Monday, April 20, 2015

"Rules for the Perpetual Diet" - Discover a Paris few travelers see with K.S.R. Burns' gripping novel!

Book review by Lizzie Harwood

O, Amy Brodie is one messed-up narrator! (The best kind, in my opinion, because complex makes for interesting.)

This immediately engaging novel by K.S.R. Burns, author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, sees Amy Brodie, a 29-year-old childless wife in Phoenix, teetering on the edge. Amy’s in the grip of many issues at the beginning of this enthralling contemporary women’s fiction: grief, an eating disorder, self-denial… to name a few. Her husband is the epitome of the solid, don’t-change-stuff, immutable provider; her best friend just died of cancer; she views co-workers through a prism of revulsion. The ballast in her life is these rules. Her perpetual diet.

When I hit the first of these rules (there are 30-odd), my heart sank a little. In this intriguing novel, the rules came as a manifesto for anorexia and there’s a wee bit of fatism going on with Amy. But we quickly realize how her rules are just so—real and important to talk about in contemporary literature. Who among today’s teens, pre-teens, and young women hasn’t turned against their own body by following some rules of eating? To lose weight, or get healthier, to get a man, or control all the outward chaos by reigning in our own innocent flesh. It’s terrible and it’s true. So many women are on some perpetual diet right now. However, when Amy leaps on a plane to Paris, her City of Light snaps her out of her rules with some very unexpected plot twists.

Burns’s prose underpins this novel with deft humor and laser-sharp descriptions and characterization. This is a funny read. And surprising. As Amy delves deeper into Paris—literally descending into hidden catacombs—she shucks off the past to embrace a present-moment style of living that leaves the reader applauding her bravado. This is no sugar-coated, pink-bowed, fairy tale of Paris!

I was reminded of Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women: "I felt that it was not so different from all the other advice handed out to women, to girls, advice that assumed being female made you damageable, that a certain amount of carefulness and solemn fuss and self-protection were called for, whereas men were supposed to be able to go out and take on all kinds of experiences and shuck off what they didn’t want and come back proud. Without even thinking about it, I had decided to do the same.”

I loved how Amy Brodie decides to do the same.

Lizzie Harwood is the author of "Triumph: Collected Stories" and has a memoir, "Xamnesia: Everything I Forgot in my Search for an Unreal Life", launching late May 2015. When she isn’t writing, she’s neck-deep in editing. Visit and, Lizzie Harwood Books on Facebook, and @lizziehbooks on Twitter for the latest.

Photo credit: K.S.R. Burns

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Throw your bra against breast cancer! Pink Bra Bazaar's annual bra toss at the Eiffel Tower on March 29, 2015.

Pink Bra Bazaar's annual bra toss at the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Pink Bra Spring.
Sunday, March 29 at 3 pm, Esplanade du Trocadéro
Ultra-feminine rendez-vous in support of breast health awareness.

I Love My Boobs - J'aime mes seins !
by Julia Palombe Pink Bra Bazaar.

SING with us in the fight against breast cancer!

DANCE with the most beautiful burlesque dancers in Paris and learn the first steps in knowing your breasts.

START your bra in celebration of breast health.

JOIN US with your bras!

Team Pink Bra Bazaar

Pink Bra Bazaar on Facebook.

(Pink Bra Bazaar is a charitable organization dedicated to breast health education and supporting women with breast cancer. Registered Charity.)

Pink Bra Bazaar's annual bra toss at the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Pink Bra Spring.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Napoleon Bonaparte returns to Paris on March 20, 2015!

French lawyer Frank Samson plays Napoleon as part of the bicentenary celebrations. Photo credit / AP

On March 20, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte entered Paris triumphantly and began his "Hundred Days" rule before his eventual defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

Two hundred years later, on March 20, 2015, Napoleon will once again return to the Tuileries. Frank Samson, a 47 year old French lawyer from Orléans, will play the role of the Emperor.

To mark the occasion, there will be an historical reenactment of the Emperor's return from his exile in Elba at the Carrousel du Louvre. 30 cavalry, 60 infantryman with fifes and drums, the ambulance of Dr Larrey (Surgeon of the Grand Army) and the Field Kitchen of the Grand Army will be in attendance.

The 200th anniversary of Waterloo will be marked by a two-day re-enactment on the battlefield, just south of Brussels, with 5,000 soldiers, 300 horses and 100 cannon on June 18.

The re-enactment will take place at the Arc de Triomphe at the Louvre Carrousel.

Le Souvenir napoléonien (Official website with complete information and schedule in French)
The Emperor rides once again in Paris streets (Interesting article in the New Zealand Herald)

French lawyer Frank Samson plays Napoleon as part of the bicentenary celebrations.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Club RaYé, a stylish cocktail and piano bar in Paris

Club RaYé, a cocktail and piano bar in Paris 

Tucked away on the cobblestoned Rue Dussoubs in the 2nd arrondissement, Club RaYé is the kind of place people hope to serendipitously stumble across while strolling the streets of Paris. Thanks to a tip about the city's most stylish piano bar from French chanteuse Caroline Nin, I was pleased to have the opportunity to check out the recently opened Club RaYé when a group of friends and I met there for Happy Hour drinks last July.

The first thing you notice upon entering Club RaYé is that almost everything, with the exception of some distinctive accents, is black and white. The chairs are black. The tablecloths are white. The waiters wear black and white striped vests. Even the popcorn that accompanies the drinks is a mixture of black and white. And, the straws are ...  you guessed it ... black and white, too!

What I didn't know during my initial visit is that both the building in which the piano bar is located and its owner Kein Cross have very interesting histories. The aha moment came last week when Kein offered to give Donna and me a tour of his entire establishment, including the private party space "Club Kafka" in the basement. I could see the wheels turning in Donna's head as we listened to Kein describe the challenges he had faced while renovating what was formerly a 13th century nunnery. When Kein mentioned that he had also restored an 18th-century courtyard house in the Marais, everything clicked and Donna asked if he had been featured in an article in the New York Times.

It turns out that Kein is a well-known designer from New York who had fulfilled his lifelong dream by moving to Paris in 2011. His trademark is black and white stripes, hence the name Club RaYé.

Charcuterie and cheese plate at Club RaYé.

Whether it's the stylish design, nightly musical events, inventive cocktails created by the Sicilian bartender, or surprisingly good food,  it's clear that Kein has set some high standards for his piano bar. All that you need to do is relax, listen to the music and enjoy!

For an extra special evening, check the event calendar to see when Caroline Nin is performing. At the moment, she's there on Friday night.

Club RaYé
26 Rue Dussoubs
75002 Paris, France
Tel: 01 40 13 72 93
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm to midnight

Click here to read Club RaYé's 5/5 reviews on TripAdvisor.

One of the intimate private rooms at Club RaYé 
Black and white stripes in the bathroom, with an environmentally friendly sink. The water drains into the tank of the toilet.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Elegant and refined. Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin presents "Harcourt, le dessert" by pastry chef David Doualan!

Harcourt, le dessert created by Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin and pastry chef David Doualan 

Life is short. Eat dessert first!

This morning started the way that every morning should -- with a dessert tasting at Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin's Cristal Room.

To better understand the significance of "Harcourt, le dessert", it helps to know a little bit about the history of Baccarat's iconic Harcourt glass. In 1841, when King Louis-Philippe ordered a ceremonial chalice engraved with his royal monogram from Baccarat, the French monarch and his guests were completely charmed by its innovative design. The like of this exceptional piece, with its six-cut crystal facets and hexagonal foot, had never been seen before. For more than 170 years, Harcourt glasses have been adorning the tables of royalty, statesmen and aristocracy around the world, from the Vatican in Rome to the Elysée Palace in Paris and French embassies in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pastry chef David Doualan and Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin

As an homage to Baccarat's Harcourt glass, pastry chef David Doualan has replicated its graceful form in edible white chocolate. Given the delicateness of the material, it was no small feat! Sensing our reluctance to break something so exquisite, Doualan assured us that we could eat the perfectly proportioned white chocolate glass. But first, we savored the heart of the dessert, a harmonious combination of pistachio cream topped with wild strawberries, miniature vanilla marshmallows and gold flakes. King Louis Philippe and his guests would have been as enthusiastic about Harcourt, le dessert as they were about the glass for which it was named.

From March 28, Harcourt, le dessert will be available for your tasting pleasure.  

11, place des Etats-Unis
75116 Paris
Métro Boissière
Tél : 01 40 22 11 10
Open from Monday to Saturday with valet parking for lunch (12:00 to 2:00 pm) and dinner (7:30-10:00 pm).

Cristal Room Baccarat