Monthly Archives: April 2013

Bonjour, Paris!

Taxes…Rain…and Monday…oh, my! Here’s the perfect cure for those morning blues, a dash of April in Paris courtesy of Funny Face (1957). Sure, you get Audrey and Fred, but there’s the added bonus of Kay Thompson, acclaimed cabaret singer in one of her rare film performances. And she’s Liza Minnelli’s Godmother too, for those who care about that sort of thing like I do. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson

Our 3rd President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence would have turned 270 today. Born April 13th, 1743, this pioneer of the American Revolution served as our French Minister during the years leading up to France’s, from 1785-1789. His time spent abroad has been retold in popular culture, most notably in the film Jefferson in Paris.

“the natural process of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground..”   Thomas Jefferson

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Clementine in Palm Desert

Hey Coachella traveler (and all others who misguidedly booked their desert getaway the same weekend as the nation’s biggest music festival). Here’s a piece of French heaven in Palm Desert, Calif. you MUST check out…Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Café. I’ll admit, I found it suspect when my friend pitched the idea of French dining at a strip mall in the middle of the desert. Mirage, perhaps? Even the enticing orange facade failed to move me in the 100 degree heat, but little does at that temperature.

Clementine interior

Clementine interior

But, then I walked in. Swathed in decorative white wood with slick grey concrete floor, the sunlit, open plan instantly drew me in. (The AC may have helped too.) A patisserie counter here…a busttling lunch counter there…a vintage bicycle hanging from the ceiling. There was something special going on here. And I hadn’t even taken a bite.

Jennifer and Christophe

Jennifer and Christophe

Drawing inspiration not only from France but other Mediterranean destinations like Italy, France, Spain and Morocco, Clementine is the creation of Christophe Douheret, a native of Cannes, and his wife Jennifer, a Californian raised in Naples. They wisely hired the talent of South African Gavin Gräbe to cook up the eclectic menu that journeys from a Moroccan Chicken Ciabatta, with a divine yogurt dressing, to a pan seared Savory Perdu. Guests can also sip on a selection of wines, Champagne or imported beers if the occasion calls for it (but, do you really need an occasion to enjoy a nice French Bordeaux? Nope.)

macaroons chocolate_croissants

Save room for dessert. The Patisserie offers everything from French macarons, pan au chocolat and Napoleons, to Americanized fare like Key Lime Cheesecake and Wild Berry Crumble.

retail-01 clem_05

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, swing by the Marketplace on your way out and pick up some nifty international items, like Provençal linens, stylish pottery and more. I’m still kicking myself for not snatching up a jar of that imported fig jam I sampled. Fingers crossed it’s there when I return…asap.

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Café
72990 El Paseo in Palm Desert
760.834.8814, www.clementineshop.com

Pablo Picasso in France

 

“When I die, it will be a shipwreck, and as when a huge ship sinks, many people all around will be sucked down with it.” Pablo Picasso

April 8th marks the 40th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death in Mougins. The Spanish-born painter, sculptor and more spent the majority of his adult life in France. Yet, despite a four-decade residency, this prolific 20th-century artist was viewed with suspicion by French police and intelligence from the very get-go. When he sought French nationality in 1940, he was turned down on the ground that he was an anarchist with Communist tendencies.

 Paris 1944, 7 Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris 6eme.  Pablo Picasso in his sudio with his Afghan dog called Kazbeck.

Paris 1944, 7 Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris 6eme.
Pablo Picasso in his sudio with his Afghan dog called Kazbeck.

 

Despite the rejection, France was good to Picasso, helping launch the young artist’s career shortly after his arrival in Paris in 1900. Picasso’s love affair with his adopted country continued until his death at age 91 in southeastern France. He died while entertaining friends with his wife Jacqueline. His final words: “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”

Picasso’s “Le village de Vauvenargues” (1959)

Picasso’s “Le village de Vauvenargues” (1959)

He was interned at his Chateau de Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence. Pais honored him, postmortem, with the Musée Picasso, an art gallery located in the Hôtel Salé in rue de Thorigny in the Marais. Although currently closed for renovations until the end of 2013, you can visit the museum site here.

Zou Bisou Bisou (1962)

In celebration of Mad Med’s return to AMC tonight, here’s a flashback from last year’s premiere.

Though Jessica Paré’s Megan Draper shimmied “A Little Kiss” back into the musical spotlight, the song dates back to the “Yé-yé” movement of the early 60s and was recorded by the likes of Sophia Loren,  Maya Casabianca, Bart & Baker, Gilles Dutey, and Gillian Hills (above). The song was written by Bill Shepard and Alan Tew, and Michel Rivgauche for the lyrics of the French version.

Here’s Paré’s memorable performance from Season 5. Meow.:

 

Solving the Passover Puzzle in Paris

Since meeting my husband, I’ve had the pleasure of joining a Sedar dinner each Passover with his family (Mama Nancy makes a mean matzo ball!). France is home to the largest Jewish population in Europe, yet the country also prides itself on secularism. In a metro world-renowned for fine cuisine, what does a Parisienne Passover look (and taste) like? Get one writer’s palatable perspective in this fascinating story from the New York Times‘ column “Letter from Paris” here.

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