I’ve read about this English sensation for ages. They’ve been around by 2006, when friends Victoria Jossel and Romy Lewis began selling cupcakes from their homes. A smash hit, they moved to a Primrose Hill commercial kitchen, and after a … Continue reading
“Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree, Merry merry king of the bush is he. Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra, Gay your life must be!” This Australian song was one of my childhood favorites. When I found out that there was a cafe … Continue reading
“Where shall we go for dinner?” What a tough question! There are so many amazing restaurants to choose from! Tons of places are hip, specialized, renowned, or just plain good. How do you choose just one?? You could definitely read … Continue reading
I had heard so much about Coutume Café that I finally decided to go and see what the fuss was all about. Now, I understand. The café reminds me of an American coffee shop with a French twist. The American side: … Continue reading
Coffee date, anyone?
With views of the Seine, La Caféothèque de Paris is a great place to sit and relax with a coffee and pastry. There are plenty of tables and couches to sit on, plus they have an incredible coffee bean selection from all over the world that you can enjoy in-house or chez toi. What makes La Caféothèque stand out is its commitment to providing the absolute best coffee from all over the world to their customers.
This 4e arrondissement gem also hosts a variety of events, including concerts, recitals, and art expositions, which they’ve dubbed “Café-i-culture”. You can check out this month’s schedule online here.
My experience at La Caféothèque was lovely. Two friends and I had a wonderful afternoon laughing, catching up, and enjoying our delicious coffees. The greenery inside made it seem like we were in a rustic, tropical place, all the while looking out at the Seine.
La Caféothèque de Paris
52 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville
Your new favorite place to eat in Montparnasse: Le Stand
Le Stand is a new New York-Italian style restaurant in the fun 14e arrondissement. A lover of both the outdoor métro line 6 and the Edgar Quinet neighborhood, I was absolutely delighted to discover this eatery.
Chef Yann Frohn has put together an incredible menu that will satisfy any member of your party’s palate. Burgers and pasta dishes highlight his mastery of this particular cuisine, while the plat du jour menu usually features French dishes that are salivation-worthy.
Frohn’s previous experience at four-star hotel restaurants and in the luxury industry is apparent in the presentation and variety of the menu. The ingredients are fresh, with the vast majority of the menu made in-house. The burger was perfectly American, and the fries were without a doubt the best I’ve ever had.
The décor is fun and modern, and it gives you the impression of dining in a Big Apple eatery. It’s only when the staff and other guests speak that you realize you actually are in the French capital. I absolutely loved the light fixtures (see below) and red walls!
Desserts were also amazing! As you know, I’m a lover of the café gourmand, and this particular one was a big hit. If you can contain yourself and enjoy just one dessert, I would go for the profiteroles!
Another plus is that they can accommodate large parties. We celebrated my brother-in-law’s birthday, and all twenty of us were easily accommodated and well taken care of.
For a casual lunch or night out, Le Stand is the next place on your list.
9, boulevard Edgar Quinet
A coffee date with friends today turned into the discovery of a fabulous new Mexican restaurant, El Guacamole near the Canal Saint Martin. I’m not often in the 10th, but after today’s walk through the charming neighborhood, I will be exploring it more in the future. May I present to you El Guacamole.
Being from Southern California (and the daughter of Mexican parents), my standards for the cuisine are high. El Guacamole did very well. It’s not easy to get the authentic ingredients to cook certain traditional dishes, but I really enjoyed their cactus (nopal) taco. I loved the horchata, a traditional Mexican beverage made with rice and cinnamon.
I find it interesting to see how much tacos cost around the world. I found a pub in Royal Leamington Spa, England, that has tacos for £6, and another restaurant in Paris that has them for 6€…each. Priced at 3€50, these tacos are reasonably priced, and the tortillas were so good!
Lovely location, delicious food, and cosy atmosphere. See you at El Guacamole!
37, rue Yves Toudic
This is a match made in fashion and gastronomy heaven!
One of my favorite brands, Citizens of Humanity, has created a monthly video series called “Just Like You.” Each video features a different, international personality discussing their respective passions, professions, personal stories, and thoughts on life. One of my favorite videos in the series spotlights French chef Hélène Darroze.
Though she is now the fourth generation of a family of chefs, Hélène Darroze first earned a business degree and joined Alain Ducasse’s team at the prestigious Louis XV restaurant in Monaco – but in the office. Ducasse finally persuade her to return to the kitchen, and the rest is history. She returned to her family’s Michelin-starred restaurant, and then went on to open her own restaurant in Paris, where she won her first Michelin star in 2001, and then a second star in 2003. In 2008, she was named the new chef of The Connaught hotel in London after its nine month £70 million restoration and renovation program, where she earned them another two stars. On top of this all, other accolades include becoming a chevalier (knight) in the French Legion of Honor in 2012 and being the inspiration for the character Colette in Pixar’s 2007 film Ratatouille. Two cities, two restaurants, two children: she can do it all!
What is exceptional about Hélène Darroze’s cooking is her loyalty to her roots and the flavors of southwestern France, particularly from the Landes region where she was raised. Her culinary style has been dubbed “haute rustique,” as it combines the sophistication of French cuisine with traditional cooking methods and hearty ingredients. Darroze says she is very influenced by her heritage, where art de vivre cuisine and food is so important. This unique emphasis has no doubt contributed to her international success.
It’s no wonder that Citizens of Humanity selected such a dynamic and passionate person for their series. I fell in love with this clever combination to showcase their partnership, a jean oven mitt! And x marks the spot, or the Hélène Darroze restaurant in Paris. You can purchase the mitt online here.
All proceeds from the Hélène Darroze x Citizens of Humanity Oven Mitt will benefit Afghanistan Libre, an organization that provides assistance in constructing and running primary and secondary schools for girls.
Visit Hélène Darroze in Paris
4, rue d’Assas, 75006
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London
The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL
or at the Raff House in Moscow
Malaya Nikitskaya street, 25
What is an English breakfast?
You hear about Continental breakfasts, American breakfasts, petit dejeuner, but what is an English breakfast? A novice but very curious student of all things English, I finally had my first English breakfast. John and I went to The Mashed Swedes Cafe in Royal Leamington Spa, an adorable little eatery in town. What we had was delicious.
A traditional, or full, English breakfast consists of the following items: fried eggs, bacon, sausages, fried red tomatoes, baked beans, fresh salted mushrooms, fried or roast potatoes, with the options of black pudding, fried bread, or toasted and buttered bread. To drink, we had the option of tea or coffee and an orange juice. The Mashed Swedes Cafe serves breakfast all day, as do many establishments that have this on the menu.
According to Market Kitchen, there are 40 or so interchangeable ingredients to a full British and Irish breakfast! There are also different versions of the meal, depending on where in the UK you have it. There are Cornish, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and Ulster Fry alternatives, which incorporate regional foods into the breakfast. Fun fact: In Ireland, this full breakfast is also known as a “Chub.”
This meal, though extremely tasty, is not for the small-stomached, the faint-hearted (black pudding is actually a type of sausage made by dried pig’s blood with a filler), or for anyone on a diet. However, if you want to treat yourself to a hearty, traditional English meal, I highly recommend this delicious breakfast.
When in England, do as the English do.
The Mashed Swedes Cafe
39 Russell Street
01926 430 599
Follow them on Twitter at @MashedSwedes
It’s officially December!
That means warm coats, scarves, cuddle weather, winter solstice, and – Advent calendars! I love that little daily piece of chocolate as a way to countdown to Christmas.
Advent calendars seem to be extremely popular in Europe! Every main chocolate brand has their own. Kinder, Milka, Lindt, and Cadbury – you can find their cute little designs everywhere. I was recently gifted the Cadbury one below by a lovely Englishman; it’s quality chocolate. I learned that there is a game that goes along with it; the person who correctly guesses the shape or design of the chocolate that day gets to eat it!
If you are looking for a truly French advent calendar, you only need to look no further than one of the best chocolatiers in the country: La Maison du Chocolat.
Nicolas Cloiseau, Master Chef of La Maison du Chocolat, “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”, has created some delightful and unique collections for this holiday season. The beautiful Advent Christmas tree is the most delicious way to build anticipation for the 25th.
Or you can choose a Christmas Star Coffret, for the day of, and pick from the following options:
Dark & spicy – Praline with crunchy slivers and Christmas spices (cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg)
Dark & sparkling – Ganache sphere with Champagne Blanc de Blancs (100% chardonnay, very fruity)
Sweet & nutty – Almond paste from Provence with walnuts from the Périgord and honey from the Morvan forest
Dark & acidulous – Pure origin dark ganache from the Dominican Republic with full, round chocolate notes and crisp, acidulous flavours of candied fruits
Dark & fruity – Duo of ganaches with coconut and lime. White chocolate ganache with coconut, dark chocolate ganache with lime.
I would have to get all of them!
For mouth-watering and gorgeous decorations, bring home the Celestial Tree, the Christmas Star, or for the most French touch to your Christmas, the Constellation Bûche de Noël. Looking forward to seeing what will come home with me on my next trip to La Maison du Chocolat!
La Maison du Chocolat
Cupcakes are my favorite dessert.
Anyone that knows me will tell you that I love cupcakes. After the Cupcake Camp Paris 2012 event last month, that love was officially declared over cyber space. That being said, I am happy to introduce to you your newest love affair with the dessert. It is found at the following address: 11 rue d’Armaillé, 75017. Where am I taking you? To Cupcake Lovers in Paris.
After meeting the lovely owner, Venata, at Cupcake Camp Paris 2012, I knew I had to visit her shop as soon as it opened. When I stopped by her pink cupcake paradise, I spoke with her as we were deciding which of the gorgeous desserts we would bring home.I learned that her background is in management and marketing. She combined her MBA degree with her love of baking and voila, Cupcake Lovers in Paris was born.
Of the four kinds we chose, each one was better than the next. The red velvet cupcake was incredibly moist, with a very complementary frosting. As a person who likes the cake and not the frosting, this is a huge kudos to Venata’s culinary skills. The Oreo cupcake was a first; I’d never seen one, let alone tasted one! The mini Oreo cookie on top was a cute touch. The speculoos cupcake essentially rocked my world, and dark chocolate was divine.
Also a smart incorporation to her store: party supplies. You can find themed napkins, plates, party favors, you name it. For those of us that hunt around and consult all sorts of online forums, I am here to tell you that you can find everything you need for your child’s party here.
Deliciously-made and beautifully-decorated, Venata’s cupcakes come in themes, as well as a large variety of flavors. You can also get a mini cupcake, for those that just want a little taste of something sweet. Additionally, you can order customized cupcakes and/or full-sized cakes, so keep them in mind for a loved one’s birthday. Whatever the case may be, I would head to Cupcake Lovers in Paris for a treat.
Cupcake Lovers in Paris
11 rue d’Armaillé, 75017
Metro/RER: Etoile, Ternes, Argentine
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Being away from the US, I was curious as to how the celebrations would fare this year. Where does one get cranberries, a turkey, pumpkin pie ingredients, gravy, and stuffing in this city?
Thankfully, (pun intended) you can get it all in Paris! Not without a few treks across entire metro lines and hitting the store Thanksgiving in the Marais (without which the full meal would not have been possible), but you can definitely find everything you need to pull off a successful Turkey Day meal. In fact, at the store Thanksgiving, one can get all sorts of American food products! (Reese’s peanut butter cups, included!) Oh, the way to get a turkey across the city is to place yourself in the back corners of the metro, where you can put it under your seat, or behind you on your seat, because that thing is heavyyy.
I was fortunate enough to have not one but TWO Thanksgivings this year! Both involved including friends from all over the world and introducing them to our fabulous eat-til-you-burst holiday. The best parts of the night were going around and saying what we were thankful for (which everyone loved! When an English friend heard what we were about to do, she said, “YES! I have always wanted to do this and I never thought I would get to!!!!!” Happy that this made her holiday!) and introducing European friends to my favorite dessert, pumpkin pie. I loved seeing the concerned and curious faces take their first bite of the pie and immediately smile and say, “Oh my goodness! THIS IS SO GOOD!” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, pumpkin pie is amazing.
Of course, the experience of being able to celebrate this important American holiday while being almost 6000 miles away from home was truly the best part of this Thanksgiving. This year, I am thankful for: my family, of course, whose support and love is my biggest motivation to succeed and without whom my life in Paris would not be possible; my friends, old and new, who never cease to impress me, motivate me, make me proud, and make me laugh; my voice teacher and professors, who help and push me to achieve my goals; having met John, who every day makes me so incredibly happy; and last but certainly not least, Paris, which has shown me different sides of myself, has made me grow as a person with the new challenges and experiences that I see on a daily basis, and is the city that has introduced me to some of the most amazing people and things in the world.
As always, Paris, je t’aime.