French Movies at the 2014 AFI-EU Film Showcase

2014 AFI-EU Film Showcase The 2014 AFI-EU Film Showcase opens today at AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland. Presented by the American Film Institute (AFI) in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union to the United States and EU Member States, the festival showcases the best in current European filmmaking and this year’s selection includes more than 50 films shown throughout the month of December (the 27th edition of the festival runs from December 3-21, 2014.)

French and French-language films are well represented, as always:

  • The Dardenne brothers’ “Two days, one night” (showing Fri, Dec 12, 7:30 and Sun, Dec 14, 3:40), Belgium’s official selection for the Oscars
  • Girlhood (Thu, Dec 4, 9:45pm and Sat, Dec 6, 10pm)
  • Marie’s Story (Sun, Dec 7, 5:30pm and Mon, Dec 8, 9:15pm)
  • If you don’t I will (Sun, Dec 14, 1:30pm and Tue, Dec 16, 7:30pm)
  • Anne Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery which is premiering on the festival’s closing night and is a clever nod on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (Dec 20, 8pm.) The screening will be following by a reception sponsored by the European Union Delegation to the United States.
  • Jackie in the Kingdom of Women (Sat, Dec 20, 10:10pm and Sun, Dec 21, 7:45pm)
Gemma Bovery, with Fabrice Luchini and Gemma Arterton

Gemma Bovery, with Fabrice Luchini and Gemma Arterton

On Saturdays December 6, 13 and 20, from 5-7pm, the theater is also offering wine samples from the countries showcased that particular day. That means French wine on the 20th! On the 14th, don’t miss a special free screening of 3 short films on December 14 at 5:45pm. The films include Castello Cavalcanti by Wes Anderson and a French language movie called Les Lézards.

Click here for more information on the 2014 AFI-EU Film Showcase and to view a full schedule.

A Taste of South of France: Pissaladière

I’ve been looking to the food of South of France lately in my attempt to prolong summer as much as possible. In particular, I’ve recently rediscovered a dish I used to love: the pissaladière.

Pissaladière is a classic dish from Nice. It’s basically Southern France’s answer to pizza. One of the key ingredients in pissaladière, anchovies, are unfortunately not the most popular in the United States. But I personally love the intense flavours and saltiness of the pissaladière and it’s actually very easy to make at home.

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Only a few ingredients are needed to make a pissaladière:

  • Caramelized onions (use 2-3 sliced yellow onions)
  • Niçoise olives (use other black, preferably oil-cured olives if you can’t find niçoises)
  • Anchovies (consider rinsing them under cold water if using canned ones)
  • Olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper
  • Pizza dough (store bought, or make your own using this recipe)

Warning: all of these ingredients combined make for a rather NSFW dish 😉

Step one for pissaladière is making the pizza dough, or rolling it out if you’re using a store bought dough. Place on an oiled baking sheet and pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F.

To caramelize the onions, heat 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and cook the onions over low heat for 40 minutes, until they are gold, soft and tender. Be very careful not to burn them. Before taking the onions off the heat add 2 teaspoons of thyme and some salt and pepper. Then, spoon the caramelized onions on top of the rolled out pizza dough and artfully arrange the anchovies and olives on top. Brush the edge of the pizza dough with a little olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until crisp. Simple as that.

I like to keep my pissaladière but Martha Stewart adds strips of tomatoes to her recipe and Kai Chun, senior editor at Food & Wine magazine, makes an interesting version with avocado, though there can definitely variations on the traditional recipe. All should be paired with a clean, refreshing, provence rosé, like  (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s) Château Miraval 2013, to pretend fall is still far away!

A Taste of Provence: Miraval Rosé

Looking for a good rosé to sip this summer? Here are a few words I thought I’d never say: try Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Château Miraval Cotes de Provence rosé. Last year, the famous pair released the first vintage of rosé from their South of France estate (read more about the Château here), made in partnership with the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel. The wine comes from a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah and Rolle. And it’s pretty good.

 2013 Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose, brad pitt wine,

Clearly, Brad and Angelina bought  a good vineyard 😉 The rosé is light pale pink and has a lovely floral nose. It retails between $18 to $22 (I found my bottle at Whole Foods), which is a little pricey for this type of rosé. You can definitely find rosé of similar quality at a lower price point, but you’re also paying a premier for the Brandgelina nose…

Do you have a favourite summer rosé? Cheers!

Wine Tour de France: Discover the Pays d’Oc IGP

The 2014 Tour de France is making its way through the Languedoc-Roussillon this weekend. That part of the country, which encompasses  the Mediterranean coastline stretching from  the rugged Pyrenees mountains to Provence, happens to be one of the largest wine producing region in France. Soil types and terroir vary widely throughout the Pays d’Oc IGP and winemakers there have more than 56 grape varieties to play with, so this enormous wine region produces very diverse wines.

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I don’t follow the Tour de France as religiously as I do the World Cup (though to be fair, if the Tour de France happened only once every 4 years, maybe I would…) but I do like my wine, and in the summer I especially like my rosé. And wouldn’t you know, the Pays d’Oc IGP happens to produce some very fine rosés… Here’s a trio of wine, two rosés and one white, all under $20, from the Pays d’Oc IGP that you might want to try, whether you’re sipping them while watching the Tour de France or not.

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Anne de Joyeuse, Camas,  Pinot Noir Rosé 2013, Pays d’Oc IGP (available at Modern Liquor and Calvert Woodley) is a medium bodies, dry rosé with bright acidity.  It typically retails in the $10 range, making it a GREAT value wine.

Villa des Anges, Old Vines Rosé, Cinsault 2013, Pays dOc IGP (available at Cork on 14th street for $14.99) is a perfect warm weather drink! It’s crisp, fresh and light bodied and pairs perfectly with salad or grilled pork or chicken.

Paul Mas Picpoul de Pinet, Picpoul 2012, Pays d’Oc IGP (available at Cork on 14th street for $17.99) is made out of Piquepoul grapes, which are fun to say but also mainly grown in the Languedoc and neighbouring Rhone region. It’s a very fresh, kinda mineral wine that’s also great in warm weather, and with fish.
If you would like to learn more about the wines from the Pays d’OC IGP, they have a very colourful website in both English and French.

10 Paris Instagrammers You Should Follow

I follow all sorts of people on instagrams. My friends, of course. Foodies. Travelers. Cat owners. Even a few politicians (bonus when they post #FridayKitty pics every week!) But I have a soft spot for people instagramming from my hometown. Here are some of my favourite Paris-based snappers right now:

INSTA_Goutdfood
In addition to having a pretty dreamy job in PR for Ladurée, Delphine also runs Goût’d Food, a lovely French food blog with an accompanying instagram feed GOUTDFOOD that’s as sweet as you’d expect. 

INSTA_Desserted in Paris
DESSERTED IN PARIS is the instagram account of Taj Spiegel, a graphic designer and pâtissier with a passion for shoes and pastries. Follow him for snapshots of gorgeous-looking desserts juxtaposed against his extensive collection of colourful shoes.  

INSTA_Parisian Floors
PARISIAN FLOORS also looks down, this time to the ornate mosaics and colourful tiles of the city. Unlike I have this thing with floors (also one of my fave!), photographer Sebastian Erras doesn’t regram anyone else’s content… the repetitive floor shots are all his. And while his shoe collection could use a few pointers from Taj Spiegel, his elegant but plain black footwear lets the focus shine on the brightly patterned tiles underneath. 

INSTA_NAT PARIS
Nathalie Geffroy’s NATH PARIS captures daily slices of life in Paris, many taken in the rain or close to the ground. Nathalie is an artistic director at an ad agency and her creativity definitely comes through in her beautiful instagram pictures.

INSTA_Vuthrea
VTHEARA KHAM is a UI/UX Designer and one of the most followed French instagrammer in the world. In addition to instagram, his work has also appeared in little known travel books…you know, like, the official city of Paris tourism guide 😉

INSTA _ Paris je t'aime
Speaking of official tourism guide, Paris does have an official Instagram channel, PARIS JE T’AIME. It regrams a ton of people so it’s a great spot to discover new fun Paris-based account. Use the hashtag #parisjetaime in your photos if you want to be figured. Also official but a little more fun is the account of VELIB, Paris’ bike share network. You’ve guessed it, that one will be pretty bicycle heavy 😉 

INSA_Julien French words
Following the attacks of November 13, Julien created the instagram account French Words where he introduces his followers to a new French word everyday. FRENCH WORDS JOURNAL is his personal account where he shares beautiful pics from his daily life in Paris and from his travels.

INSTA_lost in cheeseland
Lindsey Tramuta is a writer and photographer behind LOST IN CHEESELAND, a blog that documents her life as an American expat married to a Frenchman in Paris. Recently, she started traveling the globe on writing assignments so her instagram pic extends beyond Paris. But don’t worry… Paris is still the main star of her instagram feed.

INSTA je ne sais quoiAt one point, I realized I was basically only following “expats” living in Paris and made a conscious effort to seek out more Frenchies on both twitter and instagram. That’s when I came across Juliette’s account JULIETTE_JNSPC and blog Je Ne Sais Pas Choisir and I love it. Her comments are in French but her pictures don’t need any translations. Bonus: unlike my furrbaby Chloe, her cat Sherlock is super photogenic…

INSTA _ Jean LucJEAN-LUC RAYMOND‘s feed combines two things I absolutely adore: cats and street art! Well, make that three if you include Paris 😉 

Last but not least, some bonus instragram accounts: HUGO KATSUMI‘s sky-heavy feed (cloud-haters abstain), MARTA LISBOA for some unexpected angles and bright colours, MECS METRO PARIS just for fun (and for some French dudes… in the Paris metro) as well as I_AM_UN_CHAT, the feed of Jean-Baptiste Delame, an advertising executive who owns the cutest tuxedo cat and takes some great snapshots documenting his daily life in Paris.

Did I miss one of your fave Paris-based grameur? Who are some of your go-to instragram peeps (Paris based or not)?

{this post was update February 4, 2016}

Longchamp Store Coming to CityCenterDC

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Chef Daniel Boulud is planning to open a DBGB restaurant at CityCenterDC comes another great (French) news for downtown D.C.: Longchamp is also planning to set up shop at CityCenterDC. Awesome news… well, perhaps not for my wallet. Which, actually, happens to be a Longchamp wallet.

retail city center dc, longchamp, longchamp dc, longchamp dc store, longchamp citycenter dc, city center dc

What I love about Longchamp is that it is still owned and managed by the Cassegrain family who founded it in Paris back in 1948. Oh, and I love their signature Pliage bags of course… but did you know Longchamp initially started as a leather goods’ company, selling leather-covered items for smokers then leather wallets and pouches? Now you do 😉 And I love that they are choosing to open in downtown D.C. as opposed to Georgetown or Chevy Chase where I would expect a retailer like Longchamp to open. It’s about time we become a shopping destination too!

paris pliage bag, pliage bag, longchamp pliage bag, eiffel tower pliage bad, special edition pliage bag,

What you (and I) still don’t know though is when Longchamp will open its first Washington shop. Hopefully on time for fall… I could use a dark purple Pliage bag…

Guest Post ~ Welcoming Francois Hollande to the White House by Kaylé

Yesterday was an excellent day to be a Francophile or Francophone in D.C.!

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Being born in Louisiana (in Lafayette, the coeur of Acadiana at that), French culture has been a constant love in my life. I studied French in middle school, high school, and university and found my way to Bordeaux for my studies. There, I fell deeper in love with the country, flaws and all. When I graduated, I applied for the French Ministry of Education’s Teaching Assistantship Program and found myself living in the petite town of Les Sables-d’Olonne. When I got back stateside, I never thought that my hobbies of tweeting and such would enable me to see an official Arrival Ceremony at the White House, let alone one for the French President.

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I have to thank Laetitia for tweeting the link to tell me about the #WHSocial opportunity. What’s #WHSocial you ask? It’s a chance for those who engage with the White House in the social media realm to meet up and interact in real life (like the #zoomeet Laetitia just attended… except with presidents instead of pandas…). When I saw that President Hollande’s official welcome for this historic State Visit was open to, I was ecstatic! I applied, was selected, and got even more excited for the big day.

When I arrived at the White House’s visitor entrance at 6:50AM, there was a much longer line than I expected (I was naïve), but people were in good spirits and excited for the event. Ellie Schafer of the White House Visitors Office estimated that about 6,000 guests showed up on the South Lawn to fête president Hollande. We were given French and American flags as well as a program and explanation of some of the rituals and protocols we were about to take a part of. After about an hour and a half waiting, the official ceremony started.

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It was worth the wait. Hearing President Obama attempt French and laud the historic friendship our two nations share dating back to the Revolutionary War, solidified on the beaches of Normandy, and continue to today was beautiful and nearly brought me to tears. It was either that or the cold wind 😉 It was also wonderful to be able to listen to President Hollande, even when he switched to French. All these years of French paid off… I was able to understand most of what he said! If you’re interested in their full remarks, read them here.

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After the pomp and circumstance, we were invited to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to hear from various White House staff who were involved with planning the big bienvenue. The opportunity to listen to members of the State Department and White House speak about the logistics and logic behind hosting an official State Visit was insightful. Meanwhile, Hollande and Obama were having a little tête a tête… too bad we were invited to witness that 😉

I’m toujours proud to be an American but today made me even prouder to be a Francophile. As President Hollande said to end his remarks, Vive Les Etats-Unis! Vive La France! Vive l’amitié franco-américaine. Long live the United States. Long live France. Long live the Franco-American friendship.

ps: wanna find out more about #WHSocial? Read the storify recap too.

unnamedAbout the author: born in Lafayette, LA, Kaylé has lived in seven different states, two cities in France, and one district, but considers herself a Texan and a Bordelaise.  She currently works in development for an education reform advocacy group. We made each other’s acquaintance through Twitter, naturellement. She tweets often about macarons, Olivier Giroud, and other random things. Find her on Twitter under the handle @petitekaybee.

French State Dinner: 1996 versus 2014 menu

So the last time a French president was honoured with a State Dinner was back in 1996 at the invitation of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Here is what the menu looked like 18 years ago:

Lemon Thyme Lobster with Roasted Eggplant Soup

Rack of Lamb with Winter Fruit and Pecans

Sweet potato puree, root vegetables

Tarragon Huckleberry Sauce

Layered Artichoke, Leek and Herbed Cheese with Green and Endives, Balsamic Dressing

Apple and Cherry Sherbet Pyramid with Apple Brandy Sauce

Peanut Butter Truffles, White Almond Bark Chocolate Fudge

The wines paired with the dinner were all from California:

Beringer Viognier 1994 (CA)

Zaca Mesa Syrah 1993 (CA)

Roderer Estates, l’Hermitage 1990 (CA)

The highlight of that dinner was the towering pyramid concocted by (French) White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, built of balls of apple and cherry sherbet with apple brandy sauce and circled with small pastry swans swimming on a bed of dark red raspberries. We’ll see if current (perfectly French-speaking) pastry chef Bill Yosses can outdo him 😉

Guest at the 1996 dinner included designer Oscar de la Renta (who also dressed the first lady), Michael Douglas (who had sort of hosted a French president to a State Dinner of his own in The American President), Mr. and Mrs Eisner (Disneyland Resort Paris had just opened a few years earlier), the United States Ambassador to France, Mr and Mrs Shapiro (of the MoMa), the President of the Gugghenheim museum (the French like art…), John Grisham (we like to read too!), pretty much the entire Louisiana delegation in Congress and the mayor of New Orleans, Mr. and Mrs I.M. Pei (who has designed the East Wing of the National Gallery here in DC, as well, bien sur, as the Pyramid at the Louvre museum in Paris) the president of the AFL-CIO, and actor Gregory Peck and his (French) wife.

Let’s compare with tomorrow’s State Dinner shall we?

The menu:

American Osetra Caviar

Fingerling Potato Veloute, Quail Eggs, Crisp Chive Potatoes

“The Winter Garden Salad” ~ Petite Mixed Radish, Baby Carrots, Merlot Lettuce, Red Wine Vinaigrette

The White House teased a pictured of the Winter Garden Salad that will be served during the State Dinner honouring French President Hollande on its Instagram page.

The White House teased a pictured of the Winter Garden Salad that will be served at the State Dinner for French President Hollande on Instagram.

Dry-aged Rib Eye Beef, Jasper Hill Farm Blue Cheese, Charred Shallots, Oyster Mushrooms, Braised Chard

Hawaiian Chocolate Malted Ganache, Vanilla Ice Cream and Tangerines.

The wines:

Morlet la Proportion Doree 2011 (Napa Valley, CA)

Chester-Kidder Red Blend 2009 (Columbia Valley, WA)

Thibaut-Jannison Blanc de Chardonnay (Monticello, VA)

I wonder if they picked up that last wine during their visit to Charlottesville today 😉 So far, we don’t know the full guest-list. We know the current US Ambassador to France will not be there… because, there isn’t one right now… We know Bradley Cooper will be dazzling the French ladies with his sexy French accent and that Mary J. Blidge will perform. I guess we’ll have to wait a little to see who shows up at the White House tomorrow. Until then, we can speculate… Hubert Joly CEO of Best Buy perhaps? California boys Emmanuel Saez (professor at Berkeley), Renaud Laplanche (CEO of Lending Club) and Stéphane Le Viet (CEO of Work4Labs)? Xavier Mosquet, formerly of Obama’s task force to save General Motors & Chrysler? New Yorker Yannick-I’m-Happy-To-Pay-a75%-Tax  Noah? We’ll see…

Which menu would you rather eat? The one served in 1996 for Monsieur et Madame Chirac or the one that will be served tomorrow for Monsieur Hollande?

Benetton Loves Paris

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Not invited to the State Dinner but still want to a little something French to do on February 11? Head to Benetton in Georgetown. The Italian apparel maker will toast the arrival of its new Spring 2014 collection with a sparkling glass of (Italian) Prosecco. What’s the tie in to France you ask? Well, Benetton went to Paris to shoot its new collection, filled with chic basics, cool separates and effortless style.

The Spring 2014 Benetton Catalog was shot in Paris

Mr. Smith Hollande Goes to Washington

J – 1. In less than 24 hours, French president François Hollande will land in the United States for a whirlwind 3 day official state visit. It’s a big deal. While you may remember Nicolas Sarkozy eating some half smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl back in 2010, that was not, in fact, a state visit but an official visit. Ah protocol 😉 The last State Visit from a French president dates back to the Clinton days:

Jacques chirac, bill clinton, jacques chirac and bill clinton, state dinner, french state dinner, hollande state visit, hollande,

Don’t know about you, but I miss these two! Pic from the French Embassy in the US

François Hollande is expected to get a super-red carpet treatment while he is here, starting with a quick trip aboard Air Force One to visit Monticello and culminating in a black tie State Dinner at the White House. Unlike Jacques Chirac and François Mitterand before him, François Hollande will not address the US Congress. The White House and l’Elysée insist it is not a snub, but due to a lack of time. Hollande will find some time, however, to meet with representatives of the French business community here in D.C., visit Arlington Cemetary, grab dinner at the French Embassy with IMF head Christine Lagarde and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, of the World Bank decorate 6 World War 2 veterans, lunch at the State Department with John Kerry and Joe Biden… as well as give a joint press conference with the American president and attend the State Dinner. Busy Busy.

Meanwhile, since Francois Hollande is traveling solo, Michelle Obama’s schedule probably cleared up quite a bit. No first lady to have tea or go on a school visit with 😦 And that’s probably a good thing. She has a state dinner to focus on. Hillary Clinton, was said to be particularly stressed out about the state dinner she hosted for Chirac, due to the perceived high culinary standards of the French hosts. And perhaps she was justified in her apprehensions. Apparently, ever since that 1996 dinner, state dinners have no longer listed the year and appellation of wines on the dinner menu, simply stating instead that “an American wine will be paired with each course.” I wonder what went down with the wines at the Chirac state dinner 😉 I also wonder SO many things about this particular State Dinner: what will be on the menu? How sexy will Bradley Cooper look? (obviously, très sexy.) Who else is on the guest list? What will Michelle wear? Who will seat next to Barrack Obama, in the seat that Valérie Trierweiler should have occupied? So many questions. I guess I’ll just have to wait until Wednesday morning to get some answers…

Barrack Obama and Francois Hollande at the White House in 2012

Hollande & Obama at the White House in May 2012. Pic from French Embassy in the US.

And on Wednesday morning, Hollande will be on his way to San Francisco. The West Coast city is home to some 60,000 French expats, maybe of them working in the tech sector. There he will meet with Edwin M. Lee, the mayor of San Francisco, and Jerry Brown, the Governor of California. Hollande may not be traveling with any lady friends but his US-posse includes Pierre Gattaz, the head of the Medef (the Medef is the largest union of employers in France, yes, even the bosses are unionized in France… though they don’t usually strike.) Together they will lunch with American CEOs. I’ve heard the names Eric Schmidt, Sheryl Sandberg as well as Jack Dorsey (Twitter) et Mitchell Baker (Mozilla) thrown around so I hope they both brushed up on “Lean In” 😉  They’ll inaugurate a US-French Tech Hub in San Francisco before meeting with local French civic leaders and addressing the French community. Also traveling to the United States are Pierre Moscovici, miniter of economy and finance, Arnaud Montebourg, Minister of Industrial Renewal (his job is basically to promote the made in Framce… even though the delegation itself will be staying in a made in China hotel while they’re in town) and of course, Laurent Fabius, John kerry’s French counterpart.

All in all, it will be a very busy agenda for a very important visit. Thanks for coming to see us Flamby!