Place Settings #44: January 25, 2015

IMG_4289Eat | These are bacon pancakes with a blob of avocado mash. They were delicious and super easy to make: I just chopped up some bacon, cooked it, and added it to the pancake mix.

Drink | More Baruir’s coffee.

Read | Still going strong with Moby Dick. As I read, this book keeps getting higher on my list of favorite books. Whales are constantly on my mind — I went on an extended YouTube deep dive of whale documentaries — and the infamous whale chapters are actually the best ones. (more…)


Place Settings #43: January 18, 2015


Hello! We’re back

Eat | A wheat berry and brussels sprouts salad (recipe here).

Drink | Coffee from Baruirs Coffee, a 45-year-old, family-run coffee store around the corner from me.  (more…)

Read Up: Berlin Blogs

Berlin Blogs

As I mentioned on Sunday, I’m heading to Berlin this weekend for a quick visit. I’ve never been to Berlin before, so I’ve been consulting my friends, speed-reading travel guides in bookstores, and of course browsing Berlin’s corner of the internet. During the course of my research, I’ve stumbled across some fantastic Berlin-based blogs that I wanted to share with all of you. Some of them are literally about the things to do, see, and eat in Berlin, but some are just lovely blogs that capture that Berlin je ne sais quoi. So whether you are planning a trip to Germany’s trendiest city or not, these links are worth a click. Bonus: they are all written in English.

Stil in Berlin is run primarily by Mary Sherpe, a contributing writer and photographer for Vogue Germany, and has a little bit of everything. Shopping, eating, and sightseeing guides (I found this blog while searching for Berlin coffee spots), art reviews, street fashion, and more. The photography and design is beautiful and it’s been the perfect starting point for my research. If you’re heading to Berlin, I recommend checking out the many guides on the website. Even if you aren’t, a quick browse through this blog (although it won’t be quick — I get sucked in and read page after page) will give you a lovely glimpse of the city.

I was immediately drawn to Berlin Reified‘s title — who wouldn’t be? It’s creator is Sylee Gore, who was born in Mumbai and grew up in the United States before moving to Berlin in 2000. The blog is a perfect mix of Berlin recommendations and beautiful lifestyle photos. Each post reads like a mini personal essay that includes a bit of Sylee’s life and an interesting Berlin spot or two. This blog makes for a wonderful read no matter where you are.

Überlin‘s creators, Zoë and James, packed up their London life several years ago and moved to Berlin (Randomly picking up and moving to another country? Sounds like something I’d do…), where they now maintain a gorgeous blog. Überlin also has a little bit of everything for all kinds of readers. Some posts are Berlin-specific, like their food and drink section or their recommendations for things to do around the city. Other posts will appeal to everyone, like “Music Mondays” and their thoughts on living an expat life. And with archives going back to 2010, it’s easy to spend an afternoon reading post after post.

I can feel a Best Wishes from Berlin addiction coming on. Jessica Jungbauer started Best Wishes in 2010 to document the lives of creative people living in Berlin. It’s now a magazine as well and there are Best Wishes from Amsterdam, Oslo, London, San Francisco, Melbourne, and Minneapolis. The short profiles on the website include recommendations for places to go and things to see in Berlin, but it’s also fascinating to learn about all these creative people and the projects on which they are currently working. Some of the subjects are expats living in Berlin and I love discovering which expat experiences we have in common and which are specific to Paris/Berlin.

Unlike Berlin City Guide is definitely oriented towards people living in or visiting Berlin, as it has comprehensive coverage of restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries, hotels, and other adventures (Unlike covers a host of other cities all over the world as well). It’s a bit overwhelming if you are like me and don’t know the city at all, but the great photographs and seemingly endless supply of information make it a great trip-planning resource. In fact, this website alone makes me wish I were going for much longer!

I hope this was interesting for you, even if Germany isn’t on your horizon. The first four of these websites have permanent spots in my RSS reader (Unlike Berlin is safely stowed in my “Berlin” Evernote folder in case I ever go back and need more tour guide-like information again). I’m even more excited for my Berlin getaway after scrolling through these blogs. Do you have any Berlin recommendations (online or in real life)?

Place Settings #38: April 27, 2014

Place Settings #38

Eat: Red berry granola with almond milk. It took me forever to find fake milk here, but I happened to spot it in the “organic” aisle yesterday.

Drink: Red Rose black tea with honey and almond milk.

Read: I’ve never read anything by Gabriel García Márquez, and his recent passing prompted me to pick up Love in the Time of Cholera, which has been sitting on my Kindle for years. I’m only 5% of the way through, but I’m enjoying it so far. I’m also really impressed with my friend Alice’s emoji-reading skills:


I’m having a kind of low-key, life administration Sunday, getting back into the flow of regular life after a week of relaxation, eating, and châteaux-trotting in the Loire Valley.

How was your weekend?

Place Settings #36: April 6, 2014

Place Settings #36

Eat: Asparagus season is in full swing and you can’t go anywhere in Paris without seeing bundles of thick green and white stalks for sale. I picked up a fistful of spears in La Grande Epicerie, a magical food store that I’ve mentioned before. I steamed these for a few minutes, coated them in butter, and topped with a poached egg and a bit of salt.

Drink: English breakfast tea with honey.

Read: After I finished Bird by Bird, I looked at my stack of books and hesitated before selecting Girl with Curious Hair. Part of me wanted to take a longer break from David Foster Wallace (I finished Infinite Jest at the end of February), not because I’ve grown tired of him, but because I didn’t want to binge on him.  (more…)

Place Settings #33: March 16, 2014

Place Settings #33

Eat: My apartment here is wonderful in many ways, but it is a cave. It is so dark all the time that I need to turn the lights on, even if it’s the middle of a sunny afternoon. It’s easy to stay reclusive in there on the weekends, but today I forced myself to go somewhere for lunch.  I wanted to get coffee and a pastry from Telescope, but it was closed and I ended up with this salad at H.A.N.D. (Have A Nice Day). It’s a cute restaurant with burgers on the menu and mid-century Americana on the walls. My salad was tasty, but I don’t think I’d go back unless I had a few burger-craving friends in tow.

Drink: Mediocre café crème glacé. I’m dying for a Blue Bottle New Orleans iced coffee. (more…)

Place Settings #31: March 2, 2014


Eat: This is yet another installment of I-need-to-go-grocery-shopping cooking. I scrambled some eggs, finished off some sad lettuce, and topped a baguette with goat cheese and avocado. I ran 16 miles this morning as part of my marathon training, which means I’ll be spending the rest of the day eating and napping.

Drink: Nespresso, or I would have fallen asleep immediately after my post-run shower. (more…)

Place Settings #30: February 23, 2014


Eat: I had a delicious pita creation from Miznon, the shorter-lined (though still pretty packed) neighbor of the famous L’As du Fallafel. I met my friend Josh there for lunch before he flew back to New York, and while it occurred to me to whip out my camera and start snapping, I honestly just wanted to perch at the crowded bar, watch the cooks churn out pitas, and hear about Josh’s recent trip to Rome. Plus, let’s be real, I was also starving and anxious to inhale my food. Long story short, no food pictures today, so enjoy this view of Our Lady instead.

Drink: Water. Earlier, coffee, of course.

Read: Also not pictured here for obvious reasons, is Infinite Jest. I’m still on pace to finish by the end of February, so this is the last time I’ll be featuring it in Place Settings. It feels a little premature to talk about it definitively since I still have about 180 pages left to go, so maybe I’ll do a special IJ post when I finish.

What follows is surely one of the most obnoxious sentences I’ve ever written, but I’m going to say it anyway: Reading Infinite Jest is turning into a very meta experience for me. A few weeks ago, I assigned myself a certain number of pages to read every day to make sure I finish the book by the end of the month, which has definitely influenced how I interact with the text. (more…)

The Paris Bookshelf, Part II


I already blabbed on about some books about Paris, but I now present you with the books that actually came to Paris with me. As you might imagine based on the troubles I encountered packing my clothes, it was not easy for me to decide who was cool enough to make the trip. Books are heavy and, according to some outside sources whom I consulted mid-packing crisis, “non-essential items.” I of course beg to differ, and if the cost of bringing Borges and Wallace with me is a restricted range of sartorial options, then I shall simply have to look like a fashion-challenged but well-read slob while I’m here. C’est la vie.

Some books were no-brainers: the aforementioned Michelin Green Guide, Papa’s A Moveable Feast, and Marcel Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in FlowerYou can’t come to Paris without both literal and literary guidebooks, plus I need Marcel to write my other blog, so he got an automatic berth. Being seen with either the Green Guide or the Hemingway in public would be a bit damaging to my attempts to seem like une vraie Parisienne (sometimes if I sense skepticism on the part of a shop clerk, I’ll choose to pay with my French bank card as if to validate my existence here, which now that I think about it, probably lowers their estimation of me given my terrible French, as if I’m telling them, “Yes, I live here but am making zero effort to speak your language properly.”), but they are consulted weekly in the privacy of my apartment.  (more…)

Place Settings #27: February 2, 2014


Eat: Eggs, scallions, mayonnaise on a baguette. Italy and France have the best eggs, in my opinion. Every time I eat an egg here, I wonder what on earth I was eating in New York. The yolks are a deep golden color and they taste much richer. I also picked up Mayonnaise des Normandes at Le Grande Epicerie (my new favorite place on earth — probably deserving of its own blog post); it tastes like a cross between mayo and mustard, and I cannot stop eating it. Seriously, I spread it on some bread and eat it. And speaking of bread, I have officially found the best baguette in my neighborhood. I also love watching the businessmen pick up baguettes on their ways home in the evening and rip off a chunk of bread to eat while they walk. I can’t blame them though; I have no idea how they bake so  much happiness into a baguette, but it really is that good.

Drink: Nespresso. Le sigh. I was gifted some beans the other day though, so I’m brainstorming a cheap pourover set-up for myself. Do we have any thoughts on hand grinders? (more…)