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Antwerp and Paris

I meant to write before now. I really did.

Sometimes I feel like my life is a TGV train, zooming here and there, stopping for a short while and then leaving again.

Of course this is my own doing.

I left Santa Fe a few weeks ago, drove to Dallas, and within a day or two, was in Antwerp, Belgium, a city I’d visited only a couple of times before, to report a story for The Dallas Morning News. I won’t give away the details now, but I was completely charmed by Antwerp. I’ve spent lots of time in Brussels, but not so much in Antwerp, a port city with a rich history and an easy, laid-back vibe. What struck me most about Antwerp was how effortlessly cool it really was. It wasn’t filled with bearded hipsters in skinny jeans smoking cigarettes, but with concept stores and great coffee shops just about everywhere I went.

I loved it.

Then it was on the train and home to Paris, for two Thanksgivings with friends who have become my family, along with countless dinners, lunches and clinks of wine glasses. There’s a huge coffee boom going on in the city, which I’m writing about for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


Plus there’s a new buzz in South Pigalle, the city’s once completely seedy red light district. It’s in the midst of a transformation that’s quietly changing the area into a destination, beyond, ahem, what it’s best known for. I’ll be sharing my observations and shopping/eating recommendations in an upcoming story in The Dallas Morning News.

Perhaps to counter my super-caffeinated days, there were a number of wine-fueled nights. All in the name of research, of course, for a piece that’ll appear in Virtuoso Life magazine in the spring. It’s all about wine bars spawned by some of the most loved bistros in Paris — Frenchie Bar à Vins, Le Dauphin, Verjus Bar à Vins, to name a few.

I also managed to squeeze in a little shopping — at Merci and a new boutique also along boulevard Beaumarchais with a label called “Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?” I couldn’t resist buying two super-soft cotton tees here.

I also ate an enormous crêpe at Avant Comptoir one day for lunch. Again, just to make sure they’re still worth mentioning (they are).

I ate 100 gram sacks of perfectly baked, crispy chouquettes with my afternoon coffees.

And had one of the best bowls of fish soup I’ve ever tasted at a sweet old school bistro in Boulogne one day for lunch.

On Sunday, comme d’habitude, I went to the flea market at Pte de Vanves, and found one of my prized cul noir bowls —  for 5 euros, people! How could I not buy that? (I did.) Also a sweet powdered sugar shaker for 2 euros, great for dusting crêpes and all sorts of gateaux, something that the French do instead of heaps of gloppy, sugary icing. ( I’m not against sugar, as y’all know, but I’ve come around to believing that less is, well, just a better way to go. That way you can have more later. )

For now, I’m in Santa Fe, which is still partially covered with snow. I plan to practice my fire-building skills and sip armagnac till I’m back home in Paris.