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You’ll almost never catch me in the kitchen on a Friday night. Dinner out on Friday has become a small ritual for me…it’s the carrot dangling at the end of a long stick that is my busy work week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, in fact, what I like best is simply hitting up my neighborhood eats, Nambodai being the usual suspect.

This little retro Thai gem has a delicious menu and a terribly trendy ambiance. Their young hip servers present you with a menu full of different types of curry, bobuns, spring rolls, and noodles dishes.  All their meat dishes can be substituted with tofu, so those of you looking for a perfect first date restaurant, Nambodai’s the place as they got you covered in the event that your date is unexpectedly vegetarian.

Mojitos are a must, along with an exotic dessert. If you like bananas, I suggest the banana-nutella nem – the equivalent of a spring roll but sweet and stuffed with nutella and banana chunks along with some crème anglaise. Or try the banana tapioca dessert served with warm sweetened coconut milk drizzled on top. yummmmy.

The candle lit tables, artsy deco, and good taste in music just lend the place a very comtemporary cool feel. It’s a place that you end up lingering in long after you’ve devoured your meal, and finished what you thought was your last drink. 😉  No wonder it is open until 2am.

PS: Nambodai has free wifi, so it is also great for studying, or if you simply want to get out of the house and browse the internet while enjoying a fresh fruit smoothie!!

Nambodai

28 Boulevard Voltaire

75011, Paris

Phone: 01 48 06 69 97

Metro: Oberkampf, Filles du Calvaire

Open Monday-Friday 8:30am to 2am

Saturday 9am to 2am

Sunday 6pm to 2am

http://www.nambodai.com/

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Salon International de l’Agriculture 2011. Just the word agriculture sounds terribly boring, not to mention this year’s very unsexy advertising poster with a giant cow named “Candy” on it. People mocked my Saturday salon plans. Yet, despite of it all, I just couldn’t pass up the promise of delicious eats and drinks, France’s finest farm animals, and scoping out the lieu of Sarkozy’s famous “casse-toi, pauvre con” episode.

The look "Alsacien" is always a staple on the catwalks of the Salon Int'l de l'Agriculture

Being the fashionista and foodie that I am, I headed straight to Pavillion 7, the French food court as I dubbed it, where the UNESCO heritage gastronomie was laid out in abundance. Hundreds of stands offered free samples of cheeses, charcuterie, chocolate, nougat, beer, wine, and regional specialities from almost every region in France. My goal was to sample away to my hearts delight while snapping the hilarious “agri-couture” around me.

Six hours later…mission accomplished as la Grisette emerges from the salon completely saturated with food/wine and a set of ridiculous photos.

These "cardinals" definitely nailed this year's fur-lined everything trend...

All in all, it was definitely an experience, an enjoyable one at that, so don’t miss it this year!!

And should you want to make a dinner of it – as some booths are full on restaurants, be sure to go on Friday, February 25th, as the Salon is open until 11pm!

 

 

 

Salon International de l’Agriculture 2011

Going on from the 19-27 of February 2011

Porte de Versailles from 9-19h


Don’t miss the rest of the Salon’s top looks!! No sarcasm here… =)

The modest pilgrim look was taken up by men and women alike.

This takes buzz cut to a whole new level...or shall we say buzz butt?

Uni-suit anyone? A cow is truly the best accessory here...

And yes she did. The jelly sandal. Amongst manure and hay. The biggest fashion faux-pas of the salon!

Saw it…last night, andddddd, I sat there afterwards a bit depressed by the whole thing. I realized that when I go the movies, I pay to be taken out of my ordinary everyday life, not to reaffirm life’s banalities and realities – no matter how cute the actors/actresses are.

Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet — they’re handsome folk, but it wasn’t enough to deliver me that escape I paid for. Instead, its weak story and ordinary exchanges just left me uninspired. A fighting couple, suspicions, temptations, manipulations, well I see it happening and experience these things often enough that I wonder why Massy Tadjedin thought it would be worth putting people (read me) through another two hours of it?

On top of that, after a night of cheating on each other, the main couple (Knightley, Worthington) find themselves face to face in their apartment only for the film to abruptly end without showing how things reconcile themselves. Hmmmm, seems just plain lazy on the part of Tadjedin. It’s when the situation gets hard that things get interesting, when you have to deal with your mind and emotions like guilt, fear, and sadness – not when you think  with your genitals and simply follow the whims of your animal instincts.

So my conclusions are: Don’t waste your money like I did, and read a good book with better developed characters. A good book will probably be more entertaining and hopefully less mundane than this. The trailer is below just to confirm my rants.

Last NightWritten and directed by Massy Tadjedin featuring Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, and Guillaume Canet

Modest outsides, delicious insides...

This weekend was mostly spent recovering from working like a madwoman, and spending some quality time with close friends. I have to shameless admit that recovering in my book means eating a ton of delicious food from a variety of tasty restaurants in Paris. Yup, in total over the past four days I have managed to eat out every single night, sometimes twice in one day. Pathetic, I know. All my money goes to food.  *sigh*

One place in particular stands out amongst the others sampled this past weekend, and that is “La Bonne Heure,” translated – The Right Time – an organic vegetarian restaurant where everything is homemade from the entrees right down to the desserts. While the place has a really humble decor, don’t let looks deceive you…the cuisine is top notch! 

I feasted on the special of the day, which was a delicious quinoa gratin with a mozzarella crust over a nutty quinoa seasoned with onions, mushrooms, and sauteed eggplant. Amazing! Others in the group ordered a thick veggie chili over basmati rice, fresh spring rolls, and the “Vegetarian’s Delight” – a plate full of falafel, sauteed vegetables, basmati rice, steamed vegetables and a salad. If you aren’t 100% vegetarian, they also have a nice selection of fish dishes.

While we already full (surprising for a eating a bunch of vegetables non?) we couldn’t resist the freshly baked desserts. Apple almond crumble, pear tarte with a chesnut creme on top, homemade mousse au chocolat… each was divine and unmistakably home made – not like the restuarants that pass off their fondant au chocolate with the one from Picard, a local supermarket. True story… the resturant even admitted!

So if you are veggie, or hosting folks in town that are veggie, don’t spare them this little gem in the 13th arrondissement. You can even walk off the meal in the nearby “Butte-aux-Cailles” a charming neighborhood rarely frequented by tourists.

Last but not least, La Bonne Heure offers a relaxing week-long cooking trip in the heart of Provence, where you learn how to cook vegetarian and visit the surrounding region. Trips are from May 28th, 2011 to June 1st, 2011 and July 16th, 2011 to July 20th, 2011. 500 euros covers food, lodging, and day trips.

 

La Bonne Heure

72 Rue Moulin des Près

75013  Paris

01 45 89 77 00

*Reservations advised due to cosy (read small) space

And I am not talking about you know what. I am talking about Bikram. Again, not something in the Kama Sutra book, but more like yoga in a 45 degree celsius studio.

Now if you are from the States, this is nothing very novel, but here in Paris, it’s become a rather trendy way to exercise. After hearing so many friends try it, this past week I decided to try it for myself. Here is a sampling of my experiences on the first day…

Hmmm, how to describe this…initial impressions going into the room…well, it’s a bit warm, but tolerable, and then all the sudden WHAM. A wave of odor something like a mix of stinky feet, sweat, and mold greeted my nostrils.

After taking some moments to adjust to the smell, I set down my mat and waited in the dark. By 6pm there were still people arriving and I was wondering how they were all going to fit. At 6:05 pm, our instructor arrived, and we began. She installed herself on a little podium at the front, and  began rapidly dictating the exercises without actually doing them herself. In general I thought she was rather good, but I have to admit it was a bit of let down not to able to see her perfect the poses as we went, and instead having to look at the large wobbly guy in front of me as an example.

The routine was a mix of poses that I didn’t find particularly challenging, however with the repetition of them and the added element of heat, I definitely felt my body working. After five minutes of breathing exercises, I was already sweating up a storm. Eeeewww. After 90 minutes, well let’s just say you couldn’t tell the difference between those who had just showered and those coming out of the room.

 

First day conclusion: It was a deep burn.

 

So after 5 days of this, here are the pros of sweating your tushe off for 90 minutes straight:

1. The post exercise high is great and you are warm to the core. If you live in a cold place, you are immune to the cold until the next day around noon.

2. You work every part of the body without imposing any sort of of impact. Limbs and back feel strengthened, and posture is improved.

3. Glowing skin! The heat and movement induces increased blood circulation which in addition to the outrageous sweating make for really soft skin.

4. Relaxation. you are reeeeeeeeeelllllllllllaxeddddd. and sleep like a baby.

5. You get an energy boost, who doesn’t like that?

*Perk: Classes can also be taken in English!!!

 

And now the cons:

1. $$$ – Bikram Yoga, as most yoga in Paris, is on the pricey side. As there is only one Bikram studio with two locations, there is even a monopoly going on here…

However, if you just want to try it out, they have a great deal available for first timers. For 30 euros you can go an unlimited amount of times over the course of ten days and don’t even have to pay to borrow a mat. Otherwise, it’s 55 euros for a  7 day unlimited pass, and 140 euros for a monthly unlimited pass.

2. Showers and dressing room at the Grands Boulevard location are cramped! You can risk waiting a bit to shower, and don’t expect any privacy!

3. Classes are not capped at a certain number, so some days can be really packed, taking away from the relaxing element as you sweat and get sweat on by your neighbors.

4. The stench. While you do get used to it, it still can be a put off to very sensitive people.

5. Lack of variety  in the poses. Everytime I went we did exactly the same poses every time. While I was far from perfecting them, I was starting to get bored. PLUS, the poses do not really work the mid-section or the butt.

 

Last quick tips: Bring 2 towels – one for your mat, one for the shower. Bring loose clothing to put on afterwards, if not forsee taking 15 minutes to get your jeans back on.  Yoga outfit = the skimpier the better. Men typically don on speedos, women are mostly in sports bras and shorts. Finally, bring new clean undies, because eveything gets soaked in there. I mean everything.

 

 

 

Yoga Bikram Marais

13, rue Simon Le Franc – 75004 Paris
Tél. : 01 42 47 18 52 – Fax. : 01 40 27 03 19

Yoga Bikram Grands Boulevards

17, rue du Faubourg Montmartre – 75009 Paris
Tél. : 01 42 47 18 52 – Fax. : 01 40 27 03 19

Website: http://www.bikramyogaparis.com/index.html

This penetrating Parisian gloom is chilling to the bone, and has greatly overstayed its welcome here in the City of Lights. No wonder there are so many lights here… I think they thought it might help dispel the dreary grisaille that hangs over this place 75% of the year!

For me sadly, the lights are not enough, and lately I have been looking for healthy little pick me ups that warm me  from the inside! While I am big lover of tea, I decided to take it to new level with these milk infused drinks that you can make right at home. Why waste precious euros on Starbucks when you could whip these up chez vous?

Lavender Dream:

A sprig of fresh lavander

A creamy milk drink that guarantees a good night’s sleep!

What you do:

Just heat up some milk (I usually use whole organic milk so it is extra creamy)  in a small pot on medium heat. While it is heating, add two fresh (preferably) sprigs of lavender and stir around as it heats.

Cut the heat when the milk begins to boil, and let cool a couple of minutes. Strain the lavender sprig out, add a couple teaspoons of wildflower honey, and you’ve got yourself a delicious dessert whose aromas relax the mind and heat the soul.

Or, there is…

Masala Fort - Organic Chai Tea from "Les Jardins de Gaia"

Melody’s Chai Latte:

This recipe was handed down to me by a very dear friend who has a knack for creating super healthy yet delicious treats!

What you do:

Heat up a nice thick vanilla flavored soy milk in a mug in the microwave, or in a pot on the stove top. If you have Chai tea bags, the microwave is a really convenient option. Once the soy milk is hot, dunk the tea bag in or (as I do) put in loose chai tea in the stove top pot. Let steep for 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you like it. Remove tea bags or strain, add a couple teaspoons of honey and enjoy!!!

My favorite loose leaf Chai tea is the following: Masala Fort, an organic tea from “Les Jardins de Gaia”

Souliko, one of my favorite mares

So I realized that I have abandoned my passion for blogging these past couple of months, and I am sincerely sorry for it. Somehow, it was just too easy to let myself succomb to the excuses such as a lack of time, stress at work, or “general fatigue” (isn’t that what they call it these days?). It all just kind of sucked out any motivation I could gather to get back on the horse.

That was until, I decided to get back on the horse literally. After doing some research on stables in the Parisian area, I recently signed up for half a year of horse-riding lessons at La Villette and was so excited that I needed to blog about it.

View inside the barn

Nestled at the edge of Parc de la Villette lies Equivil, a riding center with over 50 horses and the only stable within Paris’s périférique. The center, while being on the smaller side, still has a large indoor and outdoor arena and offers a wide selection of lessons  from beginner to advanced. A good portion of the lessons start at 6pm or after making it feasible to ride after work as I do on Monday nights.

Depending on your level, lessons include dressage work and jumping which alternate each week, and with not so many people per lesson, you really get personal feedback. The instructors are a dedicated group which reflects in the quality of the lessons and the cleanliness of the stables. Lessons unfortunately are not offered in English, so I had to not only brush up on the my English horse terms, but also then had to find out what they all were in French!

The indoor arena

While I stopped horseback riding over 10 years ago, due to a lack of time and resources (hmm sound familiar to above excuses?), and I always regretted it. To me, horses are beautiful creatures that have a great calming effect. Sensitive and complex animals, they require a great amount respect and care, and one must constantly strive to understand them in order to take real pleasure in the sport. Having practically zero interaction with animals since I moved to Paris, picking up riding again was a great way to relax after a long day’s work and feel a connection to nature in a town full of cars, scooters, buses and more.

Now that makes horse sense!

Tack

The Quick Facts:

They offer lessons on a season basis, the breakdown being as follows:

Autumn/Winter : 21 classes for 431 euros

Winter/Spring: 15 classes for 308 euros

Both seasons combined: 36 classes for 670 euros.

– Call or check their website for the lesson schedule

Address:

9, Boulevard Macdonald

75019, Paris

Tel: 01 40 34 33 33

Site: equivil.fr

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