Saturday, 12 November 2016

Three (adventurous) Drinks You Have to Try in Paris

Tried every clichéd Parisian experience in the book already? Sick and tired of ordering chocolat chauds and café crèmes and un verre de vin rouge? But at the same time don't want to be the one ordering green smoothies, chai lattes or a Coke in Paris? 

Here are my top three Parisian-esque drinks you have to try out on your next trip to Paris. Classic French drinks at heart, with a little twist for those looking for une petite aventure...!

(By the way, just letting you know I found and paid for all of these drinks on my own, this isn't an ad of any sort and I don't get anything in return, it's just how I blog). 


1. Blue cheese espresso 



Yes you heard it right. STINKY SALTY BLUE CHEESE, with your ESPRESSO. It even comes out on a slate and a little fork! Your freshly made espresso will come served with a teeny side dish of crumbly punchy blue cheese (as you can see they aren't stingy on the cheese serving!) 

Not for the faint hearted nor espresso worshipers.  

When I first saw this on the menu my eyes lit up. I don't even normally have espressos as more than often my stomach pays for the caffeine hit afterwards. But this time I couldn't resist. Whenever was I going to be able to have a chance to try this weird ass concoction again in my life? Carpe diem Nhan! a voice whispered in my head (obviously my greedy FOMO brain talking over my stomach). 

So what do you do with it? You break off a piece of crumbly, pungent blue cheese with your tiny fork then gently dip it into the espresso. You close your eyes, hesitate, then just put it into your mouth without blinking (because obviously, your eyes are already closed). You're then pleasantly surprised as it doesn't actually taste as bad as it sounds. You savour the fusion of creamy pungent salty cheese with the bitterness of the espresso and wash it down with a little chaser sip of espresso. Believe me, you'll curiously want to go back for more. It's a texture-based experience as much as a flavour-based one.

My Love for Paris tip? Be careful with the blue cheese floaties that will want to congregate in your espresso and pay attention to timing. Hot espresso with blue cheese is better than cold espresso with blue cheese. Just sayin'.

Where to get this drink? 

3ter rue Marcadet 75018 Paris
Nearest metro: Marx Dormoy or Marcadet Poissonniers 

(other places to check out in this area: rue Ordener with the ever changing street art graffiti wall, Grand Train and a little Cambodian restaurant tucked away towards Marx Dormoy way that I was taken to by my friend's Chinese Cambodian French uncle that I'll blog about another day).


2. Oyster hot chocolate 


For those who aren't into seafood, to be honest I don't know how you'll respond to this one. For anyone who is like me who will actually go out of their way to choose the most bizarre looking thing on the menu, go for it! (and while you're at it, hit me up because I'm always looking for people who won't start getting nervous when I order a blue cheese espresso, or an oyster hot chocolate). 

Now unlike the previous experience which was salty vs bitter, this concoction is salty-marine-like vs sweet. Just warning you in advance because it does play around with the mental FOMO stakes a bit. Even if you never have the chance to have an oyster hot chocolate again in your life, would you even want it..? For me, the voice inside my head was whispering louder this time "it doesn't matter, try it anyway, just for the hell of it". To which I replied: "ohhh ALRIGHT THEN!".

What did it taste like? A bit of an ambush really. Your mouth is in this constant state of wary, hesitant confusion. You take an initial hesitant sip because unlike the previous blue cheese espresso, you were able to visually register the piece of blue cheese surrounded in a little pool of espresso. I mean it was you after all who physically dipped it in there. But this time, the hot chocolate comes all prepared beforehand, oyster flavours already in place. You have no idea of how much there will be, how intense it will be, what form it will be in, liquid, pieces, chunks? If I were in an Asian restaurant, would I find a whole oyster in there..?

It's actually a little exciting, for me anyway. So you'll press your lips to the edge of the cup and tilt, ever so gently. "Ooh, it's not too bad" you'll say to yourself, "wow the oyster taste is so discreet, I can hardly taste it, all I can taste is the smooth yet not too thick and not too sweet hot chocolate"Then before you know it, BANG! The salty oyster taste ambushes your taste buds and your eyes will dart from side to side, your brain is trying to understand what's happening in your mouth. 

You'll go in for another sip because your mouth feels confused and wants to get to the bottom of this. But you won't go in with as much gung ho as the blue cheese espresso second sip because once again, theoretically, this sip could have very different concentrations of oyster flavour. Your brain will hesitate, it'll feel like a déjavu but that voice in your head will win. Each time.  

Where do you get this drink?

231 rue Saint Honoré 75001 Paris
Nearest metro: Concorde or Tuilieries

(the fancy side of Paris - be prepared for fancy prices too)


3. Coffee champagne

My third recommendation is the easiest one to try. It's a very pleasant experience and relatively sane in terms of choice. It also has a lovely side effect. 

You see, Parisians love having 'apéros' - this kind of happy hour/after work drinks thing, except it doesn't have to be after work, it can be any day really. It normally starts around 6pm or so in the evening and lasts a couple of hours before they go to dinner. It consists of light drinks and nibbles and fits in well with the late dinner schedules of Europeans. 

The problem for me, being Asian Australian is that firstly, I'm genetically Asian, which means my alcohol tolerance isn't fantastic but I can blame the genetic coding of my alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme expression for this. So basically, I feel the effects of alcohol faster than everyone else (I also have to wear foundation when I know there will be drinks involved that day). Secondly, in Australia, we have dinner at around 7pm unlike Europeans (you'll find some restaurants don't open until 7:30pm). So 'apéros' usually translate to me drinking on an empty stomach, going crazy on the nibbles because I'm starving by then and also feeling tired and sleepy from the alcohol by the time we get around to dinner.

So, this coffee champagne concoction is perfect. The champagne is light and bubbly and the coffee provides me with a gentle caffeine kick to keep me awake to get me towards the 9pm dinner time slot.  



Created and made in house, you are served with a wine glass of champagne instead of your standard flute. A coffee infused ice cube is dropped into your glass before being served and as the ice cube melts, the fine bubbles dance away in your glass. Every refreshing sip is actually.. 'delightful' (and I rarely ever use the word 'delightful'). 

It's like a light, bubbly, chilled soirée being held in your mouth. Like a secret art exhibition opening but you and your close friends have snuck away up onto the rooftop with the artist for five minutes so they could show you something cool.

Where do you get this drink?

51 rue du Temple 75004 Paris
Nearest metro: Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville  


Enjoy! X

Monday, 19 September 2016

Galettes de Sarrasin - Easy Savoury Buckwheat Crêpe recipe



As some of you may know, I'm a little domestically challenged in the kitchen. It's probably more Frenchie's home turf - the kitchen, more than mine. When we first moved in together, I confided in a friend who had lived in Paris before about my feelings of incompetence when it came to my culinary abilities. Don't get me wrong I'm fantastic at appreciating, tasting, savouring and trying literally everything and anything on offer (including oyster hot chocolates and blue cheese espressos). But Frenchie is just more apt at the whole process of creating these finished products. 

Which is why you've probably seen a lack of French cooking posts on my blog, EXCEPT for those recipes that I personally deem foolproof/super easy..! 

This Buckwheat Crêpe Recipe is one of them (and also gluten free for those interested). 



INGREDIENTS:

Galette de sarrasin mixture 
500g of buckwheat flour 
800mL - 1L of water 
5g salt (if possible the sel de guerande French variety) - add more/less depending on your taste  

Galette fillings 
Lettuce 
Tomatoes
Ham 
Sautéed mushrooms, onions and parsley (seasoned to taste) 
Eggs 
Grated Emmental cheese 
A dollop of crème fraîche 


METHOD:



Measure out 500g of buckwheat flour into a large mixing bowl. Dig a little hole at the top and crack an egg into the hole. Add salt then start to whisk the mixture as you add the water little by little. Make sure the mixture gets aerated during whisking, there should be lots of bubbles. 



Put aside mixture for at least two hours to rest. Add some more water if the mixture thickens after rest. The mixture shouldn't be too thick, it should be the consistency of a crêpe mixture. 

Lightly butter the crêpe pan and gently pour the galette mixture into the pan. It should be thin and crispy and bubbly with lots of little holes! 



Make your 6 galettes one after another and put them aside. 


ASSEMBLY:

Pop a galette back onto the crêpe pan on gentle heat. What we do here is lightly pre-fry an egg before transferring it to the galette on the crêpe pan.



Add remaining ingredients (sautéed mushrooms with onion and parsley, diced tomatoes, emmental cheese to melt) then the dollop of crème fraîche and ham before gently closing up the galette so that the outside becomes a little crispy while the inside melts together. 



Remove from the crêpe pan and serve with some lettuce on the side. 

Bon appétit..! 




Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Military Parade, Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower and the Firemen's Balls- Le Quatorze Juillet/Bastille Day trifecta in Paris Guide


Every year on the 14th of July, Paris celebrates its biggest event on the French calendar - its national day "la fête nationale" commonly referred to as "le quatorze juillet" by Frenchies and "Bastille Day" by English speaking countries around the world. 

What does it commemorate?

Two things: 

1. The Storming of Bastille


Sunday, 10 July 2016

The BEST View of Paris - Tour de St Jacques


I'm in my fifth year of being in Paris and I can't believe it's only now that I have finally gotten around to visiting the Tour de Saint Jacques. This is a My Love for Paris MUST SEE, a much lesser known attraction admittedly because it has been closed for the majority of its 500 year old history. 

Offering one of the best views of Paris I have ever seen (and I've seen quite a few in my time here), the Tour de Saint Jacques will take your breath away with its 360 degree 54 metre high view of Paris. By the time you climb up the 300 steps, you will be oohing and ahhing at every single monument you can see.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Paris RATP Metro Pranks Commuters on April Fool's Day..!!


The French RATP group of the Paris Metro System got in on April Fool's Day (known as "Poisson d'avril" in France) with metro name change pranks that caught commuters by surprise.

About 13 metro stations were replaced with new names, drawing on hilarious play on words aka "les blagues de papa" (Dad jokes) as I like to call them. 

First up was the station "PREMIER AVRIL" (1st of APRIL) which replaced the station "QUATRE SEPTEMBER" (4th of SEPTEMBER). This metro station was originally named "the 4th of September" to commemorate the date of which the third French Republic was declared. Today, it would commemorate the RATP's April Fool's Day prank instead!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM PARIS - the French Alps



Kicking off a new series of blog posts about weekend getaways from Paris is one about our recent trip to the snow! Here's the essential information:


DESTINATION : the French Alps 

NEAREST CITY : Annecy 

EXACT LOCATION : Centre Nordique d'Agy, Saint-Sigismond 

DURATION : 2.5 days - left Paris Friday afternoon, came back Sunday night (ready for work Monday morning)

THINGS TO DO : trekking/walking, sledding/sledging/tobogganing, skiing, Husky rides, snow angel making, snow name writing 

DISTANCES AND TRAVEL TIMES : 
Paris - Annecy (559km, about 5-6 hours depending on traffic)
Annecy to Centre Nordique d'Agy (75km, about 1 hour)

Thursday, 11 February 2016

My Top 5 Transport Apps for Getting Around Paris


My top five favourite apps for getting around Paris (and they are all free as well!). 

1. RATP

I use this app every single day. The best function is the route planner. You just plug in your start and end points (the address or metro station) and Bob's your uncle, it'll give you the exact directions (metro, train, buses, trams - whatever you select although I tend to stick to the metro because there is less chance of getting lost that way) of how to get there. It will also estimate the time needed to arrive at your destination (I always add on an extra 5-10 minutes for delays/wrong turns). 

To double check, rule of thumb is to allocate 2 minutes for every station and 5 minutes for each station change to be on the safe side. 
Best of all, the app is available in English and there are always three options to choose from: fastest, least amount of walking and least amount changes. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

2016 Parisian WINTER SALES


THE WINTER SALES ie "les soldes" will officially begin at 8am, Wednesday 6th January. So brace yourself for exactly 6 weeks of markdowns and price slashes throughout the month and up until Tuesday the 16th February 2016.

Major "soldes" are big thing in France because French laws tightly regulate when stores can and cannot heavily reduce their prices. I'm assuming it was put in place to protect businesses so that the big stores couldn't drive out the smaller ones with their power to discount whenever they wanted, all year round. This way, all stores are treated the same at least regarding the time frame they are allowed to be on sale, regardless of their capacity to slash their prices. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Four weeks on from the Paris attacks


It has been four weeks since the Paris attacks and it is only now that I can say our lives have started to get back to normal. Whatever our interpretation of  "normal" is anyway.

Tonight for the first time since the attacks, Frenchie and I went out after we both finished work. We walked into an old Parisian bar in the 3rd arrondissement, not too renovated nor modern nor hipster and perched ourselves at the counter. It was apéro time, drinks and a platter to share on a Friday night after finishing the working week. Across the bar we could see the delicate slices of chiffonade jambon being shaved and falling ever so gently onto our plate from the machine, the old fashioned way. 

It felt nice being there. It was the first time we'd gone out at night to a bar since the attacks. It felt like life was finally getting back on track. It felt like time to write this post. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Biocoop 21 - the first PACKAGING-FREE supermarket in Paris


My favourite place in Paris at the very moment isn't anywhere fancy nor monumental. 

It's in the 10th arrondissement at number 14 rue du Château d'Eau where Biocoop 21, along with the help of SEAMEST, a City of Paris organisation supporting the maintenance and development of local trade, has just set up shop.

Biocoop is your French fair trade, organic, local and environmentally responsible supermarket supplying quality produce and household items around France. And a few days ago, it opened its very first supermarket in Paris with ZERO PACKAGING and ZERO WASTE. 

ZERO PACKAGING

Customers are encouraged to bring their own jars, bottles, bags, containers etc. to transport their purchases home. For those who aren't able to, bottles, cloth pouches and 'algobols' made from 100% recycled algae are available for their initial purchase to be refilled at your future shop.

ZERO WASTE

*Sous les fraises ("under the strawberries") is the waste conscious eco-friendly French startup that will manage the responsible disposal of all compostable organic waste material produced by Biocoop 21.

*PHENIX is the organisation that will recuperate all unsold produce and distribute it to associations and charities to help those in need.