45 days ago
The Absinthe Bar in Antibes, of course. Where else on a Saturday night, surrounded by singing, laughing people drinking all kinds of absinthe, from the classic green fairy to white absinthe and some very strong, very nihilist brews. Believe it or not, not all absinthe is alike. Some is delicate, with a bouquet of flowers and complex flavors. Others will paralyze your palate. Guess which category applies to Absinthe Apocalypse?
Sometimes truth or dare is a dangerous game.
The Absinthe Bar in Antibes is down a steep, twisting flight of stairs, into a stone-walled cave, with rough unhewn bricks in various stages of mortar. In the back, a collection of water drippers and historic bottles. On the floor, tiny tables and chairs, each waiting for its vessel of ice water, four tiny spigots, and sugar cubes. They bring the classic glasses, with your brew of choice and absinthe spoons. You control the amount of water, dripping slowly through a sugar cube. The absinthe clouds and blooms with flavor as the water touches its surface.
In the back, the bar is light with green lights. The TV over the bar is always on. But, this is France: we’re not watching soccer, tennis, horse races, or any sports. We’re tuned to Fashion TV, watching Fashion Week recaps, lingerie shows, model profiles.
Everyone is singing along to the live piano player, who sings in English and plays show tunes, older pop songs, and “New York, New York” (Anybody else remember Gremlins 2?), exchanging hats, and even trying to dance.
Here’s a tip no one else will share with you: If it’s just the two of you, find one of the small tables at the back, next to the wall. Instead of trying to talk across the table, lean in and talk to the wall. Your voice will bounce of the wall and to your partner. I learned this from watching George the lion at the old SF zoo bounce his roar off the cement floor, amplifying it and creating leonine surround-sound.
Another tip: drinks that come in bottles that look like this are probably not in your best interest:
And one final tip: The current word on the street is that absinthe is now safe. But in tiny print on the drinks menus, we are warned there is a 3-drink limit.
In the spirit of adventure,
72 days ago
The Marais (Le Marais) is one of the most well-loved neighborhoods in Paris and deservedly so. It includes both the 3rd and 4th arrondissements on the Right Bank. Le Marais is the old Jewish Quarter, now the haunt of hipsters, gays, young people, artists, musicians, and the boho set, although apparently it is becoming gentrified. As wanderers, however, we are free to enjoy it as is. It’s an easy place to explore; even a short stroll is a wonderful experience. No maps or plans are needed. We started at the Hotel de Nice on the rue de Rivoli and just wandered down the streets. We discovered a multi-media modern art exhibit in a medieval stone building with gothic arches and an open atrium, free! A few doors down from the Hotel de Nice is an underground jazz club, which was featuring a Brazilian jazz concert. Etincelles next door had a 5 euro happy hour, which featured fresh raspberry mojitos, delicious, gorgeous, in frosted glasses, and served by an androgene. A work of art. The wander continues, with bookstores, second-hand stores, parks, statutes, tiny restaurants in leafy parks.
One of the historic sites is the rue des Rosiers, a pedestrian-only avenue. Our original goal was chocolate babka at Finkelsztajn’s bakery, aka La Boutique Jaune Sacha Finkelsztajn. Babka is a yeast bread, buttery, rich, flaky, and with threads of chocolate woven into the crumb. It is absolutely delicious and a real pain to make. Turns out, alas, that is only made on holidays or to order (“au command”). Although they were busy, the staff were very kind, offered me tastes of leke (a very light pound cake), and a good time was had by all.
Check it out at:
We got hungry and I got to realize a dream: to have tea at Le Loir dans le Theiere (the Dormouse in the Teapot). In fact, we had breakfast. Le Loir dans le Theiere is known as a “salon de the sympa”, i.e., a friendly tea house. It actually serves breakfast, brunch, and desserts until 7 pm. We elected a simple breakfast, with toasts, scrambled eggs, fruit, and the house blend tea. The eggs were perfect and the tea was delicate, floral, and complex. The café is covered in posters, playbills, and photos, old enough to be retro, not quite old enough to be vintage. The furniture is a charming mish-mosh of old school desks, chairs, a couple of soft sofas, and so on. Be careful what you choose: that school desk is very hard.
Turns out what we should have had was the lemon meringue pie. One of our fellow customers actually reserved a piece when she walked in. They make an assortment of desserts every day, in-house. The picture below barely conveys the beauty of the pie and the height of the meringue. Next time, I am going to sample a lot more of their offerings. I also snapped a picture of the well-worn door way.
There were chocolate shops, Fragonard around the corner, and much more.
Dreaming of babka . . . .
78 days ago
Good evening all -
Post-Superbowl and Pre-Valentine’s Day, what do we do? If we can’t hop on a plane to Paris (sigh), then the next best thing is to ride the waves of cyberspace and go shopping.
Herewith, two delightful sites:
1. Vestiaire.com is an international consignment site, with amazing range and versatility. Connect with fashionistas worldwide and dream of wonderful things, such as a pink leather Balenciaga weekend bag for around $600. Sounds like a lot, but compared to an Hermes bag (pretty much any Hermes bag), it’s a bargain. You can chat via email with the fashionistas selling their stuff and peruse all of the prior emails and other items for that person. It’s fun and it’s a collective.
Check it out at:
2. Next up: Rue La La. This site features deeply discounted designer items, mostly on flash sales that last 1-2 days. I saw a great video clip by a fashion blogger who picked up two pairs of Valentino rockstud pumps in lovely colors at about $200/discount per pair (almost enough to pay for that Balenciaga bag.) Items sell out ASAP.
They also have a fun twitter feed.
Check out Rue La La at:
Twitter at: Rue La La@RueLaLa
Prepping for Paris Fashion Week this September.
179 days ago
A quick update. It’s the 75th anniversary of Batman and the Colette fashion and high-concept gadget store on the Right Bank is featuring a lot of fun, albeit expensive, stuff to celebrate. Just for your entertainment on this Friday, you might want to check it out at:
Check out the black snakeskin stilettos with the bat signal on the upper. Sounds grotesque but they look absolutely smashing and could probably be worn in real life.
For a broader look, check it out at:
If you happen to be in Paris on October 31st, come (costumed, of course) to Batman Day at Colette. It promises to be worth seeing.
180 days ago
Paris turns up the volume for PFW. From jewelers to cafes, there are signs and oracles everywhere that PFW is here.
The jewelry displays in the Place Vendome are breathtaking and define the term “major jewelry”. And the security is most impressive as well. Still, we were allowed to get up close and take pictures and yearn.
Cartier spotlighted a diamond panther necklace:
Coco Chanel felt comets were lucky and her fashion house agrees. White wristwatches are still in style, BTW. Note the lower right corner.
I believe this is from Van Cleef and Arpels, another piece reminiscent of the Duchess of Windsor:
This image is the best of both worlds: a magnificent necklace with the Place Vendome and the beautiful Paris sky reflected in the window, creating a Renaissance-painting background:
O, to be royal!
Everywhere, beautiful shoes displayed like jewels:
Fashion in the streets: an enterprising mobile showroom on the rue de Rivoli, which was open late into the night, with music and a pitbull to complete the experience.
And, at the end of the evening, a tasting menu of foie gras and caviar, washed down with outstanding champagne at the Welcome Cafe, also on the rue de Rivoli. We went several times, day and night. The food was consistently interesting and good, the service always friendly, and the superior red wine truly superior. My new favorite spot to play the Fashion Police game: “Gotta have it; make it stop”. We saw fabulous street style options, very few of which involved visible designer names. The basic uniform was: tight, straight-legged pants, elegant boots or heels, slightly-shrunken motorcycle jackets with a truly astounding variety of tiny variations, white tops, and scarves for added color and flash. The red stiletto remains a key piece, of course.
Bon appetit, whether for jewelry, shoes, clothes, or champagne!