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Archive for April, 2009

Cocktail Appreciation Course at the Ritz

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Anyone who’s every tried to find a proper American martini (no, not the sweet vermouth!!) in Paris knows that while the city lays claim to many indulgent pleasures, the cocktail is not one of them. Luckily, Colin Field, the master mixologist who transformed the historic Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Hotel from dusty relic to vibrant laboratory of libations, is doing his part to change all that.

While Field’s cocktail philosophy is complex and his affect over-the-top, he’s cocktails are anything but. A minimalist at heart, Field privileges purity, simplicity and elegance above all, going so far as to create his own essences, such as wild strawberry vodka elixirs and homemade coconut liquor, to capture aromas without the distraction of sweet.

colin-mag-20 Author of the best-selling book The Cocktails of the Ritz and winner of multiple awards, multilingual Field  shares the secrets to his craft with a handful of participants several times a month during a special cocktail appreciation course at the Bar Hemingway.

During this stand-out two hour class (which invariably runs over to accommodate Field’s flamboyant storytelling), hear all about the bar’s famed beginnings as Ernest Hemingway’s den of debauchery, sit on Coco Chanel’s favorite seat, learn how to properly shake a mixer, silently pop a champagne cork, refine your taste buds, and conceive of luscious cocktails to impress the kids at home.

Cost: 100 Euros/person

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Truffle Hunting with Titeuf

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Like most, my truffle hunting knowledge is quite limited. In fact, it could easily be summed up in a single image: old men in wellies tugging hogs on ropes.

So when some visiting friends and I decided to take a trip down to the Périgord—a ravishing, rocky region about a six-hour drive from Paris, well-known for its truffles, foie gras and Medieval castles—we couldn’t think of a better activity than ratcheting up our “black diamond” IQ with two of the area’s connoisseurs.

A few hours of research and a couple of phone calls later we had a time and date set to meet two of this elusive edible’s leading experts: Edouard Aynaud and his truffle-sniffing associate, Titeuf the golden Labrador.

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My Appointment With Paris

April 21st, 2009
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Much of my adolescence in Brooklyn was spent wondering why I wasn’t born French.

How I caught the “French bug” is anybody’s guess, however. No one in my family has French blood, none of my childhood friends were French, I never heard the language spoken at home, nor was I raised on fancy French food. Hell, there wasn’t even a French restaurant in my predominantly Italian-Russian neighborhood!

What I did know was that across that huge stretch of water opposite my grand parents’ Brighton Beach apartment building was a country where they spoke a lyrical language, wore sleek, sophisticated clothes, smoked and drank merrily, ate delicious food and lived in old, beautiful buildings.

Much of this elegant imagery came courtesy of my step dad’s video store. As a teenager, nouvelle vague marathons of Godard, Truffaut and Resnais films were frequent and I imagined myself a latter-day Anna Karina. At sixteen, the fantasy was finally put to the test during my first trip to Paris. Once there, my French was worthless— I couldn’t speak a word. Couldn’t even say my age, but I was beyond smitten. I decided then and there that Paris would one day be my home.

While many entertained my romantic French obsession, my choice of French as a foreign language had my grandfather Sol grumbling, “When are you ever going to speak French, you live in Brooklyn for chrissakes?” My decision to double major in Art History and French at Vassar so that I could spend a year abroad only added insult to injury. Let’s not even mention the sparring that ensued when I decided to move to Paris as a “five-month experiment,” nearly ten years ago.

Unfortunately, Grandpa Sol died well before either of us cold fathom how important France, its language and culture would become to me both personally and professionally; before I’d marry my French beau, Fabrice; before I’d make pain au chocolat from scratch in my cozy Parisian kitchen; before I’d speak French fluently with a charmingly unidentifiable accent; before I’d write about my adopted city and interview its brightest talent for leading magazines; before I’d hunt down Parisian lifestyle trends for international marketing and communication agencies; and before I’d aspire to write the first in-depth online guide to Paris’ most exclusive, by appointment only addresses with the fresh taste and renegade regard of a girl raised on other side of the pond.

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