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French Women Don't Get Fat

 

 

 Mireille Guiliano Recommends
Mireille Guiliano

I am no different than most, I like tips and recommendations from people I know. I like to return the favor and am flattered by how often I am asked about my favorites, from restaurants to hotels to hairdressers to dress makers. Everyone has favorites, of course, and items they are comfortable recommending. Since I travel so much, it seems I can save people some time and money, serving as the reader's surrogate, buying and trying things myself. Sometimes I write about them in magazine articles and sometimes I am interviewed in magazines about my likes and dislikes. Here are some recommendations:

Restaurants and Hotels

For more than fifteen years, my husband Edward and I have been writing a Wining and Dining column for the Quarterly Review of Wines, which is distributed on newsstands nationwide. Here are pdf files of a few of our recent articles:

Wining and Dining: Nancy, Metz & Reims
Wining and Dining: Northern Italy
Wining and Dining: Paris
Wining and Dining: New York
Wining and Dining: Provence

Wining and Dining: Orlando
Wining and Dining: Spain
Wining and Dining: South Beach
Wining and Dining: Our Favorite London and Dublin Hotels
Wining and Dining: Les Baux de Provence

Wining and Dining: Shanghai
Wining and Dining: More Best Bites
Wining and Dining: Rio de Janeiro
Wining and Dining: Sydney, Australia
Wining and Dining: Three Great Relais & Châteaux
Wining and Dining: New York

Wining and Dining: London

Wining and Dining: Alsace

Best Restaurant Splurge in Manhattan

L'Atelier de Robuchon in the Four Seasons Hotel in New York.

The good thing about Robuchon's concept is that you can have just one course, share portions, have wine by the glass and actually not spend more than what you'd spend in many other restaurants where the pleasures are not always balanced with the tab. The added bonus of the NY spot is that it offers tables and stools around the bar, which makes for a festive celebration, and a bit more relaxed atmosphere. In addition to the glorious food, the service is impeccable, the red and black décor stunning and all the little details make for a unique experience. A trip to Robuchon makes for an unforgettable meal.

57 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022, tel (212) 758-5700

Shopping in Manhattan

Fans and friends from all over the world keep asking where I shop in NYC. I'm not usually a department store shopper. I prefer small and local shops and find that downtown NYC is turning into a petit Paris. The number of boutiques in my area has grown tremendously in the last few years. Here are some favorites:

Urban Zen makes extremely well-cut and unusual clothes. It can be a bit expensive, but well worth it to purchase one timeless piece.

705 Greenwich St., New York, NY 10014, tel (212) 414-8520

Shelly Steffee offers comfortable, yet elegant clothes that are splendidly cut. The store also has a unique selection of jewelry.

34 Gansevort St., New York, NY 10014, tel (917) 408-0408

Michael is new and one of my recent favorite finds for casual chic. This is the place to find a little piece to stand out. The collection is mostly Italian and features quality material at a good value.

271 West 4th St., New York, NY 10014, tel (212) 206-7722

Otte has many European brands and eclectic choices of tops, vests, undergarments, boots and more.

121 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014, tel (212) 229-9424

For casual dresses, try Poleci.

32 Gansevort St., New York, NY 10014, tel (212) 229-3701

The São Store
112 Wooster Street
New York, NY 10012
www.SaoNewYork.com

Tableware

This is the place to go if you are not the plain white plate type of gal. The husband and wife owners of this charming shop offer decorative plates that certainly are 'conversation pieces', without being over the top. The dishware is artistic yet simple and rustic yet modern. Most dinnerware sets are made from Porcelain or Fine Bone China, handcrafted by designers from around the world.

Clio is located at 92 Thompson St., New York, NY 10012, tel (212) 966-2443. Visit their Website.

Perfume

Call me old fashioned, but my favorite perfume for all my life has been Chanel No. 5. Classics are classic for good reason. However, there are some really lovely new fragrances out there, and eau de toilette is a great option for those who do not like strong scents (it's also a great way to get a quality scent at a more affordable price). L'Artisan Parfumeur makes some wonderful perfumes. Their premier figuier is entirely unique (inspired by the aroma of figs, how rare) and smells just like a sunny day in the Mediterranean, perfect for summer. And their mûre et musc is so warm and feminine, a great choice for cooler weather.

Leggings

Leggings are one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing a woman can have, and I wear them on weekends (with flat ballet shoes or loafers) half of the year. You can wear them with a long sweater on a weekend afternoon, or with a blazer to go to work on a casual day, and even at night with a jacket and a colorful large scarf. Black, navy blue, dark purple and grey are the only leggings colors for me. If you are not used to them, start wearing the velvet tights by Wolford. They look and feel wonderful.

Bags

I must admit I've never seen so many Parisiennes with one of my favorite bags, the Longchamp Pliable (meaning foldable). It has become universal and more fashionable than ever. Why? It is a fantastic value with contemporary style. It fits everything I need, is light as a feather (no back aches!) and very durable.

The actual success of this very French line is based upon French flair: the bag comes in one single form but in 7 sizes, with two types of handles, and a full range of new colors each Spring and Fall, which always gives me ideas on the colors that will be fashionable the next season. My tiny dark purple Pliable was bought for my bold purple coat last fall. This past summer my Pliable pick was "pastel acidulé." I like the fancy handles and tiny size for fancy outings and the long handles for more active occasions when I wear the bag around my shoulder. Thanks to the price and versatility, I can add one bag a year to my collection.

To find a store near you, check the company Website.

Ice Cream

Visit Grom at 233 Bleecker St. for some of the best gelato in New York City. Originally from Torino, this artisanal ice cream shop's motto is to always serve the very best...and they do just that.

Herbs and Spices

There is no better place than Aphrodisia for spices, herbs and essential oils.  I’ve been going there for the last twenty years and never been disappointed. So, for those of you unhappy with some store bought spice jars (like everything there is quality and quality not mentioning freshness), go for a walk if you live in Manhattan (264 Bleecker Street) and discover the kind of shops that is a reminder of French local market spice/herb stands or look up their site.   

Cheese

For cheese lovers go to The Vermont Butter and Cheese Company and taste their newest baby, “fromage blanc.”

Until recently, this was a hard one to find in the US, even in New York where everything seems available.  Now, The Vermont Butter and Cheese Company  (tel . 1-800-884-6287) has finalement added it to its line of superb products. It’s one of those French women diet secrets (along with yogurt) and it is as versatile as we eat it at breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can eat it plain, with a drizzle of honey, berries of any kind, as a dip with crudités and in countless fish, meat and veggies recipes.   Try it and don’t blame me if you get hooked.  I am.

It’s not the only product that this company makes well: a sliver of their cultured butter with sea salt crystals will give another dimension to your morning oatmeal or your piece of toast.  For those of you who use crème fraiche, I highly recommend theirs. A teaspoon on a bowl of berries will make for a special dessert. Their small round bijou is indeed a gem of a goat cheese that is particularly tasty toasted under the broiler for a few minutes and added to a mixed green salad with some cooked beets and a few nuts.  All their goat cheeses are actually worth experimenting at various ripening stages.  As if this was not convincing enough, read the history of the company on the company’s Website and meet the lovely owner, Allison. If it’s like in the wine business where “like you like your wines” applies: you’ll surely fall in love with une femme passionnée , the company and the products she created where quality reigns supreme. 

Note Cards

A few years ago in San Francisco I ran out of note cards and when shopping for quick fix fell in love with the artwork and cards of Nick Hanzlik. I subsequently sought him out to do some work for Clicquot and found him living and working in North Carolina. Nick's work is extraordinary. His illustrations are paper cut-outs pasted down and then photographed for reproduction. When the publisher of French Women Don't Get Fat suggested chapter illustrations . . . I recommended Nick. And I am glad. Check out his cards, which can be ordered from his web site: www.r-nichols.com.

Chocolate

Need I tell you I love chocolate? Good, rich, dark chocolate. Many of you have asked for additional recommendations for quality chocolates and I must admit that among commercial brands, I am not alone in singling out Valrhona. In Paris, my favorites include the wonderful Marcolini, down the street from where I live on rue de Seine. These handcrafted chocolates by the talented Pierre Marcolini are divine, particularly his collection of petit carres and coffee dark chocolates which are sometimes difficult to live without. Jean-Paul Hevin’s shop, also near my home in Paris, is another much loved chocolatier. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself there once a week. And last, but certainly not least, Michael Cluizel, which is now available throughout the U.S. at most high end grocery stores.

I'm happy to report that artisan chocolatiers in the U.S are making some great chocolate. I love Jacques Torres, Vosges, and Scharffen Berger.

And then there is Recchiuti Confections . . . I’ve tasted most of what they make at some point or other, but my three favorites remain: force noire; kona coffee (maybe because I think chocolate pairs best with coffee); and last but not least piedmont hazelnut.

On my most recent trip to Paris, I fell in love with Chocolaterie de Beussent, located at 21, rue de Bourg Tibourg 75004 Paris and Jean-Charles Rochoux's shop, on 16, rue d'Assas 75006 Paris.

My latest favorite chocolatier du jour: Patrick Roger. Would you believe his shop is located five minutes from my home? Fate again! Unfortunately, if you want to taste these chocolates, you will have to visit Paris as Patrick Roger only has 3 shops in the Paris area--or have a friend ship you some. I was not in Paris long enough (applying my moderation rule) to taste them all, but what I did taste was sublime: only dark chocolate ...tendresse was with caramelized hazelnut, amitié with almond and praline and désir was crunchy praline. Another day we tried mistral with caramel and fleur de sel, opium with almond and walnut and Beijing with ginger. Can’t wait to go back for another tasting!

Patrick Roger is located at 108 bld St Germain, Paris 6ème, tel 01 43 29 38 42. Visit his Website.

*Remember chocolate should be tasted at room temperature . . . and as with wine read the flavor descriptions, enjoy the aroma, sense the texture by chewing ever so slowly to get that velvety smooth texture and savor the unique flavor of each piece. Don’t forget the last step: the aftertaste. Remember that with all good things less is more, and it’s all in the first bites.

Vive le chocolat!

For even more information on chocolate, visit frenchwomendontgetfat.com.

Croissants & Pastries

Many readers have written to say they have enjoyed preparing the recipes in French Women Don't Get Fat, but they haven't tackled croissants yet, which I fully understand. So, here are two secret directions to where I go for my favorite croissants when I'm not baking in Paris and New York (why are they so close to my home?)

Royale Cafe + Pastry
461 Sixth Ave., at 11th St.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-5236

La Bergamote
169 9th Avenue (corner of 20th St.)
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: 212-672-9010

You may like to go to La Bergamote for breakfast or afternoon tea as they have a few tables and a very Parisian display of patisseries of exquisite quality.

Carton
6 Rue de Buci
Paris, 6ème

Their baguette tradition, brioches, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins and palmiers are zee best, and most of their patisseries are exquisite. In spite of the number of good patisseries in the neighborhood, they have their regulars who just moan and groan on Mondays when they are closed.

La Boîte à Biscuits
You will never look at a biscuit the same way again! These confections are all natural, seasonal and delicious

Yogurt Makers

If you've read my book, you know that I love yogurt and make my own, which means less sugar and less money. It's easy. You can buy a relatively inexpensive yogurt maker for foolproof, good results. I have one made by Donvier.

In addition to Donvier, there are many great yogurt makers out there, available at most stores and dozens of websites. Keep your eyes peeled for these brands:
Salton
Deni
Euro Cuisine
Yogourmet

Hair

This is a tough one -- so subjective -- but people always ask where I get my hair done, here are my regular New York and Paris favorites:

Frederic Fekkai
15 East 57th St.
New York
Telephone: 212-753-9500
My two favorite stylists there are Philippe Barr and Patrick Bassett.

Peter Gadge
88 Rue des Archives
Paris 3ème
Telephone: 01 42 78 79 72
From the states: 011 33 1 42 78 79 72

After having recommended Peter in a piece in Town & Country (June 1999), I am amazed but not surprised that some clients from Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, etc., keep coming back. He's still the king of zee best cut in town -- a true artist. A great gift to give oneself . . . you'll be a true Parisienne after la transformation. Trust him . . . and be prepared for a slow cut.

Flowers

Flowers are the gift for all occasions as the saying goes, "Dites le avec des fleurs" (say it with flowers). I cannot live without flowers, and am captivated by the increasing number of small flower shops doing unusual arrangements. Here are a few favorites in New York, Paris and Toronto:

New York
L'Olivier at www.lolivier.com

Uptown: 19 E. 76th St., telephone: 212-774-7676
Downtown: 213 W. 14th St., telephone: 212-255-2828

Olivier, king of Provence in New York, has a style I fell in love with when I first saw his amazing arrangements at restaurant Daniel, and now that he has opened a place on 14th Street (which one can rent for parties as it's attached to a beautiful garden in the back done by Olivier himself), I can stop at the shop on my way home and pick the flowers of the week. His windows are worth seeing, and so is his secret garden.

Paris . . . "small is beautiful"
These are small shops that do one-of-a-kind little arrangements to please the most demanding flower lover, and they deliver:
Sol y Flor, 5 rue Coetlogon, 6ème, telephone: 01 45 44 75 21
Odorantes, 9 rue Madame, 6ème, telelphone: 01 42 84 03 00
Guillaume fleurs, 120 boulevard Raspail, 6ème, telephone 01 45 49 44 14
Lea Flores, 119 rue de Grenelle, 7th, telephone: 01 44 18 01 31

Toronto
Teatro Verde is actually more than a flower shop. In addition to the truly stupendi arrangements, this most incredible shop features items handpicked by the owner and his partner from all over Europe, particularly France, be they vases, dishes, books, linens, cards, pieces for the bathroom and much more. What a treat to shop!

Home Decorating Ideas

House and Garden
Travel + Leisure

Numerous women ask where I buy my ‘couture’ clothing. I have a secret to tell you: French women don’t wear couture! We much prefer a few pieces of simple, good quality clothing that we can accessorize with and wear forever. Some of my favorite blouses I’ve owned for many years. Recently, I fell in love with the classic style blouses at São, located in Soho. A tailored white blouse is perfect for any occasion.

John Derian
What a unique store! John Derian has made a name for himself in decoupaging home décor pieces. I love his one of a kind paperweights.

Six E. 2nd St, New York, NY 10003, tel. (212) 677-3917

Heart Art
Wendy Issacson has taken hearts and created adorable 'heart art.' There's one for every personality. Perfect for little meaningful gifts—and a fabulous way to say "I love you!"

132 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011, tel. (212) 620-3840

Watches

I love my Breitling. I don't always wear a watch, but sometimes I must, and I appreciate how important watches are to some people and how much they are noticed. The model I wear is Callistino. When it comes to watches, I was raised to trust the Swiss. Breitling is a family company that only makes the best. I usually wear it the French way, that is with dial on the palm side of my wrist and the bracelet on top of my wrist so it looks like I am actually wearing a fancy bracelet. I also find wearing it this way facilitates discreet glances at the time.

French News & Media

Many of you like to read French or follow French news and have asked what I read/listen to: well, the French newspapers like Le Monde or Le Figaro on line, and I particularly like rue89.com, Frenchmorning.com and canal-plus.com where talented friends work and give me great pleasure.

--more to come--

 

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Mireille Guiliano
author of French Women Don't Get Fat
and French Women for All Seasons

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