Posts tagged “food

Adieu Paris!!!

 

It’s now time to leave Paris…. it’s been a great couple of days and the weather has been magnifique!  I’m sitting at the airport writing this last entry for our trip because we got back from dinner too late last night.

Our last day…. what can I say.   I stayed up late the other night with the blog and Faceboook and got many nice responses on the pictures from Tielt and Lokeren – in fact, I got responses as I was posting them.  We really had a great time and enjoyed the entire time.  As a result, we got up late this morning and didn’t hit the streets until 10:30.   Anyway, it was a beautiful morning and I captured some great pictures as we went from the Champs-Élysées, to the Left Bank, and back to the 9th arrondissement.  Here are a few:

 

Place de la Concorde

 

Place de la Concorde

 

Place de la Concorde

 

 

On the Champs Elysee – doesn’t it look like i’m on a bike behind this guy?

 

Look out for that car!

 

Arc de Triomphe

 

The famous Les Deux Magots – we had drinks here.

 

St. Germain des Pres

 

Inside St. Germain

 

Inside St. Germain

 

This is St. Germain

 

The organ

 

We rested a bit and then got ready for dinner.  We couldn’t do the special birthday dinner for Rich on Monday because most of the high end restaurants are closed on Monday. We had an outstanding dinner at Le Cinq which is in the Four Seasons George V Hotel – it was magnificent!  The entire hotel is beautiful but the restaurant itself is a work of art – the service was superb and the food divine.  We had the prix fixe and were there from 8pm until almost midnight!  Wow – I think that’s a record for us.  Here are a few pictures from the evening.

 

Place setting at the table – the flower petals were for Rich’s birthday

 

A glass of champagne – bien sur!

 

Rich waiting for the first course

 

Amuse bouche – octopus on the left (it was great)

 

First course – tuna tartare with caviar

 

Second course – tomato millefeuille with crab

 

Second course – a melon refreshment to go with the tomato millefeuille

 

A great Burgundy – Chambolle-Musigny – Les Baudes

 

Third course – razor clams

 

Fourth course – mushroom risotto with mushroom foam

 

Main course – blue lobster with a veal reduction sauce

 

Pre dessert – sorbet

 

Dessert – peach ice

 

Main dessert – chocolate pie with lemon sorbet

 

End of the meal – they actually gave us a picture to take with us

 

We had a wonderful vacation and it’s now time to get back to reality.  This trip was very special in so many ways.  We visited so many great places – Paris, London, St. Emilion, Mont St. Michel, Honfleur, the Normandy sites, Maastricht, Antwerp.  We also had a memorable time with my family in Belgium.  Monique and Eddy were outstanding hosts the entire time and attending the christening of Julie was also a highlight.

Monique, Eddy, Bart, Mariam, Sophie, Tom – heel erg bedankt voor een goede, goede tijd!

So now it’s the end of the story.  There are many memories and some beautiful pictures.  I hope that everyone who has followed the blog enjoyed the commentary and photos.  I’ll end with a couple of night time shots of the Eiffel Tower – what a magnificent city Paris is.  Adieu!

 

Eiffel Tower from our hotel window

 

Eiffel Tower from the room

 

 

 

 

 


Antwerpen

We left Maastricht early this morning after having our typical Dutch breakfast at one of the cafes.  Those of you on Facebook already saw this picture but I wanted to include it in the blog.

Ontbijt

When we left Maastricht, we had no problems getting out of the city and immediately into Belgium – it’s very close.  Of course, the rain started as soon as we hit the main highway…. at times, extremely hard.  We made a slight detour because I wanted to drive by Bobbejaanland – it’s now a major theme park like Knott’s Berry Farm but when I graduated from college, I worked here for several months.  That was before it became a theme park.  When I worked there, I waited on tables and had a great time.

Bobbejaanland

We drove directly to our hotel in Antwerp – well, not necessarily directly because I missed the first cue that Marie gave me and as a result, we had to drive right through the middle of the city.  It’s a tough city to drive in because of the numerous tram tracks and the number of one way streets.   The hotel is wonderful.  It’s a small boutique hotel right in the middle of Antwerp and it’s where we stayed 10 years ago.  It’s called De Witte Lelie (the white lily).  Here are a few pictures of the room and the hotel in general.

De Witte Lelie

 

The Lobby

 

Staircase leading to our room – Yikes!

 

Extra room

 

Main Room

 

Garden view from our room

 

Fresh white lilies in the room

We spent the rest of the afternoon cafe hopping and enjoying the sites.  We were lucky because the rain had stopped but the sky was gloomy most of the afternoon.  Here are some of the sites:

The trams I mentioned earlier

 

Distant view of the Town Hall

 

The tops of many of the buildings are beautiful and topped with gold

 

The top of the cathedral

 

Town Hall

 

Another church

I should tell you that even though we had a hearty breakfast this morning, we still had lunch when we arrived in Antwerp.  I had mussels with french fries and Rich had a croque monsieur – a couple of beers with them naturally.  You can see that we haven’t necessarily stayed on any healthy diets while on vacation.  We’ll have to deal with that when we get home.  Meanwhile, we went back to the hotel, rested, and got ready for dinner.  Rich wanted Italian so the hotel recommended a great Italian restaurant that was extremely busy and noisy – a lot of fun.  Again, the languages were all screwed up.  For some reason, there was French mixed with Flemish mixed with Italian.  I’m not really sure what language I ordered in but it was all part of the fun.  We had to wait a long time to order, to get our food, and wait between courses.  But, Faisal, you would have been happy because we had plenty of bread, olive oil, and red wine to keep us content.  Here’s what we had:

Tuna salad starter for me

 

Beef carpaccio for Rich

 

We shared the gnocchi

 

Veal Milanese for me

 

Veal piccata for Rich

 

After all that food it was time to take a little walk – we finished dinner at 10pm and then walked around the city and back to the hotel.  Here are some nighttime shots of Antwerp:

 

The cathedral with a beautiful night sky

 

The Town Hall

 

Some of the buildings around the square

 

Anette – we had to dump our Peugeot and they gave us this one. Ha ha!

 

That’s it for tonight.  We had a great first day in Antwerp and are looking forward to our experiences tomorrow.  Let’s hope we don’t eat as much as we did today!

 

 

 


Maastricht

 

We left Honfleur this morning and drove the 4 1/2 hours to Maastricht – most of it via the autoroute and a lot of it with tolls attached.  All in all, it worked out great but still a lengthy drive.  As we approached Maastricht, the rain came down in such torrents that I was forced to drive at about 20-30 miles per hour…. it was torrential.  As we got into Maastricht, the rain stopped and Marie was able to get us right to the hotel – I finally figured out how to input not just a city but an address as well.  Remember, Marie only understands French.

Maastricht is a very pretty city that sits on the banks of the Maas river.  It’s a very old city and one filled with cobble stone streets.  Here are a few pictures of the Town Hall and St. Stefaan Basilica:

 

 

Town Hall

 

Town Hall Square – note the looming storm clouds

 

St. Servaas Basilica

 

St. Servaas at 10pm

 

St. Servaas – it’s truly red

 

The hotel is a very interesting hotel.  It’s located in a previous monastery that dates back several centuries and was updated as a very trendy hotel.  It’s a strange combination of ancient and ultra modern at the same time.  It’s a very nice hotel with all of the necessary amenities but still has a very peculiar identify…. Rich and I really like it.

 

Exterior of Kruisherenhotel – our hotel

 

Entrance to the hotel – yes, it’s a copper tunnel

 

Entrance to the hotel

 

Fresco on the main wall of our room

 

I hope the fresco is not visible at night…. it might scare me!

 

We wanted something different for dinner tonight so we went to an Italian restaurant called Il Giardino.  The Italian owner served us and gave a very special treatment for some reason.  We had a great meal and the ambience was intense and with a lot of good vibes – a very strange mixture of Dutch and Italian… who would have guessed….

 

Il Giardino

 

Not sure what tomorrow will bring but that’s all for tonight.

 

 

 


Honfleur

 

Today was a rest day.  We spent the entire day looking around Honfleur and enjoying the town by foot.  Today was also market day and the streets were filled with vendors of all types – vegetables, meat, seafood, flowers, cheese, and other merchandise as well.  We spent the morning walking through the various stands and examining the goods.  Here’s a small selection:

 

Local oysters

 

Beautiful leeks

 

Radishes

 

Lots of strawberries

 

Vegetable stands

 

Mussels – these are much smaller than most I’ve seen

 

Bread – the French definitely eat a lot of bread

 

Sausages

 

Small goat – not sure whether he was for sale or not

 

I also took some more pictures of the harbor this morning…. this time without many of the boats there.  Although it looked as though it were going to rain all morning, it didn’t and I think the light was good.  What do you think?

 

Honfleur harbor

 

Honfleur harbor

 

Passers by

 

Passers by

 

House of Samuel Champlain who founded Quebec in Canada – interesting, huh?

 

More passers by

 

Enough passers by

 

 

Love the reflection on the water – Monet would have approved

 

We had lunch in town…. very simple, I had oysters to start with mussels and french fries and Rich had entrecôte steak with fries.  We sat next to a British family that was vacationing in the area – mom and dad with two kids from London, his mother from Scotland and his great uncle from Australia.  Turned out that his great uncle comes here all the time because he was part of the unit that liberated the first bridge – Pegasus Bridge – during the D Day invasion.  It was fascinating to hear that.  He’s always welcomed as a hero when he visits – it was great.

 

It started to rain so we walked back to the hotel.  As it turned out, it would rain the rest of the day without much let up.  Not too much of a problem today because we were intending to rest today anyway.

 

We had one of our last gourmet meals tonight at the hotel restaurant.  It was great.  I, of course, took a few pictures of the food and the restaurant itself:

 

A little starter with champagne before entering the main restaurant

 

Enjoying the champagne before dinner

 

Enjoying the champagne before dinner

 

A view of the restaurant

 

Amuse bouche of lobster

 

Parmesan gnocchi with an egg yolk

 

Rich’s starter of lobster…. and a lot it was

 

We both had the St. Pierre – John Dory with vegetables

 

Gianduja dessert – chocolate with hazelnut

 

Framboise with chocolate

 

We leave tomorrow morning for Maastricht in the Netherlands.  We’ll back to France in another week or so.  Our journey continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leaving Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion is a very special place…. I’m so glad that we came here and that the weather was perfect throughout our stay.  Rich mentioned the other day that Saint Emilion reminded him of the place where the movie Chocolat took place…. it has very much the same feel and magical quality. Today we spent most of the day relaxing and walking around the city.  I did two strenuous activities in the morning…. climbing the stairs of the church steeple and then climbing the steps of the tower of the king.  Both were extremely high with very narrow and dark steps that went in a circular pattern.  I only encountered one person coming down while I was ascending and we had to rearrange our camera bags so that we could both squeeze by – very narrow.  But the views from the top were incredible and it was such a beautiful day.  So here are some of the steps along the way and the views from above.

Stairway to the top of the steeple.

 

View from above.

 

View from the top

 

This is how far up I was.

On the way to the King’s Tower, there was a very beautiful street scene that I wanted to capture and kept getting frustrated because people would enter the picture.  I finally got the shot I wanted when all of a sudden this man appeared from a doorway and entered the scene.  He stepped back into the doorway because he could see me taking a picture.  It’s funny because you can still see his stomach sticking out of the doorway.  I have one without the stomach but I thought this one was unique.

Just a tiny bit of his belly showing…

 

Here are a few shots from the tower:

 

Workers trimming the vines

View of the church steeple from the tower.

The dinner tonight was at the Hostellerie de Plaisance, the hotel we are staying at.  Philippe Etchebest is a Grand Chef of France and presents an incredible meal for all of his guests.  We started by sitting out on the terrace and selecting all of your meal selections.  We went a la carte with only 3 courses – starter, main course, cheese and dessert… well I guess that’s really four.  Anyway, you make all of your selections before you enter the dining room.  The process is very formal and you have a glass of champagne while you’re selecting… of course.  Once you enter the dining room, there are no longer any menus or choices to be made.  And everything arrives like clock work.  Our meal was outstanding beginning with several amuse bouches, a starter – Rich had an egg dish with Spanish ham along the side and I had the most humongous oyster I’ve ever seen.  One oyster cooked in coconut milk that filled the plate – delicious but very strange looking.  We both had Brittany lobster that was de-shelled table side.

 

Rich and a glass of champagne

 

Marc with his back to the hotel

 

Small amuse bouche outside to go with the champagne

 

The ham accompanying the egg dish

 

Here’s the enormous oyster – a delicacy in the Bordeaux area

 

The lobster

 

There was a slight problem with the desserts.  They mistakenly gave Rich the strawberry dessert although he had ordered the chocolate dessert.  As a result, they gave him both.  On top of that, they brought me another dessert for my birthday with fireworks and all – literally, there was a huge sparkler on the display.  The chef came to the table and started applauding and everyone in the room applauded – it was great.

 

Pineapple dessert for Marc

 

The chocolate dessert for Rich

 

And here’s the mistake – very tasting strawberry cake inside

 

And finally, the birthday surprise – see the sparkler at the bottom right

 

And then a picture with the chef….

 

 

 

The birthday cake

 

It was a great ending to our stay in Saint Emilion.  As I said, it’s a very special little village with a prestigious wine history and a very comfortable feel.  I would definitely come back.

We head off tomorrow very early because we have a long drive from here to Dinard in the north of France.  See you there.


À bientôt à Paris

 

 

We left London at 8:50 on the Eurostar from St. Pancras Train Station.  Here are a couple of pics from the station – notice the Olympic rings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived in Paris and went back to our original hotel and enjoyed the bottle of champagne we’d gotten when we first arrived….. had to get ready for Joel Robuchon!

 

 

Our reservations at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon were for 6:30pm – a little early for us but that’s all that they offer on a reservation basis.  It was on the other side of the Seine and traffic was horrific.  I wanted to be there just a little bit late but not lose our reservation!  Not to worry, everything worked out fine.  This was to be my first birthday dinner…. there are many to follow, trust me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything was outstanding.  We ordered several small courses somewhat like tapas style.  We were able to take some hints from those around us and everyone was fairly fluent in English…. although honestly sometimes it’s really hard to understand them because of the accent.  Anyway, we sat next to a family of four from New York – lived in Connecticut.  They had two small girls and a dog…. can you believe it?  Taking small children (they were probably 4-6 years old) and a dog into a restaurant like this???  We loved it.  They were a great couple – she spoke French fluently since she was born in Paris and he was of Belgian descendant… can’t get any better than that!  Anette, I took their picture just to show you that even Raya could have a good time at Robuchon.

 

We had a variety of different plates – all were exquisite…. here they are:

Tomato gazpacho – velvety

Eggplant with mozzarella

Iberian ham to go with the bruschetta – absolutely delicious!

Crevettes (Shrimp) wrapped in very thin vermicelli and fried – yum!

Langoustine in a puff pastry

Crab royal served cold with a salad casing.

John Dory – known as St. Pierre in France

Angus Beef

Joel Robuchon’s famous mashed potatoes – is there enough butter in here for you?

Quel dommage – no more mashed potatoes.

 

The mashed potatoes are honestly magical… you’ve never had anything quite as delicate from a potato.  Evidently everyone asks for them when they come here and I’m so glad that I knew to order them.

 

Last but not least – the desserts…..

 

It was called Frais – strawberries on top of a very light custard.

Chocolate – very intense and velvety.

It probably seems like a lot of food but it actually was just right.  I first had my doubts about a counter offered French gourmet meal but it was an outstanding experience and actually a lot of fun.  Not stuffy… not pretentious… excellent food…. and a good time.  I won’t mention how many euros we offered to alleviate the European financial crisis – Angela Merkel would be proud!

I’m a little sorry to leave Paris in the morning but we’ll be back in another week or so.  What a great city and one that always continues to shine from my perspective.  We leave tomorrow early to board the train to Bordeaux.  I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

If you read my blog, please take a moment to share a comment…. if nothing else than to say that you were here.  Hope you enjoy!

 

 


Jules Verne et La Tour Eiffel

Place de la Concorde

First full day in Paris and what a day!  It started by raining just a little – just enough to get the streets wet and to muggy up the weather…. boy was it hot and muggy!  The temperature was 85 degrees, it felt like 90 and the humidity was oppressive.  But hey…. it’s Paris so it can’t be too bad, right?

We had 12:30 reservations at Jules Verne on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower.  We wore jackets so that we looked the part and took Metro to the nearest station – still a hefty 30 minute walk in the noon day sun.  But what a treat!  The experience was truly amazing and lived up to every expectation I had imagined.  I’ve included a small gallery of everything we ate:

First a glass of champagne – bien sur!

A little Amuse Bouche 0f orange, salmon and a little asparagus

A starter of veal layers in an aspic sauce

John Dory over a bed of shaved fennel and tomatoes

A raspberry/chocolate square

A side order of macaroons a la Jules Verne

Amuse Bouche

Veal Layers in Aspic

John Dory

Raspberry/Chocolate Square

Macaroons

 

 

Here’s a picture of the place setting and the marvelous butter they serve with the logo on top:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A special note to Adrienne:  Yes, we have eaten a lot but remember this blog is about food and other things as well – you’re going to see a lot of food.

 

Special note to Anette:  here is the watercolor we found for you along the Seine…. oops, what no Eiffel Tower… c’est dommage!

 

Selected exclusively for Anette

 

And now just a few pics to capture the rest of the day.  Gotta get some sleep because we’re catching an early train to London.  A bientot!

Hey Rich! Do you know where the Eiffel Tower is???

 

Same shot with Marc

Notre Dame

Nightime look towards the Place de la Concorde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Nous Sommes Arrivés à Paris

We arrived without a hitch and had a wonderful flight on the Air France Airbus A380 – what a machine!  We boarded the plane via several ramps that led us directly into Business Class which was the overhead portion of the plane.  It took off like a rocket ship without a sound – it was truly amazing.  And the seats were incredible!  We were able to recline totally flat so that we were able to sleep fairly well.  Here’s a small preview of our dinner meal:

 

 

Lobster salad with a mango chutney in center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken fricassee                                                                                        Beef Tornadoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the real silverware!!!

 

Here’s a picture of our little neighbor on board who was a champ throughout the flight and never sounded a peep:

 

We arrived on time and took a taxi to our hotel – it took a long time because of the traffic. The hotel, Hyatt Madeleine, is new and very comfortable – are we really in Paris???  Everyone is helpful and speaks English.  There was a problem tonight with the drapes that we never noticed and they left a very nice bottle of champagne for us – mon dieu!

We had to have a couple of beers at the Cafe de la Paix – it’s a tradition for us and a landmark in Paris.  It looks upon the old Opera Garnier so I couldn’t resist this wonderful view of the opera house with the cafe logo in the forefront:

 

 

After resting a bit, we had a very nice dinner at the Royal Madeleine bistro – very authentic French and not touristy at all.

 

Bienvenue en France and what a wonderful welcome it was….. this is just the first day so stay tuned!