Why the French don’t suck. Review: Open house at the Alliance française

Event: Open house at the Alliance française. Tues. Sept 15, 2015


Jacket pressed and wine glass in hand.

Review: One of the highlights of September never to miss is FIAF’s annual open house, which features sample classes, wine, spirits & cheese and a film screening. This year several thousand people got the same idea because it was frickin’ packed! I showed up twenty minutes before the event began and still had to queue up with a mob gathering outside. I’m sorry if I accidently jumped the line, but it was an accident. I swear.

Normally, I’d go to one of the sample classes, but this time I joined French Morning‘s Franco-American chat exchange at FIAF.  It resembled a speed-dating nightmare – Americans wore red mardi gras beads and the French got blue (Allez les Bleus!). The Americans sat, one per table and awaited their French date.

My lucky speed-date number. Note: the cocktail and cannelé. Yummy.

My lucky speed-date number. Note: the cocktail and canelé. Yummy.

Cocktail #2 in the library!

Cocktail #2 in the library!

What was supposed to be language exchange / hook-up turned out to be a near disaster if it weren’t for the booze – an incredibly refreshing orange prosecco cocktail  and the delicious canelé by Célinesmall bouchon-like pastry with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla. I could have had six of them! None of the native French-speakers showed up to speed date. So it became just a group of Americans, sipping drinks and chatting in French with each other. I kinda felt for French Morning because they had no idea what to do, but I wasn’t complaining with a drink in my hand and pastry in the other.

Fromage heaven at FIAF

Fromage heaven at FIAF

I made it to the library to meet some friends and enjoy another cocktail with a sightly sweeter Sauterne-like fortified wine. Finally, I stumbled downstairs with a colleague of mine. The selection of red, white and rosé wines and French cheeses made the evening worthwhile, but happily, I missed the frenzy that was there before.  Afterward, I headed to the Bar Room on 60th Street with my mates for a glass or two of Sancerre rosé before hopping on the subway home. Well worth it.