Paris Food Diary (in photos) Part 2

I joined my life wife in Paris for 4 nights to once again, do nothing but eat. If you have yet to see part one of my “Paris Food Diary” from 2015… Here is the link to Part 1

This post is going to focus on the food we ate, sights from our wanders to come in another post.

You could say we ate a few macarons. All Pierre Hermé (#pierreherméeveryday), with the exception of the heart-shaped raspberry macarons, from Bostani. We wanted to get these for Valentine’s Day. My two favourite macarons this time around: Jardin De Lima (lucuma and candied ginger) and Montebello (pistachio and raspberry).

IMG_2947

We loved all of the Valentine’s displays around the city!

IMG_2948IMG_9867IMG_3196

As always, we drank all the noisettes.

IMG_3098

Stohrer — a must do when in Paris, every. single. time. Salted Caramel and Coffee eclairs.

IMG_3052

God bless Eric Kayser for making the most gorgeous almond croissants!

IMG_3006

IMG_3100

When we were in Bostani, we only bought two heart-shaped macarons. The shop keeper loved us and gave us these DELICIOUS white chocolate, passion fruit filled chocolates and two chocolate truffles on the house and said “I like to see people get fat” and thanked us for our smiles.

IMG_3109

Spotted under the stairs of a wine bar in Le Marais… words to live by. “You don’t get fat if you eat good.”

IMG_2941

Falafel from L’as du Fallafel round one! Easily one of my favourite meals IN THE WORLD. I am convinced I could eat it endlessly.

IMG_2995

Bonus:  our Airbnb was less than a 5 minute walk from Rue des Rosiers, meaning we could bring the falafel back to eat in peace (aka privately make a mess of our faces) every day!!

IMG_2996

Falafel round 2 (extra ‘sexy sauce’ on this one): with pickles from Sacha Finkelsztajn (all 5 pickles for me, God bless)

IMG_3189

Falafel round 3!

IMG_2970

CANDELARIA – our favourite place! When we went in 2015, we thought it was so ridiculous that the two of us managed to spend €65 on tacos and margaritas. Well, we upped that this time… we spent €73.20!!! We had the best night. Three margaritas each, a bowl of their fabulous bean dip, two orders of chips and salsa, two tacos each, and a shot of THE most gorgeous, ‘soft’, smooth, high quality tequila we’ve ever had (Altos), on the house! We drank with the kind woman next to us (Carol, if you’re reading this… hi!!) and our waitress. She said it was a pleasure to have us… probably because we exuded joy with every bite and sip we took!

Please note the difference between the above and the below photos: the two of us finished the entire bottle of the homemade “super hot” habanero sauce!!

IMG_2977IMG_2971IMG_3012

We also revisited Christian Constant’s Les Cocottes because we loved it so much the first time. We ordered the special starter of the day: poached egg with asparagus cooked in the most magical butter sauce we’ve ever tasted!

IMG_3013

Sirloin

IMG_3016

We had to get the caramelised potatoes stuffed with pig’s feet again!

IMG_3018IMG_3020

The Fabulous Christian Constant Chocolate Tart… OMG. Notice how we ordered two this time. We still stand by the fact that this is one of our top two desserts we have EVER had around the world (#2 being Taco Taco/San Lorenzo’s nutella cheesecake in Dublin). This chocolate tart is EVERYTHING. It’s so shiny, we were singing “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake to it. We are that much in love with it.

IMG_9803

February is a wonderful time to enjoy French onion soup in Paris, served with red wine at lunch, of course! This time, we went to Les Philosophes and had a fabulous experience.

IMG_3110

The fact that we had crêpes and galettes on Pancake Tuesday was a complete coincidence. We didn’t realise it was Pancake Tuesday when we made our reservation at Breizh Cafe in advance! Artichoke galette and apple crêpe with ice cream.

IMG_3112IMG_3211

On Valentine’s Day, we decided to stay in and enjoy a wine and cheese night. We were absolutely stuffed with cheese!

Paris never disappoints. I am pretty sure I can never eat sugar again.

Advertisements

Reflecting on 2017

Overall, 2017 was a very good year. It consisted of some turbulent times for me, but overall very positive. A few life changes, too! This year definitely flew by faster than any other year for me. I visited 3 new countries (Spain, Czech Republic and Slovenia) and visited an area of Italy I’ve never been to before (Tuscany). I also returned to my favourite destination outside of Ireland (Napoli).

January – I rang in the New Year with my family in Florida, something I hadn’t done in a couple years. — I finally saw Tommy Tiernan live in Dublin.

February – I submitted the hard-bound copy of my dissertation. — I visited Barcelona over my mid-term break.

IMG_8698

March – I presented my research at the IGC’s annual conference. — Celebrated my life wife’s birthday in style (and in the sun!). — Our St. Paddy’s Day celebrations exceeded expectations! We celebrated at the Guinness Storehouse and expected to be annoyed by touristy events, but it was a blast!!

IMG_8863

April – My sister visited me – we had a few days in Dublin, then we went to Prague, Ljubljana and Bled. When we returned to Dublin, my parents joined us for my Master’s graduation.

IMG_0263

May – (and end of April) I joined my parents in Tuscany, Italy for a long weekend.

IMG_0645

June – I treated myself to a night in a luxury hotel since I couldn’t take a holiday this summer. I had 5 days off between the last day of school and the start of my summer job. — I had a 16 week blow dry done for the first time and my life was changed forever! — My Christmas gift from my life wife was a trip to London to see Adele, which turned out to be extra special since it was unexpectedly her last planned live show!

July – Saw Passenger in Iveagh Gardens thanks to A, who got me a ticket for my birthday. — Began living my best life on Mondays with my life wife – where we ditched work to do cliff walks while singing Queen followed by afternoon cocktails in the sun!

IMG_8479

August – August was a month full of change and mixed emotions. Celebrated my anniversary of moving in with my life wife on our actual move-in date. I moved into my very own studio apartment, which is a bit of a dream come true. I have no commute to work and live in one of the most beautiful areas of Dublin. However, moving out of my two bedroom apartment in my favourite area of Dublin (Smithfield) and no longer living with my life wife was the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make in my life thus far (I sobbed on moving day). — I found out I was able to return to the school I worked in last year – the most wonderful surprise! — Celebrated my 29th birthday with a beautiful brunch – a place we had never been before, but quickly became one of our top two favourite brunches in Dublin!

IMG_0552

September – Said “see you soon” to my life wife and saw her off to Los Angeles. I threw myself into work once she left to distract myself.

IMG_0662

October – Normally my favourite month of the year, but unfortunately was a very bad month for me for reasons I won’t go into right now. It was all good at the end of the month though – I went to Napoli on my mid-term break and all was right with the world again. I ate 4 pizzas in 3 days… more details to come!

IMG_1014

November – Finally visited the National Botanic Gardens for the first time. Saw the Grafton Street Christmas lights lit up on the first night with my friend N, while eating Terry’s Chocolate Orange McFlurries.

IMG_1594

December – Welcomed my life wife back to Dublin for a few days for her viva… what a beautiful reunion it was! We had the absolute best 5.5 days and did ate everything we set out to do eat. — I am getting ready to fly home to Florida for Christmas and feel very blessed that I get to do so. It hasn’t hit me yet though… I’ve been so busy and it’s also currently very mild in Dublin (today was 13C/55F), so it no longer feels very Christmassy (it did until this week!). I am so excited to be home and watch Christmas movies with my family. I haven’t been home since last Christmas.

thumb_IMG_1869_1024

I am NOT ready for January and February in Ireland, but am pretty excited for 2018! For one, it’s an even number, which makes me feel a bit more calm for some reason. What’s on the horizon? So far the only plan I have is to join my life wife in France over my February mid-term break and to continue Sean Nós dancing. Who knows what’s next for me? I’ll begin a new decade next year, so I’ll try to plan something big! Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas… see you in the New Year!

Siena and Florence

We ventured to Siena in our rental car on the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend (the crowds! the traffic!) and it took us a solid hour and a half to find parking. We were still based in our middle-of-nowhere home in the Chianti region not too far from Siena.

IMG_0707IMG_9911IMG_0706

IMG_9849

The incredible Duomo di Siena – the striped marble is a sight to behold!

IMG_9866

I was so disappointed to not have the opportunity to climb the Torre del Mangia tower in Piazza del Campo, because it was sold out when we got there, even though we were there in very early afternoon. This was #1 on my to-do list in Siena, but we still enjoyed wandering around the sun-drenched piazza.

IMG_9845

Very relaxing lunch in Siena

IMG_9881IMG_0689IMG_0648IMG_0661IMG_0662

Even though Siena got increasingly (and absurdly) crowded as the day went on, we really enjoyed leisurely wandering the beautiful lanes of this unique city and enjoying some down time and gorgeous food. We ended the day by buying a box of Bar Pasticceria Nannini’s gorgeous ricciarelli… unbeatable!!

The following morning, we returned our rental car (which took forever, plus they charged us out the wazoo for not having a completely full tank (even though it was nearly full) – we used up what cash we had to purchase petrol, we couldn’t find a station that was open to accept a credit card!) and took a taxi to the bus stop and waited for the return bus to Florence. We stupidly purchased our tickets in advance. I say stupidly because, as it was a bank holiday Monday (1st May), the bus was only running a couple times that day (this information was nowhere to be found online, I did check in advance!) and we had just missed a bus by two minutes. The next one was not for another four or five hours. So, we had to buy a local bus ticket to take us to the train station and had to buy train tickets. Such a waste of money and time, but we finally arrived in Florence… of course it was lashing rain! We dropped off our luggage at our Airbnb apartment and went for some lunch.

IMG_9938IMG_995220170501_165356IMG_9960

IMG_9968

Il Duomo di Firenze

IMG_9974IMG_9976

IMG_9987

The lane our apartment was on

IMG_0731

Part of my lunch: Pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato and bread soup)

For dinner, we went to my life wife/bestie’s favourite restaurant in Florence, Il Brincello. It was exquisite and we had the most enjoyable dining experience.

IMG_0783

Bruschetta never gets old!

IMG_0788

My love for pici knows no bounds

On our last morning in Florence, I went for a nice long walk while my parents relaxed and packed up their bags.

IMG_0014

Early morning – no crowds!

IMG_0016IMG_0018

IMG_0058

View from Piazzale Michelangelo

IMG_0082

Pear and pecorino ravioli with balsamic vinegar

We enjoyed one last Tuscan lunch together before we made our way to the train station. I took the train to Bologna to fly back to Dublin and my parents made their way to Venice. It is never enough time, but I am so thankful for this beautiful long weekend with my parents in Tuscany.

What have I been up to lately? I went to London with my life wife to see Adele in June (blog post coming soon!). We spent our summer ditching work to do numerous cliff walks while simultaneously belting out Queen and treating ourselves to lunch, treats and drinks in the sun afterwards. I celebrated my birthday at the end of August – my last year in my twenties! I went through a major life change in early September when my life wife moved 5,200 miles away to Los Angeles (though she is visiting for a few days in two weeks!). I moved in to my dream apartment, a bright, cosy studio in a beautiful, quiet but central area of Dublin. I’ve thrown myself into my career and am really enjoying my work. I returned to Napoli, Italy over my October mid-term break, so more on that later! I am counting down the days until I head home to Florida for Christmas.

SaveSave

Under the Tuscan Sun

In April of this year, my parents and my sister flew to Dublin for my Master’s graduation.  From previous blog posts, you already know my sister and I travelled to Prague, Ljubljana and Bled before I graduated. My parents arrived the morning after we returned to Dublin, I graduated the following day, and then my parents went off to Italy, on a trip that I planned for them. I was lucky enough to be able to join them for 4.5 days (3 nights in Quercegrossa [in the Chianti region], Tuscany and 1 night in Florence). We spent most of our time relaxing in the countryside surrounding our beautiful Tuscan home and then one day in Siena and one day in Florence.

I had to wake up at 3:15am on the Friday in order to make my flight to Rome at 6:20am. I then jumped on a train at Fiumicino airport to Florence, where I met my parents at the train station. We took the bus to Siena and then took a taxi to the car rental place (I’m exhausted just typing this), where we hired our Audi for the long weekend. I then attempted to drive us to our Tuscan home (an Airbnb), but Google Maps did not recognise the address, since it is in the middle of nowhere, not close to any major towns.

At this stage, I hadn’t eaten in hours and was purely exhausted from being awake since 3:15. I developed a bad migraine and we were stressed about finding our place before dark, which was fast approaching. We stopped and asked numerous people for directions, but they either had no idea how to help us or did not want to help us. We finally knocked on a random person’s door and they were so kind and knew exactly where to direct us. We arrived hours after we were supposed to, and were so relieved to finally be home.

IMG_9705IMG_9703

IMG_9706

View from our Tuscan home

IMG_9711

The only restaurant nearby, where we had three meals (Il Mulino di Quercegrossa)

IMG_9709

The local grocery shop

IMG_9710

Quercegrossa town

After checking in, we immediately drove to the only restaurant in town, Il Mulino di Quercegrossa, and finally sat down to eat at 10pm. I hadn’t eaten anything since that morning, and I am the type of person who needs to eat every couple of hours, so you can imagine how I was feeling. My parents were just as bad. We couldn’t even talk, we were desperate for food and water. Luckily, the meal was divine.

IMG_0560

Our first (and in my opinion, best) meal – pici with black pepper and pecorino cheese

IMG_9712

We ate our breakfast and drank our coffee on our lovely terrace under the Tuscan sun and it was our favourite activity of the trip.

IMG_9726

San Quirico d’Orcia

We drove around the Val d’Orcia region on our first full day in Tuscany. We unfortunately got lost trying to find a certain restaurant, and ended up arriving just after they closed between lunch and dinner. Needless to say, we spent a silly amount of time being hungry on our trip, which is something I never thought could or would happen in Italy!

IMG_9729

San Quirico d’Orcia

IMG_9736

Val d’Orcia

IMG_9755

My favourite trees

IMG_9813

IMG_0564

Views from our Tuscan home

IMG_0567

Views from our Tuscan home

IMG_0591IMG_0592

IMG_0613

The beautiful Il Mulino di Quercegrossa restaurant

IMG_0628IMG_0638IMG_0645IMG_9842

IMG_9757

I love the gorgeous light in these photos – the Tuscan sun beginning to set

IMG_9759IMG_9761IMG_9764IMG_9770

On one of our evenings in Quercegrossa, we heard a distant sound of bells. I ran outside to see what was happening and saw that a heard of sheep was coming up towards our home. I screamed for my Mum to come out and see what was occurring. We realised the sheep had bells around their necks and it was the most magical thing to witness. The sound was absolutely beautiful, not to mention the scenery of the sunset in the background of the rolling Tuscan hills.

IMG_9777IMG_9788IMG_0602IMG_0610IMG_0606

I am so grateful for the beautiful time spent with my parents in Italy. Tuscany is magical, and I cannot wait to go back and explore more. In my next post, I’ll talk about our time in Siena and Florence.

SaveSaveSaveSave

The Magic of Lake Bled

Bled is an overwhelmingly beautiful place. So much so that it took me five months to write this blog post. Every time I sat down to try to choose photos to feature, I got so overwhelmed because I have thousands of beautiful options. I decided to just sit down on this beautiful Sunday, in my new apartment – sitting in the sun by the window next to a bunch of yellow roses that my friend brought me this morning, and randomly choose some photos to showcase how gorgeous Bled is.

My sister and I took the bus from Ljubljana to Bled, which was approximately a 1 hour and 15 minute journey. Since it was Easter weekend and shops would be closed for a couple days, we quickly checked into our Airbnb (15 minute walk from the lake) and rushed to the nearest supermarket, Mercado, to stock up on food. Afterwards, we ran down for our first sighting of the lake.

IMG_4043IMG_9356

It was foggy, eerie and honestly so breathtakingly beautiful. The weather forecast for the four nights we were staying in Bled was not looking good and we were worried because we wanted to see the lake in the sun, but we quickly learned there is no such thing as a proper weather forecast in Bled. We were awoken the next morning at 6am by the sun and we were SO excited, we didn’t even have breakfast, which was stupid because we rushed to the lake and ended up hiking to the Ojstrica viewpoint (views fueled and sponsored by a single banana).

IMG_4072

Our first sighting of Lake Bled in the sun – honestly just as magical in the fog!

The early morning hike up to Ojstrica was the best way to spend Easter Sunday morning and was easily one of the main highlights of our time in Bled.

IMG_9361

IMG_4115

Spectacular views from Ojstrica

IMG_4137

 

We could have stayed up there all day but unfortunately didn’t have any food and not enough water with us, so we headed back down for some breakfast. Be prepared, you will want to stay up there for hours!

IMG_4161

Other random highlights:

IMG_4178

Kremna rezina / Kremsnita (Bled cream cake) was definitely a highlight and we shared a piece every day we were there. Such a nice treat with coffee!

IMG_4209IMG_4287

Vintgar Gorge was beautiful as well and we have a lot of memories attached to that trip. It’s quite a long walk there, so we decided to hire a van to take us there and then we were going to walk back. There were a few other passengers and I was the last person to get out of the van when we arrived. Just as my sister was getting out (I was next), the van started to roll forward and my feet hit the ground just as half of the van went down into a ditch. We have no idea how it happened, but thank goodness no one was injured. On our walk back, we had continuous views like this (we felt like we were in the Sound of Music):

IMG_9431

IMG_4313

View from Bled Castle

IMG_9372

Summer tobagganing on the Straža ski slope – quite an experience!

IMG_9385IMG_4526IMG_4586IMG_4474

We took a Pletna boat out to the island which is something I do highly recommend. If you visit Bled, please make it more than a day trip! There is so much to see and do.

IMG_4825

Lots of orange in our adorable Airbnb apartment – bonus: we loved getting freshly squeezed OJ every morning!

IMG_4384IMG_4390IMG_4414IMG_4440IMG_4607IMG_4788

IMG_4802

The temperatures plummeted, as evidenced by the increase of snow in the mountains!

IMG_4850

Above all, it was the perfect place to both relax and adventure with my sister. Bled is quite magical and I would love to see it in all seasons. It is quite touristy, so it was nice to visit during shoulder season.

15th – 19th April 2017

 

SaveSave

Lovely Ljubljana

Everything I’ve ever read about Ljubljana, Slovenia is true – it is an amazing little city and is highly underrated. I truly think it’ll become extremely popular in the next five-ish years.  It reminded me of the European version of St. Petersburg, Florida – in the best possible way. It is so modern, relaxed, fresh, beautiful and trendy.

IMG_4013

IMG_3988

Cacao – superb gelato!

IMG_3997

Fantastic gelato-eating views

IMG_3968

View from Ljubljanski grad (Ljubljana Castle)

IMG_3973

Funicular down from the castle

We unfortunately only had a half day in Ljubljana (and the previous night), but easily could have spent a few days meandering and eating our way around the city. It is a very clean, small, walkable city with tons of beautiful, trendy restaurants and cafes.

IMG_3955

IMG_9336

The impressive Triple Bridge

IMG_4023

My favourite thing about Ljubljana is how welcomed you feel when you walk around. Unlike most major cities in Europe and around the world, there is no separation between locals and tourists. There isn’t a “touristy area” of the city where tourists tend to eat and drink. You will find locals and tourists together all around the city.

I fell in love with it instantly and immediately got the sense that I’d be happy living there. Definitely worth visiting!! My only complaint is it is so difficult to get to. I wish there were direct flights from Dublin!

Next up: Bled!

SaveSave

Peaceful Prague

There is no one in the world who is a more compatible travel companion for me than my sister. My sister, rather spontaneously, decided to book a trip to come visit me and attend my Master’s graduation, but also to spend just over a week of my Easter break travelling with me to Prague, Ljubljana and Bled. It was an absolutely fabulous trip and just what we needed, since we hadn’t really had much one-on-one sister time in a couple years. The trip was not without its bumps and was far from perfect (e.g., we found ourselves trying to translate items in a Czech pharmacy and sadly went to bed hungry our first night in Prague), but I wouldn’t have changed a thing (except for we would have liked to sleep in Bled, more on that later).

First up – highlights of Prague!

We stayed in a lovely, spacious Airbnb apartment right on the riverbank near Anděl for 3 nights.

IMG_3519

Dancing House

IMG_3526IMG_9143IMG_9148

IMG_9161

Lennon Wall

IMG_9186

 

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch on the terrace of the Lobkowicz Palace cafe at Prague Castle and this was the view. While it is rather touristy, I would highly recommend eating here. The service was friendly and fast, they didn’t rush us and the food was really nice.

IMG_3648

Trdelník

IMG_9202IMG_3650

 

I still dream of trdelník! This is a Czech pastry made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with a sugar and almond mix, with optional chocolate on the inside. If you don’t have an extremely high tolerance for sweets, you may want to split one of these with someone – they are huge! So so delicious. Eat as many as possible.

IMG_3631

St. Vitus Cathedral

IMG_9209

Malá Strana

IMG_9245

nakládaný hermelín (pickled cheese) @ U Fleků

While the pickled cheese was gorgeously delicious, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend U Fleků. I loved this restaurant when we walked in, but as soon as we sat down, we were put off quickly. They serve you alcohol without even asking if you want it and while I understand it’s a smart sales tactic, it’s pretty unfair when you don’t want to drink. The staff got extremely annoyed when we said we didn’t want the drinks, so that really ruined the experience for us. Having said that, if I had to do it all again, I’d still go back for this dish!

IMG_9230

Old Town Square – Easter market

IMG_3728

Church of Our Lady Before Týn

IMG_3779IMG_3787IMG_9306

 

IMG_9249

IMG_3822

Perníčkův sen

We were on our way to this precious bakery (cutest one I’ve ever seen in my life!) when we realised they closed in 15 minutes. We trekked across Prague to make it in time and to try a couple of their gorgeous cookies.

IMG_3854

Malá Strana

IMG_3665

Kampa Park

I had zero interest in seeing Kampa Park because these statues really creep me out. We had a good laugh when we accidentally passed through Kampa Park on our way back to our apartment.

IMG_3893

Jindřišská věž – Zvonice

IMG_3890

Sauerkraut soup

IMG_3891

Zvonice

If you go to Prague, ensure you go to Restaurant ZVONICE. This was by far our favourite experience of our whole trip, and we still talk about it on a regular basis. Zvonice is located on the top two floors of a Gothic bell tower and is an absolutely stunning restaurant, with wonderful views of the city. It is one of the most unique places I have ever eaten. The staff was incredibly friendly and welcoming.

We went for the sauerkraut soup and oh my dear Lord. To this day, it is one of my favourite dishes I have EVER eaten. Ever. Description: traditional South-Bohemian fine sauerkraut soup with roasted chanterelas, baked mashed potatoes and sour cream. Neither one of us likes mushrooms, but if you’re like us, don’t let that put you off. I’ve also read reviews of those who don’t even like sauerkraut and they still love this soup – I can see this being possible. I cannot describe this soup but I’ll tell you it’s an experience we will never forget.

When we were leaving Prague, we were squashed like bugs against the windshield of the airport bus literally next to the bus driver for 40 minutes because the bus was that full. We had to remain standing like that the whole time but funny enough, we found the whole experience quite amusing and the bus driver kept laughing at us.

Prague is a magnificently beautiful city and we really fell in love with the people and the Czech culture. We adore the city’s rule of no noise after 10pm in apartment buildings and really noticed Czech people are pretty much always quiet. You can barely hear any talking in restaurants! I loved this.

Next up: Ljubljana and Bled, Slovenia!