The Super-Star & the Sandwich: Cotillard & Tartinery

Marion Cotillard, extreme left...

Marion Cotillard, extreme left...

The 2015 Oscar buzz for Best Actress includes the award-winning Marion Cotillard as the depressed wife in Two Days, One Night. Having previously won an Oscar for her spellbinding performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose—only the second time an Oscar was awarded a woman for a non-English speaking performance—she’s up against stiff competition that includes Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike, and Felicity Jones.

When playing Piaf, she bowled me over with her performance, and did it again as the charming Adrianna—“That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me”—who,  in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, steps out of the 1920s to beguile Gil.

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So it was I trotted off to the Lincoln Cinemas with high expectations. But not before checking with Rotten Tomatoes, where critics gave the film a whopping 96 percent, the audience coming in at a respectable 79 percent.

The problem with the film was the premise. After being laid off from her job for having missed work for a few months due to depression, Sandra, played by Marion Cotillard, is given a second chance. She can get her job back IF she’s able to convince her co-workers (how many were there,12?) to give up their bonuses on her behalf. Only then would the company rehire her. And set out she does, going door to door  begging her co-workers to help her.

As you might suspect, some of them agree to give up their bonuses, others refuse outright. That said, the idea that one’s co-workers would decide one’s fate didn’t ring true. And the longer she goes from one to another, the more redundant it feels. Cotillard gives a good performance as the depressed Sandra, but after a while, what with all the scenes of her pill-popping in the bathroom, the film begins to drag.

Within months it should be available on Netflix, and you'll be able to decide for yourself. If you, by chance, are reading this post on Sunday, what are your picks for the Oscars tonight?

That day finding myself siding with the 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, I amble down Broadway, heading east on Central Park South until I reach the Plaza Hotel. Entering the hotel on East 58th Street, straight ahead is the escalator leading to the Food Hall, where my eyes scroll a directory reading like a Who’s Who in New York and Paris—Epicerie Boulud, FP Patisserie Francois Payard, Kusmi Tea from Paris, La Maison du Chocolat, Vive La Crepe, Pain D’Avignon—to stop short at Tartinery. I knew there was a Tartinery on Mulberry Street in Nolita, but had no idea there was one so close to home.

What's a tartine?

An open-face sandwich. But a tartine at Tartinery rises to another level, beginning with the bread. With only 10 seats at the counter, I snag the last one.

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The menu lists the types of breads—Balthazar country, Eli’s multi-grain, and a Poilâne sourdough. Yes, Poilâne from Paris. The thought of a tartine with smashed avocado, asparagus and pumpkin seeds sets my taste buds quivering—if all too soon. The waiter apologizes, saying they’ve sold out that tartine today. Switching adroitly to the Croque Madame, he tells me they make it with the country bread, and that it's the best.

And it was! Move over Jean-Georges. The bread, crispy along the edges and spread with a thin coating of Chameleon, is topped with a slice of tasty ham, Gruyere cheese and a fried egg. With a cup of coffee Americano, it’s sublime. I linger long watching Joe, my waiter, opening a bottle of wine, stopping to sniff the cork. He seesm to know what he's doing.

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He sniffs once, sniffs twice, and then, as if for good measure, sniffs a third time. Not a bad idea, as wine producers admit that on average 10 per cent of wines are corked. But have you ever seen a waiter do that at a fast food place? That Tartinery serves wine at the counter elevates the whole concept of fast food, it?

Gives it a European vibe, a bit of French flair.

At which a refrain from Cyndi Lauper’s 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' starts playing in my brain.  And I am having fun—enjoying the tartine and watching the passing scene. By the way, they’re open Monday to Saturday from 8 AM to 9 PM and on Sunday from 10 AM to 6PM. I’m a fan.

Is this the best fast food ever?

Even though it’s past two o'clock, the Food Hall is mobbed, with many lined up for take-out orders. All around, people are eating lobster rolls, Japanese sushi, Chinese dumplings, Italian pizza, and French tartines.

If you think back over all the fast food places you’ve been to—McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, White Castle, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Subway, to name but a few—do you have a favorite you'd like to tell us about?

Eloise at the Plaza...

Eloise at the Plaza...

In closing, I’d like to thank those who have forwarded any number of good ideas for the blog. The other day, a reader suggested we include an email notification to alert anyone who left a comment on the blog when a response was waiting. Done. So, be sure to keep those ideas coming, be they about technical enhancements or personal preferences.

As an aside: I'm happy to report that Eloise still lives at the Plaza, currently housed in a suite of passionately pink digs off the Food Hall.

Will you take a second to share this post? Hoping to see you next Sunday when BonitaBabs will still be desperately seeking Paris. Jusqu'à ce qu'on se revoie, may life treat you kindly.