Issa's Favorite Things 2013

Well, Oprah beat me once again this year, but not to fret because... IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR.  MY FAVORITE THINGS LIST IS OUT!!! (Last year's is also still relevant).

Disclaimer: I will not be giving these things to a large, or small, or any studio audience, but presents and re-tweets are always welcome.

And now, in no particular order: ISSA'S FAVORITE THINGS 2013

Vince Camuto Windetta Booties.  These were my splurge of the season, but they're stylish, comfortable, and match pretty much any outfit and any occasion.

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MoleskineMy weekly notebook is my best friend. I'm not sure how I'd function without it.  With one calendar side for planning and the other weekly page for notes, to-do, lists, etc, I can stay organized.  Plus there's a nice pocket in back to store business cards and Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons.

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Scoutmob. The (free) app makes my life so much more enjoyable!  With 50% deals at tons of local restaurants and businesses, I've been able to go out much more than I can truly afford, and usually at great places, as the app is curated by supposedly knowledgable community managers.  Note: two types of businesses are frequently on the app- new ones and old ones hurting for business.  Read reviews and know what you're getting in to, there are plenty of awesome finds!

The North Face Down Vest. It may be very suburban middle school of me, but I'm slightly obsessed with my metallic purple puffy vest.  Purchased on Black Friday last year, this item is the perfect layer when you don't want to wear a coat, when your stylish coat isn't warm enough, or you just want something snuggly over your pajamas.  Also, wearing it feels athletic, because I can show off my biceps?

 

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Canada Goose Trillium Parka. So I don't actually own one of these babies yet... ($650! For a jacket!) but I tried one on at Bloomingdales and it was the most comfortable and warm I've ever been. (Get the hint, readers.  Another hint: my birthday is on Thanksgivukkah).

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Reusable Starbucks Cup.  At $1 and $.10 off every drink you buy, this cup practically pays for itself.  Plus, if you're poor you can make coffee at home and then drink it at Starbucks as if you're a paying customer (you once were!) and perhaps even use their soy milk. 

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Kate Spade Wallet.  Post-grad life seemed to require a professional looking wallet from which I could produce my shiny new credit card and semi-crumpled business cards. My dirty, shredding Bat Mitzvah wristlet from Coach wasn't going to cut it  This would have been a splurge, had I not purchased it with graduation money (thanks!), and the few cents I had left fit perfectly in the inside zippered compartment.  I love this thing!

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Avocado. I don't take enough time to appreciate these majestic, sweet and savory fruits.

Joffrey Ballet School.  Their adult classes are awesome.

Lucky Peach. David Chang's food journal is not too academic but also not too fluffy, full of well-written, well-researched articles that are insightful and educational and just fun.

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Vita Coco.  This sweet but not sugary box of coconut water helped me survived the insane NYC summer heat. I may not be writing this without it.

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Orange is The New Black.  This is the best thing that Netflix has ever done.

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The Mind of a Chef. This is the best thing that PBS has ever done. (Sorry, Arthur).

Blue is the Warmest Color.  This is the best thing modern French film has ever done.

Harney & Sons TeaThe shop in Soho, which matches you with a personal tea consultant, who brews you teas to suit your tastes (fo' free), is the best.  Plus, the teas are delicious and encased in silk bags, 20 to a pack, which comes in a cute decorative tin, in the $6 range.

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Mophie. I received this in a gift bag and it has since been my life saver.  Charge the juice pack, keep it in your bag, revive your phone during a long day out.  Amazing.

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The New Yorker. Purchasing a subscription was easily the best money I spent all year. Though I recently switched to reading the iPad edition, having something informative, entertaining, and conversation-worthy in my mailbox each week is fantastic.

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Fireball. It was gross and unsophisticated college, but now that I'm an adult, spicy cinnamon whiskey shots are fun in the most ironic way possible. Think atomic fireball candy in powerful liquid form.

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Nantucket and Napa. I took not one, but two lovely white people yuppy trips this summer.  I wish I could give you all first class tickets and hotel rooms.

Bumble and Bumble Pret a Powder. I don't want to wash my hair everyday and now I don't have to!  This yummy sparkly powder just rubs into your roots and makes your hair look even more glamorous days after bathing. I'm obsessed.

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Lancôme Bienfat Aqua Vital Cream.  Also known as: moisturizer.  I have no idea how this luxurious product appeared in my bathroom, but using it every morning is a pleasure.

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NeuralPop.  WHAT AN AMAZING WEBSITE.

Being a college graduate. Being a professional writer.  Being part of my family and group of friends. Being a person.

Life is good! Happy Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and birthday to ME!

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On Being a Professional Eater

As of recent, I've noticed that I've become that person at dinner parties who actually wants to talk about work.  I don't look forward to the weekends like most of my office-bound friends: I hate the Friday and Saturday crowds at restaurants and bars and I'm usually not able to review venues during the hectic weekend rush.  So, all bragging intended, I love my job(s).  But a lot of people don't understand what I do.  "Is it like writing Yelp reviews?" No. Firstly, I am a food writer.  I'm not a restaurant critic.  While I am a professional, I'm also only 22 years old, and I've only been working in this field for a couple of years.  I personally don't think that I have the grandiose knowledge or experience that it takes to be a truly effective critic.  Sure, I've been eating out for almost 22 years of life, but only recently have a taken a professional interest in the subject, and from that I have learned how to share my experiences via writing.  Sure, one day I'd love to be a Pete Wells or Ruth Reichl, but I have a lot of learning to do first.  And probably a few pants sizes to grow...

So though I'm not assigning star ratings to fine dining establishments, I've somehow been able to "make it" as a food writer.  Note: making it in NYC/any creative profession means not being in extravagant debt and having a roof over your head.

Since graduating in May, I've taken a pretty untraditional path.  I co-founded a website, and work as a freelancer for various New York City and food publications.  For the NYC publications, I'm a food correspondent,  and for the food publications, I often write about food in NYC.  Funny how that works.

How does that work?  One of two ways: either an editor will send me out on assignment, usually to a restaurant or event, or I'll eat somewhere or see something and pitch that story for the editor.  After the piece is written and published, I'll receive a check of a two-figure value. No complaints though, I'm getting paid for eating.

Where does all this food come from?  Again, there are a variety of ways.  I'm not covered by the expense report of a major publication nor am I fiscally prepared to pay my way through secret reviews.  Therefore, I rely on invitations or reach out to businesses that I want to visit, in order to research my pieces.

Is this totally ethical? Well, yes and no. When a restaurant knows a reporter is in its midst, you're going to be treated much better (think constant wine refills and edible gifts being personally delivered to your table by the chef) and definitely not have the pedestrian experience.  I observe other diners and often speak with them about their meals to try and average the experience.  Also, if the meal is truly excellent, I'll most likely return soon as a regular, paying customer and get a better gage on the food and dining experience.

And how do I get these invitations? I'm very popular, so really from everywhere! International governments have invited me to eateries that specialize in their cuisines, public relations representatives contact me with story ideas- food is a good exchange for press, and I'm often visiting local venues and introducing myself as a writer usually to warm hospitality and gracious thanks for featuring their business.

I love my ability (and power!) to profile local businesses that I believe in and want to promote, helping them out as much as they're helping me out by providing me with publishable material to help boost my career!

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Issa Cooks: Pasta e Fagioli Soup

This is one of my favorite soups, but it's not vegetarian at too many restaurants! Left to my own devices, I invented a recipe somewhat resembling what I believe this macaroni and bean soup should taste like.  And it was awesome. Ingredients:

5 cups vegetable broth 3 tablespoons tomato paste 2 cans cannellini beans 8 0z ditalini pasta (cooked in advance) 1 cup fresh or frozen chopped spinach 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Bring the broth and tomato paste to a boil.  Add beans and spinach, simmer for 20 minutes, stir in pasta and cheese, let simmer for another few minutes until pasta has absorbed some broth. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

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Issa Cooks: Hamentaschen (Again!)

It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since last Purim, but a series of invitations to Saturday night parties to celebrate the holiday inspired me to bake hamentaschen again!

hamentaschen

I used the same recipe as last year, but in my efforts not to eat processed foods in 2013, I made my own blueberry filling.

Ingredients:

2 tbs corn starch 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup water 1 pint blueberries 1 tsp lemon juice

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add water and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Add the blueberries, reduce heat, and stir for 5 minutes or until the filling has achieved a gelled consistency.  Remove from flame and stir in lemon juice.

Make while the dough is chilling and let cool before assembling the cookies.

The Hurricane Diaries

I’ve been getting a lot of requests from my fans (read: my parents) to write about the hurricane, and while I feel a little silly, as a perfectly safe and healthy refugee avidly searching for WiFi and open Starbucks stores, here it is… New Yorkers are tough; we like to think we’re impenetrable to danger. Hurricane? Tropical Storm?  Zombie Apocalypse? If we can battle for a spot on the L train during rush hour, we can handle it all.  So when word of yet another hurricane came to town, it was more of an excuse to load up on beer and pasta than to tape our windows and create any type of emergency plan.

No School! Yay!  More time to mope around the apartment!  Boo.

After a considerably stressful weekend, none of my roommates were in a great mood Sunday evening. As local businesses started closing their doors, we stocked up on our favorite foods (which all, coincidentally, need refrigeration), changed into our Juicy sweatsuits, and cuddled in my bed to watch Sleepless in Seattle while munching on frosted sugar cookies.  Preparing for a hurricane wasn't too terrible...

According to the weather, the squalls weren’t supposed to start until late Monday afternoon. I still don’t know what squalls are.  But they sound scary and almost make me wish I paid attention in oceanography.   In the spirit of “Bros before Hoes,” a maxim instilled in me by the cashier/therapist at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop who encourages me to eat my feelings, I decided to ride out the hurricane at home with my roommates, who were the best hurricane family I could ask for.  Hurricane Tip #1: stay with friends, they will keep you sane.

I woke up late on Monday, almost disappointed that flying witches and puppies had yet to zoom past our windows.   Like Irene, we were pretty sure that this was a bunch of fuss over nothing, and we watched our neighbors play football in the street or run around in bikinis and helmets.

Mom: Don’t go outside! Cranes are falling!

By sundown, we were pretty much physically attached to Twitter.   Update: a tree fell!  Update: It’s raining!  Update: Lights are flickering downtown!  Update: Lindsay Lohan said something ridiculous! Hours wasted away as we all re-tweeted wide eyed, dramatic tweets suddenly becoming real as we saw pictures of the fallen crane at One57, the house blown apart in Chelsea, the destruction of Coney Island and the Jersey Shore.  Shit was getting real.

Our roommate Alice, who grew up in New Orleans, instructed us to fill the bathtubs with water and prepare our candles and flashlights.  We compiled scented candles from our bathrooms, a reading light, and an old, dimming flashlight still in my suitcase from a trip to Ecuador two years ago on our coffee table.  Supplies were scarce.

The lights flickered for a few minutes, and as our building rose in screams, the lights went out.

There’s nothing like impending doom to bring people together.  Living in an NYC apartment building is not exactly conducive to being neighborly.  At most, I knew two other people in my six-floor walk up pre-Hurricane.   As soon as the blackout hit, doors were propped open, hands shaken, names and cupcakes and batteries exchanged.  While at first the only thing we all had in common was a mutual frustration with our super, after the first few nights of living without electricity, I knew far more about some of my neighbors than I ever wanted to know.

While we were hesitant to go outside in the storm, rumors of free ice cream from local powerless bodegas inspired us to pull on our Hunters and brave Sandy.  No pints of Ben & Jerry’s in sight, a candlelit bar pretty much pulled us in.  How often do you get hurricane happy hour?

And then this conversation ensued:

Guy in a Bush-Cheney 2004 Shirt:  So, what do you think about the storm?

Me:  What storm?

GBC2004S: Sandy. Outside.  (Looks at me like I’m crazy).

Me:  Sarcasm.  Like your shirt, right?

GBC2004S: I don’t get it.

Me:  Me neither.  I have to get back to my friend.

GBC2004S: Do you like SPAM?

Me:  Ummmm.

GBC2004S: Well I have tons of SPAM back at my place.  And sardines!  You like sardines?

I only recount this because this may be the first time canned meats have ever been used to pick up a 20-something girl at a bar.  Maybe.

Anyway, back at the home front, we tucked each other into bed, where we dreamed of WiFi and FroYo.

I woke up late Tuesday afternoon, sans electricity. Unsure what to do, I woke my roommates and we decided to venture outside and explore the damage. Without cell service or a working radio, we had absolutely no idea how bad the storm had gotten, or if other neighborhoods were without power, water, and reception.  Four wonderfully unshowered girls heading out to brave a hurricane?  This is the stuff good Discovery Channel specials are made of.

On our corner, Tompkins Square Park was completely scattered with branches and leaves, many trees uprooted and fallen over.  Further east on Avenue C, the six feet of water was still draining, as people dried out their cars and checked the batteries. Looking around felt so incredibly surreal.  We’d never seen a New York so dark and quiet.

We continued southeast, down the FDR towards the Williamsburg Bridge and eventually the Seaport.  It was cold, we were hungry, and slightly depressed looking at all the damage, but there was pretty much nothing else to do but walk.  The rest of lower Manhattan seemed to think the same—who knew New Yorkers were so outdoorsy!

Countless fallen trees, decapitated pigeons, and washed up piles of debris later, we arrived at South Street Seaport.  Like a scene out of a movie, I watched as groups of people wandered aimlessly, staring at the damage, shocked and questioning if this had all really happened overnight.  Windows were cracked, clothing shop mannequins completely upside down and naked, and even more trees, debris, and other unidentified objects cluttered the cobblestone streets.  The chaos of the damage paired with the city’s overall silence- no music, no subways rumbling, no buses honking, only a few sirens would blare every couple of minutes- was absolutely unreal.  Where were we?

We dragged our frozen feet back home through desolate Chinatown, almost unrecognizable without its bright lights and swarms of people.  We walked through Soho without seeing a single shopping bag and back through the Lower East Side, stopping every few seconds to examine the damage of the upcoming block.

We headed home for another family meal, and perhaps a new apartment favorite, Hurricane Spaghetti.  What is Hurricane Spaghetti, one may ask?  Combine all the pasta sauces in your now defunct refrigerator, mix with ominously warm fresh vegetables, and pour over copious amounts of pasta boiled on your gas stove, and Hurricane Spaghetti for all!

A good percentage of time in our tiny apartment is spent communicating with each other via text message, social media, and occasionally through song and dance.  Nightly conversations take place solely over Instagram comments and planning to watch TV together almost always occurs via group iChat.  Why talk when we can text?  However, none of these luxuries were available during the blackout.  We had to converse over lunch, plan our next meal, decide what we wanted to do together by actually looking at each other’s faces.  If one good thing came out of the hurricane, it was our ability to relate to each other as people, to remember that we’re not just screennames and profiles and hashtags, but actual breathing, feeling creatures who can hear each other laugh louder than any LOL.

After inhaling our spaghetti by the fire escape (for light), we bundled up again deciding to make the most of the sunlight and go for another work.  New Yorkers are not outdoorsy.  We’re far too busy to wander the streets aimlessly, observe nature, take in the scenery.  There’s always somewhere to go and something to do!  But suddenly there wasn’t.

Vendors on 14th Street were selling batteries, flashlights, radios, and umbrellas.  New Yorkers walked slowly, cautious of the lack of traffic lights on the streets, still absorbing the disaster scene.  As the sun set, flashlights were removed from fleeces and parkas, and suddenly Lower Manhattan resembled more of a Girlscouts campsite than the world’s busiest metropolis.

We walked to 14th & 8th, were the front of a building was completely blown off. Unable to even imagine what would have happened had that been our building, we all felt lucky for not incurring any heavy damage.  Reporters speaking in English, Spanish, Polish, Russian, and some other indistinguishable languages stood outside the Chelsea apartment, letting the world know what we were observing with our own eyes. Nearby, crowds fought for access to outlets on the CNN truck to charge their iPhones.  It was an interesting parallel to the decimated building, to say the least.

Walking home through the twisting streets of pitch black Greenwich Village seemed oddly suited to Halloween.  This was a city we’d never seen before, regardless of how many times we’d been to the bars and bakeries we walked by.  And as odd as it may sound, I felt a nostalgia for a New York I’d never lived in.  A New York completely lit by candlelight, like many of the bars and restaurants downtown.  A New York where people weren’t listening to iPods or chatting on cell phones on the street, but rather wishing each other a good evening. Everything was beautiful and romantic, and so terrible that this odd sense of peace could only be caused by a disaster.

After a brief stop at Kimmel, the NYU student center overflowing with refugees from the dorms, we headed home to make Hurricane Fried Rice, another recipe I’m happy to share.  Cut up all remaining vegetables, tofu, and cook in soy sauce/any other Asian sauce left in the fridge.  Add cooked rice and an abundance of eggs.  Yum.  We each split up tasks: washing, chopping, stir frying, serving.  For months, we’ve never planed a family meal, nor have we ever cooperated in the kitchen/living room so efficiently and happily.  We ate our copious amounts of food by candlelight, once again agreeing that we ate better during Sandy than ever.

There’s only so long you can read your e-reader by candlelight before you feel like your eyes will fall out.  Sitting in the dark is depressing.  It just is.  Even surrounded by good friends, and perhaps better food, not being able to see, not being able to go anywhere or communicate in anyway with the outside world gets overwhelmingly sad.   Cabin fever had set in, as proven by the neighbor who’d climbed up our fire escape with a flashlight, either to scare us or befriend us, I’m still unsure. And with that, we headed to the bars, cash-only and candlelit, where we chatted with neighbors, compared war stories, and made new friends.  The East Village is not a bad place to ride out the hurricane.

Without any connection to the outside world, we relied solely on word of mouth to let us know what was happening.  Rumor had it, everywhere above 39th street had power, and our four dead iPhones were practically begging for battery power.  We packed up backpacks of electronics and chargers, granola bars, water bottles, and cash, and began our track uptown. Each block, it was amazing to see how many businesses were open, how many restaurants were serving what they could and how much people tried to function as if this were any other Wednesday.  If New Yorkers can be described in one word, persistent may be it.

As we reached 40th Street, the chaos thickened.  Groups were camped out inside banks, crowded near street planters, gathered in doorways and bathrooms, all with powerstrips to charge their devices.  Midtown Manhattan looked like a refugee camp out of a Woody Allen movie, which will come out in June 2013 and will be called something like “Sandy, Cristina, New York, with Love.”

After an extremely frustrating search for any type of power outlet, and perhaps Wifi, we finally settled in a corner at the Atrium Mall on 3rd & 55th, which is perhaps the worst place to catch up on work and studying in Manhattan, but refugees can’t be choosey.  (Sidenote: I, and no one else, should ever return to Ess-a-Bagel on 3rd Ave.  After a few miles of walking, and a generous purchase at their business, my roommates along with a dozen other displaced New Yorkers were kicked out extremely rudely for taking up space. On any day, this would be a terrible way to conduct business, but especially today, when customers were literally fighting with the boorish employee for five more minutes of electricity after buying a dozen bagels and lunch, I was horrified. Um, sorry my family thinks I’m dead. Not. Seriously, Ess-a-Bagel, you are dead to me.)

We camped out at Atrium until 7, catching up on phone calls and email, letting the world know we were alive!  Being disconnected for three days had been frustrating, but nice in a way.  There was no temptation to check my phone every five minutes, no reason to tweet a joke about what I was doing, or pause the fun to take the perfect picture for Instagram.  Everything was just about being in the moment, and a part of me was sad to return to real life.

Back home for another incredible meal (we needed to empty the freezer of all of our fresh pasta), we decided that we wouldn’t let Sandy ruin our Halloween.  My roommate Val and I followed up on an earlier idea to dress up as Abby & Brittany Hensel.  We made an awesome costume by candlelight, similar to the way the pilgrims altered their clothes for 22 year old conjoined twins, and headed out to celebrate.  The parade may have been cancelled, but the amazing thing about New York, is that nothing can stop us from having a good time.  Villagers came out in costumes, distributing extra candles to brighten the bars (and add a slightly terrifying additional fire hazard).  Neighbors complimented our costume and bought us matching drinks, and overall apartment 3F had an unforgettable Halloween.

Thursday brought us back to real life.  Cold and sad, it was time to leave the safe bubble of our apartment.  We hadn’t been apart since Sunday night (hence all of the “we” in this post), but we all needed a warm shower and perhaps more cell phone service, so we walked up to Grand Central, from where subways were now running, and went our separate ways.

A warm shower and a cozy evening at Barnard brought me back to real life.  In a way, it was frustrating to see so much of the city functioning as absolutely nothing had happened, while millions of people were without power or water, many immobile in their buildings, or without a home at all.  As mayor of NYC, I would have declared Wednesday a day of service to help repair and city and assist those in need, not a day for everyone to go back to work and school, but maybe I’ll save that for my campaign in a few decades.

No one uptown had any idea what it was like downtown...

While the option to stay uptown was always open to me, I’m so glad I decided to stay home with my roommates.  I learned so much about myself, about the city, and just about people in the past week, and while much of the damage is devastating, it was nice to see some positivity come out of the hurricane.  Whether it was getting to know neighbors by name, sharing a taco provided by a local restaurant, or bonding with other volunteers at local relief sites, there’s no reason to not take as much positivity out of Sandy as possible.

Now that our lights are back on, our refrigerator is clean and empty, and the apartment is back to normal, the only thing left is to help the rest of the city get back on its feet.  Local businesses lost tens of thousands of dollars, thousands of people are hungry, thirsty, and cold, and some are without homes. Whether its time, goods, money, or just good vibes, Beyonce and I encourage you to give what you can to help New York and the surrounding areas recover from the past week’s events.

Check out these websites for more information on helping out:

https://lowereastside.recovers.org http://caaav.org/update-on-caaavs-efforts-post-hurricane-sandy-volunteer-and-donate http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy http://signup.madeinles.org

An American Girl In Paris: Part Une

When I think of Paris I think of wine and cheese and art.  My program welcomed us on Saturday afternoon in the best possible way: with all three of these, plus Orangina, which I will never turn down. I headed to Reid Hall aka Columbia Global Centers Europe where I met the other 14 writers in my program.  Our professors welcomed us by asking red, white, or rose and then pointed us in the direction of a table literally overflowing with charceuterie, baguettes, cheese, and macarons.  Charceuterie aside, everything was beyond delicious.  The bread was fresher than I had ever tasted, delightfully crusty on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside.  The brie was creamy with the strong taste French brie should have and the Chevre spread unlike any pre-wrapped Trader Joe’s cheese.

And then the desserts. Apparently the French don’t get fat, but it’s certainly not for the lack of food.  Five minutes of orientation to a Creative Writing program and I’ve already shifted my career goals to become a French Pastry Chef.  Julia Child didn’t know French when she moved here!  Everything just tasted so fresh.  So perfectly sweet, no trace of artificiality: the chocolate, vanilla bean, and pistachio pastries may have been the best I’d ever had.

The orientation was brief; all of us equally exhausted and excited to explore the city beyond the conference room that was currently holding us back from a month of Parisian adventures.  We received our Parisian Columbia IDs (on which, I must mention, I look lovely, so clearly there was no need for me to compete on ANTM: a beautiful school ID is much more practical than a Covergirl spread…) and we were ready to hit the town!

Le Chein

We set out to find a grocery store and purchase our first round of supplies.  (Read: wine).  Even in Paris, a trip to the market has its stories.

While waiting outside for the rest of the group to reach the cash register, a very stereotypically French man approached with his dog.  Without thinking, I reached down to pet it, scratch its ears, and talk to it in a stupid reserved-for-puppies voice.  Apparently in France this translates to: “I love your dog and want to keep it forever.”  The man thrust the dog’s rope/leash into my friend’s hand, gave us an explanation in French, and walked away.  We stood their giggling like two girls who had just adopted a puppy.  We couldn’t smoke or play loud music in the Maison after 10pm, but we hadn’t heard any rules about pets?  Also, what?  Who does that? Who passes off a dog to random Americans?  After debating what to do with the dog for a good half hour, the owner returned with a “Merci Beaucoup” and reclaimed his precious pet.

We continued to Jardin du Luxembourg, which is apparently a popular place for celebrities to visit.  No baby Blue Ivy in sight, we still had a lovely time walking by the flowers, palm trees, and fountain while breathing the delicious French air.

In French parks, it’s very popular to bring a bottle of wine, a few cups, and laugh with your friends at ugly Americans.  This is something New Yorkers should pick up.  There would be fewer Starbucks cups on the ground, plus, everyone would be happier just to express their angst in public, rather than on a laptop in the corner of a dark Brooklyn coffee shop.  Just saying.

On that note, there’s an insane lack of litter in my neighborhood.  I also have yet to see a homeless person. The “undesirable” qualities of New York living just seem not to exist in Paris.  It’s kind of surreal. If Paris had the geography of Manhattan, I'd be living in the French Upper East Side, which is quite different from my usual tattooed and boozy St. Mark's apartment.

We walked to a Poets’ Market, which had booths of writers sipping booze and selling self-bound editions of their work.  If I spoke French, it would have been hard to resist purchasing all of these adorable books, but luckily for my budget, I just looked, felt inspired (apparently that’s what I’m here for) and continued on in our exploration.  Our night ended with a midnight dinner by the gardens and a walk back to the Maison, which did not include any run-ins with famous authors of the past, but that’s for another night!