Monday, August 31, 2015

2 Nights in Paris

The Eiffel Tower

Bonjour à tous! When we come to Germany, it is definitely for family time, so we don't tend to travel much within Europe, unless it's for daytrips within Germany (e.g. Rüdesheim am Rhein; Strasbourg) or short getaways with the family (e.g. Amsterdam last week). And speaking of family time, check out the #schatzisindeutschland hashtag on Instagram to see all the wonderful German home cooking we've been enjoying whilst here!

However, I did manage to squeeze in a short two-night trip to Paris earlier this week, to catch up with my friend Clarice, a fellow foodie and all-around lovely person, who has called Paris home for the last eight years. (Kinda like Rachel Khoo, but infinitely more awesome!) Prior to the trip, we were emailing back and forth to plan out all our meals and created a pretty ambitious itinerary. Looking back over the photos, I cannot believe how much we managed to eat in such a short span of time! Let's take a look!

So, my train arrived in Paris around one o'clock on a Monday afternoon, and I had a few hours to spare until I was due to meet Clarice, so I'd prepared myself a little walking tour of Aussie-style coffee shops, to keep me busy (and well caffeinated!) until it was time to meet up. First up was Ten Belles (10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 Paris), a mere ten minute walk from the Gare de l'Est (East Station).

Ten Belles

Ten Belles

Ten Belles is a tiny little cafe that feels very Melbourne, and I'm pleased to say the coffee was delicious! I had a great cappuccino and an excellent chocolate chip cookie, which had an addictive little pop of salt in it. Def recommend this place!

Cappuccino - 4€, Chocolate Chip Cookie - 1.5€

Street art

From here I walked across the city to South Pigalle, and stopped in at KB Cafeshop (53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris), formerly Kooka Boora cafe. (Tip for tourists, they have free wifi on weekdays, woohoo!)

KB Cafeshop

KB Cafeshop

These guys make juices, sell coffee beans to take home, as well as brunches, house baked cakes and all manner of coffees. I asked how they made their piccolos - double ristretto shot with steamed milk in a short glass. Just like my beloved magics (double ristretto three quarter flat white), which I'd been seriously missing whilst in Europe. I practically inhaled the delicious piccolo, and also gracefully enjoyed a piece of moist and spicy carrot cake.

Piccolo (double ristretto short latte), Carrot Cake - 4

And from here I went to meet Clarice, yay! We knew that we'd both be quite tired (me from the travel, Clarice from a full day of work), so rather than hitting the town, we decided to have a picnic dinner at her place! We bought a whole lotta goodies from the newly renovated Lafayette Gourmet, in the Galeries Lafayette department store (40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris). The cheese counters there are ridiculous! Love!

Goats cheese!

Dinner that night was a piece of brie, Comté, a circle of Selles-sur-Cher (raw-milk goats cheese), some grapes, some baguette, and a rilette de canard with piment d'espelette (duck rilette with basque espelette pepper). And a bottle of Chablis. Delicious!

Cheese platter!

Clarice also made a wonderful salad - David Lebovitz' fresh corn, tomato, avocado and basil salad. Super fresh and crunchy!

David Lebovitz' fresh corn, tomato, avocado and basil salad

The next morning, we got up bright and early for a full day of food! Having visited Paris a few times now, there weren't any touristy sites that I wanted to visit, but Clarice cleverly suggested we take buses everywhere, even though the metro is easier and faster, so that I could get to see the beautiful city as we travelled from place to place. Another bonus of having a local to guide me around! "Oh yes, there will be a view of the Eiffel Tower / Louvre / other spectacular monument coming up on your right". Hooray!

Eiffel Tower

Breakfast was at my beloved Sadaharu Aoki (56 Boulevard de Port Royal, 75005 Paris). It was total matcha madness! We each had a matcha croissant, and shared a matcha canelé and a matcha mille feuille. As well as an espresso each and a pot of genmaicha because matcha is not the only tea. I'm happy to report that it was just as lovely as I remember. (See my previous posts on Sadaharu Aoki, from 2011 and 2013).

Breakfast at Sadaharu Aoki

Matcha croissant

Sadaharu Aoki's matcha croissant is still one of my favourite things to eat. Look all that green flaky buttery goodness!

Matcha canelé


Matcha mille feuille

And because too much matcha is never enough... I also bought a matcha madeleine to take away, which I enjoyed the next morning as a dessert after breakfast. (Don't judge me!)

Sadaharu Aoki matcha madeleine

From Sadaharu Aoki, we took a bus to Pigalle and had a wander around the Pigalle and Montmartre area - lots of cute little shops here!

Berries!

And with some extra time until lunch, we stopped back in at KB Cafeshop for coffee. Turns out that Clarice drinks piccolos too! (BFFs amirite!)

Two x Piccolo

We chose Le Bon Georges (45 Rue St-Georges, 75009 PARIS) for lunch, a traditional French bistro with a focus on the provenance of ingredients. We'd read about this place on David Lebovitz' blog and really wanted to try it! This was the first day they'd re-opened after the August holidays, so I'm lucky the timing coincided with my trip. (Clarice had the great idea to call at 11am to reserve a table for us, and I'm glad she did, because it was very busy!)

Le Bon Georges

Le Bon Georges

They had a two course lunch for 19€, where you could choose an entree or dessert, and the main dish of the day. (Excellent value!) On this day it happened to be pork fillet mingon served with chanterelle mushroom sauce. Our neighbouring table ordered this, and it did indeed look delicious, but we were both craving beef so decided to treat ourselves and order à la carte.

Bread

Steak Tartare 24€

Clarice's steak tartare was just incredible! In addition to the usual mustard and capers, the tartare also included pine nuts and fine shavings of Parmesan cheese. The frites were also excellent, lovely and crispy on the outside, and almost creamy on the inside.

I ordered the steak polmard, which you could order either bleu or saignante (blue or bloody) - perfect for me! It was served simply with some salad leaves dressed in a mustardy vinaigrette. I also ordered a glass of wine on the side, a generous pour of Bourgogne. (I had no idea how to navigate the wine list, so just asked for a red wine, "un peu plus légère, s'il vous plaît").

Steak Polmard 29€

The steak was just gorgeous - incredibly soft and tender, and really flavourful. Since this lunch, I've learned that Polmard is a very small supplier with exacting standards, and you can certainly taste it in the finished product.

Mmmmmm

Each main dish comes with an included side - there was the choice of frites, green beans, gratinated chard or buckwheat. As you can see, we ordered frites (of course), and chose the buckwheat as the second side. This was perfectly cooked, with a little bite to the grains, and was well seasoned.

Buckwheat

The lunch at Le Bon Georges was just fantastic, with excellent food, a cosy atmosphere and friendly, efficient service. I highly recommend it!

From here, we took a long and slow walk across town to the Jacques Genin salon de thé. Google Maps tells me this was about a 40 minute walk, but it didn't feel that difficult because the weather was nice, we walked at a leisurely pace and were chatting the whole way. Clarice also pointed lots of cool sights out to me, like the Folies Bergère and the Place de la République - things that were cool to look at, but that I wouldn't necessarily have made a special trip to see, given the limited time frame.

The Statue of Republic, Place de la République

Jacques Genin (133 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris), on the other hand, definitely warranted a special visit. Clarice tells me there's often a queue for the limited seating there, but we lucked out and there wasn't a queue when we arrived. Chocolates and caramels are available to purchase, and there is a small menu of drinks and pastries for dining in, as well as specials, which change day to day. From memory, there was a lemon tart, a raspberry tart and a walnut and honey tart on offer that day, but I went for the classic hot chocolate and his famous mille feuille, which is assembled to order.

Chocolate chaud

Look how thick that hot chocolate is! It was really lovely, rich but not too sweet. I carefully savoured the hot chocolate, drinking it by the teaspoonful. You'll also see the hot chocolate comes with complimentary pralines. Being so full, I only managed to taste one, which had the unexpected but lovely taste of fresh coriander infused throughout the centre. (Don't worry, the remaining pralines didn't go to waste - we wrapped them up carefully and brought the precious cargo home!)

Mille feuille

And with no disrespect to Sadaharu Aoki, this mille feuille was the best mille feuille I have ever had! Incredibly flaky, buttery pastry and a gorgeous vanilla-flecked crème. I'm already trying to plan my next trip to Paris so I can eat this again!

Mille Feuille

Clarice went for the chou à la crème - a classic choux puff filled with vanilla bean crème pâtissière, with a crackly caramelised sugar top. I don't need to tell you how good this was - just look at it!

Chou à la Crème

Chou à la Crème

We were absolutely stuffed! We then took a nice walk through the Marais and then went home to collapse, enjoy some more cheese and Chablis for dinner and watch a few episodes of Parks and Recreation. Yay!

The next morning, we had a gorgeous breakfast at home, with some matcha granola that Clarice had made (the recipe is based on one from She Who Eats), which included dried blueberries, pistachios, pepitas and little flecks of matcha chocolate. Wonderful.

Clarice's matcha granola

We ate the granola with thick Turkish yogurt, organic almond milk, some berries and little cups of strong and sweet Indonesian coffee. I actually picked up a tablette of matcha chocolate from Sadaharu Aoki while we were there, so I'm looking forward to making the matcha granola once I'm back in Melbourne!

Breakfast!

We took a walk through the Président Wilson Market (Avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris), where Clarice bought some groceries and I got some gifts from the non food stores.

Seafood

Insufficient Potatoes

I find it interesting that the poultry are sold with heads, beaks and (sometimes) feathers, to show off their species.

Poultry!

The Joël Thiébault fruit and vegetable stand is famous (indeed, they supply Le Bon Georges), and if you get to the market early, you can see Parisian chefs taking a coveted spot behind the counter, picking out the best produce for their restaurants, while regular customers line up at the front.

The Joël Thiébault stall

And from here we had just enough time to swing past Galeries Lafayette again, to stock up on last minute gifts (éclairs, macarons, chocolates), and get me some snacks from Lafayette Gourmet for the train ride home!

Galeries Lafayette

Cinco Jotas, Lafayette Gourmet

Cinco Jotas "Bocata" Ciabatta; Pierre Hermé macarons; L'éclair de génie éclairs

The Bocata Ciabatta (7€) I bought contained Palette Ibérique race pure Bellota, as well as thin shavings of raw-milk Manchego cheese and tomato puree. Subsequent Googling has taught me that "Palette Ibérique race pure Bellota" means that the ham comes from the front legs of a pure Iberico pig "fed on a diet of acorns during the Montanera and granted DO status. These hams are aged for at least three years before being released and often labelled 'reserva' and 'gran reserva' to denote their age". (Source: The Guardian). It was... literally... one of the best things I have ever eaten! The ham was so soft and a little sweet, combined with the sharp manchego and the tomato purée, and a drizzle of excellent extra virgin olive oil - I savoured every mouthful!

Paleta Ibérico pure race Bellota

Sandra's mum had asked me to bring her an éclair back to Germany, which I ended up getting from the L'éclair de Génie outlet at Lafayette Gourmet. I got her a chocolate éclair, and with some gentle prodding from Clarice (it didn't take much convincing), I bought myself a passionfruit and raspberry one for the train ride. So good! I loved the addition of crispy raspberry pieces on top as well.

L'éclair de génie éclairs - chocolat - 5€; passionfruit et framboise - 5.50€

Of course, I just had to buy myself some of my favourite Pierre Hermé macarons, which Sandra and I have been savouring ever since I got back to Germany. Mogador (chocolate and passionfruit) for the win!

Pierre Hermé Macarons - Mogador; Salted Caramel, Pink grapefruit & Yogurt; Jasmine; Ispahan

Big thanks to Clarice for a super-fun, food-filled couple of days! Anyone with foodie recommendations for Paris, please hit me up in the comments! Hopefully I'll be able to make another trip sooner rather than later!

You can read about my previous trips to Paris here:
And! You can also read about mine and Clarice's previous holiday through Europe in the "Europe 2006" label.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Weekend in Amsterdam

Hey hey! Back in Germany now after a couple of fun days away in Amsterdam with Sandra and her parents. Unlike previous trips to Amsterdam during backpacking jaunts in my early twenties, this was very much a family friendly, G-rated trip! Here's what we got up to!

Canal in De Pijp, Amsterdam-Zuid

We stayed in a fancy-pants airbnb in a quiet neighbourhood just outside of the city centre. The apartment was really spacious and comfortable, and it was close to tram stops, which provided easy access to all the main attractions. There were also lots of nice cafes and shops (like Marqt!) within easy walking distance.

One of the many bedrooms

Lounge room

View from the rooftop

Nearby tram stop at Olympiaplein

For dinner on our first night, we went to Delirium Cafe (Piet Heinkade 4-6-8, 1019 BR Amsterdam), the Dutch outpost of a Belgian cafe that has over 720 beers on their menu. Apart from the very good bitterballen, the food here wasn't particularly memorable. But the service was friendly, we enjoyed our beers, and we got a good view of some of the boats that were coming through for SAIL Amsterdam 2015. (We saw a submarine! A submarine!)

Delerium Cafe

Bitterballen with mustard; meatballs with satay sauce; beer

Clockwise from top left: Cheeseburger; Grilled chicken; Schnitzel; Pork loin 

The next morning, we had breakfast at Bakken met Passie (Albert Cuypstraat 53, 1072 CM Amsterdam), a super cute bakery and cafe near the Albert Cuyp market. We were on the tram on the way to the market, I spotted the cafe out of the corner of my eye and suggested we go there for breakfast. It was really really good! So much so that we came back for breakfast the next day as well. All their goods are baked in house, and we can highly recommend the worteltaart mit romige topping (carrot cake with cream cheese icing), the ham / kaas croissant (ham and cheese croissants) and the saucijzenbroodje (veal sausage rolls).

Bakken met Passie

Bakken met Passie

Bakken Met Passie

Bakken Met Passie

Bakken Met Passie

Bread, jam, fresh mint tea

Ham and cheese croissants, coffee

Veal sausage rolls

We then spent a pleasant morning wandering down the Albert Cuyp Market, looking at all the stalls selling knickknacks, food, juices, clothing, fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh seafood and more.

Albert Cuyp Market

Brood

Poffertjes!

Fresh fish

Smoked fish

I got to try a couple of local specialities, including raw herring with pickle and onion. I was worried the taste might be a little strong for early in the morning (all that raw onion on top!) but it was really great - soft and sour and salty and overall delicious!

Herring stand!

Raw herring with onions and gherkin, 2.50 Euro

The next morning, we visited the market again so I could get a freshly baked stroopwafel (crisp cinnamon-scented waffle biscuit filled with caramel)! Yay! I got the first one of the day, and it was amaaaaaazing. (Yes, I was waiting at the stall while the guy set it up, with a crazy stroopwafel look in my eyes, hehe).

Stroopwafels

Freshly baked stroopwafel

Mmm... caramel

I also bought a tin of smaller stroopwaffels to bring home; looking forward to trying them with a cup of tea!

Another market worth visiting is the Bloemenmarkt, a huge flower market located on Singel between Muntplein and Koningsplein. You can buy all sorts of flowers, bulbs and plants here. Sadly we can't bring any of these back to Australia, but it was a nice place for a walk, and Sandra's mum bought a few tulip bulbs and plants to bring back to Germany.

Muntplein

Peonies!

Flowers!

In the afternoon, we took a canal cruise, which was a lovely way to see the city! On our way from the flower market to the cruise, I was thrilled to see Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters were doing a pop-up in the centre of town! (It's in the Urban Oufitters store, 30 Rokin). Lot Sixty One is an Australian-style cafe started by Aussie expats, which I'd heard about because an acquaintance of mine happens to bake their cakes (Baked in Amsterdam is his business FYI - hah, puns!) I'd hoped to visit their original cafe to get my coffee fix, but it was a little out of the way for us so I had to drop it off the itinerary. So I was happy to stumble across their pop-up - I got me a nice flat white and a slice of banana bread - yay!

Lot 61 Pop-up, Urban Outfitters, (Rokin 30, 1012 KT Amsterdam)

Dinner that night was at Moeders (Rozengracht 251, 1016 SX Amsterdam), a cute, quirky restaurant that serves homestyle Dutch food. It's also very popular - you will need to book.

Moeders

If you want, you can bring a photo of your mum and they'll put it up on the walls!

Moeders

Beer!

We were really impressed by the pea and ham soup, which was hearty and had an appealingly home-made flavour.

Pea and ham soup

Sandra and I shared the rijsttafel, which was a selection of different Dutch specialities. Subsequent googling has told me that rijsttafel literally means "rice table", and comes from the Indonesian idea of nasi padang - i.e. many different dishes in small portions.

Moeders Rijsttafel

So! The three main dishes were stamppot (mashed potato mixed with spinach, served with rookwurst sausage and bacon); suddervlees (stewed steak, in the red pot); and hachée (hashed beef, like a slow-cooked beef stew, in the white pot at the front). The side dishes were potatoes cooked in herbs and butter; boiled potatoes; apple sauce; rhubarb sauce and red cabbage. Wow! This was 19€ per person for two people, and there was so much food! It could have easily served three. Sandra's favourite was the hachée, which I thought tasted like the inside of an Aussie meat pie, and I loved the stamppot.

Interestingly enough, the menu specified that the rookwurst came from Hema (yes, the Dutch discount retail chain that specialises in affordable homewares). Check out my foodie friend and Dutch food expert Paola's post on Hema's rookwurst - apparently it's a Dutch culinary icon! And it was very tasty.

Amsterdam

And that was our trip to Amsterdam! It was really chillaxed and a lot of fun, and I'm glad I got to try a couple of culinary specialities on this trip. (See my post on a previous trip to Amsterdam in 2006).