Monday, April 7, 2014

Spotlight - Modern day Renaissance man: Diego Borella

It's only fitting that I start my "spotlight" series on Diego Borella. I met Diego (a.k.a Grande Diego) on the Île Saint-Louis at the Café Saint-Régis on a very warm summer day almost two years ago. Even before this charming, larger than life Venetian cracked open that first bottle of rosé, I knew within seconds this guy was one of a kind (he hasn’t proven me wrong since). A modern day renaissance man, Diego adds a flair of artistry in everything he does from cooking, cocktail-making, acting, producing, and even in the way he talks and walks.

Although Diego now lives in London, he still has his residence on Île Saint Louis. When he is back in town and we are lucky enough to call him neighbor, you can usually find a few of the young island locals at his abode, deep in a friendly (or not so friendly) game of poker.  

"Here on the island, the magic never stops. The more you stay here, the more you get used to this little glorious and pathetic village". - Diego Borella

KG: How many years did you live on Ile Saint Louis?

DB:  My memory is very strange at times. I have always been convinced that I lived on the island for 3 years. But then I actually did the calculation and it was 7. A friend said I had lived on the island for 9, but that didn’t match my biography so I would say 7 years. Now that I think about it, it could not be 3 years because I have spent at least 8 new year’s eve here.

KG: On the island do you have a favorite restaurant?

DG:  Yes, even though we have lost a few amazing places over the years, the brasserie on the top of the island is absolutely mandatory. The atmosphere is what you want from Paris and they don’t play with that, they just deliver. It’s one of the places where you can spend the entire day and never get bored (even though they could use a refresh on their menu but that is like many places in Paris if I may say…). 

I am also one of the orphans at Café Saint Regis. A bottle of wine at sunset on that terrace is unbeatable. I am in love with the family of butchers here on the island. Even if I don’t feel like eating meat, I go and buy kilos of something just in order to receive some recipes suggested to me that always contain butter, oil, every possible animal and mechanical fat (of course all needed even when cooking one little piece of lamb). So, that is usually what or where I am eating when I am in Paris.  

KG: If you could recommend one thing to a tourist spending a few hours on the island, what would that be?

DB: The island is extremely different from season to season. It’s amazing in every season but as you know in the summer the island is a sort of open air alcoholic brothel. It’s inhabited 24/7; people catching sun, flirting with each other, eating and drinking on the quais--it’s actually one of the best things to do in Paris. Those same people probably pass out and sleep on the island during the night so they can wake up, get a coffee in order to do it all over again (urinating in the street in the little pauses, puking in front of my door, when it’s not me....). So, I recommend in the summer just get some water proof shoes and walk through this living hell/ major paradise.

My days are usually spent drinking myself out of myself, and going to the swingers club. It’s full of old woman and very bad looking men, usually only bad looking men. Actually, this is the reason I left Paris, very bad looking men. 

This all is only part of the truth. In summer the island is extremely lively. In the winter it’s like most of Paris, café’s with heated terraces. In the winter, walking through the island and sitting along the river is pretty magical as well.

So, no matter the season--walking, shopping and stopping for a drink here and there, that is the thing to do here on the island. 

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