Bon Appetit, from A Girl Who Used to Eat to Live. Now, I Live to Eat. My Guide to Paris and Beyond…
This morning, I woke up to news that Andrea Greenberg passed away in her sleep. The tears have not stopped rolling. I dedicate this post to a 53 year old gem, a boss lady, an inspiration, a star and I am proud to say, a friend of mine for the past eleven years. Andrea, I had the opportunity to dine with you and Alejandro in Aspen a few months ago. You loved the best things in life. This one is for you my cornichon…..
“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.” ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
I had the intent of taking off for three weeks. Four months later, I sit on Brickell Avenue, two Cuban colada’s deep. Damn, I missed my Café Bustelo from Publix’s little café.
SO, just a few weeks ago, I returned from the most glorious ‘summer’ trip ever. With some R+D initiatives in the mix, I had the opportunity to travel between Paris, London, Venice, Brussels and Amsterdam, all of which I ate my way through.
And, here it goes, le grand synopsis: I ran through France with my mother, supped with Carole Seikaly and hung with Lexing Zhang where we were offered cheese by an American named Pasha Mirazimi, who became my friend, sending us to my new favorite restaurant. I was also joined for a few days by my best friend Brooke Lauren. I had the fortune to meet the most glorious ladies named Roberta Marroquin, a Mexican Artist and Itza Chavarria. Should you ever need a caterer in Paris, just reach out. She is one of a kind…. I fell in love all over again in Venice on my birthday at the Gritti Palace and we celebrated with my famiglia, the Tokatzian’s at their palazzo on Lido. I wine’d and dine’d with Darryl Gibson and Kirk (Baby D and Baby K) at the original Harry’s Bar. I started eating gluten again in London, did not nearly die of a bladder infection and need to OD on Cipro, and did Carpool Karaoke in a Bentley SUV that does not move from its parking spot on London’s most push square, since its owner is always intoxicated. Love her. I danced, repping a KrelWear knit onesie that still fits from 10 years ago at Tomorrowland, where we were fortunate enough to stay in their Mansion’s (um there is no other way to do music festivals), and I met new Dutch friends who I love, like Maria Vanduijvenbode. I ran into acquaintances in Amsterdam and saw Sarah Arison and her husband by accident in Paris…..and I ate all kinds of god knows what at Wilderness Festival in the UK, where I slept in a TENT and woke up with blue glitter all over my face (um, ya), oh, and I fell in love with a new gin, Sip Smith. I became a lover of Aperol Spritz, learned all about natural wine’s and let’s just say, after reflecting in the paragraph above, the summary is as follows: I feel so damn lucky to love how I do, and to live how I live. I dance freely. I travel, from tents to 5 star hotels, and having had the good fortune to have met such incredible new friends from all across the world, I sit and smile, as I type, reflecting on the consumed calories.
Having meandered through Paris, those of you who know me, or don’t, I think I have a sign on my forehead that says: talk to me. Well, this happens to be one of my biggest blessings, because through talking to strangers, I discovered new gems….I will give you a glimpse into where you could find me in Paris, the most romantic city in the world, from food to shopping for vintage digs. I used to write more about lifestyle, now I focus on food. However, I will also provide a few tips for Amsterdam and London. Hope you J’Adore!
EAT. DRINK. BE CHIC. SHOP.
My new friend Pasha met a food journalist. He asked her: if there were four restaurants to send me to that if I did not know existed, I should, what would they be. Iratze was the only one of the four recommendations opened during the month of August in Paris, when everything is closed. Thank god Iratze was open.
Located behind the 4th arr, also known as le Marais, Iratze served up some of the most incredible, gourmet food I have experienced in 34 years…. We literally had nothing left on our plates, and my mom and I are reasonable eaters. Having arrived for our reservation at 7:30 p.m., the place was relatively dead, but we decided to give it a try. Thank god….
Iratze only offers a prixe fixe menu, and you choose either 3 courses for a 49 euros (yes, you heard me), or a 9 course menu for 68 euros. There is NO better deal in town. I would share the menu, however it changes weekly. If you sit at the bar like we did, it is amazing….but if you want the 9 courses, you must sit at a separate table.
Iratze’s chef was formerly at NOMA. Enough said? Also, the wine list is beyond. All wine’s are natural, meaning they are sulfa free and not fermented using fish or egg. Bet you did not know that wines have traces of that! Ask for Jessica the sommelier and the tan bar master is a creative genius. I watched him serving up artisanal cocktails and it was beyond impressive. 49 Rue Amelot.
Carole Seikaly and I had dinner. She insisted I follow her niece, a food blogger (@bustros), who had just posted a chic resto, so, I grabbed my mom, turned on Google Maps for a 1 hour walk to lunch. I had unfortunately, yet fortunately, typed in the management offices of Les Grands Verres. We ended up in the 9th. Two starving women = not good, but a stranger on the street having a coffee, pointed out that since we walked all of this way, we should head for five more minutes check out Pink Mamma….so we walked past the seedy non gentrified sex zone… and ended up at Pink Mamma.
This was another incredible find, with of course, a story attached. Trattoria Pink Mamma puts any SoHO House to shame. It is what they wish they could accomplish. My mom and I ate on the top floor. If you go, ask to be seated here. It is chic, lit by the natural light of Paris, and the décor is beyond. It is also NOT expensive for the experience.
I suggest you order the beef carpaccio (huge) and the saffron pasta or the truffle pasta. People also seemed to be enjoying the grilled meat. It is their specialty, aside from chicness galore. Pink Mamma does not accept reservations, but it is totally worth the wait. 20bis Rue de Douai.
If you are in the 16th, around Passy/Trocadero, swing by Palais De Tokyo’s at newest restaurant, Les Grands Verres. I recommend a reservation. Brooke and I ran on by, and the hostess who was not the sharpest tool in the shed, would not seat us, so we walked in and sat at the open bar.
First and foremost, their bread is from Ten Belles. You will read more below, but lets just say it is a great indication of a good restaurant.
Les Grands Verres, a Lebanese inspired establishment, had the most delicious Bloody Mary that I had in France. Made with apple cider, and pickled vegetables, it was simply perfect. The fattoush salad, I would skip, but the artichoke appetizer as well as the chicken entrée were simply WOW. The ambiance was also YES. Think Otium at the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles gone Euro vibes. 13 Avenue du Président Wilson.
Strategically located at Trocadero, L’Homme just re-opened with a fresh look. Speaking of look, the only place you can look while there is at the Eiffel Tower. L’homme, if weather permitting, reserve outside. The food was also beyond delicious. I recommend the Steak Tartar. They were also offering special, Asian inspired appetizers so we had the seared tuna. Just say OUI. 7 Place du Trocadéro.
It is great to have ex boyfriends that are ‘kind of’ French, who are still your BFF, and are happy to recommend good food. Thanks! So, because of him, I discovered the best steak in Paris. Located in the 8th, LGdT is all about quality food. The crowd looked it. The meat was truly amazing, as was everything we tried. It is very heavy food, but sometimes ya need that comfort food. The red wine was also superb, but of course, I do not remember which one it is. I have to use my Vivino app all around Europe. Next time! And, I really love their tacky, low budget website. Click above to see 😉 87 Boulevard de Courcelles.
French macaron’s are so pase’….is the feeling you get when you enter Maison Aleph. Behind Rue des RIvoli, Lexing Zheng and I had just accidentally run into Azzedine Alaia and our adrenaline was flowing. Basking in our joy, we passed a specialty, epicurean bakery, and decided to try it. Aleph, also known as the letter ‘A’ in the Semitic language (aka Syrian), is smaller in proximity than one of my storage units, but is still one of the best kept secret if your sweet tooth is on fire. This Syrian gem serves up some of the best sweets to hit my tongue, since living in Beirut in 2011! I recommend trying the Knafeh with rose crème. Do not ask, just go….. This is also a superb place to take a gift if you have a dinner party in Paris. Talk about chic galore. 20 Rue de la Verrerie.
My ‘sister’ Tanya told me not to miss her favorite restaurant in the city. I listened. Desi Road has the best Indian food….ever. I used to be all about Amaya in London, but forget that. Desi Road is a well decorated haven, very intimate and designed well, but the real treat is what comes out of their kitchen. The only thing I recommend is to go with a friend and order the chef selection. Flavors literally explode in your mouth, and you do NOT get bloated after the fact. If you are around the 6th, please do not miss this. Desi Road is also open for lunch and dinner. 14 Rue Dauphine.
Are you in the mood for some of the most incredible wine that Paris has to offer? Stop by Chez Nous, a bar that’s is always bumping. All of their wines are natural, the people are pretty, it is super chill, and the food selection is very small, but perfect for a light bite. Their salami with hazelnuts and the burata is enough of a reason to return.10 Rue Dauphine.
Downstairs is deceiving. It looks like a bad ass Italian market. It is. Then you see a menu on the wall. With a little bit of extra information, you learn they have a restaurant upstairs. Seating only twenty people, Pastavino boasts some of the best Italian food I have experienced in France. The Vitello Tonnato was beyond. The Pasta’s were show stopping. Perfect, truly, as was the Aperol Spritz. Oh, order the Tiramisu. For a generally over rated desert, it was WOW. 18 Rue de Buci.
The new restaurant at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, also known as behind the Dior Exhibition, or centered between the Louvre and the Tuleries Garden, Lou Lou is not only easy on the eyes, the food was pretty incredible for a trendy establishment. On a glorious day, grab lunch in the courtyard, or on any other evening, dine among Paris’ jet set. I recommend the grilled octopus and the pasta was a success, as was the truffle pizza, but I could have survived without it. Get a reservation on a Thursday evening. Aside from the lovely food and ambiance, Alexis Mabille designed the uniforms of the staff. 07 Rue de Rivoli.
My favorite foodie trend in Paris is the superb Michelin starred chef, opening the restaurant with friendly price points. The Rotisserie is the brain child of France’s oldest and most historical restaurant: La Tour d’Argent. My friend Silvia and I walked in by accident. From the street, the ambiance looked right up our alley. Bright yellow table cloths, checkered, contrasting the old school French style brasserie floor…of black and white tiles.
Anyhoe, a very happy accident of my daily walk to le Marais, passing this gem, allowed me to find my favorite escargot in the city. The leek salad is one to be desired, as is the chicken dish which is roasted in the open kitchen. FYI the kitchen is absolutely gorgeous. I was ready to replicate it in Mexico, but you know…..not every fantasy is THAT easy. Also, their crème brulee is the perfect addition end to any meal.
La Tour d’Argent is famous for their duck, and it is also available at Rotisserie. My other half loved it.
Regarding vino, I would suggest ordering the red house wine. If I recall correctly it was upward of 40 euros and simply delicioso! 19 Quai de la Tournelle.
L’Avant Comptoir + L’Avant Comptoir de Mer
Two ‘restaurants’ strategically hidden between butcher style plastic panels, are mostly standing room, and subsequently gastronomic heavens. Le Comptoir used to be my favorite restaurant in Paris. It no longer made this list. The food became mediocre at best, mixed with way too much French attitude, however, to the left of Le Comptoir are two restaurants owned by the same company. The one further toward St. Germain (de Mer) focuses on oysters and fish, and the one to the right (Comptoir)on French Tapas, and FYI they have the BEST ham and cheese baguette in town.
Lets start with the non-fish based restaurant. With huge vase style tubs of cornichon, spicy French mustard and massive balls of butter at your disposal, order small plates that tickle your taste buds. I recommend the petite pois (peas) salad, the beef carpaccio and the ham and cheese sandwich. Do not forget, you are standing and eating, but you get gourmet for a reasonable price for Paris standards. My mom and I are obsessed. OH, ask them to toast the sandwich for you. A MsErinsita gringa tip.
Do you love oysters? If so, the fish spot is perfect for you. They shuck them right there and the staff is really knowledgeable. There is a way to sit here if you are patient, but also mostly standing room. The wine selection and display is also YES. 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon.
While sitting at Iratze, the bread basket came, and really rapidly disappeared. Into our mouth that is. I have never tasted a better loaf of bread, so of course, I asked the staff and they advised us to go and check it.
Ten Belles is located in what could be compared to as the Brooklyn style neighborhood of Paris. Ten Belles was once famous for its coffee, but now boasts a bakery that pumps out loaves to Paris’ best restaurants, like Iratze and Les Grands Verres.
My mother and I went in on a weekend and were obsessed with the simplicity and deliciousness of the coffee, the focaccia sandwiches, and we left with bread for the casa. It was the perfect discovery, and when you go, get lost in that hood. It is cool as hell.
There are two locations. We tried the smaller one, and we were advised that the larger operation is more comfortable for a casual dining experience. 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles.
I am not a fan, generally, of this four restaurant mini chain, but Le Entrecote on St. Germain was really WOW. You cannot order, except for the temperature of your meat, but from A to Z, the experience was perfect. The frisee salad, the meat and French fries were on point. 20 Rue Saint-Benoî.
VINTAGE SHOPPING! OUI.
This time around, I discovered a great, like whoooooooly shit great, vintage shop that is FULL of YSL. Lots of Vintage YSL and mixed in with a selection of Hermes, and old French brands. Stop by, for sure, even if it is for inspo! Also, they own a tiny shop next door that has no brand vintage and is cool as hell. OH, across the street there is a restaurant called Braise. I did not try it but based upon the smell, it has to be next level….and it has 5 stars on Google! 12 Rue de Lancry.
EAT. STAY. DRINK.
We were walking around Shoreditch, also known as my new favorite hood in London, and stumbled upon the BEST pasta restaurant, like EVER. All of the pastas at Burro taste as they came straight from Florence, however, they came straight from the front of the shop. Their menu frequently changes, but everything I tried was really above and beyond. The rose’ which is a lighter shade of red wine is also perfect for a chilly day.
If you live in London, go by and buy the fresh pasta if you like to cook. If you are on the run, the lasagna is also everything and it is sold out early so get in early enough! 52 Redchurch St, London E2 7DB.
Also located in Shoreditch, behind the Hoxton, Nobu Hotels are popping up everywhere, and are my favorite chain of the moment. The Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch has the most comfortable beds, superb products aka Natura Bisse, the best robes and sandals, and reasonable prices! We book using Hotels Tonight.
Nobu Hotel also boasts a Nobu that makes you feel that you are living a real life episode of Entourage. A DJ plays from above as you sip on Sake below. Try the Scallop roll. 10-50 Willow St, London EC2A 4BH.
My girlfriend Kimmi knows best. On my way back from Wilderness Music Festival in Oxford, I met her and her friend Meredith for lunch. Olivocarne is located in the beautiful Belgravia neighborhood, right next to Philip Treacey’s shop on Elizabeth Street. Run, do not walk over. From the service to the crowd to the food and vino, there is no better spot for truly good cuisine. They also offer a prix fixe menu for lunch and it was truly perfect. 61 Elizabeth St, Belgravia, SW1W 9PP.
I was expecting OMG and was not OMG’d….but if you are thirsty while in Mayfair, check out Balaz’ baby, and sit in the courtyard for a cocky. Guests are attractive and the staff’s uniforms are very Vintage YSL, but aside from that, I cannot say I tried the food, but I hear it is good. 1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, W1U 7PA
EAT. DRINK. STAY.SHOP.
The only place to stay if you are craving luxury. The Conservatorium is chic as hell. Located in a historical building with superb contemporary style, we made the mistake of NOT booking here and ended up in a dump, but that’s not here nor there. We came to Conservatorium for cocktails with our friends from Tomorrowland, and I ran into some chic global friends. FOMO was on fire…. It is also located on Amsterdam’s best shopping street…..and the restaurant listed below, is on the same street!!! Van Baerlestraat 27.
This was my only good meal in Amsterdam, and thanks to my friend Maria for taking us! BvB had a killer steak tartar, prepared tableside, heavenly wine…and clean, old school Austrian style décor.
I would not hesitate to return, and they also offer a prixe fixe meal. Van Baerlestraat 158, 1071 BG.
No, I am not speaking about my favorite lingerie brand, but rather a restaurant that may make you not want to go shopping there after! We love a good pizza, and thank god to my partner’s addiction to YELP, we discovered this little casual delicious joint. La Perla serves up pizza’s that are as fresh as it gets, and he LOVED his pasta that is made across the street at the sister restaurant. 0 complaints, which from me = major. Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 53, 1015 RZ.
I walked for over a hour to discover this shop which I found on Google. Thank god for Google and Google Maps. Without both, what would a girl do?
SO, Onley Desirables, is as chic as the man behind it all. Owned by Gerard Onley, reminds me of Berlin. That dark Ann Demeulmeester mixed with McQueen and lots of Yammamoto, Pleats Please? YAS KWEENS!
A tiny shop owned by an American former fashion designer, I LOVED this shop and I walked out with a great black McQueen jacket full of gold zippers….for 275 Euros! The shop was fab, the owner was cool as hell….and if you are in Amsterdam and can rock Rick Owens, do not miss. He also has a men’s section. Czaar Peterstraat 193 – 1018PL.
In the mood for a Dutch concept shop that carries everything from clothing to furniture to jewelry and beyond? After nearly getting hit and killed by 12 high speed bicycles on day 1, I wandered into this cool as hell shop. Although I did not but anything, at 70 off I likely would have walked away with a few items. The selection is vast and the buyers taste is dark, as each garment is cut at a bias that could inspire you to move to Germany. This shop reminds me of the store in SoHO House, Berlin, but carrying more up and coming brands than established ones. LOVE. Staalstraat 7A1011JJ.