It is not easy to follow fashion from my favorite café in Paris when I am out exploring New York City. Fortunately, NYC is a fashion capital in its own right and there was an overwhelming choice of outdoor terrasses, but I had no way of knowing which would be the perfect place for setting up shop. Finding “your” café is not an easy task. Parisiennes each have their own personal favorite and their choice is about as logical as their ability to eat full fat cheeses while maintaining the longest life expectancy in the western world.

Fortunately, I have friends to guide me. The beautifully bright blogger Kristen, behind Un Homme et Une Femme, is an intrepid NYer who was ready to help, happy to share a private slice of her beloved New York with a Big Apple neophyte like me. Kristen pointed me towards Pastis in the Meatpacking District.

I had a great time sitting there watching the crowd go by. It wasn’t long before I was ready to get up and start firing, très contente that Kristen had aimed so well.

After the shoot I settled back to “my” table, to start looking through the photos, when suddenly, as if hit upside the head, I was transported from 9th Ave to Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others…” infusing my thoughts.

Because in NYC, BLUE is IN.

And it would seem, that when something is IN in New York, it is on everyone, in every style imaginable.


From traditional business, to casual not-so-chic, NYers were chasing away the rainy day blues with their own shades of blue. Every shade of blue; denim, electric, navy, bright, cornflower… the tones were limitless.

But if the Michel Kors photoshoot, the bright splashes of color and the pink pants on every other man in Paris is any indication, NYers will soon be seeing red!




Eating New York

Tipsy cocktailsI’ve been feeling like Godzilla lately, but looking more like the Incredible Hulk as my clothing strains and tears from the incredible pressure that is the result of inhumanly rapid growth.

“Did you have a bagel?” sighed my New Yorker expat friend longingly.

“Did you have a slice?” asked the Chief Parisienne eagerly.

“How were the street vendor dogs?” inquired my teens.

I didn’t try any of it. Unintentionally and completely unwittingly, this trip was all about cocktails and crustaceans. Merde! My nose just grew an inch. That was a lie. The cocktail part was absolutely intentional and completely planned. I didn’t look into restaurants before our trip, I researched bars. Food optional. But the seafood part was not planned, I swear!

When I tell My New Yorker about our food choices she starts to look a bit down, accusing me of searching out my own, native California cuisine. Its true, what I miss the most in Paris are the big, bright flavours of lime juice and coriander with lots of vegetables and plenty of heat. With the East Coast fisheries near by, my taste buds spent the week doing a happy dance; soft shelled crab, lobster and every style crab cake imaginable.

Some of our highlights were;

The Spotted Pig. I didn’t need to know more than the name and I was hooked. Didn’t even mind the 90 minute wait (probably because we spent that time at a wine bar next door) and was absolutely thrilled with their vegetarian plate main dish as well as their spicy cocktails. The rest of our party was bowled over by the shoestring french fries (fried with rosemary, thyme and garlic!) and their cheeseburgers. We were too stuffed to attempt their desserts.

Le Charlot. A bunch of Frenchies going to a French meal in NYC? Pathetic! But we had an excuse… I had reserved at the Central Park Boat House; upon our arrival, on a glorious spring day, with the red geraniums shining like party balloons and the white linen table clothes dancing in the breeze, everything looked perfect for a Pah-Tay. But alas, the restaurant had been closed due to an emergency, the Maître d’ assuring us that our lives would be at risk if we were to dine there that day!!! Mulling over the mystery, (had a sous-chef lost it, stabbing his boss? Did the health department find rotting food?) We headed to Madison Ave where two helpful sales girls directed us to Le Charlot. They had crab cakes on the menu, so our entire party was thrilled and our guest of honor, the French student who was living in NYC for the year, was ecstatic to see French standards that he craved from home. These were the best crab cakes we had all week and the rest was pretty good, too, although we were (again) too stuffed for dessert.

Beauty & Essex. More spicy cocktails. And then a few more. You enter this über swanky establishment through a door at the back of a pawn shop, although the three town cars waiting out front with the blazing marquee lights were a dead give away that we’d arrived. Upstairs, the barmaids wear the shortest little dresses and are only allowed enough fabric to cover one shoulder. It was an after work crowd with a drunken woman surveying which diners had read “The Many Shades of Grey”. I kindly suggested that she stop reading about it, buy herself some sexy lingerie, find herself a lover (preferably French) and start doing it. Oh, the food. Excellent. The ribs were melt in your mouth without being stringy and I could have had seconds of the lobster tacos and spicy greens. By now you can guess what we decided for dessert…

The Lobster Place. Fresh steamed lobster in a busy food court that was once the Premium Saltine cracker factory. Full of locals on lunch break and a sect of Japanese tourists who are obsessed with photographing their food. The lobster? PERFECT.

EAT. A café on Madison Ave. Ridiculously expensive, but really, really good and they had soft shell crab that was swoon worthy. Even the bread was good, which I don’t often say in the USA. Went two days in a row, it was that good (and somewhat convenient to our hotel).

Tipsy Parson. Only had drinks here. And a bourbon soaked dessert. Did I mention that I had planned to drink my way through New York? It was good and the atmosphere charming. Would have loved to have returned for a down home southern meal.

The rooftop bar at the Manadrin OrientalVue at the Mandarin Oriental. We went to this roof top bar for the stupendous view towering above the city and we were not disappointed by that, the thai beef salad, the Asian bento box, or the cheesecake. The cocktails were good enough that we all had a second round as we sat and watched the cars go round at Columbus Circle.

Okay, enough. I am starving now and I’ve just gained another kilo writing about all those calories!!!



NYC adventures

There are those who want to wake up in the city that never sleeps, but Monday night, after a fabulous evening enjoying the totally irreverent, absolutely hysterical Book of Mormon, we just wanted something to eat. We left the theater district and headed to our hotel for dinner only to discover that the local kitchens had closed by 10pm. It was 10:10. We were starting to suspect that perhaps the Upper East Side wasn’t really New York City. We went to bed with nothing more than a yogurt and awoke anxious to see the real New York.

In the meat packing district we came upon a couple with stylists, professional lighting and make-up artists all around. Being a photographer, I started shooting. Being a Jewish mother, I started questioning the photographer on the project. “Whatchya doing? Who’s it for? ” I asked as his crew walked casually by with a large aluminum-clad flash reflector, attempting to block my view. It hardly registered. Clearly these folks did not realize they were crossing paths with a almost trained Parisenne.

“Michel Kors’ Fall collection” came the surprisingly helpful reply.

“Oh, really? MK? I was thinking maybe Zadig et Voltaire.” Et voilà. The photographer was no longer writing me off as some lost tourist trying to get a cheap thrill, but acknowledged me as a fashion savvy connaisseur even if I didn’t have ‘the look’. I was in. The crew relaxed, we started firing away in unison and I was rewarded with some great shots with the illusion that I’d been an international fashion photographer for five minutes of my life. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I haven’t eaten into the 15 minutes of fame we are all guaranteed.

Continuing on our journey we found New Yorkers. Lovely, colorful people, everywhere we turned. From the tatooed dude with his checker-board shaved pooch, to a hipster mending his jeans (I’m guessing they were SF factory sewn 501s) while perusing his iPad. As a native from the Santa Cruz foothills, I’m fairly confident this kid has never been on a surfboard in his life. Real surfers don’t gel.

As we wandered, I’d stop to chat with people, asking permission to take their photos, exchanging stories of where we’re from and what we love about New York. It was a real vacation for me to be in a city where people are open and where I don’t have to think about what I am going to say. Although I am fluent in French, I am not bilingual and this trip made me realize how very much I weigh my words, mentally constructing each sentence before I speak. Studies show this kind of mental gymnastics postpones the onset of alzheimer’s and since I am already fairly forgetful, this is probably very good news, but its also somewhat exhausting and can erode one’s self confidence. I was liking talking to strangers.

And I met some wonderful, really interesting people, like the Harvard Medical school professor who inspires girls to reach their full academic potential and is writing about managing social media in the home.

Another advantage is that being friendly leads to all kinds of adventures. Like in the basement of the Neue Galerie where my curiosity got the better of me and I started ogling the photo studio set-up they were installing. A few questions later and Mr French and I were sitting for a portrait that may possibly be part of an exhibition celebrating the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt. How cool is that? Of course, the birthday party will be even cooler, but I don’t think I’m on the guest list…

Neue Gallerie

Neue Galerie



More art moves in

NYC seems to have more art than it knows what to do with. So much that some has been spotted hanging out by the trash! We set off on our holidays with a long list of museums, exhibits and art galleries to visit. On the top of our list was the Stein Collection at the Met, a show we had missed when it had been in Paris and were determined not to miss again. When it was in town the lines had been hours long and it was recommended that visitors pre-book their visits, so I asked the front desk staff at our hotel about doing the same. They looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. This happens to me often when traveling with Mr French, because we speak French with one another and when we are abroad, I often forget that I need to switch back to English when addressing the general public. I tried again, this time making sure I was speaking in my mother tongue, but I got the same blank stare. So we took our chances and it seemed like magic… there was no line at the Met. That rarely happens in a Paris museum, so we felt like we had been touched with fairy dust. I have been in love with the Met ever since reading “The Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler”. I was falling deeper in love as we headed to the exhibit, passing a stunning Van Gogh to our left, an impressive Byzantine tile to our right, and trying not to get side tracked by the Greek collection just ahead.

The Stein Collection exhibition was fascinating; more for the history of the family and their evolution as collectors, than for the actual art. They were well off, but not outlandishly rich, so the often had to do with the lesser works of the artists they so admired. There were some stunning pieces, of course, but they were overwhelmed y the collection of the Met itself.

Staying private art collections, we headed to the Frick mansion, not too far away. Frick had been a steel magnate and buddy of Andrew Carnegie. Unlike the Steins, he was outlandishly rich. After immigrating to NYC from Pittsburg, he started to get very serious about collecting art and in a few short years he had built a home that he intended as a museum, filling it with an eclectic collection of masterpieces from Europe. As a collector, he took particular delight in reuniting portraits that had been painted as a pair and were separated over time. I loved the humour of acquiring the Thomas Cromwell and Sir Thomas More (watch the Tudors for an entertaining account of their rivalry) portraits by Holbein and placing them on either side of the fireplace.

By this time, I was fascinated with the idea of private art collections, so the next day we really had no choice but to visit the Neue Gallery that was founded by a scion of the Estée Lauder fortune. Like the Frick, this museum was born of a rich man’s passion for art. Unlike Frick, Robert Lauder chose to focus his museum on a very particular region, featuring art and design from Austria and Germany, with stunning work by Klimt, Schiele, Hoffmann and Moser. Having such a precise mandate creates a small, easy to visit museum with some truly stunning works of art.

Ironically, the art we were seeing was all from Europe, so it was clearly time to get out of the museums and see some of America!

Museum Mile

FindingNoon Finds New York

I’ve got to be honest, I have never been a big fan of New York. Despite my relentless wanderlust I have only visited this city three or four times in my life and only when there was of a special event I needed to attend, or family to visit. Unlike the sensation that washes over me as my flight arrives in Paris, or San Francisco, I find myself feeling like the girl from A Chorus Line as the plane pulls into its terminal at JFK, “I Feel Nothing”.

I respect the city tremendously. I am a firm believer that NYC is the capital of the world;  I constantly marvel at all the culture the city has to offer, with a stunning assembly of both ‘high’ culture and popular culture from across the globe. New York is rich, but for some very odd, inexplicable reason, it is not “My Kind of Town”.

Ok, enough with the Broadway quotes and a bit about my visit. The city did start to pull on my heart strings as the taxi driver passed the billboard coming in from the airport, declaring, “NYC, Tolerant of your beliefs, judgemental of your shoes.”. How could I not respect a city where women needed to rent extra storage space for their shoe collection?

And I started to feel like I was home in Paris on our first full day, as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and I saw this sticker promoting an entirely work-free Labour Day. Personally, I am a big fan of housework-free, shopping-free and banking-free days and I am confident that our new president, Hollande would definitely approve!


But, you know you’re close to Kansas not the Côte d’Azur, when, instead of blasé, understated Paris, where locals say “Oui, New York, ce n’est pas mal.*” which translates to “Oh My God, I simply LOVE New York!”, the city puts up this sign…. reminding you of how enthusiastic, modest and genuinely sweet Americans can be.

I had a fantastic trip to this city that I admire tremendously, even if I’ll never be a part of it…


*NYC, its not not bad.”

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...