Filling My Soul With That Which Was Missing

IMG_7449It’s been over two weeks since I was on VACATION!!!!

It really feels like only yesterday. I miss it so much. The first week back was extremely difficult to even get into the swing of life here in New York City. Post vacation depression. Does that happen to you too? Sometimes I even have it when I leave my friends after spending a weekend together in DC or something similar.

IMG_4512In any case, the details of my trip are missing from this blog. I began my adventure in Burgundy (my home away from home) for about five days.  I snuggled with the kids, ate and drank on the terrace for hours, drove through the quaint wine town of Beaune and the surrounding vineyards and even stopped for coffee at my favorite café in Dijon. It was a brilliant mix of activities that filled my heart with what I was missing for the past  four years since living there.

I even had the opportunity to visit the vineyards of one of the wine makers that I now represent in New York City. Emmanuel Giboulot makes very distinct natural wine and it was exciting for me to see each specific parcel. Emmanuel was just getting back from vacation when we met in his cellar on the outskirts of Beaune. After tasting some new vintages and seeing the new label design (which I am so excited about), we took his truck up into the vineyards. This perspective, actually seeing each parcel, is helpful as I share his wines with sommeliers domestically. I can now see where the wine I am selling has come from and the actual terroir and agricultural characteristics. As much as I love drinking wine, being within the rows of hanging grapes is what I love even more. It invigorates me, especially in France while speaking French 🙂

IMG_7501 IMG_7503


IMG_7437




IMG_7563
IMG_7578

 

After the Côte d’Or I took the train north to Paris. I’ll recap next.

Summer Concert Series (Fête de la Musique)

IMG_6582

Fête de la musique was something I never knew existed before living in France. People made a big deal of the annual first day of summer music celebration in Dijon. There were concerts set up around the city and promotion weeks in advance. Because of this I assumed it was a French thing, but in fact it is celebrated worldwide.

This past year I celebrated in a French spirit.  As part of Central Park’s SummerStage festival, the French Embassy sponsored two popular French singers to perform for a packed crowd of Francophiles and native Frenchmen alike.

The afternoon began with Émilie Simon and ended with the eccentric M. I honestly had never heard either of them, but was able to convince my equally as French obsessed sister to join me on this musical journey.

IMG_6562

IMG_6563

 

IMG_6573

Walking up to the grounds and hearing all of the French-speaking was enough to make me pleased with our decision to attend. Of course the music was good too, if VERY French in style (if you are American and have lived in France or have listened to French pop I think you get what I’m saying). All in all, I loved every minute.M wears extreme costumes, sings with an alluring falsetto and knows how to rock it out on guitar all night long. Apparently the band was cut from the sound system at some point in the night but he continued to play with an enthusiastic crowd singing along (we left before this but my French colleague was there and reported back).

It was so fun to do something a bit different and support music!

La Paulée New York

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.

2013-03-08 13.09.30 2013-03-08 13.22.03

Heart ache

So many times, I find myself stumbling (perhaps sometimes intentionally) upon French things.  Just 13 months spent living in that country but I have such an intense attachment to it none the less.  Most of the time these French encounters are as simple as passing a couple walking past me speaking French.  And sometimes, as I said, I seek these things out on my own.  These Frenchisms often come in the form of traveling to the Upper East side for an authentic café, spending $15 on French Vogue (yes, I did that), getting lost in a French movie or just listening to Edith Piaf.  Tonight it unexpectedly came by watching one of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation.  The episode I came across was when Anthony went to Burgundy.  My old stomping grounds.  I will confess that I felt the need to cry while watching.  There was an intense ache in my heart as I watched him drive Le Route Des Grands Crus,  listened to him sing the typical Burgundy drinking songs, and of course see him eat the aliments and drink the wine of the region.  There was one part in particular which struck me.  Anthony went to a butcher shop in Auxerre and his “guide” described it as a common place to catch the town gossip.  He also mentioned how the butcher remembered what everyone ordered and would bill customers at the end of the week instead of at each visit.  This reminded me of the butcher shop I used to frequent in Nuits St George.  The woman who worked there was definitely the one who knew the town happenings (and a what she didn’t know she quickly found out) and she would often just mark down my order “for next time” if I didnt have money on me.  Why can’t everything here be traditional and relaxed like in France?

My heart is broken over France I believe.  And all I want to do is mend it with a bottle of Burgundy Pinot Noir…

Dijon and a Weekend Back on the Vineyard

On arriving to Dijon, and after trying to salvage a double-purchased train ticket, I headed straight to my favorite little Café Dijonais: Bistro Quentin.  When I lived in France, my friends and I always called it “le café rouge” due to its red awning.  This time around, the red awning was still there but the eclectic interior had changed a bit.  None the less, my friend Suzanna and I felt right at home as we enjoyed our afternoon drinks on the terrace.  After catching up with Suzanna, we took a stroll around centre ville.  I love Dijon. It is a small city but has a lot to offer as far as shopping, museums and of course food and wine.  It is in Burgundy after all 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to spend time with Suzanna but also knew that Létizia and the kids were in Dijon for the afternoon.  I was so excited to see the kids, especially the twins because they had gotten so much bigger in the past year.  We planned to meet on the street; I always feel silly when I do that because it’s so movie-like to watch someone come your way.  After getting over the shock of the twins walking and talking, we spent the afternoon shopping and I took over my role of “big sister”/”au pair” tout de suite.  Létizia and I both mentioned later how it had felt like no time had passed.

 

 

I spent that night clubbing with Suzanna and the next few days afterward were for relaxation and memory-making in my small village with my second family.

Independence Day in another country…again

This past weekend was Bastille Day in France.  Otherwise known as Independence Day, the fête is similar to July 4th in the US.  When I was in Paris a few weeks back, I was able to see some of the preparations for the parade that went down the Champs-Elysees.  Coincidentally, last year I also found myself walking by the same large stadium seats because I had been visiting Paris with my friend after a vacation in Italy.  This brings me to my confession: I have spent my country’s Independence Day in a foreign country.  Last year, Italy; this year, France.  Since France’s colors are like ours, red, white and blue, I guess it’s not that big a deal…right?

I spent my Fourth of July this year walking through Paris’ tiny streets, visiting the Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibit and eating dinner with Parisian friends.  The Louis Vuitton exhibit was on my To Do/To See list during my petit séjour.  I suggest it to you too if Paris is in your plans this summer (it runs until September 16th).  It’s located at Musée des Arts Décoratifs and is spans two floors.  The first floor tells the history of LV and his luggage and the second floor is as out-of-the-box as Marc Jacobs himself.  Lights, bags, TV screens, music and voice-over…it’s really fun!

 

 

 

After my visit I took a nap on the chairs near the Tuileries Gardens.  This is one of my favorite places in Paris to do nothing!  I ended my July 4th with good friends for a final dinner in Paris.

America’s 4th in France and France’s 14th in America…this flip-flop is symbolic of my crazy life 🙂

Fashion and Photography with a glass of Rosé

Today is the second day of four for the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography.  Held in the South of France, this is a chance for new comers to showcase their work. This year the 10 contestants (so many applicants to narrow down!) are of 9 different nationalities.

Getting your work showcased is hard in today’s fast-paced, cutting edge creative world.  This festival is unique in giving unknown designers a chance to show their finished work as well as the thoughts and ideas that came first (behind-the-scenes if you will).  This article from last year explains more.

Check out this video from French Vogue to get insights from the three creative directors. Hyères 2012: Behind the scenes #1 | Vogue English.

For live coverage of the festival, check out Vogue.fr‘s Tumblr or follow direct on Twitter (@HYERESFESTIVAL).

This time of year just screams FESTIVAL abroad and at home.  In California we just had Coachella and coming up in France is Cannes Film festival.  What other festivals are going on?  I need to get myself to one!!

“It feels like years since it’s been here”

SUNSHINE!!!!!  We have been living in a world of foggy mornings and gray afternoons recently.  As someone who is strongly affected emotionally by weather, it has been hard to keep a happy face. But today, the sun shined bright. Bright enough to drive with the sunroof open, to not wear a coat and of course to take a walk!

So while waiting for Célénie to finish music class this afternoon I took a nice stroll around Nuits St George.  I tried to go down each and every windy road that I hadn’t been down before, taking pictures as I went.  Unfortunately I didn’t plan this adventure so I only had my camera phone, but I worked with what I had.

I have definitely gotten comfortable here in France and although that’s nice to feel “at home” it’s also nice to act like a tourist now and then–considering I am, sort of, a long-term tourist in this town/country.  In Nuits St George I discovered that almost every house is a wine Domaine! Its incredible the amount of wine makers in one small town.

During my journey I had a nice chat with an old lady who was also on a walk (a lot slower pace than me but still proud of her for getting out there).  I tried to understand her strong Bourgogne accent (every letter seemed to have a rolled “r” at the end) but it was very difficult.  From what I did understand, she definitely felt as happy as I did about the beautiful weather.  She said these wise words (I think): When the sun comes out we are instantly all so much better and happier!

Preach it sister!!!

Why can’t I see that movie?

Went to see the new film, The Black Swan tonight with some friends (it was only just recently released in France).  I was a little apprehensive to see it in French after hearing how twisted and crazy of a film it was, but it ended up being fine and I understood it all–as much as one can, of course, for a film of that genre.

What I found interesting was the lack of control on who can enter the film.  What I am talking about is age limits for certain movies based on ratings.  What I have come to discover tonight is that these strict restrictions dont exist here.  From my understanding, The Black Swan is rated R in USA meaning that kids under the age of 17 cannot go into the theatre without an adult.

Not only was it difficult to even find a rating on the French version of the movie, there was also absolutely no restrictions on it.  Knowing about the storyline and certain scenes beforehand, I advised the 10-year-old girl that she should not come with us to see it.  Her brother, 14, did end up coming but even that would have been a bit complicated in US.

Dont get me wrong, there is a system for ratings in France, but it seems the French are less worried to tell the general public how to raise their kids, or what films he/she can and cannot be subjected to.

Not sure what I prefer, but as a parent (and Au Pair) I find it is easier to explain to children that they cannot see a film based on the law, and not based on your general instinct….

All in all, good decisions were made at this household for a movie that was beyond mind boggling!

St Vincent Tournant

I just want to preface this post by saying that I am about to go against journalistic protocall and write about an event that is no longer newsworthy.  I went to school to study journalism, so I realize my mistake and I apologize (I guess mostly to myself because most of you wont even care).

With that being said, last weekend was the Saint Vincent Tournant. This event started in the 30’s and is a celebration of winemakers.  Saint Vincent is the patron saint of winemakers.  The word tournant means turning and is significant because the venue”turns” or changes villages each year.  This year I was lucky because it was held in Corgoloin (5 minutes from Nuits St. George).  During this festival the village is decorated with tissue paper flowers made by the people in the village (takes about a year’s work to make them all).  Of course the main attraction is the dégustation of the regions wine.  Each year the selection changes (one red, one white) but it always features wine from Bourgogne.

Normally you enter the village, pay a fee and receive a wine glass and about 8 tickets to enter the various tastings.  I went on Sunday morning with David and Louis-Auguste and due to the freezing temperatures we just walked around a while and then headed home to sit in front of the fire!  But during our walk I did get to see the making of a wine barrel which was neat.  Nowadays there are machines to cut the wood (during the demonstrations it was done by hand) but the barrel itself is still handmade!  I was told that the test to become a craftsman of this sort is to make a barrel in 8 hours.  Seems like quite a feat after watching the slow progress of heating, bending, banging, repeating…

All in all a very nice wine festival.  If I ever do it again I would like to see the traditional “ceremony” that takes place on the first day (the event lasts Saturday and Sunday).