Making Merry, Mary and Fred, France and Food

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I want to Talk about the Holiday Countdown, the wonderful Willards, and a Paris restaurant to celebrate….

The endless dessert at Taillevent. Lucky Lawrence and Lawrence.

CHRISTMAS-HANUKKAH: This is a year when Hanukkah and Christmas meet, offering a double glow of joy and family celebrations, full of intended beneficence.

Whoa: More than a few friends have expressed a paralysis, a jolt. Where to begin? And how to meet one’s own expectations? Whoa. Slow down now, take it easy — whoa. Deep breath, a glimmer of reality, and let the spirit move you. Here’s where I’ll wish you a peaceful and Merry Christmas, and a Hanukkah that’s full of family and love. Blessings. Easy now….

WILLARD WORLD: It’s always jolly to think about Fred and Mary Willard. Besides cheering their friends with a Christmas songfest (at their most Christmassy house), Fred is appearing at the El Portal in (back by popular demand) A Cinderella Christmas, along with a bevy of talented television stars. They open Dec. 22 and that will surely bump up the Christmas spirit! And check out “Fred Willard’s MoHo’s Sketch Comedy Group.” Writers and performers creating fun together. The Energizer Bunny is a wuss next to Fred. Hooray for talent. Hooray for local theatre. And Hooray for the mighty wonderful movies that are overflowing at the close of 2011.

I want to throw in a huzzah for the stunning film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. There is something amazing here that all who respect performance must see. After winning Teen Jeopardy, Thomas Horn was spotted to audition, and was cast in an integral role. It’s like an extraordinary, insightful, brilliant young human brushed by this motion picture and left a bit of genius for us all to appreciate and wonder. Whatever Thomas Horn chooses do with his gifted life, the afterglow of his first time in the movies will stay with me for the rest of mine.

TAILLEVENT: If Paris is your Holiday destination, I must mention Le Restaurant Taillevent. Be sure and make a reservation, no matter when you might be there, as it is historically wonderful and very popular with Parisians and visitors alike. Recently celebrating its 65th anniversary, a question was asked: “Is your cooking traditional or contemporary?” The answer: “We unceasingly renew tradition.” And, it is unceasingly terrific. This restaurant manages to evoke a well-bred, respectful, distinctly French air that’s at the same time totally comfortable. Starting with the staff and their respect for the client, the seasons, and high quality. The owner, Valeri Vrinat, daughter of one of the world’s most celebrated chef/ restaurateurs, sets the tone. Taillevent’s Director, Jean-Marie Ancher, follows through, takes pleasure in welcoming you, and takes care of your happiness while you are under this roof. Alain Soliveres, Head Chef, strongly believes in tradition and innovation, his motto, “Haute cuisine is based on simplicity.” Simply special, I say. And now, the not-so-simple Pastry Chef, the young Matthieu Bijou, has a strong belief in exigency and precision, his motto, “Tout mon savoir-faire au service de la gourmandise et des gourmands.” Trust me, he succeeds.

Here are some Le Restaurant Taillevent’s significant dates: 1946, opened at the end of WWII; 1948, First Michelin Star; 1954, Second Michelin Star; 1993, Third Michelin Star; 2011, Jackie Joseph-Lawrence enjoys her first lunch at Taillevent.

The website is delectable, Google, oogle, viewgle. And in the top left corner, under the word “Taillevent,” click on the British flag for English. I’ll leave you with a few words to savor, Mille feuille de saumon fume, Au bois de hêtre et raifort (see the photo, I hope), and in boring English, Risotto with Mushrooms, Salmon, a wine list of great distinction … It was the most beautiful and delicious lunch topped by a dessert that was a delicate parade of sweets, with a granita made with grenadine, pink champagne, and mint tea. I long for it all now … until next time….

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