Archive for April, 2010

Pietra – A Refreshing Corsican Beer

Thursday, April 29th, 2010
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Pietra - A Corsican Beer
(c) Discover Paris!

Our friends Diane and Eric recently invited us to their place for dinner. While Diane was in the kitchen, Eric (who is Belgian), gave us a crash course on beer. When we later took our leave, Eric gave us a bottle of Pietra Corsican beer made with water, malted barley, hops, yeast, and…chestnut flour!

Upon pouring, the beer developed a nice head of foam. Lots of tiny bubbles kept rising from the depths of the glass to sustain the head. To my palate, the amber-colored beer was slightly sweet yet slightly bitter and refreshing. It had a soft, pillowy mouth feel. If we hadn’t known that it was brewed with chestnut flour, which has a mild flavor to begin with, we wouldn’t have tasted it in the beer. I think that the chestnut smooths out the bitterness that is normally found in such brews.

Diane left the corporate world to launch a career as a chef. Her blog, called “Girl Cook in Paris,” can be found at the following link

Art Auction at the Gallerie Adzak

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
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Person on a Horse by Charlie Mercier

Charlie Mercier, an American artist living in Paris, will be auctioning his paintings at the Musée/Gallerie Adzak on Saturday, May 1 at 2:00 p.m. The gallery is located at 3, rue Jonquoy in the 14th arrondissement; Metro Plaisance (line 13).

Bidding starts at 5 euros for the small paintings, 10 euros for the larger ones.

His paintings can be viewed at the following link:

We purchased two of his paintings recently, one of which is shown here. We like to think that it represents Lady Godiva!

La Caféothèque

Saturday, April 24th, 2010
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Caffe Latte Made with Coffee from the Chitul-Tirol Plantation in Guatemala
(c) Discover Paris!

Gloria Montenegro at La Caféothèque has an approach to coffee selection and tasting that is similar to the approach that scotch aficionados have toward single-malt whiskys. She believes that single-origin coffees should not be blended with beans of other origins as is so often done at coffee-roasting facilities. Consequently, she sells unblended coffee beans from identifiable plantations from all over the world. At any given time during the day, she sells twenty different estate coffees in her shop. On the day that I stopped in, I ordered a caffe latte, which was made from a coffee grown on a plantation called Chitul-Tirol in Guatemala. Along with the latte, she handed me an information sticker on which the following tasting notes appeared: “Natural aroma of honey; Notes of chocolate and pepper; Full bodied; Lingers long on the palate; Beautiful acidity.” While I must admit that I did not seek to identify these aromas and flavors while I drank the latte, the information did give me pause for thought that maybe I would enjoy learning more about the art of drinking fine estate coffees.

La Caféothèque is located at 52, rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville and is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Promenade with Patrick Jouin – Part 6

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
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Patrick Jouin in the Plaza Athénée Bar
(c) Discover Paris!

For the final stage of the promenade, we stopped at the posh Hôtel Plaza Athénée, where Patrick Jouin has remodeled elements of the bar, the lounge, and the restaurant. The bar now has a futuristic look, as it is made out of hand-crafted Mureno glass. Gentle illumination at its base casts an eerie sea-green glow into the room. At the far end of the lounge, an immense ceiling fixture that looks like a giant oblong bunion pad adds another futuristic touch.

For the most part, the classic look of the restaurant escaped his radical tampering. The main change there was to the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Here, the crystal elements have been “exploded,” each pendant suspended by a separate wire, rather than clustered together in a spray. The result gives an appearance of expansiveness, which, to my eye, is disturbing, as I prefer the complex hanging pattern of the crystal to be bunched together, where I can readily identify its arrangement.

To end the promenade, we returned to the bar, where Mr. Jouin made final comments and answered questions as we sipped fruit juice served by an elegantly dressed young waiter. For all of us, the day had been quite an enjoyable, educational experience in the world of design!

This is the last post in the series entitled “Promenade with Patrick Jouin.”

Patrick Jouin under Chandelier
(c) Discover Paris!

Le Bon Goût – Our Monthly Restaurant Review

Friday, April 16th, 2010
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Franck and Karine Marchesi-Grandi
Chef and Proprietors of L'Agrume
(c) Discover Paris!

On the first of each month, we publish a restaurant review, which we call “Le Bon Goût,” for the readers of our Paris Insights newsletter. In it, we not only describe our dining experience, but also write about the chef or the proprietor, and illustrate the review with a photograph of him or her.

We have been reviewing restaurants for many years, and have met many chefs and proprietors who are passionate about the art of preparing great cuisine. By writing about them, we hope that we can communicate their passion to you, their customer.

In this month’s Le Bon Goût, we review a restaurant called L’Agrume. Operated by husband and wife team Franck and Karine Marchesi-Grandi, their small restaurant serves up great food at modest prices.

Access to the review is available to paid subscribers of our newsletter. To enter a subscription, click here.

Promenade with Patrick Jouin – Part 5

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
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Second Floor Dining Room of Sombath Restaurant
(c) Discover Paris!

Patrick Jouin met us at two restaurants that he redesigned. The first, called Sombath, is a Thai restaurant whose cultural references he rendered so abstractly that it could pass for any type of expensive restaurant serving any kind of cuisine. Colors in scintillating gold, bold orange, and soft creams are supposed to call to mind temple treasures, women’s dresses and rice paddies. To the designer perhaps! But for me, entering into the restaurant was like entering into a kind of Starship Enterprise equipped with padded walls and gentle curves to protect the diners in the event of a sudden stop.

The restaurant seems to have been deliberately designed to force the diner to set aside any preconceived notions that he may have held about Thailand. It is an intellectual exercise that I would not want to be obliged to engage in when sitting down to enjoy a good Thai meal. Give me a Thai restaurant that looks like a Thai restaurant!

American Students “Ain’t Misbehavin'” in Seine-Saint-Denis

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
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McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School Students of New Orleans
Photograph courtesy of Banlieues Bleues

Twelve students from McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School in New Orleans, their director, and a supporting cast of student musicians, singers, and dancers from conservatories and colleges of Paris and the Parisian suburbs gave a spectacular performance of Ain’t Misbehavin’ last weekend at the Banlieues Bleues festival in La Courneuve, a commune in the administrative département of Seine-Saint-Denis. Xavier Lemettre, director of the festival, wanted the musical—the first performed in Banlieues Bleues’ 27 years of existence—to inject new, artistic energy into the multi-week celebration. Based on what I saw at the performance, he greatly succeeded!

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a tribute to song writer, musician, and composer Fats Waller and other musicians of the Harlem Renaissance. The show’s director, Troy Poplous, has extensive experience in directing stage plays and musical productions, including Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun, as well as the musical version of this play. Among his current activities, he teaches Theatre Arts and Fine Arts at the McDonogh 35 High School. Funding for the American students’ trip to Paris was provided by the Consulate General of France of New Orleans.

Yves Saint Laurent Enters the Spotlight, Again

By A. D. McKenzie

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
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Yves Saint Laurent Exhibition Photographer: A. McKenzie

Nearly two years after his death, French designer Yves Saint Laurent is still a major presence in the fashion world. Now, a retrospective exhibition of his creations is pulling in the crowds in Paris, proving that his designs have lasting relevance.

The show features more than 300 haute-couture and ready-to-wear garments, organized thematically. It includes Saint Laurent’s beginnings with Dior in 1957, and gives viewers a taste of his revolutionary early collections, including the famous trapeze dress and the pantsuit for women.

“It has often been said that Chanel freed women. This is true. Then years later Saint Laurent came along and further liberated women,” said Pierre Bergé, the designer’s lifelong partner who co-founded the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house in 1961.

“He took inspiration from the male wardrobe and gave women the trouser suit, the safari jacket and the smock suit,” Bergé told journalists. He added that Saint Laurent wanted to make sure that not only rich women could afford to wear his designs, so he also created special clothing for the ordinary working woman.

The exhibition covers 40 years of Saint Laurent’s work, and includes drawings, videos, and photographs of the designer and some of his famous clients such as actress Catherine Deneuve.

It is the first exposition of this kind at the Petit Palais (Paris’ Museum of Fine Arts), and organizers said that only someone of Saint Laurent’s stature could merit such an honor.

“In addition to being a fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent was a remarkable artist, and one whose oeuvre has a rightful place in the museum’s long series of exhibitions of the Masters,” said Gilles Chazal, director of the Petit Palais.

The clothing on display reveals that Saint Laurent himself was inspired by artists such as Van Gogh, Mondrian, Picasso, and Monet, among others. One of the first things that strikes museum-goers is his daring use of color and the artistic nature of the garments.

The exhibition runs until 29 Aug. 2010.

We wish to thank A. D. McKenzie for her contribution to the Paris Insights blog.

Spoken Word in Paris

Friday, April 2nd, 2010
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David Barnes
Founder of Spoken Word in Paris
(c) Discover Paris!

Our feature article in this month’s Paris Insights is about Spoken Word, an open-microphone event held Monday nights at a bar called Culture Rapide. Founded by David Barnes, an Englishman living in Paris, Spoken Word provides an opportunity for aspiring poets, writers, singers, and actors to read or perform their works before a friendly audience. Each participant gets five minutes to give his or her presentation. On the two evenings that we attended, we enjoyed presentations of poetry, songs, comedy routines, and improvisational acting. On one of the evenings, we watched a short film about a star-crossed love affair between a robot and a human, created by a young woman for a film class project. People of many different nationalities participate, mostly in English, but some in French. Spoken Word is a great occasion for travelers to Paris to experience the vibrant cultural mix of the city, whether as an observer or as a participant!