Free Beer!

September 24, 2007 at 12:38 pm | Posted in food | 3 Comments
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No, really.


La Cave a Bulles, a “beer boutique” just around the corner from le Centre Pompidou, hosts regular free beer tastings that are not to be missed. And although they carry a few belgian lambics, etc., their real specialty is artisanal microbrews from all over France.

But wait — France produces wine, not beer, right? Wrong! Not only is there an ever-expanding world of French beers out there, they’re actually really good… Rich and complex enough to compete with their Belgian neighbors, believe it or not.


We came home with these two, yesterday. I haven’t tried the chestnut one yet, but the amber one (“honi soit qui biere n’y boit”) is smooth, robust, slightly nutty — once I had my first taste, I pretty much never wanted it to stop.

But don’t take my word for it. Head over to la Cave a Bulles and ask for a recommendation. Better yet, ask to be put on their mailing list, so you’ll be the first to know next time there’s a free tasting.

La cave à bulles
45 rue Quincampoix
Tuesday to Saturday, 10h-14h et 16h-20h.


Annette Messager

September 18, 2007 at 9:02 pm | Posted in art | Comments Off on Annette Messager
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Yesterday I saw this terrific Annette Messager exhibit at Pompidou.


This was actually not my favorite piece, but it was pretty much the only thing that was legal to photograph. The stuff I loved included loads of disembowled stuffed animals, a case of dead birds, each with a tiny knitted sweater or booties, an incredible room filled with giant, inflatable, pastel-colored body parts (hands, eyes, lips, but also internal organs) that slowly and rhythmically inflated and deflated… I could have sat and watched that for hours. But the piece de resistence was a large room filled with a giant silk cloth, buffeted by air currents being piped up from below. And underneath the cloth were barely visible assortments of children’s toys, body parts, fluoresent tubes… and there was an intense, Bergman-like clock presiding over the whole thing. These images don’t even begin to do it justice.

I gather that she’s married to Christian Boltanski, and I’d never heard of her before — but while I’ve always found his pieces a little dull and self-involved, I was really impressed by her exhibit. It seemed like a great example of how contemporary art can be feminist without necessarily being obvious, hyperpolitical, or shocking/disgusting. Reminded me of some Dorothea Tanning stuff I’ve liked in the past — creepy and unsettling, operating on a very unconscious level.

This youtube film gives some idea of the first piece, at least.


September 18, 2007 at 1:03 pm | Posted in food | 5 Comments

Friday night, Brumaire and I traveled to a far distant land — a land known to great explorers like ourselves as the 17eme arrondissement.

And what exalted mission could have caused us to leave the cozy familiarity of the left bank, for an area so remote? Nothing less than the promise of decent Ethiopian food.


Brumaire was on a hunt for a sublime coffee experience — Menelik is apparently well-known for their weekend coffee ceremonies, featuring rich, complex brews made from green coffee beans that are grilled right in the restaurant.

I, on the other hand, was hoping to track down a dish I’d only ever read about: kitfo. The dish consists of raw, ground beef mixed with herbs and spices and, in this case, served with a mild cheese and cooked greens; the New York Times described it as “warm and spicy, not unlike steak tartare, but with more kick.”

I’ve been to a few Ethiopian restaurants in America, and have always enjoyed my meals, but given the American distaste for little inconveniences like E. Coli, I knew I was unlikely to find this particular dish on menus back at home. But Paris! That’s a different story.


I know that looks about as appetizing as a feature on the surgery channel, but that’s only because we’d already beaten it up a bit. Seriously, it was delicious — meaty and spicy and incredibly decadent. And the rest of the food was equally terrific.

Ethiopian platter

My photos aren’t doing this place justice. Kids, this is what happens when photographers get really hungry and start devouring everything in sight before they remember to take a picture. Be warned. That disgorged egg, in particular, looked a lot better before I mutilated it.

Still, don’t let my sloppy journalism put you off! The food was delicious and cheap, and the was coffee superb — all in all, well worth a trip to Paris’s hinterlands.

Bread and Roses

September 18, 2007 at 1:01 pm | Posted in food | 4 Comments

Last week I joined talented and amusing Adelyn for lunch at Bread and Roses.

I was going to blog about it, but Adelyn beat me to it with a far more coherent analysis and lovelier photos than I could have managed. For the most part, I agree with everything she said; I’d only add that, while the food was perfectly fresh, well thought-out, and tasty, it was overpriced, and the toast was kind of aggressively crunchy. Still, it’s a good place to keep in mind if you are ever visited by people with dietary restrictions, because they have a large vegetarian selection, and I gather they even have some gluten-free dishes, which can be very hard to find in Paris.

And just for fun, here are my (far more amateurish) photos of our luncheon:


Tarama and toast.

Cheese and Tomato

Goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. And toast.


September 13, 2007 at 6:54 pm | Posted in art | 2 Comments

Blue Roy

Tuesday, I finally finished the draft I’ve been working on all summer, so yesterday I rewarded myself with a trip to the new Pinacoteque de Paris to see their inaugural exhibit, Roy Lichtenstein: Evolution.

The pinacoteque turns out to be an interesting little museum. The exhibit hall is in the basement, and it’s a small space, but these limitations are largely overcome by smart curating: instead of feeling cluttered, the careful positioning of the pieces allows for interesting comparisons and lends a sense of continuity to the show.

Still, the venue demands that the show itself be a somewhat modest affair, and probably not the best choice for a Lichtenstein neophyte — those big, boisterous pop-art extravaganzas for which he is best known would overwhelm this intimate space. Instead, most of the exhibit is devoted to sketches, studies, and collages constructed in preparation for the larger works. Still, mixed in with the sketches are a number of privately-held pieces that you may never get a chance to see elsewhere.

All considered, there’s a lot here for a Lichtenstein fan: the show features works from almost every phase of his career, from the iconic comic book heroines to Asian-inspired landscapes to whimsical “brushstroke” sculptures. Better yet, every spare inch of wall is covered with illuminating quotes from the artist himself, explaining why he made various shifts in form and subject. I, for one, never knew that Lichtenstein was inspired by cubism, and I loved his take on abstract expressionism as well.

The show closes September 23rd.

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