Well this is most definitely a first. I’m currently flying over the Atlantic Ocean near Florida. seriously! My first experience with airplane wifi and its pretty genius.I’m escaping this cold (and way too snowy) NYC March and spending a week in the Bahamas. No plans except for sitting in a bathing suit in warmth of the sun. I can’t wait to explore a bit too with my camera and share woth you guys here.
Last week I had the opportunity to experience Burgundy in New York City. No, not this fall’s fashionable color; I’m talking about Burgundy, France – the heart of Pinot Noir and my home away from home. La Paulée is a traditional celebration for the end-of-harvest in Burgundy. It has a long history in Meursault specifically, but I can tell you from experience, that many towns and villages still have “paulée” parties when the grape picking is finished. The two Paulées I have been to in France featured friends gathered around long tables filled with food and many bottles of wine. Everyone laughed, drank and sang songs (like this one of course) until the wee hours of the morning.
Daniel Johnnes, wine Director for Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group, author, and importer has done so much to further the understanding and appreciation of Burgundy (wine and culture) in the United States. In particular, he founded La Paulée in 2000, an annual event that alternates between NYC and San Francisco every year. The biggest names in Burgundy winemaking, along with some rising stars, come to the States to celebrate the new vintages and, as is true in Burgundy, bring people together in a casual, fun atmosphere of food and wine. This year, I got to experience what I love about France in my new home of NYC.
My ticket into the rather prestigious event was actually thanks to my stint as an Au Pair, and not my current job in the wine industry – oddly enough. The winemaker who hired me as a nanny for his children in 2010, is one of the selected wine makers involved in the event each year. I was so excited to see him and his friends whom I had spent so much time with during my year in France. After catching up with them in between actual tasting sessions, I made sure to do my own share of wine tasting; how could I pass up drinking some of the best Pinot Noirs? The best part of my short time at the event was a casual run-in with Aubert de Villaine, winemaker from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, one of the most famous and sought-after wine producers in Burgundy. As I stood next to this man who I knew “looked so familiar,” I just couldn’t put my finger on who he was. I was mid-conversation with Erwan Faiveley from Domaine Faiveley, when Aubert came up next to me. Nonchalantly, Erwan said hello to him, poured him some wine and continued talking to me. I looked up (Mr. Villaine is tall) and remember thinking that I recognized this man for his dark, very particular, eyebrows. I knew I should have know who he was, and I didn’t want to stupidly introduce myself, so I just smiled and moved along my way. It was only when I returned to work and “googled” him (my answer to any and everything) that I realized who I had been standing next to.
Even if I didn’t get a chance to attend the gala dinner, and even if I didn’t know who Aubert de Villaine was, it was such a great experience to spend time in the same room as these great wine producers of Burgundy. Even more important for me, it was special to visit with my French family! As I continue my career in this amazing industry of wine, I know that my relationships with these people will continue to grow, and my world will continue to shrink – in a good way.
Just the other weekend my girlfriends and I went to the beach for a winter weekend. We simply sat around with some wine (of course) and food (we all love cooking and eating) and some board games (a beach tradition). We spent the weekend laughing, crying (it happens sometimes), and just enjoying being together. We all went to college together, that bizarre world where everyone is on relatively the same schedule and living in such close proximity. When you finally graduate and move away to begin new lives, careers, and relationships, it takes so much more of an effort to hang onto those special people. Our group of friends all live scattered around the Northeast so it’s close, but not close enough sometimes. Lucky for us, we enjoy mass emails, FaceTime videos, and weekend trips.
For me it was not only refreshing to be with my friends, it was also amazingly relaxing to breath fresh air (hard to come by in the city) and not have the need to commute anywhere at all. The farthest I physically moved was a walk to the beach–and it’s a straight shot It’s insane how tiring the daily grind can get.
The beach is one of my favorite places in the entire world so hearing the waves, smelling the salt air and standing in front of the immense ocean, even in chilly weather, was perfection. Here are some photos of our weekend.
I am not sure if I have ever been in love or simply lust. I guess I’ll know whether or not the times before were simply passionate moments of lustful feelings or actual love that burnt out too soon, once I am involved in a relationship that lasts. But that is a story not yet told.
Whatever these past relationships might have been, I know the blissful feelings I felt and the agony that tagged along when they were through. These are emotions that are depicted so vividly in the movie “Like Crazy.” I particularly remember watching “Like Crazy,” when I returned home from France, a bit heartbroken in more than one way to be honest. I must have watched the movie 3 times within a weekend and each time my heart wrenched with the raw emotions these characters feel. It was painful to watch but I wanted to watch it over and over; to feel what I was feeling in my own life through the story. Have you ever been there?
Well tonight, with an unbroken heart (!!), I turned the movie on again (the first time since that weekend) and it was so refreshing to not have those deep-seated feelings of longing and sadness electrifying through my core. I guess it goes to show that time heals all wounds. I’m thankful for that.
This clip below was and is one of my favorite parts.
**This was not meant to be depressing or anything. It was just a thought I had mi-movie and I wanted to share. Simple as that.
One of the places I wish I visited while living in France was Northern Africa. For years the French people have taken their vacations in places like Tunisia and Morocco due to the proximity and the affordability. Although I’ve never taken one of these trips, I have recently found my plate filled with Mediterranean cuisine (which I am grouping as Moroccan, Greek, Arabic and Middle Eastern). I am not new to Mediterranean cuisine; in high school our friends used to meet at Arpeggios (a Mediterranean BYOB) sometimes simply for the pita and humus, and in college I almost always ordered the lamb souvlakia from Daves Taverna (the go to Grille), dipping my fries in the excess tzatziki sauce that dipped from the sandwich. Here in Hoboken, I found Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant, a very affordable and delicious place where you can fill a plate with an assortment of Baklava, Tabbouleh and stuffed grape seed leaves among other things. So although this cuisine isn’t a new discovery, I am just realizing how much I prefer it, especially after this weekend’s trip to Williamsburg and the realization that I had eaten a ton of food and didn’t feel the need to unbutton my pants.
Café Mogador, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is not only adorably cute in its décor (we sat in a greenhouse type room with colorful throw pillows and neat light fixtures), but the food is beautiful as well. For our meal this weekend we ordered humus and matbucha to start. Matbucha, a cooked tomato and roasted bell pepper salad, was new for me and I found it nicely complemented the humus. For my meal I got the grilled merguez with basmati rice and veggies. It was served with a tzatziki sauce, brining me back to college, and an Arabic salad – extremely simple yet perfectly balanced with refreshing herbs and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. We ate a lot, and yet, as I find with this food, I didn’t have that stuffed feeling at the end. Café Mogador is also located in Manhattan’s East Village and I recommend it for those who enjoy this type of cuisine.
Honestly, Morocco wasn’t a place on my radar for travel before living in France, but since my recent food experiences I must say that it has jumped to a high-ranking on “places to go” to do list.
Have you been to Morocco, Tunisia, or any middle Eastern or Mediterranean countries? Do you enjoy the food?
It’s official, life is moving way too fast. How has it been 2 months (or more) since I have written here? Without further ado, here I am
In my absence I have been exploring my new Hoboken home, I have joined a gym for the first time in my life, I finally visited the Guggenheim Museum, I made my way back to French school, I discovered a unique bar in Jersey, I made some awesome fashion purchases, I adopted a fabulous bike (which I carried from Brooklyn to Hoboken at midnight on a Friday…), I weathered another storm (this time snow-related) and I have been honing my wine tasting skills (officially). As you can see, so much to talk about and I promise to share it all.
For starters, the most recent thing I am doing is going to wine school–FINALLY! If you remember, this was the plan when I was leaving France and also when I returned to France this summer for a visit. I went so far as to fill out paperwork for the school in Beaune, but timing wasn’t right and I missed the deadline. So now, settled in NYC with a real job and apartment (remember when I was roughing it?!), I am finally able to get the ball rolling on this goal of expanding my wine knowledge. Working in the industry on a daily basis has been a growing experience thus far; I have had the privilege to taste some amazing one of a kind wines and learn a lot from my colleagues though raw on the job experiences. But I want to be deeply rooted in this business, so going to the International Wine Center in NYC seemed like a great opportunity. I plan to share some of what I learn here, on this blog, so get your glasses ready.
This holiday season I had the privilege of doing the New York Christmas Scene to the max. With the PATH train shut down from the storm, I was forced to take the bus, which drops me off around Times Square–my least favorite area of Manhattan. The blessing in disguise was that I got to pass some great holiday decorations every morning and night. Some highlights were the window displays at Lord & Taylor and the Christmas market/ice skating rink in Bryant Park. I was instantly put into the Christmas spirit as I strolled to work listening to Pandora Holiday stations! As per tradition, I also made sure to pit stop at the Rockefeller tree one night before crossing over to Jersey. New York never fails during this time of the year and I was happy to experience so much of it on a daily basis. I even got to do some very touristy things with friends after the actual holiday itself. We went to see The Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall and sipped tons of mulled wine at Rolf’s German Restaurant. The decorations there are always over the top. I cannot wait to return for Valentines Day, Halloween and all of the holidays in between (of course I was told that nothing beats the intricate Christmas display). What did you do over the holidays? Did you make it into the city?
From the beginning, this blog has been called “Becoming French.” I was living in France and falling in love with the country quickly, so of course I wanted to stay and that was transmitted in my blog’s title. Now, back in the states for a year, it seems I am still American and worse, living on American soil (albeit in the greatest and most international city I can think of, NYC).
I think I have it pretty good, but still I can’t help but continue to day dream about picking up and moving back over the Atlantic. Then I snap out of it and realize the annoying realities of such a feat. These realities which everyone knows and which are painfully explained here.
Some day my prince will come?! Or maybe I’ll be the risky writer (there have only been a million) who travels back and forth over country borders. Sighhh…
After being caught in the blackout of NYC, I spent some time back home with my parents while waiting for power to be restored at work and my apartment. It was an inconvenience, of course, but I am thankful to have spent time home with friends and family. I am also thankful to have been spared of anything detrimental, as so many others have. As the days get darker and colder here, I think of all those still struggling with heat, power and damaged homes.
Living a few days as if I was in the 1800s, I kind of got used to hitting the sac early (i.e. when the sun went down), not having internet connection readily accessible and opening a book instead of flipping on a TV. I would even say that I felt refreshed when returning to the city. I now turn my phone off every night before bed, which as little as it might be, is the most relaxing thing in the world. Try it!
I hope you were safe during and after the Hurricane, and I hope that you can find a little piece of positive from the negative, as I have with my “technology breaks” and new goal to read more books.