img_6191

Best Cafés in Paris

Wild & the Moon (Marais)

img_8544

Acai Bowl

A vegan/vegetarian café using plant-based and sustainably grown ingredients. They offer juices, smoothies, soups, salads, vegetable bowls, and packaged snacks (kale chips, fruit bars, hummus, etc.). Located on rue Charlot in between chic art galleries and hand-crafted jewelry stores. Highly recommend.

Holybelly (10th arr)

img_7190

Holy Baked Beans + Champignons 

Popular brunch and lunch spot with healthy vegan and vegetarian options. They change their menu monthly based on what is in season— exactly what I like to hear. Relaxed and casual atmosphere. They do not take reservations so be prepared to wait.

La Guinguette d’Angèle (1st and 11th arr)

img_7830

Lunch Box (changes daily)

img_8674

Known for her beautiful and feminine plates decorated with flower petals and herbs, Angèle brings you gluten-free delicacies. Angèle is leading the way in the emerging Parisian health food movement. She has a small take-away shop in the 1er, a café or salon de thé in the 11è, and a catering service. She is also working on her second cook book and TV show on La Quotidienne. I am slightly biased because I work for Angèle, but I firmly support her philosophy of creating natural and healthy dishes.

Café Oberkampf (11th arr)

img_6191

Green Eggs + Feta, Avo Toast, Ham Sandwich

One of my favorite affordable brunch spots in Paris. They offer delicious Shakshuka and Green Eggs + Feta (pictured above), as well as an assortment of toasts and sandwiches. Again, be prepared to wait on the weekends as the café only sits around ~15 people at a time. My friend and I were so eager to eat after waiting 40 minutes that we ordered 3 entrées between the two of us! No regrets.

Merci (3rd arr, Marais)

img_8034

Butternut Squash + Lentil Salad with citrus dressing, Lavender Scones

Merci is a combined home goods store and cafe. You have probably seen an Instagram photo of girls posing in front of the vintage mini car (painted either bright yellow or red) that is located in the courtyard. The walls are lined with books and it is common for customers to bring their well-groomed dogs. Enjoy a butternut squash and lentil salad along with lavender infused scones.

Season (Marais)

img_7784

Acai Bowl, Salmon Eggs Benedict, Pancakes with maple bacon 

Chic healthy café around the corner from Le Carreau du Temple. They offer a seasonal menu with fresh and organic ingredients. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Lomi (18th arr)

img_7869

Salmon avo toast

Excellent drip coffee and salmon avocado toast. A great place to bring your laptop and get work done.

La Caféothèque (4th arr)

img_6195

Go here to study or read. Lots of space and great coffee!

Ob-La-Di (Marais)

img_6327

Matcha Bowls + Drip Coffee

Small coffee shop with organic coffee and brunch items.

Boot Café (Marais)

img_5872

Carrot Cake + Latte

Adorable little cafe in the Marais, extremely tiny though. There is only room for four tables. They serve gourmet coffee and baked goods.

Strada Café (Latin Quarter and Marais)

img_7743

Celery Soup + Beet Hummus Toast + Salad 

img_5980

Enjoy delicious lunch items and coffee in a cozy and relaxed setting. They have great wifi too! It is around the corner from my apartment so I come here often to do computer work. I love their soups, which come with salad and a tartine.

Huguette Maison de Famille (6th arr)

img_6289

Golden Latte (turmeric, cinamon, ginger, + honey)

Coffee shop by the Jardin du Luxembourg. One of my favorite lattes in Paris is their Golden Latte avec curcuma, canelle, gingembre, et miel. So delicious! They also have a nice Matcha Latte.

Honor (Champs Élysées)

img_5328

Outdoor gourmet coffee shop off the streets of the Champs Élysées

Lily of the Valley (Marais)img_6128

Pink grandma-style tea house in the heart of the Marais. They offer a vast assortment of tea (green, black, white, etc.) that you can also get to-go.

Coutume Café (6th arr)

img_6100

Yogurt + Granola 

One of my favorite coffee shops in the 6th. They serve high-end coffee, delicious baked goods, and healthy breakfast items.

Gluten-Free Almond Breakfast Cake

img_7353

img_7358

Serve for breakfast or as a healthy dessert. To make it more decadent add maple syrup or honey on top. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 lemon (juice + zest)

1 banana (mashed)

1/4th c honey

1/2 c sliced almonds

125 g almond flour

1 t nutmeg

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla

butter or coconut oil for greasing

Directions:

  1. Mix the eggs, lemon juice and zest, banana, honey, and vanilla together. In a separate bowl combine the almond flour, 1/4th c sliced almonds, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  2. Combine the two mixtures and transfer the batter to a greased baking pan. Sprinkle the rest of the sliced almonds on top.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Chestnut, Chickpea, and Veggie Coconut Soup

IMG_7410.jpg

IMG_7382.jpg

IMG_7388.jpg 

This vegan/vegetarian friendly soup is simple and requires only two main ingredients—coconut milk and curry powder. The chestnuts and chickpeas are optional. I added them to give the soup some protein and texture. Alternatively you can add tofu. I used cauliflower, broccoli, and mushrooms but feel free to replace these with your favorite veggies. Eggplant and sweet potato are a nice touch. Top with cilantro or basil.

Ingredients:

1 c chickpeas (cooked)

½ c chestnuts

½ head cauliflower

½ head broccoli

2 c coconut milk

1 onion

1 t ginger

2 cloves garlic

1-2 T curry powder (depending on your spice preference)

½ t nutmeg

½ t cinnamon

1 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Top with chili flakes, cilantro, or basil

Directions:

  1. Roast the cauliflower, broccoli, chickpeas and chestnuts with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of curry powder. Cook at 375 degrees for ~20 minutes. Remove from the oven when they begin to brown.
  2. Sauté the onion, ginger, garlic, curry powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large pot over medium heat. Stir frequently so the onions do not burn. Once the onions are golden add the roasted vegetables and nuts.
  3. Once the vegetables are coated with the spices add the coconut milk. If the soup is too thick, add a ½ cup water or vegetable broth.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Serve with chili flakes, cilantro, and/or basil.
img_2357

2016 Adventures: San Juan, Medellín, Cusco, Lima, Dublin, Strasbourg

The best way to experience another culture is through food and since this is a food blog after all, my descriptions will be largely characterized by the country’s cuisine. No trip is complete without trying the local dishes and specialties.

Puerto Rico (May)

img_8681

Mofongo at La Estacion

img_8529

Castrillo San Felipe del Morro

img_8682

El Yunque Rainforest

San Juan/ Fajardo

I went to Puerto Rico over Memorial Day weekend with my best friend from university. It was our last hoorah before she started law school (Harvard!) While we had blast and the island is very beautiful, I would prioritize visiting other Caribbean islands before Puerto Rico. It was not cheap as meals were ~ $10-15 and each day excursion was over $100. Although it was convenient to use our American dollars and cell phones, since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, it made the experience feel less exotic and adventurous. Also the suffering economy was evident—the huge resorts and hotels were deserted. I’m sure the Zika scare did not help tourism either. Despite this, we had a great time eating mofongo and drinking pina coladas!

To Do

Old San Juan: Historic sites, cobblestone streets, cute shops and cafes

La Placita: Most lively neighborhood with restaurants and bars. This is where locals go out. During the weekends it turns into a huge street party.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro: A historic fort designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay. Beautiful views of the city.

El Yunque Rainforest tour ($130): Our tour included transportation from a nearby hotel, lunch at an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant, tour of the rain forest (a short 1 mile hike to Mima Falls), and a kayak tour of a bioluminescent bay (micro-organisms that light up when you touch the water). I recommend renting a car as it will save you time and money.

Culebra Island tour (~$100): We took a large shuttle to Fajardo, about an hour away, where we boarded a cruise boat that took us out to nearby islands. We had plenty of time to snorkel, eat, and drink. They provided unlimited food and piña coladas—although the food was only cold cut meat and bread. Once people had a couple piña coladas in their system they started to dance and dare each other to jump off the boat into the water. We had a good time. Watch our GoPro video here.

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Mofongo: Fried plantain in a form of a bowl topped with meat, veggies, and sauce.

Restaurants

  • La Estacion: Authentic Puerto Rican restaurant where we had lunch on our El Yunque Rainforest tour. Best Mofongo of the trip. Highlight of the tour!
  • El Jibarito: Casual local spot in old San Juan
  • Bombonera: Popular café in San Juan known for their baked goods
  • Barrachina: Best pina coladas
  • Boronia: on La Placita, live music, a little fancier and touristy than we hoped but the food was good
  • Choco Cortes: delicious chocolate and hot chocolate
  • Bogos: local spot with decent Mofongo

South America (August)

Colombia

img_1725

Bandeja Paisa

DCIM100GOPRO

Guatapé

img_1768

El Peñol

img_1593

Sorrento

img_1918

img_1894

Crepes in Gautapé

img_2129

La Minorista (fried fish, coconut rice, salad, and plantains

img_1976

Verdeo Café

img_1259

Pueblito Paisa

Medellín

To Do

  • Parque Lleras: Most hotels/hostels are located around here. It is a touristy area with shops, restaurants, and bars.
  • Plaza Botero/ Parque Berrio: The Plaza is filled with Botero’s sculptures by the Parque Berrio metro station. Parque Berrio is across from the plaza and is filled with juice vendors and street performers.
  • Jardín Botánico: Botanical gardens. Pleasant to walk through if you have time but not a highlight of the trip.
  • Pueblito Paisa: Beautiful views of the city. Highly recommend!
  • Coffee tour: Best are in Sorrento. You can book coffee tours through the hostel. We went to San Cayetano in Fredonia.
  • Paragliding: We booked our ticket and cab through the hostel. You take a taxi 30 min outside of the city—find other people to split the cab with you. I recommend going early and on a nice day.
  • Guatapé/El Peñol: If you do one thing, go to Guatape! Breathtaking views. You can either go on your own (what we did) or book a tour. There are also combined tours that take you to Pablo Escobar’s house, where you go paint-balling. If you go on your own it’s a two-hour bus ride (give or take 30 minutes). El Peñol or the rock is the first stop then you take a tuk-tuk to the town Guatapé or you can walk (about 40 min). The town is filled with adorable colorful buildings and shops. I recommend staying there for 2 or 3 hours and getting lunch. We had homemade vegetable crepes made by a French woman who was traveling for a year and working at the café for the week. One of my favorite meals—see the photo above. If you want to go to Guatapé on your own I can send you specific and detailed instructions, as it can be confusing.
  • Parque Arvi: Cable cars to the a beautiful nature preserve. The cable cars give you great views of the city. Get lunch and go on a hike. We spent a whole day at Parque Arvi.
  • El Castillo Museo y Jardines: Gothic-style castle with beautiful gardens. You can take your lunch and picnic

To Eat

Local Dishes

  • Bandeja paisa: a signature dish from the region that includes spicy ground meat, pork cracklings, a fried egg, fried plantains, refried beans, avocado, rice, and a small side salad
  • Las chachas: corn pastry/bread with cheese on top, find it at street vendors
  • Spiralized green mango: served with salt and lime, ate this almost every day from street vendors
  • Pandebono: cheesy bread
  • Plantains with cheese
  • Arepas: served with almost every meal, their version of bread, made from corn
  • Ajiaco: traditional soup
  • Empanadas
  • Patacónes: fried plantain chips with guacamole
  • Aguardiente: typical Colombian alcohol made from anise. We were told to drink it with a slice of orange or lemon.

Restaurants

  • Hato Viejo: nicer traditional Colombian food, order the bandeja paisa
  • Hacinda: Typical Colombian food in downtown, the tour guide recommended it
  • Verdeo: Health/organic café by our hostel in Poblado with cute eclectic decorations. Each table had a different toy animal figurine on it. Looks like a café you’d find in Oakland. They serve a special everyday for 15 pesos (around $5) that includes salad, soup, a fresh juice, entrée, and dessert.
  • Centeno: By our hostel in Poblado, across from exito. This place is a hidden gem—we walked up stairs to a balcony where the chef and his wife were enjoying a glass of wine. When we arrived they jumped up and started our dinner. We were the only ones there and felt like we had a personal chef waiting on us. It was 16 pesos for juice, soup, salad, entrée, and tea. The restaurant had picnic-esque tables with flowers in mason jars. Very cute.
  • Fairytale restaurant by park in Poblado. I can’t remember the name but you sit on the ground or on wood stools. There are lights streamed through the trees and you feel like you’re in a fairy’s forest.

Peru

DCIM100GOPRO

Ollantaytambo

img_2541

Parque Central, Lima

Cusco/ Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town)

To Do

  • Machu Picchu: If you’re going to Machu Picchu I can send you detailed directions on getting there from Cusco.
  • San Blas: Charming area of Cusco with cobblestone streets and cute cafes.
  • Saksaywaman (pronounced like sexy woman): Incan ruins outside on the outskirts of Cusco.
  • Real City Walking Tour: There are a few tours everyday. My friend was not feeling well so I went on the tour on my own and was the only one who showed up. It happened to be the guide’s last day in Cusco— he was from Portland and traveling South America for a year. He gave me his own personal tour which included eating chocolate cake at his favorite bakery, playing drums at the neighborhood music store, and meeting locals at the market who greeted him with a hug and free juice.
  • Plaza de Armas: Main square in Cusco with lots of restaurants and bars.
  • Mercado de San Pedro: Local food market with juice vendors and cheap food.
  • Maras salt mines: We did not have time to go but you can take a day tour there on an ATV or take the bus.
  • Rainbow mountain: Beautiful day hike. We didn’t go but everyone highly recommends it.

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Lomo Saltado: A dish that consists with thin strips of beef, sautéed onions, rice, fries, and vegetables.
  • Pisco Sour: A typical drink from the region made from Pisco, lemon juice, and topped with egg white.

Restaurants

  • Green Point: Vegan restaurant in San Blas. They have a daily 3-course special that is ~$5. Everything is delicious. We were only in Cusco for three days and went there twice.
  • Chica: Traditional Peruvian food that is a pricier than other restaurants in the area, but it is worth splurging for the night. Absolutely delicious! They are known for their chocolate balloon dessert.

Lima (only need a day/night)

To Do

  • Miraflores: touristy area with good restaurants and bars
  • Barranco: next to Miraflores. We walked from our hostel in Miraflores and it took around 40 minutes. If you’re in the area then go to the Puente de los Suspiros or Bridge of Sighs – not very exciting but there is a nice view of the city.
  • Parque de la Reserve: impressive water show every night
  • Parque Central: Park in Miraflores with lots of cats wondering around, pretty funny to see

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Ceviche!
  • Papas a la huanciana: Peruvian potatoes covered with spicy cheese
  • Pollo a la Brasa: grilled chicken
  • Causa: Layered potato dish with a variety of meat and vegetable fillings. Very popular!

Restaurants

  • St. Roos: hole in the wall in Barranco
  • La Estancia: café/pastry shop in Miraflores
  • Madam Tusán: Chinese/Peruvian food (a popular combination in Lima)
  • La Lucha: causal sandwiches in Miraflores
  • Neuvo Mondo: artisanal beers in Miraflores
  • Raw Café Club: vegan restaurant in Miraflores
  • Punto Azul: seafood restaurant in Miraflores

Dublin (November)

15356710_10154855840214962_4165165953740708700_n

img_5494

To Do

  • Guinness Factory tour
  • Walking tour (daily)
  • Trinity College
  • Temple Bar and Street: The bar itself is expensive and touristy but it is worth stepping in to enjoy the decorations and atmosphere.
  • Cliffs of Moher and Galway tour: I booked with Wild Rover. The tour departs at 7am and returns at 7pm. If you’re only in Ireland for the weekend it is a great way to see the extremely green and beautiful countryside. There are endless cows and châteaux. Beware they are strict about departure times. Don’t make the mistake I made and arrive a couple minutes late. Yes I was left at the Cliffs of Moher alone. The bus came back for me but they were not happy. Needless to say I did not make any friends on that tour—but seriously did the girl next to me not notice I was missing?!

To Eat

  • Pichet: Traditional Irish lunch
  • Vintage Kitchen: Irish lunch and dinner spot
  • Bobos Burgers: Ireland has delicious beef and butter because their (very happy) cows graze in the hundreds of acres of grass.
  • Kehoes Burgers
  • International food market: off of Temple Bar street
  • Yamamori: Great sushi and good lunch specials
  • Krust: Cronuts
  • Grogens: Best Guinness

Strasbourg (December)

img_6476

I went to Strasbourg, a small French city on the German border, with two friends for a night for the Marché de Noël. It is a university town so there are lots of students around. Although we went during Christmas time so it was very touristy. I’ve heard it’s beautiful to visit during spring and summer. It is a quant little town—you can walk the perimeter in about an hour. Highlights were the cathedral and the canals.

To Eat

Local Dishes

  • Tarte flambée
  • Choucroute
  • Kougelhopf
  • Bretzel
  • Vin Chaud
  • Grimbergen beer- I enjoyed the grimbergen ambrée

Restaurants

  • Pfifferbriader: Traditional food from the region, in the main square and a bit touristy
  • Meiselocker: Traditional food, off from the main square and cheaper
  • Chez Yvonne: We didn’t actually go here because it was already at capacity for the night. I have heard it is excellent.
  • Au Pont Saint-Martin: Delicious Choucroute. We ordered the Choucroute Royale, which was €20 each. We made the mistake thinking it was €20 total so we received enough food to feed five 6’3″ men.

Berry Banana Bread

14680749_10208740279161745_4837993868832778026_n

img_3571

14691133_10208740279441752_9124129021452310006_n

Ingredients:

1 ½ c whole-wheat flour

½ c oats

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ c butter (I used earth balance)

½ c brown sugar

½ c honey

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 bananas (mashed)

1 c fresh berries

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda together.
  2. In another bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Combine the two bowls together thoroughly then mix in mashed bananas and berries.
  4. Pour mixture into a well- greased baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chickpeas

14731111_10208740258801236_7304436386437435356_n

I made this recipe with organic whole-wheat noodles, but you can also use vegetable noodles, such as spiralized zucchini or carrot.

Ingredients:

8 oz pasta

2 cups veggie slaw (I used TJ’s organic broccoli carrot slaw)

1/4th cup sesame oil

2 limes

½ cup peanut butter

1/4th teaspoon ginger (minced)

1/4th teaspoon garlic (minced)

1/4th cup soy sauce

1/4th cup coconut milk

½ cup chickpeas

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare your noodles of choice according to the directions.
  2. Sauté the vegetable slaw in a tablespoon of the sesame oil for a few minutes until cooked.
  3. Add all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor— sesame oil, lime juice, peanut butter, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and coconut milk. If it is too thick add a splash of water. Pour in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Mix the pasta, vegetables, peanut sauce sauce, and chickpeas together. I used organic canned chickpeas but if you have the time, make your own! Sprinkle chili flakes on top and serve.
img_5268

One Month in Paris

img_4290

img_4213

Le Marais

My love of France stems from my mother. Our cousins are French and my mom lived in France after college teaching English. I grew up sharing her love for the language, culture, and food. Although the most distinct memory I have of Paris as a child is my mom getting pick-pocketed at the Notre Dame, Paris still had a strong appeal to me. I was drawn to the sophistication and grace of the culture. To me, France represented elegance and refinement, traits that as a little girl I tried to emulate. While this is a highly idealized picture of France—it is not all wine, cheese, and romance— I still hold on to those fantasies as an adult.

Coming from a family of ardent travelers, I was exposed to many different cultures when I was young. At ten years old I did not appreciate our month-long escapades; I actually cried when I had to miss a month of school to go to Thailand. However, these trips shaped my view of the world and gave me an innate love of exploring. Once I was mature enough to value traveling, I wanted to live in a foreign country. During university I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris for four months. Regrettably, I lived in an English-speaking bubble and my French did not improve, much to my mother’s dismay. I took classes with Americans, lived with Americans, and traveled with Americans. My priority was hitting all the touristy places in Europe with my American friends—not meeting French people or getting assimilated into the culture. I also realized that four months is nothing. I needed to go back for a longer period of time. I was not ready to make the leap after graduation and decided work in San Francisco at a financial health care consulting firm. After a year, living abroad was still on the back of my mind. I found an ideal au pair position that allowed me the flexibility to work part-time and pursue other interests. So here I am, working as an au pair, taking French classes, applying to grad school, and doing part-time work online. I’ve also now started looking into graduate programs in Paris since education is more affordable here than in the US. Highly recommend considering this if you want to go back to school and live abroad!

After a month (and a week), I’m more integrated than I expected. I live in an adorable little studio in the Latin Quarter surrounded by cafes and boulangeries. I’m around the corner from the Panthéon, Jardin du Luxembourg, and the Midnight in Paris stairs. The Jardin du Luxembourg has become my favorite place in Paris. In 1612 Queen Marie de Medici purchased the land and organized the construction of the garden, inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Now, I run here a few times a week and walk through the park on my way to class. Casual. I enjoy watching kids play with toy-sailboats in the pond and people playing pétanque or jeu de boules (a game played with small steel and wooden balls). Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book so I often daydream that I am back in 19th century England strolling through Mr. Darcy’s garden. Even after a month, I am still in awe that a park of this grandeur and beauty exists just a few blocks from my apartment.

During the week I pick up the children (9 and 13) at 16h30 then practice English and play chess with them for a couple hours. The children are extremely well-behaved and mature. I’ve noticed that French children are more independent than American children. The children can walk to school on their own, run errands, prepare their own meals, and even make chocolate chip cookies from scratch! The thirteen year-old girl has started her own food Instagram so we can bond over our mutual obsession of food photography.

The hardest part so far has been going from being a young professional working in the corporate world to a glorified baby-sitter making one-seventh of what I used to make. I find French people surprisingly welcoming and friendly but I am still the expat living in an unknown country. I am not fluent in French and do not understand every conversation so at times it can be isolating and frustrating. Even simple tasks like picking up a package at the post office or opening a French bank account can be daunting. You cannot defend or argue for yourself, which is infuriating when you know you are right. Don’t get me wrong it has been easier to meet people than I anticipated. I automatically had the au pair community to fall back on and friends living in the city; then from there I met fellow bloggers, friends of friends, other expats, etc. There are countless resources— you just need to take advantage of them. I’ve joined meet-ups, Facebook groups, expat communities, and Franglish. My natural inclination is to get involved and to not miss out (#fomo), a trait I undoubtedly inherited from my mother, who is a social butterfly. Although I am no butterfly, my friends applaud my boundless energy and enthusiasm to try new things. I am still getting my bearings and figuring out what to do next, but for now I am enjoying my chocolat chaud and croissant from the café below my apartment. C’est la vie!

img_4713

Château de Fontainebleau

img_5217

Monmartre

img_5228

Jardin du Luxembourg

img_5268

Jardin du Luxembourg

img_5286

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

img_5288

14962808_10209022786344248_6026078537959039696_n

Paris Photo at Grand Palais

14991986_10209022786464251_6381353366073564776_n

Paris Photo at Grand Palais

img_5136

img_5010

Le jardin de Monet à Giverny

img_4923

Vétheuil

img_4596

img_4584

Château de Fontainebleau

img_4572

Fontainebleau