Fashion Fat Ass.

Fun fact: My great-grandmother made this dress by hand.
It's so Belle from Beauty and the Beast!

It's already that time of year...again. No, not Christmas, even more manic, well at least for me it's officially Paris Fashion Week! (Cue in flashy dance music and hysteria.)

As I get older, Fashion Week has a way of creeping up on me, whereas in the past, I couldn't wait for the next season to see the collections and to get wrapped up in all the glitz and excitement. Perhaps I'm just jaded and old, but Fashion Week doesn't hold that same exhilaration for me as it did for me when I was a 23 year old intern working for free. Now it's just business, but I suppose all jobs lose their luster after several years.

Saying that, I really do adore the showroom I have been working with these past few seasons, and am lucky to have gotten this steady gig with such an iconic French fashion house. Working with the folks who come over from the New York office, I get to briefly revisit my past life in New York where I'm once again reminded of just how much has changed in these past three years.

Whenever two very different worlds meet - the poor writer wandering around Paris and the New York City fashion executive - there's always bound to be a comical difference of perspective. Last week, I shot over an email to my boss following up on our heavy schedule and inquired about the uniform we were wearing for the season, since I hadn't as of yet received word. 


Perhaps images from last season of my fat ass galumphing around the showroom in my saran-wrap skirt (that was somehow loose on everyone else) has scarred him for life. His response to my question about the uniforms only confirms my suspicions:

"Just wear a pair of stretch pants and we will give you a long flowing blouse."

Enough said. Stretch in in let's err on the side of not embarrassing you this season because you looked like you were going to explode out of that skirt. It's official, I'm the FFA: The Fashion Fat Ass. The poor fit of the uniform from last season didn't merit me the cute outfit again this season, and I have been demoted to leggings. Burn! In my ass's defense, it was winter! Surely I can't be the only one who fills out in the wintertime, right?

Oh là là...

And so it starts....and with that, I wish you all a Happy Paris Fashion Week! Let the drama begin!

All Hail Kale.

I love a good success story, especially when it's from one of your friends. A story that you were able to follow its progress over emails, blog posts and of course, conversations over margaritas. Once it finally comes together, there is a sense of pride that you hold for your friend who you watched spill all of their time and passion into the dream that became a reality.

In a city that doesn't exactly celebrate thinking outside of the norm, my blogger friend turned real-life friend Kristen single-handedly - with the help of her French farming posse - brought kale awareness to Paris with the launch of her project.

This is a journey of a young woman's mission to introduce kale to the City of Light and spread the knowledge of its long list of benefits and creative ways to incorporate it into everyday cooking. Definitely one of the more original ways I've heard of an expat spending their days making Paris their home.

In the hopes of making kale the next household green, next to the bag of prepackaged roquette that the French just adore, Kristen has been visiting farms outside of the city, volunteering at farmer's markets, and sharing her favorite recipes to get the kale movement going!

And it's working...

Oh, you go girl.

To celebrate the start of a very promising project that I am sure will lead to lots of press, a cookbook, and perhaps even an action figure, Kristen hosted a kale themed dinner party at Paris hot spot Versjus to officially introduce kale to Paris. The turnout of fellow bloggers and foodies was only proof that The Kale Project is really taking off!

 Kristen's Raw Kale Salad Recipe!
The package even came with little seeds to grow our own kale!
I think my personal kale project will be to not kill it.
I don't exactly have la main verte...
(Merci Duchesse!)

Growing up with swiss chard, escarole, and of course, brocoli di rabe in our Italian house, we never branched out (no pun intended) to the world of kale. It wasn't until I met Kristen through her blog that I even gave kale a second thought. So while I was back in the States waiting for my visa to come through, I wanted to see what all of her excitement was about and headed over to Whole Foods to pick up two bunches of her beloved green.

Well this is what this little coquine did with her kale...

...I made booze.

In honor of Kristen, I brewed a homemade infused vodka which I experimented with her kale, balanced with strawberry (one of my loves - I know, so not original) to take the bite off, and sprinkled with love. This was actually a gift from Aurelien and I (that took us almost three weeks in the States to infuse), that we presented to Kristen and her hubby as a thank you gift for hosting a fabulous summer soirée. Of course, I turned something as innocent and healthy as kale into a sinful and naughty elixir. The cocktail went down like strawberry moonshine, and served as the perfect nightcap before we left The Lancelots with the sun was rising over Paris.

Congratulations on an impressive project that is on the rise. It ain't easy being green, but with the power of this project, it's going to be a bountiful autumn after all, now that this leafy lovely is accessible! I can't wait to see what happens next!

Bon week-end

Taking Back the Marais!

Today was the first time in quite some time that I walked through the charming and narrow streets of the Marais. I have simply been unable to. Since I left, back in April, I have felt a force pulling me away, far away from one of Paris' most beloved neighborhoods.

The Marais provokes thoughts of Phil and all of his creepy scheming, or that time he told me in front of Breizh Café that my ass was spreading (partially true, but still), as well as his daily servings of insecurities, feeding me with ideas that I'm an underachiever with little going on in life, I'm nothing but a professional girlfriend and at least I have "that" to fall back on. Quel connard.

What other goodies? Despairing memories of my ex, MF keeping me waiting for 45 minutes at Café du Marché, all for him to tell me once again that he didn't want to be with me. Even if I did take the chambre de bonne in the Marais as a last desperate attempt to keep us together, his disregard for my time was confirmation enough that he was done with me. Good times...

Life in the 3rd arrondissement became more haunting than comforting, especially when I would hear his voice late at night from my window, laughing with his friends on rue Vieille du Temple on their way to one of the many bars and restaurants. Another reminder that he wasn't torn up about the break up. Like at all. 

The Marais is the land of MF. He knows everyone. Everyone knows him, and I've let him have his little nest in Paris in our unspoken "custody" agreement of division of property.

For such a dynamic and adored part of town, I've had some really terrible experiences there. It's a shame. But with the bad, there were also some really special moments, making me nostalgic for memories that I have collected like postcards in a box. A box filled with picnics with friends, friends who have since moved to other countries, neighborhood acquaintances whom I'd see every morning at La Perle, and merchants who have come and gone, and some who have even closed up shop in particular; MF's restaurant.

That. I wasn't expecting.

I finally built up the courage to walk down there with Out and About in Paris' Mary-Kay (after registering to vote at Shakespeare and Company!), using her positivity and sage outlook to empower me on this mini excursion. Turning the corner, I was expecting to see his mother sweeping the sidewalk with a cigarette in her hand, his brother loading boxes of fresh produce into the restaurant from his double-parked car, and MF also smoking, pulling the tables out onto the terrace, and complaining as usual. But we didn't see that. We saw a new wine shop in its place. Convenient, I must say. And from what we saw from the window, they seemed to offer a fine selection, but not at all what I was expecting to see.

I know I'm not supposed to have any feelings about this as I truly have moved on, but I felt an overwhelming urge to cry. This turn of events only solidifies the fact that that life really is over. I can not only hear the page turning but hear the book ferociously slamming shut in my face.

Having Mary-Kay there helped hold back that sadness, those tears that wanted to flood out. I had to constrain myself because come on, there's nothing worse than having to console someone you barely know about something you have no attachment to (deaths excluded, obviously). So I stopped myself from producing what would have been an awkward moment on the streets of Paris, and steered us in the opposite direction for a noisette to decompress a bit.

It's official. He really did leave the Marais. 

Which means one thing...

I can take it back!! Mwuahahahaha!

After lunching with MK at my favorite dive Le Saint Gervais, we parted ways and I officially welcomed myself back to the Marais. Weaving in and out of streets, peaking my head in galleries and boutiques, and snapping photos, felt absolutely liberating. Liberating, I tell you!

Like I said: Mwuahahahaha!

Where is he now? Who the eff knows. Probably off torturing some other girl. La pauvre. Jokes aside, I sincerely don't wish him any financial distress, and perhaps he needed to move on too. I hope he finds his niche wherever and with whomever. What I do know now is that I am now able to create new memories with new friends, or even stroll alone through one of Paris' most celebrated quartiers; the Marais. I'm free.

On this cloudy afternoon, here are some things that caught my eye....

An installation made of plastic bags.
Claire Morgan Exhibit
A La Galerie Karsten Greve

Really quick!
What is this?

If you immediately guessed 
a giant wishing flower stuffed with bumble bees...
well then you're more talented than me!

And why not?
A floating carcass in cellophane.
This was one of the best installation exhibits I've seen in a while.
If you're in the Marais, it's worth a peek!

 This store was great.
Although I was a bit overwhelmed by their collection.
The choices!


What a great name for a Kraftwerk Cover band.

 And finally my favorite moment....
I put on the provided headphones to listen to these curators 
where one quote had me scratching my head:
"The objects were dematerializing but at the same time keeping their objectivity with the idea of sight, which as of late has become problematic."

I'm sorry but what the hell does that mean?
Like I said in my last art post, I'm so not arty.
I'm too goofy.
And I try to sound cool by mumbling juxtaposition under my breath, even when it doesn't make sense.


What happened a year ago today?

Girls Gone Wine.

As I settle back into Paris life, I'm once again reminded that getting a job here is nothing short of a nightmare, and am wondering if I will ever find permanent employment here. For the moment, I must kiss goodbye the days of the 10 euro maxi mojito at Les Etages in the Marais, or splurging on the perfect cocktail hand-crafted by resident mixologists at the chichi Hotel Costes. I'm going back to my early days of bar crawling, and discovering some of Paris' cheaper, and even more eclectic watering holes for folks like me on a budget. Even if you're broke, a girl's gotta drink, right?

I've always been a bit of a dive bar enthusiast. I'm not sure if it's because I'm more comfortable in modest surroundings, but I've always found myself drawn to them. Even when living in Hollywood where the glitz and glamour of bumping into A-list celebrities at clubs was accessible, I preferred the plethora of east side dives that drew in the anti-Hollywood crowd that were still totally in essence Hollywood, just you know, the artsy version. Think the Jason Schwartzman and Adam Brody set.

To launch my Diva Does Parisian Dive Bars series, I was lucky to be in the presence of a bloggeuse that I have been itching to meet for now over a year. Like me, she's also a wine officiato whose fridge is currently stocked with six bottles, a girl gone wild per the observations of our mutual blogging buddy Garlic Keith, a little bit diva who was working it in her funky blue maxi dress that I'm kind of obsessed with, and the perfect partner in crime to accompany me on my first dive bar in Paris investigation. Ladies and Gents, if you don't already know her, I introduce to you the lady of the hour who was getting all kinds of Twitter love last week, Miss Gwan of the humorous blog Where in the World is Gwannel Sandiego?

On this rainy Friday night, these two girls gone wild headed to Au Bon Accueil in the 11th Arrondissement for wine, gossip, and giggles. Let's see what they discovered....

Walking into this bar at first can be a bit intimidating. It's obvious that everyone knows each other by the cross-flow of conversation that went from the bar stools over to the banquettes, giving the bar an ambiance of a private house party. The pile of stuff (presumably some of the owner's collectables), stacked in the back corner also lent to this idea of being in someone's cramped home rather than a bar in Paris. The scene is East Village circa 1984 with an eclectic mix of old punks, rock n' rollers, younger hipsters, as well as senior citizen locals enjoying low-priced drinks and conversation to background bar classics Joy Division, Tom Waits, and Gang of Four, on vinyl - of course.

Gwan and I grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered two glasses of wine that came to 5 euros. That's right, 2.50 a piece. Quel rêve! The bartender/owner immediately detected our accent, and asked us in English where we were from. He shared with us that he had lived in Connecticut for 13 years, and if we didn't mind, it would be his pleasure to speak English. Not wanting to deprive him of one his little joys, we indulged in small talk about the bar where he confirmed that every patron is a local and he has served the same customers - with the exception of two English-speaking gals passing through - every night since he had opened. 

With our little glasses, we took a seat at the back booth and got the girl talk a-startin'. We filled each other in on the more complex details behind the stories we post on our blogs, a-hole babies, first dates gone royally bizarre, and men that look like little rats or "ratty men" as Gwan called them. 

Coaster Art.

Ladies who lobster.
Why wouldn't there be a plastic lobster in a bar?

At one point, we drew in a small crowd around our table of regulars who were intrigued by the two Anglo cuties (I added the cutie part) who took a dare on such a local bar, as well as the cheap wine that were already three glasses down the hatch. Everyone was quite welcoming and forthcoming, and a few of the patrons even mouthed us a polite "bon soir" as they passed our table on their way to the bathroom; something I have never experienced in a Parisian bar. Could you see that happening at Hotel Costes? Ne totes pas.

Au Bon Accueil was a refreshing break from your typical brasserie, the "hot spot" in the center of town, or in my case, simply getting hammered at home on whatever is on sale at Franprix. If you don't mind slumming it in a bar whose appearance is not for the faint of heart, and want to indulge in conversation with eccentric folk in a place with a lot of soul, Au Bon Accueil is just your dive. I will definitely be adding this bar to my list of favorite spots in the 11th arrondissement.

Thank you so much Gwan for trekking over there with me on a cool rainy night to explore a different side of Paris. I look forward to seeing a slice of "your" Tours some day! 

Au Bon Accueil
64, rue Alexandre Dumas
75011 Paris

Joyeux Anniversaire.

It's official! Happy Francoversary to me!

Three years ago today, I got off the plane in the pursuit of a new life, perhaps some love, and happiness. Happiness! Ha! I've said this in the past, but if I knew just exactly what lied ahead of me, I probably would have hightailed back to JFK tout de suite. What messes I've tangled myself in here!

Wanting to come up with something fun for my three year anniversary, I was thinking of writing up a super fun francophile post. A celebration of all of the things I love in Paris, recognizing what I have learned, and sharing some of my favorite French music and moments. But since most of my posts are generally a love letter to Paris, I decided to go a different route.

I came here three years ago to basically drain my savings, explore the culture, master the language, and scratch that itch of having one last adventure before truly settling down as an adult. While I do love this culture with all of its quirks and glory, my intention was never to completely lose myself to the Frenchness of it all. The fact will always remain that I'm not French and I'm not from here. I may live in Paris for the rest of my life but I will always be a faux-risienne, and embrace my pedigree as an Italian-American.

Staying true to these roots, and also as someone who doesn't take herself too seriously, before moving to the City of Light, I "art directed" my very own version of An American in Paris. Taking the concept and adding my own twist, I now have a constant reminder that no matter where I am in the world, I will always be a cheesy chick from New York at heart.

I hope you enjoy the photos (complete with my mom's commentary when I showed them to her) as much as I did taking them!

"Is that my skirt? Put it back in my closet, I'm not kidding!
Cute pic, by the way, what's that fountain?"

"Why does your body look like a sausage in this one?" 

"Isn't the Louis Vee-tawn store near there?"

"Oh Gawd, please don't do that in Paris, 
it looks whore-y."

"What a glamour shot, but you're about to get hit by that car.
Not very responsible."
Thanks Mom. 

Gotta love Mother Coquine who never fails to notice the random or insult me, and my pre-Paris figure, damn girl. French girls may not get fat but I do. Don't be fooled, I so don't look like this anymore. Sad.

Paris has been much harder on me than my mom and it's been a challenging as well as entertaining past three years. Here's to the next three that I hope are less colorful. Je me souhaite un Joyeux Anniversaire!

What was going on a year ago today? 

Adopt an Aurel.

Illustration by Inslee Haynes

How did I meet Séb? For the new reader just jumping on board this cray train called my blog, this is a good question. He certainly didn't just appear after my personal and emotional tsunami of 2011. After months of a stubborn depression, I really had to force myself to get back out there. 

God, I hate that expression. How does one exactly put themselves "out there" in a city known for being so closed off? Paris isn't exactly that social mecca that Barcelona is. Meeting people, nevermind your soul mate is difficult here!

Fear not little coquine. With the guidance of a French guy friend of mine, I was sent to a dating site called a where it was a shopping extravaganza of men. Within a week, I started feeling less like a rejected loser and more like a girl gone wild with opportunities for the next adventure at her fingertips.

Here is the original post of me "putting myself out there", and much more exciting, here is a piece I submitted for Girl's Guide to Paris: Shopping for Men in Paris, using my....gasp....real first and middle name.

Scary. I feel naked. 

And for you ladies in Paris wanting instant gratification, check out what happened when Mary Kay of Out and About in Paris went to their temporary free-standing store!

Editor's Note: The article was written over the summer, so some details are slightly off, like our anniversary, which we celebrated two months ago.

The Ella P.V.

J'en ai marre! I'm leaving this urban jungle behind, for sun, fresh air, love and light in the LPV! That's right love and light. Today I'm in The LPV as in Le Petit Village, as in Sara Louise's Le Petit Village! Blogosphorically speaking that is....

The lovely, witty, super bloggeuse, Sara Louise invited me to whip up a little something for her readers while she takes a mini blogcation. Knowing that she has a large and very loyal readership, I was nervous about encroaching on that and submitting something that they would enjoy. My stories aren't exactly short, and can be a little bit on the rough side, so for the new reader, I can come across a little strong. I get it.

Wanting something totally French, totes me, and to honor my three year anniversary in France, I pulled out my 2009 journal and flipped through some of the pages of my first week adventures in Paris. Hashtag Oh là là. What better way to kick off this week's anniversary celebration than with a flashback guest post on one of my favorite Francoblogs! Merci beaucoup Sara Louise! I'm honored to grace the pages of The LPV! What what.

So now, I invite you all to come with me back in time where once upon a time, a girl walks into Alliance Française Paris....

Café Oy Vey!

Illustration by Equin-co Designs

When leaving the house and emerging onto the streets of Paris, unlike in New York, I actually pay attention to my appearance. None of this just "run out in Randy Goldstein's party favor Bar Mitzfah t-shirt, with Uggs slippers and a pair of Free City sweatpants" malarkey. That just won't fly in these parts. While I'm not saying that we are all prancing down the street in Dior Haute Couture 2012, in Paris there is somewhat of an expectation to be presentable, at the very least. 

I woke up on this first cool morning, turned on the espresso machine and realized that there was no milk. I had forgotten to pick some up at the market yesterday because I was too distracted by their "autumn wine fest" promotion they've been hosting this week. Instead of the two cartons of room temperature milk that I was supposed to pick up, I grabbed two bottles of half-priced Bordeaux, which seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm also a sucker for visual merchandising and the fake plastic grapes and vines they have hanging over the aisles were just hypnotizing, making me feel that I was personally invited to the celebration.

Needing immediate coffee consumption, for the first time, I repeat the first time in my Paris history, I ran out in my pyjamas. I supposed I could have thrown on a pair of jeans, and perhaps I was just being defiant, but I simply did not want to get dressed to go across the street. Call me crazy. So in my oversized, butch cut-off sweatpant shorts that makes me look like an extra in "Million Dollar Baby", a shrunken turquoise t-shirt that reads "Somebody Loves Me in California", and red patent leather Repetto ballet flats, off to Franprix I went. The outfit was completely ridiculous but for a three minute trip, it was worth offending the Fashion Gods. I didn't care. I needed my morning latte tout de suite!

I arrived at the sliding glass doors of my neighborhood Franprix, and they didn't open. I waved my hands around to trigger the sensor but it still wouldn't open. I looked inside and the lights were all on, the cashiers were at their posts looking back at me, and one of the employees approached the door and just stared at me from the other side of the glass. "Bonjour," I mouthed to him. Actual human contact like this was not what I wanted as this was supposed to be a three minute trip to get milk, which was now turning into a five minute trip. The man, a middle-aged Indian man, looked at me and nodded his head no. No what? He mouthed that they were closed. Closed? What time was it? I don't own a watch and barely own a cell phone these days, so I certainly didn't know the time. "Il est quelle heure?" I slowly and dramatically mouthed to him as if he was the foreigner here, and it came out sounding less French and more yenta from Brooklyn. He nodded his head no...again. What was with this "no" business? No what? What time was it?

It wasn't worth interacting with him anymore, he was unhelpful and completely annoying. I'm sure I didn't hide my irritation either. A senior citizen who had suddenly appeared with his canvas shopping tote on wheels, watched our interaction and kindly informed me that it was 8:58. 

Franprix opens at 9. 

All of the clerks were there. The market was ready for business, but because it wasn't 9 on the dot, they wouldn't open the doors. They preferred to stare at us awkwardly from inside. In all fairness, I guess I wouldn't want to work the two minutes for free either if my shift started at 9. Fine. I get it.

During this downtime, I had a chance to get a good look at my ensemble through the door's reflection. There was no denying the fact that I looked like a complete moron. The outfit was just wrong, I had a black shadow from yesterday's eye makeup under one eye (just one), and a fresh pimple planted on my chin reminding me that adult acne doesn't phase out in your 30s. The only plus was that my hair actually looked amazing. I'm not kidding. Since we have a few mintes, two to be exact, I'll fill you in on last night's beauty treatment. I put in a leave-in thermal hair mask by a company called Nubian Heritage, and I have to tell you, this stuff works. I look like a lioness, think Diana Ross in her disco days, or maybe Shakira would be more accurate. My curls are shiny and fabulously out of control. J'adore! All these years of spending money on "anti-frizz" products, when I could have spent less and gotten better results with products for African hair. What an awakening.

The two minutes of waiting were going by painfully slow, and the gusts of cool autumn wind was making my appearance go from heinous to absolutely offensive as "I" was peaking out from my thin t-shirt like bullets with butterfly wings. I was avoiding all eye contact with the Monsieur who was properly dressed in a perfectly tailored navy blue peacoat and knotted scarf. He made no effort in hiding his confusion and made several comments on how cold it was, and that perhaps I should have left the house with a coat and proper pants. Thank you, Sir. Had I known I'd be waiting on the street for the longest now, three minutes of my life, I would have certainly reconsidered this morning's "look". 

The doors of Franprix officially opened at 9:01 (sadists!) and I beelined for the milk, bought two cartons and ran back home, never again to disgrace the streets of Paris in last night's old rags.

I have learned my lesson that curveballs happen, especially in major cities and especially in Paris, and to always dress accordingly. You never know what will get thrown your way. All this drama for the love of coffee. Oy vey!

I Heart New York.

My dear friend Dr. Becky once told me that the are only two things that can make me cry instantly on command; when I talk about the last conversation I had with my father and the September 11 attacks in Manhattan.

Just how my grandfather will never forget D-Day, or how my mom will never forget where she was when JFK was shot, those who were old enough to comprehend what was going on, will never forget where we were and what we were doing on 9/11. 

From time to time, I'll find posts and articles, or hear snarky comments accusing Americans of obsessing over 9/11, that we're self-centered, if this happened in another country we wouldn't care, and to get over it already. These point of views to me are just sad and ignorant. How could they think that their rants and accusations would at all dictate how we feel? I don't think we will ever "get over it", nor do I think we should. Honoring it each year is not obsessing, it's just remembering who and what we've lost, and thanking our heroes. Once a year is reasonable. Come on.

I don't know if it's because my mom is a flight attendant, or my cousin is a New York City Firefighter, or I'm a native New Yorker, or because I was close-by when it happened, or because I'm a human being, but today will never cease to chalk up emotions of how I felt that day, standing in Greenwich Village, watching tragedy strike over our city. Maybe I'm just someone who is extremely empathetic and feel an enormous amount of sorrow when I think of what the victims experienced, and their families that had to go on with their lives without them. Whatever my reasons are for feeling as passionate as I do about this, today is a day that I acknowledge every year, and will continue to do so for many years to come, regardless of the city or country I'm in.

New York, today is for you.

This is what I wrote last year about my experience about what would have otherwise been just another warm day in September, 2001.

Where were you on that day?

Paris 65.

Last week, my favorite expert on expat living Mary Kay (of Out and About in Paris) to join her for Fashion's Night Out Paris. I nearly squealed with excitement after reading her email inviting me to the event that kicks off fashion week. Having gone several times in New York where it can get pretty chaotic, I had to see how the French celebrated this global party hosted by Vogue. As expected, it was more refined, the participating boutiques less crowded (read: immediate access to champagne), and the fashion choices by the guests more daring.

Since I've just been re-booked to work the showrooms for the upcoming Paris Fashion Week, this evening was the perfect warm-up for what's in store for me for the next few weeks; pure fashion pandemonium. 

Now that I'm just a part-time fashion participator, I really savor each moment and absorb all the glitz and glamour that comes with these events. Highlights of my Fashion's Night Out Paris edition included stalking the server passing out hors d'oeuvres at Missoni, and patting him on the shoulder to thank him for once again making his rounds closer to me, which lead him to accuse me of wiping my greasy hands on him. Score. Or when I wanted to smuggle into the tightly red-roped Givenchy party, saw someone I had worked with in New York in the hopes he knew someone who could get us in and getting the eye roll. Rad. And my favorite, being face-to-face with the most perfect ass in French lingerie at La Perla reminding me to renew my expired gym membership because I could barely snap my skirt closed that evening. Trop cool.

All that good stuff aside, for me, the event that made the night truly special, la crème de la crème of FNO was the swinging fête hosted at Roger Vivier's boutique where it was if we had time-warped back to Paris, 1965. 

If I had to choose one decade to revisit where fashion and music was fresh and fun, it would be the 60s. The evolution from the 50s to the 60s, where hemlines got shorter, music got a little louder, and dancing became more free, fascinates me. How can two periods be so close in time, yet so different in culture?

My inner-mod, and former American Dreams extra just fell for the rainbow of his signature buckled ballet flats and in my head, pieced together looks (complete with hair dos, contrasting colored tights, and handbags) for each color.

Well if this painting doesn't say it all...

To add to the total 60's vibe, the legendary Bertrand Burgulat and his group A.S Concert played two sets in the spacious loft that looked out on to rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré where the fashion energy was just exploding out on to the street. BB being heavily influenced by iconic French pop stars France Gall and Bardot (the original BB), Burgalat is responsible for lending his breezy cool 60s vibe on his production work with Air, April March and his own recordings.


Me and Bertrand.
How cute is he?
Photo courtesy of Out and About in Paris.

Love this.
He's clearly interested and she can't be bothered.
In fashion, you always have to look bored like Miss Pinky over here.

I was never able to pull off looking bored because I get way too excited about things like free champagne and dance music, and made these videos to share with you my love of little French men, pop and kitch moments in Paris. I swear sometimes this is one of the reasons I moved here.

Many thanks to Finding Noon and Mary-Kay for a much-needed girl's night out, getting me back into the fashion swing of things, and allowing me to catch up with you two very saucy, sassy minxes!

This rentrée back is certainly shaping up to be the best one I've had yet...

...because we all know what was happening this time last year.

Beef Cake.

Despite this post's name, I thought I'd forewarn you that there in no mention of hunky dudes or male strippers...

I know, I know, I'd be disappointed too...

Anyway....last night, Aurelien's friend Bertrand came by to make dinner for us and some of our friends. Before continuing on, can I just say that I love France? A friend coming by to cook is normal and doesn't sound as strange as it would be in the States. If one of my guy friends came by for dinner, for one, I certainly wouldn't expect him to prepare it - unless of course, he was one of those culinary types who can whip up a Michelin star meal using a dollop of mustard, a can of tuna and egg whites - and two, I'd expect the meal to be some form of take-out.

But no, not in Paris where Bertrand came armed with goodies he picked up at the open air market earlier that day. In his little burlap sack there was a package of ground beef, onions, parsley, garlic cloves, potatoes, three deliciously oozy and aromatic cheeses, organic red wine, and two baguettes peaking out the top.

As I expected, dinner was divine, except for one little, hmmm, okay, how do I phrase this? I don't exactly want to call it a problem, but something did catch my eye. So let's start by saying that potatoes were cooked to pure perfection. Atkins be damned! These little thigh stickers were golden, thinly sliced, buttery, and perfectly seasoned with the spices our friends brought us back from their vacation in Corsica. The cheese plate was elegantly arranged on a cutting board surrounded by convenient pre-cut baguette slices and grapes. The salad was fresh and crisp, tossed with Seb's secret homemade vinaigrette that he guards like gold, but the meat, well the meat stayed raw...completely raw, doing nothing in the corner while the other foods worked their butts off to prepare us a nice meal. To add insult to injury, Bertrand cracked a raw egg on it, you know, just to make sure we were covering all of the bacterial diseases caused from raw food. Ecoli? Check. Salmonella? Why not.

I know, I'm acting like I just arrived in Paris, and I have ordered steak tartare in restaurants before, but I guess I was never fully aware in denial of how exactly it was prepared. Yes, I get that it's raw but I guess I was hoping that it was a figure of speech, and that there was some form of preparation. Even 10 seconds in the oven would have justified a plate of raw meat with an egg plopped on top that everyone was woofing down like flesh-eating cannibals.

While I don't mind picking at raw meat when I'm making burgers, but serving myself a heaping portion of it? I guess there's no difference between that and picking, but the American in me just couldn't do a full plate. To err on the side of well, safety, I made myself mini patty...of red, raw meat.

If you're at all enticed by this, I've included the recipe just for you on this gorgeous Friday afternoon.

Warning: This may be a bit too advanced for beginners. I'll try to simplify it as much as possible.

 Step 1:
Add chopped onions and parsley,
and smash the hell out of the meat.

 Step 2:
Make little cakes by cupping it with a bowl.

Step 3: Serve.
Can you guess which one is mine?

Rocket Science, I know. If you could make this dish, well I'd say that you're well on your way to Le Cordon Bleu! 

Last night was certainly a shocker, but it's good to know that there is still so much to discover in Paris. Thank God, I was getting worried there.

Bon week-end!

Sistas Are Doin' It for Themselves!

Getting back in the groove of normal life after wrapping up our Househunter's episode has been challenging. Life sure is different without cameras documenting your every step in cute outfits. No wonder reality stars are all a little weird, you really have to make the mundane seem interesting. Good thing my method acting skills came into play otherwise I would have been screwed. For example, when asked to open a door and enter a building, thanks to my formal training, I was prepared. I really had to go back deep into my sense memory to dig up a past experience of a time when I opened a door, remember how it made me felt, what emotions I was exuding at that moment and echo that action in the present. Hard work. Thank you Lee Strasberg.

Jokes aside, filming the episode was such a great experience, we would definitely do it again, and can't wait to see how it will all piece together. Oy vey, it could go either way, you never know where the pendulum will strike once the footage is in the hands of the editors, don't even get me started on my post-breakout blemishes I was desperately trying to conceal. Scary.

In the wake of my reality show haze, I received an e-mail from the girly champagne network to join them on their Clink, Chat and Catch Up segment on the new Bubbly Talk Radio. The show is created by four champagne enthusiasts world-wide who celebrate their love of bubbles, focus on being their most effervescent, and convey the importance of being positive role models to other women. Girlfriends have got it going on!

You could imagine how honored I was to be asked to come on as a guest champagne sister, to sit down for an exclusive one on one interview with my friend Cara, creator of The Champagne Diet, and author of Sparkle (out October 12th!). Our interview was more like girl talk, and we dished about the fabulous and apropos birthday gift from Aurelien, who and what inspires me (the list may surprise you), and sharing a champagne memory with my favorite chick from the block (these days not so much), Jennifer Lopez. 

It was great catching up with the champagne sisters who are really doing some interesting things, and I hope you all enjoy the show! Pop! Pour! *Clink*!

31 Flavors.

It's 1 am and I got just got up for a glass of water before heading back to bed. 

I'm wiped out. 

This week really has been both exciting and hilarious with our shoot for Househunter's International, but it has also been extremely exhausting. I'm not complaining, I'm just a little fried since I got off the plane and immediately hit the ground running. Nothing smashes the jetlag out of you like a grueling and demanding local schedule - the second you arrive.

Saying that, I don't want to neglect to share that today is a special day for me. I have never expected this day to be exciting for anyone else but me and well, perhaps maybe my mom, but I'm someone who likes to relish in the festivities with or without active participants. Normally I pull out the stops and whistles, champagne and strawberries, and my Rachel Green fashion fantasy in that yellow strapless embroidered dress, but tonight, I just don't have it in me. I'm way too tired.

There were some people that felt that I should celebrate this day in some way, and presented me with a little something that they knew I would appreciate.

Here's an unexpected early gift from Aurel, the crew, the owners of the apartment we were looking at, using their empty spare room with the one hour of free time I had while they shot neighborhood footage...

I have never needed a gift like I needed this one...fur baby included.

Happy 31st Birthday Miss Coquine.
Here's to another delicious year.