Summer in France

I think everyone’s wish after finishing school is to continue to have summer vacation as a member of the working world. Good news is that if you decide to work in France, summer vacation comes with the package. For a country that is already known for its lax work environment, short work weeks, and plethora of vacation days, Summer Vaca is no cooler than the two weeks we get off in October. But for an American working in Paris, summer vacation is just what the doctor ordered come August. We turn on the auto-responses, pack up our city lives, and head to the countryside or beautiful Mediterranean to drink rosé and live the simple life.

Last August, I spent three weeks driving around the beautiful island of Corsica. In our little rent car, we drove from the “Cap Corse” in the North of the island, to Bonifacio in the South and saw nearly everything in between. From the five star La Villa hotel, rose petals and candles, to one-room “gites” and farm houses, we experienced it all.  We stayed in an old convent-turned-b&b with a view of church towers, the Mediterranean, and beautiful mountainous valleys.  We drove through forests and mountains, beaches, and cliff-side villages. The roads were scattered with underfed cows, cemeteries overlooking the sea, vineyards, and tour busses who didn’t realize the roads were so narrow until they got too far. We ate three star meals, and prepackaged sandwiches, beachside picnics of fine Corsican cheese, and one of the grandest meals of my life in a farmhouse perched on the top of a hill.  (I will write a whole post about the wonderful places we ate and slept in Corsica!)

This August, I am spending a full thirty days in the Southwest of France, the Languedoc region. Hidden away among the vineyards and olive trees is my little village, Ginestas.  There are about 1,000 residents of the town (less people than I am friends with on Facebook…). We have one boulangerie, one café, one newspaper shop, one little grocery shop (which is generally out of all of the necessities) and of course, one church.  The region is littered with tiny villages like this, some of which are more bustling thanks to their placement on the Canal du Midi. The canal is the longest man-made canal joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and depending on which branch you take, you could even end up on the Seine in Paris.

Village life is calm and very family oriented, which is such a relaxing break from the bustling life I have in Paris. There’s no cool new restaurant opening to attend, no movies in the park, but we do have village Paella parties, and my favorite- a once-a-week market in a town 20 minutes away. Each Tuesday we head to Olonzac to buy the beautiful tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, blueberries, bread, homemade goat’s cheese and freshly butchered meats for the week.  It’s the little traditions like these that make you realize you’re definitely not living in the US anymore.

A couple of times per week we head to the local swimming hole, a portion of the river which runs directly from the mountains, where the water is super crisp and clear. Or, we head to the sea, to a little slice of paradise called Biquet Plage in Leucate. Typical French beach club, with mattresses and big umbrellas to rent, a great restaurant, and plenty of chilled rosé.

While my days down here this month may consist of chasing kids around the beach rather than posting up on une chaise lathered in oil, it’s summer vacation nonetheless. So, here’s to taking the time to relax, enjoy the sunshine, and spend time with loved ones this August.

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Yesterday + Today: Luxury Lingerie in the Capital of Romance

For the Fall/Winter 2012 issue of LUXOS magazine, I looked into the history of French lingerie and some iconic luxury lingerie brands in Paris today. 

In a culture where seduction is an integral part of every day life, French women have good reason to be proud of their powers of enchantment.  But from where does this prowess emanate? After the French Revolution, in a time when the entire country decided to rebel against what was conformist and acceptable; the role of the undergarment became ever-present.

Think of the romantic Liberty Leading the People painting by Eugène Delacroix.  With her dress sliding off of her shoulders, leading an army of men, she not only stood for the freedom of a country, but much more.

To the French woman, choosing an undergarment has been just as critical as choosing the outer since the turn of the 19th century.  And now, thanks to the fine fabrics, and creative minds of the French design world, the undergarment has evolved over the last two centuries to become a thing of beauty, a symbol of luxury, and a couture creation of its own.

One of the first French luxury lingerie brands, Cadolle, made its mark during the 1889 World’s Fair- the same one that eternally engraved the Eiffel Tower as the symbol of Paris. Revolutionary French businesswoman, Herminie Cadolle, brought a genius new idea to the table that would change women’s lingerie forever.

By proposing her ‘Coreselet Gorge,’ or deconstructed corset, she not only eliminated the physical constriction brought on by wearing this undergarment, but also the mental constriction women faced at the time.  The couture lingerie created by Cadolle defined what it was to be a woman in post-war France.  Making undergarments for the likes of Coco Chanel and the Duchess of Windsor, Cadolle introduced luxury into the lingerie market.

These delicate, feminine creations are a culmination of the exquisite materials available in France, such as the finest laces from Calais and Chantilly, in Northern France, and the sumptuous silks from Lyon, in Central France.

In Calais, the lace industry gained its strength after craftsmen escaped the hardships in England for a new life in France. Refining their craft since the early 19th century, lace weavers in Calais are known today for their exquisite mastering of Leavers lace.  Recognizable for its delicate flower pattern, scalloped edges, and enchanting quality, this lace is a luxury lingerie creator’s dream.

Odile de Changy, is one of those creators.  After a summer trip to her family chateau, where she discovered drawers of lingerie from a bygone era, Odile was inspired to recreate the romance.  Drawing upon the richness of lingerie history and lace making, Odile creates vintage-inspired intimates.  In her workshop in the Marais, like a 19th century boudoir, old photographs of her mother, grandmother and other women whom she admires surround Odile as she works. To her, lingerie represents the soul’s independence, which she brings to life by mixing quality laces from Calais, delicate French silks, and the poetry of the olden days.

Like many creators of luxury lingerie, there is more to the craft than following trends and creating lacey negligees.  Just as the French recognize the artistries of Haute Couture fashion, the same elements are respected in lingerie making.  Hand sewn and often bespoke, couture lingerie is the ultimate luxury.

In the spirit of haute-couture lingerie making, Carine Gilson reigns supreme. Among luxury, handmade undergarments made from the finest materials, her Lingerie Couture line is considered top. The Carine Gilson woman isn’t afraid of her individuality or her sensuality; she is a master of seduction and is always classy, never vulgar. A philosophy that remains true to the origins of specialty undergarments. Working almost exclusively with Lyon silks, a difficult fabric to master, and the most delicate Chantilly laces, Carine Gilson Lingerie Couture is about quality and comfort above all else.

Considered an art form, couture lingerie in particular symbolizes the refined beauty and distinct power of the woman wearing it. Today, lingerie is one of the most unique luxury markets in France, and an especially delightful souvenir to take home after a trip to Paris.

Cadolle

4 Rue Cambon, 75001

+33 (0)1 4260 2807

Carine Gilson

18 Rue Grenelle, 75007
+33 (0)1 4326 4671

Odile de Changy

6 rue du Pont aux Choux, 75003

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Tastemakers: The Men Behind the New Paris Coffee Culture

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

In the city that’s known for having a sidewalk café on nearly every corner, you would think that this place had mastered the art of making coffee by now. But, an espresso machine does not a barista make. And even to call this new generation of coffee makers in Paris ‘baristas’ is an understatement. Coffee artists, gurus, revolutionaries might be more correct.

To put an end to the atrocious ‘sock juice’ being brewed throughout Paris is a group of men coming from all walks of life, all corners of the world, with one common thread- a passion for coffee. Their goal isn’t just to be able to call themselves cool, bike-riding, skinny-jean-wearing, tattoo-bearing baristas. They’re a real group of men, who have devoted their lives to learning the trade, the art, of making (good) coffee.Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Head into the newest Parisian café to join the coffee revolution in Paris, Télescope Café, and you’ll start to understand. With its minimalistic décor, a menu consisting solely of various basic forms of espresso and filtered coffee, the men behind Télescope have one goal- to bring good coffee to the people. You won’t find any vanilla chai, skim milk, or fancy raw juices here; just good beans, freshly ground and roasted, brewed in the finest machines, and filtered to an exact science.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

The way Nicolas Clerc, co-owner of Télescope, explained it to me is this- at any one of the corner cafés in Paris you might get an espresso that costs €2 ($3.50) that was made from beans that had been sitting in the grinder for months, or from grinds that hadn’t been rinsed from the last espresso. Theses cafés goals are to pound out as many little cups of espresso as possible to make a profit.

If you come to Télescope on a lucky day, you may even get to witness a coffee cupping, or tasting, between owners David Flynn and Nicolas Clerc. And, if it isn’t too busy, these two might even give you a crash course in tasting coffee. They’ll tell you the qualities to look for, and eloquently explain the way the flavors evolve in a filtered coffee over time. No sidewalk café could do that for you.

 

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey TramutaAt Télescope, and other cafés around Paris, like Coutume Café, Le BAL, and Kooka Boora, you’ll get a freshly roasted, ground, and brewed cup of coffee every time. In fact, the guy who made your coffee could probably even tell you exactly from where and when your beans came to them.

Nicolas Clerc, or ‘Nico’ to the coffee gang, got his start in photography- not coffee. And when I say photography, I’m talking photography. After taking pictures for the likes of Chanel, Balmain, Hermès, and more, Nicolas decided he wanted to move onto something new. After touring the US, tasting coffee from some of the best baristas in the world, he then studied the bean and the craft, and put the plans in place to open his own café in Paris. In his signature denim shirt and glasses, Nicolas holds down the fort at Télescope six days per week- except for when he’s over at Coutume Café roasting beans or tasting a new brew.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

David Flynn, an ex-pat who took the American coffee scene by storm during his time at the now-closed Murky Coffee in D.C., moved to Paris and worked at Le BAL Café in the 18th arrondissement, the place credited for having started the revolution in Paris. All the while, David worked on planning to open his own café and founded the “Frog Fight” throw downs with fellow Paris coffee guru, Thomas Lehoux.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

Thomas was originally from the Paris cocktail crew- mixologists, if you will. But, after hanging out in cafés during his time living in Australia, Thomas became enthralled with the café culture, and decided to master another beverage- coffee. Today, he’s training for the Brewer’s Cup, happening this weekend in Paris, sponsored by the Frog Fight group, Fricote Magazine, Télescope, and others. The winner of this weekend’s Brewer’s Cup will be crowned French “Brewmaster” and will go on to compete in Vienna in June for the European title.

Télescope Cafe © Lindsey Tramuta

(Spoiler Alert- look out for Thomas’ own café opening sometime this year on the legendary Canal St. Martin)

Today, Nicolas, David, and Thomas are three of the most recognizable, and influential men in the new Paris coffee culture.

[Photos © Lindsey Tramuta ]

 

Télescope Cafe

5 rue Villedo 75001

Paris, France

mon.-fri. 8h30 – 18h30

sat. 9h30 – 18h30

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Spring Tunes

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My friend Cristina, who works for SXSW in Austin, is my music muse. When I wake up with a new shared playlist in my Dropbox account, I know it’s going to be a good day! Here’s her latest picks for Spring tunes. Enjoy! 

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Follow Girl Meets Whirl on Pinterest & Instagram


If you want to follow my daily inspirations, check out my Pinterest and Instagram accounts. Paris is full of beautiful places, people, foods, and more, so I’m constantly snapping away and sharing these things with you!

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Food Bloggers vs. Culinary Journalists, Good Food vs. Michelin Stars

Tonight I attended a panel discussion between some pretty well known food bloggers, community managers, and all around food lovers as part of Social Media Week in Paris.  In a crowded room, social media and food loving fans came to hear the opinions and thoughts of David Lebovitz, Elodie Fagan, Ann Mah, and Lindsey.  Three of them collectively are some of the most trusted voices in the food blogging world, and Elodie the community manager for Yelp Paris. Topics ranged from what’s the difference between blogs and community sites (like Yelp), how is the French food industry changing, do you look at analytics and statistics on your blog, and what is the difference between a food critic (or culinary journalist) and a food blogger…

 

Elodie shared a really interesting story of a food critic she knows who posts on Yelp under a fake name so she can post honest comments, things she really thinks, that she can’t post in her glossy magazine.  It’s this perception of writing about food that is so under scrutiny today- who to trust when looking for the ‘best’ food in Paris? Should we follow in the path of history, only trusting restaurants that are old, established, and therefore expensive? Or should we go down the new path, carved by food bloggers and plain old food lovers, exploring new restaurants and creating our own community of food critics?

Hot off the trails of my interview with Guy Martin at his famous restaurant (and the oldest in France), Le Grand Véfour, I have had food, and French food specifically, on my brain non-stop.  Living in a culture that revolves around food, it’s easy to do.  But what has got me thinking is the fact that France is such a traditional, old rooted country, that food concepts that have existed for so long in the US are just now trickling over to France.  For example, the idea of ‘fast food’ (apart from McDo and other chains) is non existent.  If you are in a rush and want to get something to eat, your options are generally limited to a crêpe or a baguette sandwich.  But as of late, this is changing, and food (good food) is becoming more accessible.

There are several directions I could go with this discussion- either to the debate between whether the Michelin star rating system is as important as is once was, or to the debate of food becoming more accessible, but is it losing its quality?

Since I have just interviewed Guy Martin, a chef who was once the youngest chef to earn three Michelin stars, and also since I have become a regular of THE restaurant that began putting this star system into question (Frenchie) I am going to go down the path of the first…

Photo Credit: Young & Hungry

For me, an American, food is abundant where I come from. And good food, at that.  Sure there’s a lot of crap out there, a lot of processed and packaged junk food, but there’s also a lot of good food.  Good food that is accessible to pretty much every level of society, at every price range. You don’t have to shell out $60 for a quality meal in America.  But in France, this idea of making good food available to all, is rather new.  The young chefs like Grégory Marchand, who was trained at the Grammercy Tavern in NYC, are out there offering incredible food at insanely affordable prices (compared to other restaurants with equal caliber eats).  This kind of availability of good food is putting the traditional French rating system (the Michelin star) into serious question.  People are starting to see that you don’t have to eat at a starred restaurant in order to eat star-quality food.  (Cue Anthony Bourdain’s 100th episode in Paris…)

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Young & Hungry

When I asked Guy Martin about this shift in the perception of French food and the downfall of the Michelin star, he paused for a while. He thought hard about his response. And his reply was, “I think we [the grand chefs, the starred restaurants of Paris] have forgotten about the client, and what the client wants and needs should always be the priority.  But we have forgotten it.” THIS coming from one of the most important French chefs was shocking.  In a country where the client is usually last, it was refreshing to hear someone like him admit that perhaps that was the wrong philosophy.  What the client wants to day is good food, in a good setting, that they can share with good people, at a good price.

And the way that people today are finding out about these restaurants that are offering up “anti-michelin-star-system” type ‘good’ food is through Social Media! It’s incredible.  People don’t read up on places like Le Grand Véfour before coming to Paris anymore- they read up on places like Frenchie– and they read about them in food blogs, not fancy magazines or newspapers.  Embarrassingly enough, I, being a self declared gourmande, didn’t even know what Le Grand Véfour was when I was invited there- But Frenchie has been on my list of MUST eats for three years! My generation couldn’t fathom paying €350 for dinner at L’Atelier when they can pay €35 at Le Pantruche, and eat arguably as well.  It’s a shift that is changing, fundamentally, the cultural tradition of food.  In fact, it’s changing so drastically, that UNESCO just inaugurated French Cuisine into their list of “world intangible heritages,” probably in the hopes that they could historically preserve the old sense of French cuisine in light of the fact that its stronghold on French culture probably won’t endure this generation’s culinary revolution.

To be continued…This is a series of thoughts I ponder daily.

Bisous xx

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Paris: PODIUM Jeunes Stylistes

Finding budding talent is exciting. Being a part of helping this budding talent succeed to the next level is even more exciting. The team at PODIUM Jeunes Stylistes has been doing it now for three years- scoping out some of Europe’s best (undiscovered) fashion designers, and giving them a theme, a fabric, 100 days, and a kick in the butt to create three looks for a big time fashion show judged by fashion industry elite.

This year’s competition, held again at the Paris Westin-Vendôme (Imperial Salon), is going to be the biggest production yet.  With team experience culminating from places such as US Vogue, Dior, Chanel and Balenciaga, and some of the most prestigious business & fashion schooling in the world, these ‘youngsters’ know what they’re doing.  Expecting nearly 400 guests this Wednesday (Feb 8th), the 15 competing designers aren’t holding back either.  Not only are they creating two Haute Couture looks, all hand sewn and uniquely crafted, but they were each required to create a third look this year- Three looks for PODIUM’s Third birthday.  The third piece will become a part of the first ever PJS Prêt-à-Porter collection, to be shown at Messe Frankfurt Apparelsourcing in Paris.

After the show, the jury of 8 members along with the ‘parrain’ or the sponsor of the evening, will deliberate, review the collections and designate one designer “The Best Young Designer of the Year.”  This year’s sponsor is Haute Couture grand master, Christophe Josse, and the jury is made up of people ranging from fashion journalists, executives from some of the largest fashion corporations in the world, and many other Parisian fashion icons.  The winner will also be enrolled in a new co-sponsored master’s program in fashion & business at ESCP Europe, called Paris Factory Mode & Design, will be able to exhibit their three pieces at Messe Frankfurt and Who’s Next, as well as have their looks displayed throughout Paris.

Stay tuned to find out who the winner will be this year- and if you can’t be in Paris for the show, lucky you, because this year there will be a livestream! Bookmark this link so you can check back in and watch the show at 8:30pm Paris time, 2:30pm NYC time.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/podiumstylistes

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/podiumstylistes

Livestream: http://www.livestream.com/podiumjeunesstylistes

Blog: podiumstylistes.blogspot.com

Video: Podium Jeunes Stylistes 2nd Edition, 2011

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Live Like Azzedine Alaïa

One of my favorite websites for gawking (and learning) about the real estate market around the world is Curbed.  They have sites for most major cities in the US, and occasionally post about international spots like Paris.  This post of theirs about how you can rent one of (yes he has many) Azzedine Alaïa’s Paris flats is beyond…what a cool concept.  Although they start at $600 a night, I’m sure there’s someone out there who would fork it over for a stay during fashion week perhaps.

Read the full article on Curbed

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A New York Minute

My recent trip to New York came and went faster than I could have imagined. But rather than being in the city for fashion week as I usually am, this time it was to explore. Being accompanied by a first-timer, New York opened up to us in ways I’ve never seen it before. Plus, having become obsessed (you could say) with food and dining in the last couple of years living here in Paris, this trip to New York for us was all about the eats.

 

 

 

The Dutch

131 Sullivan Street, Soho

Recently named the best restaurant in New York, The Dutch is the epitome of “cool” according to New Yorkers at the moment.   Knowing this, we went in with very high expectations, which weren’t quite met. (The restaurant was good, but the best, I don’t know about that…)  The menu is the new kind of standard of NYC dining- a great oyster selection, sides like brussel sprouts, and quirky takes on down-home cookin’.  The wine list was extensive, and we opted for a Greek wine that was just right with our heavy dishes, although a bit over priced.  Starting with the fried chicken, we were disappointed at how fatty it was…but they were wings, so we should have expected this.  The burata was sub-par compared to others I’ve tasted (it was small, and I am a fan of keeping burata simple with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper…no fancy sauces), and the tartare a weak impression of the typical French dish.  The oysters, however, were perfect. Small and succulent, we ordered some kind I had never heard of with the help of the waiter, and were pleasantly surprised.

My real accolades for The Dutch come in with the main dishes.  We may have struck out in the entree round, but my smoked and roasted chicken was a thing of beauty.  Tender and juicy, with a smoky, earthy sauce and roasted vegetable is something I could eat often.  After all of this food, we couldn’t go for dessert, and apparently they are known for their pies.  So, perhaps next time we’ll do it differently and skip the appetizers in favor of some good old pie at the end.

Atmosphere here was great- white tiled walls, old-meets-new, a New York meets Paris kind of bistro.  Good beer on tap, too.

Wine, Appetizers, Main Dish all for around $50

The Menu

 

 

The Wren

344 Bowery, East Village

We happened upon the Wren for a simple reason, it was across the street from our hotel (The Bowery Hotel).  After losing (until the taxi driver tracked me down and returned) my camera (my child), I was in dire need of an adult beverage and a cheese plate, my favorite comfort food.  After quickly checking out the reviews online, we learned this gem had only opened two weeks before.  Lucky for us, this meant little crowds, and an eager bar staff.  We cozied up at the last two open seats at the bar, which would become our “spots,” and checked out the menu.  Specializing in cocktails and gastronomic eats, this “gastropub” quickly impressed us.  I started with an Aviation while my beau had an Old Fashioned.  Jeremy, who was trained via The Grammercy Tavern, and recently came back to NYC after a jaunt in Western Europe working with Michelin starred chefs and fashion icons, quickly became our “bartender soulmate.”  Not only did he know just what cocktails to mix up, but he had impeccable taste in all things cultural, which lead to great conversation.  

To eat, we decided on a cheese platter, which admittedly came with too little cheese and too many walnuts and apples for my taste, but was eclectic and delicious.  The bread was superior…some kind of raisin bread, toasted to perfection.  I then had a BACON broth, cauliflower soup…killer.  And he had the classic Fish ‘n Chips.  Our bottle of red was a bit over priced ($70 in the restaurant compared to $26 in the liquor store).  Finishing dinner with a shot of Chartreuse (after discussing our common respect for this ancient elixir) and a Whiskey Business (a kick-your-butt whiskey concoction) we decided The Wren was our new home base, and went back every night of our trip.

The Menu

 

 

Wilfie and Nell

228 West 4th Street, West Village

We stopped by this West Village hotspot for an after dinner drink with some friends, only to find out that it is the sister bar to The Wren…what are the chances.  Good crowd, good drinks, food looked good (but we didn’t eat), and nice staff.  Check it out! 

 

The Standard Grill

848 Washington Street, Meatpacking District

Before leaving New York, we decided on a quick lunch in the MPD at The Standard Grill.  I’ve been here several times before for drinks or dinner, but never for lunch.  Except that one time I devoured some oysters and a couple glasses of wine solo at the bar during fashion week…but thats another story.

I fell in love with the Standard’s cheeseburger.  Unlike the mind-blowingly buttery, juicy burger I had the day before at Shake Shack, the Standard’s burger was the gourmet, high-class version.  Using brisket, a great white cheddar, two thick cut pieces of smoky bacon, and the perfect bun, this burger was everything I needed after a night of drinking.  The fries were crispy and perfect, and the pickle, which you can also ask for à la carte, was stellar.

The Menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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