Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FIAF’s Bastille Day Celebration and 9 Steps to Perfection!

For the third year in a row I honored French National Day by celebrating on 60th Street with FIAF and friends. It wasn’t until last week that I realized I had yet to write a true post about the festival. So this year I’m going to tell you a bit more about a great event, how I celebrate, and hopefully entice you to mark your calendar’s and plan to get to Manhattan for next year’s fête (which according to my estimations should fall exactly on July 14th!).

My friends and I start the day with breakfast and bubbly. Since the festival starts at noon it’s a good idea to have a relaxing morning complete with a filling French-inspired meal and some proper champagne. Egg and cheese crêpes are always a favorite. Though I’ve yet to make them for Bastille day oeufs en cocotte served with a crusty baguette for dipping would be another great choice. If you’re not feeling up to cooking or if you apartment is too sweltering to bear in the city summer (often me) head to any of the city’s pastry shop/cafés- one of the many Le Pain Quotidien will do or get more authentic at MacarOn Café, Dominique Ansel Bakery or La Maison du Macaron. After you’ve had your fill and are feeling a bit light and giggly from the champagne make your way to East 60th Street between Fifth and Lexington Avenues.

There are a number of things you should make sure to do during your time at the Bastille Day Fête:
First: Stop to smell the roses at Ode à la Rose.
You might pick up a small bouquet to bring home, too.
Second: Eat as many macarons as necessary.
Don’t miss MacarOn Café’s special Bastille Day macaron.
Consider picking up a box from Fiancier, Francois Payard and MadMac. You will be craving these once your wine buzz and initial sugar high die down.

Third: Pick up a FIAF button and perhaps learn some new French words, aussi.
This year the new button was “La Vie En Rose” which I, loving pink as I do, couldn’t wait to get (got one for my mom, too!). You will learn some new phrases from these buttons like “NICKEL!” which means perfect. Once you’ve chosen your buttons, deck yourself out without getting too T.G.I.Fridays about it.

Fourth: Hit the wine tasting and cool off inside FIAF’s gorgeous facilities. 
Make your selections carefully and be wary of and pastis cocktails (only have one if you love pastis). However, don’t neglect the beers! In the age of craft and local beers all over it can be easy to forget about the pleasures of imports. For example this year I tried a delicious Corsican beer similar to Blue Moon but much smoother and more refreshing. Drink the beer, leave the pastis.
Then, there is the cheese. People get real crazy with the cheese and snacks so don’t be afraid to fight for your right to fromage. Take extra bread, too.
Really though, don’t miss the Tasting! It is $20 to get in but you get refreshing drinks, a chance to discover a new favorite cheese (I’ve been obsessed with Valbreso Feta since 2011) and perhaps most importantly cool off. The climate inside FIAF is arctic in the best way possible compared to the muggy summer outside.
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Fifth: Take your giddy wine buzz outside and go dance and carouse to that year’s musical guests.
The previous two years I discovered two new awesome bands thanks to FIAF. This year I was less impressed with their choice but merely because the songs were mostly instrumental without such fun lyrics as my old favorite from Les Sans Culottes circa 2010 “Baguette Magique!” (If you didn’t know baguette magique means wand, think Harry Potter, en français). Last year Banda Magda rocked the block with their fun fusion style, our favorites last year were the sing-along cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Couleur Café” and their upbeat “Amour T’es La” which is always good for a pick me up.
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Sixth: Catch the Can-Can Dancers in action!
If possible secure a photo with them.

Seventh: Eat a bit more.
You may be hungry for something more substantial than wine, cheese and macarons at this point. Try some kebabs, (more) crêpes, or non-macaron treats like the mini treats from Canelé by Céline (try the rose canelé).
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Eighth: Take fun photos with your friends to remember your fun day.
Posing with le mime is always good for a memorable laugh.

And lastly: End the day with another meal shared with friends.
Keep it French themed or maybe make it light but finish the day with your friends, a little bit more wine and another tempting meal. You will want to rehash the events of the day and talk about your plans for next year.

If you were at the Bastille Day celebration I hope you had as much fun as I always do. If not, follow these nine simple steps for a wonderful time in 2013! As always, thank you to FIAF for another great party!

See more photos in my Bastille Day 2012 album on Facebook book! 

Follow FIAF on Facebook: French Institute Alliance Franciase
And on Twitter: @FIAFNY

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