Give me sangria or give me death!
The last evening of my mother’s visit my husband and I took her to Casa Mon Amour for dinner. Not only can I say that this was the first time in many, many years that I have seen my mother clean her plate, but the sangria was to die for. Seriously, that shit was like crack— albeit in legal, liquid form.
I queried Beatrice (the beatific proprietress of said restaurant) as to how she made it. Understandably, she was a wee bit vague— and I’m not the kind of girl that swills and tells anyway. All I’m saying is that I savored the little bit of vanilla bean I found in my beverage.
Anyhoo, we struck up a conversation and as I suspected, she has a background as colorful as her sangria. And the sangria having done its work all too effectively, I emailed her later to tell me more (about herself). Again. Beatrice writes:
I was born outside of Paris and moved to Douala, Cameroon when I was 15 days old (pity frequent flyers did not exist in those days). My grandparents started the trend of living in Western Africa in 1950 and all their children followed in one way or the other. By the time I was 6, we moved to Dakar, Senegal for a couple of years. Then it was off to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to spend a year with my grandparents when I was 7 (because my father had gotten a job in Akjoujt, Mauritania where there was no schooling, or hospital or much else for that matter).
My sister and I joined them months later to enjoy living in the Sahara Desert for the following couple of years. My father passed away in 1973, forcing the family to return to France. That was quite traumatic. I had already spent a couple of month’s vacation each year visiting my family in Brittany and in the immediate region of Paris, but at the age of 10 I was not quite ready for my first sight of snow, wearing heavy clothing or dealing with French life in general. I did adapt eventually and took full advantage of being a teenaged college student in Paris. For the following 9 years I visited most of my own country and love the differences from one region to the other. My heart still belongs to Brittany… although I have also traveled some in Europe and to this day wish I would have the time to do more of that.
My first trip to the USA was a mixed bag of results, I went there with my French fianceÃ© who wanted to move to Los Angeles; I hated the place. I can’t live somewhere where I need a car to get a pack of cigarettes. (Hee Hee! — Ed. Note). Thinking it was my first and last trip to the US before returning to Paris, I stopped in New York to visit some friends. I met my daughter’s future father on the last week, fell in love and within a year I had crossed the Atlantic to get married. I have spent the following 15 years between New York and my house in rural Pennsylvania, traveling once or twice a year to Paris or the Carribean. It was the beginning of a true love story with the region and its different culture. I realized that I now longer would feel comfortable in Europe but would never quite fit in the Anglo-Saxon culture either.
After my divorce, I spent 8 years with a Salvadoran man, and travelled all over the Caribbean, Central and South America. I was at the time running a Xmas decoration factory in Greenpoint. Unfortunately, we lost our production to the gigantic machine that is China, and that is how I ended up buying, renovating and making Casa Mon Amour the center of my life.
I donâ€™t know what the future has in store for me, but I have always known that despite of my love for New York City, I will not grow old in such an harsh climatic environment. I fantasize that one day they will be a Casa Mon Amour Bed & Breakfast somewhere in the Dominican Republic or Central America. But time will tell… The only thing that is inside of me at all times, for have always lived like a wanderer, is that I donâ€™t belong anywhere but feel happy everywhere.
The last sentence pretty much sums up Casa Mon Amour; the vittles (and most importantly, the sangria) there will make you feel happy everywhere too. Be sure to ask for the salsa, as it some of the tastiest I have ever had (other than my own, obviously). The fact that it is all very, very inexpensive doesn’t hurt either. Check it out.
Casa Mon Amour
162 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 349 1529
P.S.: Oh yeah, once a month she hosts an evening of French cuisine. Word has it (because she told me) food from southern France (my favorite) is slated for June. Gotta remember to make reservations for that one!