notes + observations + star addresses
A TRIBUTE TO AN ICONIC MONUMENT IN PARIS
I took this photo exactly one month ago on March 15 from inside the Shakespeare and Company cafe. I had come from my dentist’s office in search of a hot chocolate (doesn’t everyone go for hot chocolate after a dental appointment?). Waiting in line, I looked out the window to admire the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and, as I often do, felt both grateful and inspired to live in this beautiful city.
It’s fitting, I believe, that "Point Zero" or “the centre of Paris” is just in front of the Cathedral; in many ways Notre Dame is the heart of the city. When flames pushed out of her roof and poured over her walls, journalists commented over and over that she was “bleeding”. And I think this is how we all felt, slowly dying.
Just before my son was born, I took it upon myself to climb the 387 steps up one of the Cathedral’s towers. I did so, grunting and hating myself every step of the way, but then proud of myself as I stepped outside and inhaled one of the most exhilarating views. Walking on the top of that tower felt like walking on the moon.
It is sad to see buildings burning, sad to witness what we know is irreversible, sad to see such damage that we know is permanent. France and Macron and Madame Hildago will likely make it their mission to rebuild and restore the Notre Dame, but that is far away from today. This fire is a cold reminder of how these precious things we revere are so fragile, how powerless we are in the face of nature’s flames, how Paris’s most compelling attribute is her survival, and how a little piece in everyone dies when she bleeds.
INTERNATIONAL MACARON DAY
CONFECTIONING MACARONS WITH THE PROS
Who can resist the macaron? Two airy, meringue-like cookies (there's some almond powder thrown in for good measure) sandwiched around a creamy ganache filling. Today, March 20, is feted across France, and other sweet-tooth countries, to honour these addictive confections. Started in 2005 by celebrated pasty chef and chocolatier Pierre Hermé to raise funds for cystic fibrosis, the honorary day is known as Jour du macaron or "International Macaron Day." In this post, I share my experience meeting the illustrious Macaron Man and making macarons for this first time. It was a sweet day indeed.
FILIPINOS DON'T MERELY CHOOSE BABY NAMES, WE DESIGN THEM
Ah, the frustrations of finding that perfect baby name. Even before conception, parents debate the potential doom of names like "Richard" (oh, but then they'll call him Dick), "Lise" (no, no, no, it rhymes with sleaze) or "Penelope" (my ex-girlfriend's dog was Penelope) - this last one being a double whammy. For a name not only decides the identity and fate of an innocent baby, it demonstrates the creativity, originality and sophistication of his or her parents. My family could, single-handedly, win awards in all three of these categories. We Filipinos, you see, are masters of name poetry. We don't simply choose names for our children; we design them.
R.I.P. MONSIEUR GIVENCHY
EXHIBIT SHOWCASED PARISIAN DESIGNER’S KEY FASHION MOMENTS
Yesterday, one of the fashion world’s giants slipped away to the other side. After Balenciaga, his mentor, Alaïa and Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy’s passing whispers yet another farewell to a fading, glamorous era of haute couture. In the autumn of 2014, I was fortunate to catch a retrospective on Hubert de Givenchy at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid. Givenchy had a special place in my heart because for my very small and intimate wedding about one year earlier, I had chosen to wear a simple Givenchy cocktail dress - in black. (I was a rebel bride.) This LBD is one of my prized possessions and, conveniently, I wear it all the time.
MUSEUMS À LA MODE
FASHION WEEK IS EVERY WEEK IN THE CITY OF STYLE
Paris Fashion Week may be over, but Paris never quits her full-time role as Fashion Capital of the Universe. There are five museums that I highly recommend for those of you enchanted by the history of fashion. See fashion houses Yves Saint Laurent, Chloé and Louis Vuitton up close and personal, plus discover two more museums that regularly hold fashion exhibits. And as an added luxury, because fashion is all about treating yourself, I've included my favourite cafés and restaurants nearby.
THE GLORY OF K-BBQ, A.K.A. KOREAN BARBECUE
Affectionately dubbed as K-BBQ - just like K-pop (Korean pop music) or K-beauty (Korean cosmetics and skincare) - Korean barbecues are tiny carnivorous feasts grilled right at your table over a central bed of hot charcoal. Oh sure, I had eaten at K-BBQ restaurants before (namely in Los Angeles, Berlin and Toronto), but never before in South Korea. So coming to Seoul for the first time and indulging at a galbijip in its Motherland was not only a big check off my foodie bucket list, it was also a major highlight of my trip to Seoul.
HAPPY STRAWBERRY DAY
IN CELEBRATION OF MY FAVOURITE FRUIT, AFTER BANANAS
In case you didn't know, February 27 is Strawberry Day. I'm unclear as to the origins of this "holiday", but as a devoted strawberry fan I thought it my duty to share with you some fun strawberry trivia, my best strawberry desserts - and the restaurants where I ate them/patisseries where I bought them.
STREET FOOD, MARKET FARE & OTHER QUICK AND EASY BITES
Last spring, I ventured from one foodie capital to another, my home in Paris to Seoul. Of course, there were many must-see sights on my checklist (about which I will rave in another post), but let's be honest, the main motivation during my trip to South Korea was based on food. The following are select culinary highlights of my Korean-food fest. In parts 2 and 3, I will rave about Korean BBQ joints and Seoul's (newly minted) Michelin star restaurants; but, first things first, let's chow down on the fast, tasty treats.
FEELING ALL THE FEELS ON FEBRUARY 14
I love capturing happy couples in their most tender moments: a kiss at midnight, a tête-à-tête before sunset, a hand-in-hand stroll, a snuggle on the terrace of a cafe. Is this overly gushy? Yes. An invasion of privacy? You bet! But I started collecting these stolen snapshots around the world because they remind me of the vibe and the joy that I felt just being there. I’m sure you have a few lovey-dovey memories of your own. Can you name the place and city where I photographed these romancey-schmancey moments - before reading the caption? What metropolis speaks of love to you?
ON THE MENU: ROMANCE AND 3 MICHELIN STARS
Last fall, my husband and I dined at Guy Savoy's eponymous restaurant in Paris. We were celebrating our anniversary (plus a major achievement on my better half's part), and so had chosen this esteemed address to underscore our evening as extra special.