bistro-1900-paris france 1 1024x1024I always measure bliss in minutes. Our 220 minutes ticked away at the restaurant on Rue de Bac in Paris. We were meeting our friend, Nicolas outside of the closed restaurant on a Saturday afternoon where he worked. He was the ‘Chef of the moment’ in a city where that accolade can be very fleeting. We had made plans to have dim sum and afternoon tea with dessert at one of his favorite secret places. We would spend the afternoon walking and talking about food, like we often did.

When Nicholas met us he flung open the door of the closed restaurant. He was panicked. Perspiration dripped off his forehead, his scent equaled his stressed appearance. “Come in, I have a big problem” in an unusually loud voice. My sister and I immediately asked what was the problem and how could we help.

Being the chef of the moment, he had caught the attention of a wealthy Japanese investor who planned on opening a 3 star restaurant in Paris. The investor’s secretary called Nicolas and announced that he was to create a lunch for Mr. X and 5 other guests in two hours. This was his interview, death by fire or not. What can we do? “I need someone to serve and help me cook.” He was beginning to yell.

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The Markets of Rio

brazil1.jpgI am not what you would call a creature of habit, but every Sunday morning in Rio, I open my eyes and think Pastels! I throw on my board shorts, slip into my flip-flops and head straight to the local street market. I merge into the flow of Cariocas making their way to the feira. I can see the flower stalls a block away towering tropical blooms of heliconia, birds of paradise, and jungle roses. My flower vendor is Andres, and we have worked out a deal whereby for fifty reals a week, I can take pretty much whatever I can carry. At this price, I keep my apt flowered to within an inch of its life. Some days it looks like a bridal suite in Waikiki. I spend half an hour considering the possible combination of blooms, blowing on blossoms, and for good measure I hand pick a bagful of golden rose petals for scattering. Then set them aside and set out for Food!

I work my way around the perimeter of the market. The air is fragrant with the aroma of passion fruit and mangos. They have a dozen different types of bananas stacked shoulder high, and a dizzying array of rare exotic fruits from the Amazon jungle that are too fragile to make it out of the country, with names like pitanga, jabuticaba, and bacuri. Somebody hauls a giant stingray out of the ice and it lands at my feet. A fishwife is busy filleting fresh anchovies in front of a stack of coconuts as tall as me. The tourists are clutching their purses, the babies are crying, and the dogs are picking at the scraps.

Finally I reach my destination.

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pasopic.jpgIt’s all my fault. I’ve been telling people for almost a decade about this lovely wine region in the middle of California. Most of them had no idea where Paso Robles is – halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco – and had never heard of any of the wineries that call this region home. Until the last 3-4 years I couldn’t really blame them. Even though some people have been successfully making wonderful wine here for over 3 decades, their efforts rarely reached beyond the county’s borders.

Unless you made the trip, you’d have no idea what you were missing…and you are missing some of the best Bang-for-the-Buck wines being made in California.

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missouri-kansas-city.jpg The state line runs down the middle of Kansas City, one part in Kansas, one in Missouri.  And even though most of the famous barbecue joints are in Missouri, because of the proximity, you can easily vote in Kansas and eat barbecue for lunch in Missouri, or visa versa.  A little thing like the state line doesn’'t divide barbecue lovers.  Here then, is a quick run down of my favorite barbecue joints in two states and one metropolitan area.

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louboutin.jpgI walked right past Christian Louboutin last weekend.  He made an impression.

Louboutin is Paris’ most well-known ladies shoe designer, notable for his sky high heels and their trade-mark red patent sole.  Louboutin’s shoes eclipsed Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik at the peak of the swinging hey-day of ‘Sex and the City’, and I can see why: every pair I own are well-cut, sexy, and outrageously comfortable (and, to be fair, outrageously expensive).

Louboutin was easy to recognize: I remember seeing pictures of him in an article about how he spends his free time drifting down the Nile in an over-sized Egyptian dhou, and I also knew that his Parisian flagship was just around the corner in one of the covered ‘galeries’ in the 1er. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was wearing a well-cut khaki suit, accented by an outrageous and sparky pair of silver studded black leather shoes that flashed in the light as he hopped up onto the pavement.

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