Please Be Seated

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If we filed last Friday’s Paris-tidbit under “Weird Things I Never Knew,” then this week’s should be filed under, “Things I Kind of Suspected”: Georges restaurant in the Centre Pompidou (the ugliest building in the universe) has been accused of seating more attractive people at the front of the room, and hiding more, um, unattractive diners in the back. The restaurant has an open layout, and is visible to museum patrons. A former hostess has spilled the beans of the owners’ preferred seating arrangements in the French paper Le Canard Enchainé this week (which, it should be noted, is a satirical publication; however, when asked about the allegations, the restaurant would neither “confirm or deny” the rumors).

“‘There are beautiful people, you put them here. There are not-beautiful people, you put them there – it’s really not that complicated,'” the former hostess quoted [owner Gilbert Costes] as saying.

But what about prospective diners who made phone reservations? Fear not, the owners had a plan for that, too!

The staff were taught to look for certain “linguistic clues” which might give away whether the voice on the other end of the phone belonged to one of the “beautiful people” or not. According to the former worker, the staff would usually tell callers they would “do their best” to find them a table, then decide if they were “fully-booked” or not, after taking a look at the would-be diners when they arrived.

This is the most absurd thing I’ve read in a while. Though again, I sort of suspected this might be in practice in certain places, especially in Paris, where there is no shortage of outside dining and the tables always seem to be filled with pretty people. I’m tempted, on my next trip back (WHEN WILL THAT BE?) to test this theory and ask for a table for two. Though maybe I don’t want to know.

Thanks to Audrey for sending this story to me!

Paris & Presents

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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).

Observez:

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BUTTER!

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MONSTER MUNCH!

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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.

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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.

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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!

French Kitchen Illustrations

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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.

Wash and Fold and…Beer?

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photographs by Arne Jennard, via Knstrct

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.

“Tu As Pris le Pain?”

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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.

Gift Guide: Color

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.

1. Bookends / 2. Pink Salt / 3. Blanket / 4. Book / 5. Ring / 6. Candle /
7. Gin / 8. Serving Spoons / 9. Vase / 10. Perfume / 11. Colored Pencils

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?

Cookies

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.

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Gift Guide: Black & White

Tis the season! Every Friday between now and Christmas, I’ll post a gift-guide round-up. Last year I rolled it into my normal Friday Fives, but this year I apparently have my eye on a lot more stuff, so 5 things wasn’t just going to cut it. Here’s the first in the series: Black & White. Have a monochromatic holiday season.

1. Calendar / 2. Glasses / 3. Blanket / 4. Candle / 5. Folio / 6. Gin
7. Book / 8. Radio / 9. Print / 10. Shampoo / 11. Bag

I wouldn’t particularly mind if that calendar or glasses showed up under my Christmas tree, which!, by the way!, I’m picking up tomorrow. Today though, I’m spending the day baking with my Mommom. It’s a tradition. We spend one entire day each December baking Christmas cookies (yes, my Jewish grandmother is in charge of baking all the Christmas cookies). I wrote about it last year but shamefully didn’t take any pictures (even though I said “n between baking and decorating I’ll be taking lots of pictures, trying not to get flour all over my camera.” LIES). This year, I will be. We make thousands. I’m so excited to skip a day of work and hang out with the sassiest lady I know, eating sweetened carbohydrates. What are you up to this weekend?

Sunday Brunch

The most revered of weekly rituals, Sunday Brunch is like my religion. And like most observations of faith, I’m rarely up in time to experience it. But when my lovely friend Aisling suggested we meet on Sunday to have brunch and do some shopping, I couldn’t say no. We had walked by this adorable cafe a few weeks before and I’m so happy we made it a point to go in and enjoy a sun-soaked meal. La Petite Dauphine is simple in its decor (black ceiling, white walls, stark decorations save for the table of French magazines by the door) and menu offerings (certainly don’t come here looking for something greasy or Americanized like pancakes) but it gets it right in every other way. The service is laid back (they are French, after all) but sweet, and despite the line of patrons queuing by the door, we were never once rushed. We both ordered a large pot of tea (white peony for me and peach apricot for her) and stuffed ourselves on French carbs.

I had a croissant and then smoked salmon with capers, red onion, and toasted brioche, and Aisling had the largest omelet I’ve ever seen, stuffed with brie and asparagus, with toast and butter and preserves. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos our food, as we were too busy eating and gabbing. We each had four cups of tea and made out for under $20 a person with tip. La Petite Dauphine’s website promised macarons, but I sadly didn’t see any in the cafe. Either they didn’t have them or my macaron-radar is broken. Afterwards we made the rounds to Barney’s Coop, J. Crew, and Paper Source. It was a totally restorative afternoon; thanks for planning, A!

Aisling and I are going to organize a girl’s outing for their afternoon tea service (tea sandwiches!) closer to Christmas. I can’t wait to go back.

La Petite Dauphine is located at 2029 Walnut Street / lapetitedauphine.com