Eating my way through Rue Montorgueil

Discover Walks  invited me and a few other bloggers on a food tour along rue Montorgueil. Our lovely guide, Marie, gave us an authentic tour of this iconic Parisian street that is home to numerous cafes, boulangeries, patisseries, and butcheries. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and all the shops were just beginning to open. Our tour concluded in a picnic with all the French staples: bread, cheese, charcuterie, and pastries…

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Marie posing with our baguette 

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Our first stop was a fromagerie called La Fermette. Marie told us that France has 370 types of cheeses so if you’re up for the challenge you can eat a different kind of cheese each day of the year. Roquefort is the oldest (and smelliest). The origin of the blue color is from the limestone in the Roquefort region. We settled with a less pungent Roquefort and a few goat cheeses.

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Next, we headed to a boulangerie Blouet to buy our baguette. Bread is sacred to the French. The French are so reliant on their baguette that there is a French law forbidding boulangeries in the same area from going on vacation at the same time. Nevertheless, I know French families who keep a frozen baguette in their freezer, just in case. There is a competition each year called the Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française for the coveted prize of best baguette of the year. In 2015, the winner was Le Grenier a Pain. Originally the baguette was bread for working men who would get into fights with their bread knives. To discourage the use of knives, the longer traditional baguette was created so it could be broken, not cut. This is why now you break your baguette. Do not make the faux pas of cutting a baguette! Fun fact: the croûton or end of the baguette is supposedly the best part. It is always a fight to get it!

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We then stopped at a butcherie to complete our charcuterie board with pâté, garlic sausage, goose rillettes, and saucisson. We went to a park by Les Halles where we enjoyed all the delicacies we bought from the day.

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#bloggers

Let’s not forget dessert. Next we strolled to Sohrer, the oldest pastry shop in Paris, where the Queen of England visited. They pride themselves on having the best chocolate éclair in Paris. We ended our tour at Fou de Patisserie, which sells all the best pastries of Paris from the most renowned chefs and shops. We sampled lemon Financiers and the Mille-Feuille, consisting of layers of puff pastry and cream. A perfect ending to the tour!

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If you would like to take part in this awesome tour, use my code BLOGLOVE10 to receive 10% off.

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Chefchaouen- The Blue Pearl of Morocco

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Chefchaouen 

 

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Chefchaouen, Medina 

 

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View from Salon Bleu in Tanger

We flew into Tangier, a port city on the Straight of Gibraltar. You only need an afternoon here to walk through the Medina (old city) and petit/grand Socca. Do not fall prey to the men who will offer to lead you to your hostel or hotel, as they expect payment. The next day we took a 3 hour shuttle to Chefchaouen or Chaouen, known for it’s blue-washed buildings situated in the Rif Mountains. It is one of most unique and stunning places I have ever visited. It is rumored that Jewish refugees introduced the blue walls to symbolize the sky and the heavens. Now, people also believe that the walls are painted blue to repel mosquitos. Regardless of the reason, this blue city is not to be missed!

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Local paint in Chefchaouen

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On the outer edge of the Medina in Chefchaouen

Now, on to the food! Moroccan cuisine is characterized by ras-el-hanout, a typical North African spice, which is a blend of around 30 spices including cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and cardamom. You must try tagine, a signature Moroccan dish consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in Moroccan spices and served over couscous. Afterwards, enjoy the traditional Moroccan mint tea, made by boiling water with mint leaves and adding a generous amount of sugar. Tip: ask for the sugar on the side. The dishes are also served with bread and olives. The bread is cooked in a wood-fired oven giving it a crunchy outer layer and doughy inside.

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Snack Assada

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Beldi Bab Ssour

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Fresh Moroccan Bread!

Highlights:

Medina (old town): You can spend a whole day getting lost in the maze-like medina, where we stayed. The dazzling blue walls are lined with vendors selling patterned blankets, jewelry, and pastries.

Outa el Hamma Square: Main square where most restaurants and hotels are located. There is always something going on from religious processions to people dancing on the street.

Spanish Mosque: The Spanish Mosque is located about 20 minutes (by foot) outside of the medina and offers beautiful views of the city.

Cascades d’Akchour: A beautiful waterfall hike about 45 minutes from Chefchaouen.

Where to eat:

All the restaurants have a similar menu, but here are the ones I recommend:

Beldi Bab Ssour (Chefchaouen, Medina): A local spot that gets very crowded. It is around 3-4 euros for a main dish. We sat a communal table and met a local artist who gave us recommendations on what to order. The tagine is excellent.

Restaurant Aladdin (Chefchaouen, Medina): Located in the main square and a bit more expensive. The atmosphere and décor alone are enough to eat here. The rooms are lined with with colorful tapestries and patterned cushions. You feel like you walked into another world. Plus they have two outdoor terraces with panoramic views of Chefchaouen. However, the food was mediocre. I recommend going for mint tea or appetizers to enjoy the ambiance.

Snack Assada (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another cheap local spot that offers outdoor rooftop seating.

Restaurant Al Kasbah (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another delicious restaurant off of the main square. They have colorful tables and chairs on the street that are surrounded by plants. You feel like you are eating in the jungle.

Salon Bleu (Tanger, Medina): A beautiful restaurant that has a rooftop terrace with unbeatable views of the city. I recommend going at dusk and watching the sunset. It was our most expensive meal of the weekend, although still affordable—we paid 15 euros for an appetizer, main course, dessert, and mint tea.

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Homemade local pastries in Chefchaouen

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Al Kasbah

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Salon Bleu

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Drinking fresh juice in Chefchaouen!

Lisbon & Porto

As soon as I stepped off the Baixa-Chiado metro stop in the heart of the city, I loved Lisboa. I was greeted with sunshine and street performers playing music. Lisbon is the European San Francisco sharing the trolley cars, hills, 25 de Abril bridge (constructed by the same company that built the Bay Bridge), warm weather, and relaxed atmosphere. There is even a lookout point, where locals and tourists go to enjoy a drink with a view, that reminds me of Dolores Park. I felt right at home. I spent my days meandering the stone streets and enjoying lots of pasteis de natas. I highly recommend visiting this beautiful city!

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My favorite lookout point with view of the 25 de Abril bridge

Highlights:

Free walking tour (with donation): My favorite fact I learned on the tour is that J.K Rowling lived in Lisbon! The inspiration for her character Salazar Slytherin came from a past Portuguese dictator who was assassinated near her apartment.

Village Under Ground: This is the hipster area characterized by retro themed double-decker buses underneath the 25 de Abril bridge that have been converted into cafes and co-working spaces.

Book stores: The streets are lined with small book stores, and in fact the oldest book store in the world, Bertrand, resides in Lisbon.

Lookout point: This is the lookout point that reminds me of Dolores Park. It is across from Museu de Farmacia off of rue Marechal Saldanha. Everyone basks in the sunlight and enjoys beers that they bought at a nearby convenience store.

Sintra: I took a perfect day trip to Sintra, located about 1-2 hours by train from Rossio station. It is a picturesque Portuguese town where the Portuguese monarchs lived in the 20th century. It is filled with lush green hills and pastel-colored houses. My three favorite sites are Quinta da Regaleira (large estate/park with the famous initiation well that you enter through a cave), Pena Palace (the colorful palace at the top of the hill), and Castelo dos Mouros (medieval castle). The castles and parks are a bit too far to walk between but you can take an overpriced (5 euro per person) tuk-tuk ride. I recommend taking at least one to Pacio da Pena at the top. From there, you can follow a trail down back to the city.

Barrio Alto: A trendy area filled with cute shops and cafés that is very Marina-esque—there is even a juice shop.

Azulejos tiles: Cannot be missed as they are all over the city.

Pink Street: This is where most of the bars and night life takes place.

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Pena Palace at Sintra

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Me walking up to Pena Palace

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Initiation Well

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Village Under Ground

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What to eat:

Pasteis de nata: Rich custard pastries. The custards grew in popularity because women used the egg whites for bleach and were left with excess yolks. Their solution was to make pastries, and lots of them.

Petiscos tapas: A typical one is Moelas– chicken gizzards with traditional sauce. Yum!

Bacalhau: Cod fish. Cod is a staple component to many Portuguese dishes and is often served with roasted potatoes. The fried cod cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau) are popular too.

Sardines: Another specialty from the region.

Ginja: Traditional cherry liquor that you sip. To me it tastes like cough syrup but many people enjoy it.

Bicas: espresso!!

Where to eat:

Cervejaria Ramiro (Seafood)  The seafood restaurant recommended by Anthony Bourdain. It is very touristy and the queue is always long. We waited at least an hour. They offer champagne (don’t be fooled though—it’s not Moët) and charcuterie plates in a nice outdoor terrace while you wait.

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Pasteis de Belem (Pasteis de nata) A 40 minute bus ride from the city center but these are supposedly the best in Lisbon. I found the ones from the little shops in town were equally as tasty.

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Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau  (Cod pastry) The popular cod pastry that you should at least try once while you are in Lisbon. It is often served with a glass of port wine.

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TimeOut Market (All types of cuisine) It is over-priced and touristy but cool to check out if you have the time. Not a highlight.

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O Cantinho (Locals, traditional) Pan-fried sardines and roasted potatoes.

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Nicolau Cafe (Healthy) A marina-esque cafe offering soups, salads, smoothies, and toasts. I opted for the soup of the day (slit pea), avo toast, and a coconut latte. I heard their pancakes and french toast are also good.

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Artis (Portuguese tapas) I recommend the roasted octopus and moelas (chicken gizzards).

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Santini (Ice Cream) Best ice cream in Lisbon. I got roasted apple and mascarpone.

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Chapito (Nice, traditional) Restaurant with view. Needs reservations.

Casanova (Pizza) Best pizza in Lisbon

Topo (Rooftop bar)

Park Bar (Rooftop bar)

Porto

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Porto is a small coastal town in the northern part of Portugal, around 3 hours by train from Lisbon. To me it is a mixture between Nice and Florence. The close proximity to the water gives it a laid-back and carefree atmosphere that I experienced in Nice. The cobble stone streets, colorful houses, and cafes along the Douro River create the romantic Italian feel. It is often cheaper to fly out of Porto than Lisbon so I recommend tagging it on before/after your trip.

Highlights:

Walking tour

Port wine tour: It is where port wine originated so there is no shortage of wine tastings.

Dom Luis I Bridge: Beautiful view of the city.

Livraria Lello: The bookstore that inspired J.K Rowling.

What to Eat: 

Broa Bread: Traditional bread made out of corn.

Francesinha: A sandwich consisting of sausage, steak, egg, ham, cheese, fries, and special sauce (each restaurant has their secret recipe).

Seafood

Traditional Vegetable soup

Port Wine

Where to Eat:

Café Majestic: Touristy and over-priced but it is nice to see and enjoy an expresso if you have time.

Bread and Breakfast: A cheap alternative to Cafe Majestic, located around the corner.

Casa Guedes: Pulled pork sandwich.

Café Santiago: Where you can try the famous Francesinha sandwich. I recommend splitting it with a friend.

Buraco: Cheap local food. A main entrée is around 5-6 euros.

Fish Fixe: A nice restaurant on the water but it is a bit more expensive.

Maus Habitos (Bad habits): A rooftop restaurant known for their pizzas and salads served in homemade pizza dough.

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Obrigado Portugal, for a wonderful week filled with delicious food!

Best Healthy Cafés in Paris

Wild & the Moon (Marais)

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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)

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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.

Soul Kitchen (Montmartre)

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Adorable healthy café with Vegan/Vegetarian options. Soul Kitchen, nestled by the Montmartre steps, offers a daily-changing menu with homemade dishes made from local organic ingredients. It is owned by two cheery woman who are eager to tell you about the menu. It is creatively decorated with mismatched and colorful plates and furniture.

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

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Lunch Box (changes daily)

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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)

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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)

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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.

13- a Baker’s Dozen (6th arr)

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Delicious healthy dishes. They are known for their homemade biscuits and gourmet coffees (must try the mocha and pumpkin spice latte). It is owned by two charming women— one from Sweden and one from the US. The cafe is very small and cozy, off of the main street and tucked away in an alley. They also speak English here.

Season (Marais)

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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)

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Salmon avo toast

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

Ob-La-Di (Marais)

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Matcha Bowls + Drip Coffee

Small coffee shop with organic coffee and brunch items.

Strada Café (Latin Quarter and Marais)

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Celery Soup + Beet Hummus Toast + Salad

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.

Biglove Caffè (Marais)

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Part of the Ober Mamma Italian chain. Not the healthiest brunch items but everything is delicious. We ordered the brioche french toast and truffle eggs, along with a pistachio and chocolate latté.

Other:

Le Tricycle  (10th arr) 100% vegan

Nous (9th and 10th arr)

Pinson (Marais)

Miznon (Marais)

 

 

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)

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Mofongo at La Estacion

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Castrillo San Felipe del Morro

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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

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Bandeja Paisa

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Guatapé

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El Peñol

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Sorrento

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Crepes in Gautapé

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

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Verdeo Café

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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

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Ollantaytambo

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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)

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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)

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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.

La Cuisine Française

My food adventures from the last month:

Casa San Pablo (Marais): Tapas

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Balsamic mushrooms and calamari

Cute tapas restaurant in Le Marais. Order a few tapas to share and enjoy with a pitcher of Sangria on the side of the street. Waiters are friendly and happy to help you practice French 🙂

Season (Marais): Chic healthy café around the corner from Le Carreau du Temple

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Quinoa Salad and Shakshuka

They offer a seasonal menu with fresh and organic ingredients. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I need to go back and try their acai bowl. ALSO GIVEAWAY: if you like my new wood watch (Frankie Dark Sandalwood & Emerald) then enter in a contest for the chance to win a $75 gift card. PLUS everyone who enters automatically receives a $20 gift card.

Wooden Wristwatch

Mariage Frères (Multiple Locations): Famous up-scale tea house

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Classic brunch course (bougie eggs, vegetables, brioche, dessert, and choice of tea)

This is the kind of place I reserve for special occasions. The service and decor is elegant and refined. I celebrated my 23rd birthday here with my friend Dawkins, a dear friend who I’ve known since I was three. They have excellent tea and desserts. My favorite is Pleine Lune (almond black tea with honey) and Imperial Wedding (chocolate black tea with caramel). The tea list is extensive and daunting so ask for recommendations, otherwise you will be lost.

Bob’s Kitchen (Marias) Casual laid-back vegan/vegetarian café

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Green Curry Veggie Bowl

Enjoy delicious home-made food and juices in a relaxed and casual setting. Bob’s Kitchen is hidden off of one streets by the centre Pompidou—you would not notice it, unless seeking it out, like I was. They have a small kitchen and serve dishes until they run out. They are known for their daily vegetable bowls. I got the green curry veggie bowl that comes with brown rice, sweet potatoes, Yukon potatoes, and broccoli. The other two options were lentil curry and peanut curry.

Soul Kitchen (Montmartre) Adorable healthy café with Vegan/Vegetarian options

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Curry lentils with vegetables, greek yogurt, and toasted coconut

Soul Kitchen, nestled by the Montmartre steps, offers a daily-changing menu with homemade dishes made from local organic ingredients. It is owned by two cheery woman who are eager to tell you about the menu. It is creatively decorated with mismatched and colorful plates and furniture. Highly recommend!

Angelina (Rue de Rivoli) Famous tea house known for their chocolat chaud and Mont Blanc dessert

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Famous hot chocolate

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Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon

The best chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) in Paris!  It is touristy but the hot chocolate is the creamiest and richest I’ve ever drunk. It is so thick and decadent that I would almost classify it has pudding. I recommend putting on your most Blair Waldorf esque outfit and coming with a couple girlfriends on a chilly day.

Au P’tit Grec (Latin Quarter) Best street crêpes in Paris

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Crêpe with ham, chèvre, tomatoes, and lettuce

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Extremely delicious street crêpes located on Rue Mouffetard— lucky me it’s right down the street. My favorite combination (because there are hundreds) is jambon (ham), chèvre (goat cheese), salade (greens), tomate (tomatoes), aubergine (eggplant), and herbs de provence!

L’As du Fallafel (Marais) Famous out-of-this-world falafel place

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Situated in the heart of Le Marais, my favorite area in Paris, on Rue des Rosiers. The best falafel in Paris and I’ll go as far to say, the best street food in Paris! For only 6 euros you can enjoy a heaping pita filled with falafel, aubergine, cabbage, and special spicy tahini sauce.  There is always a line so I recommend avoid going on the weekend. You will wait at least 40 minutes.

Du Pain et Des Idées (10th arr)  Delicious baked goods

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A famous boulangerie known for their pistachio-chocolate escargot croissant.

Thanks a brunch, SF!

Waking up Saturday morning is my favorite part of my week—you have the whole weekend in front of you. I enjoy starting it off with an almond milk latte and eggs benedict at a bustling cafe. Luckily, there is no shortage of brunch options in San Francisco. There are over ten decent places walking distance from my apartment in the Marina. I’m naturally an early  riser  and I immediately start thinking about breakfast. I try to wait until at least 10 so I can consider breakfast…brunch. Needless to say, my friends and I are the first in line. I love the energy and excitement (probably caused by the caffeine) at brunch as my friends and I eagerly share our latest life updates. The atmosphere is carefree and giddy. Nothing compares. Here are some of my favorite places from the past two months:

Tipsy Pig (Marina) Popular bar by night and trendy brunch tavern by day

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Goat Cheese-Chive Scramble

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Dutch Pancake

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Regular Bloody Mary

I was pleasantly surprised by the food and atmosphere. We sat in the back patio on a nice day and it was the best brunch experience I’ve had in the city. My friend and I shared the Dutch pancakes (with candied bacon, caramelized strawberries, and ricotta cheese) and the goat cheese-chive scramble (with asparagus and prosciutto). My other friend ordered the breakfast sandwich, which wasn’t as good. Everything was very tasty though. They have excellent Bloody Marys as well. I recommend the regular, not the spicy one. Recommend: Dutch pancakes, goat cheese- chive scramble, and the regular Bloody Mary. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

The Mill (Alamo Square) Eclectic and airy café known for their fresh bread and spreads

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Ham and Cheese Pastry

They also serve four barrel coffee and decadent pastries. I came with a group of friends and we ordered everything on the menu—granted they only have 4 specialty toast options a day. I ordered whole wheat poppy seed bread with house-made pear blueberry jam and butter. I would come here alone to read and sip on coffee. You order at the counter then find a table. On the weekends the line will be out the door. It is also around the corner for Alamo Square Park. Recommend: Everything—you can’t go wrong! (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Jane on Fillmore (lower pac heights) Small bustling cafe with light and creative breakfast options, Stumptown coffee, and homemade baked goods

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They offer a simple and healthy menu. Some options include avocado toast (with pickled onions and jalapenos on homemade sourdough), chia seed parfait (with berries and house-made granola), and gluten-free pastries. They also have gluten-free bread available. Great lattes and cappuccinos made with Straus milk. They have soy and almond milk available as well. It gets crowded on the weekends but the line goes pretty quick. This is the kind of cafe I envision myself opening (way down the road). Recommend: Chia Seed Pudding and avocado toast (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Brenda’s French Soul Food (Tenderloin) Southern comfort food with Creole and French influence

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Pulled-Pork Eggs Benedict

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Special Breakfast Sandwich of the day

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Beignet Flight

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Open-face egg sandwich and creamy grits

It is a very popular spot so go early or get Philz Coffee (around the corner) while you wait. You have to order the beignet flight (chocolate, apple, crab, and traditional). The savory crab and traditional were my favorite. Most breakfast dishes are served with creamy grits or potatoes. I ordered the creamy grits but wished I ordered the potatoes. The grits are extremely rich (loaded with butter and cream) so it is hard to eat more than half of the heaping bowl they give you. The portions are large—no one finished their meal. Overall the food was very tasty but a little too heavy for me. Recommend: pulled pork eggs Benedict or goat cheese omelet. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Sol Food (Marin) Healthy Peruvian food

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You order at the counter then find a table. We ordered the bistec platter, bistec sandwich, veggie sandwich, and fried plantain chips. I recommend ordering half regular plantains and half garlic plantains. The platter comes with a large serving of the bistec, black beans, rice, garlic, salad, and fried plantains. They also make their own limeade. It is the kind of food where you feel satisfied and full but not uncomfortable. It is very colorful and lively inside with large communal tables. Great food and company. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself here. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Causwells (Marina) Another great brunch spot in the marina

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Pork Hash

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Chilaquiles

We sat outside on a perfect sunny afternoon. I ordered the omelet of the day, which was Canadian bacon, arugula, caramelized onions, sweet potatoes, and Parmesan cheese. A perfect combination. My friends ordered the Chilaquiles (tortilla chips, salsa, black beans, scrambled eggs, and sour cream) and the Pork Hash (braised pork, potatoes, and a fried egg). They are known for their breakfast hamburger that I’ve heard is spectacular. Recommend: Pork Hash and Omelet. (5 taste, 5 service, 5 atmosphere)

Blackwood (Chestnut St, Marina) Chic traditional American breakfast with an Asian twist

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My favorite brunch place in the Marina. Most brunch dishes have an asian twist and flavor. They have excellent dinner as well. It is the same owners as Sweet Maple and Kitchen Story. There is always a wait on the weekend and they do not take reservations for brunch (like most popular brunch places). Recommend: the BQ Scramble (chicken apple sausage, sweet basil, shallots, and carrots) and the eggs Benedict with millionaire’s bacon. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)

Belga (Marina) Sophisticated European style café with dishes ranging from French Croque Madame to German sausages

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They also offer brunch and happy hour. They have fun drink options like Devil’s Advokaat (brandy, egg, lemon, & nutmeg) or Oude Cobbler (aged genever, vermouth, lemon, sugar, sherry, berries). They have the best cinnamon brioche beignets served with whipped crème fraiche. Recommend: Veggie frittata (squash and goat cheese) or flat bread with shaved brussels sprouts and a fried egg. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)

El Techo (Mission) Trendy Argentinean tapas and brunch dishes situated on a rooftop in the heart of the Mission

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I came here for a friend’s birthday. On a nice day you have a beautiful view of the city—unfortunately it was raining when we went. The food is great. I ordered the Chorizo Scramble with roasted veggies and potatoes. The potatoes were amazing but I was not a fan of the chorizo. I preferred my friend’s Techo Rancheros (tortilla, pork, fried eggs, salsa, and beans). Recommend: Techo Rancheros and the fresh squeezed OJ. (4 taste, 5 service, 5 atmosphere)

Grove (Pac Heights) Rustic café serving traditional breakfast and lunch dishes

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I ordered the avocado toast and my friend ordered the breakfast sandwich. The rosemary potatoes were disappointing but overall I would recommend this place to someone looking for a casual and reasonably priced brunch place. They have great pies too! The service is a little slow. You order at the counter then find a seat. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)

Perry’s (Financial District and Marina) American soups, salads, and sandwiches

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They also have decent brunch and happy hour.  There are 3 locations in the city: Cow Hollow, Embarcadero, and Potrero. The Embarcadero location near the water and is a perfect place to come on a nice day. The food is decent but you get what you expect. They do not experiment with unique flavors, spices or combinations. It’s a perfect go-to restaurant to bring your non-adventurous/picky friend who is visiting.  Recommend: California Eggs Benedict (comes with avocado, tomato, and spinach). (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)