Tag Archives: Travel

Frenchie and the West Coast

16 Sep

How long after being back home from a lengthy and restful vacation would it be considered normal to still daydream about it?

It’s September. I’ve been back for a month. My eyes and mind are still filled with picture perfect coastal ocean views and pastel colors.

From Vancouver, BC to San Francisco, on the coast, on the road, and going through every temperature and weather combination possible.

Way too many photos to share.

Too many tips and addresses.

So here is a Top 20.

Until next time…

When in Vancouver, BC, do not miss:

  • The Granville Island Market – bright yellow tones, seafood, city views and more food you could ever taste. Special mention to the Sandbar for their oysters.
  • Random finds are usually the best – and this is what happened with exile bistro – an artisan restaurant and cocktail bar. A must try when in the city. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • Stanley Park of course! And rent a bike, it’s a fun way to go around the bay and see everything the park has to offer including the lagoons.
  • Stop and explore Yaletown – warehouses and rail yards converted into living neighborhoods. It will remind you of some of New York City’s industrial yet swanky areas.

If you already know Seattle and are continuing to explore the city:

  • The very unusual Gas Works Park and its old abandoned coal gasification plant provides great views of the city. It also helps that the park is right next to Westward for oysters and other apps overlooking the city and The Whale Wins for dinner.
  • Oddfellows Cafe+Bar for lunch, dinner, or both. Everyday if possible would be nice, thank you!
  • A ferry ride from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands Archipelago – Orcas Island, Lummi Island, Lopez Island. An experience like no other. Evergreen coniferous trees, needle foliage, cones, seafood and water as far as the eye can see. And did I mention lunch at a shellfish farm?
  • Walking in the Queen Anne area of the city and watching the sunset from Kerry Park – magical!


As I left Portland, I thought ‘can we go back soon?’

For a first time in the city and Oregon, experiencing and discovering the food, people, vibe and flavors of the area was a spectacular treat:

  • There aren’t enough bullet points for me to list all the great food places I found, were recommended and discovered along the way. Portland, OR is that kind of city. AviaryMÅURICESalt and StrawPok PokLe PigeonSE Wine Collective just to name a few.
  • Alphabet District and N.W. 23rd Ave – if you are going to visit the Pittock Mansion, make sure to stop in this area on the way back down to the city for some play time.
  • If you are nostalgic about old photo booths and want to hang out in a space like no other, the lobby at the Ace Hotel has one of those booths. Fun times ahead with a cappuccino from the coffee bar next door. Also, do not forget to check out Clyde Common next door for a cocktail and some nibbles.
  • While everyone else focuses on the Multnomah Falls, 10 minutes past the falls is the Oneonta Gorge which requires climbing, crossing treacherous obstacle courses, walking in waist-high waters and feeling extra small at the bottom of a beautiful gorge.

From Oregon to California on the coast.

Green on the left. Blue on the right.

Rock formations, rugged and ragged coastline.

Wild in Oregon.

More commercialized in California.

  • Cannon Beach, OR is a wonder not to be missed. The rocks, the view, the infinite ocean of small waves creating shimmering almost blinding white fluffy cloud-like movements.
  • Alloro Wine Bar in Bandon, OR – a gem found in a haystack by mistake. A must-go if in the area.
  • Ferndale, CA for one of the best preserved Victorian hamlet in the country. It is not a movie set, it is very real and oh-so cute.
  • Mendocino, CA and the Point Arena Lighthouse – a scenery that seems to only exist in picture-perfect postcards and travel books. And if that’s any indication, the Murder, She Wrote house is located in Mendocino even though the show supposedly to take place in Maine. It’s that kind of pretty!

Discovering and rediscovering San Francisco has been a joy in my life.

I am lucky to have one of my best friends there and had many opportunities to visit over and over.

It allowed me to observe the city through different angles and lenses while unearthing new material for inspiration:

  • If you are looking for new views of the city or the Golden Gate Bridge, China Beach and the Ina Coolbrith Park provided new perspectives I had never seen before.
  • A bright blue restaurant front and good food? Yes, at Loló in the Mission. A view like no other on both the bay and the city with wood fired meatballs and moroccan chickpeas? Yes, at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito.
  • Buena Vista Park and colorful Victorian houses on Haight Street.
  • Quirky Bernal Heights neighborhood


Frenchie and a BBQ à la Campagne

17 Jun

When you start experiencing the Relish Carolina shindigs and their roaming dinner parties, you just can’t stop.

Sensory overload in the best way possible, they say. And it’s true!

Do you remember this partie de campagne at the farm? I do!

Every year, new themes, new food, new locations and new concepts.

The excitement always builds up as their new seasonal dinner calendar is announced.

This time – a South Carolina BBQ retreat to escape and joyfully spend a Sunday night among old and new friends.

The usual 100-120-seat long table, the same outdoor fairy lights.

The familiar vibe, the regular smiles and warmth of the crowd.

Countless ducks, chickens, fish, hogs, pork.

Fire pits, smoke, ash and enticing smells surrounding guests already busy cocktailing and grazing on the local charcuterie.

And going away from the traditional BYOP (Bring Your Own Plate), this time Le Creuset displayed an elegant and grandiose array of colorful plates, pitchers and cookware.

A perfect summer night.

If you’ve never participated in a Relish event, here is what you need to know:

– buy your tickets ahead of time, they disappear fast

– fast all day and come hungry

– be prepared to socialize, meet new people, and share family style food platters

– as Relish points out – it’s ok to talk to strangers – and you never know who might be seating next to you… your next best friend, a new client, or future husband/wife.

– try everything once, food or drinks, and go back for seconds

– bring bug spray if it’s an outside summer event

– enjoy local ingredients, food, chefs, mixologists and anything crafty Relish might have up its sleeve – and they have a lot of ideas!

– play the game, if there’s a theme, go with it!

– and of course, relax and have fun

Frenchie and la Rive Droite

12 Jun

I need to admit I’ve never given much thought about the right bank of Paris when I used to live there.

Too far.

Left bank is of course so much better.

What to do there?

Why even bother to go after all?

This thought process definitely did not help the rive gauche vs. rive droite bitter battle.

But since I lived in the 15th, went to school in the 14th, college in the 5th and hanging out in the 6th, with the occasional Châtelet-Le Marais trip which part of me always deliberately accused of being on the wrong side of the Seine, I never had any reason to cross the river and go north.

Until all my friends moved to the right bank. Well, most of them.

The perfect opportunity to explore new areas I did not know enough.

All joking aside, I did make my way there once in a while when I still lived in the city and have continued to explore the northern arrondissements during vacation time.

However, my home has always been rive gauche.

Surprising myself this time around, I mostly roamed and scouted the right bank during my last Parisian trip.

Offbeat. And unusual for me!

I had already explored a bit in a previous colorful post with plenty of places and addresses to share.

But there was more to discover.

With one exception noted below, the following list is exclusively rive droite.

– From the Big Mamma Group, East Mamma (11th) opened a couple of weeks before I arrived in the space La Main d’Or used to serve delicious Corsican food. I will miss La Main but am delighted East Mamma renovated, remodeled and revitalized the dinning and kitchen areas to make it an inviting open space filled with colorful plates and fresh Italian produce. The vibe is, well, very Italian as the wait staff takes your order with a slight accent and the bright yellow menu holds hidden tasty treasures. Go early! There is a line outside the door.

– Keeping up with the Italian theme, le Comptoir Gourmet (4th) is small, narrow, loud, cheerful, lively and that wall paper – a real Instagram magnet!! If you manage to grab a seat at the counter-height tables you’re in for a treat. Don’t fill up too much on the bresaola carpaccio with fennel, Italian desserts are eyeing you on the counter.

– Cheating on the right bank a bit, this gem of an ice cream place is on the other side of the Seine. Il Gelato del Marchese (6th) will show you how real pistachio ice cream looks like and how it’s supposed to taste.

Le 975 motto in the 17th is bien manger, bien boire, bien vivre. And in this yellow “fish bowl” as they call it, the food is the perfect marriage between French dishes with a sprinkle of Japanese flavors. Taiki Tamao, one of the two chefs, explained to me that Japanese chefs are now flooding the Paris food scene because they bring something distinctive and special that traditional French chefs do not think about. Book now before there is a line outside the door.

– Impasse Poule, Impasse de la Confiance, exploring the area around rue des Vignobles in the 20th. And how could you not fall in love with Le Vingtième Art and its newly painted façade displaying green, red, yellow, pink, and blue color blends?

– A quick stop at the Libre Ère bookstore 111 boulevard de Ménilmontant will make you green with envy when you see the storefront and some of the treasures inside. Cité Durmar and Cité du Figuier nearby – the memory keepers of a Paris long forgotten. Les cités d’artistes du 11e.

– Surfing on the Nouvelle Vague Paris renewal by expats, Le Mary Celeste (3rd) provided just the right cocktail I was looking for in a Haut-Marais quaint setting.

– An inside courtyard, a food truck, plush couches with round mirrors above and colorful pillows, an old school map of the various mountains and rivers of France, a reading nook, and pistolets aka small bread rolls from Belgium, all of this can be found and enjoyed at L’Improbable (4th). Unpretentious and seriously cute.

– Rarely have I seen a space like the one at Les Chouettes (3rd) in Paris. While I did not try their menu and food, I thoroughly enjoyed a cocktail on the third floor, all the way to the top, in a somehow industrial aesthetic Eiffel Art Nouveau style with arcs, geometric shapes, old books, imposing nuts and bolts, giving an Industrial Revolution/WWI vibe with modernist elements to the space. A must see. Oh and did I mention the 66-feet high ceiling under a glass roof?

– Thanks to Lindsey, I was able to enjoy a delicious lunch at laid-back yet chic Tannat (11th). Fresh seasonal food and menu with a modern twist makes for my big coup de cœur of this trip. The wall and ceiling mirrors definitely brighten up the space and make the intricately plated meals even prettier.

– The beautiful small villas off of rue de Mouzaïa in the 19th, walking on rue de la Liberté, rue de l’Égalité and rue de la Fraternité. Si français. And I always say that tourists should have the Buttes Chaumont parc on their radar because it is worth a visit.

So little time yet so many unknown areas still to discover.

Cheating on the rive gauche was clearly much-needed as far as I’m concerned.

Till next time.

PS: last special kudos to Merci and La Maison Plisson (3rd) for fun shopping and eating.


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