when, but I might have been a little more lenient in my requirements had something like Wasbar, the Belgian laundromat and cafe, existed around here when I was still renting. Think about it: all those hours spent doing laundry, waiting for each load to finish and fighting for the good machines, could have passed much more enjoyably if you’d had a beer in your hand. Owners Dries Henau and Yuri Vandenbogaerde went to great lengths to make Wasbar not only new and different, but also inviting, instead of sterile and cold like most laundromats, by using up-cycled materials and hiding all the plumbing and piping in the basement. The result is a long row of sleek washing machines, all bearing women’s names (Mona, Jacqueline, Lisette) while the dryers have men’s (Jacob, Albert, Jules). Wasbar’s logo? A clothespin crossed with a bottle opener. What’s Flemish for “charming”?
Next time I’m in Belgium, I’m going.
We had our engagement photo shoot last night (more on that in a few weeks when we get our photos!) and we shot all over the city at our favorite spots. The Art Museum, Rittenhouse Square, and, of course, Parc. It speaks volumes about the kind of guy Jamal is that he not only puts up with my insane love for this theme-y Parisian bistro, but he actually indulges me and eats escargot if I order them. I’ve had better meals elsewhere in the city (hello, brunch), but that’s not why we go here (though if you get between me and the salade lyonnaise, I’ll bite your hand off). The atmosphere is as close to being in a real café in Paris as you can get without the plane fare. The chairs are all imported from Maison Drucker in France, the lace curtains are vintage, they have a chalkboard by the hostess stand with the week’s weather en Français. We’ve come here for all three of my birthdays we’ve celebrated together, and when we showed up last night with our photographer, Inna, in tow, they were more than happy to give us free reign of the place for as long as we wanted to get the perfect shot. In short: I love Parc.
Parc Bistro, 227 S. 18th Street.
September 18, 2013 / eat / drink /
My brother and sister-in-law very generously gifted us a super fancy brunch at Lacroix, in the Rittenhouse Hotel, for Christmas last year. We kept putting off making a reservation, convinced we needed an Extra Special Occasion, but figured a four day holiday weekend was the best opportunity we would get. So this past Sunday we put on our fanciest eating pants and went. At $70 per person for brunch (not including drinks), it wasn’t something that had even made its way onto my radar before, because while I LOVE brunch food, I’m content with $8 waffles from a diner. But having been now, I can safely say it is the only thing I want to eat forever and ever, amen. You guys, when I say there was SO MUCH GOOD FOOD please trust that I am not exaggerating. We’re talking (and these are just the things I can remember) stations of ceviche, and house-made sushi, and grilled octopus skewers, and four kinds of caviar, and east and west coast oysters, and shrimp, and fresh croissants, and yogurt panna cotta, and fresh fruit, and waffles, and pancakes, and smoked duck, and grilled salmon, and fleur de sel potatoes, and flank steak, and cheese boards, and shooters of Vietnamese broth with quail eggs, and two chocolate fountains, one milk, one dark, with homemade donuts and marshmallows and pretzels for dipping, and an ice cream station with lavender ice cream and blood orange sorbet, and a towering dessert table with miniature chocolate lava cakes, and macarons, and The Best Thing I Have Ever Eaten Ever Ever: cherry ricotta bread pudding with a croissant crumb crust. I thought about taking a giant scoop home in my purse, were it not decidedly déclassé.
The service, as you would expect in this kind of establishment, was totally top-drawer. Every waiter and chef (because the majority of the stations were in the kitchen, which was neat) seemed to be placed on earth solely to ensure you had the perfect meal. The restaurant itself looks out over Rittenhouse Square, and the broad stretch of windows were equipped with automatic blinds that lowered incrementally throughout the meal to make sure the sunlight streamed in beautifully.Was it a luxury? Absolutely. Did I roll myself home and nap for two hours? You better believe it. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had, second only to our hilarious engagement dinner in Paris.
Lacroix Restaurant at The Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 West Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. Brunch served only on Sundays.
I went to the doctor’s in the middle of July and was stunned to learn I’d gained 10lbs since my last visit two years prior. It sounds like an insignificant amount, and it would be if those 10lbs either a) distributed evenly throughout my body instead of pooling in my stomach and thighs, or b) distributed evenly throughout my bra. Neither of those things happened, and while I didn’t have a scale in my house, I could tell I’d been steadily gaining weight from the way my clothes fit (or didn’t). I left the doctor’s office with a clean bill of health but a strong desire to get back to my “normal” weight. These weren’t 10lbs I gained from a growth spurt or anything other than eating like crap, frequently and without concern for my waistline (see: donuts). And with our engagement photo shoot coming up in the middle of September, I couldn’t think of a better motivator to get back in shape.
So I’ve been diligently counting every calorie I consume, drinking a ton of water (I thankfully never drank soda so I didn’t have to kick that habit), and choosing vegetables for a snack over an entire row of Double Stuf Oreos, as I’d been known to do. I bought a scale and a pair of free weights and dug out my old pilates mat from storage. Between watching what I eat and walking everywhere (not having a car isn’t only good for the environment), I’m down 7lbs in 6 weeks. My skin is clearer, my clothes fit better. The goal is to determine how many calories your body burns daily (based on your height, age, weight, activity level) and create a calorie defecit of 500/day, or 3500/week (3500 calories = 1 pound).The crazy thing is seeing how your daily calories are divided up. Suddenly it doesn’t seem worth it to gobble up 10 oreos in one sitting, and waste half (HALF!) of my daily intake.
This photo series I found shows a variety of foods in 200 calorie servings, and scarily highlights the problem I had with eating appropriate portion sizes. It’s interesting to see as a numerical value what you’re putting in your body. Unsurprisingly, 200 calories of fruit goes a lot farther than, say, jelly beans.
I know what you’re probably thinking:
August 26, 2013 / eat / drink /
Agnes Dherbeys for The NY Times
Jamal sent me this article last week, and my jaw dropped. Apparently, the French are increasingly shunning bread, from a combination of diets and busy schedules, and it’s become a problem for the Observatoire du Pain (yes. France has a bread makers’ coalition). According to the article, the “average Frenchman these days eats only half a baguette a day compared with almost a whole baguette in 1970 and more than three in 1900. Women, still the main shoppers in most families, eat about a third less than men, and young people almost 30 percent less than a decade ago.” Look, I’m doing my part; just last week I bought a baguette after work and shamelessly ripped into it on the walk home. But apparently I’m on the wrong continent.
So an ad campaign was launched in 130 cities around France with the slogan “Coucou, tu as pris le pain?” (“Hi there, have you picked up the bread?”), attempting to remind people to stop at their local boulangerie. “Buying fresh bread on the way home is a simple way of showing loved ones that you have thought about them and of giving them pleasure during the day.” As if I needed encouragement.
I don’t even eat McDonald’s in America, and yet something about the French menu is pretty intriguing. How much fun is it to say “Le Croque McDo”?? I know it’s probably sacrilege to go to Paris and eat at McDonald’s, but if I don’t tell anyone, will it count? McBAGUETTE.
Cue Annie telling me this is horrid in 3, 2, 1…
This is something I’ve mentioned before, but I am basically allergic to color. As colorful as I get is navy blue. And even then I start to worry people are staring. I like black, gray, and white. Hence last week’s Gift Guide in all monochrome. Today’s Gift Guide is the complete opposite, and despite the fact that I started breaking out in hives, I sort of love everything on the list. Nothing is overtly flashy or tacky (the two things I assume colors are, ha), and almost everything is under $50. Damn Diptyque candles, being so pretty and pricey.
All of these gifts are practical (well, okay. Gold pig bookends and giant pink plastic serving spoons might not qualify as a necessity) and fun. When in doubt, give a handle of my favorite gin (distilled in Philly!). Are you done all your Christmas shopping? I wrapped everything last night while Fitz stood by helping/shedding on everything. Apologies in advance if your present includes rogue dog hair.
Tonight is my office Christmas party (at the Ritz!) and tomorrow night is Boyfriend’s. Last year, my company gave away door-prizes in a raffle, including a flat screen tv, several iPads, game systems, and Amex gift cards. MAMA WANTS TO WIN. Sunday I’m having brunch with Aisling and Audrey (who insists on commenting here as “Gary Oldman” so that every time I get an email alerting me to a new comment my heart stops beating) at the same place Aisling and I went before. I love the holidays. Have a great weekend, everyone! What are you up to?
I suppose it’s weird that I’ve celebrated Christmas every year of my life, even though we’re Jewish. Everyone gets a Christmas tree, too. We never thought anything of it other than an excuse to spend time with family and exchange presents. So the fact that my very Jewish grandmother makes 4,000 Christmas cookies every year for the entire family (and has for as long as I can remember) was just another one of those things that we assumed was normal. For the past few years, I’ve taken off the first Friday in December to bake with her. We make around 8 batches of her signature sugar cookies, and get green dough all over my aunt’s kitchen. My cousins and I contend that even though the batter is the same, the green cookies taste totally different from the plain batch or the ones with red food dye. It’s a hot-button issue in our family. We’ve even had blind taste tests and have all been able to identify her classic green Christmas trees.