Paris Highlights

Travel is a funny thing. The more you build it up in your head, the less likely you are to do it.

Which is why, a few months ago, when our friends Harry and Cris told us that they were going to France for Christmas and New Year’s (Cris is from Bordeaux), I spontaneously suggested that we all spend New Year’s together in Paris. The idea took, especially since Craig had never been to France, and I cashed in all of our Delta miles and booked us two roundtrip tickets to Paris. In terms of great spontaneous decisions, this was one of the best I’ve ever made.

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Let’s Go To A British Supermarket! Then Let’s Go To A German Supermarket!

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It’s that time again! The time to overuse exclamation points and to visit a supermarket in a foreign country! The last time we did this, it was in Australia and you all enjoyed yourselves so much I knew I had to do it again. This time, you’re getting two for the price of one: a visit to a British supermarket, then a visit to a German supermarket. Alas, I didn’t have a chance to go to a French supermarket, so we’ll have to save that for my next trip to Europe. Now, without further ado, let’s hop on over to the Notting Hill neighborhood of London and see what kind of food they’re selling to the locals.

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Reflections on a Week in Germany (Munich and Berlin)

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When I was a teenager in Florida, on a Jewish Community Center trip to EPCOT, I remember running past Germany as fast as we could. “Germany, ahhhh!” we yelled, racing past the Bavarian buildings over to the Norway ride with the trolls and the waterfall. As naive as we were, there was something instinctual about our resistance to Germany. We were Jews growing up in a generation where the Holocaust was hammered into us daily; in Hebrew school, in history class, on TV, in movies, everywhere we went, we were reminded that 6 million Jews were killed by Nazis in Germany. “Never forget” we were told again and again. No wonder we ran so fast.

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One Night in Strasbourg (Lunch at Chez Yvonne–Featuring Choucroute Garnie–and An Epic Michelin-Starred Dinner at Buerehiesel)

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Once I made up my mind that I would travel to Paris from London by train, I looked at a map and realized it would be silly to return to London to fly to Munich (where I’d be meeting Craig for the Munich Film Festival two days later); a far more sane idea would be to keep moving east, via train, stopping over somewhere along the way. When I put the question to Twitter, a follower (I forget who; sorry follower!) mentioned Strasbourg. Before I knew it, I was reading about one of the great world’s food cities–on the border of France and Germany–in the Alsace-Lorraine region where we get Riesling, Alsatian pizza (aka: tart flambée), and a dish Jeffrey Steingarten celebrates in one of his books called Choucroute Garnie. Needless to say, I booked a EuroRail ticket, booked a hotel (the Hotel Rohan, nice and reasonable), and after kissing Paris goodbye on a Friday morning, boarded the train to Strasbourg.

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We’ll Always Have Paris: With Meals at Restaurant Miroir, Jacques Genin, Le 6 Paul Bert, Little Breizh, and Chez L’Ami Jean

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I had a reason for not wanting to go to Paris, this trip, and it was both very stupid and very sweet. Namely, I love Paris so much, I didn’t want to go there again without Craig. Lest you forget, we’d gone together to the Edinburgh Film Festival, he left that Sunday for the Nantucket Film Festival, and I ducked down to London where I ate myself silly and saw lots of theater. I could’ve stayed there for the rest of the week, reconnecting with him in Munich (where I am now) for the Munich Film Festival, only our friends Mark and Diana were in Paris that same week and kept imploring me to come join them. “You’ve already been to Paris without Craig,” said Mark. “What’s the difference?” It was a powerful point. And so, before I knew it, I’d bought a one-way ticket for the Chunnel and figured I’d continue my way from Paris to Germany with a stop in Strasbourg, right on the border of France. When you see what I ate along the way, you’ll agree that this decision should’ve been a no-brainer right from the start.

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A Jolly Jaunt Through London With Stops At The Maltby Street Market, Tayyabs, St. John, Ottolenghi, The River Cafe, and Quo Vadis

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Hello from a train. I’m writing this as I make my way from London to Paris through the Chunnel; there’s no Wifi, so by the time I hit “publish,” I’ll be in my hotel, but you can still picture me on a train. Last night, after getting in from “The Pajama Game” (more on that in a bit) I spent over an hour editing pictures from my three days in London. I couldn’t believe my eyes; had I really done so much in such a short period of time? More importantly: had I really eaten so much?

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Haggis, Kedgeree, and a Céilidh: A Trip to Edinburgh

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It began with an off-the-cuff remark. Craig mentioned that his movie was going to play at the Edinburgh Film Festival and I said, “See if they’ll bring me out too.” I never expected that to actually happen but, somehow, some way, it did and before I knew it we were on a plane flying over the ocean. Edinburgh is a funny city for me because I’d actually been there once before, only I was too young to appreciate it. (I spent a summer at Oxford after my junior year at Emory and we did a two-day trip to Scotland.) My memories of Edinburgh were so foggy, in fact, that Craig hardly believed it happened. “Do you remember this from when you were here before?” he teased me as we made our way from the hotel lobby (after dropping off our suitcases) out into the city upon arrival. “Shut up,” I said. “Oooh look at that castle.”

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Barcelona / El Bulli Wrap-Up

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This is my last post about Barcelona and El Bulli—thank you all for your patience as I recounted my trip in such great detail. For anyone who wants a quick all-purpose post that covers the bases, here they are: we stayed at (and loved) the Banys Orientals which was recommended by a reader, had the friendliest staff, and lovely music on its website. (They also helped us rent a car for our journey up to El Bulli.) In Roses, we stayed at the Hotel Coral Playa, which was recommended by Louisa Chu, and was a charming (and relatively inexpensive) option for those of you lucky enough to get a reservation at El Bulli. As for our dinner at El Bulli, many of you asked how much it cost. The answer is $1000 (about 700 Euros). That may seem outrageous, but I’d been saving since February so when it came time to order wine, etc, I didn’t have to be a cheapskate. (Without the wine, and without a tip–which, I imagine, is optional (though I left a nice one)–the meal could’ve been more like $700.)

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