Paris by Liza et Vie part three

As the song goes, sweets for my sweets and sugar for my honey…. Last day sugar overload, we got our fill and some more.

Did I mention in my previous post(part 1, part 2) that this trip to Paris was a spur of the moment thing? Well it was and we planned to eat at Paul Hollywoods city bakes places. Sometimes though plans change and w wanted to be a little impulsive and found other interesting places on the net, what we did not anticipate was that some of these places was closed  or being renovated. Our last day I really wanted to try Frenchie to Go, but unfortunately this place was closed for the summer, and did not know until a closed door and a written note greeted us that late morning. Not knowing where to go and with no plans we walked around haphazardly  to see if we found anything interesting.

We walked towards the city center and walked by so many street side cafe and found one where we could get some food with a little substance. Paris is so wast, so when it comes to where to go and eat, you have so many choices. I recommend that you search the internet to find nice place or just walk around. If you are on a budget or not, food from around the world, vegan or if you have any specific diet you like to keep to, you will always find something.

After our brunch we wandered back to a place that had caught our eye, it was dainty and girlishly pink. Café Puchkine a Franco Russo café and tea salon.  What also made us notice this place was the poster outside of their deserts, they looked colorful.

We order two of their Les Coups Glacée, Coup Mont Blanc with chestnut and vanilla ice cream with blueberry sauce covered with Chantilly cream and garnished candied chestnuts and meringue kisses. She ordered the Coup de l’enfant “Puchkine”, vanilla ice cream, strawberry and raspberry sorbet covered with Chantilly cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and meringue bits. The desserts were lovely as ice cream usually is, unfortunately not as colorful as the ones we saw on the poster, ours were served in solid bowls not glass as in the poster. The most memorable part of this visit was that I ordered a cappuccino for me and a cold beverage for MiniMe. This place did not have the usual selection of sodas, but they did have apple juice, lemonade and a variety of bottled water, we ordered lemonade without any question. While we waited, I walked over to the counter to look at what else this place had to offer, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that our beverage was being served, then I heard  “Mom look, I’m drinking gold”.  “My lemonade has gold in it, tiny bit of golden flakes”. That is lovely was my answer but in my head ,WHA-AT! Whoops, what is this little snack going to cost me was my next thought.  Oh well as the younger generation says YOLO. I relaxed and the bill did not turn out that bad, the lemonade cost 7,20 euros not that horrible.

If you love èclairs We recommend you try L’Èclaire de Gènie, colorful glazed choux puff pastries filled with sweet and tart fillings. We tried the crispy raspberry, lemon coconut, apricot and salty butterscotch, treat we brought back to the hotel to enjoy later.

Last but not least and since the store was in our vicinity actually on the same street as the places mentioned above, we also visited Pâtisserie Stohrer, the oldest bakery in Paris. This was also one of the places that Paul Hollywood showed in his program. While eating our late first meal of the day MiniMe pointed to a store across the street and said: “Mom look, it is the bakery Paul Hollywood went to, It says Stohrer on it. Yay, we found one more”. We picked up some more èclairs, classic flavours this time chocolate and vanilla and a couple of croissants.

This concludes our little trip, I feel that we got to eat a lot and se a few things in a short period of time, Tuesday evening till early Saturday afternoon. The most important part is that we had good Mother and daughter time and our suitcases were twice as heavy as when we came. Yes we did some shopping too, what do you expect when two girls go to Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

Paris by Liza et Vie part two

What, is this where we are staying? What not to do when booking a trip, where to brunch, where to snack, and a bit of sightseeing and shopping.

In Paris by Liza et Vie part one I wrote that we were heading back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep, did that happen, no no no. The hotel walls was so paper-thin and guests coming back late at night sounded like they were going to stomp into our room. Guests checking out stomping down the stairs, and banging their luggage against the wall on their way down to the reception desk. It was like this every night and every morning. To get enough rest we slept in and our day did not start untill noon. My fault, this was a last-minute thing and I looked for a cheap bargain on Expedia, I found a Hotel close to one of the places we wanted to visit Boulangerie Raphäelle. The pictures of the rooms looked decent and we were just going to sleep there. To make life a little easier I booked a car to pick us up at the airport and to pick us up at the hotel on the day of departure. When the driver stopped outside our hotel and told us that this was our stop, I was a little shocked, it was a dingy and littered street. What did I really expect our trip was 400 euros per person for round trip ticket and four night. Next trip I think I have to do some more reasearch and maybe ask around. My past trips to Paris I never really booked anything my self, I left that to my better half and yes I was spoilt. Oh well, I am now an experience richer. Know where you are going before you book a trip.

The third day of our stay we went to Eggs & co in the St. Germain de Prés area for brunch, this is also a recommended place to enjoy a nice plate of Eggs Benedict.  A small two-story cafe with a low ceiling. We ordered two of the brunch specials, a main course served with a hot beverage and orange juice followed by a pancakes with a click of butter served with a fresh fruit salad. The brunch specials were from 20 euros and up, maybe not the cheapest brunch, but you got a lot of food, and you won’t leave hungry, this was our main meal that day. MiniMe is not very fond of gravy on her food, she ordered scrambled egg with bacon. Her scrambled egg came in a bowl with the bacon mixed in, it was almost like a porridge. My first thought was, oh oh, will she eat this, she did and she ate a lot. When asked if we wanted tea or coffee, the waitress saw that MiniMe hesitated and asked if she wanted hot chocolate instead. I call that observant and super service. I give this place a thumbs up. We had to pay down stairs at the counter and along one of the walls there were three jars with sweets. The lady behind the counter saw MiniMe looking in that direction and told me that she could help herself to the sweets. This place was even a hit with my little pride and joy.

Leaving Eggs & co. we walked around the, did some shopping. and then MiniMe tugged on me and said “Mom I need to use the rest room”. Where to go? We found Poilâne, as I understand it also a reputable boulangeri, but not one of the ones Paul Hollywood visited. We went in to tne café next door,  also called Poilâne. We went in and asked for the rest room and ordered some snacks. I felt that I had to order something, previously at other places people did not look to happy when you asked if you could borrow their rest rooms. The waitress told me that she could just use the fasilleties and that we did not have to order anything, that was very kind of her but we ordered a few things anyway. A flan and cappuchino for me and a fresh fruit salad and barley infussed apple juice for MiniMe.

Poilâne opened in 1932, at that time there used to be 5 bakeries on Rue du Cherche-midi and now it is only one. I guess that the young baker from Normandy managed to convince the Parisians that his traditional French sourdough bread was a contender to the baguette that everybody loved and prefered. There was a dual advantage to Poilânes four pound loaves: they kept longer and could be cut into large slices. The bakery continued to bake this bread using stone-ground flour, sea salt from Guérande and a wood-fired oven.  As you can see from the picture below, you can buy slices of their famous bread. They weigh the amount you want wrap in a bag and you leave them with only what you need.

I was so tired after the brunch, shopping and snacks, we had hardly slept the past few days because of the noise in and around the hotel we were staying, when we walked passed a church, I looked longingly towards the entrance. I wanted to go in and pretend to pray so I could doze off a little, we didn’t. I told MiniMe a little jokingly about this idea and she looked at me shockingly and said “But mummy what if we fall of the pews, no that it is a bad idea”. Ha ha ha, I don’t think falling off the pews would be the worst part.

On instagram the past years I have seen a lot of posts of delicate macaroons from Ladurée, and when we walked by  a store in this area, we went in. I had to try some and compare them to the ones I knew from Pascal and Sebastien Bruno in Oslo. What I really wanted was to sit down and rest, but I could not  eat another morsel so we just bought a little box with six macaroons to enjoy later. With all the treats we had eaten the past days and hardly any vegetables I saw a oppurtunity to fill up with some vitamines and minerals and finally sit down and rest at the Juice Lab on 11 Rue Jacob in St. Germain. Fresh cold pressed juice from fruit and vegetables that has become very popular these past few years, a nice way to fill up on your 5 a day.

A little rested after our pit stop at Juice Lab we  walked towards the Louvre. It was the same here as the other historical buildings, the lines were long and when I asked her if she wanted to go in and see Mona Lisa, she said “Nah, I just did a project about that painting at school, I have seen it many times”. I probably should have said something about how many paintings we could count running around inside the museum within a time period, that would probably made her want to go in. She much rather go to Sephora to do some shopping, she had been googling things she wanted to buy with her vacation pocket-money. The children always get some extra pocket-money from some family members before they go on holiday, it is for ice cream, souvenirs etc.

She made me buy products we could pamper us with that evening  while we ate the rest of our snacks we bought that day. Who wouldn’t run towards the candy colored wall with Sephora mask products. I did find something else at this store, but that is for another time.

This concludes our day three in Paris, hope you enjoyed reading about it

 

Paris by Liza et Vie part 1

Listen to that crunch, MiniMe and I were watching Paul Hollywood break a baguette in two and jab his chubby fingers into the soft white center and tell us that this is how a baguette should sound, look and feel like. With little over a week left of our summer vacation we booked a trip for two to Paris. We were going to enjoy lazy mornings, strolling over to a bakery and pick up a baguette or some croissants, maybe some coffee and juice, find a bench in a park and just enjoy the late morning and watch people pass by, and maybe some sightseeing.

R: In front of Sacre Coeur    R: Two drenched cats on top of the Eiffel tower

Did we follow Paul Hollywood’s Paris recommendation? We tried, we did find some of the boulangeries and pâtisseries he went to on his TV program. But the trigger for our trip the Boulangeri Raphäelle with their wonderful artisanal baguette was unfortunately closed. We were a little bummed out, I had even booked a hotel just a block away so we could stroll over in the mornings. Oh no worries, there are plenty of bakeries in Paris, besides this place got their reputation back in 2013 and they came in second for the best baguette in Paris. The only problem was that almost every place we wanted to visit was miles away except for one, so after a night’s rest our trip stared there at Sacre Coeur, a place MiniMes father and a friend got maced and mugged 27 years ago, the muggers took their wallet, camera, passport and any valuable they had on them.

MiniMe: Mom, do you think it is safe to go there?

Me: If you stick to me and not wonder about so you wouldn’t get lost in the crowd, I think it is going to be fine.

Me thinking: If everything goes to somewhere very hot, I will not be able to do much, but I’ll try.

On our way to Sacre Coeur we walked by Boulangeri Raphäel and at that time not knowing that it was closed, we were hungry and I was salivating thinking about crunchy baguette with a soft doughy center. I had it all planned out, find a spot outside the church, enjoy the sun while eating our breakfast looking at all the people who also had taken the trip to the hill that day and observing the vast city scape. We  left the red boulangerie store front empty handed and started to walk up the hill, we got to the top and the place was packed with people and I would have shown you pictures, but unfortunately I lost my camera my last day i Paris.  History almost repeating it self and fortunately without the pain of being maced and the hassle of being mugged. All the pictures in this post are taken with my phone. Well situated outside the church were two hungry miserable little ants on top of a hill. What to do next, our stomachs growling as we looked at the line at the church entrance  and decided that if you have seen the inside of one, you have seen the inside of many. So we did the selfie thing and took some pictures with my camera before we hurried away to find something to eat and heading to our next destination Notre Dame.

R: On one of the bridges on the Seine   L: Taking a little rest outside Notre Dame

That was not as easy as it might sound hurrying down the steps and into Rue de Steinkirque, the first thing that met us was a corner Crêperie, but she didn’t want pancakes. I was hungry and could have eaten anything, but she had her mind set on a baguette. I guess the apple do not fall far from the tree, she is like me that way. When we have set our minds on something rally bad that is what we want.  Another thing that got in the way was all the little tourist shop, and being girls we wander in and out to find something to buy. We found a cute raspberry colored beret that MiniMe looked really cute in, it accentuated her outfit and made her look  a little french, but of course that picture too was on my camera. Finally we reached the Seine and had to take a selfie, he he he.  This area was bustling with people and law enforcement.

MiniMe: Mom, there sure are a lot of police here. Do you think they are here to protect us from terrorist?
Me thinking: Anything special happening today?
Me: Sure, with all those people in uniform no one will dare to do anything bad.
Me thinking: Hopefully not.

When we got to the famous cathedral Notre Dame the line was not any shorter than back at Sacre Coeur. Bad planning on my part and again we have already seen many churches on our many travels so we just sat there nibbling on our baguettes that we had bought along the way, and looking at the people and the huge structure. Besides we went to Paris to eat and not really sightseeing,

We walked halfway back to the hotel and decided to hop on the metro to take us back, right outside the station we found Brasserie Barbés, famished and tired we went in and ordered our first real meal in Paris, mussels and cockles with fries and baked chicken with vegetables. It was decent meal, a tummy filler.

This area looked like a shadier part of Paris. MiniMe was clutching my hand when ever we were in this area and since this was our metro stop we were here quite often. One thing that caught our attention on this trip was that so many streets and corners smelled like urinals, A big historic city like this, doesn’t the people of Paris have more pride in their city that they want it to look better and at least smell better?

The next day was going to be the start of our planned eating tour and our first stop was supposed to be Benedicts for brunch, a place I have been told is one of the better places in Paris to eat Eggs Benedict. Well, about 1/3 of our walk we made a wrong turn, and thinking we were close to the city center we walked by a vegetarian Southern Indian restaurant Chennai Dosa. I have alway wanted to try a dosa, so our wrong turn worked out for the best, besides I think we were a few hours away from Benedicts by now, since this place was close to Gare du Nord. Looking at the pictures in the window and on the menu I saw the big rolls of dosa, the same as the ones Andrew Zimmern had in one of his programs. We ordered the one stuffed with potato and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that our dosa wasn’t rolled but folded into a triangle. Thinking oh well it would probably taste the same, but the experience will be different, I had really been looking for a rolled one. At the end it did not really matter, we did not have anything to compare it with, we enjoyed the crunchy pancake with soft spicy potato filing. The dosa came with different condiments an a small portion of soup, what kind do not ask, we do not remember. And since this was the first time eating this we just broke off pieces and dipped them in the condiments and soup, we had a little trouble with the soup and had to ask for spoons. I googled the place and found out that it was a chain of restaurants that started in London. But we did not care, we finally had us some dosas. tummies filled and happy. The best part, our dosas cost less than 5 euros each,

MiniMe: Mom
Me: Yes
MiniMe: Weren’t we supposed to eat at those places Paul Hollywood showed in his program?
Me: Yes sweetie, but mummy took a wrong turn and ended up here.
MiniMe: Thats okay, but next place is going to be one of those places rigt? That is why we are here right?
Me: Yes, lets find Fauchon

R: Cover of the menu L: The four pastries we chose

I turned on the GPS on my phone this time to make sure we did not get lost, but the walk from Gare du Nord to Fauchon on 30 Place de la Madeleine was still quite a walk,  while heading in the right direction we hopped on the metro half way through. My plan for this trip was that we should walk to most of the places we wanted to visit, to get some exercise away all the treats we woul devoure. Looking up some of the distances on google maps it seemed feasible. but it felt like we were walking for hours.

When we got to Faucon it was different from we had imagined, MiniMe with an eye for details as all children commented on that.

Fauchon was founded in 1886 in Paris, it is a French gourmet food and delicatessen company and supposedly considered a major reference in contemporary French gourmet food. I googled the place when we got home I found out that there were 76 outlets in around twenty countries in 2016.  A little bought and paid for Mr. Paul Hollywood. We had set our hearts and eyes on the lovely colorful éclairs we saw on TV, but ended up sitting down for a late lunch instead and was promised that what treats they had in the store they also served in the cafe, they would bring out a large tray so we could pick out the ones we wanted.

We ordered creamy risotto with a nice heap of truffles for me and a toasted croque monsieur for MiniMe. It was nice and filling and the prices for lunch was about the same price as the restaurant we had dinner at the day before.  Quality wise it was a much better than the day before, but it wasn’t wow it is best we have eaten. It was not like the risotto the children and I had at a street side restaurant in Hiroshima, Japan in 2009, We still talk about it today. Next the pièce de résistance, the dessert. We could not decide or choose one, we got two each to share, that way we could try as many as possible. MiniMe was a little disappointed, the eclair with Mona Lisas eyes printed on chocolate was not among our choices. Two pictures up you can see a picture of the pastries we chose, top left and clockwise: strawberry cake, vanilla mille feuil, bisou bisou and a mont blanc. I let MiniMe try them first ans she started with the pink lips, bisou -bisou

Me: What do you think?
MiniMe: It is nice, like bløtkake( a Norwegian cream cake)
Me: Thats it?
MiniMe: Yeah.
Me: What about all the other elements?

Bisou-bisous description is: Crispy crumble, caramelized almonds, vanilla biscuit flour rice, raspberries compote, Madagascar vanilla whipped ganache-tea “mélange FAUCHON”.

MiniMe: Oh that, raspberries as you cream cake, maybe a litt cruch and vanilla, a very nice looking and tasting cream cake.

Ha ha ha, just like her mum short and to the point, we are not suited to be food critics.

Nice presentation and nice service, but for us the food was average and the dessert over average. Not very memorable except for maybe their black and flamingo pink theme with white pineapple decor.

Paid our bill and headed towards our next destination or where our feet would take us. To walk off the calories we devoured. We headed towards Place de la Concorde , standing close to Jardin de Tuileries we looked towards the Arc de triumph standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel tower and The Louvre. The gardens were closest so we went in and strolled towards the first pond and sat down in two of the seats that sourrounded it. Just taking in the scenery and letting the food and impressions sink in. Paris is a monumental City, vast and full of history. Just the old part of Paris is bigger than the city I grew up in, Oslo the capital of Norway. 12 million people live in Paris and in all of Norway there are a little over 5 million people, quite a difference.

L: My youngest Paris August 2017      R: My three oldest Paris July 2002

MiniMe wanted to see the Eiffel tower and go all the way to the top. As usual there was a long line, but this time we patiently stood in line and yes my patience was stretched to the fullest. What is it with some people, they almost stand on top of you and keep bumping into you, do they think that the line will go any faster. We could have booked tickets on-line and get priority and skip the que, but we didn’t since we did not know when to go and what time.  If you are going to Paris plan ahead. The area arround the Eiffel tower was a lot different from when we visited with the older children. Back in 2002 everything was open and no fences to be seen. This time we had to go through security control before entering the grounds where the tower stood, and after a long wait, another security before the elevator going up. Thing has definitely changed the past years. Even outside some places was fenced off, the pictures above was taken 15 years apart and almost at the same spot.

This trip up the tower was not as bad as my first trip, this time we were in the top lift and looking out the bottom lift blocked the view down, so I didn’t back away this time.  If you have some fear of heights the best place to stand is in the top lift carriage or far away from the window. After some waiting we did get to the top with some drama while waiting for the second elevator, some people think it is their given right to cut in front of you. An indian couple and a easter european family of 3. I could live with that, but now no more selfies sending one in front of me to take the picture and once a head of me the other in their company followed through, some people have some nerve.  It probably did not make it any better that while we were waiting heaven opened up and it started pouring down.  It was windy up there so by the time we got to the top we were blow dried a bit.  A little positive thinking and our spirits were up again, as you can see from one of the top pictures. If you ever go to Paris I would say that the Eiffel tower is one of the places to go, on a nice, sunny and cloud free day you can see over 60 km in all directions. If you are up for it you can take the stairs up to the first and second level, about 600 steps in total, there are stairs to the top level too, but it is usually accessible only by lift. We explored the tower by taking the stairs down from the second level. Explored the first level before running down to find a place to eat dinner. The towers restaurant was not open for tourist this evening, there was a private event going on.

Our last stop that day ended up in the Latin quarter. We were trying to find a metro station and walked back to Pont Alexandre III, hopped on a bus and headed towards the St. Michel station, we wanted to go to the hotel and go to sleep. Our walk from the bus stop to the metro station took us through an area in the Latin quarter filled with café and restaurants a typical tourist place with  big signs with cheap menus and people trying to lure you in. A three course meal was as low as 10 euros. MiniMe and I thought that this could be okay to try, we were a bit hungry, and she wanted Spaghetti Bolognese. Walking around reading the signs we found a place called Cafe Colbert, her meal, pancake with cheese, Spaghetti Bolognese and two scoops of ice cream was 10 euros and mine, onion soup, slices of duck breast with fries and creme brulée I think was 16 euros. This was a good bargain, but you do get what you pay for. It was during this meal we saw what had happened in Barcelona, the TV on the wall by the bar was on. Why do people have to behave like this? This gave us some food for thought.

Next stop the hotel for a good nights sleep.

 

 

Athens, Αθήνα

To walk where the great thinkers of history has walked, to see what I have only seen and read about in books and seen on TV and movies. I have finally been to Athens and walked up to the ancient citadel on top of Acropolis and seen whats left of buildings such as the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. If you have to choose one thing to go and see in Athens, in my oppinion This would be it.

Γεια σας, τι κάνεις

Yes, I have been to Akroplis and seen the ruins that I have only read about and seen in pictures. I studied architecture and art in my youth and the ruins on top of Akropolis was one of the many subject I had to study.

My breakfast view of Parthenon  from the hotel

I went to Athens for a 5 day trip with my class, yup, I have gone back to school. The trip was sightseeing and pleasure. The average age of the group was 24 and that was including me. Instead of sitting in my room every evening I joined the kids. The result was that I did not get to see as much as I wanted, too tired. Long nights and early mornings is not a life for a semi old gal.

greek letters

I had so many plans and I even tried to learn Greek before I went. I downloaded the app Duolingo and wrote down the words and sentences from the app. When I was finally there I only used a few words, Γεια σας, τι κάνεις, καλημέρα, καλησπέρα, καληνύχτακαι ευχαριστώ ( Hello, how are you, good morning, good evening, good night and thank you) During a taxi ride the driver asked us friendly questions and asked if we spoke greek. Thanks to Duolingo I managed to answer “Όχι, εγώ δεν μιλώ ελληνικά” without thinking much. Translation, No. I do not speak Greek. Four week on that damned app and these few words was what I dared to use. Oh well, maybe next time. As a consolation I can now read the language, but do not ask what I am reading.

Purple flowers and oranges in the streets of Athens

Our guide met us at the hotel and took us through the streets of Athens, we walked pasted the main shopping street towards Monastiraki  the market popular among tourists and the locals. One thing that caught my eye is that the main shopping street looked very worn, not old but more like not maintained, but towards the market and Acropolis it was different, neat and tidy treets, lined with shops filled with soveniers,  clothing, trinkets and food.

We continued  towards the  Athens National Archeological Museum, The guide told us that  the buildings that lined the street below Acropolis was the most exclusive properties in Athens. Yes fine, but I wanted to see the citadel, I did not care for the housing of the rich, that’s not why I came here. I waited impatiently while she  explained the significance of some of the buildings, do not ask me what she said, because I did not pay much attention. Actually I did a bit, but nothing important to repeat now.

Acropollis
Temple of Nike

Finally we walked the steep hill passing a half way restored amphitheater,  on paths lined with olive trees and trees cover in yellow and purple blossoms.  The guide told us a funny story about the Amphi theater. The theater has wonderful acoustic so it is being  used for concerts for most of the year. To protect the old structure, smoking and water in water bottles are prohibited. What do people do? They chew gum instead and stick it under the seats/stones, so every year they have to scrape off a lot of kilos of gum off the structure. Does that mean, no pride in their old usable monuments.

Propylia
In front of Propylaia the entrance building

On our way up we saw people here and there, but I did not think there were so many, as you can see in the picture above, we were not the only ones visiting that day. Imagine the place when it is high season.

Porch of maidens
Porch of caryatids

I was trying to imagine the grandeur of the place during its heydays, Where the great tinker might have stood or sat, eating and drinking while talking about philosophy. and I am in awe to what man has been able to build without modern tools and machines, it did not take too long, The  Construction of Parthenon began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power and it was completed in 438 BC. The details they put in them. Luckily some of the buildings still have some jaw dropping details like the “Porch of maidens” on the south side of the Erechtheion, six draped female figures (caryatids) as supporting columns. There were originally seven of the maidens, but one of them now reside where most of the sculptures from the citadel are.

Acropolis
Some of the original stone work displayed at Acropolis.

I would have loved to see the Parthenon with its pediment intact. Unfortunately the Parthenon was  badly damaged in 1687, it was used as an Ottoman ammunition depot and it got ignited by Venetian cannonball. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. Most of the surviving sculptures are now in the British museum and known as the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles. Wonder how it would have looked like if it didn’t get damaged back in 1687, and would the pediment be intact or would they have ended up in the British museum anyway. I did see the statues a few years ago when my oldest daughter and I went on a shopping weekend to London.

Parthenon
Part of the east pediment still found on the Parthenon although part of it, like Dionysos, is a copy.

We went and saw the old olympic stadium, some went and saw the new one too.

Some of us took the Likavitou funicular to the top of Likavitou hill. From the top you have a 360 panoramic spectacular view of Athens. Seeing the hill from the old olympic stadium some of us mistook it for the hill in the James Bond movie Moonraker, where 007 fought metal mouth Jaws, but silly us that was in Brazil and it was a cable car and not a funicular.

Llikavitou

To get to the Olympic stadion we were told to walk towards the Parliament, stay on the left side and walk through the park.

National park Athens

We did and got lost, we went the opposite direction, but we had a nice walk and the park was not so big that you walk across in a few minutes, but it was a nice green lung in the middle of the city with a pond with turtles, and little fenced yards with small animals and birds.

Goofying around

We stayed at the Astor Hotel close to the Hellenic Parliament, so most everything we did was within walking distance. Don’t get me started on the hotel, but I guess if you only pay 430 euros for the flight, 4 nights at the hotel including breakfast and a guided tour of Acropolis you can not expect a luxury stay.

Be wary of cab drivers too. Some can seem friendly and over charge. We paid 10 euros to go to Pireaus from the Hotel and we paid 20 Euros for the drive from the old olympic stadium to Likavitou hill. The last drive was 1/4 in length compared to the previous one. With that experience, we walked back to the hotel. Not that we could not afford it, it just was very close.

Souvlaki and Greek salad

We ate at tourist traps in the middle of the city with decent food and we had a nice seafood lunch in Pireaus at a place called Portofino. We had walked most of the day and we were hungry, wanting something other than Gyros, souvlaki, greek salad and mousaka we ended up at Portofino. I had succulent grilled octopus and pasta with truffle sauce and shrimps, it was scrumptious. Posting on Instagram that I was going to Athens to enjoy food, I got a comet from an Instagram friend that she did not care for the food in Athens and prefered the food  served on the Greek islands better. I can’t say that I agree or disagree since I have not been to the any other places in Greece. That experience will have to be for another time along with trying to speak greek.

Pasta with truffle sauce with shrimps and grilled octopus

All in all it was a nice trip, except that my wallet got stolen three hours before my flight home. Such a hassle, having to call the banks to report them stolen and having to wait for new ones. So a word of caution secure your belongings.

Another thing be cautious of, night clubs, some of the older students that went clubbing got charged 1000 euros for drinks they did not drink, luckily they managed to bargain the price down. When we tried to go to another club the next evening, they stopped us at the bar and said we could not order drinks, they tried to seat us were we had to pay 600 euros for a bottle of vodka. I guess if it was an exclusive club that would be normal, but we just wanted a few drinks, dance and have a little fun.

Finally home I had to make at least one dish i ate in Athens a Greek salad, recipe HERE

Greek salad

Αντίο Αθήνα, μέχρι την επόμενη φορά

(Good bye Athens, till next time)

Hope I did not bore you too much with this post from Athens.

Athens

 

Relæ, Copenhagens organic Michelin starred restaurant

Relæ

Do you want to experience a fully organic Michelin starred restaurant?

Relæ fish agj
Trout, chickenskin and mushrooms

Then you should go to Nørrebro, a neighbourhood in Copenhagen with a multi-cultural feel and a great nightlife, here you will find Relæ, a Michelin starred restaurant that prides itself on delivering a no nonsense gastronomic experience.

Relæ

Relæ opened in summer 2010 at Jægersborggade 41 by Breakaway Noma-chef Christian Puglisi. In March 2012, Relae was awarded its first Michelin star, making it one of the most affordable gourmet restaurants in Copenhagen. In 2015 the restaurant is ranked number 45 on the list of the World’s Best Restaurants.

Relæ 6 agj
Hokaido pumpkin, seabuckthorn and hazelnut.

Since the beginning Relæ had already focused on healthy, locally-sourced produce, but in early may 2013 the Michelin-starred restaurant took it one step furter and offered exclusively organic ingredients. The restaurant is gold certified by Organic Denmark, That means that they can documents that 90-100 percent of everything served by the Relæ kitchen, including drinks, is organic.

Relæ 4 agj

“Good ingredients should be harvested organically with consideration for ethics, quality and nature,”  says Christian Puglisi, owner and head chef at Relæ.

Relæ 8 agj
Havervadgård lamb, swiss chard and seaweed

The place is small and informal, with simple decor, bare brick walls and no tablecloths. Relæ is often compared to Noma, but it stands out in its own right for its innovative set menus and simple dining philosophy.

Relæ 5 agj

Relæ is also vegetarian friendly restaurant and offers two set menus, one omnivor and one herbivore . Four courses from the set seasonal menu will cost you DKK 450 while a selection from the extensive wine menu that matches the DKK 396.

relæ 7 agj

 

 

OKO resto

 

Photo:andershusa.com
Photo:andershusa.com

In the marina of a beach village kalled Kaberneeme, just 40 km from Tallinn, Anders, Julie and I visited OKO an Estonian restaurant. This restaurant was awarded the title as the Best Family Restaurant 2012 in the Silver Spoon competition and, and judged to be the third best restaurant in Estonia in last year’s Eesti TOP50.

OKO resto 1 agj
Grilled baby corn brushed with brown butter

OKO means “Welcome” in Japanese, and you will feel welcomed in this cosy, eco-friendly, rustic and quality-orientated restaurant.

Photo:andershusa.com
Photo:andershusa.com

OKO Resto offers familiar flavours and pairs it with flavours they are inspired by around the world. The restaurants chef tries and pride themselves to surprise their customers, showing that an excellent places to eat, can exist regardless of the location.

The Head chef at OKO Joonas Koppel is also quite young, only 25-year-old and he gets most of his inspiration from the nordic countries and specially Copenhagen, Denmark.

Oko resto

The food at OKO was innovative and different compared to traditional estonian meals, and the ingredients and presentations were clearly inspired by new Nordic cooking.

 

tallinn-estonia-estland-art-priori-leib-oko-noa-orm-oja-new-nordic-resto-restaurant-review-food-foodie-eat-eating-dine-dining-best-tips-guide-travel-22-2015-768x512
Photo: andershusa.com   The salty whitefish, toast, whitefish roe in sour cream, wakame and onions.

Click HERE to read about Art Priori another Estonian restaurant with young chefs.

Photo: anderhusa.com
Photo: anderhusa.com  Chopped venison tartare, cheese cracker and parmesan.

Click HERE to read Anders Husas post about restaurants in Estonia

OKO resto 3 agj
Smoked eel, cottage cheese, cucumber, potato and hollandaise.

Chanterelle ice cream, bacon, burned chocolate, red currants and wood sor

Photo: andershusa.com A final surprise snack as you are about to leave the restaurant. A small biscuit in the shape of a mushroom, with a salty mushroom caramel inside.
Photo: andershusa.com  Coffee treats, small biscuit in the shape of a chanterelle, with a salty mushroom caramel inside.

I must admitt that I liked the the food here and even tried to make my verions of them.

If you go HERE and HERE you will see what I made

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot panzerotti from Luini in Milan

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Feeling a little peckish or just plain hungry, if you are in the vicinity of the Duomo in Milan walk straight and take a left when you have passed Rinascente and follow the crowd, you will happen up on a small shop called Luini. This is a must go to place if you are in Milan.

I asked my friend The Operasinger “If I want to taste something that is a must try in Milan, where should I go?” She answered “Luinis” and then she showed me where it was.

“Oh, is this it?, I have been wanting to try this place every time I have been here, but the line has always been too long or it has been closed.” I can remember being curious to see what they were selling, but has always ended up going somewhere else to get a bite to eat.

This time we were lucky the line wasn’t so long, and I finally got to try some.

Luini has become somewhat of an institution since they opened in 1949.

Panzerottis that Luinis is famous for has become a staple meal for businessmen, students and children a like, people keep coming back bringing the next generation to pass on the tradition.

These turnovers wasn’t known to Milan before Mrs. Josephine Luini brought the recipe from her home region of Puglia. In Milan she started producing and supplying bread for restaurants and downtown hotels. But her interest was for  the traditional baked goods from home. One day, looking through the recipes passed down from her grandfather, she found the recipe for these popular turnovers.

Luini

Everybody wants these soft and doughy turnovers filled with savory or sweet filling. Pazerotti is like a cross between carlzone and a beignet.

There is always a line during opening hours, but the place is popular specially among students, like these girls below and non of them are Italian. Luinis fame has gone beyond the italian border.

My favorite was the one filled with mozzarella and tomato
luini mi

Mont-Saint-Michel

Once again this magical place call it self an island again, the holy mount that has been one of Europe’s major pilgrim destinations, one of France’s most recognizable landmarks and one of UNESCOs world heritage site has had undergone a facelift. A major campaign has ensured that the Mont-Saint-Michel preserves its maritime character and remain an island.

Mont Saint Michel, Medieval, analizagonzales.com, Normandy, France

It was a dream come true when I visited this island, this was a place I have only previously seen in movies, on tv or seen and read about in books. I have been fascinated about its location, its history and architecture and now I finally got to see it.

Since ancient times this place has held a strategic fortification and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name.

Steep and narrow streets, buildings clinging to the rocks surface describes this place, the architectural composition of the town exemplifies the feudal society that constructed it: on top, God, the abbey and monastery; below, the great halls; then stores and housing; and at the bottom, outside the walls, houses for fishermen and farmers. The buildings that went up along the steep village street, is now converted into museums, hotels, restaurants and boutiques for today’s tourists.

I wanted to visit one of these converted places, La Mère Poulard, as a foodie this place was a must visit. You can read about what happened HERE

Mont Saint Michel, Medieval, analizagonzales.com, Normandy, France

Situated only 600 meters from the mainland, made this place accessible tho the countless of pilgrims that has visited this islands abbey throughout history, at the same time this place was defensible as incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned, would-be assailants.

The Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel is subject to the largest tidal range in Europe during spring tides. The waters can withdraw as far as 25km from the shore. After low tide, the local saying goes that the seawater rush back in to the bay ‘at the pace of a galloping horse’. The waters come in fast, so if you do not have local knowledge of the area and the tide, do not venture out on the sand.

  1. The rising tide might get you.

2. Quicksand surrounding the mount might get you.

Mont Saint Michel, Medieval, analizagonzales.com, Normandy, France

For centuries this island was a place of God and learning. The Mont even remained unconquered during the Hundred Years’ War, when a small garrison fended off a full attack by the English in 1433. Unfortunately the benefits of its natural defence were not lost on Louis XI, who turned the Mont into a prison. After that the abbey was used as a jail during the Ancien Régime.

From a great distance the island silhouette draws your eyes towards it and as you get closer it looms in the distance. I can imagine the excitement of the pilgrims as they got closer, closer to their God and absolution. I can also imagine the prisoners that saw their future home in a distance, dark, barren and gloomy.

The staggering location has long inspired awe and the imagination. The story of how the mount turned into a great place of Christian pilgrimage is colourful. Aubert, bishop of the nearby hilltop town of Avranches early in the 8th century, claimed that the Archangel Michael himself pressured him into having a church built atop the island just out to sea.

The Bay that Mont Saint-Michel is situated has been prone to silting up in the last couple of centuries. Farming and the building of a causeway to the island did not help the problem. A major campaign and massive work has ensured that the Mont-Saint-Michel preserves its maritime character and remains an island. The Couesnon river that flows into the bay, is ow being left to flow freely so that sediments are washed out to sea.

For more information on this project, please click here

To lighten the load of the sediment build up a new causeway has been built, the car park relocated from the shoreline. The new car parks is about 1,5 miles away from the island. In order to get to the island you have to take a shuttle bus that take you from the mainland to the mount. These busses operate daily, at very regular intervals, from 7.30am to midnight. Other alternatives is to take a stroll or you can book a special horse-drawn carriage.

Experience medieval Normandy digitally

The Jumiège abbey, Normandy, Normandie, Medieval, Church ruins, Ruiner, Middelalder, analizagonzales.com

The most beautiful ruins in all of France according to Victor Hugo, Château de Falaise and the archbishop’s palace in Rouen has more than the middle ages in common. Have you ever wondered how ruins and historical sites might have looked like at the high of their glory days? These three places mentioned have been brought to the 20th century digitally.

The Jumiège abbey

Rumors has it that Victor Hugo called these ruins for the most beautiful ruins in all of France. The original monastery was founded in 654 by saint Philibert who became the first abbot, but it is not site’s old age that has made it in to ruins.

The place was the religious center of the area and under saint Philibert successor there were nearly a thousand monks living in the monastery. Unfortunately some “Scandinavians” plundered and burned the place to the ground in the ninth century, but it was rebuilt larger and grander by William I Longsword the son of Rollo the viking, Duke of Normandy. In 1067 a new church was consecrated in the presence of William the Conqueror  and since then the monastery has had the patronage of the dukes of Normandy. The abbey became a great centre of religion and learning, its schools producing, scholars, bishops, archbishops and cardinals. The church went through an expansion in 1256, and again restored in 1573.

The Jumiège abbey, Normandy, Normandie, Medieval, Church ruins, Ruiner, Middelalder, analizagonzales.com

Walking through the monastery ruins today you get glimpses of the grandeur of its heydays and with an iPad in tow you get to see how archeologists and historians belive it might have looked like when the place was bustling with life.

The Jumiège abbey, Normandy, Normandie, Medieval, Church ruins, Ruiner, Middelalder, analizagonzales.com

The iPad’s are linked to four different spots on the monastery grounds and by standing on them and holding up the iPad’s you will see a digital reconstruction and animation of the place. Click HERE to see the animation on their webpage. SAMSUNG CSC

It was not untill the french revolution that the monastery was abandoned and made into a quarry, the stones sold off as building materials. A gallery of the cloister was bought by Lord Stuart de Rothesay to rebuild it in Highcliffe Castle near Bournemouth, Dorset.

The Jumiège abbey, Normandy, Normandie, Medieval, Church ruins, Ruiner, Middelalder, analizagonzales.com

FALAISE

Château de Falaise in Falaise in Calvados, Normandy, Normandie, Medieval, Castel ruins, Ruiner, Middelalder, analizagonzales.com

Château de Falaise in Falaise in Calvados, overlooks the town from a high crag, it was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. Around the Year One Thousand, the dukes’ fortress is particularly effective and protected a vast domain. It is built on the model “motte and Bailey” principle, a fortress atop a mound and protected by solid walls and ramparts.SAMSUNG CSC

At this historic site they have also made use of digital technology. Here as at the monastery of Jumièges you also get an iPad to take along for your tour around the castle, so you can see and get a feeling of how it might have been. If you walk around take a look at the some of the original masonry sometimes you can find graffiti carved in into the stones from when the soldiers was bored, some vulgar and some as innocent as tic, tac, toe.

SAMSUNG CSC

Possession of the castle changed sides many times  during the 100 year war, it went from french hands to english, then french again and back to english and so on, by the 17th century the castle was deserted.

As early as the 1840s  Château de Falaise has been recognised as a Monument Historique by the French Ministry of Culture. A programme of restoration was carried out as early as in between the years of 1870 and 1874.

In modern times Château de Falaise and Falaise got bombarded by allied forces during the second world war in what is known as the Falaise pocket. 2/3 of the town was destroyed and taken by a combined force of Canadian and Polish troops. Luckily the keeps of the château were unscathed and Falaise has largely been restored after the war.

Rouen

Joan of Arc History Museum, Normandy, Rouen, Normandie, Medieval, Middelalder, analizagonzales.com

On March 21st 2015, just a stone throw from the dungeon she was imprisoned, the highly anticipated Joan of Arc History Museum, located in the former archbishop’s palace opened its door. Visitors are transported back to the middle ages through state-of-the-art technology, immersive exhibition space with comprehensive historical content that enables you to explore the myth and legend of France’s national heroine. Joan of Arc History Museum, Normandy, Rouen, Normandie, Medieval, Middelalder, analizagonzales.comA team of internationally renowned historians, museum specialists and design agencies started this project of constructing and renovating the archbishop’s palace in 2013.  A film production company has worked with local actors and Rouen Opera’s costume department, to create fictional documentaries that will form part of the visitor experience. One stand-out aspect of the new museum casts tourists as witnesses to Joan of Arc’s trials.

 

I originally posted this in norwegian on Feelgoods online magazine

Gotlands hidden gems

Bourgogne truffles, Gotland, Sweden, Sverige, Luksus, Tuber, Tryffel, Trøfler, analizagonzales.com

On a little Island in the Baltic sea the ground have been hiding more than historical viking treasures. During the 1980’s summer truffles was found, others may know them as Burgundy truffles. Limestone, high ph levels in the soil, hazel and oak forests and the unique micro climate that this Baltic island has is what gives the truffles optimal growth.

This post was first written for Feelgood magazine in Norwegian

It was not untill the last century that truffle discoveries was recorded in Gotland and three of them as late as 1997. After analyzing the truffles mutation rate it is believed that truffles have existed on Gotland for as long as hazel trees has been growing there, for about 8000 years .

The truffle adventure began when Elsa Bohus-Jensen, a retired biology teacher and fungus expert got a tuber for identification, but since it was very immature, it was difficult to say which fungal species it was. She knew where the tuber was found and visited the yard owner Eva, who had been cleaning her yard of weeds and roots. With the roots she pulled up loads of bulbs. Eva showed Elsa a picture of a bucket filled with round black objects and when Eva was asked what she had done with them, she said she had thrown them on the compost heap.

analizagonzales.com

Once a year during fall The Gotland Truffle Academy arrange a truffle work shop and in Visby they celebrate this with a truffle festival. To this event guests and participants from all over the world come to learn more about truffles, how to grow, how to use, how to find and specially to savour the tubers. This years a truffle farmer had come from New Zealand to lecture about growing truffles.

Bourgogne truffles, Gotland, Sweden, Sverige, Luksus, Tuber, Tryffel, Trøfler, analizagonzales.com

The work shop is rounded up with pomp and circumstance where the new members are initiated into the academy by the Grand Master of the Academy or as they say The Grand Truffle at a ceremony in Visby Cathedral.  The initiation is followed by an exclusive dinner where each dish is prepared by a Gotland restaurant and their chefs. And yes they have used truffles in every dish.  Lagotto Romagnolo, Bourgogne truffles, Gotland, Sweden, Sverige, Luksus, Tuber, Tryffel, Trøfler, analizagonzales.com

How to find truffles

When going on a truffle hunt you better bring someone to help you sniff them out, the tubers that grow under ground cam be as deep as half a meter below the surface. Originally pigs were used for this purpose, but they ate more than what the hunter could retrieve. To day you can teach most dogs to sniff out truffles. The traits the dogs need to possess are that they have a good nose and love to dig. The moste popular dogs for this purpose is a Lagotto Romagnolo. But as mentioned you can use other types of dogs and I heard a funny story from Gotland about a truffle enthusiast who’s trusty companion was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The dog could sniff out the truffles but did not like to dig, she would place her paw on top of the spot and indicate to her owner that she could start digging on the spot she has marked.

On the picture above and below  you can see Bruno the Lagotto Romagnolo who came on the truffle hunt with us.

Bourgogne truffles, Gotland, Sweden, Sverige, Luksus, Tuber, Tryffel, Trøfler, analizagonzales.com

“Truffles ar round fungus things that grow underground and does not taste anything” Martine 10 years old.

The truffles itself does not taste anything, the tubers aroma is what they are sought after, truffles are known to enhance your dishes, grate or thinly slice some on top.

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Parmesan and truffle fries

Truffle fries, recipe, analizagonzales.com, potatoes, truffles, Parmesan cheese

 A day or two ahead infuce some good quality oil with some piceses of truffles about
1 dl neutral oil 1 tsp grated truffles or just get ready made truffle oil
Ingredients

3 large potatoes (about 2 ½ pounds)

1 tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2-4 tablespoons truffle oil (see note above)

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Oil for frying

Instructions
  1. Pre heat oven to 200 C
  2. Leave the skin on the potatoes and cut them into strips.
  3. Put the potatoe strips in a bowl with ice-cold water to draw out the starch of the potatoes. The water will get a little murky, repeat this process a few times until the water gets clear.
  4. Drain and dry off the potatoes
  5. Fry them in oil
  6. When finished remove from oil and toss them in truffle oil
  7. Put the fries on a baking tray and bake them in the pre heated oven for a few minutes
  8. Take them out of the oven, put them on a serving plate and drizzle with grated parmesan and truffles

 

Analiza Gonzales Jenssen