Makoto Aoki: Deceptively classy French bistro, hai!

Makoto Aoki, photo courtesy of Paris Bistro Editions

When I told my mom that I went to Aoki for dinner over the weekend, she was not impressed. In fact, her exact words were, “French food cooked by a Japanese guy? I think I’ll skip that one the next time I come to visit.”

Little does she know that Japanese chefs are all the rage in Paris. To anyone who has lived here long enough, the France-Japan lovefest will not seem that surprising (Monet and Kenzo, to name but two culture-crossers), but on the surface there is little resemblance. In one corner you have highly emotive and decadent, in the other you have extreme restraint and minimalism. Perhaps this is a case of opposites attract. Or maybe it is that they both tend to be exigeant. Seriously exigeant. An appreciation for perfection and detail that pulls together the two poles.

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Le Cracheur d’Or

Paris Wine ExpoOenophiles unite! Last weekend was the biannual Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants in Paris (aka The Independent Wine Producers Expo) and Francesco and I marked the occasion by shirking (shouldering?) our Sunday morning paternal duties to hit the bottles. We made some decent discoveries, which included the bizarrely named “3rd annual Golden Spitter Contest” (as in: How classy can you make spitting out wine look?). Francesco was tempted to show off his finely honed cracheur skills, but ultimately we decided that it would not be a good idea to show up the French at their own game. Continue reading “Le Cracheur d’Or”

Of Pigeons and Poodles: Hiking through Paris

The trail through northeastern Paris
Hiking trail through the 19th arrondissement

Even though I’ve lived in Paris for about eight years now, I continue to get lost on a regular basis. On a map, there is a certain logic to the planning: central hubs are scattered throughout the city, their streets extending outward like the spokes of a wheel. On foot, however, it’s often impossible to navigate. The spokes intersect haphazardly, oblivious to cardinal directions and without any sense of symmetry, making it similar to trying to find your way around a plate of spaghetti. This, of course, is what makes walking through Paris such a delight: even if you know the city reasonably well, nothing can be anticipated — there is always enough disorientation to give you a sense of discovery. Continue reading “Of Pigeons and Poodles: Hiking through Paris”

Soundscapes: Les Guinguettes

Guignettes
Les Guingettes

Les guinguettes – traditional Sunday afternoon dances held along the riverbanks outside Paris – are still swinging, despite the withering August heat this year. I can’t dance to save my life, but Perrine and I were nonetheless curious when we saw an advertisement for a floating dance floor that has slowly been making its way down the Canal de l’Ourcq.

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