eating adventures

During my around the world travels I’ve experienced many eating adventures, from street food in Vietnam to yak in Tibet. And let’s not forget bone marrow in China and lardo in Italy. (Delicious!) But I have to admit, the most fun I’ve ever had eating was in San Sebastián. This foodie mecca is home to two of the best restaurants in the world, but what we were after were the pinxtos, the Basque version of tapas. The old quarter is filled with pinxtos bars, dozens lining every street, all attempting to entice you with an array of these taste bites lining the counters.

IMG_0474On our first night we followed our feelings as my Italian would say, or was it our eyes and mouths. And with each bar a glass of rioja or local cider. In less than 24 hours I was hooked!


Day two we did a little research and discovered that our feelings, and palates, had led us well. The eating adventures continued as we were determined to try as many pinxtos bars as possible.


By day three, we had eaten at nearly a dozen pinxtos bars, drank many a glass of local wine, over-indulged in calamari and octopus and I even convinced my Italian to try pigs ears. It being our last day, we decided to return to our favorite bars. For those planning a trip to San Sebastián (which I highly recommend for anyone who loves to eat) here is the list of pinxtos bars that will keep us coming back. I’m already looking forward to the next trip!

Bar Zeruko : most innovative and experimental of the pinxtos bars

Atari Gastroteka : the gastronomic version of pinxtos

Borda Berri + La Cuchara de San Telmo : pinxtos made fresh to order (both run by same owner)

Bar Sport : don’t let the name of lack of ambiance fool you!

La Viña : home to the best cheesecake in the world!


The only rule to remember when pinxtos bar-hopping, the more napkins on the floor, the better!

epicurean extravaganza

Recently I was invited to what can truly be considered a food lover’s paradise, the inauguration of the brand new La Grande Épicerie de Paris. This uber gourmet food hall located within the Le Bon Marché is the spot for anything indulgent, from everywhere in the world. And indulge we did!


The night commenced with a presentation by the bakers and butchers, fit for a king. Champagne flowed, accompanied by plentiful platters of fois gras, oysters, and cheeses, France’s finest. It wouldn’t be a party without a selection of fine Italian hams… and a heavenly chocolate fountain!










The fruits, vegetables and produce were elegantly displayed like works of art.



I felt grateful to live in a country that celebrates food so ceremoniously!


The icing on the cake, aside from the many desserts we inhaled (including macarons and freshly dipped ice-cream pops),  was DJ & comedian Ariel Wizman, spinning tunes in chef Jean-Jacques Massé’s new restaurant La Table. This was certainly the epicurian extravaganza of the year!

Read more about the grand new epicerie on France Today.

diner à la française

IMG_4463For those living outside of France, or even for many of those on the inside, what does it really feel like to dine with the vrai français? How do the French dine, what do they serve and with which formalities, what do their homes look like? Personally, I’m lucky to have a few dear French friends who have graciously opened their homes to me. But I still often wonder what secrets are discovered at these French dinners.

By the clever collaboration of Renaud Maigne who often traveled for work and was tired of dining alone, “The thing we remember the most is the personal exchange we’ve had with the locals who tell you about their country and traditions.”, and Matthieu Heslouin who wanted to make the foreign dining experience accessible to all, “Thematic dinners are as numerous as the passions of the hosts. To each his own dinner! Or in French, à chacun son dîner!” Thus VoulezVousDîner was born! Dinner parties for all to attend, all around the world.


I was eager to attend one of these Paris dinners, and chose Diner Concert Chez Sacha. Gourmet dinner followed by a piano concert? Yes please! My Italian and I arrived first, how very un-French of us, and we became acquainted with our lovely host Sasha and her friend Carl, who generously poured the champagne. Another French couple arrived and we were seated at a table set with plates designed by Sacha herself. Before the food was even served, I was impressed!

Once dinner began we all became well acquainted and shared various musings on life in Paris, both from the perspective of locals and foreigners, while Sacha told us all about her history with cooking and her passion for pottery. Each course was creatively inspired, delicious and plentiful, paired with select wines and ending with dessert… and cheese bien sûr!


To end the evening, Sacha performed a few piano pieces as we sipped on a digestif. It was certainly a night to remember! Looking forward to my next VoulezVousDîner, in Paris or elsewhere.

last bistro standing

It seems that every day another hotspot is opening up in the Marais. New bars and restaurants around every corner. What about those that remain? Does anyone frequent the old haunts?


Le Bougnat is a restaurant I walked by almost every day, and often I wondered what when on in there (and who ate there), discreetly positioned on rue de Saintonge just steps away from trendy rue de Bretagne. One night my Italian and I decided to find out.


Much to our surprise the place was bustling, it was Friday night after all. There were young and old, mingling at the bar, filling up both small dining rooms… In their jovial manner, I could tell many of them were regulars.

IMG_1362IMG_1357Seated next to an elderly French couple, we quickly found out they were regulars. They advised us on what to order, all of the dishes being traditionally French. Somehow through the dinner our tables were pushed together and the next 3 hours were spent in conversation. If felt much like being in a small village far away from Paris. How friendly and hospitable everyone was!


After dinner we had a digestif with our new friends. Learning that this brasserie had been in Paris for many decades and was quite a hotspot (and still is) to those who knew the Marais before the term bobo was even invented. May it remain there for decades to come!

Le Bougnat is located at 28 rue de Saintonge and is open only on Friday and Saturday.

urban escape

I am a great fan of weekend escapes, a tranquil setting in which to unwind and simply lose track of time. Though not always possible or so easy to get away. Luckily, I discovered such a place in the heart of Paris, what I can accurately describe as an urban escape, L’échappée.

Behind this door exists a hidden universe of wellness, for mind, body and soul.

First stop, the spa. Upon entering the hammam, the cold, wintry world outside ceased to exist. The dipping pool invited me in to it’s tepid waters and there I remained for countless time, the Paris sky high above, my thoughts floating far beyond it. Experiencing the full spa treatment, I was next summoned to an adjoining room for le gommage, the ritual of cleansing and exfoliating the skin. I was left feeling lighter and rehydrated. Perfect time to escape into the steam room. The next step is my favorite of all, le massage. I chose the Californian technique for utmost relaxation. In a word, bliss. Where am I again? I left this urban paradise hours later in a state of zen and floated home.

Above the spa sits the restaurant. Both industrial chic and intimate, feeling very much comme à la maison. I’ve had the occasion of lunching here several times but it is the weekend brunch that most satisfies my palate. A decadent and plentiful spread of sweet and savory. The best Paris brunch I have discovered to date, and as a New York brunch aficionado that says a lot!

I am already looking forward to my next visit to the spa, the restaurant, or perhaps both, should I need a proper escape. Anyone care to join me?

surprise dining

A surprise dinner? Yes, please! I’ll try almost anything once. (Pigs ears in Spain, bone marrow sucked through a straw in China, Yak in Tibet, lardo in Italy…) Obviously I’m a great fan of adventurous eating. When my equally adventurous Italian recently planned a surprise dinner, telling me it was more of a concept, I was intrigued. Would we be dining in the dark, eating with our hands… I could not make sense of it considering we were in Paris, a culinary capital.

My curiosity grew while we wandered Place de la Madeleine. Until we reached the passage.

Le Passage to be exact. Through the door and up the stairs…

Here we discovered a restaurant with a menu unlike any other. Hidden above the famous gastronomic Senderens restaurant is this experience and experiment in taste. There is no menu, thus no decisions to be made. Here is where the culinary adventure begins. Your dinner is based upon the whim of the chef, whatever he decides to test for the main restaurant, with each table trying different dishes, some of which may end up on the menu. Four courses of unique gastro-dining for less than 40€ (add a good bottle of wine bien sûr) et voilà, surprise dinner is served!

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