Thursday, December 29, 2011

Le Réveillon

New Year's Eve ( or Le Réveillon as it is known in French) is celebrated much differently here in Paris than it is in the US. Here, closed parties are held at restaurants and tickets must be purchased months in advance. In the US, the idea of buying tickets for a New Year's Eve party months in advance would be absurd. Especially since you could get stuck at a party that sucks. Americans like the freedom to move around on New Year's Eve. So, if you're planning to fly to Paris this weekend to party like it's 2012, it's unlikely you'll be able to get in anywhere. Although, there may be some availability at the Ritz. The menu, and info are below. PS: make sure you bring your Black Amex Card with you.

For New Year’s Eve, the Ritz Paris awaits you for a memorable and magical night. In a dream-like decor, L’Espadon proposes a prestigious and surprise-filled dinner to the sounds of a swing orchestra and its vocalist.

Beluga caviar with vodka pearls
Marinated Brittany scallops with black truffles
Blue lobster Thermidor
Grilled mushrooms and tarragon Cristalline
Line caught turbot with white Alba truffles
Venison medallions in Grand Veneur style,
Mont d’Or cheese from Poligny region
Iced chocolate delight with Imperial gold tangerines
Champagne Grand Siècle par Laurent-Perrier
Sauternes Château d’Yquem 1er Cru supérieur 1996
Champagne Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque rosé 2002
Grand Cru Armagnac Ritz 1898

New Year’s Eve Dinner at the Espadon: 2012 € per person

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What to Leave Out for Santa

Living in France, the most difficult thing, by far, has been having to explain to our kids why Santa behaves so differently when visiting our house, than that of their little French friends. In France, children are encouraged to stay UP and wait for le Père Noël , while in the U.S. we tell our kids that if they are not in bed sleeping, Santa WON'T come. I have interrogated my French friends at length about this because I wondered how parents manage to sneak gifts under the tree while their children are engaged in a mini-stake out. The answers I received varied. Most said that they take the kids outside and distract them somehow (usually by looking up in the sky for unusual air traffic) while an accomplice puts the presents under the tree. Then, when the kids come back in, the person inside will say, “Oh you JUST missed le Père Noël!" Some friends reported that their parents went so far as to HIRE someone to dress up and pose as le Père Noël (although apparently you gotta be careful where you find your Père Noël 'cause one year my friend Sophie said she remembers the guy her parents hired showed up smelling strongly of gin).
What people leave OUT for Santa also varies widely in Europe. In the States it is your standard cookies and milk and maybe some carrots for the reindeer. In England and Australia, Santa’s treated to a glass of sherry with minced pie. While in Wales and Ireland, they leave out a pint of Guinness(because Guiness goes with everything) and cookies, mince pie or Christmas pudding, depending on the house. Santa gets a stiff drink to help him stay warm through the night in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Sometimes a particular elf or gnome will get risgrynsgrot, a bowl of rice porridge made with cinnamon, sugar and milk. Personally, I'm shocked there hasn't been a history of airline disasters over Europe on Christmas Eve seeing that Santa is most likely driving drunk. I mean, even if he only had a small SIP at each house, he'd still be loaded by like, the twentieth house or so, right? Oh, wait, I forgot he's got a designated driver (Rudolph). Joyeux Noël à tous!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Elf on the Shelf

The tradition of hosting an elf in your home so he can report back to Santa started hundreds of years ago in the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) but it wasn't until an American woman from Georgia co-wrote a book with her daughter in 2005, that the idea spread around the US like wildfire. After several years of begging me to buy and Elf on the Shelf, I can proudly say that our home still does NOT have one. And here's why: it's WICKED CREEPY. It’s one thing to say ‘Santa is watching you.’ It’s quite another to have a little midget spy in the house. Is there anything scarier than the idea of a toy coming to life and doing GOD knows WHAT while you sleep? Doesn't anyone remember the 1982 horror movie POLTERGEIST in which the little boy is terrified for the entire movie that the stuffed clown in his bedroom is going to come to life and attack him. And then, at the end of the movie THE CLOWN DOES JUST THAT! I will never purchase the Elf on the Shelf for my kids no matter how much the BEG ME TO because I can’t stop thinking that the Elf is going to kill me at night. Behind that impish smile I imagine he has two rows of sharp teeth and that he would stand over me while I sleep, whispering, “soon, soon….”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry (Secular) Christmas

France has always touted itself as a secular nation, one in which the State and religion are kept separate. Thus, I was little more than a bit surprised when I walked into my daughters's classroom in early December to find a fully decorated Christmas tree on display. And, not only was her classroom decorated, but the entire school was covered with Christmas decor. Tinsel, garland, ornaments and lights hung from every banister. In addition, the students received a note from le Père Noël promising them something under the (school) tree if they were good. I asked the teacher if it was common practice in France to put up a Christmas tree. She assured me that it was. I then asked if any of the Muslim or Jewish families had any issue with it. "Mais, non," she responded, "why would then?" "Because they are not Christian and Christmas is a Christian holiday." She stared at me for a good five seconds, her brows furrowed, and then said, "Christmas trees are not religious symbols, Madame. And neither is le Père Noël." Turns out, she's right about Christmas trees not being religious symbols (they were actually a pagan ritual that began in Latvia in the 15th century) but Saint Nicholas, a SAINT, not a religous symbol? Now that was a good one. Surprisingly, all the families in my daughter's preschool class participated in the Christmas party and no one objected to Saint Nicholas showing up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Little Orphan Harper

And speaking of expensive, ugly clothing......Bonpoint is THE place to buy chi chi clothing for your kids here in France but sadly their clothes are incredibly ugly. They only come in depressing colors like grey, brown and black. And for girls mauve is as exciting as it gets. Now, I'm not a person who believes little girls should be dressed in pink 24/7 but they should be wearing colors that are joyous NOT somber. As much as I wanted to LOVE the chic little girls Parisian clothing I just couldn't do it. I couldn't justify spending hundreds of euros on clothes that made my daughter look like Little Orphan Annie. However, it seems that celebrities are not as concerned about the way their kids look. Case in point, the picture included in this post of Posh Spice toting her four month old daughter, Harper. That kid is adorable but that dress is flat out ugly!