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No Place Like Home Than in the City of Light

NEW YORK IS NEW YORK.

We landed after our five-day stay in Costa Rica with it swarming with French tourists, among others. It was hot, sunny and busy in the touristy spots. The culture shock of New York always hits with the first wave of loud noise. This time it came from a group of giggly young women flirting with a group of shiny-faced young guys in the sushi restaurant next to my daughter’s West Village apartment. The traffic isn’t as noisy as it once was now that big fines are imposed for honking unnecessarily. That helps considerably.

With less than two full days to enjoy the city, we headed straight for the things I miss most: good sushi, a REAL Caesar salad, drug store products, electronic gadgets, office supplies and a plug at every table at Starbucks.

We had great sushi at “Takahachi” at 85 Avenue A in the East Village Avenue…worth a special trip by taxi in the rain. For Caesar salad, this one with shrimp (or chicken), was a thumbs up at “Delicatessen” at 54 Prince Street in “NoLita” with just the right proportions of all the right ingredients. To go for broke, we also managed to work in a hamburger, this time at “Cafeteria” at 119 7th Avenue  in Chelsea which met all expectations. (Can someone explain to me this ‘trend’ in such generic names!? Is it supposed to be ‘cool?’)

In between the eating out, we made visits to several different drugstores which are always a wonder-world of products at bargain prices. Just the rack of deodorants would blow a Frenchman’s mind. Or ever try to choose just one shampoo from a mere thousand? Nonetheless, I rarely walk out empty-handed and always find all sorts of things I don’t really need, but are so appealing to take home.

When I entered “Staples” on 6th Avenue, four (literally four) sales people said “Good Morning, need any help?” all at the same time before I could barely enter the store. That sent me into culture shock and a desire to buy everything in the store. I’d almost forgotten what American-style service was like after years in Paris where you should never touch the merchandise without permission from a salesperson who doesn’t want to be bothered.

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MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art) was on the agenda to see the James Rosenquist installation among other great works. The museum was a beehive of activity and the noise level was acute compared to Paris museums where everyone whispers. The collection is impressive, of course, with a respectable share of French and European artists’ works, and in particular, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and Matisse’s “Landscape at Collioure.”

The museum gift shops, of which there are two — one in the museum with small gifts and books, the other across the street with more expensive items such as jewelry and designer gifts, were hopping. Let’s face it, the museums in the States know how to merchandise and make huge profits from their gift shops. French museums haven’t caught on quite as well to this capitalistic idea. We left with too many fun things, again, we didn’t need.

PARIS MEETS TEL AVIV.

Some of you may remember Hat Sternstein and her pet gourmet bakery in Paris named “Mon Bon Chien.” It’s a long sad story of how an American woman realized her dream in Paris to open her own business — an idea that was truly inventive, only to encounter French bureaucracy of the worst kind, forced to shut down in France and leave for ‘greener pastures.’ (You can read about it in a past Parler Paris issue.)

It all started with her attendance at the first Living and Investing in France Conference we gave in 2002 and ended about a year-and-a-half ago when she packed up Paris and moved to Israel where she could reside with family until she could get back on her feet.

Last August when I went to Israel to attend the wedding of my oldest New Orleans friend’s son, I had the opportunity to meet up with Hat. Over lunch in Tel Aviv, she told me all about her time there and her struggle to find a job.

At the same time, my New Orleans friend’s daughter (the groom’s sister), Talya Rasner, was in the process of opening an American-style café/bakery in Tel Aviv and was in need of a baker! The proverbial light bulb flashed and I put the two together — Hat and Talya. As luck would have it, it clicked! Now one year later, the “NOLA american bakery” (spelled just this way) is now alive, well and very much open (open every day from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.) at 197 Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv (at the corner of Arlozorov) with Talya at the helm and Hat baking the goodies. (“NOLA,” if you don’t know, stands for “New Orleans, LA.”)

Be sure to check it out next time you’re in Tel Aviv, and tell Talya or Hat I send my fondest wishes! Congratulations to both of you!

PARIS IS PARIS.

The flight landed this morning in Paris. By sheer coincidence, sitting directly behind me was a couple who were checking into one of our rental apartments, so we shared a taxi to Le Marais. At first sight of the Eiffel Tower, I knew for sure it was home and life would go back to normal — lunch at Café Charlot (today on the menu was a perfect welcoming “Salade Fraicheur”), washing clothes and hanging them to dry (no dryer) and opening the windows (really warm and sunny today) and turning on the room fans (no air-conditioning).

Paris is not New Orleans, nor Costa Rica, nor New York. Paris is Paris and regardless of how much fun we had in all these other places…Dorothy, there is no place like HOME…than in the CITY OF LIGHT.

A la prochaine…

adrian-costarica2Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

(Adrian in Costa Rica)

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