This weekend, I revisited one of my favorite movies, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. For a large part of this stressful midterm season, my happy place has been sitting in front of a Netflix show with a tub of ice cream, free of responsibility. But after watching the film again, I have traded that vision for one of Paris.
I’m not sure if it was Signey Bichet’s “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere” accompanying the opening scenes or Allen’s soft, lomographic direction that inspired my rosy-colored wonder, but right now, I’d do anything to traipse the Champs-Élysées or spend a day at the Louvre Museum. And like Gil, the film’s main character, merely walking down the cobblestone streets would inspire me, as my idols, literary giants and artistic geniuses of the early 20th century, once made the city their playground.
Putting aside potential adventures in the City of Lights for now, I sought to hold over these experiences with ones in Los Angeles. I first visited a charming brasserie called Little Next Door, the sister restaurant to the fancier The Little Door. Located in West Hollywood, the restaurant, upon entering, displays prominent French decor, with its mosaic tiling, royal blue walls and stained glass. The open patio seating also adds to its laid-back vibe — one dinner party even brought along their dogs.
Most of the menu was tantalizing, especially the steak-frites, a classic French dish. I was also intrigued by the “hambourgeois” just for the name, but in the end, I settled on the fettucine. The plate came with a simple assembly of artichokes, tomato confit, olives and parmesan cheese on the side. Unlike heavy, creamy pasta, this dish, with a generous serving size, presented light flavors that complemented one another and left just enough room for post-dinner coffee and pastries.
At Little Next Door, I ordered a mixed berry fruit tart, and even though the fruit toppings of the dessert were fresh and delectable, it did leave me craving for macarons. With six locations throughout Southern California, ‘Lette has some of the best macarons I have ever tried, though we’ll see with the opening of Laduree early next year. Nevertheless, for now, ‘Lette’s Little Tokyo location provides easy access to students looking for a cheaper alternative to the macarons at Bottega Louie. I much prefer the flavors I usually get — vanilla, Earl Grey and salted caramel — at ‘Lette as well.
Inspired by all the good food I was surrounded by, I decided to channel my inner Julia Child and visit a French marketplace in order to recreate the Little Next Door’s menu items. Ten minutes away from the restaurant, located at the Grove’s farmer’s market, is a store called Monsieur Marcel. The market has a local, mom-and-pop-shop feel, and is stocked to the brim in wines, cheeses and pasta. It’s definitely a great place to check out for culinary creations, but halfway through I became overwhelmed by the process of actually cooking for once, so I left empty-handed and a future visit to Little Next Door already planned.
In the end, I always thought back to theme of Midnight in Paris, when Gil realizes that though his nostalgic tendencies shaped him into the dreamy writer he is, it romanticized his worldview, leading him to avoid living in the present. I know that I’ll always have Paris, but for now, I have to live in my present in L.A.
Danni Wang is a senior majoring in psychology. She is also the associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column. “Abroad at Home,” runs every other Wednesday.