Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Free Museum Sundays in Paris



Every first Sunday of the month, museums in and around Paris open their doors for free. It's a great way to explore the museums with a little bit of planning, to check out which museums are open during which months.

Here's a quick summary of the main museums: 

Monday, 30 December 2013

Provins


A quick drive through the French countryside took us to Provins, a little fortified medieval town east of Paris yesterday. It was a nice low key afternoon trip back to the Middle Ages allowing us to wander through the town at our own pace. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Provins is well preserved, well restored and a relaxing escape from the city, by train it's only 1h24m away from Gare de l'Est (free if you have a Zone 1-5 Navigo card, 14€ return trip otherwise).

Friday, 27 December 2013

Joyeux (Bûche de) Noël


This Christmas we attempted to make the traditional Bûche de Noël (Christmas Log Cake), with more success than last year. I like this cake because of the dense packed tea cake texture of the sponge (genoise) and the rum and chestnut cream filling. It's a bit sweet on its own for me, but goes perfectly with a flute of bubbly champagne at midnight on Christmas Eve! 

Here's the recipe we used, it's not too difficult, I'll say the hardest part is the rolling of the sponge. Oh and bringing yourself to add the amount of butter and sugar in the recipe. I usually turn a blind eye when John adds the butter and sugar because I get too scared watching that part. Plus, I know I'll enjoy the cake more when I'm unaware of those quantities.

Bûche de Noël chocolat et crème aux marrons (Chocolate and Chestnut Cream Yule Log)


Chocolate and Chestnut Cream Yule Log
Sponge
60g flour
40g cornstarch
4 eggs
140g sugar
50g butter

Filling
400g chestnut cream
150g softened butter
2 teaspoons of rum

'Icing'
50g dark chocolate 

Preparation - 60 minutes 
Baking - 10 minutes
Rest - 12 hours

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas in Paris - 5 things to do for under 10€

1. Christmas lights

Take a walk to see all the beautiful Christmas lights on Avenue Montaigne, the Champs Élysées and throughout Paris and in front of the "mairie" of each arrondissement.
(FREE)

Champs Elysées

Outside the mairie of the 13th arrondissement

2. The Christmas Markets 

Sure, it might feel a bit touristy and kitschy but who cares. Close your eyes and smell the mulled wine in the air, along with the freshly dusted cinnamon on the "chi chi"s (churros) wafting towards you before defrosting in the Samsung tent. 
(Mulled wine 4€, giant serving of "chi chi" 5€)


3. The Ferris Wheel

Capture views of Paris from up above.
(Ticket 10€)

   
Hazy view from above

4. Window displays

Take a walk around Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, BHV, Le Bon Marché and other department stores to look at all the beautiful window displays. Defrost inside and take a walk around to see the equally beautiful in-store displays. 
(FREE)
BHV

Inside Galeries Lafayette (main building)

5. Ice skating 

Now, I did break my collarbone this time last year ice skating for the very first time in my life, but I still remain fond of this Wintertime activity. Maybe it's because I'm from Australia and outdoor ice skating just doesn't exist where I'm from. It's a fantastic deal (unlimited ice skating for a flat fee) and a truly magical experience at the same time (for a Southern Hemispherian like me!). If you aren't able to put on the skates, it's worth coming to visit just to watch ice skaters glide effortlessly over the ice and amateurs precariously hold onto the railings. Entertaining, gripping and action packed in more ways than you can imagine. 

There are a few places you can ice skate this year, here are the top three recommendations.

Hotel de Ville - 21st December 2013 to 2nd March 2014 (5€ skate hire fee)
Trocadéro - 12th December 2013 to 5th January 2014 (5€ skate hire fee)
Champs Élysées Christmas Markets - 15th November 2013 to 5th January 2014 (10€ adults 8€ children under 12 skate hire fee)


Skating in the winter sunshine




Christmas baking efforts from the domestically challenged

Cooking and baking are not my fortes I'm not going to lie. I love trying to cook or bake and, I'm consistently optimistic and ambitious at each attempt (secretly hoping that this will be the one time where everything will turn out perfectly and I will fluke it to the finish line!) but of course, this rarely happens. 

Normally what happens is that something small will go wrong first. Then I'll get flustered and then a series of other things will start to go wrong (to keep the first thing that went wrong company). Then I will become highly stressed and panic about how I've completely ruined Christmas, the world, life as we know it. 

Hence, this is why this blog is not a cooking or baking blog. 

See my recent Christmas cookie baking effort below:


Ps I am 31 years old.