Bière à la pression

I love that the United States is smack in the middle of a craft beer revolution.

I’m a firm believer in supporting small businesses, especially ones that get people drunk. The proliferation throughout the country of these independent entrepreneurs can only add fire to a still sluggish economy and I support their efforts wholeheartedly.

There is something, however, that I like a little more than the current American brew-ha-ha.

I like being able to walk into any bar in France and ordering une pression (a draught beer).

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That’s it.

The server will not ask what type of draught you prefer and he/she will not launch into a wild-eyed, protracted monologue about the latest honey brown pale ale porter blah blah blah they just tapped. At times you might be asked if you would prefer a small or large pression but clearly this is an inside joke flitted about occasionally by native French citizens who enjoy teasing non-natives.

Small?

Funny little server.

As a reward for your basic request you will be issued a tall glass of cold, golden, perfectly respectable beer.

Now, readers may take issue with Continue reading

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To Catch A Thief: Take 13

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #15

Plage de Passable, St Jean Cap Ferrat

One afternoon several years ago I made what turned out to be a fortuitous decision.  I had just paid my tab at a snazzy little joint overlooking Villefranche.  The houses scattered along the steep hillside below the restaurant were bathed in an ethereal, only-in-the-south-of-France, sunlight.  A breeze rose up from the Mediterranean and I heard yet another person remark with absolute certainty that the outline of Corsica can be seen from the coast of France on a clear day.

This is nonsense.

Maybe, just maybe if you are a young Clark Kent, but even then I doubt it.

Normally after a two hour lunch (wine included) I would have made a bee-line to my apartment, careening into the little parking lot on Place Francis Paulet in a semi-conscious state, drool imminent.  Not caring the slightest if I closed the car door or even had pants on, I would hobble zombie-like to La Placette, stumble inside, and head straight to bed for an afternoon nap.

But not on this day.  I bravely pushed aside my self-induced somnolence and decided to pay a visit Continue reading

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To Catch A Thief: Take 12

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #14

Room 623: The Carlton in Cannes

There’s a wonderful scene in To Catch A Thief in which Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly’s character) is escorted to her hotel room by John Robie (played by Cary Grant).  She opens the door, turns, gives him a long, cool kiss, and then without saying a word, steps inside and closes the door.  Robie is left grinning and bemused.

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The room, of course, is at The Carlton in Cannes, number 623.  The interior is featured later when Francie invites Robie in for a drink, more kissing, a fireworks display in the Golfe de la Napoule, and several clever innuendoes that somehow managed to slip past the censors.

For several years I was certain that Brigitte Auber had told me Continue reading

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To Catch A Thief: Take 11

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #13

“Have you ever seen any place in the world more beautiful?”
Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly’s character) in To Catch A Thief

TCAT Picnic Scene

It would have been impossible for Grace Kelly to predict what the future held for her as she gazed out over the sun-drenched Cote D’Azur, arms stretched wide, and delivered her line.

She was sitting next to Cary Grant in a light blue Alpine Sports Roadster with cameras, crew, and surely, the ever-present Alfred Hitchcock mere steps away. Below them, down the steep, barren slope, past the expensive villas dotting the hillside, the principality of Monaco lay spread out against the blue Mediterranean.

Kelly would soon marry Monaco’s Prince Ranier and help turn the tiny principality into a wildly popular international tourist destination.  She would Continue reading

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Reflections of a Zen Master

This post was originally written in 2011.

Let me start out by saying I realize I have not returned to the States, wiser and more contemplative, from a three year stint living in a remote Tibetan temple.

I have, however, just returned from an extended trip to France, and as usual, feel somewhat reflective.  Listed below are five things that struck me as I stepped off the plane in Philadelphia after my transatlantic flight.

1) Television news media is crap, and I apologize for the insult to all self-respecting crap. I don’t care if you’re right-wing, left-wing, or chicken-wing, if you’re spending any time at all watching CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc., then you are wasting valuable time.  It is shocking what passes for news these days.

2) We eat way too much bad food.
One thing you have to give the French is their unwavering devotion to good food.  We in the States, unfortunately, don’t share the same passion, though things do seem to be improving a bit.  It’s no wonder Continue reading

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L’Armoise, Champagne, and The New York Times

I received a handful of Emails on Sunday, each with a link to a New York Times article entitled “A French Riviera Gastrocrawl” by Alexander Lobrano.

In the piece Mr. Lobrano reviews four noteworthy restaurants along the Cote D’Azur (two in Nice, one in Cagnes sur Mer, and one in Antibes).

L’Armoise, his choice in old Antibes, has been at the top of my “to-do” list for some time, thanks in no small part to a beautiful blond Norwegian friend, Maren, a wonderful singer who lives in a stunning house in the old town.  She has been raving about L’Armoise and Chef Laurent Parrinello for years and insists that I make it my first stop during my next visit to Antibes.

So I had to smile when I read the last line of Mr. Lobrano’s article:

“Over dessert, we ended up falling into conversation with a beautiful blond Norwegian singer and drinking Champagne well into the night — a classic Riviera coda to the storied coastline’s terrific new cooking.”

The beautiful blond Norwegian singer, it seems, does indeed have good taste in restaurants.

The New York Times agrees.

L’Armoise
2, rue de la Tourraque, Vieil-Antibes
(33-4) 92-94-96-13
Prix-fixe menus 40, 45 and 70 euros
Closed Monday.

Maren’s 5 bedroom home, Casa Mare, is located on a charming, pedestrian-only street in old Antibes.  Available for weekly rentals year-round.  For more information click here

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Bertani’s Staircase: Mystery Solved

robie on restaurant verandaThe only To Catch A Thief location that has given me fits is the staircase leading down to Bertani’s restaurant.  I had reached the frustrating conclusion that it was destroyed forever when the port was renovated in the 1970′s.

Well, not so fast.

Grant and Hitchcok below “Bertani’s Steps” in Monaco.

Enter Luca, a devoted Le Stuff reader from Turin, Italy.

Luca and I had exchanged a few Emails regarding TCAT’s picnic site (which he correctly located) when he told me that he had also found Bertani’s steps.

I was skeptical.

I soon learned, though, never to underestimate a man on a mission.

Luca had indeed located the steps and the process by which he discovered them is a veritable lesson in tenacity.

How did he do it?

First, he Continue reading

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