Philou in the Paris

8005439576_e4d667a232If Philou was down the street from me you might find me just sitting there a few nights a week.  The restaurant is located in the 10th Arrodissment.  The walls are made of blackboard where the menu of the day is written including the wines available.  There are tables outside and in.  The vibe is very mellow and the two guys that own and run it could not be nicer.

sardinesThe menu is a price fixe for either two or three courses.  $25 for two and $30 for three.  I began with a tomato cilantro mixture served in a small Kerr bottle with roasted sardines inside the glass.  Two pieces of toast on the side.  Lay a piece of sardine on top and then slather on the tomato mixture.  Delicious.

crabJess had the crab salad served with small round toasts that were soft like buckwheat crepe.  Underneath was a creamy sauce topped with white asparagus.  Divine.

porkFor dinner I had a lamb shoulder that had been roasted served over a bed of mushrooms and super crispy small potatoes.  Simple and just delicious.

monkfishJess had the monkfish that had been roasted and served over thin crispy pieces of white asparagus.  Also a winner.

parisbrestDessert was a must so we went for the three courses.  A paris brest which is classic french.  Delicious almond creme inside a puffed pastry pattissiere that is like a croissant.  My fave.  Jess described it as a sweet pastry bagel.

dessertWe also had an apple buttery pastry like a brioche made of puffed pastry with a mint gelato on the side and a apple creme with tiny pieces of apple.

We walked back to the 6th, which is about an hour walk, it was well needed.  A delicious meal.  Love this place.

Back to Paris and L’Atelier de Joel Rubuchon

I am back in Paris this week working on a project and always enjoying the city.  We went back to Joel Rubuchon the first night for several reasons.  The food is generally good.  You can get a reservation at 630 and the place is packed which means you are sleeping early the first night and that helps get you on Paris time.l

The food and servicee were utterly disappointing this time.  Makes me wonder if it is time to retire this as part of our repertoire.  Some of the food was really good and other things were just ok.  The worst part was the service.  Badly timed dishes out of the kitchen so that people were not eating at the same time.  A wait person who suggested it would be great to order more in a larger form when it made much more sense as a small plate.  Wines that were paired and really over priced that should have been noted when we ordered them.  All of just not ok.  Going there is about the experience and I felt like I left being ripped off.   It is always hard to actually get someones attention to wait on you there but this pushed me off the edge.  Tsk, tsk.

seabreamHere is what we had.  I started with the sea bream carpaccio which was the special of the day.  Really good.

crabTheir imperial crab is a signature dish and always a winner.  Again, she brought the bigger one not the smaller one and charged us for that one.  Not ok.

asparagusThe asparagus special which was explained as something we could all split was right.  They brought two instead and I said that is not what we ordered, we ordered one for sharing.  They apologized but I am sure more than most people would say nothing and just take it.  Tsk tsk.

mozz:egpglantThe eggplant with house made mozzarella is not as good as I remember….at all.

tunaThe next course was a tuna which we should not have ordered.  It was also sub-par at best.  We thought we would taste and share.  No explanation, no nothing.

eggsThis was supposed to come out at the same time as the gyoza that the third person was having but it did not.  I asked about it but she pooh-poohed me.  Finally our last courses came out.  The egg parfait with mushrooms

snapperThe red snapper

lambAnd the lamb chops.

gyozoThe gyoza came out last and it was a solo dish so we had to wait for our guest to finish.  It should have not come out that way.  It should have come out with the tuna.  Total screw up on their end.  We also had wine pairings at every course and the wines were ridiculously expensive.  I honestly felt like I was completely ripped off from the entire experience.  The staff was not focused either, very frenetic.

Alas, it is time to say good by to Joel.  I will not be returning.

Grand Central Tech

imgresI met with Charles Bonello and Matt Harrigan to talk about their accelerator Grand Central Tech.  I love how they began this journey. Both Charles and Matt met as kids and went to Regis High School.  Regis High School is a unique institution in NYC where tuition is free for each student.  They wanted to create a program at Regis where tech companies could incubate getting free office space and access to mentors but more important access to interns from the high school.  Charles and Matt wanted to give back  to students at Regis and their idea was to provide a way for the students to see the possible opportunities in the tech world as they moved forward in their lives vs the standards that they know from their parents who are your original mentors that suggest being a lawyer, accountant, banker or a doctor.  Charles and Matt know because that is what they were taught.

The program was a success and they decided to build on this concept.  They have opened a space near Grand Central that will give the accepted companies free office space for a year.  They are also working on bringing in mentors from the community to help each of the companies grow.  Most important they are partnering with a handful of public and private high schools in NYC to give students the opportunity to intern for  the companies that will be housed at Grand Central Tech this year.

I am really impressed with both Charles and Matt  and what they have built and what they are building.  They are planting the seeds to grow this into something very unique.  They are not only providing an eye opener to high school students of what is available they are helping companies grow in NYC.  I plan on working with them in some capacity this year.

There is still time to apply.  Here is a small blurb about the program.

Grand Central Tech  is a new kind of accelerator that is housed in Facebook’s former NY headquarters at 335 Madison Ave.  GCT provides all accepted companies a full year of office space, free interns drawn from the ranks of some of the best public and private high schools in NYC and access to great programming and mentors without taking any equity or charging any rent.  As part of its efforts to provide resources to the community at large , the GCT team is actively recruiting a robust and diverse group of mentors and advisors to help guide the program and portfolio companies

Casa Valentina at the Manhattan Theater Club

1.169095Casa Valentina is a new play written by Harvey Fierstein.  The play is based on actual events that took place and my guess is most people do not know about this slice of history.

It is set in 1962 in the Catskill Mountains at an inn where heterosexual men who are fond of cross dressing and acting like women go to relax. They can be themselves and leave their corporate jobs, wives and children at home to spend a weekend of their own little slice of heaven.  Yet one of the members has decided to create an actual organization where they could all feel free to share their secret lives with the world.  By doing that they could pave the way for the next generation of men like themselves.  That desire is not shared by all the men for fear of what it would do to their lives.

This organization actually did happen and there are still some left across the country.  What is interesting about the play is that many of these cross dressers have absolutely distain for the homosexual community.  Most of them actually prefer living as their female alter-egos  yet they openly discuss that because they are heterosexual that they should  be accepted into society with ease.

An incredible cast.  The writing is sharp and funny.  Considering this took place over fifty years ago makes it more interesting considering that gay marriage is moving towards full approval in most states across the country.  As the gentlemen said as he was walking out of the theater to a young woman, “makes you realize that you have to accept people for who they are because that is who they are no matter what.”   In my opinion he could not have spoken truer words.

Really enjoyed the play.

Chocolate Macaroons

chocolatemacaroons

I make macaroons every year at Passover.  They never look like I want them to look.  This year I opted out of the annual recipe and went for the chocolate macaroon recipe from Saveur.   These are really good.  They still spread a little but I can deal.

This makes about two dozen

4 1/2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
6 egg whites
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325.   Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a medium sized sauce pan.  Mix over a medium low heat for about 6 minutes.  The mixture will get thoroughly mixed together and sticky.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Mix in the chocolate chips.  Using a tablespoon to create a round drop cookie and put them on the cookie sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until crisp.  Cool and eat.

Maintenance

vintage-woman-makeupIf tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business. Dr. Gail Dines

When did personal maintenance begin?

I was getting myself the monthly coif and was thinking about personal maintenance.   The monthly haircut, the monthly hair dye (ugh), the eyebrow maintenance, the pedicure, I have stopped with the manicures (too much cooking), the variety of annual doctors check-ups, the every few months dermatologist appointment, etc.  It takes time to keep up.  I got laser surgery for my eyes at 39 so that is something that I have taken off the list at night which used to be taking out my contacts.  Now it is just the taking off the make-up, flossing and brushing of the teeth, moisturizing of the face, hands and feet.  I have added in the feet recently because they get dry and cracked.  Did I mention eye cream too?  Even getting ready in the morning has a routine.  I have limited the blow dry of the hair (I was born with a jewish afro) by getting the keratin treatment.  Hair gets a bit flat but it is worth the minutes of torture saved every morning under the blow dryer.

There is not a woman I know who talks about the ease of a man’s maintenance.  I know when we are getting ready to go somewhere nice I spend a few more minutes than the norm getting ready.  Fred pops in the shower and he is ready in no time at all.  Damn.

Did it start with Cleopatra?  Did it start with the media?  Did cave women look in the mirror and think wow I need a new dress?

There is something extremely comical about being at the hair salon and seeing the maintenance of beauty taking place.  I am part of it so I can laugh at myself too but I do wonder when did the personal maintenance regime begin?

 

Co-ed or single sex school?

bestThe right education is different for everyone.  People make different decisions based on a variety of reasons when it comes to education.

When I was in high school and looking at colleges I am pretty sure I did not start out thinking about a single sex school.   I did not get a lot of direction in regards to what school I should apply to but I did know that I wanted to be in a city.  I took a trip to Boston to look at schools and I was hooked on city life.  I had an interview at Simmons College, a single sex school, and realized for a variety of reasons that it made sense for me.  I had three jobs in high school and I enjoyed those jobs much more than I enjoyed classes.  I managed to get by doing very little but I was well aware that I was driven to succeed and financially I was definitely on my own after graduation.  Simmons was the perfect ladder to get me to where I wanted to go.  I knew that based on the curriculum that I was planning on taking that I would have a job upon graduation.  I was right.

The issues around single sex schools are mixed.  The competition inside the classroom is certainly different.  There is a comfort level when there are only women in the class.  I see that same comfort level at the Womens Entrepreneur Festival.  All gender issues cease to exist and a comfort level sets in.  Yet socially, when you are not in a city with plenty of co-ed schools, it makes the social dynamic tough.  I have met plenty of women who grew up in single sex elementary through high school settings and their social radar is not as built in because they did not deal with the social dynamics of being in an educational environment with boys on a daily basis.

We chose a progressive school for our kids when they were young because we believe in group learning as well as being able to break something down and then put it back together in order to understand it vs memorization.  To us, that type of education is very similar to the working world in regards to life long learning and working with people.  In a single sex school girls do not necessary enter their teenage years sulking to the back of the classroom because they do not want their male counterparts to see how smart they are.  There are countless sociology books written on this topic.  Is that a good thing or is that a bad thing?  Again I think it depends on the kid.  Some kids blossom in that environment and they might not have in a co-ed environment while others absolutely hate it.

I got a great education at Simmons College.  I had more than a handful of job offers when I graduated.  I competed in a very safe environment for four years among women.  I always felt comfortable asking a question and pushing the envelope.  I had an internship experience for one semester that was educational in a completely different way than sitting in a classroom.  I spent one semester abroad that made a huge impact on me where I got to know myself in a way that I am not sure I would have if I didn’t disconnect for a semester.  Socially I didn’t love it.  I made many friends freshman year but never really connected with them on a level that I wanted to.  I have zero relationship with any of the people I met there today.  Funny enough the only person I continue to have a relationship with from college is my husband.  I stayed in Boston during the summer and rented a room out of his fraternity at MIT.  We connected, became fast friends and a year later started began a life long love affair.

If I had to do it all over again I am not sure I would have gone to Simmons.  I really did not get any direction from my parents or even a college advisor but more than likely I would have been super happy at a small liberal arts school socially but then again I might not have learned the good business foundation that I did learn at Simmons.  Pros and cons are everywhere.  I think in the end you pick what seems to to be the right thing for who you are….and of course where you believe that will lead you for the future.

My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard

my struggleI just finished My Struggle, the first volume of six.  The entire series consists of 3600 pages.  It is a commitment and one I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy but I decided I would start with one and see what happened.  Considering the book is available in 22 languages plus some and has been read by one of every nine adults in Norway there must be a reason for it.

The book is incredibly powerful and raw.  It is like reading the mind of someone and their most intimate thoughts and secrets.  The title of the book is interesting considering that Mein Kampf was the title for Hitlers book.  Regardless it is an autobiographical book of Karl Ove’s personal struggle.  The reader gets an inside view of his personal relationships that start as a young boy into adulthood and the passing of his alcoholic father.   I also got a better understanding of what it is like to grow up in that part of the world from the way people interact with each other to the extreme weather.

I have never read anything else quite like it.  I plan on reading the other five books.  From everything that I have read about the author the book has certainly taken a toll on his personal life.  He leaves nothing on the table sharing every intimate detail of his life.  The descriptions are so vivid that you take his tales and insert them in your own head.

Pulitzer?  I would think so.

The explosion of creativity

images-1I could pinpoint to many reasons of why I believe there has been such an explosion of creativity in NYC and elsewhere.  There is never an exact reason but certainly the implosion of the banking industry that created high unemployment numbers had something to do with it.  Did that affect the generation that is 30 and under (under being the kids in college) or was that creativity always in their DNA?  Maybe the creativity was unleashed with the change in the economy.

I see more and more people who are building consumer product companies that get their hands dirty from jellies to ice cream.  I am seeing a surge of new fashion brands from t-shirts to bathing suits.  Even the Partnership Fund of NYC and Springboard is partnering together to create the NY Fashion Tech Lab.

If you just watch the surge of Kickstarter over the last 5 years that confirms the explosion of creativity.  The hardest part about being a creative is funding.  There is also a desire for many people to find their creative side. There are more opportunities being built and places to go and classes to take that can feed each persons creative side.  People are looking for that balance in their lives and perhaps a desire to do something that they can get up and want to do every day is empowering.

There are always opportunities in trends.  I love the trend of creativity.  Certainly the advent of tapping into the crowd to support creative efforts from consumer products to artistic projects has been one huge movement.  I have seen a few others and am looking forward to seeing more.  When your passion becomes your livelihood that is truly special.

 

Passover

shari

One of my mothers best friends was someone she knew since she was I believe 9 or 10 years old.  I have obviously known her since I was born.  She is an extremely thoughtful person.  We have lunch every year on the day my Mom died to celebrate her life.  She always brings something thoughtful.  An old year book, a photo or just something that is a remembrance of the past.

When we moved into a house we built many years ago she brought me a tin and had taped on the front my Grandmothers recipe for mandel bread.  It was in my Grandmothers handwriting.  I have kept it displayed with my cookbooks every since.  Two years ago she brought me a chopped liver recipe in my Mom’s handwriting.  I had it framed.  Every day I walk out of the house I walk by both of those recipes, see their hand writing including the small plaque my Mom gave me that says “never trust a skinny cook”.

chickenlivers

Passover is a family holiday and in a salute to my Mom I made her chopped liver.  A decadent treat.

1 lb chicken livers

1 whole Spanish onion thinly sliced

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 hard boiled eggs

In a frying pan melt the butter.  Then add the chicken livers until they are browned.  Then add the onions to the chicken livers and saute until everything is browned.  The onions should be caramelized.  Let this cool.

Take the liver mixture and four peeled hard boiled eggs and put them into a food processor.  Chopped until fine.  A few pulses should be all you need.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

We will be serving this with matzah.   Happy Passover.