Archive for the ‘HIP tips from the locals’ Category


Text Erica Berman Photos – courtesy of Hidden Kitchen & Erica Berman

Hidden Kitchen private supper club in Paris

With no idea what to expect, and no expectations to fulfill, we were unexpectedly seduced and delighted by this underground Parisian dining extravaganza. Expertly run by a young American couple, the food has a fresh US slant not so common in France. In over 16 years of fooding in Paris I have experienced a lot of Paris’ culinary treats, and I can honestly say that this was one of the best meals I have had in the city of lights. (more…)


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Text Erica Berman

While most people don’t come to Paris for pizza, if you get the urge for a fix of authentic Italian eats, the Golfe de Naples is the place to go. This bustling inconspicuous restaurant nestled on a corner behind the Bd St. Germain by the Marché St. Germain is hopping from the moment it opens to the moment it closes. Tables are tightly packed, privacy minimal, service brisk but friendly, and food tasty and simple. Thick-crusted and chewy pizza (more…)

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Thank God I'm a VIP

Text and photography by: Genevieve Sandifer

Although we all want to channel a little Coco Chanel/Edith Piaf/Laetitia Casta while wandering through St. Germain, the price points attached to the fashion dream can be more than a little dissuasive. Here to rescue the dream felled by “recessionitis”: Thank God I’m a VIP, a gem of a vintage store located just east of Pl. de la République in the up-and-coming 10th arrondissement.

Thank God I'm VIP

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Text – Erica Berman    Friday Feb 20, 2009

After many years of living Paris the beauty of the city is often lost behind the cloudy grey weather and daily train-train*.  Often I find I must make a concerted effort to find the time to take advantage of this beautiful city.

Yesterday, a sunny day, I decided to steal a few hours in town. First stop: the Passerelle de Solferino, a small bridge across the Seine from Musee D’Orsay to the Tuilerie gardens, to admire the spectacular view up and down the river Seine. (more…)

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Cheese Shops in France

Photo Erica Berman

Navigating the cheese Shop – Genevieve Sandifer

Ah, cheese. The dizzying selection. The alternately intoxicating and overwhelming smells seeping out of shop fronts and market stalls. The fierce opinions and friendly neighborhood banter while waiting in line. Cheese (and cheese shopping) is, unequivocally, one of the pillars of the French way of life. With over 350 French cheeses to choose from, buying a lunchtime treat can be an intimidating cultural challenge. With that in mind, here’s a shortlist of what you need to know when venturing out to the cheese stand…
• Most French cheeses are either Cow (Vache), Goat (Chèvre) or Ewe (Brebis) milk based, though appearances and tastes vary extensively within these categories.
• Go artisan. With so many artisan cheese shops and stands selling high quality, farm-to-market products, you’ll definitely want to forego the convenience of your corner supermarket, which mostly likely stocks mass produced goods, when purchasing cheese. Your palate will thank you…
• Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample. Pick out 2 or 3 cheeses that seem appealing and politely inquire: “Est-ce-que je peux gouter celui-ci?*” Pop the slice in your mouth, chew thoughtfully, nod approvingly and, if you’ve settled on your selection, order it up! For harder cheeses that have already been cut, 100g is a fairly standard serving. Round cheeses (Camembert, for example) are sold as a whole or half reel, and smaller goat cheeses (Crottin) are sold individually.


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Photo by Erica Berman

Parisian Market Shopping  – Genevieve Sandifer

Although supermarkets, big and small, abound in Paris, most natives make it a point to buy their fresh produce from the colorful, bustling Marchés that dot Parisian neighborhoods. Long considered the centers of city life, nothing beats the satisfaction of returning to your apartment with a cartful of fragrant produce and a head-full of neighborhood gossip. With that in mind, here are few tips for navigating the oft-intimidating foodie meccas…

•    It’s more than worth it to make it out early enough to snag the day’s freshest picks. Most produce markets open around 9 or 10, and you can bet the freshest fish will be gone by 11.

•    It’s a good idea to do a quick walk-through before you start purchasing in order to get familiar with the offerings. Most stands will appear indistinguishable – yards and yards of contiguous vegetable stands, for example – but each often has a loyal following for whatever it does best, so a little detective work can pay off.

•    Unless you have a particular meal in mind, feel free to ask the vendor what he recommends – you’ll find most are more than willing to chat and, if prompted, are happy to point you to the choicest picks. A little charm and you might even walk away with a couple extra shrimp!


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Photo & Text by Erica Berman

Words of wisdom after a nice French meal

At the end of a nice French meal (repas), when you are asked if you would like another serving, you may be inclined to say, “non merci, je suis plein.” This is the standard reply in English . . . “no thanks, I’m full.” N’est ce pas?  After this seemingly banal declaration you may notice the Frenchies looking at you just a bit askance. They will have reason. In French to say ‘plein’ in reference to your stomach, usually relates to pregnant, and an animal (for humans it is ‘je suis enceinte’). Thus, by thinking you are telling them you are full and finished eating, they may think you are providing them with way too much information! So, what DO you say to let the French know your tummy is happy and that you no longer need another helping of that wonderful tarte tatin?

The proper expression to express your satiation would be, “non merci, je suis repu.”  Not many of us Anglophones know this, and many make this easy error. Another simple phrase would be ‘non, merci j’en ai eu assez.” This works; “no thanks, I’ve had enough,” but it is lacking any sophistication whatsoever. The French will most likely be forgiving of the ‘plein’, and tolerant of the ‘assez’, but they will be downright tickled with the ‘repu’. Take it from one who knows!

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