Le Coucou: Worth the Trip!

Le Coucou: Worth the Trip!

Hello, Guys and Gals!

Thank you so much for all the birthday wishes! It was an amazing day filled with greeting cards, email cards, flowers (even my local florist sent flowers!), phone calls, and emails from relatives and friends all over the country. Many of whom have been celebrating with me for a lifetime.

And, of course, there were messages from Facebook friend, who have entered my life more recently, bringing with them richness and warmth. I’m grateful for everyone who made the day special. Especially for my husband who wined me and dined me at the fabulous candlelit Le Coucou.

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A Snowy Day

On a snowy day in January, a writer-friend with a new book to sell, Romalyn Tlighman from California, was in New York for a conference at the Hilton. Romalyn's book, To The Stars Through Difficulties, is a fascinating look at the development of the public library system in Kansas in the early twentieth century under the influence of Andrew Carnegie.  Now available on pre-order on Amazon, it will likewise be available at book stores nationwide in April.

                                                              A Snowplow at Rest on Park Avenue

                                                              A Snowplow at Rest on Park Avenue

We met for lunch at what Zagat calls 'a perennial favorite,' the Trattoria Dell’Arte, on Seventh Avenue. Seated at a table with a view of the street, it was magical watching New Yorkers and visitors slipping and sliding on the slick pavements, while across the street, Carnegie Hall, named after the great American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie,  loomed as unperturbed as ever.  For Romalyn, there was a special connnection. 

                                                Nature's Handiwork on the Upper East Side

                                                Nature's Handiwork on the Upper East Side

By the way, you can tell the native New Yorkers when it snows by the umbrellas they carry!  Whereas hardy Nordic types, don their woolen skis caps with colorful patterns and tuck their chins deeper into their lambskin collars.  

Close by us that day was a table of five, enjoying themselves immensely, apologizing for the glee, explaining they were up from Texas where it never snows. Their enthusiasm was infectious. As it it, cloudy days, rainy days, grey days, and snowy days are my favorites; I never take them for granted.  Still, it was lovely listening to the gusto they brought to the lunch-hour white-out, which, if making the city less discernible, was likewise making it even more enjoyable. In short, it was an enchanted day.   

So, when it snowed this week, with great sheets of white whipping in from the north, I donned my knee-high Hunter boots and my plush soft Hunter socks, to walk in the snow and enjoy that snowy day magic all over again. Time was of the essence, I knew, as it doesn’t take long for a coverlet of white to turn into a slushy grey mound at a crosswalk.

And it didn't take long before I decided the wind was too nippy, that I needed a respite. A snowed-in blackboard on a sidewalk caught my eye: If the brussel sprout soup didn't do it for me, the quiche sounded about right. Ducking inside a neighborhood charmer, Demarchelier on East 86th Street, near Madison, I found all in readiness. Snow or no snow. Including the soft lighting, which I have always appreciated. You can see for yourself the results: a challenging book, a soft, full-boded pinot noir, and a quiche Lorraine. Take a look at that crusty bread, what's not to like! And there's madame, totaling up the bill...

Have you a snowy day favorite place where you like to linger long? Drop a line and tell me about it. Hope to see you next week when I'll have the coffee ready...

Seduced by Paris

Seduced by Paris

On my last three trips to Paris, I’ve chosen to stay in the Marais, not because of its international clientele, lovely art galleries, and trendy boutiques, but for the glimpses it offers of the history of Paris, dating to the 13th century.

Opening the Travel section of today’s New York Times (Sunday, February 5, 2017), I was delighted to find “My Paris: Seduced by the Past,” by Liz Alderman, the Paris-based chief European business correspondent for The New York Times. Liz has lived in the Marais for fifteen years, and, as you might expect, her choices are personal, well-informed, and dear to her heart. Read on!  

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Everything Old is New Again

Everything Old is New Again

When art critics released their best exhibitions for 2016, "Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio" rose to the top of the most discerning lists. As the show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be closing January 16, time is running short. So, drop everything, run right over. If that's not possible, then read on for a fresh look at an old master. And Valentin de Boulogne is an "old master," if one we may not have heard of until now.

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Au Revoir 2016, Bienvenue 2017

Au Revoir 2016, Bienvenue 2017

If you’ve been following this newsletter for a while, you may recall some of the marvelous French restaurants that have come our way this year. And it wasn't all that hard to find them, as French cooking is undergoing something of a renaissance in New York. And while the competition was strong, the standout was Le Coucouwhere our dining experiences have been memorable in every way.

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Meet Max Beckmann in New York

Meet Max Beckmann in New York

Bonjour mes amis!

The current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Max Beckmann in New York," was a breath of fresh air, as well as a chance to revisit an old friend. The focus is on 25 paintings he did between 1920-1948 that would enter New York collections and 14 other paintings done during the sixteen months he and his wife lived in New York (1949-1950).

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Breaking News!

Breaking News!

New York: The fifth annual BEVERLY HILLS INTERNATIONAL 2016 AWARDS® has recognized Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir by Barbara Bracht Donsky as a 2016 FINALIST in the category of memoir.

The competition, with thousands of entries, is judged by experts from all aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. They select the award winners based on overall excellence.

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Calling Audio-Book Fans: 25 Copies Available Free

 Calling Audio-Book Fans:  25 Copies Available Free

After months in the works, this week finds us doing the final edits of the audio-book of Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir.  The Audible version, narrated by Leslie S. Miller, will be released shortly on Amazon, iTunes and through other nationwide outlets. 

Listening last week to Leslie’s reading of my memoir was a joy! I became so carried away, that it was as if I was listening to someone else’s story. So, who is this enchantress?

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Dipping the Madeleine: Finding Your Hidden Memories

Dipping the Madeleine: Finding Your Hidden Memories

After dipping a madeleine in a cup of verbena-infused tea, Proust’s boyhood memories played out before his very eyes. After a few more sips and a few more dips, he transformed his entire life — all that he knew about history, cultural mores, social privilege, art, science, and human nature—into what is arguably the greatest novel of the 20th century. If not a memoir, it’s an autobiographical treatise in the guise of a novel. Dipping the madeleine proved an antidote to the much-dreaded writer’s block.

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Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

 Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

Hello Guys and Gals!

Francophiles keep popping up in my life, the latest being Roni Beth Tower with a fabulous new memoir out this month. Miracle at Midlife: A Transatlantic Romance chronicles a two year courtship between a divorced American attorney living on a converted barge in Paris and a clinical research psychologist working from her home in Connecticut.

Naturally, when Francophiles get together we love nothing better than to talk about all things French. And although it's true that every country has its own customs and rituals, it seems that the French have a unique way of throwing a bachelor party for a young man about to be married.  I hope you will find it as entertaining as I did!  

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Proust's Muse: The Countess Greffulhe

Proust's Muse: The Countess Greffulhe

Calling all Francophiles! Calling all fashionistas! Calling all bookworms!

The stars fell into alignment over The Museum at FIT this week as several international experts on Proust and the Belle Époque, gathered for a fashion symposium marking the opening of a superb exhibition: Proust’s Muse, The Countess Greffulhe.

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Le Bilboquet: A French Toy

Le Bilboquet: A French Toy

A toy? Taking in the posh digs, the white napery and a stunning floral arrangement, I’m thinking: This is one expensive toy! 

Later I googled bilboquet to learn it’s a small wooden cup on a spiked wooden stick attached to a ball on a string. The idea is to toss the ball into the air and catch it in the cup. Good for eye-hand coordination. 

Then I checked Zagat 2016: “One does not go for the food alone to this “see-and-be-seen” UES French bistro that functions as a clubhouse for “power” types like “Euros locals” and “Park Avenue dowagers.”  The mix of personalities made it hard to resist; I made a reservation.

From the get-go, with a 7:30pm reservation on a Saturday night, the place was a-buzz, and the staff could not have been more accommodating, the hostess showing us to her favorite table, a lovely corner table for two.  Once seated, I could see why it was a favorite as it offered an excellent view of the dining room.

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French Comics Framed Festival

French Comics Framed Festival

If you like comics and live in New York, you're in luck! The French Comics Framed Festival featuring leading French cartoonists has arrived in town, with nearly all the events open free to the public. The festival runs from September 27 to November 5, 2016 with events scheduled at various venues. ‘Meet the Artists,' for instance, is scheduled for booth #1558 at the Comic Con Convention Oct.6-9, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. This event, with many attendees wearing the costume of their favorite comic book or video game hero, in not open free to the public. In fact, I've been told it sells out within minutes of the tickets becoming available on-line. Had you wanted to go this week, you would have needed to buy a ticket last April. And thousands did!

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Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven

Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven

Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven,“ opening September 26, 2016 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, does what every monumental exhibit aspires to do: It enlarges the mind and nourishes the spirit. And in this particular case, it brings hope that a luminous city that once brought together people from all over the world, to live and trade in harmony, might become that way again.  The exhibition accomplishes this by opening a portal to a poorly understood era in human history; namely, the Medieval epoch in Jerusalem. That was a time when the city was the one place on earth for which all hearts ached and the focus of three major faiths -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

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Meet Me at the Brooklyn Book Festival!

Meet Me at the Brooklyn Book Festival!

This week there's more news to share, news that's dear to my heart. For many years, while living in Oyster Bay, New York, I had a private practice for children having difficulty in learning to read. Most were not what you’d call dyslexic, though a number of them—all boys—confused the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ and didn’t recognize that ‘p’ was standing on its ‘long leg.’ To them the letters were mirror images of one another.

So we set to work, tracing and writing large on the blackboard, linking the shapes of the letters with the sounds they made -- the Orton-Gillinham method -- while encouraging their parents to read to them so they could hear the beauty of the language and enjoy the magic of children's literature.

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Bienvenue à New York, Le Coucou

Bienvenue à New York, Le Coucou

For those of you following my blog, you’ll remember that last week Veronica’s Grave won a silver medal for memoir in an international competition, with entries coming from more than a dozen countries. Thinking such good news called for a celebration, we headed for one of the hottest destinations in town, Le Coucou on Lafayette Street, sharing as it does the corner at Howard Street with the new Eleven Howard hotel.

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