September 3, 2012  |  featured, inspiration  |  No Comments

Walking on Union Street the other day, I stopped by Vivo. This boutique carries a great selection of Parisian fashion, so it should be on anyone’s list. I love their clothes because they are so different from what you see in American stores. The quality is magnifique! I still get compliments on tops that I wear which I bought there 10 years ago. Pants, unique tops, sweaters, sassy dresses, scarves, gorgeous raincoats and more, including some clothing from Italian designers, line the walls of this welcoming store. The styles, colors, fabric combinations, even playfulness of the clothes, reflect modern Parisian trends and European taste. Try some clothes on and the whole experience would make you smile. And if you are smaller than 42-44 European size (12), you will be in heaven… You will find anything you need to make you feel like you just landed from a two weeks trip in France and maybe Italy. There is a big sale happening right now – 50% off all summer clothes. The average price range is between $100 and $250, but there are plenty of nice tops under that price, and now with sales, you can get them even cheaper. I hope you love your Vivo experience and that this boutique will become part of your shopping destination in our beautiful San Francisco.

VIVO  2124 Union Street, San Francisco

Phone: (415) 931-6888

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Maison Bouche

Maison Bouche

April 5, 2012  |  featured, inspiration  |  No Comments

It takes a woman of passion to create such an incredible collection of chocolates in the style of 18th century French artisan chocolate-making. Diane Beaty, the founder of Maison Bouche is not your regular entrepreneur. She has taste and she has style. As long as she can remember, she has been fascinated with European architecture, Baroque art (however over the top it may be), Marie-Antoinette, French Fashion and everything that relates to 18Th century France. The name Maison Bouche refers to the kitchens in Versailles, and yes, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette had their own.

Diane always had a thing for European candy companies with their beautiful crafted labels, their fine packaging and exquisite details. Every time she stops in Paris, she visits the famous patisserie Ladurée for inspiration, pays homage to the Costume Museums, brings home Mariage Frères tea, and savors cheese omelet in a Parisian café. “So simple,” she says, “so basic, yet so satisfying.”

When she embarked on a new adventure–creating a chocolate company–she decided to replicate as much as she can an old-fashioned way of making candies. Everything is hand-made in small batches, undergoes a process of trial and error, is tasted many times over, thus persevering the human aspect of artisan making and offering chocolates lovers something with personality.

Her “Couture and Confections” collection will surprise you with flavors like crêpe suzette, sablé croquant, almond croissant, fleur de sel, crème brûlée, compote de rhubarbe aux fraises. “The flavors are very subtle,” she says, yet resistant to the passage of time. The chocolate bars are categorized as Les Fleurs, les Épices, les Croquants, Les Fruits, Les Spécilaités et Les Diversités. For every holiday, there is always something new, and to celebrate Easter, Diane has made a basket of eggs, carrots and cookies, all in chocolate of course. Her bestselling flavor remains Fleur de sel, and although her products change, her signature collections can be ordered all year around.

Diane invites you to step back into 18th century Versailles and enjoy fun packaging–feminine and whimsical as she describes it, chosen from her own collection of French and Victorian antique images–and moments of pure chocolate delight and joy. For a complete list of stores carrying her products, please visit Maison Bouche’s web site ( where all chocolates can also be ordered.


Couture and Confections Collection (18 c French Costumes)

Botanical collection (18 c French Prints)

Best selling bar Fleur de Sel (available in two different wrappers black and white, taken from an antique map of Paris).


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Philippe Gardelle - The Chef Artist of Chapeau!

Philippe Gardelle – The Chef Artist of Chapeau!

February 8, 2012  |  featured, food & drink  |  No Comments

When you enter Chapeau! and look around, you can’t miss Philippe Gardelle, the chef and owner, stopping from table to table greeting customers. That is when he is not in the kitchen. Laughing and cheerful, his love and appreciation pour over all, faithful clients and newbies to his food. It is fun watching his theatrical personality in action in the restaurant that bears his signature and style on Clement Street. Gardelle has made a name for himself on the San Francisco culinary scene over the years, and his success is due to his immense love of the craft and his passion to share it with others. When you see a chef putting so much meticulous effort and poetry into his food – the decoration of the plates, the colors of his dishes – and into the human connection, then you understand why Chapeau’s has been voted Best French Bistro in San Francisco by Zagat for many years in a row.

A self-taught chef and proud of it, he creates all his recipes by using French techniques spiced with his prolific imagination. The results are unique flavors to make you come back for more. And the food is superb and the ambiance of his small Brasserie is perfect to enjoy it. The salmon-roulade à la sauce mayonnaise is not only beautiful to watch but it is to die for when you taste it. If you’ve never tasted sweetbreads, it’s time to expand your palate and try them here, there is no better place to order them. As for the scallop risotto, I don’t know how to describe it. It was so good, the taste so refined, I still remember it! Nuage de noix is Philippe’s favorite dessert. It has been crafted with love mixed with nougatine, pistachios, roasted hazelnuts, Italian meringue, whip cream and soupe à l’orange – a terrific mix to satisfy any sweet tooth. The chocolate soufflé is also a must.

There is another dimension to this creative man, and it is writing. His own recipes are written beautifully like poems. He wished he could have been alive at the time of Baudelaire or Toulouse-Lautrec. Hélas! Every time he has a day off from work, he stays alone in silence with himself and writes stories. He recites his own poetry and talks with enthusiasm about his historical fiction in the making, taking place in the last century. And the story of Chapeau! Well, that is another story involving a play he wrote. He staged it and played a character wearing a hat, something he couldn’t do in real life. And after the play, he wore the hat every day until he opened Chapeau!, with an exclamation point, meaning hats off!

As he was talking to me, he saw clients leaving the restaurant, he excused himself and went to kiss them goodbuy, the French way, kisses on the cheeks. He came back and said: “San Francisco is a series of beautiful movie scenes but Paris is a post card.” And sometimes, as everyone does, he tends to get a little nostalgic, and then he misses some things from his French past:

Le produit laitier, l’arrière pays, Le Pont Neuf, La Fnac, La Seine and l’humour français.

To meet Philippe in person and taste his beautiful culinary creations, rendez-vous at Chapeau! on 126 Clement Street.

Phone: (415) 750-9787

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