All pictures by Cece.
This makes me want to cook something colorful.
All pictures by Cece.
This makes me want to cook something colorful.
Cece lives on the same street as this place.
She loves the tree that looks like it is growing out the side of the building. It is like a sign that beneath this tree is a whole other world. While I was in France, she made me find our way home from the metro, just to test me, and this is what differentiated all the similar looking narrow streets of Paris. The morning of my last day there, she wanted to go sit in the garden and hang out until we were ready to start our day.
This place is mentioned in a French magazine for being one of the cutest hidden spots in France. And she is so lucky to just walk across the street practically. A midst the busy city, you can get find yourself in a quiet garden, sipping tea and enjoying the tiny birds pecking at your croissant crumbs.
I wish there was a place like this I can escape to momentarily…which is probably why I started creating my balcony oasis at home (finally). It is free to get into the garden area (we didn’t go into the museum/house). There is a little shop inside the garden which has some bites, as well as tea, coffee and other drinks.
Check it out the next time you are in Paris!
The big debate. Laduree or Pierre Herme. Let me just say this…its pretty much your preference, classic or modern. Maybe I don’t have the advanced palate for these delicate treats but neither of them were like, “OH MY GOD WOW I LOVE IT’. Just me. I actually prefer the ones I get at home from Michel Patisserie *gasp*.
Laduree is a cute, old style place. You can come and have a dainty tea time with your girlfriends (pinky up of course).
Pierre Herme is definitely “cooler”. Fancy fusion of flavors, some of the macarons even sparkle!
But between the two, which do I prefer?
What can I say? I prefer the classic flavors!
Amour, Amor, Amore…that’s love. For our farewell dinner, we decided to go to Hotel Amour. We saw the cute garden seating and decided it would be a nice place to say good bye. The restaurant was part of the hotel. The hotel itself was themed around love and sex. Pictures of nude ladies, as well has a well endowed Mickey Mouse decorate the inside. The garden seating is a courtyard where the walls are covered in ivy and little birds harass your feet.
The staff were all attractive young women, who all could speak English. The courtyard was green and lush. And of course completely booked. We were so hungry we didn’t mind eating inside. But one of the ladies said she had one table and not to tell anyone *wink*. So we got to eat outside. Like most of the restaurants in France it was a prix fixe menu. I chose to start with the artichokes with mimolette, and for my entree, the roast chicken.
The starter was raw artichokes, celery leaves, mimolette cheese all lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple, but the combination worked to create a savory starter. The chicken was served with a side of haricots verts. It tasted like it was marinated in italian dressing with orange zest and hazelnuts. The chicken was served with an au jus underneath. Perfectly juicy inside, and the skin was soooo crisp. I wish I could roast a chicken like that. It was half a chicken, so I couldn’t finish, and they don’t let you take it home. So I ate all the skin and as much chicken as I could before I had to walk away from that plate!
Lucky its within walking distance, so Cece could go there whenever she wanted to for dinner. She got a burger and fries, and I LOVED the fries. Yes, they gave her ketchup. I was trying to research more information to share on the artist that owns this hotel (who has also opened one in NYC) but I couldn’t find any. But from what I am told, he is a street artist name Andre who’s known work is his love graffiti. So this hotel makes sense, because it goes with that theme. You can also rent the rooms by the hour, if you and your mistress need a place to shack up. I didn’t get to check it out, but it makes sense considering the decor inside.
So next time you are in Paris, try the chicken at Hotel Amour! They speak English.
Warning, picture overload!!!!
I couldn’t think of a cool way to share all my pictures. So here it is, in YOUR FACE. Can you name every thing?
August in the south of France. That is where some of the Parisians go when they need to desert the tourist ridden city. Cece and I weren’t any different. After spending some quality time in the city, we decided it was time to dip our toes and lay out on the beach. Or in my case, hide under an umbrella.
We got to the train station bright and early to begin our 5 hour journey to the south. We chose the idZen option for the train. You get to chose between idZen and idZap. Zen being the quiet calm train, for those who want to sleep and rest. Zap being the train for chatters, cell phone users and people who don’t mind a little noise. After consuming my croissant and pain au chocolat, I settled in ready for a nice nap on the train.
This is a lie. 4 teenaged girls decided that they were going to use the idZen to giggle, talk loudly and crinkle their food wrappings. I was not a happy camper. Cece put on her headphones and found some solace in the noise, but I didn’t wanna sleep in earbuds. After numerous dirty looks, which didn’t work, I gave up. I couldn’t even cuss them out if I wanted to because they wouldn’t have understood me. Ugh. I just went ahead and read my book and ate my mousse au chocolat.
We arrived in Nice, and then took a regional train for Beaulieu sur Mer. I was told that all the people living here are very wealthy, which makes it a nicer place to stay than the busy Nice. Cece’s parents own an apartment there, so we headed straight for that and got ready for the beach. Once we had our beach gear packed, we stopped at Super U, the market, and picked up a baguette and some charcuterie, cheeses and fruit.
The beach was something I’ve never experienced before. My beach adventures were limited to America, so that included lakes, the Atlantic and the Pacific. Here we are at the Mediterranean Sea with the most amazing clear water. The seaweed was a little weird though. It was seaweed flakes, versus actually weeds, so I was covered in it by the end of the day. Here, they aren’t sand beaches, but tiny pebbles. I thought it might be hard on my feet, but it was fine, however it was REALLY REALLY HOT! There we enjoyed people watching. There were plenty of topless women and speedo wearing men, the stereotypes are true. However don’t get too excited guys, its usually old boobs that you DON’T wanna see. One lady who was also wearing a thong, and had completely leathery skin decided she was going to exercise topless at the edge of the water for all to see. I’m not that much of a prude, but think of the children woman!
When we had enough, we walked back up the hills to the apartment. Cece has a cousin, Vanhvilay, who said she would take us out for some wine at her friend’s cafe. There we had amazing rose wine, and olive breadsticks, not to mention some other savory bites. Her friend’s name was Francesco, and his parents moved to the south of France when he was 8, from Tuscany, Italy. When I asked them why they decided to live in France over Italy, they told me because they fell in love with the town and didn’t want to leave. Here everyone knows each other, even though British and Italian tourists run rampant. It has a great community feel, and like all beach side towns, its laid back and easy going. For the most part (some of the other tourists weren’t a fan of my ink and made it very clear with their facial expressions).
Vanvilay’s friends invited us to continue the night in Monaco, which is where the young and hip people go to hang out in the later hours. I guess Beaulieu is too quiet and calm for them. Monaco is its own city state. Run by a prince and heavily guarded upon entry (though were weren’t stopped, probably because Vanhvilay works there and they already have her plates on file). It was beautiful that night and bustling. However, they chose an American themed bar called Stars and Bars… I don’t know if they were trying to make me comfortable or what, but I wasn’t a fan. The menu had “American” items, like chicken fingers and burgers. I opted for a glass of rose and some guacamole. Bad choice. But the company was fun and I had a good night. Thanks, V!
The next morning we headed to the beach again, this time to a smaller much closer spot. Less bared nipples as well. Don’t get me wrong, there were still some, just not as much.
When we got back we decided to have a glass of wine at one of the cafes, then we came back and had charcuteries on the balcony. I finished a couple books, journaled, and watched the fireworks show. What a good way to end the night.
The next morning we cleaned up and decided to spend our day in Nice.
We finally had moules-frites (mussels and french fries), and explored a little. More about the food in another post. Nice is very popular. Plenty of people on their beautiful beaches, but also plenty of crazies.
We walked from old Nice, to new, and boy was is different. From Cece’s Parisian perspective, Nice was dirty. And also the people were very…different. There were lots of women who I thought resembled the Octomom. Complete with stringy black hair, big sunglasses, huge lips and tiny puppy. What made it even more noticeable was they hung out together! Cece later told me they were “travs” which is the french slang for transvestite prostitutes. Surprise!
Before we got on the train we had some sushi and gyoza from a cute Japanese restaurant complete with zen garden inside. Then it was time for the train and head back to the city. The ride was pretty uneventful. We took idZap, but it was surprisingly quieter than the idZen train on the way there.
When we got back, we were so tired and delirious on the metro, that we were the crazies that people were avoiding in the metro station. My contacts were dry, so I was making weird blinking faces, which amused Cece to the point of obnoxious giggles. We looked SO crazy that, one of the guys on the train, bolted from the station and as soon as he was far enough. He started walking again, and looking back at us. Whoops. But I think it is better to be the crazy, then get chased by one.
I love you south of France. Until we meet again!
If you know me, then you know that I went to France with the top priority to EAT. I chose to go eat, over going into the Eiffel Tower. Yea, I know, terrible.
Lets talk about charcuterie. I love it. The first “french” food I had when I got there, was french bread and charcuterie. This is pretty much a plate of meats. Hams, sausages, bacon, and pate. Sometimes you can get it with cheese, and little pickles. It is served with butter and french breach. This was my staple. I wanted it all the time. Too bad that I came back to America and am prepping for a cleanse, because I would eat it all the time here too.
The cheeses, the butter, the mayo, the baked goods…everything smells so heavenly and tastes even better. If I had to pinpoint what France smells like, I would say butter and cigarettes. Here, ketchup isn’t left on the the table with the salt and pepper. You can get freshly whipped mayo to dip your fries and anything else into.
In my opinion, everything is expensive. And not just because the dollar to the euro is pricey, but because food in general is expensive…except foods in charcuterie! A lot of the restaurants have only prix fixe menus. It is much cheaper to hit the market and cook at home. But if you are a Parisian in the middle of the city, your kitchen is pretty much non existent. My cousin eats a lot of simple foods that can be prepped without a stovetop, microwave or oven! Crazy. I know. Lets just say we had a lot of charcuterie…and I loved every minute of it. Brie, camembert, pate, these were much cheaper than they are in America…probably because we have to import it. For example, a wedge of brie is $8-14 but in France 1 euro! I definitely ate a LOT of cheese while I was there, what lactose intolerance?
For breakfast, we went to Chez Prune, where for breakfast you got a basket of breads, a plate, and a dessert.
For Dinner we had more charcuterie. And a really hard to open bottle of wine.
We went to their Japanese town for ramen and bubble tea. The ramen still can’t touch Toki Underground, and the bubble tea is a lot different than I expected…it was actual tea, with a mango syrup for flavoring. The balls were delicious though.
I waited my whole trip, for moules-frites. Mussels and french fries. And what better place to have it than at the south of France? For 14,50 euros we got this…
I’ve never had such tasty mussels in my life. The french fries were scoop shaped, so I got a good amount of mayo on every fry. Crisp outside and hot mealy goodness inside. The mussels themselves were perfection. Provencale herbs, right amount of seasoning, creamy, buttery and the touch of lemon and wine to freshen things up. It was unfortunate for my belly that it wasn’t any bigger. The pot alone had at LEAST a hundred mussels and I could only fit half of it. If we knew the portion was going to be so large, we would have shared. I was so sad to waste it. They don’t let you take food in doggie bags by the way. In case you were wondering. Anywhere in France actually. Maybe even Europe.
Here’s more pictures of food to make you hungry. I want to go back and eat.
Time for a snapshot of my trip!
This was the first time that I’ve traveled out of the country alone, as an adult. Sorry to those who had to hear of my endless anxiety about making sure everything goes smoothly. I love you guys for putting up with me. Packed and ready to go I left after work. Once on the plane, I watched The Five Year Engagement then took some melatonin and knocked out until about an hour left in the flight. They served me two meals and everyone spoke french. LOVED IT. Did I mention I flew AirFrance?
When I got there it took me about two hours to get through customs and get my luggage. Then Cece and Caroline met me at the door with an American themed “Miemo” doodle. We got in their tiny french car, and headed to the suburbs outside of Paris to see my Aunt, Uncle and Mami Boo (grandma). There we caught up on family stuff and feasted on dumplings, eggrolls, saucisson sec, and pho.
After that we headed to Cece’s apartment in the city.
The rest of the trip consisted of sightseeing all the things that I have to see in Paris, you know the usual..
We spent a lot of time in cafes, drinking tea, eating charcuteries, and writing in my journal. I’ve never had such amazing baguettes in my life. And the butter?! And cheese?? Croissants and pain au chocolat, oh my. If we didn’t walk so much I probably would have came home 10 lbs heavier. I had macarons from three different places. I love the food here.
After spending quality time in Paris, we decided no vacation would be complete without lazying in our bikinis, so we headed to the south of France, to splash in the Mediterranean Sea. We took the train to Nice, then took a regional train to Beaulieu sur Mer, a much nicer area of the south than Nice. From there we had other adventures, including a random trip to Monaco!
Then it was time to come back for one last day in the City of Lights before I came home to America. We had tea in a garden where you can escape from the city, we shopped for souvenirs, drank in cafes, and had our goodbye dinner at Hotel Amour.
Stayed tuned for more detailed France Adventures
After a week away, unplugged, with just my camera and my notebook, I am back! So many adventures and sights to share. Obviously I will break down the trip into multiple posts, so bear with me.
At this time, I’d like to give a shout out to my family, The Martins, Cece, Caroline, Uncle Phillipe, Auntie Mani and Mami Boo, also Vannvilay. And new friends Many, Djoodar, and Nabil. You guys made my trip AMAZING and its so weird to be around English speakers still.
Lets talk about macarons. You know those pretty little cookie sandwiches that are littered all over pinterest with their bright colors and so tasty look. I think there are more people that haven’t had them that has. Usually big cities, such as New York and DC will have bakeries will have somewhere for you to get a taste. But if you are looking elsewhere they aren’t THAT easy to find. I loved looking at pictures of them, and I had this big fantasy of what they would taste like. I have this weird way of being able to calculate the ingredients in recipes and pre-taste them in my mind. Sound peculiar, but usually works.
When I saw the recipe for them, and calculated it in my head. I couldn’t taste them. So I had to go find some. And I did. Let me tell you though. My first time I had them, I did NOT see what the big deal was…and I sat there and tasted about 10 different ones. Not that I would cast this decision so quickly, I found another bakery, to give it another change. It was the Swiss Bakery, in Burke. They were mini, and they were chocolate…and they still didn’t wow me. Feeling like I will have to try them in France to really be sure that I don’t like them… I gave it another chance. Michel Patisserie seemed to be the big provider of these baked delicacies in the area so I decided to try his.
I ordered a box of 30 for a friend’s birthday, so that other people could have a chance to try it (50% of the party had not tasted one ever, and the rest had one “a long time ago”). I placed an order, and they said I could pick it up at Artfully Chocolate in Delray. While I was there I picked up 4 flavors of my own to try.. Key Lime, Pistachio, Caramel and Raspberry. OH MY GOODNESS. GUESS WHAT?
I love macarons.
Really I do. The crisp of the first bite, the soft melting in the middle, the swirl of flavors in your mouth…win. Why didn’t I like this before?! It was an experience. If you want to try a macaron for the first time, remember this one thing. Get a WHOLE one to yourself. I just realized why I didn’t like it the first time. The first time, I bought so many, and had to share the flavors so we cut them. The second time, it was too small to get the whole “first bite” experience. This third time, really was the charm. I am in lust. I can’t wait to try them in France…OH WAIT I will be eating them next weekend in the City of Lights! Lucky me!
Au revoir mes amis!