From Paris, With Love

The first time I visited Paris in 2003, I was a young, hostel-hopping intern living in Germany on a microscopic paycheck. It still makes me smile to think about that trip: us friends carousing on the steps of Sacre Coeur with a bottle of German sekt; making a few extra bucks from Chinese tourists desperate to use our Louis Vuitton "purchase quota"; missing our hostel curfew and sleeping over at a flat full of Danish students where cheap champagne was so abundant we could theoretically brush our teeth with it; and enjoying the free dusk til dawn art festival Nuit Blanche, which was a dream for a euro-crunching backpacker. It was a fun moment in time so characteristic of carefree youth that I will always cherish.

My second visit to Paris over 10 years later felt like a lifetime apart from that trip—different, but in a wonderful way. This time, I experienced the Paris of movies—a city seemingly built for leisurely sipping café crèmes under the spring sun, intimate wine-soaked dinners, and romantic walks through winding cobblestone streets.

Enjoying Paris at a relaxed pace and with a loose agenda was delightful. We skipped the museum lines and walked through the city as much as we could, taking in all the beautiful sights, browsing vintage books by the Seine, peeking into lovely shops in Le Marais, breaking for coffees and cocktails, and treating ourselves to the most delicious Parisian fare. We had some wonderful dinners, thanks to friends with great taste: a classic entrecôte at Café des Musées, mind-blowingly delicious poultry at Le Coq Rico, and an unforgettable six-course dégustation at Pierre Sang at Oberkampf. Throw in nights of stumbling into random neighborhood bars and a naughty show at the Crazy Horse, and there wasn't much more I could want.

We had such a wonderful time that it makes it that much harder to be back to reality in New York. But these memories of Paris make me happy and hopeful that, just as that first trip was the opening salvo of an adventure-filled part of my life, this one could just be a taste of more lovely things to come in this new stage.

Eating My Feelings

How does one get through over a dozen snowstorms in one winter? Indulging in plenty of heartwarming, delicious food is one way to go. One thing that sets winter above the summer is that it is just so damn good to eat through it. Call it nature encouraging you to pack on a little extra padding for warmth or call it eating your feelings—it just works.

Tops on my favorite winter comford food are a piping hot bowl of ramen and a generous serving of steak. Both taste even better as rewards for a day of hard work. This bowl of Ippudo Akamaru Modern ramen was my pre-game for a long afternoon of studying, while that plate of l'entrecote at Le Relais de Venise was a wonderful treat in the middle of a busy workday.
How lovely is it to sit with a freshly baked pastry and a beautiful cup of coffee on a chilly winter day? Both just seem so much more enjoyable with a side of Polar Vortex. This monkey bread from Du Jour Bakery in Park Slope made me all warm and fuzzy inside, while that pretty little macchiato from Pennylane gave me wings.
New York brunches are good any time of the year, but during winter, I feel like I have carte blanche to go for the hearty stuff. Exhibit A: Du Jour's corned beef hash with fingerling potatoes and a poached egg. Exhibit B: The Dutch's shrimp and kimchi fried rice with two eggs and grilled pork belly. Oh my.
Also great in freezing temps: food with a kick! Khe-Yo, a Laosian spot in Tribeca, has got me under its spicy, coconut rice dappled spell. The unctuous bone marrow topped with steak tartare, fresh mint and hefty fried sunchoke chips made me feel all happy and tingly inside (which may or may not just be my veins constricting but pshh). And the chili prawns with that addictive feiry sauce will have you mopping up every last bit off the plate with the ginger scallion toast.
What I like to think of as my reward for putting up with this crazy winter (and perhaps saving a baby unicorn in another life) is discovering I have a jaw-droppingly good Italian joint literally right around the corner. Sociale is a rather new neighbor in Brooklyn Heights but it's become one of my favorite spots. I've had fantastic pasta dishes and a beautiful branzino here, but for a chilly night, I would recommend also cozying up with some of their polenta and that peculiar sounding but super yummy pumpkin dessert, the Catalana di Zucca. This kind of food just warms the heart, I tell ya.
All these good eats bring me to the ultimate silver lining to this long and pesky winter: the bulky and cozy winter layers this weather requires are certainly far more forgiving to indulgence than bikini weather! If we have to put up with yet another 6-12 inches of snow, we have that little bit of consolation, at least ...