I suppose it is a good thing that I have been incredibly too busy with work projects (Yay! Big Ben Media Group!) and with life in general (what the heck have I been doing?) to actually sit down and write but before inertia sets in and takes over, I want to catch you up on all the things we’ve done this summer.
Ok, for starters, we have not gone to the beach even once! Our youngest daughter actually went with a friend to the Hamptons. That’s right, she went to the Hamptons, home to the rich and famous, but not us, we haven’t gone to the beach even once. We also have only gone to the town pool one time. Last year, we were at the pool or beach nearly every day. So what gives?
Well, the weekends have been full of cooking and experimenting with new recipes, photography and backyard barbeques. The week, well, has been full of kids (and stitches for the little boy, don’t ask!), working and tending to the house and our failing vegetable garden. We think the heat wave killed all of our plants and what that didn’t kill, the bugs and vermin have. So, we have been pulling plants, weeding and trying in vain to rescue what is left. This year, we didn’t tend to the garden on a schedule until it was too late. Next year, we vow to do better.
One of things that I have been spending a lot of time doing is reading books. Not just reading them on the Nook, or on the internet. I have actually sat down and read several books that I’ve held in my hands. I realized that with the Nook, or the internet, my attention span really only lasts a few minutes before I tire and move on to something else, but with an actual book, I’ll delve in and am lost for hours, if not days. It’s been really wonderful. And for this summer, I’ve been transported to Paris, my home away from home and one of my most favorite cities in the world. If I cannot be there in person, a book is almost (not really, but I’ll keep telling myself that!) as good.
I have also been very lucky to have been able to attend a few book signings this summer of some of my favorite bloggers/authors. Two of which, happen to live in Paris.
Just last week, Ari and I saw our friend and one of our favorite blogger’s, David Lebovitz, at Baby Cakes here in NYC. We indulged in a few minutes of conversation with him and devoured some divine donuts at the same time. (The cinnamon sugar ones are quite addictive!) It was a very rainy day, but he had a long line of fans waiting patiently outside and inside the tiny storefront for him to sign his paperback release of The Sweet Life in Paris. It’s a must read (as are all of his cookbooks!) and a laugh out loud tale of David’s experiences living as an expatriate in Paris. We’ve had the hard cover version since it’s release (I buy all of his books the moment I see them come out.) and it maintains a prominent place on our coffee table.
We snuck in and got a quick hello and finally had him sign a few of his books, Ready for Dessert and The Sweet Life in Paris, that I’ve been meaning to take along (or make Ari carry) to the destinations where we’ve seen him. We wish we could have spent more time chatting with him, but the line was growing and we really didn’t want to be too rude. So, we left David to his signing and we took a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood, stopping for Thai food and a delicate blackberry sorbet from il laboratorio del gelato.
A couple of weeks before that, I had the pleasure of seeing Olivier Magny, from O-Chateau at his book signing here in NYC for the debut release of “Stuff Parisians Like, Discovering the Quoi in the Je Ne Sais Quoi” which grew out of his much beloved, tongue in cheek blog, “Stuff Parisians Like”.
Ari and I first met Olivier in Paris where he was holding wine tasting classes in his loft where he actually lived at the time. That was nearly six or seven years ago and I’ve been following O-Chateau and Olivier’s blog ever since. So when his book arrived I was delighted for him and the accolades that followed him. It’s always inspiring to see an entrepreneurs’ dream come to fruition.
If you have not read his blog or his book, I suggest you do so immediately. He wastes no time being “PC” and like NYer’s, who can make fun of themselves where no one else dares, he points out the Parisian’s character idiosyncrasies with flawless and wild abandon.
Olivier’s charismatic and humorous personality is evident in his writing style and is synonymous with the way he approaches wine. He takes a lighter stance on the formality of wine education, which lends itself to an enjoyable experience. It is no doubt then, that his short stories, commentaries really, his Useful Tips and Sound Like a Parisian anecdotes at the end of each piece are sharp witted and equally jocular.
The stories throughout the book are no longer than a few pages each and can be read as stand alone slices of cultural observations, so you’re to never feel as though you have an entire story to keep up with. Although, once you start to read, you’ll want to finish the entire book in one sitting, it’s that amusing!
One of my favorite stories is entitled “The Idea of Sailing”, whereas sailing, is something a Parisian cannot not like for it is elegant and poetic and thus, Parisian. There are other, equally, if not more so, hysterical nuances to be uncovered of the Parisian and Olivier does so with eloquence and cleverness.
During his stay here, I was able to sit down with Olivier and ask him a few questions:
KC: ”You’ve been called the “French version of Jamie Oliver”. Is that offensive or endearing?”
OM: “Well, it might be more the drunk version, but seriously, it’s an honor. Jamie has been a fantastic agent in renewing the food scene world wide. And wine can be a bit on the stuffy side sometimes so I try to bring a bit of energy to it, but of course I am much smaller and much more of the little guy than Jamie.”
KC: “Your book, and your blog, are a bit snarky at times to Parisian’s. Have you felt any backlash from this?”
OM: “Well, I’ve been mugged”. No actually, it’s funny because the responses I’ve gotten from Parisians are positive and they really enjoy it, saying it is true and actually, really spot on. The only negative I’ve gotten is that people are saying it’s not only the Parisians who are like this, but France is becoming like this as a whole, which I lament a little bit, and I fight it everyday. I’m trying to preserve the local cultures and fighting against the uniformity of the country.”
KC: “The last commentary in your book discusses the French not drinking as much wine as they used to. Are you hoping to change that by the way you teach your classes and give your tastings?”
OM: “Oh yes, I try to bring freshness and fun to wine drinking and wine knowledge which has gone down over the past 20 years in France. We, at O-Chateau try to create a place where you’ll feel good as a wine lover, with a friendly staff, good music, good food, and a good atmosphere where it is actually cool to drink wine, which is counter intuitive to the French way of thinking now.”
If in Paris, please be sure to visit Olivier at O-Chateau, and his new wine bar, in the 1st arrondissement, just steps away from the Louvre. And you can also check to see if David is leading any of his sinfully delicious and indulgent chocolate and pastry tours while you are there! What could be more Parisian than that?
Disclosure: I received a copy of Olivier’s book, Stuff Parisians Like to review for this post. No other compensation was granted.