Tag Archives: macarons

We’ll Always Have Paris

img_7479First Impressions

Keith and I were coming into Paris from very different standpoints. He doesn’t speak French and has never been before. He’s slightly intimidated by the city’s size and reputation. I, on the other hand, fluent French-speaker and second-time visitor, could not wait to be back in the city of lights. I adored my high school trip to Paris and I guess I did romanticize it a bit since I didn’t remember it smelling like pee so much the last time.

Accommodation

Our second Airbnb experience went just as well as the first. Check-in and check-out was a breeze. Luckily the heat wave did not follow us from Brussels to Paris so the lack of air conditioning wasn’t a problem. The six flights of stairs however were not fun. At least we had a view of the Eiffel Tower which made it worth it, in my opinion. The place was tiny though, unlike the apartment in Brussels. Everything, from the bed, the kitchen, the shower and the toilet was crammed together, not an inch of space was wasted. Located in the 10th arrondissement, we really enjoyed how close it was to Gare du Nord train station and several metro stops. Plus the neighbourhood which was near the Canal Saint-Martin was super charming.

Getting Around

img_7370The Paris metro system is a modern marvel. There are so many lines that it doesn’t matter where in the city you end up, there is always a station nearby that connects to somewhere you’re going. I’m convinced that even if you don’t speak French, you will be able to figure it out. If you don’t want to take advantage of the metro for some unknown reason, then walking is the next best thing. The streets of Paris were super easy to navigate, I found. Keith said I looked like I had lived there all my life with the way I zipped around all over the city. The highlight of our transit experience was riding the driver-less metro train.

Attractions

We had reconciled with the idea that it would be impossible to see all or even most of Paris in three days. We also had two of our friends who were there at the same time and had to adjust our itineraries accordingly. Our first day there, we just walked around our neighbourhood, passed Porte Saint-Denis and had dinner near Les Halles.

img_7389On the second day, a Monday, we explored the Canal Saint-Martin in the morning, where there was more locals around than tourists. Then in the afternoon, we walked from our apartment to Notre Dame, passing City Hall on the way. Avoiding the line to go in, we opted to just walk around and stay in the surrounding park. We crossed the Seine to get to the Latin Quarter, stopping by several bookshops like Shakespeare & Co. and Album Comics. I really enjoyed this neighbourhood and I loved just walking along the river. We caught a glimpse of the Sorbonne and then crossed a bridge again to find ourselves on Ile Saint-Louis. I wish we could’ve stayed a little longer on the island since I felt like I could pass a day just getting lost in the streets but we were trying to get to Place de la Bastille. Funny anecdote, once there, our friend asked if that was all there is. I had to remind him that the Bastille was torn down. He was unimpressed that only an obelisk stood in the middle of the square where the prison once stood.

Our last full day in Paris, a Tuesday, was spent hitting the big tourist spots: Trocadéro, Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées. A memory that’s so vivid in my mind from my first trip to Paris was exiting the Trocadéro subway station and rounding the corner to be hit by the view of the Eiffel Tower. Recreating that moment with Keith was very special. Then on our way to the Arc de Triomphe, we passed by the Place des États-Unis, which Keith appreciated, being American.

After getting some shopping done at the Champs-Élysées, we said goodbye to our friends for a little bit, since I had planned a surprise excursion for Keith. We discovered the musical Hamilton earlier this year and we have been obsessed. A key figure in the musical and in history in general is the Marquis de Lafayette. Thanks to a little research, I found out that he was buried in Picpus Cemetery, the larger and one of only two private cemeteries in Paris. Lafayette is known as the Hero of Two Worlds after being involved in both the American and French revolutions, which is why an American flag is permitted to fly above his grave at all times and he is buried in American soil that he brought back from his visit to the US. Aside from Lafayette’s tomb, it also has two mass graves of the victims executed by guillotine during the Reign of Terror. The cemetery itself is very peaceful and secluded. While we were there, we didn’t encounter anyone else. It was the only time during our entire trip that Keith and I found ourselves completely alone in public. If you’re looking to visit a site that’s off the beaten path, this would be my recommendation.IMG_7547.jpg

Food Recommendations

IMG_7349.jpgA friend of ours from university gave us an extensive list of restaurant recommendations and I cannot thank her enough for them. For the best brunch, go to Holybelly which was super close to our apartment. It gets very busy though and we had to wait awhile but it was all worth it, especially since we were celebrating a friend’s birthday. Everything from Du Pain et des Idées was phenomenal. But my favourite meal of the entire trip has to be the pizza at Pink Flamingo. I didn’t believe it when people told me to eat pizza while in Paris but there’s something about it that makes it so good. Plus Pink Flamingo has amazing flavour combinations: I got the paella one. All of these restaurants are around the Canal Saint-Martin, which has got to be my favourite discovery during my second time in Paris.

IMG_7577.jpgWe also had crepes near the Champs-Élysées and of course got some macarons from Ladurée. Plus one night we hit up one of the grocery stores near us for some charcuterie and cheese to go with our baguette from Du Pain et des Idées. The cheese we got had cumin in it which was amazing.

Souvenirs

If you’re brave enough to try and fly macarons back, then by all means. I was not and instead opted to buy French soaps to give out as gifts instead. For myself, I also brought back a Longchamp bag since they were way cheaper to buy there than back in Canada.

Final Thoughts

img_7583While we didn’t go to the Louvre or visit Montmartre, I think we took full advantage of our short trip to Paris. It is one of my favourite cities in the world and I could see myself living there. I love the Parisian way of living, taking the time to enjoy everything from an espresso to an expensive meal. I didn’t mind the holier-than-thou attitude we sometimes got in but Keith wasn’t having it. He attempted to order a coffee in French and was met with a blank stare. So Keith liked it the least out of all the cities we visited but on our last night, when we had an impromptu meet-up with two more of our friends who just happened to be there too and sat outside a café drinking and laughing the night away, I knew Paris was finally growing on him.

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Tasty Tuesday: Bobbette & Belle REVIEW

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This past weekend I decided to indulge a little and discover the goodies that the new Bobbette & Belle location has to offer, seeing as it’s only a 5 minute walk from my apartment. I love their logo, their storefront, their whole look. I had already tried their cake and two of their macaron flavours at my friends’ wedding. I was excited to try their cupcakes and various other dessert offerings.
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Let’s start with the downside. To be completely honest, I did not like the cupcakes. I’m not going to sugar-coat it (pun intended), we didn’t even end up finishing the two flavours we tried. The red velvet was one of the worst I’ve ever had. It had a weirdly bitter aftertaste and the cake was too oily.
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I liked the spices of the pumpkin cake but this time it was too crumbly and falling apart.
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And the worst part was the icing, which surprised me, since I enjoyed the wedding cake’s icing. On their cupcakes, they tasted like whipped, airy butter, not much better than Cool Whip. Not a hint of cream cheese on either cupcake’s buttercream. Sorely disappointed but at least it confirmed my opinion on the best cupcakes in TO. I understand that they sell out of cupcakes but they’re just not for me, which was a shame since they look really pretty.

Luckily, it only got better from here. We also tried their apple turnovers which were perfectly flaky.
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The filling was also very good, with just the right amount of cinnamon. I also tried a sip of their hot apple cider which was a little too sweet for my liking but my friend enjoyed it.

Now we’re getting to the highlights: their butter tarts, brownies and the Sticky Toffee Pudding!
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The butter tart tasted like a traditional tarte à sucre, whether that was intentional or not. But I’m happy with the no nuts in the filling or topping. I’m also not familiar with what it’s supposed to taste like but I definitely enjoyed it.

Their brownies are iced with a layer of ganache and are just so yummy. They were dense, chocolatey and not overly sweet. But my absolute favourite dessert that I’ll probably come back for over and over this winter is their Sticky Toffee Pudding. It came with a small container of caramel that you pour on top. It was divine.
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In my expert opinion, skip the cupcakes and go straight for their other desserts. I can’t wait to try their caramel popcorn with fleur de sel and their blueberry scones with clotted cream. Happy Tuesday!

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday everyone! This week was super busy so I’m definitely looking forward to sleeping a lot this weekend in addition to catching up with all the shows I missed this week. But first here are some things I was grateful for this week (in case you don’t notice a recurring theme, they’re all food-related haha):

The simple but sentimental and sweet wedding cake from our dear friends’ wedding. It was from Bobbette & Belle. I hadn’t tasted their cake nor their macarons before. I’m happy to report that they’re both super yummy. Bonus, they opened their 2nd location just down the street from my apartment which could be a very bad thing, and by bad, I mean amazing.
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Speaking of the wedding, they had Colombian coffee as their favors since the bride is Colombian. They make my kitchen smell heavenly and they taste even better!
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More pumpkin beer! For my final verdict on the ones I’ve tasted this fall, click here.
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We also discovered these two gems. I found out that I like sour beers and Keith found out that he did not. He did like Dead Guy Ale however, which he initially just bought for the label.
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Finally, it was pretty rainy earlier in the week, so naturally I turned to my ultimate comfort food: ramen!
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Hope everyone has a great and safe weekend!

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Fall officially began this week and even though the weather at times has been reminiscent of summer, my brain has definitely already shifted seasons. To celebrate, this “Friday Favorites” post will be fully pumpkin-themed.

Mini-pumpkins with their cuteness out in full force.
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The very first pumpkin beer of the season (and of my life!): Post Road’s Pumpkin Ale by Brooklyn Brewery. While I didn’t expect it to taste like pumpkin juice, I thought the pumpkin could’ve been a little stronger. I can tell it’s there with the hint of sweetness and I still enjoyed it. It’s balanced which makes it very sessionable. A great introductory pumpkin beer.
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The 2nd pumpkin beer I’ve tried is from what has become one of my favorite local breweries: Great Lakes. This one is spicier than it is sweet, without being overwhelming. In fact, my boyfriend who doesn’t enjoy beer as much as I do loved it. Plus it comes in a big bottle that’s perfect for two. I highly recommend this if you like cinnamon, clove or nutmeg!
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While DAVID’s Tea‘s Pumpkin Chai has been a fall staple of mine every year, I was excited to see them feature two new pumpkin teas for this year: Pumpkin Cheesecake & Pumpkin Patch. The first is a rooibos, which I normally don’t like but when the word “cheesecake” is involved, you have to make exceptions. The white chocolate definitely made it creamier but the maple sugar wasn’t enough by itself to sweeten it. Next time I’ll put agave. The second is a black tea that’s closer to the Pumpkin Chai but differentiates itself with the addition of currants and garam masala. The pumpkin flavor is still there but those two ingredients just give this tea a uniquely delicious taste.
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When Butter Avenue announced that “Pumpkin Spice” macarons were in store? Well, I obviously couldn’t resist. You wouldn’t believe just how good they are. A must-try!
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After celebrating some amazing news tonight and going to another friend’s goodbye party (I know, they’re all leaving Canada!), this weekend will be spent watching the EPL (North London Derby ahhhh!) & the NFL. Have a great one!

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday everyone! Lots going on this weekend in Toronto. There’s Taste of the Danforth and another (smaller) beer festival. The NFL pre-season is officially underway and tonight is my fantasy football league’s draft. But before the weekend starts, here are my favorite things from this week:

Yes, Guardians of the Galaxy is on the list. I’ve already seen it twice and will probably go again on cheap Tuesdays. Read my review, go see it. Then go again.
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Discovered a great breakfast combo this week when the boyfriend told me that everyone at our local patisserie was drinking Orangina with their pain au chocolat. I tried it for myself and I’m happy to report that it actually works. Hey, orange and chocolate work for a reason.
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Wednesday night was the MLS All-Star Game, the Rogers Cup is currently going on in Toronto and Montreal plus NFL Pre-season is underway. All these sporting events made me crave a cold one so I raided my local LCBO for some I’m dying to try. (Except for the Trois Mousquetaires gose, I already love that one!)
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Last but definitely not least, I went out for lunch with a friend and she suggested we stop at Butter Avenue for some macarons. I couldn’t resist getting a box. Starting from the left: raspberry lychee, jardin zen (citrus black sesame), wild cherry pistachio, lemon, salted caramel and caramel macchiato. The jardin zen was surprisingly the best. I think it’s a limited flavor though so I’d hurry to get it.
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Hope everyone has a great weekend. Wish me luck for the draft.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide 2014

Happy Love Week everyone! Valentine’s Day is this Friday and if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for your special someone, I’m here to help. Whether it’s for your significant other, a friend, a family member or yourself, then look no further than this gift guide, all for under $50:

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1. Heart-shaped macarons
2. CBC Radio Canada Shoulder Bag
3. Sherlock Season 3 DVD
4. “The Hedge Knight”, A Game of Thrones prequel graphic novel
5. Customizable Perfect Tea Mug
6. Olympics 2014 Red Mittens
7. Finishing Touch Studs
8. A box of Red Velvet Cupcakes

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