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The City of Nightlight and High Life

Yesterday, we had what could have been the most moving and memorable “Après Midi” gatherings in the history of the event, since October of 2003 when we first began to meet up the second Tuesday of every month.

A ‘memorial’ to our friend Gar Westfall, who died suddenly on November 7th of heart failure while climbing the stairs to his Paris pied-à-terre (n apartment he rented from Jennifer and Philippe Poirier twice a year for the past several), brought in a lot of new faces and friends who wished to honor him.

We posted a photo of Gar for all to see, Jennifer herself gave a heartwarming talk about him, other friends made a comment or two and Tom Regan brought in a few “pains au chocolat” from Pierre Hermé which were Gar’s favorites in which we could all share. We were all touched by the sentiment from his friends and their desire to share in their feelings. I’d like to personally thank all those who attended and participated.

I videoed Jennifer’s talk, that I am hoping to have excerpts of that you can view along with the full report and photos that have been posted on the site at: /parlerparis/apresmidi.html.

This morning I’m shamefully missing an important press conference at the Hôtel de Ville sponsored by the City Hall of Paris in launching their new official Web site to promote nightlife in the City of Light: It’s in both French and English, has an interactive map and an easy search function. Be sure to bookmark the page to keep up with what’s going on in the “City of Nightlight” and do start to take more advantage of all the offerings while the sun is down.

For those of you who love “le vin rouge,” don’t forget that this is Beaujolais Nouveau time! By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday of November all over the world. Because of excellent growing conditions, this year could be the best vintage in 50 years (or so Georges Duboeuf says). It’s made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France (duh!) and Georges Duboeuf (among others, but most notably) saw the potential for marketing a rather ordinary wine within weeks of harvest. Yes, I hate to burst your bubble, but “Beaujolais Day” is basically a media event par excellence.

The slogan, “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” (“The new Beaujolais has arrived!,” was changed to “It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Time!” and in the United States, it is promoted as a drink for Thanksgiving, which, of course, falls one week later. Duboeuf remains the biggest producer of Beaujolais Nouveau (duh!) and even if the wine isn’t France’s best product, everyone seems to have fun celebrating its release.

My favorite spot to celebrate is the “Bistrot Mélac,” in the 11th arrondissement at 42, rue Léon Frot. The owner, Jacques Mélac, with his enormous handlebar moustache, is a sort of “Cyrano de Bergerac” from the town of Bozouls in the Aveyron.
Well prepared Aveyronnais dishes accompany his excellent selection of wines and nothing compares to Jacques’ jovial atmosphere he’s most proud of…but be prepared during Beaujolais Nouveau to barely get a taste of his best local fare nor find barely a space in the SRO atmosphere of this multi-dining-roomed corner in working-class Paris.

This weekend I’ll be ordering up a turkey from my local butcher for Thanksgiving next week. Every year I’m here, I’m sure to bake up a ‘babe’ — a French gobble-gobble that must be special ordered from a butcher. Years ago I learned the secret recipe from the one and only Lillian Zacky, of California-based Zacky Farms, who had her manicure just after mine every Friday for seven years while living in Los Angeles. Of course, imagine my disappointment to learn (just a few minutes ago) that it wasn’t much of a ‘secret’ anymore — now that it’s on their Web site (, but I can tell you this — it’s the best turkey you ever ate.

Don’t tell Lillian, however, that the French turkeys are by far superior to their American counterparts! They are darker, juicier and cook in half the time! If you don’t believe me, cook one for yourself.

Adrian Leeds by Gar WestfallA la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
(photo by the late Gar Westfall)

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P.S. Join Judith Merians at the American Library in Paris for “A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES” Thursday, November 19th, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss ‘The French Connection’ and why a film must have a protagonist and an antagonist of equal strength to make the story compelling. See for more information.


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