going to: paris

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I’m leaving in a few days for Paris! It’s a weekend trip but there is a lot I hope to fit in. As usual, I made a Paris map using the map feature within my Google Drive. It’s super easy to use – basically you can drop a pin anywhere – for your hotel, restaurants you want to try, sightseeing activities, bars… You can get as specific as you like. I alternate between color coding the pins and using the little icons shaped like coffee cups or martini glasses to signify a cafe, cocktail bar, and so on.

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Deciding what I want to put on the map is the hard part, but I love travel planning and have developed a system. If you tell me you’re going somewhere, chances are I’ll research the city and, just for kicks, email you an invitation to collaborate on a Google Map outlining what I think you should do on your trip. I tend to vascillate between Instagram, Afar Magazine, blogs, and The New York Times for recommendations. If both David Lebovitz and Lindsey Tramuta from Lost In Cheeseland fame are excited about a restaurant or coffee shop, I consider that pretty fool-proof and put it on my list. Afar and Travel & Leisure both give me good ideas for hotels and some insight into what a particular neighborhood is like. And I like the “36 Hours In…” articles from the Times. While I might not follow their suggestions to the letter, I get a sense of how to pace my day.

Here’s what I’m excited for on this trip:

Visiting the Musée Picasso. It was closed for renovations the last two times I was in Paris. I just missed the reopening last summer so I am bound and determined to go this time. (That means I’ve bought tickets online already.)

Eating lunch at Septime and dinner at Le Gabriel. And dinner at Richer or Ellsworth or Verjus and maybe a breakfast at Buvette if there is time for all that food!

Coffee at Hexagone Cafe and Lockwood and Ten Belles.

Also: doing something different this time. Staying in an airbnb! Hotels in Paris tend to be expensive and rather small, and this airbnb comes with terraces so I’m psyched.

photos: laurakinsey for bklynprairie.

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top 10 things to do in hudson, ny

hudsonMainOne of my favorite things about living in New York City is actually getting out of it once in a while. I don’t own a car, but with a rental, a Zipcar, or the train, there are tons of options for weekends away. For several summers, we’ve rented a house for a month or two in Amagansett or the Springs, out on Long Island. (And we’re headed there this summer, too.) But lately, MK and I have been exploring more of the Hudson river valley, and I think it’s official: we’re in love with Hudson, New York.

A two-hour Amtrak ride from NYC, Hudson sits right on the river and is a walkable town with great food and shops, surrounded by rolling hills and small farms. (I saw two fields of sheep including baby lambs and I want one.) And when I say the food in town is good, I mean it’s really good – all the meat, eggs, etc. at the local diner is Animal Welfare Approved. Kind of amazing. We’ve had a blast trying to eat at every restaurant, poking around in the antique shops, and drooling over the postings in the real estate office windows. In no particular order, I bring you my Hudson must-do list.

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1. Caffinate first, every day. The first weekend we spent in Hudson, I had at least five cappuccinos in three days at Moto Coffee Machine. They just do it right. There’s a motorcycle in the window. Tables outside in the sun. And some fine looking pastries to boot, but you may want to save your appetite….

2. Breakfast at Bonfiglio & Bread. This is the breakfast of my dreams: avocado, big crunchy delicious chunks of toasted bread, some greek yogurt, poached eggs, parsley, and chili oil. But this place is also a proper bakery, with delicious breads, bialys, cinammon buns, and a most delightful rhubarb and cream cheese danish, which is probably a day’s allotment of calories but so worth it.

3. Clothes shopping at De Marchin. The owner is really sweet and genuinely excited to show you everything, and she’s got some really great stuff… hats made from one of the oldest hat factories in Rome. Linen skirts made in France. Ridiculously beautiful dresses made out of mattress ticking that look fantastic on the mannequin but terrible on your (my?) body. Last time I was in, she had really great striped linen t-shirts, too.

4. Lunch at Swoon Kitchenbar. They know what a Kir Royale is (some bars don’t – it always blows my mind) and the food is great. The first weekend we came up here, I think we ate here three times. Salads are a true test of detail to me – some restaurants treat them like an afterthought but others treat them like an opportunity, and the kale salad here is a glowing example of what a salad should be. (Take note, Ca’ Mea. Your patio and pastas are delightful but your salads are a bit sad.)

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5. Drive up to Mt. Merino, Sunday-driver style. Imagine what it would be like to have one of those little houses overlooking the Hudson River. Notice how nearly every yard has beautiful blooming lilac trees (in May, anyway). Sigh a little.

6. Shop your heart out for home goods at places like The Hudson Mercantile, Harvey’s Counter, The Finch, Red ChairHudson Home, Ida’s Eye, and Valley Variety. Or at least look. The antique shops in town know what they’ve got, and items are priced accordingly. This isn’t exactly the place to come hoping for a bargain, but at the very least you’ll walk away feeling inspired. Either that or you’ll find the embroidered wall hanging of your dreams.

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7. Take a walk on the side streets. Warren Street is where virtually every shop and restaurant is located, so it can feel a bit bustling. Head over to residential Union and Allen Streets to gaze at the architectural detail offered by nearly every house, including the tiniest Ionic columns I’ve ever seen, doors of every color, whitewashed brick townhouses, and turquoise corbels.

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8. Have a pre-dinner drink at the bar at Fish & Game. Or sit by the fireplace on a beautiful tufted brown leather sofa and drink your drink there. I tend to stick to wine but their cocktail list looks top-notch to me. I also love their red-flocked wallpaper and proper loo with wooden toilet seat! Dinner is available in the form of an ambitious (and somewhat successful) tasting menu.

9. Have dinner at Food Studio. If you’re not sure if the food at a cash-only, Asian-fusion restaurant in the Hudson River Valley will be any good, let me assure you: it’s pretty phenomenal. Fried chicken buns and crispy brussels sprouts with fish-sauce tinged aioli are solid app choices. I had a spicy chicken and rice noodle dish, garnished with loads of fresh herbs and shredded carrot. I ate way past the point of being comfortably satiated to painfully full but I couldn’t really stop myself. MK can vouch for the half roasted chicken with rice and sauteed greens.

10. Have a night cap at Red Dot. It’s a little rough around the edges, but not in a bad way. The bar is open till 4 am. I’m pretty sure that if you want to meet the town weirdos – and I say that with affection – this is the place to be. Alternatively, this is a nice brunch spot. Not exactly for the food (it’s okay) but they do offer a great Bloody Mary and a beautiful backyard space with a little waterfall.

Where to stay:

The Hudson Milliner. I loved our stay in the Fedora Room

Airbnb. Found a great house on Union Street. Listing here.

Hudson Merchant House. Haven’t stayed here yet but I’m keen to try. Looks like a beautiful reno.

 image credit: top photo | second row: Moto Coffee, breakfast at Bonfiglio & Bread | third row: flowers around town | fourth & fifth row: architecture around town | sixth row: waterfall on the Red Dot patio, entrance to Fish & Game, all by lkd

wanderings: south of france

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Better late than never, I suppose. I’m finally paying some attention to photos i took in the south of France back in June of 2013. I spent a few days in Paris (see more about that here) before heading to Cannes for a week and taking a couple solo day trips. One was to Grasse, where I wandered the town and took a tour of legendary perfumery Fragonard. I’m still hooked on their Etoile scent. Another morning, I took a spur of the moment train ride to Antibes (I think it took all of 9 minutes) and walked by the water, peeked around the small but lovely Musée Picasso, (lots of Picasso’s food illustrations!) and had a croque-monsieur to die for before heading back to Cannes and its famed croisette. The day before coming home, we took a  ride over the border to a seaside town in Italy for lunch. Wait, did that all really happen? It’s nice to dust off these old photos and recall memories from this trip – hope you enjoy them, too.

photos 1-7: grasse  |  8-11: antibes  |  12-14: bordighera, italy

explore: paris, part one

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so finally… some paris photos! i love taking photos, i just hate dealing with them once they’re uploaded. this part always takes me a while.

in june i spent three glorious days in paris before heading south to cannes for one week. it was my first trip to france since 1999, and so much was different. last time, i was about a year out of school. i stayed with my sister, who was there as a student and had way too many roommates in a strange apartment filled with inflatable furniture. it was still great, but… this time i was with mk, we stayed in the marais (here; see photos from the neighborhood above) and my goal was simply to eat eat eat, shop a bit, and relax.

well, we were super successful at eating. (and the other stuff!) but mostly at the eating. i’m talking gold medal. (translation: i made myself borderline ill.) it was totally worth it.

i’m not super at-ease, though, taking photos with my big camera in restaurants. it seems so obtrusive to me…plus there is the small fact that i’m really a hobbyist when it comes to photography, not a professional. i like to experiment and learn about my camera outside, where i’m not bothering anybody, but inside… i know i don’t have the right equipment and i’m guessing at the settings more often than not. so i stick to my iphone and instagram for those moments in a restaurant when i just absolutely have to get a photo, and have re-capped some of the food centric pics below. (and you can always follow me on instagram for more…)

as for where we ate? i’m really proud of what we fit into three days… it started with a stunning lunch at Le 6 Paul Bert, (chosen after reading this) after which i decided i really needed to get four eclair from L’Eclair de Genie. not one, to just savor and enjoy. four. a sampling, if you will. i took a bite of each back at the hotel room, decided i might die, and took a nap.

later we found ourselves at the wine bar of Frenchie, drinking a great white wine and holding out for a table, which we finally got! (at the wine bar, not at the restaurant itself – another time.) tip: get there around 7pm, and you might only wait around 90 minutes for a table. but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable wait! our table ended up having a view into the kitchen, and the food was excellent.

another day, another lunch… at Le Meurice, located within the very fancy Hotel Meurice. this was a three-star Michelin meal, and in a word, superb. the kind of meal that makes all subsequent meals suck. this three-hour affair involved duck, foie gras, pasta, octopus, a fried oyster…. and a lot more. needless to say, dinner at the very lovely Spring restaurant underwhelmed – but simply because it followed Le Meurice! judged on it’s own merits, it’s excellent. i believe this day also involved a chocolate pistachio croissant from Du Pains et Des Idees, the best cappiccino of the trip at Ten Belles, and ice cream from Amorino. i also believe this is the day i started to feel like i might be overdoing it. no wonder i could barely eat by the time we got to spring…

i don’t want to make this post too long so i’ll save shopping bits for another time. i also, for the first time ever, created a google map specifically for the trip. i’m obsessed with making maps now, and might post it here if anyone is interested…? there’s a lot of stuff on there i didn’t have time for, so it’s kind of a wishlist in a way, but i love looking at it.

paris_food_IGrow 1: the meal and the scene at Le 6 Paul bert

row 2: snippits from Le Meurice… how amazing is that “apple” dessert?

row 3: inside L’Eclair de Genie, the Frenchie bar menu, and a huge line of people outside a falafel shop in the marais. i was tempted.

row 4: snaps from the newly redone food hall at Le Bon Marche

row 5: pistachio chocolate croissant, the best cappuccino, and great packaging at one of the many sweet shops i poked into.

 

(all photos by laura kinsey for bklynprairie.com)

 

paris!

so here’s some news: i’m leaving for paris and cannes in nine days. the last time i was in paris it was 1999, and since things have undoubtedly changed a ton, i am so, soooo excited. even though it was a beautiful weekend here in nyc, i totally fell down the rabbit hole (aka the internet) doing an astonishing amount of paris research. ninety-eight percent of it food based, of course.

here are a few things i’m really looking forward to:

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HiP-Paris-Blog-Carin-Olsson-Éclairs-111. so forget macaron, everyone is ga-ga now for éclair, and i’m dying to try them at L’Eclair de Genie, which happens to be right down the street from the our hotel. danger.

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2. okay, i guess i’m not immune to the charms of a macaron. i know Ladurée is just wonderful and all, but it’s fussy image has never resonated with me, so i don’t feel that concerned with going there. plus, we have one in new york now if i ever change my mind. i do, however, want to try the selection from Pierre Hermé. the flavor combinations are supposedly vast and extremely creative.

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3. i admit this sounds a little strange, but i keep reading that the roof bar at the Holiday Inn, Le 43, is fantastic. and it’s reservation only. what? am i crazy to want to try it? supposedly the view can’t be beat and the cocktails are killer. i like both of those things… so we’ll see.

frenchiewinebar4. frenchie! i hear it’s impossible to get in, but i am going to give it my best shot. at the very least, i’ll elbow my way into the adjoining wine bar. i’m good at that.

5. well, the fifth thing was going to be the Musée Picasso, but it is closed for renovation till the end of the year. i can’t cry too hard, though. it’s paris, and there is always another museum, right? maybe the Musée de la Poupée, which has over five hundred antique dolls on display. no? (even their website is totally creepy!) okay, maybe Musée d’Orsay or Musée de l’Orangerie will give me my art fix.

(image credits: top two photos by paris in four months, via HIP Paris; third macaron photo by linternaute.com; fourth macaron photo by du-sacre-au-sucre.blogspot.com; fifth photo via HIP Paris; sixth photo courtesy of the Frenchie website.)

picture yourself here: the catskills

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my mother gets credit for finding this one: the graham & co hotel in phoenicia, ny.

seriously, i’d pack my bags this second for a weekend of hikes, bikes, fire pits and hammocks in the Catskills. wouldn’t you?

their branding is great, too. i love how they describe themselves: an update on the traditional weekend away. like this place, the vibe seems to be like summer camp for adults in the best possible way….probably with a lot less attitude, though.

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(images courtesy of the graham & co website)

picture yourself here: the british virgin islands

bkp_villaaquamare_2virgin gorda, to be specific. the villa aquamare looks pretty spectacular. it has to be, since it rents out for 7k a night during the holidays. (with a 10 night minimum stay!) but as long as we’re just imagining things, i say… why not!

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Tokyo!

I’m in Tokyo! Traveling laptop-free, (too heavy) I decided this morning I’d try a post super on-the-go style and am using my mobile phone.

Can I just say how much I love the Tsukiji fish market? Amazing. Supposedly tuna eyes are just delicious…

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happy weekend…

…a day early! i’m headed out of town today. not to venice… but doesn’t it look pretty? i’m going to cleveland, ohio to visit some friends and family. see you next week!

in the meantime, let’s all eat one of these: