Tag Archives: wine

Books About Paris

3 Jun

Books in Paris

It is fair to say that books about Paris are in no short supply. As someone who is writing a book about Paris, I am painfully aware of the fierce competition. Books about Paris fill my shelves, and I can’t resist ducking into Dymocks to see if there are any new ones on the shelves. But, there are some that keep me coming back.

*Paris Tango by Carla Coulson

Carla manages in one frame to capture the nuances of French life, in a way that armed with a thousand words I could only dream of. I love everything about her book. The weight of it, the texture of the cover, the old-school red placemarker. Of course, her words are magnificent too, once you manage to tear your eyes from her lovingly captured photographs. Her blog, which I stumbled across only recently, is also a delight.

*A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast

Indeed, Mr Hemingway requires no introduction. I only picked up a copy of A Moveable Feast this year. I think I put it off for so long because I was intimidated, and perhaps also because it is home to one of the most over quoted lines ever used to describe Paris. The reality, however, is that A Moveable Feast reads as if you have plopped down next to Hemingway in a Latin Quarter bar and he’s telling you about his perfectly ordinary day. It is a slender and light as Carla’s book is solid, and is intensely captivating in its brevity.

*Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

Almost French Cat

Almost French is everything I hope my novel will be. I would love nothing more than to have my as yet unnamed (suggestions welcome!) book sit side by side with Ms Turnbull’s. That possibility equally excites and terrifies me.

What are your favourite books about Paris?

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Paris books img courtesy of Roman Lashkin on Flickr.
A Moveable Feast img courtesy of life serial on Flickr.
Almost French with cat img courtesy of [o] suze q … [packing for firenze] on Flickr.

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Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

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Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

The Podium Perspective

20 May

Podium Dancer

On Friday night, I danced on a podium in a nightclub.

Now, my dear loyal readers (I mean you, Mum), allow me to assure you that no, I haven’t started turning tricks on the side because the life of a writer isn’t lucrative enough.

Before Friday night, I had never been the girl who dances on the table. In fact, I wasn’t even the kind of girl who goes to nightclubs. My ideal Friday night of late consists of getting a jump start on my clothes washing and watching episodes of Gossip Girl with my husband (sorry Max). The last time I had been in a nightclub was probably three years ago. And even then, it was an Afterwork in Paris, and I’m not sure that even counts.

But, we had been invited to a friend’s surprise birthday party, and in the spirit of doing things outside my comfort zone, I agreed. The arranged meeting time was 9pm, which I’m told is early in the nightclub realm. In my realm, 9pm is firmly slippers-and-peppermint-tea-time.

Slippers and tea

And so, it was with a little apprehension that I approached the evening. I agonised over what to wear (you know, more than usual). I am a hopeless comfort-dresser at the best of times, and the thought of anything vaguely short or sleeveless in May in Melbourne was enough to send me running for cover. Eventually, I decided upon a brightly coloured, long-sleeved silk print dress, over opaque black stockings. I added a black blazer and my coat, for warmth, but the shoe situation made me hesitate. My three-year-old black boots are on their last legs, fine for my somewhat casual office job, but not, I feared, chic nightclub worthy. I figured heels were the only safe bet, and so I coaxed my reluctant slipper-coddled toes into the patent black stilettos I’d purchased in the Christmas sales. More proof positive that I am not accustomed to this nightclub thingy.

Spice Market

We arrived early enough for the maze of red barrier ropes outside Spice Market to seem superfluous and a little hopeful. The over-exercised security guard branded me quickly with the word ‘SPICE’ in smudgy black stamp ink and that was it, we were admitted.

The other invitees arrived, the champagne flowed and the DJ somehow managed to play only songs I liked and knew the words to. Before I knew it, the birthday girl and friends were clamouring up onto one of the podiums to dance. They put out a hand for me to join them.

My immediate reaction was to say no, to shake my head and smile and tell them to go on without me. And then I realised, that was bullsh*t. And so up I climbed, somewhat awkwardly, my back heel sinking into the cushioned seat as I stepped onto the platform. And whilst there’s nothing I like less than being the centre of attention, something strange happened while I was up there. I realised that the attention was nothing to do with me. I noticed a girl in the crowd nearby, shuffling from foot to foot, watching us nervously. I knew exactly what she was thinking, because that girl, she’s me. I caught her eye and offered a wide smile, trying to convey with one facial expression that I understood, that I got it, and that the only difference between the girl on the platform and the girl in the crowd, is perspective.

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Podium dancer img courtesy of Aran Chandran on Flickr.
Slippers and tea img courtesy of
emdot on Flickr.
Spice Market img courtesy of
avlxyz on Flickr.

French-Australian Wedding Part One

16 Apr


Wedding Photo1

As many of you know, I recently married my French fiancé Max. Putting together a wedding with two sets of cultural norms to consider was a little bit of a challenge at times, but mostly it was a whole lot of fun.

As we are having a second wedding in France in July, the February event had more of an Australian flavour, but with some nice French touches. We were married at Leaves & Fishes in the Hunter Valley, in their function space ‘Feast’, which we picked for its distinctly European feel.

Wedding Photo2

I walked in to the song ‘Intermission’ by French-Canadian singer Coeur de Pirate, and we signed our registry to the hauntingly beautiful strains of Aboriginal artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who Max and once I saw perform live in Paris. My mum did a reading in English, and Max’s godmother, in French. The entire ceremony was conducted in both languages, and afterwards, we toasted with a French-style Australian-made sparkling wine.

Our wedding cake was a delicious fusion of the two cultures, square chocolate and vanilla cupcakes decorated with an assortment of iconic images from the two countries. The lovely ladies at Kiss Me Cakes in Sydney did an incredible job, and in the days that followed we were glad that we had over catered! We also had lolly jars filled with sweets from our childhoods, Caramello Koalas and Carambars (yum!).

Wedding Photo3

The following day we held a brunch at my aunt and uncle’s property, with sausages on the barbeque and a game of backyard cricket on one side; and delicious croissants and an intense match of pétanque on the other…

Wedding Photo6

Wedding Photo5

The perfect weekend!

French Film Festival

25 Mar

Movie reel

The French Film Festival has been in Melbourne for the past few weeks and, unlike other years where I worked myself up into a frenzy trying to cram as many movies into three weeks as possible, this year I took a calmer approach.

It helped that, with all the French visitors we’ve had lately, I’d already seen a few of the films in the lineup. But the film festival isn’t just about the movies themselves; it’s a fun, elegant experience in and of itself.

So, on the Labour Day public holiday a few Mondays ago I bullied Max and another friend into seeing La cerise sur le gâteau with me at the Como cinema in South Yarra. As we’d just finished a rather indulgent lunch of yum cha at the nearby Oriental Tea House, it was easier than usual to say no to the delicious looking cheese plate on offer. And, as it was a 37 degree day, we all passed on the wine (despite there being a particularly delicious Dominique Portet variety on the list) in lieu of cold diet cokes.

Rose wine

The film proved very popular, and we found ourselves allocated seats in the very front row. But I quickly forgot my awkwardly angled neck as the film began, and I found myself immediately caught up in the action on screen. Far from the saccharine-sweet Hollywood formula romantic comedies that one can see any day of the week, La cerise sur le gâteau was funny, smart and just a little offbeat.

It follows the story of Amanda, a single woman of a certain age who it seems, can find fault with every man on earth. Her friends see fit to intervene, bien sur, because that’s what friends are for, and what ensues is an amusing (though not overdone) series of events that find to Amanda opening her heart to Antoine, but only because she believes him to be gay.

Now I don’t want to go giving anything away, but when the credits rolled I felt compelled for the first time in my French movie-watching history to clap along with the other Frenchies in the audience. The ending was both funny and satisfying and unpredictable.

Finally, a French movie ending I can get onboard with!

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Movie reel image courtesy of Jeremy Brooks on Flickr.
Wine glass image courtesy of f_shields on Flickr.

Eating Our Way Through February

18 Feb

Champagne

February has been a busy month.

On the 9th we attended the wedding of good friends in Sydney, where we ate, drank and danced the night away. On the 12th we celebrated my 24th birthday with cocktails, sangria and tapas. On the 14th we enjoyed a lovely home cooked meal (even though Max doesn’t believe in Valentines Day) of French champagne and duck confit. On the 16th we parted ways for our respective hens and bucks weekends (both of which involved a great deal of eating and drinking), and on the 23rd, we will be married in a restaurant.

We celebrate the only way we know how – with good food and good wine.

All of this celebrating is well and good, but eating pork belly twice in one week, churros and cupcakes in the same night, and countless glasses of champagne do not a skinny bride make.

Cupcake

Now, truth be told, I am not really concerned with losing x amount of kilos before the big day. I bought a dress that fitted me at my usual, average size. It is a dress that will forgive a kilo or two either side. It is a dress that understands that my love of good food will always trump my desire to look like Miranda Kerr in a bikini.

Many of my already-married friends keep assuring me that with all the last minute stress in the lead up, I’ll drop a few kilos without even noticing.

To this statement I take great exception. I am just not someone who gets busy and forgets to eat. In fact, I don’t think I have ever, in the history of my existence, forgotten to eat. I may have missed a meal somewhere along the line, but I can assure you it wasn’t because it slipped my mind.

Nutella

I get stressed, and busy, and head directly for the Nutella jar, spoon in hand. Or I decide that a packet of neon orange Twisties from the work vending machine are a good choice. Stress does not make me lose weight. And that’s okay.

I fully intend to eat a decent breakfast, morning tea and lunch prior to our afternoon wedding. And at said wedding, I will be sure to enjoy every last bite of canapés, entrée, main, dessert and cake.

It is my ‘big’ day after all!

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Champagne image courtesy of chrischapman on Flickr.
Cupcake image courtesy of shimelle on Flickr.
Nutella jar courtesy of p3nnylan3 on Flickr.

Australia Day

28 Jan

Australian Flag

This weekend we celebrated Australia Day. My morning started off very patriotically, with a cup of lipton tea and a piece of vegemite toast (not that Dick Smith would agree).

Then, I set off for a morning run (okay jog… okay it was a walk…) around Albert Park Lake in an attempt to help offset the eating fest that was to ensue later in the day. I heard faint music travelling across the lake but it wasn’t until I drew closer that I realised what it was. A bagpiper. In a kilt. On Australia Day. How very odd! As I continued with my lap I ran into a group of people dressed up as Australian Surf Lifesavers (complete with thick white zinc) waving flags and shouting ‘Happy Australia Day!’ to everyone who passed.

Bagpiper

My culturally confused national day continued as we set off to our Scottish friends’ house for an Australia Day bbq. My French fiancé wore his Australian flag board shorts and Australian havianas. We sipped beer (Mexican), wine (Italian) and vodka (Russian) as we alternately watched the Australian Open women’s tennis final, and hilarious reruns of a British dating show. We finished our meal with some delightful chocolates (German), before rushing outside to catch a glimpse of the fireworks – a very Australian tradition.

Fireworks

It was a fantastic day, and for my money, thoroughly Australian.

Three years ago, I recall being in Paris on Australia Day. Homesick and keen to introduce Max to some of my own culture, I sought out the only Australian (sort of) restaurant in the city, Kiwi Corner* in the 5th arrondissement. The cute restaurant served a mix of New Zealand, Australian and Pacific flavours, with regional wines to match. On a cold January night, miles from home, it was exactly what I needed.

How did you celebrate Australia Day?

*In writing this post I was sad to learn that Kiwi Corner closed its restaurant doors in December 2011.
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Australian flag image courtesy of thelightinlife on Flickr.
Bagpiper image courtesy of koalie on Flickr.
Fireworks image courtesy of gundy on Flickr.

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