Top 10 winter activities in Paris:

photo10. Cozy fireside dinner in Montmartre @  Hotel Particulier. (featured in photo)

9. Hot chocolate & people watching @ Café de Flore

8. A night on the town with festive dinner @ Matignon then cozy drinks around the corner @ Mathis

7. Holiday shopping @ le Bon Marché (too crowded at Printemps or Galeries Lafayette)

6. Get the ‘perfect polish’ manicure in red at Manucurist.  Lasts forever.

5. Keep culturally up-to-date with some of the fabulous exhibitions around town, especially the Fashion & Impressionism at Orsay and Hopper at Grand Palais.

4. Reserve your table early for the best winter meal ever for 45 euros @ Frenchie in the 9th.

3. Sample some full bodied reds from the comfort of big leather chairs at new wine bar, O Chateau.

2. Taste the winter flavors at Ladurée and Pierre Hermé- macaroons are gluten free!

1. Grab a bottle of champagne and rendez-vous at Place de la Concorde for a ride on the holiday Ferris Wheel (la grande roue). Magical!

Isami is the chic place for sushi

On the scenic banks of Ile Saint Louis, a small sushi restaurant named Isami is drawing in big names in the fashion industry. The expertly sliced sushi, and other japanese specialities, make reservations mandatory in this five table establishment.  

Petite Brigitte spotted which famous sexogenarian designer seated by the counter, arm over a stunningly chic (and young) blonde?

Don’t miss: the sashimi, the sake, and the green tea matcha ice cream

ISAMI  4 Quai d’Orléans 75004 Paris - 01 40 46 06 97

Gaga for Chez André

Who knew the classic 8ème brasserie Chez André would arouse the curious interests of Madame Gaga? Perhaps she was in the mood for some famous beef tartare?

Last night, while in town for a concert (subsequently cancelled because of a few snowflakes), Lady Gaga dined in the classic French bistro, famed for its fruits de mer and tartare de boeuf.

You might recall that her Parisian tour dates were rescheduled because of cancellation during the summertime general strikes. Let’s hope she gets a chance to rock Paris bientôt!

 

 Chez André, 12 rue Marbeuf, 75008 tel: 01 47 20 59 57

Berthillon’s Fois Gras ice cream

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Our muse (for her early work), the eternally infamous Brigitte Bardot, has issued a fatwa against beloved ice creamer Berthillon.

Serving scoops by the thousand on the ile Saint Louis, Berthillon is known for its uncompromisingly natural ingredients in an array of flavors– from rose and lavender to the new flavor du jour– foie gras.

Berthillon vows that its fois gras ice cream is made with 50% foie gras of French origin. Yuck!

BB threw a fit upon hearing this, saying that the famed cremerie is an “accomplice to this industry of suffering and death”.

“Force-feeding is real torture for geese and ducks that must swallow in a matter of a few seconds so much food that their liver swells up to ten times its normal size,” she said. “Blood should not be spilled to make new ice creams, it makes no sense.”

For once, we agree with BB, mainly because this flavor sounds absolutely degoutant! Come on Berthillon, couldn’t you do a better flavor— like Veuve Clicquot, or Drambouie?

All I want for Christmas…

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PetiteBrigitte is making a list and checking it twice— and it’s getting sent to the North Pole as soon as this massive transport strike is over!

This photo speaks for itself.

Nope, it is not your average bubbly. Karl Lagerfeld, the master of luxe, has put together this hand-made coffret of exclusive Dom Perignon champagne, comprised of three bottles from 1996, two from 1986, and one very rare 1966. As if this isn’t exciting enough, the box also contains 3 champagne flutes (suggestive, eh?).

For the reasonable price-tag of 100,000 euros, you can give your champagne wishes to that special someone this holiday season!

Sommelier included.  

Diane Kruger at Coffee Parisien

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Diane Kruger, otherwise known as Helen of Troy, enjoyed a greasy meal at Coffee Parisien on Monday evening. Looking nothing like the regal beauty she plays in films, with no make-up and a wearing a beige cashmere sweater, she went unnoticed by most of the crowd at the popular burger joint. In fact, so average looking was she that the only giveaway for those in doubt was her perfect skin and Chanel tote bag.

Kruger is in Paris for a few days while in between filming schedules.

Coffee Parisien, 4 rue Princesse 75006 Paris (rive gauche)

Sexiest drink for summer in Paris (besides champagne)

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It is June and summer temperatures are upon us this week. While Petite Brigitte is bringing out her hottest sundresses and contemplating Vespa purchases, there is one thing she can’t get off her mind (well, besides that).

It is mojito season.

There are cocktails, and then there are cocktails. A well-made mojito falls into the latter category, yet seldom few mojitos acheive this status. There is more to this drink than slapping together some mint, rum, and sugar. Let’s take a moment and reflect on Mojito’s legendary history.

First off, there’s much debate as to when exactly the mojito was invented and by whom. Many claim it was crafted in Cuba in the late 1800′s. Others elaborate on this theory saying that the mojito was the preferred beverage of Sir Francis Drake as early as the 1500s. According to The Mojito Company’s website, it was English pirate Richard Drake who prepared the first version of the drink using aguardiente (in Spanish that means fire water- the HARD liquor of Columbia), an unrefined kind of rum that he mixed with some sugar, lime and mint. Originally named “El Draque” (or the Dragon after his boss Sir Francis), story has it the swashbucklers introduced the drink to Cuba on their treasure-hunting exploits through the Caribbean and Latin America.

So let’s get to the good stuff. What’s the winning recipe? Based on years of taste-tests, PetiteBrigitte brings you one of the best. Make this for your party guests and you are sure to have a hit:

  1. In a tall, sturdy glass (or shaker), pour in 1 ounce of your simple syrup. This is 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar (use 1/3 brown sugar), heated until the sugar dissolves (you can use your microwave for this). Then let it steep with one cup of mint leaves for at least 30 minutes before you strain it & store it in your refrigerator.
  2. Add 1 ounce of lime juice (or a couple of lime wedges), and a handful of fresh mint leaves (6-12 – yes, even if you’ve made the mint syrup. Add several ice cubes (or crushed ice if you have it), muddle it all together with a blunt instrument of your choice.
  3. Add 2 ounces of light rum, stir passionately or shake vigorously with shaker.
  4. Pour it into a glass, top it off with a spash (or more) of champagne (boring people use club soda), and garnish with a mint sprig or two.

When you are finished, drink up and enjoy. If you’ve got leftovers, consider a mojito spa:

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If all of that was too complicated for you, or you share my level of laziness and impatience… just go to Le Fumoir. They make the best mojito ever, and for a cool variation, ask for the Chinatown.

I’ve seen that penne before

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Maybe it was all the champagne, but it took me a long time to realize I had been looking at virtually the same menu in a host of Parisian hot spots. In case you are as slow as moi, the Costes brothers own half of Paris, and don’t bother changing the menu on their swanky parade of establishments (see the running list below).

Boring for us, big bucks for them: their approach has turned out to be a profitable business model.

The brothers Costes own 80% of the operation that makes the 1,800 little rolls and 1,500 pastries the Costes restaurants serve daily, 33% of the company that supplies the smoked salmon and other prepared foods, and 50% of the condiment supplier. All the Costes establishments are obliged to buy from these suppliers, no matter which member of the extended family is the majority shareholder. That’s a brilliant bump to the bottom line when the €10 slice of chocolate cake at Georges costs a little more than €2 to make!

1. Hotel Costes

2. Cafe Marly

3. Georges

4. L’Esplanade

5. L’Avenue

6. Cafe Costes

7. Cafe de la Musique

8. Etienne Marcel

9. Hotel Costes K

10. Cafe Beaubourg

Bollinger unveils new Calorific Champagne

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This week Bollinger, my new favorite French champagne house, will break with decades of tradition and launch a no-sugar-added champagne targeted to ladies. Get out your shopping list: it’s called Ayala Cuvée Rosé Nature.

Now there’s no excuse, so drink up! A flute of this champagne will add a mere 65 calories to your diet, instead of the normal 89. Bollinger says the taste is very comparable to the real stuff, and provides the same alcohol content. So we can stay skinny AND get drunk.

Sound too good to be true? Here’s how it works:

Around three level teaspoons of liquefied sugar – called the dosage – is normally added to most champagnes at the last moment before bottling to balance the flavour and make it more palatable.

Bollinger leaves the dose of sugar out.

Elizabeth Ferguson, a spokeswoman for Ayala, said: “This is basically a testament to the quality of the perfectly ripe fruit. The dosage is put in to cover up any faults with a champagne– but we are using the best possible fruit which is why we are not having to do it.”

Brilliant timing. Now we can look like her for bikini season!

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon: Work in Progress

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Unfortunate. Unfortunate.

With its sleek interior and busy lunch crowd, the Atelier de Joel Robuchon at the Hotel Pont Royal seemed like a sure bet for a chic dinner before a night of partying with a girlfriend. Au contraire.

We arrived at 8:30 and were seated rather awkwardly at the hotel bar, even though places were obviously available at the sushi style counters. After 15 minutes, even my francopatience (high threshold for patience acquired by prolonged living in France) had run out, and I swiftly made my way to the host. Ah oui, here are your seats.

Seated. Overlooking the kitchen and the bar from our high barstools, we admired the general ambiance, even if the crowd was sparse and older than expected. Then the real awkwardness began. Our waiter, a 20 something year old Frenchman, could not stop ogling us. Soon, another waiter from the other side of the room came over to say bonsoir. And then the kitchen staff peaked out from behind their saucepans! My friend and I looked at each other in self-conscious disbelief. Did we forget to put clothes on?

I was about to call them on their obvious inability to contain themselves, when one of the waiters exclaimed that I looked just like a famous actress (No, it wasn’t BB). This still did not excuse the behaviour, which made the entire evening uncomfortable, even after 2 large glasses of wine.

Then, an older couple from Texas was seated next to us. The restaurant has been voted one of the best places to meet people, as well as one of the best places to dine alone. Don’t believe everything you read! After we introduced ourselves to the couple, the hostess seated a single woman next to them. Nooo, it was just sad, sad, sad. The conversation was bizarre, forced, and dare I say… depressing!

The dishes were well presented and above-average, if a little small. The dessert– a fabulous concoction of chambord chocolate mousse– was amazing. But to give the evening one more bizzare twist, the waiter intervened and actually coached me on how to position the spoon in my mousse for optimal flavor! S’il vous plait!

Between the poor service, ogling waiters, odd conversation, and money-she-would-have-rather-spent-on-champagne, PetiteBrigitte has too many reasons to say non to L’Atelier!

Kaviar Kaspia is better than krack

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Kaviar Kaspia has been a Parisian institution since the 1920′s.

Don’t let the quaint and unassuming exterior of this Madeleine restaurant fool you. Upstairs is sumptuous dining with the mavens of the fashion circuit. It has consistently hosted the biggest names in Paris fashion.

Imagine: You’ve booked a romantic table for two, and just as you bite into a delicious morsel of caviar pommes de terre, you look up to see a dinner party of well dressed men about to sit down. But wait, not just any men: President of LVMH Bertrand Arnault, John Galliano, Hedi Slimane, and Karl Lagerfeld. Together at one table.

This was the scene in 2001 following Slimane’s star-studded debut for YSL, with a front row so famous that even Karl couldn’t believe his eyes. The dinner that followed at KK that night is still referred to as the Dream Dinner.

Flash ahead to 2006. Following the Valentino couture show in July, Carlos de Souza (my Brazilian crush) hosted a party for 50 people. On the list included Elizabeth Hurley, Tamara Beckwith, and all the big names from VF, Vogue, NYT, etc. It was the same night as the French semi-finals for the World Cup, and the party realized getting cabs would be impossible. So they sat back and pounded shots of Russian Vodka. All night long.

The restaurant has a reputation for excellence in gastronomy as well. Obviously, the caviar is to-die-for, but the menu also boasts dishes such as rare Norwegian salmon, jambon pata negra, and the freshest selections of seafood. The staff are welcoming and friendly, and the kitchen stays open as long as you need it. Craving caviar at 1am? Go for it.

If you are in the mood to splurge, this is the place. Count on spending between 60 and 170 euros per person. Worth every centime, especially if you bump into this man, who says KK is his favorite place to eat in Paris:

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I love you TF.

Fast food at Fauchon

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FINALLY.

For those of us without 2 hour lunch breaks, there finally exists a place to get a healthy, delicious lunch. Cruise on over to la Madeleine for Fauchon’s new pret-a-manger mini cafe. You can pick up salads, smoothies, and the most yummy sandwiches in Paris– all adorably packaged. OK, so they aren’t the cheapest baguettes in town, but they are extremely high quality and you won’t be disappointed. Take it to go, or sit at one of the golden barstools and people watch.

My favs: the lentille salad with a pain aux sesame, and the chicken sandwich!

Fauchon, metro: Madeleine 

The Nespresso Phenomenon: Sweeping Paris faster than the Germans

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The Nespresso Boutique is the closest thing you get to a CRACKHOUSE in the 7th arrondisement.

Walk down the Rue du Bac and you will see floods of people lined up on the sidewalk. Is it a tour group? Another strike?

No, they are waiting in line at Nespresso; and even if that line were 3 hours long, they would still be standing there patiently smiling! This is the Nespresso Phenomenon, which made itself haltingly evident over the holidays, as lines wrapped around corners with people anxious to get their fix. Maybe the Parisians are trading in cigarettes for caffeine.

The boutiques are part of a new strategy by Nespresso. Once just a small blip on the radar of the Nestle corporation, Nespresso is on its way to becoming a 1 billion dollar company. This means seriously innovative machines (such as the Porsche machine retailing for 990 euros), and 13 new boutiques in France including 4 in Paris. Most of all, it means sexy advertising…. ahhhh, George Clooney: me, you, Lake Como, and Nespresso.

If you can manage to work your way through the crowds of these Nespresso stores, it is worth your while and you might get hooked by one of the free samples.

Boutique Nespresso Bac
126, rue du Bac
75007 Paris

Miss Piggy hits up Chinatown

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Happy Chinese New Year’s!

Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year festivities, which will last for the next 15 days in celebration of the Year of the Pig. There is no better place to party than Chinatown down in the 13th arrondisement. The lanterns are up, the streets are crowded, and the restaurants are packed!

Best meal: Head to Le Bambou (70 rue Baudricout) for authentic Vietnamese. Tonight the place was packed, reservations required, and our party of 10 people had a very fun time for very little money. Try the Ba Bon, the egg rolls, and the beef soup…and wash it down with TshingTao beer. This is a jewel of Chinatown! Tel: 01-45-70-91-75