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I’m one of those people
who’s in the lusty kind of love with most things Parisian—from Tintin
comics to tarte tatin. So sure, there are the mornings I wake up
craving a vrai croissant (and a cassoulet, and a Montmartre stroll at
dusk) thinking I’d do anything—hell, I’d streak naked through the
Louvre (“Oui, oui, how Rubinesque!”)—if only I could transport myself
More often than not (okay, always) my
earnest wishing does not actually land me in Paris. So then it’s time
for Plan B. If I can’t be in Paris, I can certainly put in a good
faith effort to find the best of Paris here, in my new home, NYC. After
all, I’ve heard the rumors: Paris is a moveable feast.
The Craving: Hot chocolate
PLAN A: le Chocolat l’Africain at ANGELINA, 26 rue de Rivoli.
PLAN B: MarieBelle Fine Treats and Chocolates, 484 Broome Street.
first time I had true French chocolate at ANGELINA’s—the monstrously
rich, are-you-kidding-me, served-with-a-side-of-whipped cream kind—I
swore off Swiss Miss for the ages. Thankfully, the stuff you get at
MarieBelle’s is almost as good, minus the fancy tea room ambiance of
Paris. You can either sneak into this SOHO store for a free sample, or
you can take home a tin of the European-style hot chocolate (featured
as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things”; $15) to whip up at home. I’m now
addicted to the extra kick (is that chili pepper in there?) found in
the Aztec spicy variety.
The Craving: Cheese (please!)
PLAN A: Any ole Parisian fromagerie.
PLAN B: Murray’s Cheese Shop, 257 Bleecker Street.
so there’s not a cheese shop in the U.S. that will stand up to the
selection available in Paris (damn pasteurization). That being said, I
certainly haven’t made my way through the many cheeses offered at
Murray’s—yet. And the guys behind the counter are great. Looking to
funktify this week’s fondue? They’ll happily help you experiment.
Speaking of fondue, I had a pretty divine one (complete with bread,
fingerling potatoes and steak tips for dipping) last weekend at
Artisanal, 2 Park Ave. From the gougères (cheese puffs) to the tarte
tatin (with cream cheese crust!) to the Epoisse I carted home from the
in-house shop, stick to cheese (and wine) and I promise pleasure.The Craving: The Perfect Browse
PLAN A: Le Bon Marché, 22 Rue de Sèvres.PLAN B: Barney’s Co-op, 116 Wooster St., near Prince St.(or 236 W. 18th St., near Seventh Ave.)I’m
not a fashion fiend, but I am a friend of fashion, and there’s just
something hypnotic about browsing the cool, edgy racks of clothing at
the oldest department store in Paris (which is much more sedate than
the right-bank giants, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps). So when I’m
feeling like a Bon Marché day in Manhattan (I mean, when I really need
retail therapy), I steer clear of Bloomie’s and hit the Barney’s Co-op.
The Co-op carries all the “affordable” brands you’ll find on the top
floor of the Madison Ave. Barney’s. And when your dinner companions ask
you where you got that stylin’ corduroy jacket with the Nehru collar?
But of course. A Paris purchase.The Craving: Quaint BookstorePLAN A: The Red Wheelbarrow , 13 rue Charles V.PLAN B: Three Lives & Co., 154 W. 10th St. (at Waverly Place).I
absolutely fell for this little English-language bookstore in the
Marais while I was living in Paris. Owner Penelope Fletcher Le Masson
has created a nook full of charm, books (of course), and the occasional
fabulous author reading. Thankfully, Three Lives & Co. in the West
Village fills all my independent bookstore needs—including the charm
factor. And there are a few bonuses you won’t find in Paris: cheaper
books (no international shipping costs) and an even more stellar
reading series. Last month I cozied in for a reading by Yann Martel,
recent winner of the Booker-Mann Prize. It was groovy.The Craving: A Croque MadamePLAN A: Any Paris brasserie. Bonus points if it’s the kind with a few craggy men who just stepped in from playing boules.PLAN B: Les Deux Gamins, 170 Waverly Place.There
are a few places around New York that serve a decent croque
monsieur—fewer that serve a madame (the fried-egg-on-top version). The
rest of the fare at this corner bistro is fine—not better—but the
servers speak French and all the patrons smoke. You’ll be hard-pressed
to find any place that feels more Parisian—unless, of course, you’re
lucky enough to land in Paris.Know any other great France-like finds in NYC? Come to the message boards and tell me where to head next!
Bonjour Paris is pleased to have Aimee Whitenack as a contributor.