Nespresso’s VertuoLine is Hoping to Conquer America

This week, Nespresso kept Union Station commuters and travelers well caffeinated with its Nespresso VertuoLineTM Pop-Up, one of the first stop of a 108-days, 17 cities pop-up tour. The main goal of the pop-up tour is to introduce Nespresso’s new VertuoLine system in the United States and Canada.

Nespresso Pop-Up at Union Station on March 8, 2014

Nespresso Pop-Up at Union Station on March 8, 2014

Not familiar with Nespresso? In the world of single-serve coffee machines, it’s kind of like the Apple to Keurig’s Microsoft. Nespresso dominates the proportioned coffee market in Europe the way that Keurig dominates it in the United States. My mom’s had a Nespresso machine for years.  I would have loved to get one but I really don’t drink espresso everyday. My husband and I didn’t want to clutter our small condo kitchen with more appliances than it already has by having both a regular coffee maker AND an espresso machine. And that’s exactly why Nespresso’s VertuoLine system is a game changer. It’s a sleek, single-cup coffee brewing machines that allows you to make both American style large-cup coffee AND an espresso. Like Nespresso touts in its ads, it’s a coffee revolution!

Nespresso Virtuoline Pods

How it all works? Like a regular Nespresso machine, except the pods are rounder and larger. They’re equipped with a bar code that the machine reads to automatically adjust itself to brew either a long coffee or an expresso. There’s 8 different types of long-coffee to chose from for now, including a hazelnut and a vanilla pod, which I quite enjoyed when I tasted them at the pop-up, and a half-caf and decaf pod. A huge merci to Nespresso for sending me a VertuoLine to try out. I’m very excited that I have finally joined the Nespresso family and I can’t wait until my next dinner party, when I can *finally* offer my guests an espresso at the end of the meal!

Nespresso Vertuoline

The foam at the top of the new coffee is quite unique to the new machine

The new VertuoLine machine comes in three different colors: red, silver and black. It retails for $299 with coffee-pods selling for $7.50 (espresso) and $9.50 (long coffee) for packs of 10.

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.

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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 ~ My Trip to Paris by Cecile

Gertrude Stein once said “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” I couldn’t agree more! When I am in Paris, I feel very much at home and become une petite Parisienne. Of course, it helps that my father is a francophile and my mother is, well, une vraie Parisienne. She used to live near the picturesque Place des Vosges and I grew up hearing all about Paris, its culture and its fashion. I’m lucky that I get to visit about once a year, and I’m thrilled to share with you a few of the things I love the most about my hometown…

… starting with fashion. French women always manage to look effortlessly chic, elegantly maneuvering the cobblestone streets of le Marais in their Louboutins and expertly wrapping a Hermès scarf around their necks. But all French women, myself included, know that the base of any great outfit is what only a select few people get to see: their unmentionables. French lingerie is typically designed for women by women and it shows! You can find a few good French brands in D.C. at Coup de Foudre on E Street, for example. But when I head to Paris, I love picking out perfectly fitted colorful pieces at Cadolle, the designer credited with inventing the bra (4 rue Cambon) or at Chantal Tomass (211 rue St-Honoré, 1er). Since those will set you back a bunch of euros,  I also love shopping at more budget-friendly Princesse Tam-Tam. The brand targets a younger crowd with affordable, fun, contemporary lingerie. It’s also a chain with locations pretty much all over Paris so you’re bound to come across one while exploring the city.

Another hidden yet important element of a French woman’s style is her fragrance. Perfume has been one of my passions since I pursued an MBA in luxury goods with a concentration in perfume in Monaco. Perfumes define your personality, whether it is fresh and fun, romantic or sensual, what better way to discover this than in Paris? Visiting perfume boutiques such as Annick Goutal (14 rue de Castiglione, 1erand Chanel (31 rue Cambon, 1er) will help you determine whether you are a Petite Cherie or more of an Allure Sensuelle. You can also visit Romano Ricci (yes, he’s related to Nina Ricci…)’s new concept store Nose (20 rue Bachaumont, 2eme) to get a tailored scent assessment. Finally, a sensory tour of Paris wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Ateliers Parfum Guerlain’s flagship store. Conveniently located on the Champs Elysees (68 Avenue des Champs Élysées, 8eme), the boutique dates back to 1912 and features a shimmering art-deco interior that will transport you to the famous avenue’s most glorious days, before H&M and Abercombie and Fitch moved in.
Beyond shopping, Paris is obviously known for its art and many museum. My favourite is le Musée d’Orsay, which houses an impressive collection of impressionist masterpieces in a former 19th century railway station. If you need to take a break from the Renoirs and bronze ballerinas, don’t miss the breathtaking views of the Seine from the fifth floor.
Great views of le musée du Louvre from le musée d'Orsay (picture: Cecile R.)

Great views of le musée du Louvre from le musee d’Orsay (picture: Cecile R.)

 

Shopping, art… I guess I can’t write a post on the things I love about Paris without mentioning the food. I definitely indulge to the max when I am in the city. I can literally spend my days eating! I recommend people watching over le petit dej at Café Mabillon (164 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6eme); an afternoon break of delicious hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows at La Maison Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli, 1er) or to-die-for macarons from Pierre Hermé (72 Rue Bonaparte, 6eme) and Ladurée (21 Rue Bonaparte, 6eme). If the weather allows, improvise a picnic Pont des Arts. The pedestrian footbridge with a wooden decking will l
ead you straight to the Louvre’s 
cour carrée and is a popular spot to take a break and soak up the romantic cityscape (and yes to leave a padlock too). I also love the inventive selection of eclairs at Fauchon (26 place de la Madeleine, 8eme). Rather than compete with the celebrated macarons makers, Fauchon decided to make a name for itself with another classic parisian pastry, which it declined in over 75 different flavors since 2003. During my last trip to Paris, I tried their foie gras eclair. It tastes as decadent as it sounds… And of course, there’s no shortage of options for lunch but I recently stumbled upon Le Petit Jacob (40 rue Jacob, 6eme), a cozy bio wine bar with simple, organic fare like charcuterie or tartines. I recommend it. 

Savory Eclair Foie Gras from Fauchon. Another fun flavor they have is the eclair chien chaud. It looks like an elegant hot dog, but tastes like raspberry and caramel.

Savory Eclair Foie Gras from Fauchon. Another fun flavor they have is the eclair chien chaud. It looks like an elegant hot dog, but tastes like raspberry and caramel.

As you can tell, Paris is near and dear to my heart. Do you have any favourite Paris spots? Feel free to share them in the comments… I’m already planning my next trip to Paris this summer and I always welcome recommendations!
About the author: born in India, Cecile grew up in Arlington, VA. She currently works in marketing for a French luxury hotel in the District. I had the pleasure of meeting up with her in Paris during her last trip there. And by meeting up with her, I mean we flew on the same plane and hung out everyday. I guess I should mention Cecile also happens to be one of my best friend and contributes witty postings to the French Twist DC facebook page 😉 Find her on twitter under the handle @cecileremington.

Moi Président de la République…

 

j’ouvrirais les jardins du palais de l’Elysée*

It was a gorgeous, yet cold, fall day in Paris. A perfect day for the French presidential palace to open its ornate wrought-iron gate (topped with a golden French rooster, cocorico please!) to the public for the first Elysée gardens open house tour of the year. Starting with today, visitors will be able to stroll the green grass of the palais every last Sunday of the month. That’s better than the bi-annual White House Garden Tour, though there’s no kitchen garden at l’Elysée… 

I must say, Francois Hollande’s new policy to open the 18th-century Elysée Palace gardens to the public every last Sunday of the month (they were previously only open once a year during Les Journées du Patrimoine in September – when you can actually visit the inside of the palace too) may be the first of his policies that I approve of 😉

We waited about an hour to cross the Grille du Coq on October 28, 2012
The grounds of l’Elysée, once a jardin parc à la française, now à l’anglaise
Though a little bit of that 18th century French touch remains 😉
L’Elysée was built between 1718 and 1722 and was once occupied by Napoléon


In Paris on the last Sunday of a month? You can try your hand at reproducing Hollande’s official portrait when visiting the presidential gardens… They’re open from noon to 5PM until March and then from 1PM to 7PM from April to September. Entrance is free and takes place on the Champs Elysées side of the palais, kitty corner from the Grand Palais (metro stop: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau), in front of the grille du coq, the rooster gate. Entrance is free and you can bring food, but no glass bottles. A group of parisiens in front of us had clearly planned a nice picnic only to get their bottle of wine confiscated at the security check-point… 


* “Me President of the Republic… I will open the gates of the Elysée gardens.” The title of the post refers to Hollande’s use of the phrase “Moi Président de la Republique je…” (Me, when I’m president of the Republic, I will…) fifteen time during his televised debate with Nicolas Sarkozy during the campaign to announce how his presidency would differ from that of his predecessor.

S’il Vous Plait… Dessine Moi Un Ispahan

There are many reasons you should visit the Galeries Lafayette on boulevard Haussmann during your visit in the city of light. First, of course, there’s the shopping. You can find anything you want at the Galeries, from a bedskirt to books, cartier watches, chanel bag or kookai skirts, gourmet food, books and Paris souvenirs. You can even buy macarons from Pierre Hermé’s not so secret boutique:

Pierre Herme has a store inside the Galeries Lafayette in l’espace createurs

Then of course, there’s the building itself. You’ll never look at your local mall the same way after seeing the Galeries’ stunning ceiling:

The current store opened in 1912 and is an elegant setting for your luxury shopping
And then there’s the view from the rooftop of the store:
The view from the rooftop of the Galeries Lafayettes at 40 Blvd Hausmann
Not too shabby right? Though the food they serve at the rooftop restaurant is not that great so I wouldn’t recommend getting much more than a salad and a coffee… On top of all this, if you still need a reason to visit, star pâtissier Pierre Hermé is currently exposing a series of his personal drawings. Known for being a pastry artist, his sketches show that he is as can paint as well as he can pipe and that he is equally talented with pencils or a whisk 😉
Just like a designer, Pierre Herme sketches his pastries during the creative process
Pierre’s sketches are part of a larger exhibit called “Made in Mode” that offers  an insider’s view of fashion. Throughout the month of April, shoppers will get a sneak peek into the kind of work that goes on behind the scene at the Galeries Lafayette, through workshops, pop-up boutiques and exhibitions. The 6th floor for example (the one that leads to that gorgeous rooftop), will give designers, jewelers, leatherworkers and others a platform to display the techniques they use in their crafts. Dior will share its beauty secrets with a pop-up nail salon and workshops on creating your own fragrance. Princesse Tam Tam and Fendi will reveal what it takes to create a new lingerie line or a new bag, respectively. In short, if you’re in Paris this April, you really have no excuse to skip the Galeries Lafayette!