January 14, 2012

Day 10 : Traditional french cuisine from those who know it best...locals!

What a week! and what a busy Saturday! Time sure does fly...

After nearly 10 days settling into my new apartment, I finally learned how to operate my new induction stovetop! Yay! Of course, rather than cook my first proper meal at home tonight, I decided to head out for dinner instead with the lovely Mademoiselle Yasuyo and Monsieur Kurt. Seeing that we were in France, Yausyo's Parisian friend Edouard wanted to make sure we sampled "real" traditional french cuisine while we were here and introduced us to one of his favorite spots, Café Constant on 139 rue Saint-Dominique in the 7e arrondissement near La Tour Eiffel.

While this little quaint restaurant is tucked away in one of the most touristy neighborhoods of Paris (and seems to be very popular with tourists), I can happily assure you that you won't be paying tourist prices for the incredibly delightful and authentic french dishes on the menu of this "hidden gem." Given that Café Constant does not take reservations and is quite popular with both tourists and locals, Edouard mentioned that it's always best to arrive around 7:00pm here if you want to grab a table without waiting.

All in all, with delicious food, great wine, entertaining conversation and wonderful company, our gastronomic french adventure this evening was the perfect way to celebrate my first full week in Paris!

Cafe Constant | 7e arrondissement

Deviled eggs = very french indeed. These were so light and airy... and very yummy, too! | Oeufs mimosa (aka. deviled eggs) @ Cafe Constant

Incredibly delicious. Enough said. | Crab cake @ Cafe Constant

Perfection. Why does smoked salmon seem to taste better in France? | Smoked salmon @ Cafe Constant

Americans take note: proper portion for a main course. Just enough to satisfy your hunger and keep you craving more, but not too much to make you feel sick as if you'll die of a heart attack soon...| Roasted Chicken with herb butter and roasted potatoes @ Cafe Constant

Very tender, but surprisingly, the most delightful part of the meal was the mashed potatoes. a.ma.zing. | Duck with mash potatoes @ Cafe Constant

Any dessert with ice cream is always a winner in my book :-) | Profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce @ Cafe Constant

January 13, 2012

Day 9 : Cultural immersion continues... how to be a French domestic goddess

Clearly it's something I still haven't mastered...

After a busy week and another busy day catching up on work, I decided to stay in this evening to relax... and by relax, I mean clean :-) Yes, as many of you who know me well, I strangely enough love to clean, iron, cook or bake when I feel like de-stressing. Something about getting the house in order always makes me feel more productive, and when I'm feeling productive, I'm feeling happy :-)

Unfortunately, as I've quickly learned this week, the simple things in life back home are actually not so simple when you're forced not to use english. Exhibit A (below): doing laundry.

It's already bad enough that I can't seem to figure out how to work my induction stovetop, but now it seems I can't work my laundry machine either :-(

"Qoui?! Qu'est-ce cela? Ça ne marche pas?" | The french dashboard of my washer/dryer machine... what does this mean?

"Umm, wow, are you sure this is a washing machine? Looks more like a spaceship to me..." | Laundry capsule of my washer/dryer machine

Probably the only time (and kind) of "dirty laundry" I intend to share on the internet :-p | Towels inside my "laundry spaceship vessel"

Victory of the night: discovered my favorite laundry detergent from uni at my local Monoprix! | Ariel laundry detergent

January 12, 2012

Day 8 : I gave in... can't fight love!

Yes, I know... I should have waited another week longer, but ah I couldn't resist. I have been eyeing these pretty little things for the last six months and forced myself to patiently wait to buy them until I got to Paris (rather then spending a little fortune back in the States).

For those of you who are not shoe ballet flat connoisseurs, these my friends are Repettos--only one of the best, classic brands of authentic ballerina shoes in the world. and what I love the most about them is that they're also one of the most comfortable pairs I've ever worn!

Okay, maybe I didn't save 70%-80% off, but happy to say I did manage to find this pair in my size (last one in stock!) on sale at the Repetto store around the corner... and if anything, I've already saved enough in dollars by buying them here in Paris :-) Now, how could I say no to that?

J'adore... ah, the color of love! | Repetto Ballerine Laque Flamme

P.S. Don't you love the rouge (red) lacquered finish? Yes, it's a new year, and I'm finally venturing out of my comfort zone... of wearing all black. Figured these darling twins will make a nice, chic statement to my noir wardrobe :-) Can't wait to wear them around Paris!

January 11, 2012

Day 7 : Let the pâtisserie tour begin...

Okay, I have a confession to make: I didn't come to France because I wanted to study luxury brand management @ ESSEC. No, the truth is I just wanted an excuse to come back and tour all of the best pâtisseries in Paris! Admittedly, Americans haven't quite mastered the art of desserts like the French have--something I miss dearly from my old life living in Europe.

Mission for the next three months: find the ultimate dessert in Paris. We all know I love the French macaron (especially if it's from Pierre Hermé!); however, I've decided to take on the new challenge to find something even better. If I'm lucky, 100 times better!

First stop on my 2012 Parisian Dessert Tour: La Pâtisserie des Rêves. This gorgeous little pastry shop has two locations in Paris (7e and 16e), though only the shop on 111 rue Longchamp actually has a little cafe where you can sit and enjoy their wonderful yummy creations. Inside you'll find a simply stunning display of all the gorgeous pastries on the menu!

As for the desserts themselves, I must confess I did find one that's giving the PH's macaron a run for its money--Le Paris-Brest! Words alone cannot describe how insanely delicious (and heavenly) this dessert tasted. For this reason, I shall just leave you to drool at my pictures below and pray that one day you may have the chance to come to Paris and taste it for yourself :-)

La Pâtisserie des Rêves | 16e arrondissement

I am in heaven...! | desserts on display @ La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Correction: I am in chocolate heaven...! | Le Grand Cru

My favorite dessert on the menu... I could eat only this for the rest of my life. | Le Paris-Brest

January 10, 2012

Day 6 : Sneak peek... soldes! (translation: French sales!)

Just in time for our arrival... French Sales start in Paris tomorrow! We've been hearing so much about it from our classmates that Yasuyo, Jennifer and I decided to head over to Printemps and Galeries Lafayette earlier this evening for a sneak peek. Ah, so many of the sales were tempting, but happy to say I resisted on indulging in some retail therapy. Well, at least for now...

The French Sales are expected to run for the next three weeks, and while some of the deals look irresistible now, my new french friends have advised me to try and avoid shopping this week--many of the items could be marked down as much as 70%-80% off in the final week! The only downside, my favorite items might be gone by then...

Shopping in Paris | Printemps department store

Russian treats and French macarons galore! | Pâtisserie Café Pouchkine @ Printemps

Christmas window display | Pâtisserie Café Pouchkine @ Printemps

Gold macarons! | Pâtisserie Café Pouchkine @ Printemps

Paris shopping continues... | Galeries Lafayette

GL = killing two birds with one stone = sightseeing + shopping! | Galleries Lafayette Paris flagship store

Simply Spectacular. | Famous Stained-glass Dome @ Galeries Lafayette

January 9, 2012

Day 5 : Late night adventure... getting lost in Paris!

Of course, leave it to Yasuyo and me to get lost on our first day of class!

Yes, I'm a little embarrassed to say that what should have been 40-minute commute from ESSEC's Cergy campus to downtown Paris ended up taking us almost two hours this evening! However, in out defense, it was not entirely our fault--it turns out a train had malfunctioned somewhere between Etoile and Auber stations on the RER A line... we ended hopping on a train to Gare St-Lazare, where we should have gotten off. However, I guess because we were having so much fun chatting, we forgot to get off and suddenly found ourselves heading back outside of Paris! Dear oh dear...

The expression on my face when I realized what had happened must have been priceless... Two nice frenchmen sitting next to us noticed my reaction and asked if we needed help--we clearly looked lost. Luckily, one of the guys spoke just as much english as I spoke french. After explaining to him that we had come from ESSEC and were trying to get to Etoile, he kindly offered to check Google Maps on his Android and help us find the best way home (it seemed none of the train lines we needed were working, and we had actually taken a train not on our Paris Metro map... Ah!)

Being my usual self, I decided to document our spontaneous mini adventure :-) Had either Yasuyo or I been alone, we would have probably freaked out, but oddly enough, getting lost was actually quite fun. Don't think either of us laughed so hard since we arrived in Paris! Good times. Definitely one for the books!

Yasuyo looking a bit confused, "How do we get home again?!" | RER A line - somwhere between Cergy and Paris

After an hour and half, we finally made it back to downtown Paris! | Gare Saint-Lazare

Made it safely back to Paris, but apparently still lost... "How do we get out of this station again?" | Sortie (Exit) sign @ Gare Saint-Lazare

Finally on our way home! | 9 Line - Paris Metro

Probably the nicest Metro stop I've seen in Paris yet! | Metro Platform @ Haussmann St-Lazare

Metro (aka. Subway) art in Paris rocks | Mosaic of "Red Lips" @ Haussmann St-Lazare

January 8, 2012

Day 4 : Just another Sunday... strolling down the Champs-Élysées

Arc de Triomphe | Place Charles de Gaulle

street view from Charles de Gaulle | western end of the Champs-Élysées

Lately its seem to have become a tourist spot since my first visit (in 2005), but always love finding quirky gifts here... | Publicis Drugstore

Objet du jour No. 1 (aka. Favorite Find of the Day) - I want this book for my library! | NYT 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada

Objet du jour No. 2 - The funniest (cutest?) iPhone case (bunny ears + bushy tail!) | Rabito

Objet du jour No. 3: Another book for my (style) library... of course, it must be the french version. not english. | La Parisienne Ines de la Fressange

Yes, of course, I couldn't resist... had to indulge in Rose, Cassis, and Olive Oil macarons :-) | Pierre Hermé @ Publicis Drugstore

The New M&S Store in Paris! ah, piece of London in France :-) | Marks & Spencer on Champs-Élysées

A French client I once worked with back in the day. Of course, I had to stop in and browse... | Sephora on Champs-Élysées

I think this is the largest Sephora I've ever been too...! | Entrance of Sephora on Champs-Élysées

Christmas lights at night. Pretty. | eastern end of Champs-Élysées

Arc de Triomphe at night. What a lovely walk. Now, time to go home... Bonsoir. | Place Charles de Gaulle