Wednesday, December 27, 2006

C&C: Little Next Door

I've never been to Paris. But of course, I'm taken in by its mystique thanks to countless filmmakers, novelists, artists, and even food bloggers. I've never had the cliched Parisian experience of languishing for hours at a sidewalk cafe, sipping wine, smoking cigarettes, writing in your moleskine, and finding yourself. Or rubbing elbows with quotidian fashionistas as a charming grocer hands you the perfect peach at a sidewalk market. I mean, this is the land that inspired Annie and Eric to smuggle no fewer than fourteen cheeses (imagine that gloriously stinky suitcase!) back home. Of course I'm smitten.

Paris is a little far away for a day trip, but I can play pretend. The other day as I was sitting on the patio at Little Next Door, enjoying the perfect breakfast, Parisian cliches came to life before my eyes! There was a woman sitting behind me, wearing hot pink stilletos and smoking her cigarette through a slim black holder. There was an unreasonably handsome man in a beret humming loudly to himself.

The cozy shop is appointed perfectly to be the quintessential Parisian cafe, plucked from the streets of Montmartre (or so I imagine). One wall is lined with jars and jars of homemade preserves and pickles: fig jam, preserved lemons, pickled pearl onions, and tiny jars of harissa with cheerful orange rubber washers. The opposite wall houses the extensive wine collection, and in between are pastries, chocolates, charcuterie and cheeses, fresh-baked breads, and more. Everything beautiful, everything evocative.

Even my croissant was a bit of a gamine. The flirty thing came on a vintage plate adorned with roses and hummingbirds, and somehow its twists and curves were a bit more curly, a bit prettier than usual, and it had the lush taste and texture to go with it. It really was a gorgeous thing. And its golden crust was the perfect scoop for the rich foam atop my bowl of cappuccino.

As my neighborhood slowly turns into pretend Europe, it gets easier to get lost in the illusion. Or maybe I just am getting more willing to make believe.

[Incidentally, this character is spending New Years in Paris and Amsterdam. Hopefully he'll share some stories so I can swoon over the city even more.]

Little Next Door is at 8142 W. Third Street, one block west of Crescent Heights.


  1. haha! =) love this post.

    A perfect example of why food is the best way to travel! =) Now if only my town would get with the program!

  2. mygod Tannaz ... when I read your blog it just takes my breath away. You are a truly wonderful writer. Now please.... just write a book dammit!! :)

  3. Hi Lea - I'd have to say that travel is the best way to travel, but yes, food is a great one too. =) Where is this non-travelly town of yours?

    Jude!! First of all, thank you thank you! Secondly, I have been reading your accounts of Hindustani life for pages at a time -- eyes glazed over, bit of drool hanging from side of mouth. It seems like every day is so action-packed and with such crazy moments from morning to night! And sounds like these ladies of r&h india are really trying to get you to come back to the states with a strapping Indian man on your arm! ... cheers to that!

  4. Ahhhh Paris! Sounds like your little corner of cafe heaven is just as magical... now, if only they had rickety little tin chairs alongside the marvelous murky Seine! Cue quaint accordion music!